Home > poetry > The Indian upon God

The Indian upon God

I passed along the water’s edge below the humid trees,
My spirit rocked in evening light, the rushes round my knees,
My spirit rocked in sleeps and sighs; and saw the moorfowl pace
All dripping on a grassy slope, and saw them cease to chase
Each other round in circles, and heard the eldest speak:
Who holds the world between His bill and made us strong or weak
Is an undying moorfowl, and He lives beyond the sky.
The rains are from his dripping wing, the moonbeam from His eye.

I passed a little further on and heard a lotus talk:
Who made the world and ruleth it, He hangeth on a stalk,
For I am in His image made, and all this tinkling tide
Is but a sliding drop of rain between His petals wide.

A little way within the gloom a roebuck raised his eys
Brimful of starlight, and he said: The Stamper of the Skies,
He is a gentle roebuck; for how else, I pray, could He
Conceive a thing so sad and soft, a gentle thing like me?

I passed a little further on and heard a peacock say:
Who made the grass and made the worms and made my feathers gay,
He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night
His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light.

–W.B.Yeats (c. 1889)

Categories: poetry Tags: , , , ,
  1. May 8, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Why is this titled The Indian upon God?

  2. mohitthatte
    May 8, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Because the poet wanted it to be so! I don’t understand the title either, but the poem is beautiful, no?

  3. May 12, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Hasn’t the blogger in question (YOU!) given any thought to why it’s called that???
    Admittedly, the poem is beautiful

  4. mohitthatte
    May 14, 2008 at 12:32 am

    The blogger in question(me) thinks thus:

    WBY was in India at the time. The scene described brings to mind the forests of central India (Kanha perhaps?). Hence “the Indian”. And each of those sentences describes the Creator as a self-image. “Ekoham bahusyam”

  5. July 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    One flaw though: each of those Creations doesn’t have the ability or self-awareness to describe themselves as a Creation (let alone ponder the Creator) – unlike human beings, who alone possess that ability. Silly Yeats.

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