Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  On Mount Meru

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

India: Meru, the Mountain

On Mount Meru

By Charles Godfrey Leland (1824–1903)

  • Will the time come when man, the all-conquering, shall lay his hand on the past as on a weapon, and say, with it in his terrible grasp, to the future, “Be thou my slave”?

  • IN earliest ages on Mount Meru

    Stood together and talked, the Two.

    Gazing far from the golden berg,

    The Dæmon spoke to the Demiurg:

    “All is beautiful, all is true;

    Ocean and sky with their blending blue.

    “All that wends from its type at will

    Is found in some higher harmony still.

    “Leaves deformed on the twig I see,

    But all meet well in the spreading tree.

    “All is beautiful, all is fit,

    One creature alone seems wrong in it,—

    “The creature Man, the being accurst,

    Unstable, unmeeting,—the weakest and worst.

    “All things together seem fitly grown,

    But that monster wanders unplaced and alone.”

    Infinite worlds at the music woke

    When to the Dæmon the Maker spoke;

    “Thine is the mission with pain and strife,

    To labor that death may awake to life.

    “Ever denying, destroying, the fight

    Turns falsehood and darkness to truth and light.

    “But all the battles thy craft e’er span

    Will be naught to thy strife with that creature Man,

    “For he alone in creation’s range

    Possesses the endless power of change.

    “And when the tortures of change are past.

    He will conquer all things and thee at last.”

    Infinite worlds at the jarring stirred,

    When the first-born laughter in life was heard.

    And the Dæmon laughed: “Thou hast given me skill

    To strengthen life with power to kill;

    “And may I die in my own wild wrath

    If I force not Man to a single path!

    “My own full power I never have seen

    To show what agony, suffering, mean;

    “And all my power together I ’ll draw,

    But Man shall walk in a single law.”

    In later ages on Mount Meru,

    Again Time gazed on the fearful Two.

    Slowly the centuries ebbed away:

    At the foot of the Maker the Dæmon lay.

    Adown his head the Denier bent:

    “I have worked in all things—my course is spent—

    “And Man—thy creature—has conquered me

    Forever—Vicisti, Galilæ!”