Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “The Light of Asia”

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Edwin Arnold 1832–1904

From “The Light of Asia”


THE BOOKS say well, my Brothers! each man’s life

The outcome of his former living is;

The bygone wrongs bring forth sorrows and woes,

The bygone right breeds bliss.

That which ye sow ye reap. See yonder fields!

The sesamum was sesamum, the corn

Was corn. The Silence and the Darkness knew!

So is a man’s fate born.

He cometh, reaper of the things he sow’d,

Sesamum, corn, so much cast in past birth;

And so much weed and poison-stuff, which mar

Him and the aching earth.

If he shall labor rightly, rooting these,

And planting wholesome seedlings where they grew,

Fruitful and fair and clean the ground shall be,

And rich the harvest due.

If he who liveth, learning whence woe springs,

Endureth patiently, striving to pay

His utmost debt for ancient evils done

In Love and Truth alway;

If making none to lack, he thoroughly purge

The lie and lust of self forth from his blood;

Suffering all meekly, rendering for offence

Nothing but grace and good;

If he shall day by day dwell merciful,

Holy and just and kind and true; and rend

Desire from where it clings with bleeding roots,

Till love of life have end:

He—dying—leaveth as the sum of him

A life-count clos’d, whose ills are dead and quit,

Whose good is quick and mighty, far and near,

So that fruits follow it.

No need hath such to live as ye name life;

That which began in him when he began

Is finish’d: he hath wrought the purpose through

Of what did make him Man.

Never shall yearnings torture him, nor sins

Stain him, nor ache of earthly joys and woes

Invade his safe eternal peace; nor deaths

And lives recur. He goes

Unto NIRVÂNA. He is one with Life

Yet lives not. He is blest, ceasing to be.

OM, MANI PADME, OM! the Dewdrop slips

Into the shining sea!