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Original Poem: "Immortal Memory" with Commentary

Updated on March 18, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Pacific Ocean


Introduction and Tex of Poem, "Immortal Memory"

Introspection is a central factor in self-improvement. The spiritual path is all about self-improvement. Every human life is filled with regrets, wrong decisions, poor judgments—all which become obstacles the spiritual aspirant much hurtle.

The speaker of this poem is expressing a simple desire to see her life clearly, to be able to erase the mistakes that now prevent her from reading her divine goal. It is a pathetic lament, filled with despair to the core.

Immortal Memory

A rough sea whips the raft
I call my life.
My brain cannot register the images
In the distance when my eyeballs
Jostle in their sockets.

Days I lie stretched out baking in the sun;
Nights when the sea is calm,
I pull in music from the blue vault.

I work.
I vacation.
Breed, wait,

I know I need to learn to swim in the sea.
I know I want to dive deep into immortal memory.


The speaker on the spiritual path finds obstacles in her way. What can she do to overcome them? She must introspect to learn what is causing each obstruction.

The speaker of "Immortal Memory" simply expresses a wish to become fully soul/Soul aware. Sometimes merely expressing oneself leads to understanding. Painters, poets, and other artists engage in a constant battle to portray their inner understanding.

Putting their wares on display helps them understand the act of communication—whether it leads to self-awareness might be debatable, but as they are compelled to create, they become compelled to understand.

The poem "Immortal Memory" is an American (or Innovative) sonnet. It features 14 lines as do the English and Italian styles, but that is virtually all this poem has in common with those older, traditional styles.

The poem is somewhat a lament, as the speaker grieves at the prospect of not being a self-realized or God-united soul.

First Movement: A Nautical Metaphor

A rough sea whips the raft
I call my life.
My brain cannot register the images
In the distance when my eyeballs
Jostle in their sockets.

The speaker begins with an inverse metaphor: what appears at first to be a literal statement, “A rough sea whips the raft,” becomes the metaphoric image of the speaker’s “life.” She then offers a quite literal statement. If one’s eyeballs are violently moving, one cannot see clearly. The speaker adds the qualifier of “in the distance” and that keeps the reader on the rough sea whipped raft.

By placing herself on a raft of life, the speaker sets the scene for navigating to some other place from the one in which she finds herself—a situation that almost all stories, novels, movies, and other narratives employ.

Where is she trying to go? How is she trying to get there? What will happen next in her journey toward her destination? All those questions are the ones that keep the reader, listener, watcher involved with the story in all cases. The universality of story-telling—what happens next?—captures the human imagination.

Second Movement: The Music of the Spheres

Days I lie stretched out baking in the sun;
Nights when the sea is calm,
I pull in music from the blue vault.

The speaker then states the gist of her daily and nightly engagements: "Days I lie stretched out baking in the sun” and "I pull in music from the blue vault”. She lies in the sun, perhaps on a sunny beach by the sea, and at night she meditates listening to the om-sound, the sound of the Divine Motor, the Upholder of All Things.

Colorfully and quite historically, she labels the om-sound “music from the blue vault.” She is obviously referring to the “music of the spheres.” About the “music of the spheres,” John Milton has explained:

Aristotle ... imputed this symphony of the heavens ... this music of the spheres to Pythagoras. ... But Pythagoras alone of mortals is said to have heard this harmony ... If our hearts were as pure, as chaste, and as snowy as Pythagoras' was, our ears would resound and be filled with that supremely lovely music of the wheeling stars.

In yogic practice as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda, one engages in a technique called the Aum Technique, in which one listens to the om-sound. The speaker is likely referring to such a technique. Christ promised to send a “comforter,” and according to Paramahansa Yogananda, that comforter is the om-sound.

Third Movement: Life's Duties

I work.
I vacation.
Breed, wait,

The speaker then sums up her life by listing those activities that most human beings on planet earth have participated in sometime in their lifetimes. People work and go on vacation; they produce children, and they wait for stuff, whether a meal at a restaurant or while the wife is giving birth, and they pray—whether a simple hope that all goes well or a full devotional effusion to the beloved Divine.

These are all things that human beings do. They cannot help themselves—nature and the way things are demand them.

Fourth Movement: A Divine Swim

I know I need to learn to swim in the sea.
I know I want to dive deep into immortal memory.

The speaker—remember, she is on this raft on the tempestuous ocean—asserts that she knows she “need[s] to learn to swim.” Yes, if you are anywhere near a large body of water, it is a good idea to know how to swim.

But this speaker, of course, in not talking about a literal ocean, she is talking about the “ocean of life” in which she must dive to discover who she is, how she got here, and where she is going. She therefore must "dive deep into immortal memory.”

What is “immortal memory”? It can be none other than the Divine Creator, who holds all memory and everything else.

At the Windmill Chapel, SRF Lake Shrine


Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.


Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes


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