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Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Variety"

Updated on October 7, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Paramahansa Yogananda


Introduction: The Spice of Life

Emily Dickinson once quipped that the things of this world hold so very strongly. That truth is epitomized by the many things that do exist on this material level of being. The "variety" of creation has never been exhausted by the mind of mankind.

And the continued interest in those things remains because of the mayic delusion that those things hold happiness for the human heart.

The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Variety" pays homage to all those created things, while at the same time removing the delusive element from each one.

Each human heart and mind is cautioned to enjoy the things while refusing to become attached to them. Attachment belongs to the spirit level of being where true "variety" remains an eternal quality.

First Movement: “I sought for twins”

The speaker asserts that he has looked for two things in nature that are the same, but he has not been able to find any two things that are exactly alike. He cogitates on the matter and concludes “No twins I’ve seen.”

Although “they seem alike,” whether it be two men or two animals, no two faces are exactly the same. Metaphorically, asserting that the lute has never played the same song, he likens each human being and each individual of creation to the vibration of a song.

The speaker then addresses the Divine Presence, acknowledging that Eternity’s diversity is limitless, and he pays homage to that Great Spirit that has made all things.

Second Movement: “Since ne’er two hearts are same”

The speaker says that he holds each “new form and name” in honor and bows to them all. “Variety complete” exists throughout creation, fashioned by myriad patterns.

The speaker muses on what it would be like to experience existence as each of the many creations that the Lord has made. He surmises it would be like “donning robes of newer kinds,” if he could grasp the mind of each being.

The speaker then catalogues what he would do if he could assume the identities of others: He would smile or go about in sadness, or simply be charming. He also might “march with martial songs.” Or he would eliminate sorrow if he could take on the “powerful prophet mind.”

Third Movement: “I’d wear each heart”

The speaker would plumb the depth of each heart and attempt to understand the noble thoughts of noble minds, keeping the best part of each to round out his own personality. From “brain-born nixes" to “marauding pixies,” he would find friendship in every “elfin thought.”

The inspired speaker asserts that his “spirit clings / To the new in things.” He knows he could never “taste the same nectar,” even as he quaffed from the same “immortals’ jar.”

Fourth Movement: “Thy presence, O Eternity”

Offering a humble prayer to blessed Eternity, the high-minded speaker again acknowledges the “endless variety” that the Lord creates.

And yet although the devoted speaker appreciates that variety, he asks that his soul not be changed even as he changes his fleshly garments. He asks to remain “the humble same” regardless of what his name is in his many incarnations.

The worshipful speaker then asks to be able to “watch myself / In changeless mirror of my Self,” the individual soul seeing itself in the Over-Soul. He then states an eternal verity that though our “dress will change,” we will never change.

The Great Light of God

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


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