Paramahansa Yogananda's "Divine Love Sorrows"
Introduction and Excerpt from Poem, "Divine Love Sorrows"
Paramahansa Yogananda's "Divine Love Sorrows," which is included in Songs of the Soul, features three movement stanzas of unrimed verse. The speaker is addressing the Divine Reality and expressing his sorrow at being separated from his Divine Creator.
(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")
Excerpt from "Divine Love Sorrows"
I have been roaming, forsaken by Thee.
Who hast seen me groping,
Hardly ever answering.
I shall be roaming, roaming,
Bursting all boundaries of heart,
Ever more moving toward Thee,
To Thy vast unthrobbing heart.
. . .
(Please note: The poem in its entirety may be found in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)
First Movement: Not Deterred by Silence
The speaker asserts that he has been searching diligently for his Divine Friend, and he declares that he is aware that his Lord has "seen [him] groping," and yet the Divine has remained silent, not responding to the pleas of his child.
But the speaker insists that the silence will not deter him; he will continue "roaming, roaming," until he is capable of "[b]ursting all boundaries of heart," and until he reaches the quiet heart of the Divine.
Second Movement: Commanding the Divine
The speaker commands his Divine Friend, "Come Thou to me, O Lord!" Then after repeating his command, "Oh, come at last to me," he explains that he has waited "Centuries and Centuries // Through endless incarnations."
For all this time, the speaker has called on the name of his Blessed Creator to come to him. The speaker colorfully likens his seeking to "Searching by the streamlets / Of all my silvery dreams," implying that he has shed many tears in his yearning for Divine Union.
Third Movement: Safe in Sacred Knowledge
Even though the speaker intuits that he has longed for God-union throughout countless periods of time, he demonstrates that he has never lost his faith that one day the Lord would come to him and "steal the flowers of my heart."
The speaker has continued to offer his heart’s devotion-flowers because the speaker’s faith has remained strong, and he has never doubted that he could attract the Divine Thief, who one day would sneak upon him and take that devotion that rightly has always belonged to the Blessed Lord.
The speaker demonstrates his literary prowess by creating the colorful metaphor, likening the Divine Beloved to a thief stealing the flowers of the devotee’s heart. The metaphor also works as an allusion to the use of flowers in devotional services where graceful blossoms are presented as a token of the devotee’s devotion and faith in his/her guru/saint.
The speaker carries on, revealing that as he has continued to mourn and to search for his Divine Beloved, he "sadly sang [his] song to [the Blessed Divine]." The devotional chant that focuses the devotee’s mind on the Divine Beloved is also part of the devotional process and strengthens the devotee’s faith that "[his] love would reach [the Ultimate Reality]."
The speaker again reiterates, "Though many lives I had to wait / On mountain crags of high devotions / I sadly sang my song, my song, my song." Again, the speaker/singer/poet drives home the importance of constancy, of never giving up, of continuing to sing and chant until the Divine Singer comes to blend His melodies with those of the devotee.
Biographical Sketch of Paramahansa Yogananda
The great guru/poet Paramahansa Yogananda was born on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India. His name at birth was Mukunda Lal Ghosh. Always a spiritually advanced child, at age 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, under whose guidance he flourished and became the spiritual giant and sacred engine that leads souls back to their eternal abode in the arms of the Divine Creator.
Paramahansa Yogananda came to the United States in 1920 to speak in Boston at the International Congress of Religious Liberals. His speech was so well received that he quickly gathered a following. By 1925, his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, was well established with the purpose of disseminating his teachings of yoga. He has come to be known as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”
For a more thorough overview of the great guru's life, please visit Paramahansa Yogananda’s Biography. His in-depth work, Autobiography of a Yogi, has become a spiritual classic worldwide.
Musical rendition of "Divine Love Sorrows"
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes