Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice"

Updated on January 17, 2018
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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

Source

Introduction and Excerpt from Poem, "Methought I Heard a Voice"

A stroll through nature allows the speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice" from Songs from the Soul to demonstrate the mental muscle of a yogic seer, whose keen auditory capabilities and power of sight allow him to perceive the Divine in natural phenomena.

Seers, prophets, saints, and sages of all religions have testified that God is everything, God is everywhere, and God exists in every inch and cell of His creation. This pantheistic view comforts the heart and mind of an erring humanity that so often behaves in such Godless ways.

The poetry of the great guru from the East, Paramahansa Yogananda, places the Divine Reality or God at the center of each and every poem. The great spiritual leader has the ability to show that God is present in everything the poet sees, hears, and in all things that come before his musing mind and heart.

It is easiest to intuit the nature of God in nature, over which He broods like a mother bird. Paramahansa Yogananda offers brief glimpses of that brooding in imagery that appeals to the five senses, as well as to the sixth sense. The great guru helps his devotees understand that the Divine Consciousness of the omnipresent Spirit exists in all.

Excerpt from "Methought I Heard a Voice"

While singing by the rill
My voice did softly thrill
With echoes of my thought
By fancies brought. . . .

(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.)

Commentary

In this simple observation of nature, the speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice" demonstrates his awareness of the divinity suffused throughout the scene.

In this simple observation of nature, the speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice" demonstrates his awareness of the divinity suffused throughout the scene.

First Stanza: Voice Reflecting Thoughts

After pausing from a trek through a beautiful landscape, the speaker reports that he was "singing by the rill," where his voice took on a quality that he describes as a soft thrill. His voice reacted to his thoughts, which were seemingly encased in a dreamy, happy fantasy.

The speaker’s opening stanza reveals a state of mind that is at once captivated by his outward surroundings in nature and influenced by an inner joy that cannot help but escape as it affects his singing voice.

The result of the speaker's voice "softly thrill[ing]" contributes to the speaker’s upliftment as his emphasis on the divine creates in him a blissful repose.

Second Stanza: Hearing a Voice!

The speaker continues his jaunt, describing his walk as "wander[ing] in my play." He considers himself to be in the act of playing, as an innocent child would do. He alights in a "faerie field," where he "stop[s] to muse" and "rejoice."

It is at this juncture of place and time that he feels as if he "heard a Voice!" The profundity of his hearing this "Voice" is communicated by the capitalization of the "v" and the exclamation mark ending the sentence. The speaker is emphatically implying that he knows it is God’s voice—the voice of the Divine becomes audible to this joyful, innocent, aware speaker.

Third Stanza: Flowers of a Mystical Nature

The speaker then reports on the beauty of the flowers that were growing in that field. Not only did they possess "wondrous hues," they were "perfumed" with a fragrance that seemed to warm and lighten the heart, and they "did yield / Delicious joys undreamed."

These flowers possess a mystical nature because the speaker’s inner vision is capable of seeing their inner nature as well as their outer beauty. This speaker’s vision can penetrate to the divine essence that these flowers embody.

Fourth Stanza: Blissful Observance of Nature

The beauty of the flowers parallels the beauty of the soul. Their outward luster, which is covered with a "thin bright veiling," corresponds to the soul’s "blossom-scented feelings." The speaker’s soul awareness allows him to see deeply into the mystery of creation. He understands the relationship between his own soul and the souls of flowers, trees, and all other divinely created phenomena.

In the speaker's moment of utter blissful observance of nature, coupled with the earlier "Voice!" that he heard, he experiences "a fitful flash," which he calls "Some Glistening Presence." Earlier, he heard the Divine voice, and now he sees the Divine’s glowing being.

Fifth Stanza: State of Grace

Finally, the speaker reports that in this state of grace, he stood upon his "tiptoe"—and simply went on "listening, watching." He poured out his heart in prayer and again continued, "listening, watching."

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 on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site. And for an in-depth portrayal, you may want to consult his classic work, Autobiography of a Yogi.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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