(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

Mohini Chatterjee

I ASKED if I should pray.
But the Brahmin said,
'pray for nothing, say
Every night in bed,
'I have been a king,
I have been a slave,
Nor is there anything.
Fool, rascal, knave,
That I have not been,
And yet upon my breast
A myriad heads have lain.'''
That he might Set at rest
A boy's turbulent days
Mohini Chatterjee
Spoke these, or words like these,
I add in commentary,
'Old lovers yet may have
All that time denied --
Grave is heaped on grave
That they be satisfied --
Over the blackened earth
The old troops parade,
Birth is heaped on Birth
That such cannonade
May thunder time away,
Birth-hour and death-hour meet,
Or, as great sages say,
Men dance on deathless feet.'

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Yeats met Mr. Mohini Mohun Chatterjee, a irepresentative of the Theosophical Society in 1885. One of the paths Yeats travelled on was revealed to him by Mohini Chatterjee. Yeats was attracted to the ageless perceptions of human existence enshrined in the Upanishads, the Gita and in the works of Jagadguru Aadi Shankara. This poem is written in this early life of the poet.