Paupack’s Peak

Image: Paramahansa Yogananda in India, 1935

18.  “Paupack’s Peak”

As Paramahansa Yogananda’s speaker in “Paupack’s Peak” describes a journey through a forest, he reveals the heart of beauty and how that beauty signals the presence of the Divine Creator.

Introduction and Excerpt from “Paupack’s Peak”

The poem, Paupack’s Peak,” demonstrates the power and grace with which the great poet and spiritual leader has imbued his poem-epistles to the Divine.  The great poet reveals the heart and soul of majestic beauty as he describes a journey that he undertook through a forest on Paupack’s Peak.

Excerpt from “Paupack’s Peak”

O Paupack’s Peak,
‘Mid rustic scenes and trees
I found thee; and did seek
In thee the Hidden Beauty

The palace I approached by woodsy road;
Where on both sides there stood
Thy columned trees, with leafy swords outstretched
To render bowered welcome . . . 

Commentary

The speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s poem seeks, observes, and captures the heart and soul of beauty, while demonstrating the efficacy of silence, as he describes a journey through a forest on Paupack’s Peak.

First Stanza:  Seeking Hidden Beauty

Addressing the peak, the speaker declares that after becoming aware of this glorious place, he sought its “[h]idden Beauty” as well as its outward physical beauty. The speaker, as an accomplished mystic, takes his listeners/readers to the soul depths of spiritual realization that he expertly mines from the natural beauty of forest and peak, lake and leaf, shade and sun.  Finding beauty without, this mystic speaker is able to hie home within to soul awareness where the individual soul meets its Divine Origin and Creator.

All of the poems in this collection perform the vital service of demonstrating that the beauty of the natural world offers one of the most palpable signs of the Creator’s presence in His creation.  Other such signs include the feelings and thoughts of the human heart and mind that lead to peace, love, balance, and harmony.  The devotee seeking to contact his own inner awareness of Divinity finds not only wholesome entertainment in these inspirational poems but also a new way of experiencing his own environment, a method for changing negative attitudes, and a feeling of clarity of vision and comprehension of all things sacred.

Second Stanza:  Addressing the Divine Reality

The speaker, in addition to addressing the peak, is addressing the Divine Belovèd as well.  He demonstrates that every atom of creation bares the Maker’s mark.   The speaker shows his full awareness of the omnipresent nature of the Creator, in statements that reveal the Creator’s presence in the “woodsy road” that leads to “[t]hy palace.”  He also presents a view of “[t]hy columned trees” that decorate the forest. 

This speaker exhibits a reverence for the Divine, and thus he bestows that same reverence upon the peak and the forest which he is describing so lovingly.   The leaves of the trees resemble swords as they stretch forth, and they welcome the nature-loving visitor to their domain.  The Blessèd Creator is welcoming a devotee, as the forest is welcoming a nature lover.

Third Stanza:  Unveiling Secrets of the Scene

The beauty arouses in the speaker the motivation to unveil further secrets of the peak’s beauty.  He anticipates the glories he will find, as he reveals his temptation to study closely the secrets held in such a resplendent scene.   The speaker refers to his hope to unveil those mysteries as “unconscious”; he had entertained such hopes even before he had arrived on the scene to enjoy its beauty.  

The loveliness of the forest has now caused his latent hopes to reveal themselves, and the speaker, as he learns more about the forest, will learn more about his own mind and heart in regards to such sublime beauty.  The exquisite beauty of nature retains the marvelous power to herald to the fore the deeply held spiritual longing secreted in each human soul.

Fourth Stanza:  Facing Beauty

The speaker intimates that he is propelled rapidly “through secret hilly ways” to places that strike him as wondrous in their luscious beauty as well as exotic in their grace.   He thus finds himself standing and facing the scene that holds indescribable splendor, “[w]here liquid silver spray” adorns the “breast of caves.”

The water cascading down the faces of the caves moves and coruscates with the sun’s rays.  The glistening water decorates the stones and logs, as it encircles them, making them appear to be wearing lovely “necklaces” that have the amazing ability to spin and swirl.

Fifth Stanza:  Motivated by Beauty

Roused by astounding beauty, the speaker moves quickly through a “veil of trees,” and then he is suddenly gazing upon “Thy peaceful Paupack.”    At this point, the amazed speaker also encounters a lake, which he describes as “tears close-gathered” which resemble a “mirror still.”  This sight quenches his spiritual thirst as clear, cool water would quench the palate.

Sixth Stanza:  Transcending to Heaven

Into the speaker’s sight sail “two canoes” that coming gliding like “peaceful swans.”  The watercrafts are exiting the “snow-white mist.”  They resemble “mystic barks” carrying “singing angels,” as they sail “across the sky.”  In the speaker’s mind’s eye, the lake and the canoers transcend to the heavens on wings of sheer joy and expectation.

Seventh Stanza:  What Wealth Cannot Afford

The speaker then continues his hike, taking himself up a pathway where “velvet moss / And sunshine-checkered leafy cushion” offer a “silken form” that the tree leaves have furnished “for all to tread.”  He then interjects a rhetorical question:  could even the richest man afford such luxury as the gracious Lord has offered here? 

Of course, no man could ever create a scene so full of natural elements such as acre after acre of a huge lake, countless white and pink rhododendrons that every summer return to adorn the “woodland darkness.” Humankind has the limited ability to plant flowers and fashion gardens but not on such a grand scale that naturally appears without a human hand.

Eighth Stanza:  Stillness in a Silent Temple 

The speaker then passes through another clump of trees, walking “a garland path,” finding his footsteps had become noisy.   Thus, the speaker commands his feet to be still, while “in sweetest reverence” he bows “to the Spirit in this temple of silence.”

Ninth Stanza:  Engrossed in Prayer

As the speaker stands engrossed in prayer, his natural meditative state takes him deep within where his soul communes personally and peacefully with the Divine Reality that is “within, without.”  The speaker intuits that “leaves and stones, my body, sky and earth and light” are all one in the One.  

The devout speaker thus avers that no matter where he looks, he sees the “Peeping Eye” of the Divine Creator drawn to his consciousness by his own soul.  As beautiful and pleasurable as the physical body of nature is, the Creator of all this beauty mightily exceeds that beauty, as the devotee contacts that Creator within the depths of his own soul.

🕉

A published collection of these commentaries is available at 
Commentaries on Paramahansa Yogananda’s Songs of the Soul.

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