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Title: Poems and Dicta
Author: Talbot Mundy
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1204271h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  December 2012
Most recent update: December 2012

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Poems and Dicta


Talbot Mundy


  1. Evolution (aka "History")
  2. A Nemesis
  3. Unsung As Yet
  4. Understanding
  5. The Day And Night Of Brahma
  6. The Essence Of Perversity
  7. The Middle Way
  8. Cash And Credit
  9. Self-Preferment
  10. The Eternal Now
  11. The Play Of Life
  12. Prostitution
  13. Silence
  14. Ignorance And Presumption
  15. The Magic Incantation of San-Fun-Ho
  16. Teaching Truth
  17. One Step
  18. The Great Offense And The Great Merit
  19. The Lama's Law
  20. Self-Reform
  21. True Virtue
  22. Judgment
  23. Diversion
  24. The Charm Of The Lotus
  25. Beware!
  26. Wisdom
  27. Vanity And Modesty
  28. Hope
  29. Fata Virumque Cano
  30. Oyez!
  31. Chant Pagan
  32. Our Brother's Keepers
  33. Three Unanswered Questions
  34. Priests
  35. Man And His Deeds
  36. Life And Death
  37. The Proper Time

Evolution (aka "History")
First published in The Theosophical Path, August 1923, under the title "History"
Reprinted in Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Tides in the ocean of stars and the infinite rhythm of space;
Cycles on cycles of aeons adrone on an infinite beach;
Pause and recession and flow, and each atom of dust in its place
In the pulse of eternal becoming: no error, no breach,
But the calm and the sweep and swing of the leisurely, measureless roll
Of the absolute cause, the unthwarted effect — and no haste,
Neither discord, and nothing untimed in a calculus ruling the whole;
Unfolding, evolving; accretion, attrition; no waste.
Planet on planet a course that it keeps, and each swallow its flight;
Comet's ellipse and grace-note of the sudden fire-fly glow;
Jewels of Perseid splendor sprayed on summer's purple night;
Blossom adrift on the breath of spring; the whirl of snow;
Grit on the grinding beaches; spume of the storm-ridden wave
Cast on the blast of the north wind to blend with the tropic rain;
Hail and the hissing of torrents; song where sapphire ripples lave —
Long lullabies to coral reefs unguessed in a sleepy main.
Silt of the ceaseless rivers from the mountain summits worn,
Rolled amid league-long meadows till the salt, inflowing tide
Heaps it in shoals at harbor-mouth for continents unborn;
Earth where the naked rocks were reared; pine where the birches died;
Season on season proceeding, and birth in the shadow of death;
Dawning of luminous day in the dying night; and a Plan
In no wit, in no particle changing; each phase of becoming, a breath
Of the infinite karma of all things; its goal, evolution of Man.

Precedes Chapter 1 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

A Nemesis
First published in The Theosophical Path, September 1923

What little wrong we do, and bury, lies
No deeper than the wire-grass spaded o'er
That under the smooth surface multiplies
And, ten times thriftier than before,
Crowds upward in the fertilizing rain.
No virtue lies in long forgetfulness.
The deed ill-done lives to be done again
Or undone, or to rise anew and dress
New difficulties in the graveyard hues
Of habit and accusing dread —
A nemesis — a phantom that pursues —
A foe to fight again, and courage dead.

Unsung As Yet
First published in The Theosophical Path, November 1923

I set my foot on the forest floor
Where all is cool and all is still,
And I will turn back nevermore
To the haunts I knew. I had my fill
Lived, handled, tasted all they prize,
Took, coveted, considered, weighed,
And I know all the honored lies
I, too, had honored had I stayed.
I learned the song of the God for hire,
Of boughten islands for the blest,
In gloom 'neath dome and gilded spire
Hymned to the roof. My way is best.

For the skies are mine, and the wind is mine,
And down between the breathing trees
Immeasurable beacons shine
A-twinkle in the silences.
All night is full of the friendly speech
Of leaf and earth and flowing stream;
Day's wide with league and span and reach
Of leisured distances a-dream
Of trails as new as years are long,
Flung across plain and sky-line crest
Unlonely solitude and song
Unsung as yet. My way is best

I know where the future's freedom's bred,
Where all things wait on him who loves,
And underfoot, and overhead,
And all around, the homing droves
Of ripples from the storied past
Uplift until the pilgrims scan
New realms of thought and, thinking, cast
New efforts forth for visioned Man.
I feel the sweetness and the thrill -
The summons-forth on Royal Quest,
Harped chords of harmony that fill
A Universe. My way is best.

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

He who would understand the Plains must ascend the Eternal Hills, where a man's eyes scan Infinity. But he who would make use of understanding must descend on to the Plains, where Past and Future meet and men have need of him.

Precedes Chapter 2 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Day And Night Of Brahma
— Deciphered from a palm-leaf manuscript discovered in a cave in Hindustan

Those who are acquainted with the day and night know that the Day of Brahma is a thousand revolutions of the Yugas, and that the Night extendeth for a thousand more. Now the Maha-Yuga consisteth of four parts, of which the last, being called the Kali-Yuga, is the least, having but four-hundred-and-thirty-two thousand years. The length of a Maya-Yuga is four million three-hundred-and-twenty thousand years; that is, one thousandth part of a Day of Brahma. And man was in the beginning, although not as he is now, nor as he will be ... [Here the palmleaf is broken and illegible] ... There were races in the world, whose wise-men knew all the seven principles, so that they understood matter in all its forms and were its masters. They were those to whom gold was as nothing, because they could make it, and for whom the elements brought forth ... [Here there is another break] ... And there were giants on the earth in those days, and there were dwarfs, most evil. There was war, and they destroyed ... [Here the leaf is broken off, and all the rest is missing.]

Precedes Chapter 3 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Essence Of Perversity
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

We should ascend out of perversity, even as we ascend a mountain that we do not know, with the aid of guides who do know. None who sets forth on an unknown voyage stipulates that the pilot must agree with him as to the course, since manifestly that would be absurd; the pilot is presumed to know; the piloted does not know. None who climbs a mountain bargains that the guide shall keep to this or that direction; it is the business of the guide to lead. And yet, men hire guides for the Spiritual Journey, of which they know less than they know of land and sea, and stipulate that the guide shall lead them thus and so, according to their own imaginings; and instead of obeying him, they desert and denounce him should he lead them otherwise. I find this of the essence of perversity.

Precedes Chapter 4 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Middle Way
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

He who puts his hand into the fire knows what he may expect.
Nor may the fire be blamed.

He who intrudes on a neighbor may receive what he does not expect.
Nor may the neighbor be blamed.

The fire will not be harmed; but the neighbor may be.
And every deed of every kind bears corresponding consequences to the doer.

You may spend a thousand lives repaying wrong done to a neighbor.
Therefore, of the two indiscretions prefer thrusting your own hand into the fire.

But there is a Middle Way, which avoids all trespassing.

Precedes Chapter 5 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Cash And Credit
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

A certain poet, who was no fool, bade men take the cash and let the credit go. I find this good advice, albeit difficult to follow. Nevertheless, it is easier than what most men attempt. They seek to take the cash and let the debit go, and that is utterly impossible; for as we sow, we reap.

Precedes Chapter 6 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

It is the teaching of financiers and statesmen, and of them who make laws, and of most religionists, that of all things a man should first seek safety — for his own skin — for his own money — for his own soul. Yet I find this teaching strange; because of all the dangers in the universe, the greatest lies in self-preferment.

Precedes Chapter 7 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Eternal Now
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

We live in the eternal Now, and it is Now that we create our destiny. It follows, that to grieve over the past is useless and to make plans for the future is a waste of time. There is only one ambition that is good, and that is: so to live Now that none may weary of life's emptiness and none may have to do the task we leave undone.

Precedes Chapter 8 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Play Of Life
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

When the actor, having thrown aside the costume and the wig, departs — is he a villain? Shall we take stones and murder him because for our amusement he enacted villainy?

If he should act death in the play because decency demands that, do we therefore burn him afterward and curse his memory? And is his wife a widow?

And is life not like the play? The gods who watch the drama know that somebody must play the villain's part, and somebody the pauper's. They reward men for the acting. He who acts a poor part well receives for his reward a more important part when his turn shall come to be born again into the world.

He, therefore, who is wise plays pauper, king or villain with the gods in mind.

Precedes Chapter 9 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

Men agree that prostitution is an evil, and they who know more than I do have assured me this opinion is right. But there are many forms of prostitution, and it may be that among the least of them is that of women, bad though that is. I have seen men sell their souls more inexcusably than women sell their bodies — and with more disastrous consequences — to themselves and to the buyer.

Precedes Chapter 10 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

The most important thing is Silence. In the Silence Wisdom speaks, and they whose hearts are open understand her. The brave man is at the mercy of cowards, and the honest man at the mercy of thieves, unless he keep silence. But if he keep silence he is safe, because, they will fail to understand him; and then he may do them good without their knowing it, which is a source of true humor and contentment.

Precedes Chapter 11 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Ignorance And Presumption
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

The man who knows he is ignorant is at no disadvantage if he permits a wise man to do the thinking; because the wise man knows that neither advantage to one or disadvantage to another comes at all within the scope of wisdom, and he will govern himself accordingly. But he who seeks to outwit wisdom adds to ignorance presumption; and that is a combination that the gods do not love.

Precedes Chapter 12 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Magic Incantation of San-Fun-Ho

Lords of evolving night and day!
Ye spirits of the spaceless dreams!
O Souls of the reflected hills
Embosomed in pellucid streams!
Magicians of the morning haze
Who weave anew the virgin veil
That dews the blush of waking days
With innocence! Ye Rishis*, hail!
I charge that whosoe'er may view
This talisman, shall greet the dawn
Degreed, arrayed and ranked anew
As he may wish to have been born!
Prevail desire! A day and night
Prevail ambition! Till they see
They can not set the world aright
By being what they crave to be!
Be time and space, and all save Karma† stilled!
Grant that each secret wish may be fulfilled!

[ *Rishis — the guardians of the esoteric Law, whose ordinances are regarded as infallible and binding, and from whom the Brahmins are supposed to be descended. ]
[ †Karma — The Law of Cause and Effect, governing the consequences of every thought and deed. ]

Precedes Chapter 13 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Teaching Truth
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

The ways of the gods are natural, the ways of men unnatural, and there is nothing supernatural, except this: that if a man does a useless thing, none reproves him; if he does a harmful thing, few seek to restrain him; but if he seeks to imitate the gods and to encourage others, all those in authority accuse him of corruption. So it is more dangerous to teach truth than to enter a powder magazine with a lighted torch.

Precedes Chapter 14 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

One Step
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

To him who truly seeks the Middle Way, the Middle Way will open, One step forward is enough.

Precedes Chapter 15 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Great Offense And The Great Merit
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

Treason, as between men, is considered worse than theft; for even thieves despise it. He who betrays his country is considered fit for death. But I tell you: he who betrays his own soul has no longer any link with honesty, and there is nothing sure concerning him, except that he will go from bad to worse. And evil grows little by little; he who is faithless in small things will ultimately lose all honor. Therefore, strive eternally to keep faith, not telling secrets nor inquiring uninvited into those of others; for the Great Offense is grounded on an infinite variety of little ones — exactly as Great Merit is the total of innumerable acts of self-control.

Precedes Chapter 16 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Lama's Law
First published in The Theosophical Path, April 1924

O Ye who look to enter in through Discipline to Bliss,
Ye shall not stray from out the way, if ye remember this:
Ye shall not waste a weary hour, nor hope for Hope in vain,
If ye persist with will until self righteousness is slain.

If through the mist of mortal eyes, deluded, ye discern
That ye are holier than these, ye have the whole to learn!
If ye are tied with tangled pride because ye learn the Law,
Know then, your purest thoughts deny the Truth ye never saw!

If ye resent in discontent the searchlight of reproof,
In hooded pride ye stand aside, at sin's not Soul's behoof!
Each gain for self denies the Self that knows the self is vain.
Who crowns accomplishment with pride must build the whole again!

But if, at each ascending step, more clearly ye perceive
That he must kill the lower will who would the world relieve
And they are last who would be first, their effort thrown away;
Be patient then, and persevere. Ye tread the Middle Way!

Precedes Chapter 17 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

He who would reform the world must first reform himself; and that, if he do it honestly, will keep him so employed that he will have no time to criticize his neighbor. Nevertheless, his neighbor will be benefited — even as a man without a candle, who at last discerns another's light.

Precedes Chapter 18 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

True Virtue
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

He who is wise is careful not to seem too virtuous, lest they who dislike virtue should exert unceasing energy to demonstrate that he is viler than themselves. True virtue suffers from advertisement.

Precedes Chapter 19 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

This much I know: that it is easy to cause offense and easy to give pleasure, but difficult to ignore all considerations except justice, and much more difficult to judge rightly whoever, ignoring both offense and pleasure, leaves the outcome of his actions to the Higher Law. Therefore, judge yourself alone, for that is difficult enough; and, depend on it, the Higher Law will judge you also.

Precedes Chapter 20 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

Sooner or later we must learn all knowledge. It is therefore necessary to begin. And for a beginning much may be learned from this: that men in pain and men in anger are diverted from either sensation by a song — and very readily.

Precedes Chapter 21 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

The Charm Of The Lotus
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

The secret of the charm of the lotus is that none can say wherein its beauty lies; for some say this, and some say that, but all agree that it is beautiful. And so indeed it is with woman. Her influence is mystery; her power is concealment. For that which men have uncovered and explained, whether rightly or wrongly, they despise. But that which they discern, although its underlying essence is concealed from them, they wonder at and worship.

Precedes Chapter 22 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

If a vain man should value your virtue, beware! For he will steal it in the name of God, and he will sell your reputation in the market-place.

Precedes Chapter 23 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

My son, the wise, are few; for Wisdom very seldom pleases, so that they are few who seek her. Wisdom will compel whoever entertains her to avoid all selfishness and to escape from praise. But Wisdom seeks them who are worthy, discovering some here and there, unstupified and uncorrupted by the slime of cant, with whom thereafter it is a privilege to other men to tread the self- same earth, whether or not they know it.

Precedes Chapter 24 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Vanity And Modesty
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

And this I know: that when the gods have use for us they blindfold us, because if we should see and comprehend the outcome we should grow so vain that not even the gods could preserve us from destruction.

Vanity, self-righteousness and sin, these three are one, whose complements are meekness, self-will and indifference.

Meekness is not modesty. Meekness is an insult to the Soul. But out of modesty comes wisdom, because in modesty the god's can find expression.

The wise gods do not corrupt modesty with wealth or fame, but its reward is in well-doing and in a satisfying inner vision.

Precedes Chapter 25 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

First published in The Theosophical Path, May 1924

Oh, I went where the Gods are, and I have seen the Dawn
Where Beauty and the Muses and the Seven Reasons dwell,
And I saw Hope accoutered with a lantern and a horn
Whose clarion and rays reach the inner rings of hell.
Oh, I was in the storehouse of the jewels of the dew
And the laughter of the motion of the wind-blown grass,
The mystery of morning and its music, and the hue
Of the petals of the roses when the rain-clouds pass.
And so I know who Hope is and why she never sleeps,
And seven of the secrets that are jewels on her breast;
I stood within the silence of the Garden that she keeps,
Where flowers fill the footprints that her sandals pressed;
And I know the springs of laughter, for I trod the Middle Way,
Where sympathies are sign-posts and the merry Gods the Guides;
I have been where Hope is Ruler and evolving realms obey;
I know the Secret Nearness where the Ancient Wisdom hides.

Precedes Chapter 26 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Fata Virumque Cano
First published in The Theosophical Path, June 1924

O Ye, who buy fruit of desire,
Esteeming fair what eyes can see;
Who for the Unknown Voyage hire
No other guides than shall agree
That what appears to be must be;
Ye seekers of a Cosmic Law
That must adjust itself to creed;
O ye, who all conclusion draw
From cravings; ye, who only heed
The lure of things ye think ye need;
Be thoughtful. Though the sun descends
Below the red, revolving rim
Of earth, and though the darkness lends
Illusion; though the stars that swim
In night are distant and are dim,
Ye know anon the sun returns.
Ye know the word the Guru saith:
'Who sees with open eye discerns
And at his likeness wondereth,
Why dread the mystery of death?'
Ye see the sun's descending glow,
Ye see the smiling Pleiades,
The phases of the moon ye know,
The ebb and flow of seven seas.
Are ye so different from these!

First published in The Theosophical Path, July 1924

They threw a tinker into Bedford jail lest wise heads should be troubled by his tongue;
They burned the Maid of Orleans to still the voice forever that she claimed to hear;
They gave the hemlock draught to Socrates to drown disturbing truths he taught the young;
They slew Hypatia to kill such courage as makes cowards fear;
They burned the Prophet's books and said: 'Henceforth we make a better law from day to day';
They said: 'The past is dead and cannot trouble us again, if we forget.
The moment is the goal. There is no higher law that unseen truths obey;
If we but bury consequences deep enough the cause dies too.' And yet —
They saw the pebble thrown into the pool and watched the unprevented ripples spread;
They calculated cycles of eclipse and timed Orion rising in the sky;
They bragged of a heredity from ancestors a dozen generations dead;
Then tried to take the cash and let the debit go, and failed — and wondered why.

Chant Pagan
First published as "Chant" in The Theosophical Path, August 1924

When that caressing light forgets the hills
That change their hue in its evolving grace;
When, harmony of swaying reeds and rills,
The breeze forgets its music and the face
Of Nature smiles no longer in the pond,
Divinity revealed! When morning peeps
Above earth's rim, and no bird notes respond;
When half a world in mellow moonlight sleeps
And no peace pours along the silver beam;
When dew brings no wet wonder of delight
On jeweled spider-web and scented lair
Of drone and hue and honey; when the night
No longer shadows the retreating day,
Her purple dawn pursues the graying dark;
And no child laughs; and no wind bears away
The bursting glory of the meadow-lark;
Then — then may be — never until then
May death be dreadful or assurance wane
That we shall die a while, to waken when
New morning summons us to earth again.

Precedes Chapter 27 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Our Brother's Keepers
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

In this sense we are our brothers' keepers: that if we injure them we are responsible. Therefore, our duty is, so vigilantly to control ourselves that we may injure none; and for this there is no substitute; all other duties take a lower place and are dependent on it.

Precedes Chapter 28 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Three Unanswered Questions
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

I have conversed with many Priests; and some were honest men, and some were not, but three things none of them could answer: if their God is all-wise, what does it matter if men are foolish? And if they can imagine and define their God, must he not be smaller than their own imaginations? Furthermore, if their God is omnipotent, why does he need priests and ritual?

Precedes Chapter 29 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

And I have asked this of the priests, but though they answered with a multitude of words, their words were emptiness: If it is true that a priest can pacify and coax God, or by meditation can relieve another from the consequences of his own sin, why should any one be troubled and why do the priests not put an end for ever to all sin and suffering? If they can, and do not, they are criminals. If they can not, but pretend that they can, they are liars. Nevertheless, there is a middle judgment, and it seems to me that some of them may be mistaken.

Precedes Chapter 30 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Man And His Deeds
— from The Book Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup

A man is what he is. He starts from where he is. He may progress, or he may retrogress. All effort in his own behalf is dead weight in the scale against him. All effort in behalf of others is a profit to himself; notwithstanding which, unless he first improve himself he can do nothing except harm to others. There is no power in the universe, nor any form of intercession that can separate a cause from its effect, action from reaction, or a man from retribution for his deeds.

Precedes Chapter 31 of Om—The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

Life And Death
Tsiang Samdup addressing Cotswald Ommony in
Chapter 29 of Om-The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

"My son, we live as long as we are useful, and as long as it is good for us to live. Thereafter we die, which is another form of living, even as ice and water and rain and dew are the same thing in different aspects. When the appointed time comes, we return, as the rain returns, to the earth it has left for a season.

The Proper Time
Tsiang Samdup addressing Cotswald Ommony in
Chapter 31 of Om-The Secret Of Ahbor Valley, 1924

"My son, remember this: the highest motive is of no avail without proportion and a sense of fitness; because these are the life of wisdom. Time is a delusion. All is the eternal Now. But in a world in which all is delusion, of which time is a controlling element, there is a proper time for all things. We can not mount the camel that has passed us, nor the camel that has not yet come. Neither does the water that has gone by turn the mill-wheel. He who feels the force of destiny within him, waits, as birds wait for the sunrise — as the seed waits for the spring. It is not enough to do the right thing. If the full moon shines at midday, what does it accomplish? If the drum beats out of time, what happens to the symphony? To discern the right time, and to act precisely then, is as important as the knowledge how to act. But discernment does not come by reason of desire; it comes by observation of essential truths — as that the sun, the moon, the stars, the seasons and the tides keep their appointed path, and when they fail there is disaster. This is an appointed time. Mark well."


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