The Place of Rest

by AE (George William Russell)


Original Language English

The soul is its own witness and its own refuge.


Unto the deep the deep heart goes,
It lays its sadness nigh the breast:
Only the Mighty Mother knows
The wounds that quiver unconfessed.

It seeks a deeper silence still;
It folds itself around with peace,
Where thoughts alike of good or ill
In quietness unfostered cease.

It feels in the unwounding vast
For comfort for its hopes and fears:
The Mighty Mother bows at last;
She listens to her children's tears.

Where the last anguish deepens -- there
The fire of beauty smites through pain:
A glory moves amid despair,
The Mother takes her child again.

-- from Collected Poems of George William Russell, by George William Russell

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Several of those phrases resonate in my mind:

Unto the deep the deep heart goes...

...the unwounding vast...


And what a beautiful evocation of the mystic's inner quiet:

It seeks a deeper silence still;
It folds itself around with peace,
Where thoughts alike of good or ill
In quietness unfostered cease.


But I think the final verse it what especially draws my interest:

Where the last anguish deepens -- there
The fire of beauty smites through pain:
A glory moves amid despair,
The Mother takes her child again.


At a certain point, the courage to face pain becomes central to spiritual awakening. This is not where we grit our teeth and endure, but we must relax into it. We must allow ourselves to truly feel that pain, to yield to it... to accept it. Here's why: The inner pain all experience is ultimately recognized as the (false) perception of one's separation from the Eternal. But that pain itself is the doorway to reunion. By allowing oneself to become completely vulnerable to that pain, to surrender to it, the mystic finds the pain transformed into the blissful touch of the Beloved.

For this reason, mystics and saints describe the pain as being "sweet" or joyful or beautiful... and the path to escape from pain -- "there / The fire of beauty smites through the pain."

Unto the deep the deep heart goes...



Recommended Books: AE (George William Russell)

Collected Poems of George William Russell Wild Poets of Ecstasy: An Anthology of Ecstatic Verse By Still Waters: Lyrical Poems Old and New The Nuts of Knowledge: Lyrical Poems Old and New AE in the Irish Theosophist
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The Place of Rest