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Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Splinters of Thy Love"

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.

Paramahansa Yogananda - writing at Encinitas

Paramahansa Yogananda - writing at Encinitas

Introduction and Text of "The Splinters of Thy Love"

Paramahansa Yogananda’s short 13-line poem, an American Near-Sonnet, "The Splinters of Thy Love," metaphorically compares the sparks of love scattered throughout humanity to small strips of wood lying "strewn in many a heart." The speaker of the poem is thus asserting that these "little fragments" have descended from the higher consciousness that is one with the Divine Reality.

The Splinters of Thy Love

The splinters of Thy love
Lie strewn in many a heart.
These little fragments of Thy love
Descended from far above,
I find spread here and there; and charmed, I start
To seize all and with care collect.
I feel, as I reflect,
That I have certes seen somewhere
Thy whole unbroken love that’s everywhere;
And with devotion strong
I weld my varied collection
Of tiny bits of friendly and parental love in one,
To match it with Thine own.

(Please note: This poem appears in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)

Commentary

The term "splinters" functions as a metaphor, likening the various individual bits of affection that exist among the mass of humanity, reminding readers that all of God’s children retain a spark of the Divine Creator.

First Movement: Metaphorically Splintered

The splinters of Thy love
Lie strewn in many a heart.

The speaker is addressing the Divine Reality of Love. He metaphorically avers that God's love has been splintered, and those little strips of wood now lie throughout humanity in the hearts of each Divinely created child. The speaker is alluding to the fact that each child of the Divine Belovèd is basically and essentially a spark of the Divine. Each soul is nothing but a piece of God's divine essence.

The speaker employs the metaphor of wood being splintered into its smaller pieces because such pieces are used to start fires more easily than large logs. Thus, the speaker wishes metaphorically to ignite a divine fire with those splinters of love that rest in the hearts of children of the Divine Belovèd.

Second Movement: Fragments from Above

These little fragments of Thy love
Descended from far above,
I find spread here and there; and charmed, I start
To seize all and with care collect.

The speaker then proclaims that those "little fragments" have come from "above." "Above" is traditional direction of the spirit that it is above the created things of the earth. The speaker reports that he has observed these little splinters of love in the hearts of those people he has encountered.

The speaker is implying that those in whom he has observed those bits of love may likely not even be aware of their possession. Therefore, the speaker begins to "collect" those splinters together for he has been "charmed" to see those glimmers of love in each individual. He is gently collecting the splinter, handling them with "care."

Third Movement: The Panorama of Divine Love

I feel, as I reflect,
That I have certes seen somewhere
Thy whole unbroken love that’s everywhere;

The speaker then asserts that he is sure that he has seen "Thy whole unbroken love" that seems to be spread hither and yon. Each spark of the Divine taken together by a seeing individual totals the entire panorama of God's love.

The speaker has gathered those splinters metaphorically together, and because he is able to see God's existence and love in each individual, he is capable of intuiting the Divine Reality Itself.

Fourth Movement: Strong Devotion

And with devotion strong
I weld my varied collection
Of tiny bits of friendly and parental love in one,
To match it with Thine own

The speaker finally asserts that because of his strong devotion, he can meld into one "varied collection" all the pieces of love that exist in various forms such as "friendly" and "parental."

Because love exists in many ways as it spreads out over the field of humanity, as observed and understood through devotion and deep affection, that love may be realized as the love of God.

The speaker claims that he collects those splinters of love in order to "match it" to that of the Divine Reality. It is, of course, already existing as such, but the speaker's ability to intuit those collected splinters of bits and sparks of God allows him to metaphorically split and then recollect them for his drama.

Additional Commentary

The special nature of this poem with its unique metaphor calls for the following additional issues to be addressed.

Unique Rime Scheme

The poem has a unique rime scheme: ABAABCCDDEFFE. The rime scheme alone demonstrates a unique view of language, art, and consciousness. These poems composed by Paramahansa Yogananda, the "Father of Yoga in the West," are not ordinary poems; they are informed and inspired by the superconscious state of mind, in which the great guru is ensconced.

The other-worldly nature of this poem, as well as the other poems it accompanies in Songs of the Soul, exemplify a writer who is more than an ordinary poet, whose extraordinary poems reveal the relationship of the soul to the Over-Soul or Divine Creator.

(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

Union of Divine and Individual

This poem insists that each individual human heart contains a part of the Divine. All the "splinters" of the Divine are spread over the globe in the hearts of each human being, whom God has created in His image, as the Christian faith professes.

The first two lines release the metaphor that likens God’s love to the tiny pieces of wood that "lie strewn" in hearts throughout the world. Then the next two lines reveal that these tiny pieces come from the Divine.

The Speaker Collects the Splinters

The speaker of the poem reveals that he gathers those "splinters" that he finds "spread here and there." He is a guru to all those individuals whom he finds life after life, in order to lead them back to Superconscious Awareness.

The guru is charmed by his devotees; he collects them "with care," and he is reminded that he has seen the whole of God’s love collected into one being from the many tiny pieces of love he feels from the hearts of the many individual devotees.

The Guru Defines the Divine Belovèd

As a guru, one who leads those in darkness back into light, the speaker asserts that he has seen the Creator’s "whole unbroken love that’s everywhere." Therefore, he has the strong will and the intense devotion with which he can "weld [his] varied collection / Of tiny bits" of love.

And after the guru has fused all of those "splinters," he makes a complete tree, and his collection "matches" that of the Creator. He has merely connected all of the hearts into one vast tree of love. That tree of love is the Divine Belovèd.

Autobiography of a Yogi

Autobiography of a Yogi

Songs of the Soul - Book Cover

Songs of the Soul - Book Cover

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© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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