Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Thou in Me"
Introduction and Text of Poem, "Thou in Me"
The poem consists of four unrimed stanzas. The first and second stanzas each contain four lines. The third stanza contains three lines, and the fourth stanza has six lines.
(Please note: The incorrect spelling, "rhyme," was erroneously introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson. For my explanation for using only the correct form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")
The speaker is celebrating the unity that exists between the Divine Reality and the individual human soul.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American transcendentalist philosopher, employed the term "Over-Soul" to refer to the Ultimate Reality or God.
Thou in Me
When I smile,
Thou dost smile through me;
When I cry,
In me Thou dost weep.
When I wake,
Thou greetest me;
When I walk,
Thou art with me.
Thou dost smile and weep,
Thou dost wake and walk, like me —
My likeness, Thou.
But when I dream,
Thou art awake;
When I stumble,
Thou art sure;
When I die,
Thou art my life.
First Stanza: "When I smile"
In the opening stanza of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Thou in Me" from Songs of the Soul, the speaker recognizes that his own smiles are essentially the smile of the Divine; therefore, the Divine also does "weep" as the individual cries.
The speaker is dramatizing the unity between his own soul and the Ultimate Intelligence.
If the soul is a reflection of a Supreme Spirit, which is made in the image of God, then it logically follows that everything the individual soul does is irrevocably tied to what the Supreme Spirit does.
This concept in no way implies that the speaker thinks he is God; he correctly recognizes that God has become himself and he therefore exists as a part of God.
Second Stanza: "When I wake"
The speaker then avers that during his waking hours, the Divine "greet[s]" him.
The speaker's awareness of his closeness with his Creator makes him feel welcome everywhere he goes. He cannot escape the warm feelings that accompany him as he goes about his work throughout the day.
As the speaker walks, he is aware that the Lord is also walking by his side. This great Comfort walks not only as a close friend but also as infallible guide.
The speaker cannot make a misstep with such Blessed Assurance keeping him steady on his path.
Third Stanza: "Thou dost smile and weep"
In the third stanza, the speaker reiterates his earlier claims that the Lord both smiles and weeps through him, and that the Lord does "wake and walk, like me."
The speaker alludes again to the scriptural claim that man is made in the Divine image: "My likeness, Thou."
If man is made in the image of the Divine, then the Divine is also the image of man.
The speaker takes his claim as his own guiding star, and it makes him strong and sure and allows him to perform his worldly tasks with heavenly perfection.
Fourth Stanza: "But when I dream"
In the fourth stanza, the speaker celebrates the superiority of his Creator recognizing that even though he is made in the Creator’s image, he is ever aware that the Creator’s power dwarfs his own worldly powers.
Thus while the speaker may dream, the Lord is ever awake. And though the speaker may stumble in humanly imperfection, the Lord is ever perfect and "sure."
But again, the speaker asserts the beautiful realization that the Lord is, in fact, the speaker’s very life, even after the death of the physical frame.
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes