Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Take, Oh Take, is Now my Cry

Time after time I came to your gate
With raised hands, asking for more and
yet more.

You gave and gave, now in slow
measure, now in sudden excess.

I took some, and some things I let
drop; some lay heavy on my hands;
Some I made into play things and broke
them when tired; till the wrecks and
the hoard of your gifts grew immense,
hiding you, and the ceaseless expectation
wore my heart out.

Take, oh, take—
has now become my cry.

Shatter all from this beggar’s bowl:
put out the lamp of the importunate
watcher: Hold my hands, raise me from
the still-gathering heap of your gifts
into the bare infinity
of your uncrowded presence.

- Rabindranath Tagore

It is such a joy to find a poem again after having once loved it and then forgotten about it. This lovely creature, this poem, found me today after all these years. Or, maybe we found each other after years of forgetting. It fits so well with my longing to surrender joyfully this year. However, the words that have really made a nest in my heart are these: "...the bare infinity of your uncrowded presence." That sounds a bit like heaven and I hope I will be spending more time in the uncrowded presence of the Holy One. Perhaps I'll meet you there.


  1. What a beautiful poem! As the years have passed, we have certainly been given a lot. We have taken more from the banquet table than we can use, while others have done without.
    That is why we rush to find a good home for the things we once had to have...sell on ebay? Craigs list? donate to thrift stores?
    I do think that all of this (and not just material gifts) has made us a bit weary...perhaps our hearts ARE worn out. BUT all the time, at the same time, we have the stillness and presence and peace always with us, if we can only pause to look deep within. This poem helps me to do that!

  2. PS--I really like the old gate in the photo!

  3. "the bare infinity of your uncrowded presence."
    Thank you.

  4. wonderful poem...food for soul. thank you for sharing the treasures you find.

  5. I love that poem, thank you for sharing. I am in a time of purging and winnowing (for the last two years, since I moved into my own house, I have been the recipient of many lovely heirlooms and hand-me-downs but now find that I am crowded out by so many things that are "other" than myself) and this poem is giving me a lot to think about as I do so.

  6. Macrina,
    Below so beautiful when sung in four part harmony

    Take Me As I Am
    (Author: John Bell of Iona Community)

    Take, O take me as I am
    Summon out what I shall be
    Set your seal upon my heart
    And live in me.

  7. Dennis...that antiphon is even beautiful when it is sung without harmony. I love it and use it in my retreats often. It's packed with meaning. I'll catch up with you one of these days.

  8. Macrina, I would love to meet you there. I am sure that we will some day. Your favorite line is my favorite line as I feel called to make room in my life and offer spaciousness to the Holy One.

    I was delighted by Dennis's comment above. I thought, I know that little chant. Hey! I learned it at a retreat with Macrina. And then I couldn't remember the melody, but as I sat here, it came back to me! Just as you found the poem again many years later. I would love to hear the harmony.

    Beth and I have that retreat coming up. This song will be perfect.