O Buddha, of the mystic smile
And downcast, dreamful eyes,
To whom unnumbered sacred shrines
And gilded statues rise,

Whose fanes are filled with worshippers,
Whose hallowed name is sung
By myriads of the human race
In every Eastern tongue,

What means thy sweet serenity?
Our planet, as it rolls,
Sweeps through the starry universe
A mass of burdened souls,

Still agonized and pitiful,
Despite the countless years
That man has spent in wandering
Through paths of blood and tears!

O Lord of love and sympathy
For all created life,
How canst thou view thus placidly
The world's incessant strife,

The misery and massacre
Of war's destructive train,
The martyrdom of animals,
The tragedy of pain,

The infamous brutalities
To helpless children shown,
The pathos of whose joyless lives
Might melt a heart of stone?

Preeminently merciful,
Does not thy spirit long
To guard from inhumanity
The weak against the strong?

Thou biddest us deal tenderly
With every breathing-thing,-
The horse that drags the heavy load,
The bird upon the wing,

The flocks along the riverside,
The cattle on the lea,
And every living denizen
Of earth and air and sea;

Yet daily in the shambles
A sea of blood is spilled,
And man is nourished chiefly
From beasts that he has killed!

And hunters still find happiness
In seeing, red with wounds,
A sobbing deer, with liquid eyes,
Dragged down by yelping hounds!

What is the real significance
Of thine unchanging smile?
Hast thou the secret consciousness
That grief is not worth while?

That sorrow is the consequence
Of former lives of sin,-
The spur that goads us on and up
A nobler life to win?

That pain is as impermanent
As shadows on the hills,
And that Nirvana's blessedness
Will cure all mortal ills?

But agony is agony,
And small is the relief
If, measured with eternity,
Life's anguish be but brief.

To hearts that break with misery,
To every tortured frame
The present pain is paramount,
Nirvana but a name.

Moreover, why should former lives
Bequeath their weight of woe,
If with it comes no memory
To guide us, as we go?

If o'er the dark, prenatal void
No mental bridge be cast,
No thread, however frail, to link
The present to the past?

Still silent and dispassionate!
Ah, would that I might find
The key to the serenity
That fills thy lofty mind!

Thou hast a joy we do not feel,
A light we cannot see;
Injustice, sin, and wretchedness
No longer sadden thee;

No doubt to thy sublimer gaze
Life's mystery grows plain,
As finally full recompense
Atones for earthly pain.