The Irreverent Brahmin
medium voice and piano
Brahmin, fat and debonair,
Denied the Potency of Prayer!
"Absurd!" he scoffed, "to say that Gods
At ease on high would stoop to Clods
"And heed our million warring Prayers
To regulate our small Affairs!"
This Dogmatist of early days
Was lost within a jungle's maze.
Where, wildly ranging wide about
To find a pathway leading out.
Upon a Forest Codling's Shrine
He chanced, o'erhung with leaf and vine,
And—wonder! horror!—crouching there
A mighty Tiger, bowed in prayer!
(Tail curled, as may be well supposed,
Paws folded, eyes devoutly closed).
"Strong God," he heard the Tiger say,
"I pray thee, send to me a Prey!"
The trustful Tiger closed his Prayer. —
Behold! a Brahmin trembling there!
The Brahmin never scoffed a whit.
The Prayer had Answer — He was It.
pages, circa 3' 05" ]
Irreverent Brahmin" is subtitled "A Hindu Tract" by the poet, and is found
in his collection, The Laughing Muse, 1915, Harper & Brothers, New
York and London. The scene is set and played out in a few short images, the
disbeliever and the believer whose prayer is answered in a most tangible
opening gestures rely on the pentatonic scale to convey another cultural
space for the debonair Brahmin. Almost a hundred years old, this tale and
many like it are remarkably modern, for there are the "debonair" in all
religions whose surety in themselves is so remarkable that they easily
blunder into error of their own making, to include those political beliefs
playing themselves out across the world today, never seeing the tigers in
tiger's chromatic lines hint at a whole tone relationship over them and
contrast with the five-note simplicity of the Brahmin's "debonair" music.
This prayer is ardent and sure-footed, as it seems according to the poet, is
the answer to said prayer.
this a few phrases set something like a recitative move the poem along from
simple setting to the dénouement, as the tiger growls in the bass of the
piano and the debonair pentatonic is cut short for obvious reasons. Bon
The score for
The Irreverent Brahmin is available as a free PDF download, though any
major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without
prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this
The Irreverent Brahmin