The speaker in “The Human Mind” declaims from the position of one whose wisdom has given him the ability to choose pleasant, uplifting thoughts, while leaving the “vile-born, unkind” ones behind.
This poem is from the great guru’s soul-inspiring volume of poems, Songs of the Soul . It features five variously rimed quatrains.
First Quatrain: “I love to roam alone, unseen”
The speaker metaphorically refers to cities of the mind and asserts, “I love to roam alone, unseen, / In cities of the human mind.” This statement reminds readers that the mind is a private place in which one can retreat for reflection and also where one can create original ideas for entertainment, education, or enlightenment. This unique quality of the mind is available to every living individual; every human being is born equipped with this remarkable vehicle.
The speaker then reveals that he especially prefers the “streets untrod by crooked thoughts,” which are “vile-born” and “unkind.” The speaker avoids the unholy places where evil lurks, choosing instead the soul-stimulating places that remind him of uplifting and inspiring deeds.
Second Quatrain: “Incognito I wish to wander”
The speaker reminds the reader that within one’s own mind, one is always “incognito.” And the speaker desires to wander there undetected by others as he allows his thoughts to stroll down “living lanes.” He wishes to discover “[e]ach straight and righteous path and danger-turn.” As he follows the paths of good, he wants to be able to detect where the evil exists, so he can avoid it.
Third Quatrain: “I wish to roam in mazy lanes”
The speaker then reveals that he wishes to ramble down the many “mazy lanes” of thoughts that are “dark and brighter,” and at the same time, he will give “love to all” while injuring no one. He will bring only useful, soul-rousing urges to the lanes down which he travels.
Fourth Quatrain: “I’d like to broaden narrow lanes”
This wise speaker desires to take the “selfish, twisted thought[s]” he might encounter and transform them into better, more useful, more encouraging thoughts; thus, he will “broaden narrow lanes.” Evil thoughts diminish the person who entertains them, while “soul’s wisdom” enlarges the personality.
Fifth Quatrain: “I long to soar so high”
Finally, the speaker yearns to rise above those cities and “soar so high” as if in a balloon, so that he may be able to see the entire panorama of “narrow alleys and broader roads” that stretch themselves through the mind. In such soaring, he will transcend all “human moods” that bind him to earthly endeavors. The speaker demonstrates the desirability of escaping the mental plane and transcending to the spiritual level where heaven abides.