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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

CWSA.- Volume 2

Part Five. Pondicherry, c. 1910 – 1920
Poems in Quantitative Hexameters

Ahana

 

(Ahana, the Dawn of God, descends on the world where amid the strife and trouble of mortality the Hunters of Joy, the Seekers after Knowledge, the Climbers in the quest of Power are toiling up the slopes or waiting in the valleys. As she stands on the mountains of the East, voices of the Hunters of Joy are the first to greet her.)

Vision delightful alone on the hills whom the silences cover,

Closer yet lean to mortality; human, stoop to thy lover.

Wonderful, gold like a moon in the square of the sun where thou strayest

Glimmers thy face amid crystal purities; mighty thou playest

Sole on the peaks of the world, unafraid of thy loneliness. Glances

Leap from thee down to us, dream-seas and light-falls and magical trances;

Sun-drops flake from thy eyes and the heart’s caverns packed are with pleasure

Strange like a song without words or the dance of a measureless measure.

Tread through the edges of dawn, over twilight’s grey-lidded margin;

Heal earth’s unease with thy feet, O heaven-born delicate virgin.

Children of Time whose spirits came down from eternity, seizing

Joys that escape us, yoked by our hearts to a labour unceasing,

Earth-bound, torn with our longings, our life is a brief incompleteness.

Thou hast the stars to sport with, the winds run like bees to thy sweetness.

Art thou not heaven-bound even as I with the earth? Hast thou ended

All desirable things in a stillness lone and unfriended?

Only is calm so sweet? is our close tranquillity only?

Cold are the rivers of peace and their banks are leafless and lonely.

Heavy is godhead to bear with its mighty sun-burden of lustre.

Art thou not weary of only the stars in their solemn muster,

Sky-hung the chill bare plateaus and peaks where the eagle rejoices

In the inhuman height of his nesting, solitude’s voices

Making the heart of the silence lonelier? strong and untiring,

Deaf with the cry of the waterfall, lonely the pine lives aspiring.

Two are the ends of existence, two are the dreams of the Mother:

Heaven unchanging, earth with her time-beats yearn to each other,–

Earth-souls needing the touch of the heavens peace to recapture,

Heaven needing earth’s passion to quiver its peace into rapture.

Marry, O lightning eternal, the passion of a moment-born fire!

Out of thy greatness draw close to the breast of our mortal desire!

Is he thy master, Rudra the mighty, Shiva ascetic?

Has he denied thee his world? In his dance that they tell of, ecstatic,

Slaying, creating, calm in the midst of the movement and madness,

Stole there no rhythm of an earthly joy and a mortal sadness?

Wast thou not made in the shape of a woman? Sweetness and beauty

Move like a song of the gods in thy limbs and to love is thy duty

Graved in thy heart as on tablets of fate; joy’s delicate blossom

Sleeps in thy lids of delight; all Nature hides in thy bosom

Claiming her children unborn and the food of her love and her laughter.

Is he the first? was there none then before him? shall none come after?

He who denies and his blows beat down on our hearts like a hammer’s,

He whose calm is the silent reply to our passion and clamours!

Is not there deity greater here new-born in a noble

Labour and sorrow and struggle than stilled into rapture immobile?

Earth has beatitudes warmer than heaven’s that are bare and undying,

Marvels of Time on the crest of the moments to Infinity flying.

Earth has her godheads; the Tritons sway on the toss of the billows,

Emerald locks of the Nereids stream on their foam-crested pillows,

Dryads peer out from the branches, Naiads glance up from the waters;

High are her flame-points of joy and the gods are ensnared by her daughters.

Artemis calls as she flees through the glades and the breezes pursue her;

Cypris laughs in her isles where the ocean-winds linger to woo her.

Here thou shalt meet amid beauty forgotten the dance of the Graces;

Night shall be haunted for ever with strange and delicate faces.

Music is here of the fife and the flute and the lyre and the timbal,

Wind in the forests, bees in the grove,– spring’s ardent cymbal1

Thrilling, the cry of the cuckoo; the nightingale sings in the branches,

Human laughter is heard and the cattle low in the ranches.

Frankly and sweetly she gives to her children the bliss of her body,

Breath of her lips and the green of her garments, rain-pourings heady

Tossed from her cloud-carried beaker of tempest, oceans and streamlets,

Dawn and the mountain-air, corn-fields and vineyards, pastures and hamlets,

Tangles of sunbeams asleep, mooned dream-depths, twilight’s shadows,

Taste and scent and the fruits of her trees and the flowers of her meadows,

Life with her2 wine-cup of longing under the purple of her tenture,

Death as her gate of escape and rebirth and renewal of venture.

Still must they mutter that all here is vision and passing appearance,

Magic of Maya with falsehood and pain for its only inherence.

One is there only, apart in his greatness, the End and Beginning,–

He who has sent through his soul’s wide spaces the universe spinning.

One eternal, Time an illusion, life a brief error!

One eternal, Master of heaven – and of hell and its terror!

Spirit of silence and purity rapt and aloof from creation,–

Dreaming through aeons unreal his splendid and empty formation!

Spirit all-wise in omnipotence shaping a world but to break it,–

Pushed by what mood of a moment, the breath of what fancy to make it?

None is there great but the eternal and lonely, the unique and unmated,

Bliss lives alone with the self-pure, the single, the forever-uncreated.

Truths? or thought’s structures bridging the vacancy mute and unsounded

Facing the soul when it turns from the stress of the figures around it?

Solely we see here a world self-made by some indwelling Glory

Building with forms and events its strange and magnificent story.

Yet at the last has not all been solved and unwisdom demolished,

Myth cast out and all dreams of the soul, and all worship abolished?

All now is changed, the reverse of the coin has been shown to us; Reason

Waking, detecting the hoax of the spirit, at last has arisen,

Captured the Truth and built round her its bars that she may not skedaddle,

Gallop again with the bit in her teeth and with Fancy in the saddle.

Now have the wise men discovered that all is the craft of a super-

Magic of Chance and a movement of Void and inconscient Stupor.

Chance by a wonderful accident ever her ripples expanding

Out of a gaseous circle of Nothingness, implacably extending

Freak upon freak, repeating rigidly marvels on marvels,

Making a world out of Nothing, started on the arc of her travels.

Nothingness born into feeling and action dies back to Nothing.

Sea of a vague electricity, romping through space-curves and clothing

Strangely the Void with a semblance of Matter, painfully flowered

Into this giant phenomenon universe. Man who has towered

Out of the plasm and struggled by thought to Divinity’s level,

Man, this miniature second creator of good and of evil,

He too was only a compost of Matter made living, organic,

Forged as her thinking tool by an Energy blind and mechanic.

Once by an accident queer but quite natural, provable, simple,

Out of blind Space-Nought lashed into life, wearing Mind as its wimple,

Dupe of a figment of consciousness, doped with behaviour and feature,

Matter deluded claimed to be spirit and sentient creature.

All the high dreams man has dreamed and his hopes and his deeds, his soul’s greatness

Are but a food-seeking animal’s acts with the mind for their witness,–

Mind a machine for the flickers of thought, Matter’s logic unpremissed,–

Are but a singular fireworks, chemistry lacking the chemist,

Matter’s nervous display; the heart’s passion, the sorrow and burning

Fire of delight and sweet ecstasy, love and its fathomless yearning,

Boundless spiritual impulses making us one with world-being,

Outbursts of vision opening doors to a limitless seeing,

Gases and glands and the genes and the nerves and the brain-cells have done it,

Brooded out drama and epic, structured the climb of the sonnet,

Studied the stars and discovered the brain and the laws of its thinking,

Sculptured the cave-temple, reared the cathedral, infinity drinking

Wrought manufacturing God and the soul for the uplift of Nature,–

Science, philosophy, head of his mystical chemical stature,

Music and painting revealing the godhead in sound and in colour,

Acts of the hero, thoughts of the thinker, search of the scholar,

All the magnificent planning, all the inquiry and wonder

Only a trick of the atom, its marvellous magical blunder.

Who can believe it? Something or someone, a Force or a Spirit

Conscious, creative, wonderful shaped out a world to inherit

Here for the beings born from its vast universal existence,–

Fields of surprise and adventure, vistas of light-haunted distance,

Play-routes of wisdom and vision and struggle and rapture and sorrow,

Sailing in Time through the straits of today to the sea of tomorrow.

Worlds and their wonders, suns and their flamings, earth and her nations,

Voyages endless of Mind through the surge of its fate-tossed creations,

Star upon star throbbing out in the silence of infinite spaces,

Species on species, bodies on bodies, faces on faces,

Souls without number crossing through Time towards eternity, aeons

Crowding on aeons, loving and battle, dirges and paeans,

Thoughts ever leaping, hopes ever yearning, lives ever streaming,

Millions and millions on trek through the days with their doings and dreaming,

Herds of the Sun who move on at the cry of the radiant drover,–

Countless, surviving the death of the centuries, lost to recover,

Finished, but only to begin again, who is its tireless creator,

Cause or the force of its driving, its thinker or formless dictator?

Surely no senseless Vacancy made it, surely ’twas fashioned

By an almighty One million-ecstasied, thousand-passioned.

Self-made? then by what self from which thought could arise and emotion,

Waves that well up to the surface, born from what mysteried ocean?

Nature alone is the fountain. But what is she? Is she not only

Figure and name for what none understands, though all feel, or a lonely

Word in which all finds expression, spirit-heights, dumb work of Matter,–

Vague designation filling the gaps of our thought with its clatter?

Power without vision that blunders in man into thinking and sinning?

Rigid, too vast3 inexhaustible mystery void of a meaning?

Energy blindly devising, unconsciously ranging in order?

Chance in the march of a cosmic Insanity crossing the border

Out of the eternal silence to thought and its strangeness and splendour?

Consciousness born by an accident until an accident end her?

Nought else is she but the power of the Spirit who dwells in her ever,

Witness and cause of her workings, lord of her pauseless endeavour.

All things she knows, though she seems here unseeing; even in her slumber

Wondrous her works are, design and its magic and magic of number,

Plan of her mighty cosmic geometry, balance of forces,

Universe flung beyond universe, law of the stars and their courses,

Cosmos atomic stretched to the scale of the Infinite’s measure.

Mute in the trance of the Eternal she sleeps with the stone and the azure.

Now she awakes; for life has just stirred in her, stretching first blindly

Outward for sense and its pleasure and pain and the gifts of the kindly

Mother of all, for her light and her air and the sap from her flowing,

Pleasure of bloom and inconscient beauty, pleasure of growing.

Then into mind she arises; heart’s yearning awakes and reflection

Looks out on struggle and harmony,– conscious, her will of selection

Studies her works and illumines the choice of her way; last, slowly

Inward she turns and stares at the Spirit within her. Holy

Silences brood in her heart and she feels in her ardent recesses

Passions too great for her frame, on her body immortal caresses.

Into the calm of the Greatness beyond her she enters, burning

Now with a light beyond thought’s, towards Self and Infinity turning,

Turned to beatitude, turned to eternity, spiritual grandeur,

Power without limit, ecstasy imperishable, shadowless splendour.

Then to her mortals come, flashing, thoughts that are wisdom’s fire-kernel;

Leaping her flame-sweeps of might and delight and of vision supernal

Kindle the word and the act, the Divine and humanity fusing,

Illuminations, trance-seeds of silence, flowers of musing,–

Light of our being that yet has to be, its glory and glimmer

Smiting with sunrise the soul of the sage and the heart of the dreamer.

Or is it all but a vain expectation and effort ungrounded,

Wings without body, sight without object, waters unsounded,

Hue of a shimmer that steals through some secret celestial portal,

Glory of a gleam or a dream in an animal brief-lived and mortal?

Are they not radiances native to heaven’s more fortunate ether,

Won when we part from this body, this temporal house of a nether

Mystery of life lived in vain? Upon earth is the glory forbidden,

Nature for ever accursed, frustrated4, grief-vexed, fate-ridden?

Half of the glory she dreamed of forgotten or lost in earth’s darkness,

Half of it mangled and missed as the death-wheels whirl in their starkness,

Cast out from heaven a goddess rebellious with mind for her mirror,

Cursed with desire and self-will and doomed to self-torture and error,

Came she to birth then with God for her enemy? Were we created

He unwilling or sleeping? did someone transgress the fated

Limits he set, outwitting God? In the too hasty vision

Marred of some demiurge filmed there the blur of a fatal misprision,

Making a world that revolves on itself in a circuit of failure,

Aeons of striving, death for a recompense, Time for our tenure?

Out of him rather she came and for him are her cry and her labour;

Deep are her roots in him; topless she climbs, to his greatness a neighbour.

All is himself in her, brooding in darkness, mounting the sun-ways;

Air-flight to him is man’s journey with heaven and earth for the runways.

He is the witness and doer, he is the loved and the lover,

He the eternal Truth that we look in ourselves to discover.

All is his travel in Time; it is he who turns history’s pages,

Act and event and result are the trail that he leaves through the ages;

Form and idea are his signs and number and sound are his symbols,

Music and singing, the word and its rhythm are Divinity’s cymbals,

Thunder and surge are the drums of his marching. Through us, with urges

Self-ward, form-bound, mute, motionless, slowly inevitably emerges

Vast as the cosmos, minute as the atom, the Spirit eternal.

Often the gusts of his force illumining moments diurnal

Flame into speech and idea; transcendences splendid and subtle

Suddenly shoot through the weft of our lives5 from a magical shuttle;

Hid in our hearts is his glory; the Spirit works in our members.

Silence is he, with our voices he speaks, in our thoughts he remembers.

Deep in our being inhabits the voiceless invisible Teacher;

Powers of his godhead we live; the Creator dwells in the creature.

Out of his Void we arise to a mighty and shining existence,

Out of Inconscience, tearing the black Mask’s giant resistance;

Waves of his consciousness well from him into these bodies in Nature,

Forms are put round him; his oneness, divided by mind’s nomenclature,

High on the summits of being ponders immobile and single,

Penetrates atom and cell as the tide drenches sand-grain and shingle.

Oneness unknown to us dwells in these millions of figures and faces,

Wars with itself in our battles, loves in our clinging embraces,

Inly the self and the substance of things and their cause and their mover

Veiled in the depths which the foam of our thoughts and our life’s billows cover,

Heaves like the sea in its waves; like heaven with its star-fires it gazes

Watching the world and its works. Interned in the finite’s mazes,

Still shall he rise to his vast superconscience, we with him climbing;

Truth of man’s thought with the truth of God’s spirit faultlessly timing,

That which was mortal shall enter immortality’s golden precincts,

Hushed breath of ecstasy, honey of lotus depths where the bee sinks,

Timeless expanses too still for the voice of the hours to inveigle,

Spaces of spirit too vast for the flight of the God-bearing eagle,–

Enter the Splendour that broods now unseen on us, deity invading,

Sight without error, light without shadow, beauty unfading,

Infinite largeness, rapture eternal, love none can sever,

Life, not this death-play, but a power God-driven and blissful for ever.

“No,” cry the wise, “for a circle was traced, there was pyloned a limit

Only we escape through dream’s thin passages. None can disclaim it;

All things created are made by their borders, sketched out and coded;

Vain is the passion to divinise manhood, humanise godhead.

None can exceed himself; even to find oneself hard for our search is:

Only we see as in night by a lustre of flickering torches.

To be content with our measure, our space is the law of our living.

All of thyself to thy manhood and Nature and Circumstance giving,

Be what thou must be or be what thou canst be, one hour in an era.

Knowing the truth of thy days, shun the light of ideal and chimera:

Curb heart’s impatience, bind thy desires down, pause from self-vexing.”

Who is the nomad then? who is the seeker, the gambler risking

All for a dream in a dream, the old and the sure and the stable

Flung as a stake for a prize that was never yet laid on the table?

Always the world is expanding and growing from minute to minute;

Playing the march of the adventure of Time with our lives for her spinet

Maya or Nature, the wonderful Mother, strikes out surprising

Strains of the spirit disprisoned; creation heavenward rising

Wrestles with Time and Space and the Unknown to give form to the Formless.

Bliss is her goal, but her road is through whirlwind and death-blast and storm-race.

All is a wager and danger, all is a chase and a battle.

Vainly man, crouched in his corner of safety, shrinks from the fatal

Lure of the Infinite. Guided by Powers that surround and precede us

Fearful and faltering steps are our perishing efforts that lead us

On through the rooms of the finite till open the limitless spaces

And we can look into all-seeing eyes and imperishable faces.

But we must pass through the aeons; Space is a bar twixt our ankles,

Time is a weight that we drag and the scar of the centuries rankles:

Caught by the moments, held back from the spirit’s timelessness, slowly

Wading in shallows we take not the sea-plunge vastly and wholly.

Hard is the way to the Eternal for the mind-born will of the mortal

Bound by the body and life to the gait of the house-burdened turtle.

Here in this world that knows not its morrow, this reason that stumbles

Onward from error to truth and from truth back to error while crumbles

All that it fashioned, after the passion and travail are ended,

After the sacrifice offered when the will and the strength are expended,

Nothing is done but to have laid down one stone of a road without issue,

Added our quota of evil and good to an ambiguous tissue.

Destiny’s lasso, its slip-knot tied by delight and repining,

Draws us through tangles of failure and victory’s inextricable twining.

In the hard reckoning made by the grey-robed accountant at even

Pain is the ransom we pay for the smallest foretaste of heaven.

Ignorance darkens, death and inconscience gape to absorb us;

Thick and persistent the Night confronts us, its hunger enormous

Swallowing our work and our lives. Our love and our knowledge squandered

Lie like a treasure refused and trod down on the ways where we wandered;

All we have done is effaced by the thousands behind us arriving.

Trapped in a round fixed for ever circles our thought and our living.

Fiercely the gods in their jealousy strike down the heads that have neighboured

Even for a moment their skies; in the sands our achievements are gravured.

Yet survives bliss in the rhythm of our heart-beats, yet is there wonder,

Beauty’s immortal delight, and the seals of the mystery sunder.

Honied a thousand whispers come, in the birds, in the breezes,

Moonlight, the voices of streams; with a hundred marvellous faces

Always he lures us to love him, always he draws us to pleasure

Leaving remembrance and anguish behind for our only treasure.

Passionate we seek for him everywhere, yearn for some sign of him, calling,

Scanning the dust for his footprints, praying and stumbling and falling;

Nothing is found and no answer comes from the masks that are passing.

Memories linger, lines from the past like a half-faded tracing.

He has passed on into silence wearing his luminous mantle.

Out of the melodied distance a laugh rings pure-toned, infantile,

Sole reminder that he is, last signal recalling his presence.

There is a joy behind suffering; pain digs our road to his pleasance.

All things have bliss for their secret; only our consciousness falters

Fearing to offer itself as a victim on ecstasy’s altars.

Is not the world his disguise? when that cloak is tossed back from his shoulders,

Beauty looks out like a sun on the hearts of the ravished beholders.

Mortals, your end is beatitude, rapture eternal his meaning:

Joy, which he most now denies, is his purpose: the hedges, the screening

Were but the rules of his play; his denials came to lure farther.

These too were magic of Maya, smiles of the marvellous Mother.

Oh, but the cruelty! oh, but the empty pain we go rueing!

Edges of opposite sweetness, calls to a closer pursuing.

All that we meet is a symbol and gateway; cryptic intention

Lurks in a common appearance, smiles from a casual mention:

Opposites hide in each other; in the laughter of Nature is danger,

Glory and greatness their embryos form in the womb of her anger.

Why are we terrified? wherefore cry out and draw back from the smiting –

Blows from the hands of a lover to direr exactions exciting,

Fiery points of his play! Was he Rudra only the mighty?

Whose were the whispers of sweetness, whose were the murmurs of pity?

Something opposes our grasp on the light and the sweetness and power,

Something within us, something without us, trap-door or tower,

Nature’s gap in our being – or hinge! That device could we vanquish,

Once could we clasp him and hold, his joy we could never relinquish.

Then we could not be denied, for our might would be single and flawless.

Sons of the Eternal, sovereigns of Nature absolute and lawless,

Termlessly our souls would possess as he now enjoys and possesses,

Termlessly probe the delight of his laughter’s lurking recesses,

Chasing its trail to the apex of sweetness and secrecy. Treasured

Close to the beats of Eternity’s heart in a greatness unmeasured,

Locked into a miracle and mystery of Light we would live in him,– seated

Deep in his core of beatitude ceaselessly by Nature repeated,

Careless of Time, with no fear of an end, with no need for endeavour

Caught by his ecstasy dwell in a rapture enduring for ever.

What was the garden he built when the stars were first set in their places,

Soul and Nature together mid streams and in cloudless spaces

Naked and innocent? Someone offered a fruit of derision,

Knowledge of good and of evil, cleaving in God a division.

Though He who made all said, “It is good; I have fashioned perfection,”

“No, there is evil,” someone whispered, “’tis screened from detection.”

Wisest he of the beasts of the field, one cunning and creeping;

“See it,” he said, “be wise; you shall be as the gods are, unsleeping,

They who know all.” And they ate. The roots of our being were shaken;

Hatred and weeping and wrath at once trampled a world overtaken,

Terror and fleeing and anguish and shame and desires unsated;

Cruelty stalked like a lion; Revenge and her brood were created.

Out to the desert he drove the rebellious. Flaming behind them

Streamed out the sword of his wrath and it followed leaping to find them,

Stabbing at random. The pure and the evil, the strong and the tempted,

All are confounded in punishment; justly is no one exempted.

Virtuous? yes, there are many, but who is there innocent? Toiling

Therefore we seek, but find not that Eden. Planting and spoiling,

“This is the garden,” we say, “lo, the trees and this is the river.”

Vainly redeemers came, not one has availed to deliver.

Never can Nature go back to her careless and childlike beginning,

Laugh of the babe and the song of the wheel in its delicate spinning,

Smile of the sun upon flowers and earth’s beauty, life without labour

Plucking the fruits of the soil and rejoicing in cottage and arbour.

Once we have chosen to be as the gods, we must follow that motion.

Knowledge must grow in us, might like a Titan’s, bliss like an ocean,

Calmness and purity born of the spirit’s gaze on the Real,

Rapture of his oneness embracing the soul in a clasp hymeneal.

Was it not he once in Brindavan? Woods divine to our yearning,

Memorable always! O flowers, O delight on the tree-tops burning,

Grasses his herds have grazed and crushed by his feet in the dancing,

Yamuna flowing with song, through the greenness always advancing,

You unforgotten remind; for his flute with its sweetness ensnaring

Sounds in our ears in the night and our souls of their teguments baring

Hales us out naked and absolute, out to his woodlands eternal,

Out to his moonlit dances, his dalliance sweet and supernal,

And we go stumbling, maddened and thrilled to his dreadful embraces,

Slaves of his rapture to Brindavan crowded with amorous faces,

Luminous kine in the green glades seated, soft-eyed gazing,

Flowers on the branches distressing us, moonbeams unearthly amazing,

Yamuna flowing before us, laughing low with her voices,

Brindavan arching o’er us where Shyama sports and rejoices.

Inly the miracle trembles repeated; mist-walls are broken

Hiding that country of God and we look on the wonderful token,

Clasp the beautiful body of the Eternal; his flute-call of yearning

Cries in our breast with its blissful anguish for ever returning;

Life flows past us with passionate voices, a heavenly river,

All our being goes back as a bride of his bliss to the Giver.

Even an hour of the soul can unveil the Unborn, the Everlasting,

Gaze on its mighty Companion; the load of mortality casting,

Mind hushes stilled in eternity; waves of the Infinite wander

Thrilling body and soul and its endless felicity squander;

All world-sorrow is finished, the cry of the parting is over;

Ecstasy laughs in our veins, in our heart is the heart of the Lover.

As when a stream from a highland plateau green mid the mountains

Draws through broad lakes of delight the gracious sweep of its fountains,

Life from its heaven of desire comes down to the toil of the earth-ways;

Streaming through mire it pours still the mystical joy of its birthplace,

Green of its banks and the green of its trees and the hues of the flower.

Something of child-heart beauty, something of greatness and power,

Dwell with it still in its early torrent laughter and brightness,

Call in the youth of its floods and the voice of the wideness and whiteness.

But in its course are set darkness and fall and the spirit’s ordeal.

Hating its narrowness, forced by an ardour to see all and be all,

Dashed on the inconscient rocks and straining through mud, over gravel,

Flows, like an ardent prisoner bound to the scenes of his travail,

Life, the river of the Spirit, consenting to anguish and sorrow

If by her heart’s toil a loan-light of joy from the heavens she can borrow.

Out of the sun-rays and moon-rays, the winds’ wing-glimmer and revel,

Out of the star-fields of wonder, down to earth’s danger and evil

Headlong cast with a stridulant thunder, the doom-ways descending,

Shuddering below into sunless depths, across chasms unending,

Baulked of the might of its waters, a thread in a mountainous vastness,

Parcelled and scanted it hurries as if6 storming a Titan fastness,

Carving the hills with a sullen and lonely gigantic labour.

Hurled into strangling ravines it escapes with a leap and a quaver,

Breaks from the channels of hiding it grooves out and chisels and twistens,

Angry, afraid, white, foaming. A stony and monstrous resistance

Meets it piling up stubborn limits. Afflicted the river

Treasures a scattered sunbeam, moans for a god to deliver,

Longing to lapse through the plain’s green felicity, yearning to widen

Joined to the ocean’s shoreless eternity far-off and hidden.

High on the cliffs the Great Ones are watching, the Mighty and Deathless,

Soaring and plunging the roadway of the Gods climbs uplifted and breathless;

Ever we hear in the heart of the peril a flute go before us,

Luminous beckoning hands in the distance invite and implore us.

Ignorant, circled with death and the abyss, we have dreamed of a human

Paradise made from the mind of a man, from the heart of a woman,

Dreamed of the Isles of the Blest in a light of perpetual summer,

Dreamed of the joy of an earthly life with no pain for incomer.

Never, we said, can these waters from heaven be lost in the marshes,

Cease in the sands of the desert, die where the simoom parches;

Plains are beyond, there are hamlets and fields where the river rejoices

Pacing once more with a quiet step and with amical voices:

Bright amid woodlands red with the berries and cool with the breezes

Glimmer the leaves; all night long the heart of the nightingale eases

Sweetly its burden of pity and sorrow. There amid flowers

We shall take pleasure in arbours delightful, lengthening the hours,

Time for our servitor waiting our fancy through moments unhasting,

Under the cloudless blue of those skies of tranquillity resting,

Lying on beds of lilies, hearing the bells of the cattle

Tinkle, and drink red wine of life and go forth to the battle,

Fight and unwounded return to our beautiful home by the waters,

Fruit of our joy rear tall strong sons and radiant daughters.

Then shall the Virgins of Light come down to us clad in clear raiment

Woven from sunbeam and moonbeam and lightnings, limitless payment

Bring of our toil and our sorrow, carrying life-giving garlands

Plucked by the fountains of Paradise, bring from imperishable star-lands

Hymn-words of wisdom, visions of beauty, heaven-fruit ruddy,

Wine-cups of ecstasy sending the soul like a stream through the body.

Fate shall not know; if her spies come down to our beautiful valley,

They shall grow drunk with its grapes and wander in woodland and alley.

There leaps the anger of Rudra? there will his lightnings immortal

Circle around with their red eye of cruelty stabbing the portal?

Fearless is there life’s play; I shall sport with my dove from his highlands,

Drinking her laughter of bliss like a god in my Grecian islands.

Life in my limbs shall grow deathless, flesh with the God-glory tingle,

Lustre of Paradise, light of the earth-ways marry and mingle.

These are but dreams and the truth shall be greater. Heaven made woman!

Flower of beatitude! living shape of the bliss of the Brahman!

Art thou not she who shall bring into life and time the Eternal?

Body of the summer of the Gods, a sweetness virginal, vernal,

Breathes from thy soul into Nature; Love sits dreaming in thy bosom,

Wisdom gazes from thy eyes, thy breasts of God-rapture are the blossom.

If but the joy of thy feet once could touch our spaces smiting

Earth with a ray from the Unknown, on the world’s heart heaven’s script writing,

All then would change into harmony and beauty, Time’s doors shudder

Swinging wide on their hinges into Eternity, other

Voices than earth’s would be fire in our speech and make deathless our thinking.

One who is hidden in Light would grow visible, multitudes linking,

Lyres of a single ecstasy, throbs of the one heart beating,

Wonderful bodies and souls in the spirit’s identity meeting

Even as stars in sky-vastness know their kindred in grandeur.

Yet may it be that although in the hands of our destiny stands sure

Fixed to its hour the Decree of the Advent, still it is fated

Only when kindling earth’s bodies a mightier Soul is created.

Far-off the gold and the greatness, the rapture too splendid and dire.

Are not the ages too young? too low in our hearts burns the fire.

Bringest thou only a gleam on the summits, a cry in the distance,

Seen by the eyes that are wakened, heard by a spirit that listens?

Form of the formless All-Beautiful, lodestar of Nature’s aspirance,

Music of prelude giving a voice to the ineffable Silence,

First white dawn of the God-Light cast on these creatures that perish,

Word-key of a divine and eternal truth for mortals to cherish,

Come! let thy sweetness and force be a breath in the breast of the future

Making the god-ways alive, immortality’s golden-red suture:

Deep in our lives there shall work out a honeyed celestial leaven,

Bliss shall grow native to being and earth be a kin-soil to heaven.

Open the barriers of Time, the world with thy beauty enamour.

Trailing behind thee the purple of thy soul and the dawn-moment’s glamour,

Forcing the heart of the Midnight where slumber and secrecy linger,

Guardians of Mystery, touching her bosom with thy luminous finger,

Daughter of Heaven, break through to me moonlike, mystic and gleaming;

Tread through the margins of twilight, cross over borders of dreaming.

Vision delightful alone on the peaks whom the silences cover,

Vision of bliss, stoop down to mortality, lean to thy lover.

Ahana

Voice of the sensuous mortal, heart of eternal longing,

Thou who hast lived as in walls, thy soul with thy senses wronging!

But I descend at last. Fickle and terrible, sweet and deceiving,

Poison and nectar one has dispensed to thee, luring thee, leaving.

We two together shall capture the flute and the player relentless.

Son of man, thou hast crowned thy life with the flowers that are scentless,

Chased the delights that wound. But I come and midnight shall sunder.

Lo, I come, and behind me Knowledge descends and with thunder

Filling the spaces Strength, the Angel, bears on his bosom

Joy to thy arms. Thou shalt look on her face like a child’s or a blossom,

Innocent, free as in Eden of old, not afraid of her playing,

When thy desires I have seized and devoured like a lioness preying.

Thou shalt not suffer always nor cry to me lured and forsaken:

I have a snare for his footsteps, I have a chain for him taken.

Come then to Brindavan, soul of the joyous; faster and faster

Follow the dance I shall teach thee with Shyama for slave and for master.

Follow the notes of the flute with a soul aware and exulting;

Trample Delight that submits and crouch to a sweetness insulting.

Then shalt thou know what the dance meant, fathom the song and the singer,

Hear behind thunder its rhymes, touched by lightning thrill to his finger,

Brindavan’s rustle shalt understand and Yamuna’s laughter,

Take thy place in the Ras7 and thy share of the ecstasy after.

 

Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30 volumes.- Volume 5.- Collected Poems.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Asram, 1972.- 625 p.

1 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: symbol

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2 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: a

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3 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Rigid vast

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4 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: frustrate

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5 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: looms

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6 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: of

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7 The dance-round of Krishna with the cowherdesses in the moonlit groves of Brindavan, type of the dance of Divine Delight with the souls of men liberated in the world of Bliss secret within us.

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