CWSA.- Volume 2
Part Five. Pondicherry, c. 1910 – 1920
Poems in Quantitative Hexameters
(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.)
Closer yet lean to mortality; human, stoop to thy lover.
Glimmers thy face amid crystal purities; mighty thou playest
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.
Heal earth’s unease with thy feet, O heaven-born delicate virgin.
Joys that escape us, yoked by our hearts to a labour unceasing,
Earth-bound, torn with our longings, our life is a brief incompleteness.
All desirable things in a stillness lone and unfriended?
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.
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.
Slaying, creating, calm in the midst of the movement and madness,
Stole there no rhythm of an earthly joy and a mortal sadness?
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.
He whose calm is the silent reply to our passion and clamours!
Labour and sorrow and struggle than stilled into rapture immobile?
Marvels of Time on the crest of the moments to Infinity flying.
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.
Cypris laughs in her isles where the ocean-winds linger to woo her.
Night shall be haunted for ever with strange and delicate faces.
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.
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.
Magic of Maya with falsehood and pain for its only inherence.
He who has sent through his soul’s wide spaces the universe spinning.
Dreaming through aeons unreal his splendid and empty formation!
Pushed by what mood of a moment, the breath of what fancy to make it?
Bliss lives alone with the self-pure, the single, the forever-uncreated.
Facing the soul when it turns from the stress of the figures around it?
Building with forms and events its strange and magnificent story.
Myth cast out and all dreams of the soul, and all worship abolished?
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.
Magic of Chance and a movement of Void and inconscient Stupor.
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.
Strangely the Void with a semblance of Matter, painfully flowered
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
By an almighty One million-ecstasied, thousand-passioned.
Waves that well up to the surface, born from what mysteried ocean?
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?
Rigid, too vast3 inexhaustible mystery void of a meaning?
Out of the eternal silence to thought and its strangeness and splendour?
Witness and cause of her workings, lord of her pauseless endeavour.
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.
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.
Looks out on struggle and harmony,– conscious, her will of selection
Studies her works and illumines the choice of her way; last, slowly
Silences brood in her heart and she feels in her ardent recesses
Passions too great for her frame, on her body immortal caresses.
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.
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.
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?
Won when we part from this body, this temporal house of a nether
Nature for ever accursed, frustrated4, grief-vexed, fate-ridden?
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,
He unwilling or sleeping? did someone transgress the fated
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?
Deep are her roots in him; topless she climbs, to his greatness a neighbour.
Air-flight to him is man’s journey with heaven and earth for the runways.
He the eternal Truth that we look in ourselves to discover.
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,
Self-ward, form-bound, mute, motionless, slowly inevitably emerges
Vast as the cosmos, minute as the atom, the Spirit eternal.
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.
Powers of his godhead we live; the Creator dwells in the creature.
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.
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
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.
All things created are made by their borders, sketched out and coded;
Vain is the passion to divinise manhood, humanise godhead.
Only we see as in night by a lustre of flickering torches.
Be what thou must be or be what thou canst be, one hour in an era.
Curb heart’s impatience, bind thy desires down, pause from self-vexing.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
Bound by the body and life to the gait of the house-burdened turtle.
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.
Draws us through tangles of failure and victory’s inextricable twining.
Pain is the ransom we pay for the smallest foretaste of heaven.
Thick and persistent the Night confronts us, its hunger enormous
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.
Even for a moment their skies; in the sands our achievements are gravured.
Beauty’s immortal delight, and the seals of the mystery sunder.
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.
Scanning the dust for his footprints, praying and stumbling and falling;
Nothing is found and no answer comes from the masks that are passing.
Sole reminder that he is, last signal recalling his presence.
Fearing to offer itself as a victim on ecstasy’s altars.
Beauty looks out like a sun on the hearts of the ravished beholders.
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.
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.
Blows from the hands of a lover to direr exactions exciting,
Something within us, something without us, trap-door or tower,
Once could we clasp him and hold, his joy we could never relinquish.
Termlessly our souls would possess as he now enjoys and possesses,
Termlessly probe the delight of his laughter’s lurking recesses,
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.
Soul and Nature together mid streams and in cloudless spaces
Knowledge of good and of evil, cleaving in God a division.
“No, there is evil,” someone whispered, “’tis screened from detection.”
“See it,” he said, “be wise; you shall be as the gods are, unsleeping,
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.
Streamed out the sword of his wrath and it followed leaping to find them,
All are confounded in punishment; justly is no one exempted.
“This is the garden,” we say, “lo, the trees and this is the river.”
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.
Calmness and purity born of the spirit’s gaze on the Real,
Rapture of his oneness embracing the soul in a clasp hymeneal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Breaks from the channels of hiding it grooves out and chisels and twistens,
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
They shall grow drunk with its grapes and wander in woodland and alley.
Circle around with their red eye of cruelty stabbing the portal?
Drinking her laughter of bliss like a god in my Grecian islands.
Lustre of Paradise, light of the earth-ways marry and mingle.
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.
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.
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.
Fixed to its hour the Decree of the Advent, still it is fated
Only when kindling earth’s bodies a mightier Soul is created.
Seen by the eyes that are wakened, heard by a spirit that listens?
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.
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 of bliss, stoop down to mortality, lean to thy lover.
Voice of the sensuous mortal, heart of eternal longing,
Thou who hast lived as in walls, thy soul with thy senses wronging!
Poison and nectar one has dispensed to thee, luring thee, leaving.
Filling the spaces Strength, the Angel, bears on his bosom
Innocent, free as in Eden of old, not afraid of her playing,
When thy desires I have seized and devoured like a lioness preying.
I have a snare for his footsteps, I have a chain for him taken.
Follow the dance I shall teach thee with Shyama for slave and for master.
Trample Delight that submits and crouch to a sweetness insulting.
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
2 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: a
3 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: Rigid vast
4 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: frustrate
5 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: looms
6 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.5: of
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.