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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

Songs to Myrtilla


Sweet is the night, sweet and cool

As to parched lips a running pool;

Sweet when the flowers have fallen asleep

And only moonlit rivulets creep

Like glow-worms in the dim and whispering wood,

To commune with the quiet heart and solitude.

When earth is full of whispers, when

No daily voice is heard of men,

But higher audience brings

The footsteps of invisible things,

When o’er the glimmering tree-tops bowed

The night is leaning on a luminous cloud,

And always a melodious breeze

Sings secret in the weird and charmèd trees,

Pleasant ’tis then heart-overawed to lie

Alone with that clear moonlight and that listening sky.


But day is sweeter; morning bright

Has put the stars out ere the light,

And from their dewy cushions rise

Sweet flowers half-opening their eyes.

O pleasant then to feel as if new-born

The sweet, unripe and virgin air, the air of morn.

And pleasant are her melodies,

Rustle of winds, rustle of trees,

Birds’ voices in the eaves,

Birds’ voices in the green melodious leaves;

The herdsman’s flute among his flocks,

Sweet water hurrying from reluctant rocks,

And all sweet hours and all sweet showers

And all sweet sounds that please the noonday flowers.

Morning has pleasure, noon has golden peace

And afternoon repose and eve the heart’s increase.

All things are subject to sweet pleasure,

But three things keep her richest measure.

The breeze that visits heaven

And knows the planets seven,

The green spring with its flowery truth

Creative and the luminous heart of youth.

To all fair flowers and vernal

The wind makes melody diurnal.

On Ocean all night long

He rests, a voice of song.

The blue sea dances like a girl

With sapphire and with pearl

Crowning her locks. Sunshine and dew

Each morn delicious life renew.

The year is but a masque of flowers,

Of light and song and honied showers.

In the soft springtide comes the bird

Of heaven whose speech is one sweet word,

One word of sweet and magic power to bring

Green branches back and ruddy lights of spring.

Summer has pleasant comrades, happy meetings

Of lily and rose and from the trees divinest greetings.


For who in April shall remember

The certain end of drear November?

No flowers then live, no flowers

Make sweet those wretched hours;

From dead or grieving branches spun

Unwilling leaves lapse wearily one by one;

The heart is then in pain

With the unhappy sound of rain.

No secret boughs prolong

A green retreat of song;

Summer is dead and rich repose

And springtide and the rose,

And woods and all sweet things make moan;

The weeping earth is turned to stone.

The lovers of her former face,

Shapes of beauty, melody, grace,

Where are they? Butterfly and bird

No more are seen, no songs are heard.

They see her beauty spent, her splendours done;

They seek a younger earth, a surer sun.

When youth has quenched its soft and magic light,

Delightful things remain but dead is their delight.


Ah! for a little hour put by

Dim Hades and his pageantry.

Forget the future, leave the past,

The little hour thy life shall last.

Learn rather from the violet’s days

Soft-blooming in retired ways

Or dewy bell, the maid undrest

With creamy childhood in her breast,

Fierce foxglove and the briony

And sapphire thyme, the work-room of the bee.

Behold in emerald fire

The spotted lizard crawl

Upon the sun-kissed wall

And coil in tangled brake

The green and sliding snake

Under the red-rose-briar.

Nay, hither see

Lured by thy rose of lips the bee

To woo thy petals open, O sweet,

His flowery murmur here repeat,

Forsaking all the joys of thyme.

Stain not thy perfumed prime

With care for autumn’s pale decay,

But live like these thy sunny day.

So when thy tender bloom must fall,

Then shalt thou be as one who tasted all

Life’s honey and must now depart

A broken prodigal from pleasure’s mart,

A leaf with whom each golden sunbeam sinned,

A dewy leaf and kissed by every wandering wind.


How various are thy children, earth!

Behold the rose her lovely birth,

What fires from the bud proceed,

As if the vernal air did bleed.

Breezes and sunbeams, bees and dews

Her lords and lovers she indues,

And these her crimson pleasures prove;

Her life is but a bath of love;

The wide world perfumes when she sighs

And, burning all the winds, of love she dies.

The lily liveth pure,

Yet has she lovers, friends,

And each her bliss intends;

The bees besides her treasure

Besiege of pollened pleasure,

Nor long her gates endure.

The snowdrop cold

Has vowed the saintly state to hold

And far from green spring’s amorous guilds

Her snowy hermitage she builds.

Cowslip attends her vernal duty

And stops the heart with beauty.

The crocus asks no vernal thing,

But all the lovely lights of spring

Are with rich honeysuckle boon

And praise her through one summer moon.

Thus the sweet children of the earth

Fulfil their natural selves and various birth.

For one is proud and one sweet months approve

Diana’s saint, but most are bondmaidens of Love.

Love’s feet were on the sea

When he dawned on me.

His wings were purple-grained and slow;

His voice was very sweet and very low;

His rose-lit cheeks, his eyes’ pale bloom

Were sorrow’s anteroom;

His wings did cause melodious moan;

His mouth was like a rose o’erblown;

The cypress-garland of renown

Did make his shadowy crown.

Fair as the spring he gave

And sadder than a winter’s wave

And sweet as sunless asphodel,

My shining lily, Florimel,

My heart’s enhaloed moon,

My winter’s warmth, my summer’s shady boon.


Not from the mighty sea

Love visited me.

I found as in a jewelled box

Love, rose-red, sleeping with imprisoned locks;

And I have ever known him wild

And merry as a child,

As roses red, as roses sweet,

The west wind in his feet,

Tulip-girdled, kind and bold,

With heartsease in his curls of gold,

Since in the silver mist

Bright Cymothea’s lips I kissed,

Whose laughter dances like a gleam

Of sunlight on a hidden stream

That through a wooded way

Runs suddenly into the perfect day.

But what were Cymothea, placed

Where like a silver star Myrtilla blooms?

Such light as cressets cast

In long and sun-lit rooms.

Thy presence is to her

As oak to juniper,

Thy beauty as the gorgeous rose

To privet by the lane that blows,

Gold-crownèd blooms to mere fresh grass,

Eternal ivy to brief blooms that pass.


But Florimel beside thee, sweet,

Pales like a candle in the brilliant noon.

Snowdrops are thy feet,

Thy waist a crescent moon,

And like a silver wand

Thy body slight doth stand

Or like a silver beech aspire.

Thine arms are walls for white caresses,

Thy mouth a tale of crimson kisses,

Thine eyes two amorous treasuries of fire.

To what shall poet liken thee?

Art thou a goddess of the sea

Purple-tressed and laughter-lipped

From thy choric sisters slipped

To wander on the flowery land?

Or art thou siren on the treacherous sand

Summer-voiced to charm the ear

Of the wind-vext mariner?

Ah! but what are these to thee,

Brighter gem than knows the sea,

Lovelier girl than sees the stream

Naked, Naiad of a dream,

Whiter Dryad than men see

Dancing round the lone oak-tree,

Flower and most enchanting birth

Of ten ages of the earth!

The Graces in thy body move

And in thy lips the ruby hue of Love.


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volume 2.- Collected Poems.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2009.- 751 p.