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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

Night by the Sea

Love, a moment drop thy hands;

Night within my soul expands.

Veil thy beauties milk-rose-fair

In that dark and showering hair.

Coral kisses ravish not

When the soul is tinged with thought;

Burning looks are then forbid.

Let each shyly-parted lid

Hover like a settling dove

O’er those deep-blue wells of Love.

Darkness brightens; silvering flee

Pomps of foam the driven sea.

In this garden’s dim repose

Lighted with the burning rose,

Soft narcissi’s golden camp

Glimmering or with rosier lamp

Censered honeysuckle guessed

By the fragrance of her breast,–

Here where summer’s hands have crowned

Silence in the fields of sound,

Here felicity should be.

Hearken, Edith, to the sea.

What a voice of grief intrudes

On these happy solitudes!

To the wind that with him dwells

Ocean, old historian, tells

All the dreadful heart of tears

Hidden in the pleasant years.

Summer’s children, what do ye

By the stern and cheerless sea?

Not we first nor we alone

Heard the mighty Ocean moan

By this treasure-house of flowers

In the sweet ambiguous hours.

Many a girl’s lips ruby-red

With their vernal honey fed

Happy mouths, and soft cheeks flushed

With Love’s rosy sunlight blushed.

Ruddy lips of many a boy

Blithe discovered hills of joy

Ruby-guided through a kiss

To the sweet highways of bliss.

Here they saw the evening still

Coming slowly from the hill

And the patient stars arise

To their outposts in the skies;

Heard the ocean shoreward urge

The speed and thunder of his surge,

Singing heard as though a bee

Noontide waters on the sea.

These no longer. For our rose

In her place they wreathed once, blows,

And thy glorious garland, sweet,

Kissed not once those wandering feet.

All the lights of spring are ended,

To the wintry haven wended.

Beauty’s boons and nectarous leisure,

Lips, the honeycombs of pleasure,

Cheeks enrosed, Love’s natal soil,

Breasts, the ardent conqueror’s spoil,

Spring rejects; a lovelier child

His brittle fancies has beguiled.

O her name that to repeat

Than the Dorian muse more sweet

Could the white hand more relume

Writing and refresh the bloom

Of lips that used such syllables then,

Dies unloved by later men.

Are we more than summer flowers?

Shall a longer date be ours,

Rose and springtime, youth and we

By the everlasting sea?

Are they blown as legends tell

In the smoke and gurge of hell?

Writhe they in relucent gyres

O’er a circle sad of fires?

In what lightless groves must they

Or unmurmuring alleys stray?

Fields no sunlight visits, streams

Where no happy lotus gleams?

Yet, where’er their steps below,

Memories sweet for comrades go.

Lethe’s waters had their will,

But the soul remembers still.

Beauty pays her boon of breath

To thy narrow credit, Death,

Leaving a brief perfume; we

Perish also by the sea.

We shall lose, ah me! too soon

Lose the clear and silent moon,

The serenities of night

And the deeper evening light.

We shall know not when the morn

In the widening East is born,

Never feel the west-wind stir,

Spring’s delightful messenger,

Never under branches lain

Dally with the sweet-lipped rain,

Watch the moments of the tree,

Nor know the sounds that tread the sea.

With thy kisses chase this gloom: –

Thoughts, the children of the tomb.

Kiss me, Edith. Soon the night

Comes and hides the happy light.

Nature’s vernal darlings dead

From new founts of life are fed.

Dawn relumes the immortal skies.

Ah! what boon for earth-closed eyes?

Love’s sweet debts are standing, sweet;

Honied payment to complete

Haste – a million is to pay –

Lest too soon the allotted day

End and we oblivious keep

Darkness and eternal sleep.

See! the moon from heaven falls.

In thy bosom’s snow-white walls

Softly and supremely housed

Shut my heart up; keep it closed

Like a rose of Indian grain,

Like that rose against the rain,

Closed to all that life applauds,

Nature’s perishable gauds,

And the airs that burdened be

With such thoughts as shake the sea.


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.