Home Page | Workings | Works of Sri Aurobindo | Collected Poems

Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

The Lover’s Complaint

O plaintive, murmuring reed, begin thy strain;

Unloose that heavenly tongue,

Interpreter divine of pain;

Utter thy voice, the sister of my song.

Thee in the silver waters growing,

Arcadian Pan, strange whispers blowing

Into thy delicate stops, did teach

A language lovelier than speech.

O plaintive, murmuring reed, begin thy strain;

O plaintive, murmuring reed.

Nisa to Mopsus is decreed,

The moonwhite Nisa to a swarthy swain.

What love-gift now shall Hope not bring?

Election dwells no more with beauty’s king.

The wild weed now has wed the rose,

Now ivy on the bramble grows;

Too happy lover, fill the lamp of bliss!

Too happy lover, drunk with Nisa’s kiss!

For thee pale Cynthia leaves her golden car,

For thee from Tempe stoops the white and evening star.

O plaintive, murmuring reed, renew thy strain;

O solace anguish yet again.

I thought Love soft as velvet sleep,

Sweeter than dews nocturnal breezes weep,

Cool as water in a murmuring pass

And shy as violets in the vernal grass,

But hard as Nisa’s heart is he

And salt as the unharvestable sea.

O plaintive, murmuring reed, renew thy strain.

One morn she came; her mouth

Breathing the odours of the south,

With happy eyes and heaving bosom fain.

She asked for fruit long-stored in autumn’s hold.

These gave I; from the branch dislodged I threw

Sweet-hearted apples in their age of gold

And pears divine for taste and hue.

And one I saw, should all the rest excel;

But error led my plucking hand astray

And with a sudden sweet dismay

My heart into her apron fell.

O plaintive, murmuring reed, renew thy strain.

My bleeding heart awhile

She kept and bloomed upon its pain,

Then slighted as a broken thing and vile.

Now Mopsus in his unblest arms,

Mopsus enfolds her heavenlier charms,

Mopsus to whom the Muse averse

Refused her gracious secrets to rehearse.

O plaintive, murmuring reed, breathe yet thy strain.

Ye glades, your bliss I grudge you not,

Nor would I that my grief profane

Your sacred summer with intruding thought.

Yet since I will no more behold

Your glorious beauty stained with gold

From shadows of her hair, nor by some well

Made naked of their sylvan dress

The breasts, the limbs I never shall possess,

Therefore, O mother Arethuse, farewell.

For me no place abides

By the green verge of thy belovèd tides.

To Lethe let my footsteps go

And wailing waters in the realms below,

Where happier song is none than moaning pain

Nor any lovelier Syrinx than the weed.

Child of the lisping waters, hush thy strain,

O murmuring, plaintive reed.


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.