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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

A Vision of Science

I dreamed that in myself the world I saw,

Wherein three Angels strove for mastery. Law

Was one, clear vision and denial cold,

Yet in her limits strong, presumptuous, bold;

The second with enthusiasm bright,

Flame in her heart but round her brows the night,

Faded as this advanced. She could not bear

That searching gaze, nor the strong chilling air

These thoughts created, nourishing our parts

Of mind, but petrifying human hearts.

Science was one, the other gave her name,

Religion. But a third behind them came,

Veiled, vague, remote, and had as yet no right

Upon the world, but lived in her own light.

Wide were the victories of the Angel proud

Who conquered now and in her praise were loud

The nations. Few even yet to the other clove,–

And some were souls of night and some were souls of love.

But this was confident and throned. Her heralds ranged

Claiming that night was dead and all things changed;

For all things opened, all seemed clear, seemed bright –

Save the vast ranges that they left in night.

However, the light they shed upon the earth

Was great indeed, a firm and mighty birth.

A century’s progress lived before my eyes.

Delivered from amazement and surprise,

Man’s spirit measuring his worlds around

The laws of sight divined and laws of sound.

Light was not hidden from its1 searching gaze,

Nor matter could deny her2 myriad maze

To the cold enquiry; for the far came near,

The small loomed large, the intricate grew clear.

Measuring and probing the strong Angel strode,

Dissolving and combining, till she trod

Firmly among the stars, could weigh their forms,

Foretold the earthquakes, analysed the storms.

Doubt seemed to end and wonder’s reign was closed.

The stony pages of the earth disclosed

Their unremembered secrets. Horses of steam

Were bitted and the lightnings made a team

To draw our chariots. Heaven was scaled at last

And the loud seas subdued. Distance resigned

Its strong obstructions to the mastering mind.

So moved that spirit trampling; then it laid

Its hand at last upon itself, how this was made

Wondering, and sought to class and sought to trace

Mind by its forms, the wearer by the dress.

Then the other arose and met that spirit robust,

Who laboured; she now grew a shade who must

Fade wholly away, yet to her fellow cried,

“I pass, for thou hast laboured well and wide.

Thou thinkest term and end for thee are not;

But though thy pride is great, thou hast forgot

The Sphinx that waits for man beside the way.

All questions thou mayst answer, but one day

Her question shall await thee. That reply,

As all we must; for they, who cannot, die.

She slays them and their mangled bodies lie

Upon the highways of eternity.

Therefore, if thou wouldst live, know first this thing,

Who thou art in this dungeon labouring.”

And Science confidently, “Nothing am I but earth,

Tissue and nerve and from the seed a birth,

A mould, a plasm, a gas, a little that is much.

In these grey cells that quiver to each touch

The secret lies of man; they are the thing called I.

Matter insists and matter makes reply.

Shakespeare was this; this force in Jesus yearned

And conquered by the cross; this only learned

The secret of the suns that blaze afar;

This was Napoleon’s giant mind of war.”

I heard and marvelled in myself to see

The infinite deny infinity.

Yet the weird paradox seemed justified;

Even mysticism shrank out-mystified.

But the third Angel came and touched my eyes;

I saw the mornings of the future rise,

I heard the voices of an age unborn

That comes behind us and our pallid morn,

And from the heart of an approaching light

One said to man, “Know thyself infinite,

Who shalt do mightier miracles than these,

Infinite, moving mid infinities.”

Then from our hills the ancient answer pealed,

“For Thou, O Splendour, art myself concealed,

And the grey cell contains me not, the star

I outmeasure and am older than the elements are.

Whether on earth or far beyond the sun,

I, stumbling, clouded, am the Eternal One.”


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.

1 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: her


2 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: its