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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

The Meditations of Mandavya


O joy of gaining all the soul’s desire!

O stranger joy of the defeat and loss!

O heart that yearnest to uplift the world!

O fiercer heart that bendest o’er1 its pain

And drinkst the savour! I will love thee, O Love,

Naked or veiled or dreadfully disguised;

Not only when thou flatterest my heart

But when thou tearst it! Thy sweet pity I love

And mother’s care for creatures, for the joys

I love thee that the lives of things possess,

And love thee for the torment of our pains;

Nor cry, as some, against thy will, nor say,

Thou art not. Easy is the love that lasts

Only with favours in the shopman heart!

Who, tortured2, takes and gives the kiss, he loves.


Blue-winged like turquoise, crimson-throated, beaked,

Enormous, fluttering over the garden wall

Thou cam’st3 to me; some moments on a bough

Wast4 perched, then flewst5 away, leaving my heart

Enchanted. It was as if thou saidst, “Behold, my love,

How beautiful I am! To show thee this,

I came, my beauty. Now I flee away

Since thou hast seen and lov’st.” So dealst thou always,

Luring and fleeing; but our hearts pursue.


While on a terrace hushed I walked at night,

He came and stung my foot. My soul surprised

Rejoiced in lover’s contact; but the mind

Thought of a scorpion and was snared by forms.

Still, still my soul remembered its delight

Denying mind, and midst the body’s pain,

I laughed contented.


All is attained, attained! The pain is dead,

The striving. O thou joy that since this world

Began, wast waiting for me in thy lair.

O Wild Beast of the ways! Thou tearst6 my soul

With rapture, O thou fierce delightful God.7

O cruelly8 divine! O pity fierce!

O timeless rapture of the nights that pass

Embraced! O terror pure of Thy caress!9

Humanity, acceptable I find

Thy ages that have wept out sweat and blood,

Since all was made to give its utter price

To one wild moment of thy hidden God.

Let the whole world end now, since all for which

It was created is fulfilled at last

And I am swallowed up in thee, O God.


Who made of Nature here a tyrant? Who

Condemned us to be slaves? It was not God.

Nay, we ourselves chose our own servitude

And we ourselves have forged and heaped our chains

On our own members. God only watched the while

And mocked us sweetly at our childish task.

Then if He seized us helpless in our bonds,

Then if He played with us despite our cries

And answered with His dreadful laugh our wrath,

Ours was the fault who chose the10 bondage first,

Ours is the folly whom His play affrights

While all the time He tells us, “It is nought.”

And now we say we never can be free,

For Nature binds us, for the fire must burn,

The water drown and death must seize his prey,

And grief and torture do their will with us

And sin be like a lion with the world,

Because ’tis Nature. Man’s not infinite,

The proof is with us every day, they cry,

And God Himself’s a huge machine at last.

Yet over us all the while Thought’s lightning11 plays12

And all the while within us works His love.

Now more than when the play began, He laughs.


Now I believe that it is possible

To manage the arising clouds, to silence

The thunder when it roars and put our rein

Upon the lightnings. Only first within

The god we must coerce who wallows here

In love with his subjection and confined

By his own servants, wantonly enslaved

To every lure and every tempting bond.

And therefore man loves power, but power o’ercome,

Force that accepts its limits. Wherefore then

A limit? Why not dare the whole embrace,

The vast attraction? Let us risk extinction then

If by that venture immortality

And high omnipotence come near our grasp.

’Tis not the little rippling wayward seas,

Nor all huge ocean tumbled by its storms

That can be our exemplar. The vault of heaven

Is not a true similitude for man

Whose space outgyres thought’s last horizon. Something

There is in us fears not the night beyond,

But breathless sails, unanchored, without helm,

Where all the13 senses end14. Our naked soul

Can journey to the farther unshaped void

Where nothing is except ourselves, arrive, hold on,

Not shake, not ask return. Who accepts at last

His limit save the beast and plant and clod?

O to be perfect here, to exceed all bounds,

To feel the world a toy between our hands!

Yet now enough that I have seized one current

Of the tremendous Force that moves the world.

I know, O God, the day shall dawn at last

When man shall rise from playing with the mud

And taking in his hands the sun and stars

Remould appearance, law and process old.

Then, pain and discord vanished from the world,

Shall the dead wilderness accept the rose

And the hushed desert babble of its rills;

Man once more seem the image true of God.


I will not faint, O God. There is the15 thirst,

And thirst supposes water somewhere. Yes,

But in this life we may not ever find;

Old nature sits a phantom by the way,

Old passions may forbid, old doubts return.

Then are there other lives here or beyond

To satisfy us? I will persist, O Lord.


What is this Love that I have never found?

I have imagined in the skies a God

And seen Him in the stirring of the leaves

And heard Him in the purling of the brooks

And feared Him in the lightning’s flashing tusk

And missed Him in the mute eternal night

And woke to Him in the returning Dawns.

And now I say there is no God at all,

But only a dumb Void that belches forth

Numberless larvae and phantasmal shapes

Into a void less happy than itself

Because this feels. O if this dream were true,

This iron, brute, gigantic helpless toy

They call a world, this thing that turns and turns

And shrieks and bleeds and cannot stop, this victim

Broken and living yet on its iron16 wheel,

And if a Will created this, what name

Shall best blaspheme against that tyrant God?

Let all men seek it out and hurl it up

Against Him with one cry, if yet perchance

Complete denial may destroy His life

With happy end to His unhappy world.

For where in all these stars is any sign of Love?

It is not here, but that which seems like Love

Is a sleek cruel cheat that soon unmasks,

Sent here to make the final suffering worse,–

Not Love, but Death disguised that strokes its food!

And all good in the world is only that,

A death that eats and eating is devoured,

This is the brutal image of the world.


Lo, I have cursed Thee, lo, I have denied

Thy love, Thy being. Strike me with Thy rod,

Convince me that Thou art. O leave it not

To Thy dumb messengers that have no heart,

No wrath in the attack, no angered love,

No exultation in the blow that falls,

The cry that answers. Let me feel a Heart,

Even though an evil one, that throbs and is

Against our tears, our pressure and our search.

Beware, for I will send my soul across the earth

And all men turn against Thee at my word.

There is no sign, there comes not any voice.

And yet, alas! I know He will return

And He will soothe my wounds and charm my heart;

I shall again forgive, again shall love,

Again shall suffer, be again deceived.

And where is any end, O Heaven, O Earth?

But there is never any end when one has loved.


A sudden silence and a sudden sound,

The sound above and in another world,

The silence here and from the two a thought.

Perhaps the heart of God for ever sings

And worlds come throbbing out from every note;

Perhaps His soul sits ever calm and still

And listens to the music rapturously,

Himself adoring, by Himself adored.

So were the singer and the hearer one

Eternally. The anthem buoyant rides

For ever on the seas of Space and Time

And worships the white Bliss from which ’twas born;

The ineffable Delight leans silent down

And clasps the creatures of its mystic cry

For ever and for ever – without end.


Who art thou that pursuest my desire

Like a wild beast behind the jungle’s screen

And throw’st a dread upon its fiercest fire,

A shadow on its flowering joy and green?

Thou madest and deniest me my need,

Thou jealous Lover and devouring Greed!


Who spoke of God? There is a hungry Beast

In ambush for the world who all devours,

Yet is his hunger sated not the least.

He tears our beauty, strength and happiest hours,

And eats our flesh and drinks our blood and tears,

Ranging as in a thicket through the years.


Dost thou desire my last vain hope? Take it, rejoice!

Wilt thou exact my dying bliss? Tear it and end!

But give me this at least, dying, to hear thy voice,

By thee as foeman slain if never clasped as friend.


Foeman or friend, lover or slayer, only thee

I need and feel, O personal eternity.


If what thou gavest, thou must needs again exact,

Cancel thy forms, deny thy own accomplished fact,

With what wilt thou replace them? Is thy void17

Embraceable by arms? Or can the soul upbuoyed

Rest on a shoreless emptiness without a name?

Can Love find rapture by renouncing all his flame?

Thou hast forgotten or our nature is misled,

Lur’st thou to utter18 life beyond the silence dead?


Not sound, nor silence, neither world nor void,

But the unthinkable, absolute, unalloyed

One, multitudinous, nameless, yet a Name,

Innumerably other, yet the same.

Immeasurable ecstasy where Time

And Space have fainted in a swoon sublime!


Of silence I have tired, from the profounder Night

I come rejected. All the immensities overhead

Are given to my fierce upwinging soul at last

Rapt into high impossible ranges huge outspread.

Unnumbered voices thrill the silent waiting Vast,

A million flames converge into the rayless Light.


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: over


2 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: smitten


3 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: He came


4 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Was


5 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: flew


6 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: who torest


7 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: felt as pain.


8 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: cruelty


9 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: poignant and pure with Thy caress!


10 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: that


11 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: lightnings


12 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: play


13 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: mind and


14 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: fail


15 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: this


16 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: own


17 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: thy nameless void


18 silent