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