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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

The Dwarf Napoleon

Hitler, October 1939

Behold, by Maya’s fantasy of will

A violent miracle takes sudden birth,

The real grows one with the incredible.

In the control of her magician wand

The small achieves things great, the base things grand.

This puny creature would bestride the earth

Even as the immense colossus of the past.

Napoleon’s mind was swift and bold and vast,

His heart was calm and stormy like the sea,

His will dynamic in its grip and clasp.

His eye could hold a world within its grasp

And see the great and small things sovereignly.

A movement of enormous1 depth and scope

He seized and gave cohesion2 to its hope.

Far other this creature of a nether clay,

Void of all grandeur, like a gnome at play,

Iron and mud his nature’s mingled stuff,

A little limited visionary brain

Cunning and skilful in its narrow vein,

A sentimental egoist poor and rough,

Whose heart was never sweet and fresh and young,

A headlong spirit driven by hopes and fears,

Intense neurotic with his shouts and tears,

Violent and cruel, devil, child and brute,

This screaming orator with his strident tongue,

The3 prophet of a scanty fixed idea,

Plays now the leader of our human march;

His might shall build the future’s triumph arch.

Now is the world for his eating a ripe fruit.

His shadow falls from London to Korea4.

Cities and nations crumble in his course.

A terror holds the peoples in its grip:

World-destiny waits upon that foaming lip.

A Titan Power supports5 this pigmy man,

The crude dwarf instrument of a6 mighty Force.

Hater of the free spirit’s joy and light,

Made only of strength and skill and giant might,

A Will to trample humanity into clay

And unify earth beneath one iron sway,

Insists upon its fierce enormous plan.

Trampling man’s mind and will into one mould

Docile and facile in a dreadful hold,

It cries its demon slogans to the crowd;

But if its7 tenebrous empire were allowed,

Its8 mastery would prepare the dismal hour

When the Inconscient shall regain its right,

And man who emerged as Nature’s conscious power,

Shall sink into the deep original night

Sharing like all her forms that went before

The doom of the mammoth and the dinosaur.

It is the shadow of the Titan’s robe

That looms across the panic-stricken globe.

In his high villa on the fatal hill

Alone he listens to that sovereign Voice,

Dictator of his action’s sudden choice,

The tiger leap of a demoniac skill.

Too small and human for that dreadful Guest,

An9 energy his body cannot invest10,–

A tortured channel, not a happy vessel,

Drives him to think and act and cry and wrestle.

Thus driven he must stride on conquering all,

Threatening and clamouring, brutal, invincible,

Perhaps to meet11 upon his storm-swept road

A greater devil – or thunderstroke of God.


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 gigantic


2 coherence


3 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: This


4 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Corea


5 upholds


6 his


7 that


8 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: That


9 In 2009 ed. this line is placed after the next one


10 house


11 Until he meets