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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

I. Short Poems

I walked beside the waters


I walked beside the waters of a world of light

On a gold ridge guarding two seas of high-rayed night.

One was divinely topped with a pale bluish moon

And swam as in a happy deep spiritual swoon

More conscious than earth’s waking; the other’s wide delight

Billowed towards an ardent orb of diamond white.

But where I stood, there joined in a bright marvellous haze

The miracled moons with the long ridge’s golden blaze.

I knew not if two wakings or two mighty sleeps

Mixed the great diamond fires and the pale pregnant deeps,

But all my glad expanding soul flowed satisfied

Around me and became the mystery of their tide.

As one who finds his own eternal self, content,

Needing naught else beneath the spirit’s firmament,

It knew not Space, it heard no more Time’s running feet,

Termless, fulfilled, lost richly in itself, complete.

And so it might have lain for ever. But there came

A dire intrusion wrapped in married cloud and flame,

Across the blue-white moon-hush of my magic seas

A sudden sweeping of immense peripheries

Of darkness ringing lambent lustres; shadowy-vast

A nameless dread, a Power incalculable passed

Whose feet were death, whose wings were immortality;

Its changing mind was time, its heart eternity.

All opposites were there, unreconciled, uneased,

Struggling for victory, by victory unappeased.

All things it bore, even that which brings undying peace,

But secret, veiled, waiting for some supreme release.

I saw the spirit of the cosmic Ignorance;

I felt its power besiege my gloried fields of trance.1


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 In 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2 the poem continues:

But now its huge Enigma had a voice, a cry

That echoed through my oceans of felicity.

A Voice arose that was so sweet and terrible

It thrilled the heart with love and pain, as if all hell

Tuned with all heaven in one inextricable note.

Born from abysmal depths on highest heights to float,

It carried all sorrow that the souls of creatures share,

Yet hinted every rapture that the gods can bear.

ďO Son of God who camíst into my blackest Night

To sound and know its gulfs and bring the immortal light

Into the passion of its darkness, castst thou manís fate

For thy soulís freedom and its magic are forfeit,

Renouncing the high pain that gave thee mortal birth

And made thy soul a seeker on the common earth?

When first the Eternal cast Himself abroad to be

His own unimaginable multiplicity,

Expressing in Time and shape what timelessly was there,

The mighty Mother stood alone in diamond air

And took into her that Godhead streaming from above

And worlds of her endless beauty and delight and love

Leaped from her fathomless heart.