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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

III. Longer Poems


Canto I

Canto II

Canto III

Canto IV

Canto I

Pururavus from Titan conflict ceased

Turned worldwards, through illimitable space

Had travelled like a star ’twixt earth and heaven

Slowly and brightly. Late our mortal air

He breathed; for downward now the hooves divine

Trampling out fire with sound before them went,

And the great earth rushed up towards him, green.

With the first line of dawn he touched the peaks,

Nor paused upon those savage heights, but reached

Inferior summits subject to the rain,

And rested. Looking northwards thence he saw

The giant snows upclimbing to the sky,

And felt the mighty silence. In his ear

The noise of a retreating battle was,

Wide crash of wheels and hard impetuous blare

Of trumpets and the sullen march of hosts.

Therefore with joy he drank into his soul

The virgin silence inaccessible

Of mountains and divined his mother’s breasts.

But as he listened to the hush, a thought

Came to him from the spring and he turned round

And gazed into the quiet maiden East,

Watching that birth of day, as if a line

Of some great poem out of dimness grew,

Slowly unfolding into perfect speech.

The grey lucidity and pearliness

Bloomed more and more, and over earth chaste again

The freshness of the primal dawn returned,

Life coming with a virginal sharp strength,

Renewed as from the streams of Paradise.

Nearer it drew now to him and he saw

Out of the widening glory move a face

Of dawn, a body fresh from mystery,

Enveloped with a prophecy of light

More rich than perfect splendours. It was she,

The golden virgin, Usha, mother of life,

Yet virgin. In a silence sweet she came,

Unveiled, soft-smiling, like a bride, rose-cheeked,

Her bosom full of flowers, the morning wind

Stirring her hair and all about her gold.

Nor sole she came. Behind her faces laughed

Delicious, girls of heaven whose beauties ease

The labour of the battle-weary Gods;

They in the golden dawn of things sprang gold,

From youth of the immortal Ocean born,

They youthful and immortal, and the waves

Were in their feet and in their voices fresh

As foam, and Ocean in their souls was love.

Laughing they ran among the clouds, their hair

And raiment all a tempest in the breeze.

The sky grew glorious with them and their feet

A restless loveliness and glad eyes full

Of morning and divine faces bent back

For the imperious kisses of the wind.

So danced they numberless as dew-drops gleam,

Menaca1, Misracayshie, Mullica,

Rumbha, Nelabha, Shela, Nolinie,

Lolita, Lavonya and Tilottama2,–

Many delightful names; among them she.

And seeing her Pururavus the king

Shuddered as of felicity afraid,

And all the wide heart of Pururavus

Moved like the sea – when with a coming wind

Great Ocean lifts in far expectancy

Waiting to feel the shock, so was he moved

By expectation of her face. For this

Was secret in its own divinity

Like a high sun of splendour, or half seen

All troubled with her hair. Yet Paradise

Breathed from her limbs and tresses wonderful,

With odours and with dreams. Then for a space

Voiceless the great king stood and, troubled, watched

That lovely advent, laughter and delight

Gaining upon the world. At last he sighed

And the vague passion broke from him in speech

Heard by the solitude. “O thou strong god,

Who art thou graspest me with hands of fire,

Making my soul all colour? Surely I thought

The hills would move and the eternal stars

Deviate from their rounds immutable,

Never Pururavus; yet lo! I fall.

My soul whirls alien and I hear amazed

The galloping of uncontrollable steeds.

Men said of me: ‘The King Pururavus

Grows more than man; he lifts to azure heaven

In vast equality his spirit sublime’,

Why sink I now towards attractive earth?

And thou, who art thou, mystery! golden wonder!

Moving enchantress! Wast thou not a part

Of soft auspicious evenings I have loved?

Have I not seen thy beauty on the clouds?

In moonlight and in starlight and in fire?

Some flower whose brightness was a trouble? a face

Whose memory like a picture lived with me?

A thought I had, but lost? O was thy voice

A vernal repetition in some grove,

Telling of lilies clustered o’er with bees

And quiet waters open to the moon?

Surely in some past life I loved thy name,

And syllable by syllable now strive

Its sweetness to recall. It seems the grace

Of visible things, of hushed and lonely snows

And burning great inexorable noons,

And towns and valleys and the mountain winds.

All beauty of earthliness is in thee, all

Luxurious experience of the soul.

O comest thou because I left thy charm

Aiming at purity, oh3 comest thou,

Goddess, to avenge thyself with beauty? Come!

Unveil thyself from light! limit thyself,

O infinite grace, that I may find, may clasp.

For surely in my heart I know thou bearest

A name that naturally weds with mine,

And I perceive our union magically

Inevitable as a perfect verse

Of Veda. Set thy feet upon my heart,

O Goddess! woman, to my bosom move!

I am Pururavus, O Urvasie.”

As when a man to the grey face of dawn

Awaking from an unremembered dream,

Repines at life awhile and buffets back

The wave of old familiar thoughts, and hating

His usual happiness and usual cares

Strives to recall a dream’s felicity; –

Long strives in vain and rolls his painful thought

Through many alien ways, when sudden comes

A flash, another, and the vision burns

Like lightning in the brain, so leaped that name

Into the musing of the troubled king.

Joyous he cried aloud and lashed his steeds:

They, rearing, leaped from Himalaya high

And trampled with their hooves the southern wind.

But now a cry broke from the lovely crowd

Of fear and tremulous astonishment;

And they huddled together like doves dismayed

Who see the inevitable talons near

And rush of cruel wings. ’Twas not from him,

For him they saw not yet, but from the north

A fear was on them, and Pururavus

Heard a low roar as of a distant cloud.

He turned half-wrathful. In the far north-west

Heaven stood thick, concentrated in gloom,

Darkness in darkness hidden; for the cloud

Rose firmament on sullen firmament,

As if all brightness to entomb. Across

Great thundrous whispers rolled, and lightning quivered

From edge to edge, a savage pallor. Down

The south wind dropped appalled. Then for a while

Stood pregnant with the thunderbolt and wearing

Rain like a colour, the monumental cloud

Sublime and voiceless. Long the heart was stilled

And the ear waited listening. Suddenly

From motionless battalions as outride

A speed disperse of horsemen, from that mass

Of livid menace went a frail light cloud

Rushing through heaven, and behind it streamed

The downpour all in wet and greenish lines.

Swift rushed the splendid anarchy admired,

And reached, and broke, and with a roar of rain

And tumult on the wings of wind and clasp

Of the o’erwhelmed horizons and with bursts

Of thunder breaking all the body with sound

And lightning ’twixt the eyes intolerable,

Like heaven’s vast eagle all that blackness swept

Down over the inferior snowless heights

And swallowed up the dawn. Pururavus,

Lost in the streaming tumult, stood amazed:

But as he watched, he was aware of locks

Flying and a wild face and terrible

And fierce familiar eyes. Again he looked

And knew him in a hundred battles crossed,

The giant Cayshie. It seemed but yesterday

That over the waves of fight their angry eyes

Had met. He in the dim disguise of rain,

All swift with storm, came passionate and huge,

Filling the regions with himself. Immense

He stooped upon the brides of heaven. They

Like flowers in a gust scattered and blown

Fled every way; but he upon that beauty

Magical sprang and seized and lifted up,

As the storm lifts a lily, and arrow-like

Up towards the snow-bound heights in rising cloud

Rushed with the goddess to the trembling East.

But with more formidable speed and fast

Storming through heaven King Pururavus

Hurled after him. The giant turned and knew

The sound of those victorious wheels and light

In a man’s face more dangerous to evil

Than all the shining Gods. He stood, he raised

One dreadful arm that stretched across the heavens,

And shook his baffling lance on high. But vast,

But magnified by speed came threatening on

With echoing hooves and battle in its wheels

The chariot of the King Pururavus

Bearing a formidable charioteer,

Pururavus. The fiend paused, he rolled his eyes

Full of defiance, passion and despair

Upon the swooning goddess in his arms

And that avenger. Violence and fear

Poised him a moment on a wave of fate

This way to death cadent, that way to shame.

Then groaning in his great tumultuous breast

He dropped upon the snow heaven’s ravished flower

And fled, a blackness in the East. New sky

Replenished from the sullen cloud dawned out;

The great pure azure rose in sunlight wide.

Nor King Pururavus pursued but checked

His rushing chariot on the quiet snow

And sprang towards her and knelt down and trembled.

Perfect she lay amid her tresses wide,

Like a mishandled lily luminous,

As she had fallen. From the lucid robe

One shoulder gleamed and golden breast left bare,

Divinely lifting, one gold arm was flung.

A warm rich splendour exquisitely outlined

Against the dazzling whiteness, and her face

Was as a fallen moon among the snows.

And King Pururavus, beholding glowed

Through all his limbs and maddened with a love

He feared and cherished. Overawed and hushed,

Hardly even breathing, long he knelt, a greatness

Made stone with sudden dread and passion. Love

With fiery attempt plucked him all down to her,

But fear forbade his lips the perfect curls.

At length he raised her still unkissed and laid

In his bright chariot, next himself ascended

And resting on one arm with fearful joy

Her drooping head, with the other ruled the car; –

With one arm ruled, but his eyes were for her

Studying her fallen lids and to heart-beats

Guessing the sweetness of the soul concealed.

And soon she moved. Those wonderful wide orbs

Dawned into his, quietly, as if in muse.

A lovely slow surprise crept into them

Afterwards; last, something far lovelier,

Which was herself, and was delight, and love.

As when a child falls asleep unawares

At a closed window on a stormy day,

Looking into the weary rain, and long

Sleeps, and wakes quietly into a life

Of ancient moonlight, first the thoughtfulness

Of that felicitous world to which the soul

Is visitor in sleep, keeps her sublime

Discurtained eyes; human dismay comes next,

Slowly; last, sudden, they brighten and grow wide

With recognition of an altered world,

Delighted: so woke Urvasie to love.

But, hardly now that luminous inner dawn

Bridged joy between their eyes, laughter broke in

And the returning world; for Menaca4,

Standing a lily in the snows, laughed back

Those irresistible wheels and spoke like song; –

She tremulous and glad from bygone fear;

But all those flower-like came, increasing light,

Their bosoms quick and panting, bright, like waves

That under sunshine lift remembering storm.

And before all Menaca5 tremulously

Smiling: “Whither, O King Pururavus,

Bear’st thou thy victory? Wilt thou set her

A golden triumph in thy halls? But she

Is other than thy marble caryatids

And austere doors, purity colourless.

Read not too much thy glory in her eyes.

Will not that hueless inner stream yet serve

Where thou wast wont to know thy perfect deeds?

But give her back, give us our sister back,

And in return take all thyself with thee.”

So with flushed cheeks and smiling Menaca6.

And great Pururavus set down the nymph

In her bright sister’s arms and stood awhile

Stormily calm in vast incertitude,

Quivering. Then divine Tilottama7:

“O King, O mortal mightier than the Gods!

For Gods change not their strength, but are of old

And as of old, and man, though less than these,

May yet proceed to greater, self-evolved.

Man, by experience of passion purged,

His myriad faculty perfecting, widens

His nature as it rises till it grows

With God conterminous. For one who tames

His hot tremulousness of soul unblest

And feels around him like an atmosphere

A quiet perfectness of joy and peace,

He, like the sunflower sole of all the year,

Images the divine to which he tends:

So thou, sole among men. And thou today

Hast a high deed perfected, saved from death

The great Gods of the solar world the first,

And saved with them the stars; but her today

Without whom all that world would grow to shade

Or grow to fire, but each way cease to live.

And thou shalt gather strange rewards, O King,

Hurting thyself with good, and lose thy life

To have the life of all the solar world,

Draw infinite gain out of more infinite loss,

And, for the lowest, endless fame. Today

Retire nor pluck the slowly-ripening fates;

Since who anticipates the patient Gods,

Finds his crown ashes and his empire grief.

So choose blind Titans in their violent souls

Unseeing, forfeiting the beautiful world

For momentary splendours.” She was silent,

And he replied no word, but gathering

His reins swept from the golden group. His car

Through those mute Himalayan doors of earth

And all that silent life before our life

Solitary and great and merciless,

Went groaning down the wind. He, the sole living,

Over the dead deep-plunging precipices

Passed bright and small in a wide dazzling world

Illimitable, where eye flags and ear

Listening feels inhuman loneliness.

He tended towards Gungotri’s solemn peaks

And savage glaciers and the caverns pure

Whence Ganges leaps, our mother, virgin-cold.

But ere he plunged into the human vales

And kindlier grandeurs, King Pururavus

Looked back upon a gust of his great heart,

And saw her. On a separate peak, divine,

In blowing raiment and a glory of hair

She stood and watched him go with serious eyes

And a soft wonder in them and a light.

One hand was in her streaming folds, one shaded

Her eyes as if the vision that she saw

Were brighter even than deathless eyes endure.

Over her shoulder pressed a laughing crowd

Of luminous faces. And Pururavus

Staggered as smitten, and shaking wide his reins

Rushed like a star into the infinite air;

So curving downwards on precipitate wheels,

His spirit all a storm, came with the wind

Far-sounding into Ila’s peaceful town.

Canto II

But from the dawn and mountains Urvasie

Went marvelling and glad, not as of old

A careless beam; for an august constraint,

Unfelt before, ruled her extravagant grace

And wayward beauty; and familiar things

Grew strange to her, and to her eyes came mists

Of mortal vision. Love was with her there,

But not of Paradise nor that great guest

Perpetual who makes his golden couch

Between the Opsara’s ever-heaving breasts.

For this was rapturous, troubled, self-absorbed,

A gracious human presence which she loved,

And wondered at, and hid deep in her heart.

And whether in the immortal’s dance she moved,

A billow, or her fingers like sunbeams

Brightened the harps of heaven, or going out

With the white dawn to bathe in Swerga’s streams,

Or in the woods of Eden wandering,

Or happy sitting under peaceful boughs

In a great golden evening, all she did,

Celestial occupations, all she thought

And all she was, though still the same, had changed.

There was a happy trouble in her ways

And movements; her felicitous lashes drooped

With8 a burden; and all9 her daily acts

Were as10 a statue11 imitating life,

Not single-hearted like the sovran Gods.

Now as the days of heaven went by in quiet

And there was peaceful summer ’mid the Gods,

In Swerga song increased and dances swayed

In multitudinous beauty, jasmine-crowned;

And often in high Indra’s hall the spirits

Immortal met to watch the shows divine

Of action and celestial theatre.

For not of earth alone are delicate arts

And noble imitations, but in heaven

Have their rich prototypes. So on that day

Before a divine audience there was staged

The Choice of Luxmie. Urvasie enacted,

The goddess, Ocean’s child, and Menaca12

Was Varunie, and other girls of heaven

Assembled the august desiring Gods.

Full strangely sweet those delicate mimics were;

Moonbeam faces imitated the strength

And silence of great spirits battle-worn,

And little hands the awful muniments

Of empire grasped and powers that shake the world.

Then with a golden wave of arm sublime

Menaca13 towards the warlike consistory,

Under half-drooping lashes indicating

Where calm eternal Vishnu like a cloud

Sat discus-armed, said to her sister bright:

“Daughter of Ocean, sister, for whom heaven

Is passionate, thou hast reviewed the powers

Eternal and their dreadful beauty scanned,

And heard their blissful names. Say, unafraid

Before these listening faces, whom thou lovest

Above all Gods and more than earth and more

Than joy of Swerga’s streams?” And Urvasie,

Musing with wide unseeing eyes, replied

In a far voice: “The King Pururavus.”

Then, as a wind among the leaves, there swept

A gust of laughter through the assembled Gods,

A happy summer sound. But not in mirth

Bharuth, the mighty dramatist of heaven,

Passionate to see his smooth work marred and spell

Broken of scenic fancies finely-touched:

“Since thou hast brought the breath of mortal air

Into the pure solemnities of heaven,

And since thou givest up to other ends

Than the one need for which God made thee form,

Thy being and hast here transferred from earth

Human failure from the divided soul,

Marring my great creation, Urvasie,

I curse thee to possess thy heart’s desire.

Exiled from Swerga’s streams and golden groves

Thou, by terrestrial Ganges or on sad

Majestic mountains or in troubled towns,

Enjoy thy love, but hope not here to breathe

Felicity in regions built for peace

Of who, erect in their own nature, keep

Living by fated toils the glorious world.”

He ceased and there was silence of the Gods.

Then Indra answered, smiling, though ill-pleased:

“Bharuth, not well nor by the fates allowed

To exile without limit from the skies

Who of the skies is part. Her wilt thou banish

From the felicity of grove and stream,

Making our Eden empty of her smiles?

But what felicity in stream or grove

And she not secret there? And hast thou taxed

Her passion, yet in passion would’st14 deface

The beautiful world because thy work is vain?”

Bharuth replied, the high poet severe:

“Irrevocable is the doom pronounced

Once by my lips. Fates too are born of song.

But if of limit thou speakest and the term

By nature fixed to the divorce of her

From the felicity in which she moves,

Nature that fixed the limit, still effects

Inevitably its fated ends. For Fate,

The dim great presence, is but nature made

Irrevocable in its fruits. Let her

To the pure banks of sacred Ganges wend.

There she may keep her exile, from of old

Intended for perfection of the earth

Through her sweet change. Heaven too shall flash and grow

Fairer with her returning feet though changed,–

Though changed, yet lovelier from beneficence.

For she will come soft with maternal cheeks

And flushed from nuptial arms and human-blest

With touches of the warm delightful earth.”

He said and Urvasie from the dumb place

And thoughtful presence of the Gods departed

Into the breezy noon of Swerga. Under

Green well-known boughs laden with nameless fruit

And over blissful swards and perfect flowers

And through the wandering alleys she arrived

To heavenly Ganges where it streams o’er stones;

There from the banks of summer downward stepped,

One little golden hand gathering her dress

Above her naked knees, and, lovely, passed

Through the divine pellucid river on

To Swerga’s portals, pausing on the slope

Which goes toward the world. There she looked down

With yearning eyes far into endless space.

Behind her stood the green felicitous peaks

And trembling tops of woods and pulse of blue

With those calm cloudless summits quivering.

All heaven was behind her, but she sent

No look to those eternal seats of joy.

She down the sunbeams gazed where mountains rose

In snow, the bleak and mighty hills of earth,

And virgin forests vast, great infant streams

And cities young in the heroic dawn

Of history and insurgent human art

Titanic on the old stupendous hills.

Towards these she gazed down under eyelids glad.

And to her gazing came Tilottama15,

Bright out of heaven, and clasped her quiet hand

And murmured softly, “Sister, let us go.”

Then they went down into the waiting world,

The golden women, and through gorges mute

Past Budricayshwur in the silent snow

Came silent to Pururavus Urvasie.

For not in Ilian streets Pururavus

Sojourned, nor in the happy throng of men,

But with the infinite and the lonely hills.

For he grew weary of walls and luminous carved

Imperial pillars bearing up huge weight

Of architectural stone, and the long street,

And thoughtful temple wide, and sharp cymbals

Protecting the august pure place with sound;

The battled tramp of men, sessions of kings,

The lightning from sharp weapons, jubilant crash

Of chariots, and the Veda’s mighty chant;

The bright booths of the merchants, the loud looms

And the smith’s hammer clanging music out,

And stalwart men driving the patient plow

Indomitable in fierce breath of noon.

Of these he now grew weary and the blaze

Of kingship, its immense and iron toils,

With one hand shielding in the people’s ease,

With one hand smiting back the tireless foe,

And difficulty of equal justice cold,

And kind beneficent works harmonious kept

With terrible control; the father’s face,

The man’s heart, the steeled intellect of power

Insolubly one; and after sleepless nights

Labouring greatly for a great reward,

Frequent failure and vigorous success,

And sweet reward of voices filial grown.

These that were once his life, he loved no more.

They held not his desire nor were alive,

But pale magnificent ghosts out of the past

With sad obsession closing him from warm

Life and the future in far sunlight gold.

For in his heart and in his musing eyes

There was a light on the cold snows, a blush

Upon the virgin quiet of the East

And storm and slowly-lifting lids. Therefore

He left the city Ilian and plains

Whence with a mighty motion eastward flows

Ganges, heroical and young, a swift

Mother of strenuous nations, nor yet reaches

Her musing age in ardent deep Bengal.

He journeyed to the cold north and the hills

Austere, past Budricayshwur ever north,

Till, in the sixth month of his pilgrimage

Uneasy, to a silent place he came

Within a heaped enormous region piled

With prone far-drifting hills, huge peaks o’erwhelmed

Under the vast illimitable snows,–

Snow on ravine, and snow on cliff, and snow

Sweeping in strenuous outlines to heaven,

With distant gleaming vales and turbulent rocks,

Giant precipices black-hewn and bold

Daring the universal whiteness; last,

A mystic gorge into some secret world.

He in that region waste and wonderful

Sojourned, and morning-star and evening-star

Shone over him and faded, and immense

Darkness wrapped the hushed mountain solitudes

And moonlight’s brilliant muse and the cold stars

And day upon the summits brightening.

But ere day grew the hero nympholept

Climbed the immortal summits towards the dawn

And came with falling evening down and lay

Watching the marvellous sky, but called not sleep

That beat her gentle wings over his eyes,

Nor food he needed who was grown a god.

And in the seventh month of his waiting long

Summit or cliff he climbed no more, but added

To the surrounding hush sat motionless,

Gazing towards the dim unfathomed gorge.

Six days he sat and on the seventh they came

Through the dumb gorge, a breath of heaven, a stir,

Then Eden’s girls stepping with moonbeam feet

Over the barren rocks and dazzling snows,

That grew less dazzling, their tresses half unbound

And delicate raiment girdled enchantingly.

Silent the perfect presences of heaven

Came towards him and stood a little away,

Like flowers waiting for a sunbeam. He

Stirred not, but without voice, in vision merged,

Sat, as one sleeping momently expects

The end of a dear dream he sees, and knows

It is a dream, and quietly resigned

Waits for the fragile bliss to break or fade.

Then nearer drew divine Tilottama16

And stood before his silence statuesque,

Holding her sister’s hand; for she hung back,

Not as an earthly maiden, cheeks suffused,

Lids drooping, but as men from patience called

Before supreme felicity hang back,

A little awed, a little doubtful, fearing

To enter radiant Paradise, so bright

It seems; thus she and quailed before her bliss.

But her sister, extending one bright arm:

“Pururavus, thou hast conquered and I bring

No dream into thy life, but Urvasie.”

And at that name the strong Pururavus

Rose swaying to his feet like one struck blind;

Or when a great thought flashes through his brain,

A poet starts up and almost cries aloud

As at a voice,– so he arose and heard.

And slowly said divine Tilottama17:

“Yet, son of Ila, one is man and other

The Opsaras of heaven, daughters of the sea,

Unlimited in being, Ocean-like.

They not to one lord yield nor in one face

Limit the universe, but like sweet air,

Water unowned and beautiful common light

In unrestrained surrender remain pure.

In patient paths of Nature upon earth

And over all the toiling stars we fill

With sacred passion large high-venturing spirits

And visit them with bliss; so are they moved

To immense creative anguish, glad if through

Heart-breaking toil once in bare seasons dawn

Our golden breasts between their hands or rush

Our passionate presence on them like a wave.

In heaven bright-limbed with bodily embrace

We clasp the Gods, and clasp the souls of men,

And know with winds and flowers liberty.

But what hast thou with us or winds or flowers?

O thou who wast so white, wilt thou not keep

Thy pure and lonely eminence and move

For ever towards morning like a star?

Or as thy earthly Ganges rolling down

Between the homes and passionate deeds of men,

And bearing many boats and white with oars,

From all that life quite separate, only lives

Towards Ocean, so thou doest human work,

Making a mighty nation, doing high

And necessary deeds, but, all untouched

By action, livest in thy soul apart

And to the immortal zenith climbest pure.”

But he, blind as from dazzling dreams, said low:

“One I thought spoke far-off of purity

And whiteness and the human soul in God.

These things were with me once, but now I see

The Spring a golden child and shaken fields.

All beautiful things draw near and come to me.

I dream upon a woman’s glorious breasts,

And watch the dew-drop and am glad with birds,

And love the perfect coilings of the snake,

And cry with fire in the burning trees,

And am a wave towards desired shores.

I move to these and move towards her bosom

And mystic eyes where all these are one dream.

And what shall God profit me or his glory,

Who love one small face more than all his worlds?”

He woke with his own voice. His words that first

Dreamed like a languid wave, sudden were foam;

And he beheld her standing and his look

Grew strong; he yearned towards her like a wave,

And she received him in her eyes as earth

Receives the rain. Then bright Tilottama18

Cried in a shining glory over them:

“O happy lover and O fortunate loved,

Who make love heavenlier by loss! Ah yet,

The Gods give no irrecoverable gifts,

Nor unconditioned, O Pururavus,

Is highest bliss even to most favoured men.

And thy deep joy must tremble o’er her with soul

On guard, all overshadowed by a fear.

For one year thou shalt know her on the peaks,

In solitary vastnesses of hills

And regions snow-besieged; and for one year

In the green forests populous and free

Life in sunlight and by delightful streams

Thou shalt enjoy her; and for one year where

The busy tramp of men goes ceaseless by,

Subduing her to lovely human cares:

And so long after as one law observed

Save her to thee, O King; for never man

With Opsara may dwell and both be known:

Either a rapture she invisible

Or he a mystic body and mystic soul.

Reveal not then thy being naked to hers,

O virgin Ila’s son, nor suffer ever

Light round thy body naked to her eyes,

Lest day dawn not on thy felicity,

Sole among men.” She left them, shining up

Into the sunlight, and was lost in noon.

And King Pururavus stood for a space,

Like the entrancèd calm before great winds

And thunder. Then through all his limbs there flashed

Youth and the beauty and the warmth of earth

And joy of her left lonely to his will.

He moved, he came towards her. She, a leaf

Before a gust among the nearing trees,

Cowered. But, all a sea of mighty joy

Rushing and swallowing up the golden sand,

With a great cry and glad Pururavus

Seized her and caught her to his bosom thrilled,

Clinging and shuddering. All her wonderful hair

Loosened and the wind seized and bore it streaming

Over the shoulder of Pururavus

And on his cheek a softness. She, o’erborne,

Panting, with inarticulate murmurs lay,

Like a slim tree half seen through driving hail,

Her naked arms clasping his neck, her cheek

And golden throat averted, and wide trouble

In her large eyes bewildered with their bliss.

Amid her wind-blown hair their faces met.

With her sweet limbs all his, feeling her breasts

Tumultuous up against his beating heart,

He kissed the glorious mouth of heaven’s desire.

So clung they as two shipwrecked in a surge.

Then strong Pururavus, with godlike eyes

Mastering hers, cried tremulous: “O beloved,

O miser of thy rich and happy voice,

One word, one word to tell me that thou lovest.”

And Urvasie, all broken on his bosom,

Her godhead in his passion lost, moaned out

From her imprisoned breasts, “My lord, my love!”

Canto III

So was a goddess won to mortal arms;

And for twelve months he held her on the peaks,

In solitary vastnesses of hills

And regions snow-besieged. There in dim gorge

And tenebrous ravine and on wide snows

Clothed with deserted space, o’er precipices

With the far eagles wheeling under them,

Or where large glaciers watch, or under cliffs

O’er-murmured by the streaming waterfalls,

And later in the pleasant lower hills,

He of her beauty world-desired took joy:

And all earth’s silent sublime spaces passed

Into his blood and grew a part of thought.

Twelve months in the green forests populous,

Life in sunlight and by delightful streams

He increased rapture. The green tremulous groves,

And solitary rivers white with birds,

And watered hollow’s gleam, and sunny boughs

Gorgeous with peacocks or illumining

Bright bosom of doves, in forests,19 musing day

Or the great night with roar of many beasts,–

All these were Eden round the glorious pair.

And in their third flower-haunted spring of love

A child was born from golden Urvasie.

But when the goddess from maternal pangs

Woke to the child’s sweet face and strange tumult

Of new delight and felt the little hands

Erring about her breasts, passionate she cried:

“How long shall we in woods, Pururavus,

Waste the glad days of cheerful human life?

What pleasure is in soulless woods and waves?

But I would go into the homes of men,

Hear the great sound of cities, watch the eager

Faces tending to hall and mart, and talk

With the bright girls of earth, and kiss the eyes

Of little children, feel smooth floors of stone

Under my feet and the restraint of walls,

And eat earth’s food from vessels made and drink

Earth’s water cool from jars, and know all joy

And labour of that blithe and busy world.”

She said, and he with a slight happy smile

Consented. So to sacred Ganges they

Came and the virgin’s city Ilian.

But when they neared the mighty destined walls,

His virgin-mother from her temple pure

Saw him, and a wild blare of conchs arose.

Rejoicing to the lion-gates they streamed,

The people of Pururavus, a glad

Throng indistinguishable, traders and priests,

Merchants of many gains and craftsmen fine

Oblivious of their daily toils; the carver

Flinging his tool away and hammerless

The giant smith laughing through his vast beard.

And little children ran, all over flowers,

And girls like dawn with a delightful noise

Of anklets, matrons and old men divine,

And half a godhead with great glances came

The large-eyed poets of the Vedic chant;

Before them, all that multitude divided

Honouring them. In gleaming armour came,

And bearing dreadful bows, with sound of swords,

High lords of sacrifice and aged chiefs

War-weary and great heroes with mighty tread.

All these to a high noise of trumpets came.

They with a wide sound going up to heaven

Welcomed their king, and a soft shower of blooms

Fell on him as from warlike fields returned.

Much all they marvelled at his heavenly bride

And worshipped her, half-awed. And young girls came,

Daughters of warriors, to great houses wed,

Sweet faces of delightful laughter, came

And took into their glad embrace and kissed,

Enamoured of her smiling mouth, and praised

Aloud her beauty. With flowers then they bound

Her soft immortal wrists, and through the gates,

Labouring in vain to bend great bows, waving

Far-glancing steel, and up the bridal streets

Captive the girlish phalanx, bright with swords,

After the old heroic fashion led.

They amid trumpets and the vast acclaim

Of a glad people brought the child of Gods

To her terrestrial home; through the strong doors

They lifted, and upon an earthly floor,

Loosening, let from the gleaming limbs slide down

Her heavenly vesture; next they brought and flung

About her sweet insufferable grace

Mortal habiliments, a clinging robe.

Over her hair the wifely veil was drawn.

Thus was the love of all the world confined

To one man’s home. And O too fortunate

Mortal, who could with those auguster joys

Mingle our little happy human pains,

Subduing a fair goddess from her skies

To gentle ordinary things, sweet service

And household tasks making her beautiful,

And trivial daily words, and kisses kind,

And all the meaning dear of wife and home!

Human with earth dwelt golden Urvasie,

And bore to King Pururavus a race

Of glorious children, each a shining god.

She loved that great and simple life of old,

Its marble outlines, strong joys and clear air

Around the soul, loved and made roseate.

The sacred city felt a finer life

Within it; burning inspirations breathed

From hallowed poets; and architects to grace

And fancy their immense conceptions toned;

Numberless heroes emulously drove forth

And in strong joyous battle rolling back

The dark barbarian borders, flashed through fields,

Brilliant, and sages in their souls saw God.

And from the city of Pururavus

High influences went; Indus and Ganges

And all the golden intermediate lands

Grew with them and a perfect impulse felt.

Seven years the earth rejoiced in Urvasie.

But in their fortunate heavens the high Gods

Dwelt infelicitous, losing the old

Rapture inexplicable and thrill beneath

Their ancient calm. Therefore not long enduring,

They in colossal council marble, said

To that bright sister whom she had loved best,

Menaca20!” crying “how long shall one man

Divide from heaven its most perfect bliss?

Go down and bring her back, our bright one back,

And we shall love again our luminous halls.”

She heard and went, with her ethereal robe

Murmuring about her, to the gates divine,

And looked into the world, and saw the far

Titanic Ilian city like a stone

Sunlit upon the small and distant earth.

Down from heaven’s peaks the daughter of the sea

Went flashing and upon a breathless eve

Came to the city of Pururavus,

Air blazing far behind her till she paused.

She over the palace of Pururavus

Stood in shadow. Within the lights yet were;

Still sat the princes and young poets sang

On harps heroical of Urvasie

And strong Pururavus, of Urvasie

The light and lovely spirit golden-limbed,

Son of a virgin strong Pururavus.

“O earth made heaven to Pururavus!

O heaven left earth without sweet Urvasie!

“Rejoice possessing, O Pururavus!

Be glad who art possessed, O Urvasie!

“Behold the parents of the sacrifice!

When they have met, then they together rush

And in their arms the beautiful fire is born.

“Behold the children of the earth and sky!

When they met, then they loved, O then they clasped,

And from their clasp a lovely presence grew.

“A holy virgin’s son we hear of thee

Without a father born, Pururavus,

Without a mother lovely Urvasie.

“Hast thou not brought the sacrifice from heaven,

The unquenched, unkindled fire, Pururavus?

Hast thou not brought delightful Urvasie?

“The fires of sacrifice mount ever up:

To their lost heavens they naturally aspire.

Their tops are weighted with a human prayer.

“The soul of love mounts also towards the sky;

Thence came the spark but hardly shall return;

Its wings are weighted with too fierce a fire.

“Rejoice in the warm earth, O lovely pair,

The green strong earth that gave Pururavus.

“Rejoice in the blithe earth, O lovely pair,

The happy earth all flushed with Urvasie.

“As lightning takes the heart with pleasant dread,

So love is of the strong Pururavus.

“As breathes sweet fragrance from the flower oppressed,

So love from thy bruised bosom, Urvasie.”

So sang they and the heart rejoiced. Then rose

The princes and went down the long white street,

Each to his home. Soon every sound had faded;

Heaven and a few bright stars possessed the world.

But in a silent place dim with the west

On that last night of the sweet passionate earth,

The goddess with the mortal hero lay.

For over them victorious love still showered

His arrows marble-dinting, not flower-tipped

As our brief fading fires,– naked and large

As heaven the monumental loves of old.

On their rich bed they lay, and the two rams

That once the subtle bright Gundhurvas gave

To Urvasie, were near; they were ever

With her and cherished; hardly even she loved

The tender faces of her children more

Than these choice from flocks heavenly: only these

Remained to her of unforgotten skies.

So lay they under those fierce shafts of love,

And in the arms of strong Pururavus

Once more were those beloved limbs embraced,

Once more, if never once again on earth.

Before he slept, the lord of Urvasie

Clasped her to him and wooed from her tired lips

One kiss, nor in its passion felt farewell.

But the night darkened over the vague town,

And clouds came gradual up, and through the clouds

In thunderless great flashes stealing came

The subtle-souled Gundhurvas from the peaks

Of distant Paradise. Thunder rolled out,

And through the walls, in a fierce rush of light,

Entered the thieves of heaven and stole the rams,

And fled with the same lightning. Shuddering

The exile of the skies awoke and knew

Her loss, and with a lamentable cry

Turned to her lord. “Arise, Pururavus!”

She wept, “they take from me my snow-white joys.”

And starting from his sleep Pururavus,

In that waking when memory is far

And nature of a man unquestioned rules,

Heard of oppression and a space forgot

Fate and his weak tenure of mighty bliss,

Restored to the great nature of a king.

Wrathful he leaped up and on one swift stride

Reached to his bow. Before ’twas grasped he shuddered,

His soul all smitten with a rushing fear,

Alarmed he turned towards her. Suddenly wide

The whole room stood in splendour manifest,

All lightning, and heroically vast,

In gesture kingly like a statue stayed,

Rose glorious, all a grace of naked limbs,

The hero beautiful, Pururavus,

In that fierce light. Intenser than by day

He for one brilliant moment clear beheld

All the familiar place, the fretted huge

Images on the columns, the high-reared

Walls massively erect and silent floor,

And on the floor the gracious fallen dress

That never should embrace her perfect form,

Lying a glimmer, and each noble curve

Of the strong couch, and delicately distinct

The golden body and the flower-like face:

Beside her with a lovely smile that other,

One small hand pressing back the shining curls

Blown with her speed over her. Then all faded.

Thunder crashed through the heavens jubilant.

For a long while he stood with beating heart

Half-conscious of its loss, and as if waiting

Another flash, into the dimness gazed

For those loved outlines that were far away.

Then with a quiet smile he went and placed

Where she had lain such a short while ago

Both hands, expecting her sweet breasts, but found

Her place all empty to him. Silently

He lay down whispering to his own heart:

“She has arisen and her shining dress

Put round her and gone into the cool alcove

To fetch sweet water for the heavenly rams,

And she will stay awhile perhaps to look

And muse upon the night, and then come back,

And give them drink, and silently lie down

Beside me. I shall see her when it dawns.”

And so he slept. But the grey dawn came in

And raised his lashes. He stretched out his arms

To find her. Then he knew he was alone.

Even so he would not dwell with his despair.

“She is but gone,” he said, “for a little gone

Into the infinite silences afar

To see her golden sisters and revisit

The streams she knew and those unearthly skies.

But she will soon come back,– even if her heart

Would let her linger, mine would draw her back; –

Come soon and talk to me of all she left,

And clasp her children, and resume sweet goings

And happy daily tasks and rooms she loved.”

So, steadfast, he continued kingly toils

Among a people greatly-destined, giving

In sacred sessions and assemblies calm

Counsels far-seeing, magnanimous decrees

Bronze against Time, and from the judgment seat

Unblamed sentence or reconcilement large.

And perfect trinity of holy fires

He kindled for desirable rain, and went

To concourse of strong men or pleasant crowds,

Or triumphed in great games armipotent.

Yet behind all his moments there was void.

And as when one puts from him desperately

The thought of an inevitable fate,

Blinding himself with present pleasures, often

At a slight sound, a knocking at the door,

A chance word terrible, or even uncalled

His heart grows sick with sudden fear, and ghastly

The face of that dread future through the window

Looks at him; mute he sits then shuddering:

So to Pururavus in session holy,

Or warlike concourse, or alone, speaking,

Or sitting, often a swift dreadful fear

Made his life naked like a lightning flash;

Then his whole being shook and his strong frame,

As with a fever, and his eyes gazed blind;

Soon with great breaths he repossessed his soul.

Long he endured thus, but when shocks of fear

And brilliant passage of remorseless suns

And wakeful nights wrestling with memory

Invisibly had worn his heart, he then

Going as one desperate, void of thought or aim,

Into that silent place dim with the west,

Saw there her dress empty of her, and bed

Forlorn, and the cold floor where she had lain

At noon and made life sweet to him with her voice.

Sometimes as in an upland reservoir

Built by the hands of early Aryan kings,

Its banks in secret fretted long go down,

Suddenly down with resonant collapse,

Then with a formidable sound the flood

Descends, heard over all the echoing hills,

And marble cities are o’erwhelmed; so sank

The courage of the strong Pururavus,

By memory and anguish overcome

And thoughts of bliss intolerable. Tears

Came from him; the unvanquished hero lay

With outstretched arms and wept. Henceforth his life

Was with that room. If he appeared in high

Session, warlike concourse or pleasant crowd,

Men looked on him as on the silent dead.

Nor did he linger, but from little stay

Would silently return and in hushed rooms

Watch with the little relics left of her,

Things he had hardly borne to see before,

Now clasped them often, often kissed, sometimes

Spoke to them as to sweet and living friends,

And often over his sleeping children hung.

Nor did he count the days, nor weep again,

But looked into the dawn with tearless eyes.

And all the people mourned for their great king,

Silently watching him, and many murmured:

“This is not he, the King Pururavus,

Hero august, who his impetuous soul

Ruled like a calm and skilful charioteer,

And was the virgin Ila’s son, our king.

Would that the enemy’s war-cry now might rush

Against our gates and all the air be sound.

Surely he would arise and lift his bow,

And his swift chariot hurling through the gates

Advance upon them like a sea, and triumph,

And be himself among the rushing wheels.”

So they would murmur grieving. But the king

When the bright months brought round a lustier earth,

Felt over his numbed soul some touch of flowers,

And rose a little from his grief, and lifted

His eyes against the stars. Then he said low:

“I was not wont so quickly to despair.

O hast thou left me and art lost in light,

Cruel, between the shining hemispheres?

Yet even there I will pursue my joy.

Though all the great immortals jealously

Encompass round with shields thy golden limbs,

I may clash through them yet, or my strong patience

Will pluck my love down from her distant stars.

Still am I Ila’s son, Pururavus,

That passionless pure strength though lost, though fallen

From the armed splendid soul which once I was.”

So saying he to the hall of session strode,

Mightily like a king, a marble place

With wide Titanic arches imminent,

And from the brooding pillars seized a shell

And blew upon it. Like a storm the sound

Through Pratisthana’s streets was blown. Forth came

From lintel proud and happy threshold low

The people pouring out. Majestic chiefs

And strong war-leaders and old famous men

And mighty poets first; behind them streamed

The Ilian people like driving rain, and filled

With faces the immeasurable hall.

And over them the beautiful great king

Rose bright; anticipations wonderful

Of immortality flashed through his eyes

And round his brow’s august circumference.

“My people whom I made, I go from you;

And what shall I say to you, Ilian people,

Who know my glory and know my grief? Now I

Endure no more the desolate wide rooms

And gardens empty of her. I will depart

And find her under imperishable trees

Or secret beside streams. But since I go

And leave my work behind and a young nation

With destiny like an uncertain dawn

Over it – Ayus her son, I give you. He

By beauty and strength incomparable shall rule.

Lo, I have planted earth with deeds and made

The widest heavens my monument, have brought

From Paradise the sempiternal fire

And warred in heaven among the warring Gods.

O People, you have shared my famous actions

Done in a few great years of earthly life,

The battles I fought, edifications vast,

And perfect institutes that I have framed.

High things we have done together, O my people.

But now I go to claim back from the Gods

Her they have taken from me, my dear reward.”

He spoke and all the nation listened, dumb.

Then was brought forth the bud of Urvasie,

With Vedic verse intoned and Ganges pure

Was crowned a king, and empire on his curls

Established. But Pururavus went forth,

Through ranks of silent people and gleaming arms,

With the last cloud of sunset up the fields

And darkening meadows. And from Ila’s rock,

And from the temple of Ila virginal,

A rushing splendour wonderfully arose

And shone all round the great departing king.

He in that light turned and saw under him

The mighty city, luminous and vast,

Colossally up-piled towards the heavens,

Temple and street and palace, and the sea

Of sorrowing faces and sad grieving eyes;

A moment saw, and disappeared from light

Into forest. Then a loud wail arose

From Pratisthana, as if barbarous hordes

Were in the streets and all its temples huge

Rising towards heaven in disastrous fire,

But he unlistening into darkness went.

Canto IV

Through darkness and immense dim night he went

Mid phantom outlines of approaching trees,

And all the day in green leaves, till he came

To peopled forests and sweet clamorous streams

And marvellous shining meadows where he lived

With Urvasie his love in seasons old.

These like domestic faces waiting were.

He knew each wind-blown tree, each different field;

And could distinguish all the sounding rivers

Each by its own voice and peculiar flow.

Here were the happy shades where they had lain

Inarmed and murmuring, here half-lustrous groves

Still voiceful with a sacred sound at noon,

And these the rivers from her beauty bright.

There straying in field and forest he to each

Familiar spot so full of her would speak,

Pausing by banks and memorable trees.

“O sacred fig-tree, under thee she paused

Musing amid her tresses, and her eyes

Were sweet and grave. And, O delicious shade,

Thou hast experienced brightness from her feet,

O cool and dark green shelterer, perfect place!

And lo! the boughs all ruinous towards earth

With blossoms. Here she lay, her arms thrown back,

Smiling up to me, and the flowers rained

Upon her lips and eyes and bosom bare.

And here a secret opening where she stood

Waiting in narrow twilight; round her all

Was green and secret with a mystic, dewy

Half invitation into emerald worlds.

O river, from thee she moved towards the glade

Breathing and wet and fresh as if a flower

All bare from rain. And thou, great holy glade,

Sawest her face maternal o’er her child.”

Then ceasing he would wait and listen, half

Expecting her. But all was silent; only

Perhaps a bird darted bright-winged away,

Or a grey snake slipped through the brilliant leaves.

Thus wandering, thus in every mindful place

Renewing old forgotten scenes that rose,

Gleam after gleam, upon his mind, as stars

Return at night; thus drawing from his heart

Where they lay covered, old sweet incidents

To live before his eyes; thus calling back

Uncertain moods, brief moments of her face,

And transient postures strangely beautiful,

Pleasures, and little happy mists of tears

Heart-freeing, he, materializing dreams,

Upon her very body almost seized.

Always a sense of imperfection slipped

Between him and that passionate success.

Therefore he murmured at last unsatisfied:

“She is not here; though every mystic glade

And sunbright pasture breathe alone of her

And quiver as with her presence, I find not

Her very limbs, her very face; yet dreamed

That here infallibly I should restrain

Her fugitive feet or hold her by the robe.

O once she was the luminous soul of these,

And in her body lived the summer and spring

And seed and blossoming, ripening and fall,

Hiding of Beauty in the wood and glen,

And flashing out into the sunlit fields

All flowers and laughter. All the happy moods

And all the beautiful amorous ways of earth

She was; but they now seem only her dress

Left by her. Therefore, O ye seaward rivers,

O forests, since ye have deceived my hope,

I go from you to dazzling cruel ravines

And find her on inclement mountains pure.”

Then northward blown upon a storm of hope

The hero self-discrowned, Pururavus,

Went swiftly up the burning plains and through

The portals of the old Saivaalic hills

To the inferior heights, nor lingered long,

Though pulsing with fierce memories, though thrilled

With shocks of a great passion touching earth;

But plunged o’er difficult gorge and prone ravine

And rivers thundering between dim walls,

Driven by immense desire, until he came

To dreadful silence of the peaks and trod

Regions as vast and lonely as his love.

Then with a confident sublime appeal

He to the listening summits stretched his hands:

“O desolate strong Himalaya, great

Thy peaks alone with heaven and dreadful hush

In which the Soul of all the world is felt

Meditating creation! Thou, O mountain,

My bridal chamber wast. On thee we lay

With summits towards the moon or with near stars

Watching us in some wild inhuman vale,

Thy silence over us like a coverlid

Or a far avalanche for bridal song.

Lo, she is fled into your silences!

I come to you, O mountains, with a heart

Desolate like you, like you snow-swept, and stretch

Towards your solemn summits kindred hands.

Give back to me, O mountains, give her back.”

He ceased and Himalaya bent towards him, white.

The mountains seemed to recognize a soul

Immense as they, reaching as they to heaven

And capable of infinite solitude.

Long he, in meditation deep immersed,

Strove to dissolve his soul among the hills

Into the thought of Urvasie. The snow

Stole down from heaven and touched his cheek and hair,

The storm-blast from the peaks leaped down and smote

But woke him not, and the white drops in vain

Froze in his locks or crusted all his garb.

For he lived only with his passionate heart.

But as the months with slow unnoticed tread

Passed o’er the hills nor brought sweet change of spring

Nor autumn wet with dew, a voice at last

Moved from far heavens, other than our sky.

And he arose as one impelled and came

Past the supreme great ridges northward, came

Into the wonderful land far up the world

Dim-looming, where the Northern Kurus dwell,

The ancients of the world, invisible,

Among forgotten mists. Through mists he moved

Feeling a sense of unseen cities, hearing

No sound, nor seeing face, but conscious ever

Of an immense traditionary life

Throbbing round him and dreams historical.

For as he went, old kingly memories surged,

And with vast forward faces driving came

Origins and stabilities and empires,

Huge passionate creations, impulses

National realizing themselves in stone.

Lastly with rolling of the mists afar

He saw beneath him the primeval rocks

Plunge down into the valley, and upsoar

To light wide thoughtful domes and measureless

Ramparts, and mid them in a glory walk

The ancients of the world with eyes august.

Next towards the sun he looked and saw enthroned

Upon the summit one whose regal hair

Crowned her, and purple in waves down to her feet

Flowed, Indira, the goddess, Ocean’s child,

Giver of empire who all beauty keeps

Between her hands, all glory, all wealth, all power.

Severe and beautiful she leaned her face.

“What passion, Ilian Pururavus,

Has led thee here to my great capital

And ancient men in the forgotten mists,

The fathers of the Aryan race? Of glory

Enamoured hast thou come, or for thy people

Empire soliciting? But other beauty

Is on thy brow and light no longer mine.

Yet not for self wast thou of virgin born,

Perfect, and the aerial paths of gods

Permitted to thy steps; nor for themselves,

But to the voice of Vedic litanies,

Sacredly placed are the dread crowns of Kings

For bright felicities and cruel toils.

And thou, O Ilian Pururavus,

For passion dost thou leave thy strenuous grandeurs,

A nation’s destinies, and hast not feared

The sad inferior Ganges lapsing down

With mournful rumour through the shades of Hell?”

Then with calm eyes the hero Ilian:

“O Goddess, patroness of Aryasthan,

Lover of banyan and of lotus, I

Not from the fear of Hell or hope of Heaven

Do good or ill. Reigning I reigned o’er self,

And with a kingly soul did kingly deeds.

Now driven by a termless wide desire

I wander over snow and countries vague.”

And like a viol Luxmie answered him:

“Sprung of the moon, thy grandsire’s fault in thee

Yet lives; but since thy love is singly great,

Doubtless thou shalt possess thy whole desire.

Yet hast thou maimed the future and discrowned

The Aryan people; for though Ila’s sons,

In Hustina, the city of elephants,

And Indraprustha, future towns, shall rule

Drawing my peoples to one sceptre, at last

Their power by excess of beauty falls,–

Thy sin, Pururavus – of beauty and love:

And this the land divine to impure grasp

Yields of barbarians from the outer shores.”

She ceased and the oblivious mists rolled down.

But the strong hero uncrowned, Pururavus,

Eastward, all dreaming with his great desire,

Wandered as when a man in sleep arises,

And goes into the night, and under stars

Through the black spaces moves, nor knows his feet

Nor where they guide him, but dread unseen power

Walks by him and leads his unerring steps

To some weird forest or gaunt mountain-side;

There he awakes, a horror in his soul,

And shudders alien amid places strange.

So wandered, driven by an unknown power,

Pururavus. Over hushed dreadful hills

And snows more breathless to the quiet banks

Of a wide lake mid rocks and bending woods

He came, and saw calm mountains over it,

And knew in his awed heart the hill of God,

Coilas, and Mainaac with its summits gold.

Awed he in heart, yet with a quicker stride

He moved and eyes of silent joy, like one

Who coming from long travel, sees the old

Village and children’s faces at the doors.

In a wild faery place where mountain streams

Glimmer from the dim rocks and meet the lake

Amid a wrestle of tangled trees and heaped

Moss-grown disordered stones, and all the water

Is hidden with its lotuses and sways

Shimmering between leaves or strains through bloom,

She sat, the mother of the Aryans, white

With a sublime pallor beneath her hair.

Musing, with wide creative brows, she sat

In a slight lovely dress fastened with flowers,

All heaped with her large tresses. Golden swans

Preened in the waters by her dipping feet.

One hand propped her fair marble cheek, the other

The mystic lotus hardly held. Seeing her

Pururavus bent to her and adored.

And she looked up and musing towards him

Said low: “O son, I knew thy steps afar.

Of me thou wast; for as I suffered rapture,

Invaded by the sea of images

Breaking upon me from all winds, and saw

Indus and Ganges with prophetic mind,

A virginal impulse gleamed from my bosom

And on the earth took beauty and form. I saw

Thee from that glory issue and rejoiced.

But now thou comest quite discrowned. From me,

O son, thou hadst the impulse beautiful

That made thy soul all colour. For I strive

Towards the insufferable heights and flash

With haloes of that sacred light intense.

But lo! the spring and all its flowers, and lo!

How bright the Soma juice. What golden joys,

What living passions, what immortal tears!

I lift the veil that hides the Immortal – Ah!

My lids faint. Ah! the veil was lovelier.

My flowers wither in that height, my swan

Spreads not his wings felicitous so far.

O one day I shall turn from the great verse

And marble aspiration to sing sweetly

Of lovers and the pomps of wealth and wine

And warm delights and warm desires and earth.

O mine own son, Pururavus, I fall

By thy vast failure from my dazzling skies.”

And Ila’s son made answer, “O white-armed,

O mother of the Aryans, of my life

Creatress! fates colossal overrule.

But lo! I wander like a wave, nor find

Limit to the desire that wastes my soul.”

Then with a sweet immortal smile the mother

Gave to him in the hollow of her hand

Wonderful water of the lake. He drank,

And understood infinity, and saw

Time like a snake coiling among the stars;

And earth he saw, and mortal nights and days

Grew to him moments, and his limbs became

Undying and his thoughts as marble endured.

Then to the hero deified the goddess,

“O strong immortal, now pursue thy joy:

Yet first rise up the peaks of Coilas; there

The Mighty Mother sits, whose sovran voice

Shall ratify to thee thy future fair,”

Said and caressed his brow with lips divine.

And bright Pururavus rose up the hill

Towards the breathless summit. Thence, enshrined

In deep concealing glories, came a voice,

And clearer he discerned as one whose eyes,

Long cognizant of darkness, coming forth,

Grow gradually habituated to light,

The calm compassionate face, the heaven-wide brow,

And the robust great limbs that bear the world.

Prophetical and deep her voice came down:

“Thou then hast failed, bright soul; but God blames not

Nor punishes. Impartially he deals

To every strenuous spirit its chosen reward.

And since no work, however maimed, no smallest

Energy added to the mighty sum

Of action fails of its exact result,

Empire shall in thy line and forceful brain

Persist, the boundless impulse towards rule

Of grandiose souls perpetually recur,

And minds immense and personalities

With battle and with passion and with storm

Shall burn through Aryan history, the speech

Of ages. In thy line the Spirit Supreme

Shall bound existence with one human form;

In Mathura and ocean Dwarca Man

Earthly perfectibility of soul

Example: son of thy line and eulogist,

The vast clear poet of the golden verse,

Whose song shall be as wide as is the world.

But all by huge self-will or violence marred

Of passionate uncontrol; if pure, their work

By touch of later turbulent hands unsphered

Or fames by legend stained. Upon my heights

Breathing God’s air, strong as the sky and pure,

Dwell only Ixvaacou’s children; destined theirs

Heaven’s perfect praise, earth’s sole unequalled song.

But thou, O Ila’s son, take up thy joy.

For thee in sweet Gundhurva world eternal

Rapture and clasp unloosed of Urvasie,

Till the long night when God asleep shall fall.”

Ceased the great voice and strong Pururavus

Glad of his high reward, however dearly

Purchased, purchased with infinite downfall,

With footing now divine went up the world.

Mid regions sweet and peaks of milk-white snow

And lovely corners and delicious lakes,

He saw a road all sunlight and the gates

Of the Gundhurvas’ home. O never ship

From Ocean into Ocean erring knew

Such joy through all its patient sails at sight

Of final haven near as the tried heart

Of earth’s successful son at that fair goal.

Towards the gates he hastened, and one bright

With angel face who at those portals stood

Cried down, “We wait for thee, Pururavus.”

Then to his hearing musical, the hinges

Called; he beheld the subtle faces look

Down on him and the crowd of luminous forms,

And entered to immortal sound of lyres.

Up through the streets a silver cry went on

Before him of high instruments. From all

The winds the marvellous musicians pressed

To welcome that immortal lover. One

Whose pure limned brows aerial wore by right

Faery authority, stood from the crowd.

“O Ila’s son, far-famed Pururavus,

Destined to joys by mortals all unhoped!

Move to thy sacred glories as a star

Into its destined place, shine over us

Here greatest as upon thy greener earth.”

They through the thrilling regions musical

Led him and marvelled at him and praised with song

His fair sublimity of form and brow

And warlike limbs and grace heroical.

He heeded not, for all his soul was straining

With expectation of a near delight.

His eyes that sought her ever, beheld a wall

Of mighty trees and, where they arched to part,

Those two of all their sisters brightest rise,

One blithe as is a happy brook, the other

With her grave smile; and each took a strong hand

In her soft clasp, and led him to a place

Distinct mid faery-leaved ethereal trees

And magic banks and sweet low curves of hills,

And over all the sunlight like a charm.

There by a sounding river downward thrown

From under low green-curtaining boughs was she.

Mute she arose and with wide quiet eyes

Came towards him. In their immortal looks

Was a deep feeling too august for joy,

The sense that all eternity must follow

One perfect moment. Then that comrade bright

With slow grave smile, “O after absence wide

Who meet and shall not sunder any more.

Till slumber of the Supreme, strong be your souls

To bear unchanging rapture; strong you were

By patience to compel unwilling Gods.”

And they were left alone in that clear world.

Then all his soul towards her leaning, took

Pururavus into his clasp and felt,

Seriously glad, the golden bosom on his

Of Urvasie, his love; so pressing back

The longed-for sacred face, lingering he kissed.

Then Love in his sweet heavens was satisfied.

But far below through silent mighty space

The green and strenuous earth abandoned rolled.


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: Ménaca


2 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Tilôttama


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