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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

SABCL - Volume 5

V. Ilion

The Descent of Ahana1

 

Ahana

Strayed from the roads of Time, far-couched on the void I have slumbered;

Centuries passed me unnoticed, millenniums perished unnumbered.

I, Ahana, slept. In the stream of thy sevenfold Ocean,

Being, how hast thou laboured without me? Whence was thy motion?

Not without me can thy existence be2. But I came fleeing; –

Vexed was my soul with joys3 of sound and weary of seeing;

Into the deeps of my nature I lapsed, I escaped into slumber.

Out of the silence who call me back to the clamour and cumber?

Why should I go with you? What hast thou done in return for my labour,

World? What wage had my soul when its strength was thy neighbour,

Though I have loved all, working and suffering, giving them pleasure?

I have escaped from it all; I have fled the4 pitiless pressure.

Silence vast and pure, again to thy wideness receive me;

For unto thee I turn back from those who would use me and grieve me.

Voices

Nay, it is done, to the lash of our cry thou hast started, O Woman5.

Lured shalt thou fall from thy empty peace and the silence inhuman6.

Joy as thou canst, endure as thou must, but bend to our uses.

Vainly thy heart repines,– thou wast made for this,– vainly refuses.

Wilt thou then crave for a recompense? Other the nature He gave thee7,

Scourged and indulged, to obey and to wrestle with strengths that enslave thee.

Just as thy nature, thy task for the love and the laughter of the ages;

Mighty thou art, but a slave, and the chain and the whip are thy wages.

Ahana

Voices of joy, from the roseate arbour of sense and the places

Thrilled with the song and the scent and peopled with beautiful faces,

Long in your closes of springtime, lured to joyances8 unsated

Tarried my heart and I walked in your meadows, your chaplets I plaited,

Played in your gardens of ease and, careless of blasts in the distance,

Paced, pursued by the winds, your orchard of autumn’s persistence,

Saw on the dance of a ripple your lotus that slumbers and quivers,

Heard your nightingales warbling in covert by moon-gilded rivers.

But I relinquished your streams and I turned from your moon-beams and flowers;

Now I have done with space and my soul is released from the hours.

Freed am I now9 from the need of joy, the attraction to sorrow,

Who have escaped from my past and forgotten today and tomorrow;

I have grown vacant and mighty, naked and wide as the azure.

Will you now plant in this blast, on this snow your roses of pleasure?

Once was a dwelling here that was made for the dance of the Graces,

But I have hewn down its gardens and ravaged its delicate places,

Driven the revellers out from their pleasance10 to wander unfriended,

Flung down the walls and over the debris written ítis ended’.

Now, and I know not yet wherefore, the Mighty One suffers you near Him,

But in their coming the great Gods hesitate seeming to fear Him.

Thought returns to my soul like a stranger. Sweetness and feature

Draw back appalled to their kind from the frozen vasts of my nature.

Turn back, you also, angels of yearning, vessels of sweetness.

Have I not wandered from Time, left ecstasy, outstripped completeness?

Voices

Goddess, we moaned upon earth and we wandered exiled from heaven.

Joy from us fled; our hearts to the worm and the arrow were given.

Old delights we remembered, natures of ecstasy keeping,

Hastened from rose to rose, but were turned back wounded and weeping:

Snatches of pleasure we seized; they were haunted and challenged by sorrow.

Marred was our joy of the day by the care11 and the dread of the morrow.

Star of infinity, we have beheld thee bright and unmoving

Seated above us, in tracts unattained by us, throned beyond loving.

Lonely thou sittest above in the fruitless vasts of the Spirit.

Waitest thou, Goddess, then for a purer12 world to inherit?

Wilt thou not perfect this rather that sprang too from Wisdom and Power?

Taking the earthly rose canst thou image not Heaven in a flower13?

Winging like bees to thy limbs we made haste like flames through the azure,

O we were ploughed with delight, we were pierced as with arrows of pleasure.

Rapture yearned and the Uswins cried to us; Indra arising

Gazed from the heights of his mental realms and the moonbeams surprising

Flowed on him out of the regions immortal; their nectar slowly

Mixed with the scattered roses of dawn and mastered us wholly.

Come, come down to us, Woman divine whom the world unforgetting

Yearns for still; we will draw thee, O star, from thy colourless setting.

Lonely thou sittest above in the fruitless vasts of the Spirit;

Waitest thou, Goddess, then for some younger world to complete or inherit?

Nay, if thou save not this, will another rise from the spaces?

Only the past fulfilled can conjure room to the future that presses.14

Goddess, we understand thee not; Woman, we know not thy nature;

This yet we know we have need of thee here in our world of misfeature.

Therefore we call to thee and would compel if our hands could but reach thee.

O, we have means to compel; we have many a sweetness to teach thee

Charming thee back to thy task mid our fields and our sunbeams and flowers,

Weaving a net for thy feet with the snare of the moonlit hours.

Ahana

Spirits of helpless rapture, spirits of sweetness and playtime,

Thrilled with my honey of night and drunk with my wine of the daytime,

If there were strengths that could seize on the world for their passion and rapture,

If there were souls that could hunt after God as a prey for their capture,

Such might aspire to possess me. I am Ahana the mighty,

I am Ashtaroth, I am the goddess, divine Aphrodite.

You have a thirst full sweet, but earth’s vineyards quickly assuage it:

Hearts there must be that15 outmeasure existence, strengths that besiege it,

Natures fit for my vastness! Return to your haunts, O ye shadows

Beautiful. Not of my will I descend to the bee-haunted meadows,

Rivulets stealing through flowers. Let those who are mighty aspire,

Gods if there are of such greatness, to seize on the world’s Desire.

Voices

Good, it is spoken. We wait thee, Ahana, where fugitive traces

Came of the hunted prey of the Titans in desert places

Trod by thee once when the world was mighty and violent. Risen,

Hark, they ascend; they are freed by thy call from the seals of their prison.

Ahana

Rush I can hear as of wings in the void and the march of a nation.

Shapes of old mightiness visit me; movements of ancient elation

Stride and return in my soul, and it turns like an antelope fleeing.

What was the cry that thou drewst from my bosom, Lord of my being?

Lo, their souls are cast on my soul like forms in16 a mirror!

Hark, they arise, they aspire, they are near, and I shudder with terror,

Quake with delight and attraction. Lord of the worlds, dost thou leave me

Bare for their seizing? Of peace and of strength in a moment bereave me?

Long hast Thou kept me safe in Thy soul, but I lose my defences.

Thought streams fast on me; joy is awake and the strife of the senses.

Ah, they have clutched my17 feet, my thighs are seized by them! Legions

Mighty around me they stride: I feel them filling the regions.

Seeíst18 Thou their hands on my locks? Wilt Thou suffer it, Master of Nature?

I am Thy force and Thy strength; wilt Thou hand me enslaved to Thy creature?

Headlong they drag me down to their dreadful worlds far below me.

What will you do with me there, O you mighty Ones? Speak to me, show me

One of your faces, teach me one of your names while you ravish,

Dragging my arms and my knees while you hurry me. Tell me what lavish

Ecstasy, show me what torture immense you seize me for. Quittance

When shall I have from my labour? What term has your tyranny, Titans?

Masters fierce of your worlds who would conquer the higher creation,

What is your will with me, giants of violence, lords of elation?

Voices

In the beginning of things when nought was abroad but the waters,

Ocean stirred with longing his mighty and deep-bosomed daughters.

Out of that longing gigantic we19 rose from the voiceless recesses;20

Candid, unwarmed, O Ahana, the wide ethereal abysses21

Stretched enormous, silent, void of the breath of thy greatness;

We alone peopled, and troubled with rapture their ancient sedateness:22

We are the gods who have mapped out Time and measured its spaces;

Raised there our mansions of pride and planted its23 amorous places.

Trembling like flowers appeared in the void the immense constellations;

Gods grew possessed of their heavens, earth rose with her joy-haunted nations.

Calm were we, mighty, magnificent, hunting and seizing

Whatso we willed through the world, in a rapture that thought not of ceasing.24

But thou hast turned from us, favouring gods who are slighter, and fairer,

Swift-footed, subtle of mind; but the sword was too great for the bearer,

Heavy the sceptre weighed upon hands not created to bear it.

Cruel and jealous the gods of thy choice were, cunning of spirit,

(Suave were their eyes of beauty that mastered thy heart, O woman!)

They who to govern our world, made it tarnished, sorrowful, common.

[Mystic and vast our world, but they hoped in their smallness to sum it

Schooled and coerced in themselves and they sank an ignorant plummet

Into infinity, shaping a limited beauty and power,

Confident, figuring Space in an inch and Time in an hour.

Therefore pleasure was troubled and beauty tarnished, madness

Mated with knowledge, the heart of purity sullied with sadness.

Strife began twixt the Infinite deathless within and the measure

Falsely imposed from without on its thought and its force and its pleasure.]25

We who could help were condemned in their sunless Hells to languish,

Shaking the world with the heave of our limbs, for our breath was an anguish.

There were we cast down, met and repulsed by the speed of their thunder,

Earth piled on us, our Mother; her heart of fire burned under.

Now we escape, we are free; our triumph and bliss are before us,

Earth is our prey and the heavens our hunting ground; stars in their chorus

Chant, wide-wheeling, our paean; the world is awake and rejoices:

Hast thou not heard its trampling of strengths and its rapturous voices?

Is not our might around thee yet? does not our thunder-winged fleetness

Drag thee down yet to the haunts of our strength and the cups of our sweetness?

There thou shalt suffer couched on our mountains, over them stretching

All thy defenceless bliss, thy pangs to eternity reaching.

Thou shalt be taken and whelmed in our trampling and bottomless Oceans,

Chained to the rocks of the world and condemned to our giant emotions.

Violent joy thou shalt have of us, raptures and ruthless revulsions

Racking and tearing thee, and each thrill of thy honied26 convulsions,

We, as it shakes the mountains, we as thou churnst27 up the waters,

Laughing shall turn to a joy for Delight and her pitiless daughters.

They shall be changed to a strength for the gods and for death-besieged natures.

When we have conquered, when thou hast yielded to earth and her creatures,

Boundless, thy strength, O Ahana, delivered, thy sorrowless joyance28,

Hope, if thou canst, release from the meed of thy pride and defiance.

Ahana

Gods irresistible, blasts of His violence, fighters eternal,

Churners of Ocean, stormers of Heaven! but limits diurnal

Chafe you and bonds of the Night. I know in my soul I am given,

Racked to your joys as a sacrifice, writhing, to raise you to heaven.

Therefore you seize on me, vanquish and carry me swift to my falling.

Fain would I linger, pain29 resist, to Infinity calling;

But you possess all my limbs, you compel me, giants of evil.

Am I then doomed to your darkness and violence, moonlight and revel?

Hast thou no pity, O Earth,30 my soul from this death to deliver?

Who are you, luminous movements? Around me you glimmer and quiver.

Visible, not to the eyes, and not audible, only31 you call me,

Teaching my soul with sound and the joy32 that shall seize and befall me.33

What are you, lords of the brightness vague that aspires, but fulfils not?

For you possess and retire but your yearning quenches not, stills not.

Yet is your touch a pleasure that thrills all my soul with its sweetness:

I am in love with your whispers and snared by your bright incompleteness.

Speak to me, downward falling, and comfort me34. Will you not35 follow

Still to console on the hills of my pain and in36 Ocean’s hollow?37

Voices

We are the Ancients of Knowledge, Ahana, the Sons of the Morning.

Why dost thou cry to us, Daughter of Bliss, who left us with scorning?

We too dwelt in delight when these were supreme in their spaces;

We too were riven with pain when they fell down prone from their places.

Hast thou forgotten the world as it was ere thou fledst from our nations?

Dost thou remember at all the joy of the ancient creations?

Thrilled were its streams with our intimate bliss and our happy contriving;

Sound was a song and movement the dance of our rhythmical living.

Out of our devious delight came the senses and all their deceptions;

Earth was our ring of bliss and the map of our mighty conceptions.

For we sustained the inert sitting secret in clod and in petal,

And we awoke to a twilight of life in the leaf and the metal.

Active we dreamed in the mind and we ordered our dreams to a measure,

Making an image of pain and shaping an idol of pleasure.

Good we have made by our thoughts and sin by our fear and recoiling;

It was our weakness invented grief, O delight! reconciling

Always the touch that was borne with strength that went out for possessing,

Somewhere, somehow we failed; there was discord, a pang, a regressing.

Goddess, His whispers bewildered us; over us vainly aspirant

Galloped the throng of His strengths like the steeds of a pitiless tyrant.

Since in the woods of the world we have wandered, thrust from sereneness,

Erring mid pleasures that fled and dangers that coiled in the greenness.

Someone surrounds and possesses our lives whom we cannot discover,

Someone our heart in its hunger pursues with the moans of a lover.

Knowledge faints in its toil, amasses but loses its guerdon;

Strength is a worker blinded and maimed who is chained to his burden,

Love a seeker astray; he finds in a seeming, then misses;

Weariness hampers his feet. Desire with unsatisfied kisses

Clings to each object she lights upon, loving, forsaking, returning:

Earth is filled with her sobs and the cry of her fruitlessly burning.

All things we sounded here. Everything leaves us or fails in the spending;

Strength has its weakness, knowledge its night and joy has its ending.

Is it not thou who shalt rescue us, freeing the Titans, the Graces?

Hast thou not hidden thyself in38 the mask of a million faces?

Nay, from thyself thou art hidden; thy secret intention thou shunnest

And from the joy thou hast willed like an antelope fleest and runnest.

Thou shalt be forced, O Ahana, to bear enjoyment and knowing

Termlessly. Come, O come from thy whiteness and distance, thou glowing,

Mighty and hundred-ecstasied Woman! Daughter of Heaven,

Usha, descend to thy pastimes below and thy haunts that are given.

She-wolf avid of cruelty, lioness eager for battle,

Tigress that prowlst in the night and leapest out dire on the cattle,

Sarama, dog of the heavens, thou image of grosser enjoying,

Hungry slave of the worlds, incessantly pawing and toying,

Snake of delight and of poison, gambolling beast of the meadows,

Come to thy pastures, Ahana, sport in the sunbeams and shadows.

Naiad swimming through streams and Dryad fleeing through forest

Wild, from the clutch of the Satyr! Ahana, who breakest39 and restorest!

Oread, mountain Echo, cry to the rocks in thy running!

Nymph in recess and in haunt the pursuit and the melody shunning!

Giantess, cruel and false and grand! Gandharvi that singest

Heavenward, bird exultant through storm and through sapphire who wingest!

Centauress galloping wild through the woods of Himaloy40 high-crested!

Yakshini brooding o’er treasure down in earth’s bowels arrested!

Demoness gnashing thy teeth in the burial-ground! Titaness striding

Restless through worlds for thy rest, the brain and the bosom not ridding

Even one hour of the ferment-waste and the load beyond bearing,

Recklessly slaying the peoples in anger, recklessly sparing,

Spending the strength that is thine to inherit the doom of another!

Goddess of pity who yearnst and who helpest, Durga and41 Mother!

Brooder in Delphi’s caverns, Voice in the groves of Dodona!

Goddess serene of an ancient progeny, Dian, Latona!

Virgin! ascetic frank or remote, Athene the mighty!

Harlot supine to the worlds, insatiate white Aphrodite!

Hundred-named art thou, goddess, a hundred-formed, and thy bosom

Thrills all the world with its breasts, O starlight, O mountain, O blossom!

Rain that descendest kissing our lips and lightning that slayest!

Thou who destroyest to save, to delight who hurtst and dismayest!

Thou art our mother and sister and bride. O girdled with splendour,

Cruel and bright as the sun, O moonlike, mystic and tender!

Thou art the perfect peopling of Space, O Ahana; thou only

Fillest Time with thy forms. Leave then thy eternity lonely,

Come! from thy summits descending arrive to us, Daughter of Heaven,

Usha, Dawn of the world, for our ways to thy footsteps are given.

Strength thou hast built for the floor of the world and delight for its rafter.

Calm are thy depths, O Ahana, above is thy hundred-mouthed laughter.

Rapture can fail not in thee though he rend like a lion preying

Body and soul with his ecstasies vast. These42 for ever delaying,

Feigning to end, shall43 renew thyself, never exhausting his blisses,

Joy shall be in thy bosom satisfied never with kisses;

Strength from thy breasts drawing force of the Titans shall unrelaxing

Stride through the worlds at his work. One shall drive him ruthlessly taxing

Sinew and nerve, he shall toil exultantly,44 helpless to tire,

Borne by unstumbling speed to the soul45 of a God’s desire.

What shall thy roof be, crown of thy building? Knowledge, sublimely,

High on her vaulted arches where thought, half-lost, wings dimly,

Luring the flaming heart above and the soul in its stillness

Pure in a sky beyond sky. Delivered from virtue and vileness,46

Vast, uncompelled we shall range once more47 at peace with our nature,

Reconciled, knowing ourselves. To her pain and the longings that reach her

Come from thy summits, Ahana, come! Our desire unrelenting

Hales thee down from God and He smiles at thee sweetly consenting.

Lo, she is hurried down and the regions live in her tresses.

Worlds, she descends to you! Peoples, she nears with her mighty caresses.

Man in his sojourn, Gods in their going, Titans exultant

Thrill with thy fall, O Ahana, and wait for the godhead resultant.

Ahana

Calm like a goddess, alarmed like a bride is my spirit descending,

Falling, O Gods, to your arms. I know my beginning and ending;

All I have known and I am not astonished; alarmed and attracted

Therefore my soul descends foreknowing the rapture48 exacted,

Gulf of the joys you would doom me to, torment of infinite striving,

Travail of knowledge. Was I not made for your mightier living?

Gods, I am falling, I am descending, cast down as for ever,

Thrown as a slave at your feet and a tool for your ruthless endeavour.

Yet while I fall, I will threaten you. Hope shall be yours, so it trembles.

I have a bliss that destroys and the death in me wooes and dissembles.

Will you not suffer then my return to my peace beyond telling?

You have accepted death for your pastime, Titans rebelling!

Hope then from pain delight and from death an immortal stature!

Slaves of her instruments, rise to be equals and tyrants of Nature!

Lay not your hands so fiercely upon me! Compel me not, falling!

Gods, you shall rue it who heed not the cry of my prayer and my calling49.

’Tis not a merciful One that you seize. I fall and, arisen,

Earth strides towards me. Gods, my possessors, kingdoms, my prison,

So shall you prosper or die as you use or misuse and deceive me.

Vast, I descend from God. O world and its masters, receive me!

II

Ahana

Lo, on the hills I have paused, on the peaks of the world I have halted

Here in the middle realms of Varuna the world-wide exalted.

Gods, who have drawn me down to the labour and sobs of creation,

First I would speak with the troubled hearts and the twilit nation,

Speak then, I bend my ear to the far terrestrial calling,

Speak, O thou toiling race of humanity, welcome me falling,

Space for whose use in a boundless thought was unrolled and extended;

Time in its cycles waited for man. Though his kingdom is ended,

Here in a speck mid the suns and his life is a throb in the aeons,

Yet, O you Titans and Gods, O Rudras, O strong Aditians50,

Man is the centre and knot; he is first, though the last in the ages.

I would remember your cycles, recover your vanished pages;

I have the vials divine, I rain down the honey and manna;

Speak, O thou soul of humanity, knowing me. I am Ahana.

A Voice

Vision bright, that walkest crowned on the hills far above me,

Vision of bliss, stoop down from thy calm and thy silence to love me.

Only is calm so sweet? Is our end tranquillity only?

Chill are your rivers of peace and their banks are leafless and lonely.

Art thou not sated with sunlight only, cold in its lustre?

Art thou not weary of only the stars in their solemn muster?

Always the hills and the high-hung plateaus,– solitude’s voices

Making the silence lonelier! Only the eagle rejoices

In the inhuman height of his nesting,– austerely striving,

Deaf with the cry of the waterfall, only the pine there is thriving.

We have the voice of the cuckoo, the nightingale sings in the branches,

Human laughter leads and the cattle low in the ranches.

Come to our tangled sunbeams, dawn on our twilights and shadows,

Taste with us, scent with us fruits of our trees and flowers of our meadows.

Art thou an angel of God in His heavens that they vaunt of, His sages?

Skies of monotonous calm and His stillness filling the ages?

Is He thy master, Rudra the mighty, Shiva ascetic?

Has He denied thee his worlds? In His dance that they tell of, ecstatic,

Slaying, creating, calm in the midst of his movement and madness?

Was there no place for an earthly joy, for a human sadness?

Did He not make us and thee? O Woman, joy’s delicate blossom

Sleeps in thy lids of delight! All Nature laughs in thy bosom

Hiding her children unborn and the food of her love and her laughter.

Is He then first? Was there none before Him? Shall none come after?

We too have gods,– the Tritons rise in the leap of the billows,

Emerald locks of the Nereids stream on their foam-crested pillows,

Dryads sway out from the branches, Naiads glance up through the waters;

Heaven has dances of joy and the gods are ensnared by her daughters.

Artemis calls as she flees through the glades and the breezes pursue her,

Cypris laughs in her isles where the Ocean-winds linger to woo her.

Thou shalt behold in glades forgotten the dance of the Graces,

Night shall be haunted for ever with strange and delicate faces.

Lo, all these peoples and who was it fashioned them? Who is unwilling

Still to have done with it? laughs beyond pain and saves in the killing?

Nature, you say; but is God then her enemy? Was she created,

He unknowing or sleeping? Did someone transgress the fated

Limits He set, outwitting God? Nay, we know it was fashioned

By the Almighty One, million-ecstasied, thousand-passioned.

But He created a discord within it, fashioned a limit?

Fashioned or figured51? For He set completeness beyond. To disclaim it,

To be content with our measure, they say, is the law of our living.

Rather to follow always and, baffled, still to go striving.

Yes, it is true that we dash ourselves stark on a barrier appearing,

Fall and are wounded. But He insists who is in us, the fearing –

Conquers the grief. We resist; His temptations leap down compelling;

Virtue cheats us with noble names to a lofty rebelling.

Fiercely His wrath and His jealousy strike down the rebel aspiring,

Thick and persistent His might52 confronts our eager enquiring53;

Yet ’tis His strengths descend crying always, “Rebel, aspire!”;

Still through the night He sends rays, to our bosoms a quenchless fire.

Most to our joys He sets limits, most with His pangs He perplexes;

Yet when we faint it is He that spurs. Temptation vexes;

Honied a thousand whispers come, in the birds, in the breezes,

Moonlight, the voice of the streams; from hundreds of beautiful faces

Always He cries to us, “Love me!”, always He lures us to pleasure,

Then escapes and leaves anguish behind for our only treasure.

Shall we not say then that joy is greatest, rapture His meaning?

That which He most denies is His purpose? The hedges, the screening,

Are they not all His play? In our end we have rapture for ever

Careless of Time, with no fear of the end, with no need for endeavour.

What was the garden He built when the stars were first set in their places,

Man and woman together mid streams and in cloudless spaces,

Naked and innocent? Someone offered a fruit of derision,

Knowledge of good and evil54, cleaving in God a division,

Though He who made all said, “It is good; I have fashioned perfection.”

“Nay, there is evil”, someone whispered, “’tis screened from detection.”

Wisest he of the beasts of the field, one cunning and creeping.

“See it,” he said, “be wise. You shall be as the gods are, unsleeping,

They who know all”, and they ate. The roots of our being were shaken;

Hatred and weeping and death at once trampled a world overtaken,

Terror and fleeing and wrath and shame and desire unsated;

Cruelty stalked like a lion; Revenge and her brood were created.

Out to the desert He drove the rebellious. Flaming behind them

Streamed out the sword of His wrath; it followed, eager to find them,

Stabbing at random. The pure and the evil, the strong and the tempted,

All are confounded in punishment. Justly is no one exempted.

Virtuous? Yes, there are many; but who is there innocent? Toiling,

Therefore, we seek, but find not that Eden. Planting and spoiling,

“This is the garden,” we say, “lo, the trees! and this is the river.”

Vainly! Redeemers come, but none yet availed to deliver.

Is it not all His play? Is He Rudra only, the mighty?

Whose are the whispers of sweetness? Whence are the murmurs of pity?

Why are we terrified then, cry out and draw back from the smiting?

Blows of a lover, perhaps, intended for fiercer inciting!

Yes, but the cruelty, yes, but the empty pain we go on rueing55!

Edges of sweetness, it may be, call to a swifter pursuing.

Was it not He in Brindavan56? O woods divine to our yearning,

Memorable always! O flowers, O delight on the treetops burning!

Grasses His kine have grazed and crushed by His feet in the dancing!

Yamuna flowing with sound, through the greenness always advancing!

You unforgotten remind! For His flute with its sweetness ensnaring

Sounds in our ears in the night and our souls of their teguments baring

Hales them out naked and absolute, out to His woodlands eternal,

Out to His moonlit dances, His dalliance sweet and supernal,

And we go stumbling, maddened and thrilled, to His dreadful embraces,

Slaves of His rapture to Brindavan57 crowded with amorous faces,

Luminous kine in the green glades seated soft-eyed grazing,

Flowers from the branches distressing us, moonbeams unearthly amazing,

Yamuna flowing before us, laughing low with her voices,

Brindavan58 arching o’er us where Shyama59 sports and rejoices.

What though ’tis true that the river of Life through the valley of Peril

Flows! But the diamond shines on the cliffside, jacinth and beryl

Gleam in the crannies, sapphire, smaragdus the roadway bejewel,

Down in the jaws of the savage mountains granite and cruel.

Who has not fathomed once all the voiceless throat60 of those mountains?

Always the wide-pacing river of Life from its far-off fountains

Flows down mighty and broad, like a warhorse brought from its manger

Arching its neck as it paces grand to the gorges of danger.

Sometimes we hesitate, often start and would turn from the trial,

Vainly; a fierce Inhabitant drives and brooks no denial.

Headlong, o’ercome with a stridulant horror the river descending

Shudders below into sunless depths among chasms unending,

Angry, afraid, white, foaming. A stony and monstrous resistance

Meets it, piling up stubborn limits, an iron insistence.

Yet in the midst of our labour and weeping not utterly lonely

Wander our steps, nor are terror and grief our portion only.

Do we not hear in the heart of the peril a flute go before us?

Are there not beckoning hands of the gods that insist and implore us?

Plains are beyond; there are hamlets and fields where the river rejoices

Pacing once more with a quiet step and amical voices.

There in a woodland red with berries and cool with the breezes,–

Green are the leaves, all night long the heart of the nightingale eases

Sweetly its burden of pity and sorrow, fragrant the flowers,–

There in an arbour delightful I know we shall sport with the Hours,

Lying on beds of lilies, hearing the bells of our cattle

Tinkle, and drink red wine of our life and go forth to the battle

And unwounded return to our beautiful home by the waters,

Pledge of our joys, rear tall strong sons and radiant daughters.

Shall God know? Will His spies come down to our beautiful valley?

They shall grow drunk with its grapes and wander in woodland and alley.

There will His anger follow us, there will His lightnings immortal

Wander around with their red eye of cruelty stabbing the portal?

Yes, I shall fear then His play! I will sport with my dove from His highlands,

Pleased with her laughter of bliss like a god in my Grecian islands.

Daughter of Heaven, break through to me, moonlike, mystic and gleaming.

Come through the margins of twilight, over the borders of dreaming;

Vision bright that walkest crowned on the hills far above me,

Vision of bliss, stoop down! Encircle me, madden me, love me.

Ahana

Voice of the sensuous mortal! heart of eternal longing!

Thou who hast lived as in walls, thy soul with thy senses wronging!

But I descend to thee. Fickle and terrible, sweet and deceiving,

Poison and nectar One has dispensed to thee, luring thee, leaving.

We two together shall capture the flute and the player relentless.

Son of man, thou hast crowned thy life with flowers that are scentless,

Chased the delights that wound. But I come and the darkness shall sunder.

Lo, I come and behind me knowledge descends and with thunder

Filling the spaces Strength the Angel bears on his bosom

Joy to thy arms. Thou shalt look on her face like a child’s or a blossom,

Innocent, free as in Eden of old, not afraid of her playing.

Pain was not meant for ever, hearts were not made but for slaying.

Thou shalt not suffer always nor cry to me, lured and forsaken.

I have a snare for His footsteps, I have a chain for Him taken.

Come then to Brindavan61, soul of the joyous; faster and faster

Follow the dance I shall teach thee with Shyama62 for slave and for master,–

Follow the notes of the flute with a soul aware and exulting,

Trample Delight that submits and crouch to a sweetness insulting.

Thou shalt know what the dance meant, fathom the song and the singer,

Hear behind thunder its rhythms63, touched by lightning thrill to His finger,

Brindavanís64 rustle shall65 understand and Yamuna’s laughter,

Take thy place in the Ras66 and thy share of the ecstasy after.

 

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 The earlier and unrevised version of the poem of which the last portion was considerably revised and enlarged under the title Ahana.

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2 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2 nature be satisfied

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3 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: with the joys

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4 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: fled from the

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5 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: thou art thrilled, O goddess; thy calm thou shalt not recover

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6 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: But must come down to this world of pain and the need of thy lover

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7 This line and next three lines are absent in the edition of 2009 year

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8 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: joyaunce

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9 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Saved is my heart

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10 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: pleasaunce

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11 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: a cloud

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12 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: fairer

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13 In the edition of 2009 year there is another order and set of lines — after this line and till words Goddess, we understand thee not... there are:

Nay, if thou save not this, will another rise from the spaces?

Is not the past fulfilled that gives room for the future faces?

Winging like bees to thy limbs we made haste like flames through the azure;

O we were ploughed with delight, we were pierced as with arrows of pleasure.

Rapture yearned and the Uswins cried to us; Indra arising

Gazed from the heights of his mental realms and the moonbeams surprising

Flowed on him out of the regions immortal; their nectar slowly

Mixed with the scattered roses of dawn and mastered us wholly.

Come, come down to us, Woman divine, whom the world unforgetting

Yearns for still,Ė we will draw thee, O star, from thy colourless setting.

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14 Is not the past fulfilled that finds room for the future faces?

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15 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: There must be thoughts that

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16 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: on

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17 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: their clutch on my

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18 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Seest

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19 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: longing we

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20 heart of the ocean;

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21 spaces empty of motion

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22 Hushed to thy sweetnesses, rapt in the (calm?) of their ancient sedateness:

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23 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: our

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24 enjoying and, careless, releasing.

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25 The square brackets are in the original.

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26 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: honeyed

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27 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: spurnst

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28 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: joyaunce

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29 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: fain

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30 Is there no help in the world,

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31 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: circling

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32 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: , O you joys

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33 You who are visible, not to the eyes, who, not audible, flutter

Teaching my soul with sound; your name and your progeny utter.

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34 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: comfort me falling

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35 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Bearing eternity

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36 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Down to the hills of my pain and into

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37 Speak to me, comfort me falling, grapple me, follow

Down to the hills of my pain and into the Ocean’s hollow.

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38 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: with

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39 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: breakst

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40 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: HimŠloy

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41 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Durga, our

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42 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Thou

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43 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: shalt

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44 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: though our slave, yet seized, driven,

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45 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: goal

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46 Luring the flaming heart above and the soul through its shadows,

Winging wide like a bird through the night and the moonlit meadows,

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47 released and

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48 your pleasures

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49 This line was absent in this edition and was taken from the edition of 2009 year

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50 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Aditeians

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51 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: feigned

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52 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: night

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53 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: inquiring

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54 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: and of evil

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55 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: go ruing

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56 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Brind‚vun

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57 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Brind‚vun

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58 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Brind‚vun

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59 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Shy‚ma

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60 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: threat

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61 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Brind‚vun

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62 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Shy‚ma

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63 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: rhymes

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64 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Brind‚vunís

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65 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: shalt

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66 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: R‚s

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