Collected Plays and Short Stories
Fragment of a Drama1
Stamp out, stamp out the sun from the high blue
And all overarching2 firmament of heaven;
Forget the mighty ocean when it spumes
Under the thunder-deafened cliffs and soars
To crown their tops with spray, but never hope
That Baal will excuse, Baal forgive.
That’s an ambition more impossible,
A thought more rebel from the truth.
It seems to me that thou believ’st in Baal!
And what dost thou believe in? The gross crowd
Believe the sun is God or else a stone.
This though I credit not, yet Baal lives.
And if he lives, then you and I are Baal,
Deserve as much the prayer and sacrifice
As he does. Nay, then, sit and tell him, “Lord,
If thou art Baal, let the fire be lit
Upon thy altar without agency,
Let men believe.” Can God do this, and if
He cannot, if he needs a flint and fuel
And human hands to light his sacred fire,
Is he not less than man? The flint and fuel
Are for our work sufficient. What is he
If not a helpless name that cannot live
Unless men’s lips repeat him?
And the flint,
The fuel? Who made these or formed the hands
That lit the fire? the lips that prove him nothing?
Or who gave thee thy clear and sceptic brain,
Thy statecraft and thy bold and scornful will
Despising what thou usest? Was it thou
That mad’st them?
No, my parents did. Say then
The seed is God that touched my mother’s womb
And by familiar process built this house
Inhabited by Esarhaddon.
Fashioned the seed?
It grew from other seed,
That out of earth and water, light and heat,
And ether, eldest creature of the world.
All is a force that irresistibly
Works by its nature which it cannot help,
And that is I and that the wood and flint,
That Achab, that Assyria, that the world.
How came the force in being?
From of old
Then why not call it Baal?
I care not what ’tis called, Mithra or God,
You call it Baal, Perizade says
’Tis Ormuzd, Mithra and the glorious sun.
I say ’tis force.
Then wherefore strive to change
Assyria’s law, o’erthrow the cult of Baal?
I do not, for it crumbles of itself.
Why keep the rubbish? Priest, I need a cult
More gentle and less bloody to the State,
Not crying at each turn for human blood
Which means the loss of so much labour, gold,
Soldiers and strength. This Mithra’s worship is.
Come, priest, you are incredulous yourself,
But guard your trade; so do I mine, so all.
Will it be loss to you, if it be said
Baal and Mithra, these are one, but Baal
Changes and grows more mild and merciful,
A friend to men? Or if instead of blood’s
Unprofitable revenue we give
Offerings of price, and heaps of captive gold
In place of conquered victims?
So you urge,
The people’s minds are not so mobile yet.
If you and I agree, who will refuse?
I care not, man, how it is done. Invent
Scriptures, forge ancient writings, let the wild
Mystics who slashed4 their limbs on Baal’s hill,
Cry out the will of Baal while they slashed5.
You are subtle, if you choose. The head of all
Assyria’s state ecclesiastical,
Assured a twentieth of my revenues,
And right of all the offerings votaries heap
On Mithra, that’s promotion more than any
Onan can give, the sullen silent slave,
Or Ikbal Sufas6 with his politic brain.
You think I do not know! I see
Each motion of your close conspiring brain7,
And if you do, why hold your hand?
That’s boldly questioned, almost honestly.
Because a State is ill preserved by blood,
The policy that sees a fissure here,
A wall in ill repair, and builds it up,
Is better than to raze the mansion down
And make it new. I know the people’s mind
Sick of a malady no leech can name;
I see a dangerous motion in the soil,
And make my old foundations sure. Achab,
You know I have a sword, and yet it sleeps;
I offer you the gem upon the hilt
And friendship. Will you take it? See, I need
A brain as clear as yours, a heart as bold,
What should I do by killing you, but lose
A statesman born?
You have conquered, king, I yield.
’Tis well. Here is my hand on our accord.
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo: Set in 37 volumes.- Vol. 2.- Collected Poems.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2009.- 751 p.
1 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: A Dialogue
2 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: o’erarching
3 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2 here and elsewhere: Esarhaddon
4 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: slash
5 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: slash
6 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: Sufa
7 2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2: brains