(S 1)
This huge world unintelligibly turns
In the shadow of a mused Inconscience;
It hides a key to inner meanings missed,
325 It locks in our hearts a voice we cannot hear.
(S 2)
An enigmatic labour of the spirit,
An exact machine of which none knows the use,
An art and ingenuity without sense,
This minute elaborate orchestrated life
330 For ever plays its motiveless symphonies.
(S 3)
The mind learns and knows not, turning its back to truth;
It studies surface laws by surface thought,
Not seeing for what she acts or why we live;
335 It marks her tireless care of just device,
Her patient intricacy of fine detail,
The ingenious spirit’s brave inventive plan
In her great futile mass of endless works,
Adds purposeful figures to her purposeless sum,
340 Its gabled storeys piles, its climbing roofs
On the close-carved foundations she has laid,
Imagined citadels reared in mythic air
Or mounts a stair of dream to a mystic moon:
Transient creations point and hit the sky:
345 A world-conjecture’s scheme is laboured out
On the dim floor of mind’s incertitude,
Or painfully built a fragmentary whole.
(S 4)
Impenetrable, a mystery recondite
Is the vast plan of which we are a part;
350 Its harmonies are discords to our view
Because we know not the great theme they serve.
(S 5)
Inscrutable work the cosmic agencies.
(S 6)
Only the fringe of a wide surge we see;
Our instruments have not that greater light,
355 Our will tunes not with the eternal Will,
Our heart’s sight is too blind and passionate.
(S 7)
Impotent to share in Nature’s mystic tact,
Inapt to feel the pulse and core of things,
Our reason cannot sound life’s mighty sea
360 And only counts its waves and scans its foam;
It knows not whence these motions touch and pass,
It sees not whither sweeps the hurrying flood:
Only it strives to canalise its powers
And hopes to turn its course to human ends:
365 But all its means come from the Inconscient’s store.
(S 8)
Unseen here act dim huge world-energies
And only trickles and currents are our share.
(S 9)
Our mind lives far off from the authentic Light
Catching at little fragments of the Truth
370 In a small corner of infinity,
Our lives are inlets of an ocean’s force.
(S 10)
Our conscious movements have sealed origins
But with those shadowy seats no converse hold;
No understanding binds our comrade parts;
375 Our acts emerge from a crypt our minds ignore.
(S 11)
Our deepest depths are ignorant of themselves;
Even our body is a mystery shop;
As our earth’s roots lurk screened below our earth,
So lie unseen our roots of mind and life.
(S 12)
380 Our springs are kept close hid beneath, within;
Our souls are moved by powers behind the wall.
(S 13)
In the subterranean reaches of the spirit
Apuissance acts and recks not what it means;
Using unthinking monitors and scribes,
385 It is the cause of what we think and feel.
(S 14)
The troglodytes of the subconscious Mind,
Ill-trained slow stammering interpreters
Only of their small task’s routine aware
And busy with the record in our cells,
390 Concealed in the subliminal secrecies
Mid an obscure occult machinery,
Capture the mystic Morse whose measured lilt
Transmits the messages of the cosmic Force.
(S 15)
A whisper falls into life’s inner ear
395 And echoes from the dun subconscient caves,
Speech leaps, thought quivers, the heart vibrates, the will
Answers and tissue and nerve obey the call.
(S 16)
Our lives translate these subtle intimacies;
All is the commerce of a secret Power.
(S 17)
400 A thinking puppet is the mind of life:
Its choice is the work of elemental strengths
That know not their own birth and end and cause
And glimpse not the immense intent they serve.
(S 18)
In this nether life of man drab-hued and dull,
405 Yet filled with poignant small ignoble things,
The conscious Doll is pushed a hundred ways
And feels the push but not the hands that drive.
(S 19)
For none can see the masked ironic troupe
To whom our figure-selves are marionettes,
410 Our deeds unwitting movements in their grasp,
Our passionate strife an entertainment’s scene.
(S 20)
Ignorant themselves of their own fount of strength
They play their part in the enormous whole.
(S 21)
Agents of darkness imitating light,
415 Spirits obscure and moving things obscure,
Unwillingly they serve a mightier Power.
(S 22)
Ananke’s engines organising Chance,
Channels perverse of a stupendous Will,perverse
Tools of the Unknown who use us as their tools,
420 Invested with power in Nature’s nether state,
Into the actions mortals think their own
They bring the incoherencies of Fate,
Or make a doom of Time’s slipshod caprice
And toss the lives of men from hand to hand
425 In an inconsequent and devious game.
(S 23)
Against all higher truth their stuff rebels;
Only to Titan force their will lies prone.
(S 24)
Inordinate their hold on human hearts,
In all our nature’s turns they intervene.
(S 25)
430 Insignificant architects of low-built lives
And engineers of interest and desire,
Out of crude earthiness and muddy thrills
And coarse reactions of material nerve
They build our huddled structures of self-will
435 And the ill-lighted mansions of our thought,
Or with the ego’s factories and marts
Surround the beautiful temple of the soul.
(S 26)
Artists minute of the hues of littleness,
They set the mosaic of our comedy
440 Or plan the trivial tragedy of our days,
Arrange the deed, combine the circumstance
And the fantasia of the moods costume.
(S 27)
These unwise prompters of man’s ignorant heart
And tutors of his stumbling speech and will,
445 Movers of petty wraths and lusts and hates
And changeful thoughts and shallow emotion’s starts,
These slight illusion-makers with their masks,
Painters of the decor of a dull-hued stage
And nimble scene-shifters of the human play,
450 Ever are busy with this ill-lit scene.
(S 28)
Ourselves incapable to build our fate
Only as actors speak and strut our parts
Until the piece is done and we pass off
Into a brighter Time and subtler Space.
(S 29)
455 Thus they inflict their little pigmy law
And curb the mounting slow uprise of man,
Then his too scanty walk with death they close.
(S 1)
This is the ephemeralcreature’s daily life.
(S 2)
As long as the human animal is lord
460 And a dense nether nature screens the soul,
As long as intellect’s outward-gazing sight
Serves earthy interest and creature joys,
An incurable littleness pursues his days.
(S 3)
Ever since consciousness was born on earth,
465 Life is the same in insect, ape and man,
Its stuff unchanged, its way the common route.
(S 4)
If new designs, if richer details grow
And thought is added and more tangled cares,
If little by little it wears a brighter face,
470 Still even in man the plot is mean and poor.
(S 5)
A gross content prolongs his fallen state;
His small successes are failures of the soul,
His little pleasures punctuate frequent griefs:
Hardship and toil are the heavy price he pays
475 For the right to live and his last wages death.
(S 6)
An inertia sunk towards inconscience,
A sleep that imitates death is his repose.
(S 7)
A puny splendour of creative force
Is made his spur to fragile human works
480 Which yet outlast their brief creator’s breath.
(S 8)
He dreams sometimes of the revels of the gods
And sees the Dionysian gesture pass, —
A leonine greatness that would tear his soul
If through his failing limbs and fainting heart
485 The sweet and joyful mighty madness swept:
Trivial amusements stimulate and waste
The energy given to him to grow and be.
(S 9)
His little hour is spent in little things.
(S 10)
A brief companionship with many jars,
490 A little love and jealousy and hate,
A touch of friendship mid indifferent crowds
Draw his heart-plan on life’s diminutive map.
(S 11)
If something great awakes, too frail his pitch
To reveal its zenith tension of delight,
495 His thought to eternise its ephemeral soar,
Art’s brilliant gleam is a pastime for his eyes,
A thrill that smites the nerves is music’s spell.
(S 12)
Amidst his harassed toil and welter of cares,
Pressed by the labour of his crowding thoughts,
500 He draws sometimes around his aching brow
Nature’s calm mighty hands to heal his life-pain.
(S 13)
He is saved by her silence from his rack of self;
In her tranquil beauty is his purest bliss.
(S 14)
A new life dawns, he looks out from vistas wide;
505 The Spirit’s breath moves him but soon retires:
His strength was not made to hold that puissant guest.
(S 15)
All dulls down to convention and routine
Or a fierce excitement brings him vivid joys:
His days are tinged with the red hue of strife
510 And lust’s hot glare and passion’s crimson stain;
Battle and murder are his tribal game.
(S 16)
Time has he none to turn his eyes within
And look for his lost self and his dead soul.
(S 17)
His motion on too short an axis wheels;
515 He cannot soar but creeps on his long road
Or if, impatient of the trudge of Time,
He would make a splendid haste on Fate’s slow road,
His heart that runs soon pants and tires and sinks;
Or he walks ever on and finds no end.
(S 18)
520 Hardly a few can climb to greater life.
(S 19)
All tunes to a low scale and conscious pitch.
(S 20)
His knowledge dwells in the house of Ignorance;
His force nears not even once the Omnipotent,
Rare are his visits of heavenly ecstasy.
(S 21)
525 The bliss which sleeps in things and tries to wake,
Breaks out in him in a small joy of life:
This scanty grace is his persistent stay;
It lightens the burden of his many ills
And reconciles him to his little world.
(S 22)
530 He is satisfied with his common average kind;
Tomorrow’s hopes and his old rounds of thought,
His old familiar interests and desires
He has made into a thick and narrowing hedge
Defending his small life from the Invisible;
535 His being’s kinship to infinity
He has shut away from him into inmost self,
Fenced off the greatnesses of hidden God.
(S 23)
His being was formed to play a trivial part
In a little drama on a petty stage;
540 In a narrow plot he has pitched his tent of life
Beneath the wide gaze of the starry Vast.
(S 24)
He is the crown of all that has been done:
Thus is creation’s labour justified;
This is the world’s result, Nature’s last poise!
545 And if this were all and nothing more were meant,
If what now seems were the whole of what must be,
If this were not a stade through which we pass
On our road from Matter to eternal Self,
To the Light that made the worlds, the Cause of things,
550 Well might interpret our mind’s limited view
Existence as an accident in Time,
Illusion or phenomenon or freak,
The paradox of a creative Thought
Which moves between unreal opposites,
555 Inanimate Force struggling to feel and know,
Matter that chanced to read itself by Mind,
Inconscience monstrously engendering soul.
(S 25)
At times all looks unreal and remote:
We seem to live in a fiction of our thoughts
560 Pieced from sensation’s fanciful traveller’s tale,
Or caught on the film of the recording brain,
A figment or circumstance in cosmic sleep.
(S 26)
A somnambulist walking under the moon,
An image of ego treads through an ignorant dream
565 Counting the moments of a spectral Time.
(S 27)
In a false perspective of effect and cause,
Trusting to a specious prospect of world-space,
It drifts incessantly from scene to scene,
Whither it knows not, to what fabulous verge.
(S 28)
570 All here is dreamed or doubtfully exists,
But who the dreamer is and whence he looks
Is still unknown or only a shadowy guess.
(S 29)
Or the world is real but ourselves too small,
Insufficient for the mightiness of our stage.
(S 30)
575 A thin life-curve crosses the titan whirl
Of the orbit of a soulless universe,
And in the belly of the sparse rolling mass
A mind looks out from a small casual globe
And wonders what itself and all things are.
(S 31)
580 And yet to some interned subjective sight
That strangely has formed in Matter’s sightless stuff,
A pointillage minute of little self
Takes figure as world-being’s conscious base.
(S 32)
Such is our scene in the half-light below.
(S 33)
585 This is the sign of Matter’s infinite,
This the weird purport of the picture shown
To Science the giantess, measurer of her field,
As she pores on the record of her close survey
And mathematises her huge external world,
590 To Reason bound within the circle of sense,
Or in Thought’s broad impalpable Exchange
A speculator in tenuous vast ideas,
Abstractions in the void her currency
We know not with what firm values for its base.
(S 34)
595 Only religion in this bankruptcy
Presents its dubious riches to our hearts
Or signs unprovisioned cheques on the Beyond:
Our poverty shall there have its revenge.
(S 35)
Our spirits depart discarding a futile life
600 Into the blank unknown or with them take
Death’s passport into immortality.