(S 1)
“A secret air of pure felicity EoS
Deep like a sapphire heaven our spirits breathe;
315 Our hearts and bodies feel its obscure call,
Our senses grope for it and touch and lose.
(S 2)
If this withdrew, the world would sink in the Void;
If this were not, nothing could move or live.
(S 3)
A hidden Bliss is at the root of things.
(S 4)
320 A mute Delight regards Time’s countless works:
To house God’s joy in things Space gave wide room,
To house God’s joy in self our souls were born.
(S 5)
This universe an old enchantment guards;
Its objects are carved cups of World-Delight
325 Whose charmed wine is some deep soul’s rapture-drink:
The All-Wonderful has packed heaven with his dreams,
He has made blank ancient Space his marvel-house;
He spilled his spirit into Matter’s signs:
His fires of grandeur burn in the great sun,
330 He glides through heaven shimmering in the moon;
He is beauty carolling in the fields of sound; EoS
He chants the stanzas of the odes of Wind;
He is silence watching in the stars at night;
He wakes at dawn and calls from every bough,
335 Lies stunned in the stone and dreams in flower and tree.
(S 6)
Even in this labour and dolour of Ignorance,
On the hard perilous ground of difficult earth,
In spite of death and evil circumstance
A will to live persists, a joy to be.
(S 7)
340 There is a joy in all that meets the sense,
A joy in all experience of the soul,
A joy in evil and a joy in good,
A joy in virtue and a joy in sin:
Indifferent to the threat of Karmic law,
345 Joy dares to grow upon forbidden soil,
Its sap runs through the plant and flowers of Pain:
It thrills with the drama of fate and tragic doom,
It tears its food from sorrow and ecstasy,
On danger and difficulty whets its strength;
350 It wallows with the reptile and the worm
And lifts its head, an equal of the stars;
It shares the faeries’ dance, dines with the gnome:
It basks in the light and heat of many suns,
The sun of Beauty and the sun of Power
355 Flatter and foster it with golden beams;
It grows towards the Titan and the God.
(S 8)
On earth it lingers drinking its deep fill,
Through the symbol of her pleasure and her pain,
Of the grapes of Heaven and the flowers of the Abyss,
360 Of the flame-stabs and the torment-craft of Hell
And dim fragments of the glory of Paradise.
(S 9)
In the small paltry pleasures of man’s life,
In his petty passions and joys it finds a taste,
A taste in tears and torture of broken hearts,
365 In the crown of gold and in the crown of thorns,
In life’s nectar of sweetness and its bitter wine.
(S 10)
All being it explores for unknown bliss,
Sounds all experience for things new and strange.
(S 11)
Life brings into the earthly creature’s days EoS
370 A tongue of glory from a brighter sphere:
It deepens in his musings and his Art,
It leaps at the splendour of some perfect word,
It exults in his high resolves and noble deeds,
Wanders in his errors, dares the abyss’s brink,
375 It climbs in his climbings, wallows in his fall.
(S 12)
Angel and demon brides his chamber share,
Possessors or competitors for life’s heart.
(S 13)
To the enjoyer of the cosmic scene
His greatness and his littleness equal are,
380 His magnanimity and meanness hues
Cast on some neutral background of the gods:
The Artist’s skill he admires who planned it all.
(S 14)
But not for ever endures this danger game: EoS
Beyond the earth, but meant for delivered earth,
385 Wisdom and joy prepare their perfect crown;
Truth superhuman calls to thinking man.
(S 15)
At last the soul turns to eternal things, EoS
In every shrine it cries for the clasp of God.
(S 16)
Then is there played the crowning Mystery,
390 Then is achieved the longed-for miracle.
(S 17)
Immortal Bliss her wide celestial eyes
Opens on the stars, she stirs her mighty limbs;
Time thrills to the sapphics of her amour-song
And Space fills with a white beatitude.
(S 18)
395 Then leaving to its grief the human heart, EoS
Abandoning speech and the name-determined realms,
Through a gleaming far-seen sky of wordless thought,
Through naked thought-free heavens of absolute sight,
She climbs to the summits where the unborn Idea
400 Remembering the future that must be
Looks down upon the works of labouring Force,
Immutable above the world it made.
(S 19)
In the vast golden laughter of Truth’s sun
Like a great heaven-bird on a motionless sea
405 Is poised her winged ardour of creative joy
On the still deep of the Eternal’s peace.
(S 20)
This was the aim, this the supernal Law,
Nature’s allotted task when beauty-drenched
In dim mist-waters of inconscient sleep,
410 Out of the Void this grand creation rose, —
For this the Spirit came into the Abyss
And charged with its power Matter’s unknowing force,
In Night’s bare session to cathedral Light,
In Death’s realm repatriate immortality.
(S 21)
415 A mystic slow transfiguration works. EoS
(S 22)
All our earth starts from mud and ends in sky,
And Love that was once an animal’s desire,
Then a sweet madness in the rapturous heart,
An ardent comradeship in the happy mind,
420 Becomes a wide spiritual yearning’s space.
(S 23)
A lonely soul passions for the Alone,
The heart that loved man thrills to the love of God,
A body is his chamber and his shrine.
(S 24)
Then is our being rescued from separateness;
425 All is itself, all is new-felt in God:
A Lover leaning from his cloister’s door
Gathers the whole world into his single breast.
(S 25)
Then shall the business fail of Night and Death: EoS
When unity is won, when strife is lost
430 And all is known and all is clasped by Love
Who would turn back to ignorance and pain?
(S 26)
“O Death, I have triumphed over thee within; EoS
I quiver no more with the assault of grief;
A mighty calmness seated deep within
435 Has occupied my body and my sense:
It takes the world’s grief and transmutes to strength,
It makes the world’s joy one with the joy of God.
(S 27)
My love eternal sits throned on God’s calm; EoS
For Love must soar beyond the very heavens
440 And find its secret sense ineffable;
It must change its human ways to ways divine,
Yet keep its sovereignty of earthly bliss.
(S 28)
O Death, not for my heart’s sweet poignancy
Nor for my happy body’s bliss alone
445 I have claimed from thee the living Satyavan,
But for his work and mine, our sacred charge.
(S 29)
Our lives are God’s messengers beneath the stars; EoS
To dwell under death’s shadow they have come
Tempting God’s light to earth for the ignorant race,
450 His love to fill the hollow in men’s hearts,
His bliss to heal the unhappiness of the world.
(S 30)
For I, the woman, am the force of God, EoS
He the Eternal’s delegate soul in man.
(S 31)
My will is greater than thy law, O Death;
455 My love is stronger than the bonds of Fate:
Our love is the heavenly seal of the Supreme.
(S 32)
I guard that seal against thy rending hands.
(S 33)
Love must not cease to live upon the earth;
For Love is the bright link twixt earth and heaven,
460 Love is the far Transcendent’s angel here;
Love is man’s lien on the Absolute.”
(S 34) #VALUE!
But to the woman Death the god replied,
With the ironic laughter of his voice
Discouraging the labour of the stars:
465 “Even so men cheat the Truth with splendid thoughts.
(S 35)
Thus wilt thou hire the glorious charlatan, Mind, EoS
To weave from his Ideal’s gossamer air
A fine raiment for thy body’s nude desires
And thy heart’s clutching greedy passion clothe?
(S 36)
470 Daub not the web of life with magic hues:
Make rather thy thought a plain and faithful glass
Reflecting Matter and mortality,
And know thy soul a product of the flesh,
A made-up self in a constructed world.
(S 37)
475 Thy words are large murmurs in a mystic dream.
(S 38)
For how in the soiled heart of man could dwell
The immaculate grandeur of thy dream-built God,
Or who can see a face and form divine
In the naked two-legged worm thou callest man?
(S 39)
480 O human face, put off mind-painted masks:
The animal be, the worm that Nature meant;
Accept thy futile birth, thy narrow life.
(S 40)
For truth is bare like stone and hard like death;
Bare in the bareness, hard with truth’s hardness live.”
(S 41)
485 But Savitri replied to the dire God: EoS
“Yes, I am human. Yet shall man by me,
Since in humanity waits his hour the God,
Trample thee down to reach the immortal heights,
Transcending grief and pain and fate and death.
(S 42)
490 Yes, my humanity is a mask of God:
He dwells in me, the mover of my acts,
Turning the great wheel of his cosmic work.
(S 43)
I am the living body of his light, EoS
I am the thinking instrument of his power,
495 I incarnate Wisdom in an earthly breast,
I am his conquering and unslayable will.
(S 44)
The formless Spirit drew in me its shape;
In me are the Nameless and the secret Name.
(S 45)
”Death from the incredulous Darkness sent its cry:
500 “O priestess in Imagination’s house,
Persuade first Nature’s fixed immutable laws
And make the impossible thy daily work.
(S 46)
How canst thou force to wed two eternal foes?
(S 47)
Irreconcilable in their embrace
505 They cancel the glory of their pure extremes:
An unhappy wedlock maims their stunted force.
(S 48)
How shall thy will make one the true and false?
(S 49)
Where Matter is all, there Spirit is a dream:
If all are the Spirit, Matter is a lie,
510 And who was the liar who forged the universe?
(S 50)
The Real with the unreal cannot mate.
(S 51)
He who would turn to God, must leave the world; EoS
He who would live in the Spirit, must give up life;
He who has met the Self, renounces self.
(S 52)
515 The voyagers of the million routes of mind
Who have travelled through Existence to its end,
Sages exploring the world-ocean’s vasts,
Have found extinction the sole harbour safe.
(S 53)
Two only are the doors of man’s escape,
520 Death of his body Matter’s gate to peace,
Death of his soul his last felicity.
(S 54)
In me all take refuge, for I, Death, am God.”
(S 55)
But Savitri replied to mighty Death: EoS
“My heart is wiser than the Reason’s thoughts,
525 My heart is stronger than thy bonds, O Death.
(S 56)
It sees and feels the one Heart beat in all,
It feels the high Transcendent’s sunlike hands,
It sees the cosmic Spirit at its work;
In the dim Night it lies alone with God.
(S 57)
530 My heart’s strength can carry the grief of the universe
And never falter from its luminous track,
Its white tremendous orbit through God’s peace.
(S 58)
It can drink up the sea of All-Delight EoS
And never lose the white spiritual touch,
535 The calm that broods in the deep Infinite.”
(S 59)
He said, “Art thou indeed so strong, O heart,
O soul, so free? And canst thou gather then
Bright pleasure from my wayside flowering boughs,
Yet falter not from thy hard journey’s goal,
540 Meet the world’s dangerous touch and never fall?
(S 60)
Show me thy strength and freedom from my laws.”
(S 61)
But Savitri answered, “Surely I shall find
Among the green and whispering woods of Life
Close-bosomed pleasures, only mine since his,
545 Or mine for him, because our joys are one.
(S 62)
And if I linger, Time is ours and God’s,
And if I fall, is not his hand near mine?
(S 63)
All is a single plan; each wayside act
Deepens the soul’s response, brings nearer the goal.”
(S 64)
550 Death the contemptuous Nihil answered her:
“So prove thy absolute force to the wise gods,
By choosing earthly joy! For self demand
And yet from self and its gross masks live free.
(S 65)
Then will I give thee all thy soul desires, EoS
555 All the brief joys earth keeps for mortal hearts.
(S 66)
Only the one dearest wish that outweighs all,
Hard laws forbid and thy ironic fate.
(S 67)
My will once wrought remains unchanged through Time,
And Satyavan can never again be thine.”
(S 68)
560 But Savitri replied to the vague Power:
“If the eyes of Darkness can look straight at Truth, EoS
Look in my heart and, knowing what I am,
Give what thou wilt or what thou must, O Death.
(S 69)
Nothing I claim but Satyavan alone.”
(S 70)
565 There was a hush as if of doubtful fates.
(S 71)
As one disdainful still who yields a point
Death bowed his sovereign head in cold assent:
“I give to thee, saved from death and poignant fate
Whatever once the living Satyavan
570 Desired in his heart for Savitri.
(S 72)
Bright noons I give thee and unwounded dawns,
Daughters of thy own shape in heart and mind,
Fair hero sons and sweetness undisturbed
Of union with thy husband dear and true.
(S 73)
575 And thou shalt harvest in thy joyful house
Felicity of thy surrounded eves.
(S 74)
Love shall bind by thee many gathered hearts.
(S 75)
The opposite sweetness in thy days shall meet
Of tender service to thy life’s desired
580 And loving empire over all thy loved,
Two poles of bliss made one, O Savitri.
(S 76)
Return, O child, to thy forsaken earth.”
(S 77)
But Savitri replied, “Thy gifts resist.
(S 78)
Earth cannot flower if lonely I return.”
(S 79)
585 Then Death sent forth once more his angry cry,
As chides a lion his escaping prey:
“What knowst thou of earth’s rich and changing life
Who thinkst that one man dead all joy must cease?
(S 80)
Hope not to be unhappy till the end:
590 For grief dies soon in the tired human heart;
Soon other guests the empty chambers fill.
(S 81)
A transient painting on a holiday’s floor EoS
Traced for a moment’s beauty love was made.
(S 82)
Or if a voyager on the eternal trail,
595 Its objects fluent change in its embrace
Like waves to a swimmer upon infinite seas.”
(S 83)
But Savitri replied to the vague god,
“Give me back Satyavan, my only lord.
(S 84)
Thy thoughts are vacant to my soul that feels
600 The deep eternal truth in transient things.”
(S 85)
Death answered her, “Return and try thy soul!
(S 86)
Soon shalt thou find appeased that other men
On lavish earth have beauty, strength and truth,
And when thou hast half forgotten, one of these
605 Shall wind himself around thy heart that needs
Some human answering heart against thy breast;
For who, being mortal, can dwell glad alone?
(S 87)
Then Satyavan shall glide into the past,
A gentle memory pushed away from thee
610 By new love and thy children’s tender hands,
Till thou shalt wonder if thou lov’dst at all.
(S 88)
Such is the life earth’s travail has conceived,
A constant stream that never is the same.”
(S 89)
But Savitri replied to mighty Death:
615 “O dark ironic critic of God’s work,
Thou mockst the mind and body’s faltering search
For what the heart holds in a prophet hour
And the immortal spirit shall make its own.
(S 90)
Mine is a heart that worshipped, though forsaken,
620 The image of the god its love adored;
I have burned in flame to travel in his steps.
(S 91)
Are we not they who bore vast solitude
Seated upon the hills alone with God?
(S 92)
Why dost thou vainly strive with me, O Death,
625 A mind delivered from all twilight thoughts,
To whom the secrets of the gods are plain?
(S 93)
For now at last I know beyond all doubt,
The great stars burn with my unceasing fire
And life and death are both its fuel made.
(S 94)
630 Life only was my blind attempt to love:
Earth saw my struggle, heaven my victory;
All shall be seized, transcended; there shall kiss EoS
Casting their veils before the marriage fire
The eternal bridegroom and eternal bride.
(S 95)
635 The heavens accept our broken flights at last.
(S 96)
On our life’s prow that breaks the waves of Time
No signal light of hope has gleamed in vain.”
(S 97)
She spoke; the boundless members of the god
As if by secret ecstasy assailed,
640 Shuddered in silence as obscurely stir
Ocean’s dim fields delivered to the moon.
(S 98)
Then lifted up as by a sudden wind
Around her in that vague and glimmering world
The twilight trembled like a bursting veil.
(S 99)
645 Thus with armed speech the great opponents strove.
(S 100)
Around those spirits in the glittering mist
A deepening half-light fled with pearly wings
As if to reach some far ideal Morn.
(S 101)
Outlined her thoughts flew through the gleaming haze
650 Mingling bright-pinioned with its lights and veils
And all her words like dazzling jewels were caught
Into the glow of a mysterious world,
Or tricked in the rainbow shifting of its hues
Like echoes swam fainting into far sound.
(S 102)
655 All utterance, all mood must there become
An unenduring tissue sewn by mind
To make a gossamer robe of beautiful change.
(S 103)
Intent upon her silent will she walked EoS
On the dim grass of vague unreal plains,
660 A floating veil of visions in her front,
A trailing robe of dreams behind her feet.
(S 104)
But now her spirit’s flame of conscient force EoS
Retiring from a sweetness without fruit
Called back her thoughts from speech to sit within
665 In a deep room in meditation’s house.
(S 105)
For only there could dwell the soul’s firm truth: EoS
Imperishable, a tongue of sacrifice,
It flamed unquenched upon the central hearth
Where burns for the high houselord and his mate
670 The homestead’s sentinel and witness fire
From which the altars of the gods are lit.
(S 106)
All still compelled went gliding on unchanged,
Still was the order of these worlds reversed:
The mortal led, the god and spirit obeyed
675 And she behind was leader of their march
And they in front were followers of her will.
(S 107)
Onward they journeyed through the drifting ways
Vaguely companioned by the glimmering mists.
(S 108)
But faster now all fled as if perturbed
680 Escaping from the clearness of her soul.
(S 109)
A heaven-bird upon jewelled wings of wind EoS
Borne like a coloured and embosomed fire,
By spirits carried in a pearl-hued cave,
On through the enchanted dimness moved her soul.
(S 110)
685 Death walked in front of her and Satyavan,
In the dark front of Death, a failing star.
(S 111)
Above was the unseen balance of his fate.