(S 1)
At the outset of this enigmatic world
Which seems at once an enormous brute machine
And a slow unmasking of the spirit in things,
In this revolving chamber without walls
120 In which God sits impassive everywhere
As if unknown to himself and by us unseen
In a miracle of inconscient secrecy,
Yet is all here his action and his will.
(S 2)
In this whirl and sprawl through infinite vacancy
125 The Spirit became Matter and lay in the whirl,
A body sleeping without sense or soul.
(S 3)
A mass phenomenon of visible shapes
Supported by the silence of the Void
Appeared in the eternal Consciousness
130 And seemed an outward and insensible world.
(S 4)
There was none there to see and none to feel;
Only the miraculous Inconscient,
A subtle wizard skilled, was at its task.
(S 5)
Inventing ways for magical results,
135 Managing creation’s marvellous device,
Marking mechanically dumb wisdom’s points,
Using the unthought inevitable Idea,
It did the works of God’s intelligence
Or wrought the will of some supreme Unknown.
(S 6)
140 Still consciousness was hidden in Nature’s womb,
Unfelt was the Bliss whose rapture dreamed the worlds.
(S 7)
Being was an inert substance driven by Force.
(S 8)
At first was only an etheric Space:
Its huge vibrations circled round and round
145 Housing some unconceived initiative:
Upheld by a supreme original Breath
Expansion and contraction’s mystic act
Created touch and friction in the void,
Into abstract emptiness brought clash and clasp:
150 Parent of an expanding universe
In a matrix of disintegrating force,
By spending it conserved an endless sum.
(S 9)
On the hearth of Space it kindled a viewless Fire
That, scattering worlds as one might scatter seeds,
155 Whirled out the luminous order of the stars.
(S 10)
An ocean of electric Energy
Formlessly formed its strange wave-particles
Constructing by their dance this solid scheme,
Its mightiness in the atom shut to rest;
160 Masses were forged or feigned and visible shapes;
Light flung the photon’s swift revealing spark
And showed, in the minuteness of its flash
Imaged, this cosmos of apparent things.
(S 11)
Thus has been made this real impossible world,
165 An obvious miracle or convincing show.
(S 12)
Or so it seems to man’s audacious mind
Who seats his thought as the arbiter of truth,
His personal vision as impersonal fact,
As witnesses of an objective world
170 His erring sense and his instruments artifice.
(S 13)
Thus must he work life’s tangible riddle out
In a doubtful light, by error seize on Truth
And slowly part the visage and the veil.
(S 14)
Or else forlorn of faith in mind and sense,
175 His knowledge a bright body of ignorance,
He sees in all things strangely fashioned here
The unwelcome jest of a deceiving Force,
A parable of Maya and her might.
(S 15)
This vast perpetual motion caught and held
180 In the mysterious and unchanging change
Of the persistent movement we call Time
And ever renewing its recurrent beat,
These mobile rounds that stereotype a flux,
These static objects in the cosmic dance
185 That are but Energy’s self-repeating whorls
Prolonged by the spirit of the brooding Void,
Awaited life and sense and waking Mind.
(S 16)
A little the Dreamer changed his pose of stone.
(S 17)
But when the Inconscient’s scrupulous work was done
190 And Chance coerced by fixed immutable laws,
A scene was set for Nature’s conscious play.
(S 18)
Then stirred the Spirit’s mute immobile sleep;
The Force concealed broke dumbly, slowly out.
(S 19)
A dream of living woke in Matter’s heart,
195 A will to live moved the Inconscient’s dust,
A freak of living startled vacant Time,
Ephemeral in a blank eternity,
Infinitesimal in a dead Infinite.
(S 20)
A subtler breath quickened dead Matter’s forms;
200 The world’s set rhythm changed to a conscious cry;
A serpent Power twinned the insensible Force.
(S 21)
Islands of living dotted lifeless Space
And germs of living formed in formless air.
(S 22)
A Life was born that followed Matter’s law,
205 Ignorant of the motives of its steps;
Ever inconstant, yet for ever the same,
It repeated the paradox that gave it birth:
Its restless and unstable stabilities
Recurred incessantly in the flow of Time
210 And purposeful movements in unthinking forms
Betrayed the heavings of an imprisoned Will.
(S 23)
Waking and sleep lay locked in mutual arms;
Helpless and indistinct came pleasure and pain
Trembling with the first faint thrills of a World-Soul.
(S 24)
215 A strength of life that could not cry or move,
Yet broke into beauty signing some deep delight:
An inarticulate sensibility,
Throbs of the heart of an unknowing world,
Ran through its somnolent torpor and there stirred
220 A vague uncertain thrill, a wandering beat,
A dim unclosing as of secret eyes.
(S 25)
Infant self-feeling grew and birth was born.
(S 26)
A godhead woke but lay with dreaming limbs;
Her house refused to open its sealed doors.
(S 27)
225 Insentient to our eyes that only see
The form, the act and not the imprisoned God,
Life hid in her pulse occult of growth and power
A consciousness with mute stifled beats of sense,
A mind suppressed that knew not yet of thought,
230 An inert spirit that could only be.
(S 28)
At first she raised no voice, no motion dared:
Charged with world-power, instinct with living force,
Only she clung with her roots to the safe earth,
Thrilled dumbly to the shocks of ray and breeze
235 And put out tendril fingers of desire;
The strength in her yearning for sun and light
Felt not the embrace that made her breathe and live;
Absorbed she dreamed content with beauty and hue.
(S 29)
At last the charmed Immensity looked forth:
240 Astir, vibrant, hungering, she groped for mind;
Then slowly sense quivered and thought peered out;
She forced the reluctant mould to grow aware.
(S 30)
The magic was chiselled of a conscious form;
Its tranced vibrations rhythmed a quick response,
245 And luminous stirrings prompted brain and nerve,
Awoke in Matter spirit’s identity
And in a body lit the miracle
Of the heart’s love and the soul’s witness gaze.
(S 31)
Impelled by an unseen Will there could break out
250 Fragments of some vast impulse to become
And vivid glimpses of a secret self,
And the doubtful seeds and force of shapes to be
Awoke from the inconscient swoon of things.
(S 32)
An animal creation crept and ran
255 And flew and called between the earth and sky,
Hunted by death but hoping still to live
And glad to breathe if only for a while.
(S 33)
Then man was moulded from the original brute.
(S 34)
A thinking mind had come to lift life’s moods,
260 The keen-edged tool of a Nature mixed and vague,
An intelligence half-witness, half-machine.
(S 35)
This seeming driver of her wheel of works
Missioned to motive and record her drift
And fix its law on her inconstant powers,
265 This master-spring of a delicate enginery,
Aspired to enlighten its user and refine
Lifting to a vision of the indwelling Power
The absorbed mechanic’s crude initiative:
He raised his eyes; Heaven-light mirrored a Face.
(S 36)
270 Amazed at the works wrought in her mystic sleep,
She looked upon the world that she had made:
Wondering now seized the great automaton;
She paused to understand her self and aim,
Pondering she learned to act by conscious rule,
275 A visioned measure guided her rhythmic steps;
Thought bordered her instincts with a frame of will
And lit with the idea her blinded urge.
(S 37)
On her mass of impulses, her reflex acts,
On the Inconscient’s pushed or guided drift
280 And mystery of unthinking accurate steps
She stuck the specious image of a self,
A living idol of disfigured spirit;
On Matter’s acts she imposed a patterned law;
She made a thinking body from chemic cells
285 And moulded a being out of a driven force.
(S 38)
To be what she was not inflamed her hope:
She turned her dream towards some high Unknown;
A breath was felt below of One supreme.
(S 39)
An opening looked up to spheres above
290 And coloured shadows limned on mortal ground
The passing figures of immortal things;
A quick celestial flash could sometimes come:
The illumined soul-ray fell on heart and flesh
And touched with semblances of ideal light
295 The stuff of which our earthly dreams are made.
(S 40)
A fragile human love that could not last,
Ego’s moth-wings to lift the seraph soul,
Appeared, a surface glamour of brief date
Extinguished by a scanty breath of Time;
300 Joy that forgot mortality for a while
Came, a rare visitor who left betimes,
And made all things seem beautiful for an hour,
Hopes that soon fade to drab realities
And passions that crumble to ashes while they blaze
305 Kindled the common earth with their brief flame.
(S 41)
A creature insignificant and small
Visited, uplifted by an unknown Power,
Man laboured on his little patch of earth
For means to last, to enjoy, to suffer and die.
(S 42)
310 A spirit that perished not with the body and breath
Was there like a shadow of the Unmanifest
And stood behind the little personal form
But claimed not yet this earthly embodiment.
(S 43)
Assenting to Nature’s long slow-moving toil,
315 Watching the works of his own Ignorance,
Unknown, unfelt the mighty Witness lives
And nothing shows the Glory that is here.
(S 44)
A Wisdom governing the mystic world,
A Silence listening to the cry of Life,
320 It sees the hurrying crowd of moments stream
Towards the still greatness of a distant hour.