(S 1)
A dwarf three-bodied trinity was her serf.
(S 2)
260 First, smallest of the three, but strong of limb,
A low-brow with a square and heavy jowl,
A pigmy Thought needing to live in bounds
For ever stooped to hammer fact and form.
(S 3)
Absorbed and cabined in external sight,
265 It takes its stand on Nature’s solid base.
(S 4)
A technician admirable, a thinker crude,
A riveter of Life to habit’s grooves,
Obedient to gross Matter’s tyranny,
A prisoner of the moulds in which it works,
270 It binds itself by what itself creates.
(S 5)
A slave of a fixed mass of absolute rules,
It sees as Law the habits of the world,
It sees as Truth the habits of the mind.
(S 6)
In its realm of concrete images and events
275 Turning in a worn circle of ideas
And ever repeating old familiar acts,
It lives content with the common and the known.
(S 7)
It loves the old ground that was its dwelling-place:
Abhorring change as an audacious sin,
280 Distrustful of each new discovery
Only it advances step by careful step
And fears as if a deadly abyss the unknown.
(S 8)
A prudent treasurer of its ignorance,
It shrinks from adventure, blinks at glorious hope,
285 Preferring a safe foothold upon things
To the dangerous joy of wideness and of height.
(S 9)
The world’s slow impressions on its labouring mind,
Tardy imprints almost indelible,
Increase their value by their poverty;
290 The old sure memories are its capital stock:
Only what sense can grasp seems absolute:
External fact it figures as sole truth,
Wisdom identifies with the earthward look,
And things long known and actions always done
295 Are to its clinging hold a balustrade
Of safety on the perilous stair of Time.
(S 10)
Heaven’s trust to it are the established ancient ways,
Immutable laws man has no right to change,
A sacred legacy from the great dead past
300 Or the one road that God has made for life,
A firm shape of Nature never to be changed,
Part of the huge routine of the universe.
(S 11)
A smile from the Preserver of the Worlds
Sent down of old this guardian Mind to earth
305 That all might stand in their fixed changeless type
And from their secular posture never move.
(S 12)
One sees it circling faithful to its task,
Tireless in an assigned tradition’s round;
In decayed and crumbling offices of Time
310 It keeps close guard in front of custom’s wall,
Or in an ancient Night’s dim environs
It dozes on a little courtyard’s stones
And barks at every unfamiliar light
As at a foe who would break up its home,
315 A watch-dog of the spirit’s sense-railed house
Against intruders from the Invisible,
Nourished on scraps of life and Matter’s bones
In its kennel of objective certitude.
(S 13)
And yet behind it stands a cosmic might:
320 A measured Greatness keeps its vaster plan,
A fathomless sameness rhythms the tread of life;
The stars’ changeless orbits furrow inert Space,
A million species follow one mute Law.
(S 14)
A huge inertness is the world’s defence,
325 Even in change is treasured changelessness;
Into inertia revolution sinks,
In a new dress the old resumes its role;
The Energy acts, the stable is its seal:
On Shiva’s breast is stayed the enormous dance.
(S 15)
330 A fiery spirit came, next of the three.
(S 16)
A hunchback rider of the red Wild-Ass,
A rash Intelligence leaped down lion-maned
From the great mystic Flame that rings the worlds
And with its dire edge eats at being’s heart.
(S 17)
335 Thence sprang the burning vision of Desire.
(S 18)
A thousand shapes it wore, took numberless names:
A need of multitude and uncertainty
Pricks it for ever to pursue the One
On countless roads across the vasts of Time
340 Through circuits of unending difference.
(S 19)
It burns all breasts with an ambiguous fire.
(S 20)
A radiance gleaming on a murky stream,
It flamed towards heaven, then sank, engulfed, towards hell;
It climbed to drag down Truth into the mire
345 And used for muddy ends its brilliant Force;
A huge chameleon gold and blue and red
Turning to black and grey and lurid brown,
Hungry it stared from a mottled bough of life
To snap up insect joys, its favourite food,
350 The dingy sustenance of a sumptuous frame
Nursing the splendid passion of its hues.
(S 21)
A snake of flame with a dull cloud for tail,
Followed by a dream-brood of glittering thoughts,
A lifted head with many-tinged flickering crests,
355 It licked at knowledge with a smoky tongue.
(S 22)
A whirlpool sucking in an empty air,
It based on vacancy stupendous claims,
In Nothingness born to Nothingness returned,
Yet all the time unwittingly it drove
(S 23)
Ardent to find, incapable to retain,
A brilliant instability was its mark,
To err its inborn trend, its native cue.
(S 24)
At once to an unreflecting credence prone,
365 It thought all true that flattered its own hopes;
It cherished golden nothings born of wish,
It snatched at the unreal for provender.
(S 25)
In darkness it discovered luminous shapes;
Peering into a shadow-hung half-light
370 It saw hued images scrawled on Fancy’s cave;
Or it swept in circles through conjecture’s night
And caught in imagination’s camera
Bright scenes of promise held by transient flares,
Fixed in life’s air the feet of hurrying dreams,
375 Kept prints of passing Forms and hooded Powers
And flash-images of half-seen verities.
(S 26)
An eager spring to seize and to possess
Unguided by reason or the seeing soul
Was its first natural motion and its last,
380 It squandered life’s force to achieve the impossible:
It scorned the straight road and ran on wandering curves
And left what it had won for untried things;
It saw unrealised aims as instant fate
And chose the precipice for its leap to heaven.
(S 27)
385 Adventure its system in the gamble of life,
It took fortuitous gains as safe results;
Error discouraged not its confident view
Ignorant of the deep law of being’s ways
And failure could not slow its fiery clutch;
390 One chance made true warranted all the rest.
(S 28)
Attempt, not victory, was the charm of life.
(S 29)
An uncertain winner of uncertain stakes,
Instinct its dam and the life-mind its sire,
It ran its race and came in first or last.
(S 30)
395 Yet were its works nor small and vain nor null;
It nursed a portion of infinity’s strength
And could create the high things its fancy willed;
Its passion caught what calm intelligence missed.
(S 31)
Insight of impulse laid its leaping grasp
Caught glimmers that revealed a lurking sun:
It probed the void and found a treasure there.
(S 32)
A half-intuition purpled in its sense;
It threw the lightning’s fork and hit the unseen.
(S 33)
405 It saw in the dark and vaguely blinked in the light,
Ignorance was its field, the unknown its prize.
(S 34)
Of all these Powers the greatest was the last.
(S 35)
Arriving late from a far plane of thought
Into a packed irrational world of Chance
410 Where all was grossly felt and blindly done,
Yet the haphazard seemed the inevitable,
Came Reason, the squat godhead artisan,
To her narrow house upon a ridge in Time.
(S 36)
Adept of clear contrivance and design,
415 A pensive face and close and peering eyes,
She took her firm and irremovable seat,
The strongest, wisest of the troll-like Three.
(S 37)
Armed with her lens and measuring-rod and probe,
She looked upon an object universe
420 And the multitudes that in it live and die
And the body of Space and the fleeing soul of Time,
And took the earth and stars into her hands
To try what she could make of these strange things.
(S 38)
In her strong purposeful laborious mind,
425 Inventing her scheme-lines of reality
And the geometric curves of her time-plan,
She multiplied her slow half-cuts at Truth:
Impatient of enigma and the unknown,
Intolerant of the lawless and the unique,
430 Imposing reflection on the march of Force,
Imposing clarity on the unfathomable,
She strove to reduce to rules the mystic world.
(S 39)
Nothing she knew but all things hoped to know.
(S 40)
In dark inconscient realms once void of thought,
435 Missioned by a supreme Intelligence
To throw its ray upon the obscure Vast,
An imperfect light leading an erring mass
By the power of sense and the idea and word,
She ferrets out Nature’s process, substance, cause.
(S 41)
440 All life to harmonise by thought’s control,
She with the huge imbroglio struggles still;
Ignorant of all but her own seeking mind
To save the world from Ignorance she came.
(S 42)
A sovereign worker through the centuries
445 Observing and remoulding all that is,
Confident she took up her stupendous charge.
(S 43)
There the low bent and mighty figure sits
Bowed under the arc-lamps of her factory home
Amid the clatter and ringing of her tools.
(S 44)
450 A rigorous stare in her creative eyes
Coercing the plastic stuff of cosmic Mind,
She sets the hard inventions of her brain
In a pattern of eternal fixity:
Indifferent to the cosmic dumb demand,
455 Unconscious of too close realities,
Of the unspoken thought, the voiceless heart,
She leans to forge her credos and iron codes
And metal structures to imprison life
And mechanic models of all things that are.
(S 45)
460 For the world seen she weaves a world conceived:
She spins in stiff but unsubstantial lines
Her gossamer word-webs of abstract thought,
Her segment systems of the Infinite,
Her theodicies and cosmogonic charts
465 And myths by which she explains the inexplicable.
(S 46)
At will she spaces in thin air of mind
Like maps in the school-house of intellect hung,
Forcing wide Truth into a narrow scheme,
Her numberless warring strict philosophies;
470 Out of Nature’s body of phenomenon
She carves with Thought’s keen edge in rigid lines,
Like rails for the World-Magician’s power to run,
Her sciences precise and absolute.
(S 47)
On the huge bare walls of human nescience
475 Written round Nature’s deep dumb hieroglyphs
She pens in clear demotic characters
The vast encyclopaedia of her thoughts;
An algebra of her mathematics’ signs,
Her numbers and unerring formulas
480 She builds to clinch her summary of things.
(S 48)
On all sides runs as if in a cosmic mosque
Tracing the scriptural verses of her laws
The daedal of her patterned arabesques,
Art of her wisdom, artifice of her lore.
(S 49)
485 This art, this artifice are her only stock.
(S 50)
In her high works of pure intelligence,
In her withdrawal from the senses’ trap,
There comes no breaking of the walls of mind,
There leaps no rending flash of absolute power,
490 There dawns no light of heavenly certitude.
(S 51)
A million faces wears her knowledge here
And every face is turbaned with a doubt.
(S 52)
All now is questioned, all reduced to nought.
(S 53)
Once monumental in their massive craft
495 Her old great mythic writings disappear
And into their place start strict ephemeral signs;
This constant change spells progress to her eyes:
Her thought is an endless march without a goal.
(S 54)
There is no summit on which she can stand
500 And see in a single glance the Infinite’s whole.
(S 55)
An inconclusive play is Reason’s toil.
(S 56)
Each strong idea can use her as its tool;
Accepting every brief she pleads her case.
(S 57)
Open to every thought, she cannot know.
(S 58)
505 The eternal Advocate seated as judge
Armours in logic’s invulnerable mail
A thousand combatants for Truth’s veiled throne
And sets on a high horse-back of argument
To tilt for ever with a wordy lance
510 In a mock tournament where none can win.
(S 59)
Assaying thought’s values with her rigid tests
Balanced she sits on wide and empty air,
Aloof and pure in her impartial poise.
(S 60)
Absolute her judgments seem but none is sure;
515 Time cancels all her verdicts in appeal.
(S 61)
Although like sunbeams to our glow-worm mind
Her knowledge feigns to fall from a clear heaven,
Its rays are a lantern’s lustres in the Night;
She throws a glittering robe on Ignorance.
(S 62)
520 But now is lost her ancient sovereign claim
To rule mind’s high realm in her absolute right,
Bind thought with logic’s forged infallible chain
Or see truth nude in a bright abstract haze.
(S 63)
A master and slave of stark phenomenon,
525 She travels on the roads of erring sight
Or looks upon a set mechanical world
Constructed for her by her instruments.
(S 64)
A bullock yoked in the cart of proven fact,
She drags huge knowledge-bales through Matter’s dust
530 To reach utility’s immense bazaar.
(S 65)
Apprentice she has grown to her old drudge;
An aided sense is her seeking’s arbiter.
(S 66)
This now she uses as the assayer’s stone.
(S 67)
As if she knew not facts are husks of truth,
535 The husks she keeps, the kernel throws aside.
(S 68)
An ancient wisdom fades into the past,
The ages’ faith becomes an idle tale,
God passes out of the awakened thought,
An old discarded dream needed no more:
540 Only she seeks mechanic Nature’s keys.
(S 69)
Interpreting stone-laws inevitable
She digs into Matter’s hard concealing soil,
To unearth the processes of all things done.
(S 70)
A loaded huge self-worked machine appears
545 To her eye’s eager and admiring stare,
An intricate and meaningless enginery
Of ordered fateful and unfailing Chance:
Ingenious and meticulous and minute,
Its brute unconscious accurate device
550 Unrolls an unerring march, maps a sure road;
It plans without thinking, acts without a will,
A million purposes serves with purpose none
And builds a rational world without a mind.
(S 71)
It has no mover, no maker, no idea:
555 Its vast self-action toils without a cause;
A lifeless Energy irresistibly driven,
Death’s head on the body of Necessity,
Engenders life and fathers consciousness,
Then wonders why all was and whence it came.
(S 72)
560 Our thoughts are parts of the immense machine,
Our ponderings but a freak of Matter’s law,
The mystic’s lore was a fancy or a blind;
Of soul or spirit we have now no need:
Matter is the admirable Reality,
565 The patent unescapable miracle,
The hard truth of things, simple, eternal, sole.
(S 73)
A suicidal rash expenditure
Creating the world by a mystery of self-loss
Has poured its scattered works on empty Space;
570 Late shall the self-disintegrating Force
Contract the immense expansion it has made:
Then ends this mighty and unmeaning toil,
The Void is left bare, vacant as before.
(S 74)
Thus vindicated, crowned, the grand new Thought
575 Explained the world and mastered all its laws,
Touched the dumb roots, woke veiled tremendous powers;
It bound to service the unconscious djinns
That sleep unused in Matter’s ignorant trance.
(S 75)
All was precise, rigid, indubitable.
(S 76)
580 But when on Matter’s rock of ages based
A whole stood up firm and clear-cut and safe,
All staggered back into a sea of doubt;
This solid scheme melted in endless flux:
She had met the formless Power inventor of forms;
585 Suddenly she stumbled upon things unseen:
A lightning from the undiscovered Truth
Startled her eyes with its perplexing glare
And dug a gulf between the Real and Known
Till all her knowledge seemed an ignorance.
(S 77)
590 Once more the world was made a wonder-web,
A magic’s process in a magical space,
An unintelligible miracle’s depths
Whose source is lost in the Ineffable.
(S 78)
Once more we face the blank Unknowable.
(S 79)
595 In a crash of values, in a huge doom-crack,
In the sputter and scatter of her breaking work
She lost her clear conserved constructed world.
(S 80)
A quantum dance remained, a sprawl of chance
In Energy’s stupendous tripping whirl:
600 A ceaseless motion in the unbounded Void
Invented forms without a thought or aim:
Necessity and Cause were shapeless ghosts;
Matter was an incident in being’s flow,
Law but a clock-work habit of blind force.
(S 81)
605 Ideals, ethics, systems had no base
And soon collapsed or without sanction lived;
All grew a chaos, a heave and clash and strife.
(S 82)
Ideas warring and fierce leaped upon life;
A hard compression held down anarchy
610 And liberty was only a phantom’s name:
Creation and destruction waltzed inarmed
On the bosom of a torn and quaking earth;
All reeled into a world of Kali’s dance.
(S 83)
Thus tumbled, sinking, sprawling in the Void,
615 Clutching for props, a soil on which to stand,
She only saw a thin atomic Vast,
The rare-point sparse substratum universe
On which floats a solid world’s phenomenal face.
(S 84)
Alone a process of events was there
620 And Nature’s plastic and protean change
And, strong by death to slay or to create,
The riven invisible atom’s omnipotent force.
(S 85)
One chance remained that here might be a power
To liberate man from the old inadequate means
625 And leave him sovereign of the earthly scene.
(S 86)
For Reason then might grasp the original Force
To drive her car upon the roads of Time.
(S 87)
All then might serve the need of the thinking race,
An absolute State found order’s absolute,
630 To a standardised perfection cut all things,
In society build a just exact machine.
(S 88)
Then science and reason careless of the soul
Could iron out a tranquil uniform world,
Aeonic seekings glut with outward truths
635 And a single-patterned thinking force on mind,
Inflicting Matter’s logic on Spirit’s dreams
A reasonable animal make of man
And a symmetrical fabric of his life.
(S 89)
This would be Nature’s peak on an obscure globe,
640 The grand result of the long ages’ toil,
Earth’s evolution crowned, her mission done.
(S 90)
So might it be if the spirit fell asleep;
Man then might rest content and live in peace,
Master of Nature who once her bondslave worked,
645 The world’s disorder hardening into Law, —
If Life’s dire heart arose not in revolt,
If God within could find no greater plan.
(S 91)
But many-visaged is the cosmic Soul;
A touch can alter the fixed front of Fate.
(S 92)
650 A sudden turn can come, a road appear.
(S 93)
A greater Mind may see a greater Truth,
Or we may find when all the rest has failed
Hid in ourselves the key of perfect change.
(S 94)
Ascending from the soil where creep our days,
655 Earth’s consciousness may marry with the Sun,
Our mortal life ride on the spirit’s wings,
Our finite thoughts commune with the Infinite.
(S 95)
In the bright kingdoms of the rising Sun
All is a birth into a power of light:
660 All here deformed guards there its happy shape,
Here all is mixed and marred, there pure and whole;
Yet each is a passing step, a moment’s phase.
(S 96)
Awake to a greater Truth beyond her acts,
The mediatrix sat and saw her works
665 And felt the marvel in them and the force
But knew the power behind the face of Time:
She did the task, obeyed the knowledge given,
Her deep heart yearned towards great ideal things
And from the light looked out to wider light:
670 A brilliant hedge drawn round her narrowed her power;
Faithful to her limited sphere she toiled, but knew
Its highest, widest seeing was a half-search,
Its mightiest acts a passage or a stage.
(S 97)
For not by Reason was creation made
675 And not by Reason can the Truth be seen
Which through the veils of thought, the screens of sense
Hardly the spirit’s vision can descry
Dimmed by the imperfection of its means:
The little Mind is tied to little things:
680 Its sense is but the spirit’s outward touch,
Half-waked in a world of dark Inconscience;
It feels out for its beings and its forms
Like one left fumbling in the ignorant Night.
(S 98)
In this small mould of infant mind and sense
685 Desire is a child-heart’s cry crying for bliss,
Our reason only a toys’ artificer,
A rule-maker in a strange stumbling game.
(S 99)
But she her dwarf aides knew whose confident sight
A bounded prospect took for the far goal.
(S 100)
690 The world she has made is an interim report
Of a traveller towards the half-found truth in things
Moving twixt nescience and nescience.
(S 101)
For nothing is known while aught remains concealed;
The Truth is known only when all is seen.
(S 102)
695 Attracted by the All that is the One,
She yearns towards a higher light than hers;
Hid by her cults and creeds she has glimpsed God’s face:
She knows she has but found a form, a robe,
But ever she hopes to see him in her heart
700 And feel the body of his reality.
(S 103)
As yet a mask is there and not a brow,
Reason cannot tear off that glimmering mask,
Her efforts only make it glimmer more;
705 In packets she ties up the Indivisible;
Finding her hands too small to hold vast Truth
She breaks up knowledge into alien parts
Or peers through cloud-rack for a vanished sun:
She sees, not understanding what she has seen,
710 Through the locked visages of finite things
The myriad aspects of infinity.
(S 104)
One day the Face must burn out through the mask.
(S 105)
Our ignorance is Wisdom’s chrysalis,
Our error weds new knowledge on its way,
715 Its darkness is a blackened knot of light;
Thought dances hand in hand with Nescience
On the grey road that winds towards the Sun.
(S 106)
Even while her fingers fumble at the knots
Which bind them to their strange companionship,
720 Into the moments of their married strife
Sometimes break flashes of the enlightening Fire.
(S 107)
Even now great thoughts are here that walk alone:
Armed they have come with the infallible word
In an investiture of intuitive light
725 That is a sanction from the eyes of God;
Announcers of a distant Truth they flame
Arriving from the rim of eternity.
(S 108)
A fire shall come out of the infinitudes,
A greater Gnosis shall regard the world
730 Crossing out of some far omniscience
On lustrous seas from the still rapt Alone
To illumine the deep heart of self and things.
(S 109)
A timeless knowledge it shall bring to Mind,
Its aim to life, to Ignorance its close.