Evolution of animal life has been a slow and long journey with several steps in the process. Each step taken becomes a species.
The outside of things
Arming its creatures with delight and hope
A half-awakened Nescience struggled there
To know by sight and touch the outside of things.
Animal creation depends upon sense and instinct. It touches the outside of things and has not the ability to go deeper into the very soul. It is the first effort towards knowledge, to know through the senses. Naturally it ties us down to knowing only the outer surface.
Instinct and memory
Instinct was formed; in memory’s crowded sleep
The past lived on as in a bottomless sea:
Inverting into half-thought the quickened sense
She felt around for truth with fumbling hands,
Clutched to her the little she could reach and seize
And put aside in her subconscient cave.
Repeated sensory stimulus leads to a kind of instinctive knowledge. These surface experiences formed by sensory contact are stored in the subconscient parts as memory and learning. This is the only kind of knowledge possible to the first animal forms.
A slow progression
So must the dim being grow in light and force
And rise to his higher destiny at last,
Look up to God and round at the universe,
And learn by failure and progress by fall
And battle with environment and doom,
By suffering discover his deep soul
And by possession grow to his own vasts.
Thus life grows slowly through several steps towards the great Goal of manifesting the Divine. Failure and fall are needed incidents on this vast plot, battle and doom are the processes through which life grows stronger. Suffering only makes her seek for its own hidden soul and the will to expand, mistranslated as possession in our ignorant consciousness, is ultimately a seeking for its own vastness from which it has fallen to its present smallness.
Half-way she stopped and found her path no more.
Each stage of evolution must stabilise itself and by that very fact finds it difficult to move further when the next evolutionary impulsion arrives.
End preparing a new beginning
Still nothing was achieved but to begin,
Yet finished seemed the circle of her force.
Each species seems complete within its small circle drawn by Nature around it. Yet this end is but a beginning for another type to emergte.
Sparks of Ignorance
Only she had beaten out sparks of ignorance;
Only the life could think and not the mind,
Only the sense could feel and not the soul.
The big difference between animal life and the life of a developed humanity is the increasing awareness of the soul element within. With this comes aspiration, the urge for freedom from ignorance, for progress, for knowledge. The animal life is still a preparation for mental and spiritual man that are yet to emerge..
Flame of life
Only was lit some heat of the flame of Life,
Some joy to be, some rapturous leaps of sense.
It is a life driven by the vital and senses. The mind is tied down to these elements and at their service. Here too the joy of life is felt but through the senses.
All was an impetus of half-conscious Force,
A spirit sprawling drowned in dense life-foam,
A vague self grasping at the shape of things.
As long as one is driven by the vital there is only a superficial contact with things seized on the outside surfaces. The deeper elements are drowned in the sea of sensory experiences.
A heady wine
Behind all moved seeking for vessels to hold
A first raw vintage of the grapes of God,
On earth’s mud a spilth of the supernal Bliss,
Intoxicating the stupefied soul and mind
A heady wine of rapture dark and crude,
Dim, uncast yet into spiritual form,
Obscure inhabitant of the world’s blind core,
An unborn godhead’s will, a mute Desire.
The pleasure of senses and material satisfaction through food and other things is all that the vital-sensory life can provide. It is a crude caricature of the true Bliss that stands behind everything. The soul and mind and the higher spiritual being cannot emerge when nature is submerged in this heavy dross of earth-nature tied with strong knots to the body and senses.
Thus we see a slow progression in the animal world, creation moving slowly through millenniums for one small step. It is a crude start and yet one that prepares for the next evolutionary step.