Book Nine: The Book of Eternal Night
Canto Two: The Journey in Eternal Night
Savitri demands from Death the dreams of Satyavan that die along with him. Death partially yields before Savitri’s insistence. He grants her the boon of fulfilment of Satyavan’s dreams but without Satyavan.
Now in the wrestling of the splendid gods
My spirit shall be obstinate and strong
Against the vast refusal of the world.
I stoop not with the subject mob of minds
Who run to glean with eager satisfied hands
And pick from its mire mid many trampling feet
Its scornful small concessions to the weak.
Mine is the labour of the battling gods:
Imposing on the slow reluctant years
The flaming will that reigns beyond the stars,
They lay the law of Mind on Matter’s works
And win the soul’s wish from earth’s inconscient Force.
First I demand whatever Satyavan,
My husband, waking in the forest’s charm
Out of his long pure childhood’s lonely dreams,
Desired and had not for his beautiful life.
Give, if thou must, or, if thou canst, refuse.”
Death bowed his head in scornful cold assent,
The builder of this dreamlike earth for man
Who has mocked with vanity all gifts he gave.
Uplifting his disastrous voice he spoke:
“Indulgent to the dreams my touch shall break,
I yield to his blind father’s longing heart
Kingdom and power and friends and greatness lost
And royal trappings for his peaceful age,
The pallid pomps of man’s declining days,
The silvered decadent glories of life’s fall.
To one who wiser grew by adverse Fate,
Goods I restore the deluded soul prefers
To impersonal nothingness’s bare sublime.
The sensuous solace of the light I give
To eyes which could have found a larger realm,
A deeper vision in their fathomless night.
For that this man desired and asked in vain
While still he lived on earth and cherished hope.
Back from the grandeur of my perilous realms
Go, mortal, to thy small permitted sphere!
Hasten swift-footed, lest to slay thy life
The great laws thou hast violated, moved,
Open at last on thee their marble eyes.”
But Savitri answered the disdainful Shade:
“World-spirit, I was thy equal spirit born.
My will too is a law, my strength a god.
I am immortal in my mortality.
I tremble not before the immobile gaze
Of the unchanging marble hierarchies
That look with the stone eyes of Law and Fate.
My soul can meet them with its living fire.
Out of thy shadow give me back again
Into earth’s flowering spaces Satyavan
In the sweet transiency of human limbs
To do with him my spirit’s burning will.
I will bear with him the ancient Mother’s load,
I will follow with him earth’s path that leads to God.
Else shall the eternal spaces open to me,
While round us strange horizons far recede,
Travelling together the immense unknown.
For I who have trod with him the tracts of Time,
Can meet behind his steps whatever night
Or unimaginable stupendous dawn
Breaks on our spirits in the untrod Beyond.
Wherever thou leadst his soul I shall pursue.”
Savitri: 589 – 591
(line breaks added to emphasize separate movements)