Book Ten: The Book of the Double Twilight
Canto Two: The Gospel of Death and Vanity of the Ideal
The atheist takes this world as it is and draws his philosophy out of his limited and partial field of observation. He does not feel any urge to go deeper or further. All this is a mechanical movement of an Inconscient nature, going on in a clockwork manner without any sense or purpose, driven by the blind engines of random chance.
A stable-seeming movement without change,
Yet change arrives and the last change is death.
What seemed most real once, is Nihil’s show.
Its figures are snares that trap and prison the sense;
The beginningless Void was its artificer:
Nothing is there but aspects limned by Chance
And seeming shapes of seeming Energy.
All by Death’s mercy breathe and live awhile,
All think and act by the Inconscient’s grace.
Addict of the roseate luxury of thy thoughts,
Turn not thy gaze within thyself to look
At visions in the gleaming crystal, Mind,
Close not thy lids to dream the forms of Gods.
At last to open thy eyes consent and see
The stuff of which thou and the world are made.
Inconscient in the dumb inconscient Void
Inexplicably a moving world sprang forth:
Awhile secure, happily insensible,
It could not rest content with its own truth.
For something on its nescient breast was born
Condemned to see and know, to feel and love,
It watched its acts, imagined a soul within;
It groped for truth and dreamed of Self and God.
When all unconscious was, then all was well.
I, Death, was king and kept my regal state,
Designing my unwilled, unerring plan,
Creating with a calm insentient heart.
In my sovereign power of unreality
Obliging nothingness to take a form,
Infallibly my blind unthinking force
Making by chance a fixity like fate’s,
By whim the formulas of Necessity,
Founded on the hollow ground of the Inane
The sure bizarrerie of Nature’s scheme.
I curved the vacant ether into Space;
A huge expanding and contracting Breath
Harboured the fires of the universe:
I struck out the supreme original spark
And spread its sparse ranked armies through the Inane,
Manufactured the stars from the occult radiances,
Marshalled the platoons of the invisible dance;
I formed earth’s beauty out of atom and gas,
And built from chemic plasm the living man.
Then Thought came in and spoiled the harmonious world:
Matter began to hope and think and feel,
Tissue and nerve bore joy and agony.
The inconscient cosmos strove to learn its task;
An ignorant personal God was born in Mind
And to understand invented reason’s law,
The impersonal Vast throbbed back to man’s desire,
A trouble rocked the great world’s blind still heart
And Nature lost her wide immortal calm.
Thus came this warped incomprehensible scene
Of souls emmeshed in life’s delight and pain
And Matter’s sleep and Mind’s mortality,
Of beings in Nature’s prison waiting death
And consciousness left in seeking ignorance
And evolution’s slow arrested plan.
This is the world in which thou mov’st, astray
In the tangled pathways of the human mind,
In the issueless circling of thy human life,
Searching for thy soul and thinking God is here.
But where is room for soul or place for God
In the brute immensity of a machine?
A transient Breath thou takest for thy soul,
Born from a gas, a plasm, a sperm, a gene,
A magnified image of man’s mind for God,
A shadow of thyself thrown upon Space.
Interposed between the upper and nether Void,
Thy consciousness reflects the world around
In the distorting mirror of Ignorance
Or upwards turns to catch imagined stars.
Or if a half-Truth is playing with the earth
Throwing its light on a dark shadowy ground,
It touches only and leaves a luminous smudge.
[Savitri 616 – 618]
(line breaks added to emphasize separate movements)