Skimming, a messenger sail, the sapphire-summer waste of a soundless wayless burning sea.
Now in the eve of the waning world the colour and splendour returning drift through a blue-flicker air back to my breast,
Flame and shimmer staining the rapture-white foam-vest of the waters of Eternity.
Bringst thou for travailing earth a spirit silent and free or His crimson passion of love divine,–
White-ray-jar of the spuming rose-red wine drawn from the vats brimming with light-blaze, the vats of ecstasy,
Pressed by the sudden and violent feet of the Dancer in Time from his sun-grape fruit of a deathless vine?
But golden above it the body of One in Her diamond sphere with Her halo of star-bloom and passion-ray!
Rich and red is thy breast, O bird, like blood of a soul climbing the hard crag-teeth world, wounded and nude,
A ruby of flame-petalled love in the silver-gold altar-vase of moon-edged night and rising day.
O marvel bird with the burning wings of light and the unbarred lids that look beyond all space,
One strange leap of thy mystic stress breaking the barriers of mind and life, arrives at its luminous term thy flight;
Invading the secret clasp of the Silence and crimson Fire thou frontest eyes in a timeless Face.
Notes on Text
17 October 1933. No handwritten manuscripts of this poem survive. There are three typed manuscripts, two of which are dated 17 October 1933. In a letter written shortly afterwards, Sri Aurobindo said that “Bird of Fire” was “written on two consecutive days — and afterwards revised”. He also wrote that this poem and “Trance” (see above) were completed the same day.