Book Ten: The Book of the Double Twilight
Canto Two: The Gospel of Death and Vanity of the Ideal
Death takes the position of a stark materialist who refuses to see what escapes the senses. He admits only what he can outwardly experience through the senses and declares all else as an imagination or a hallucination. He refuses to admit the soul, taking it to be just a figment of mental conception. Yet it knows that matter itself stands on a shaky foundation and in the end nothing is sure.
But Death once more inflicted on her heart
The majesty of his calm and dreadful voice:
“A bright hallucination are thy thoughts.
A prisoner haled by a spiritual cord,
Of thy own sensuous will the ardent slave,
Thou sendest eagle-poised to meet the sun
Words winged with the red splendour of thy heart.
But knowledge dwells not in the passionate heart;
The heart’s words fall back unheard from Wisdom’s throne.
Vain is thy longing to build heaven on earth.
Artificer of Ideal and Idea,
Mind, child of Matter in the womb of Life,
To higher levels persuades his parents’ steps:
Inapt, they follow ill the daring guide.
But Mind, a glorious traveller in the sky,
Walks lamely on the earth with footsteps slow;
Hardly he can mould the life’s rebellious stuff,
Hardly can he hold the galloping hooves of sense:
His thoughts look straight into the very heavens;
They draw their gold from a celestial mine,
His acts work painfully a common ore.
All thy high dreams were made by Matter’s mind
To solace its dull work in Matter’s jail,
Its only house where it alone seems true.
A solid image of reality
Carved out of being to prop the works of Time,
Matter on the firm earth sits strong and sure.
It is the first-born of created things,
It stands the last when mind and life are slain,
And if it ended all would cease to be.
All else is only its outcome or its phase:
Thy soul is a brief flower by the gardener Mind
Created in thy matter’s terrain plot;
It perishes with the plant on which it grows,
For from earth’s sap it draws its heavenly hue:
Thy thoughts are gleams that pass on Matter’s verge,
Thy life a lapsing wave on Matter’s sea.
A careful steward of Truth’s limited means,
Treasuring her founded facts from the squandering Power,
It tethers mind to the tent-posts of sense,
To a leaden grey routine clamps Life’s caprice
And ties all creatures with the cords of Law.
A vessel of transmuting alchemies,
A glue that sticks together mind and life,
If Matter fails, all crumbling cracks and falls.
All upon Matter stands as on a rock.
Yet this security and guarantor
Pressed for credentials an impostor proves:
A cheat of substance where no substance is,
An appearance and a symbol and a nought,
Its forms have no original right to birth:
Its aspect of a fixed stability
Is the cover of a captive motion’s swirl,
An order of the steps of Energy’s dance
Whose footmarks leave for ever the same signs,
A concrete face of unsubstantial Time,
A trickle dotting the emptiness of Space:
[Savitri 614 – 616]
(line breaks added to emphasize separate movements)