THE MOTHER’S SAVITRI: Book 1 Canto 1


The Mother Reads Selections from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo 

Book 1 Canto 1

It was the hour before the Gods awake.
Across the path of the divine Event
The huge foreboding mind of Night, alone
In her unlit temple of eternity,
Lay stretched immobile upon Silence’ marge.
Almost one felt, opaque, impenetrable,
In the sombre symbol of her eyeless muse
The abysm of the unbodied Infinite;
A fathomless zero occupied the world.
[p. 1]
 * * *
Athwart the vain enormous trance of Space,
Its formless stupor without mind or life,
A shadow spinning through a soulless Void,
Thrown back once more into unthinking dreams,
Earth wheeled abandoned in the hollow gulfs
Forgetful of her spirit and her fate.
[p. 1]
* * *
Then something in the inscrutable darkness stirred;
A nameless movement, an unthought Idea
Insistent, dissatisfied, without an aim,
Something that wished but knew not how to be,
Teased the Inconscient to wake Ignorance.
[p. 1-2]
* * *
An unshaped consciousness desired light
And a blank prescience yearned towards distant change.
As if a childlike finger laid on a cheek
Reminded of the endless need in things
The heedless Mother of the universe,
An infant longing clutched the sombre Vast.
[p. 2]
* * *
Arrived from the other side of boundlessness
An eye of deity peered through the dumb deeps;
A scout in a reconnaissance from the sun,
It seemed amid a heavy cosmic rest,
The torpor of a sick and weary world,
To seek for a spirit sole and desolate
Too fallen to recollect forgotten bliss.
[p. 2]
* * *
All can be done if the god-touch is there.
A hope stole in that hardly dared to be
Amid the Night’s forlorn indifference.

Into a far-off nook of heaven there came
A slow miraculous gesture’s dim appeal.

A wandering hand of pale enchanted light
That glowed along a fading moment’s brink,
Fixed with gold panel and opalescent hinge
A gate of dreams ajar on mystery’s verge.
One lucent corner windowing hidden things
Forced the world’s blind immensity to sight.
[p. 3]
* * *
The darkness failed and slipped like a falling cloak
From the reclining body of a god.
[p. 3]
* * *
A glamour from the unreached transcendences
Iridescent with the glory of the Unseen,
A message from the unknown immortal Light
Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
[p. 3-4]
* * *
On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood
And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.

Once more a tread perturbed the vacant Vasts;
Infinity’s centre, a Face of rapturous calm
Parted the eternal lids that open heaven;
A Form from far beatitudes seemed to near.
Ambassadress twixt eternity and change,
The omniscient Goddess leaned across the breadths
That wrap the fated journeyings of the stars
And saw the spaces ready for her feet.
[p. 4]
* * *
Earth felt the Imperishable’s passage close:
The waking ear of Nature heard her steps
And wideness turned to her its limitless eye,
And, scattered on sealed depths, her luminous smile
Kindled to fire the silence of the worlds.
[p. 4]
* * *
All grew a consecration and a rite.
Air was a vibrant link between earth and heaven;
The wide-winged hymn of a great priestly wind
Arose and failed upon the altar hills;
The high boughs prayed in a revealing sky.
[p. 4]
* * *
Here where our half-lit ignorance skirts the gulfs
On the dumb bosom of the ambiguous earth,
Here where one knows not even the step in front
And Truth has her throne on the shadowy back of doubt,
On this anguished and precarious field of toil
Outspread beneath some large indifferent gaze,
Impartial witness to our joy and bale,
Our prostrate soil bore the awakening ray.
[p. 5]
* * *
The excess of beauty natural to god-kind
Could not uphold its claim on time-born eyes;
Too mystic-real for space-tenancy
Her body of glory was expunged from heaven:
The rarity and wonder lived no more.
There was the common light of earthly day.

All sprang to their unvarying daily acts;
The thousand peoples of the soil and tree
Obeyed the unforeseeing instant’s urge,
And, leader here with his uncertain mind,
Alone who stares at the future’s covered face,
Man lifted up the burden of his fate.
[p. 5-6]
* * *
And Savitri too awoke among these tribes
That hastened to join the brilliant Summoner’s chant

A narrow movement on Time’s deep abysm,
Life’s fragile littleness denied the power,
The proud and conscious wideness and the bliss
She had brought with her into the human form,
The calm delight that weds one soul to all,
The key to the flaming doors of ecstasy.
[p. 6]
* * *
Earth’s grain that needs the sap of pleasure and tears
Rejected the undying rapture’s boon:
Offered to the daughter of infinity
Her passion-flower of love and doom she gave.

Mortality bears ill the eternal’s touch:

Inflicting on the heights the abysm’s law,
It sullies with its mire heaven’s messengers:
Its thorns of fallen nature are the defence
It turns against the saviour hands of Grace;
It meets the sons of God with death and pain.
[p. 7]
* * *
Thus trapped in the gin of earthly destinies,
Awaiting her ordeal’s hour abode,
Outcast from her inborn felicity,
Accepting life’s obscure terrestrial robe,
Hiding herself even from those she loved,
The godhead greater by a human fate.
[p. 8]
* * *
Against the evil at life’s afflicted roots,
Her own calamity its private sign,
Of her pangs she made a mystic poignant sword.
[p. 8-9]
* * *
At the summons of her body’s voiceless call
Her strong far-winging spirit travelled back,
Back to the yoke of ignorance and fate,
Back to the labour and stress of mortal days,
Lighting a pathway through strange symbol dreams
Across the ebbing of the seas of sleep.
[p. 9]
* * *
Immobile in herself, she gathered force.
This was the day when Satyavan must die.
[p. 10]

End of Book 1 Canto 1


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