THE MOTHER’S SAVITRI: Book 8 Canto 3


The Mother Reads Selections from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo

Book Eight, The Book of Death
Canto 3, Death in the Forest

Then silently she rose and, service done,
Bowed down to the great goddess simply carved
By Satyavan upon a forest stone.
What prayer she breathed her soul and Durga knew.
Perhaps she felt in the dim forest huge
The infinite Mother watching over her child,
Perhaps the shrouded Voice spoke some still word.
[p. 561]
* * *
At last she came to the pale mother queen.
She spoke but with guarded lips and tranquil face
. . .
And forced upon her speech an outward peace:
“One year that I have lived with Satyavan
. . .
I have not gone into the silences
Of this great woodland that enringed my thoughts
. . .
Now has a strong desire seized all my heart
To go with Satyavan holding his hand
. . .
Release me now and let my heart have rest.”
She answered: “Do as thy wise mind desires,
O calm child-sovereign with the eyes that rule.
[pp. 561-562]
* * *
Then the doomed husband and the woman who knew
Went with linked hands into that solemn world
Where beauty and grandeur and unspoken dream,
Where Nature’s mystic silence could be felt
Communing with the secrecy of God.
[p. 562]
* * *
But Satyavan had paused. He meant to finish
His labour here that happy, linked, uncaring
They two might wander free in the green deep
Primeval mystery of the forest’s heart.
. . .
Wordless but near she watched, no turn to lose
Of the bright face and body which she loved.
. . .
But Satyavan wielded a joyous axe.
He sang high snatches of a sage’s chant
[p. 563]
* * *
But as he worked, his doom upon him came.
. . .
. . . Now the great Woodsman
Hewed at him and his labour ceased: lifting
His arm he flung away the poignant axe
Far from him like an instrument of pain.
She came to him in silent anguish and clasped,
And he cried to her, “Savitri, a pang
Cleaves through my head and breast as if the axe
Were piercing it and not the living branch.
[p. 564]
* * *
Then Savitri sat under branches wide,
. . .
She guarded him in her bosom and strove to soothe
His anguished brow and body with her hands.
. . .
He cried out in a clinging last despair,
“Savitri, Savitri, O Savitri,
Lean down, my soul, and kiss me while I die.”
[pp. 564; 565]
* * *
And even as her pallid lips pressed his,
His failed, losing last sweetness of response;
His cheek pressed down her golden arm. She sought
His mouth still with her living mouth, as if
She could persuade his soul back with her kiss;
Then grew aware they were no more alone.
Something had come there conscious, vast and dire.
. . .
She knew that visible Death was standing there
And Satyavan had passed from her embrace.
[pp. 565; 566]
* * *

End of Book 8 Canto 3


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