BOOK II: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds
CANTO II: The Kingdom of Subtle Matter
Matter and soul in conscious union meet
Like lovers in a lonely secret place:
In the clasp of a passion not yet unfortunate
They join their strength and sweetness and delight
And mingling make the high and low worlds one.
Intruder from the formless Infinite
Daring to break into the Inconscient’s reign,
The spirit’s leap towards body touches ground.
As yet unwrapped in earthly lineaments,
Already it wears outlasting death and birth,
Convincing the abyss by heavenly form,
A covering of its immortality
Alive to the lustre of the wearer’s rank,
Fit to endure the rub of Change and Time.
A tissue mixed of the soul’s radiant light
And Matter’s substance of sign-burdened Force,—
Imagined vainly in our mind’s thin air
An abstract phantasm mould of mental make,—
It feels what earthly bodies cannot feel
And is more real than this grosser frame.
After the falling of mortality’s cloak
Lightened is its weight to heighten its ascent;
Refined to the touch of finer environments
It drops old patterned palls of denser stuff,
Cancels the grip of earth’s descending pull
And bears the soul from world to higher world,
Till in the naked ether of the peaks
The spirit’s simplicity alone is left,
The eternal being’s first transparent robe.
But when it must come back to its mortal load
And the hard ensemble of earth’s experience,
Then its return resumes that heavier dress.
For long before earth’s solid vest was forged
By the technique of the atomic Void,
A lucent envelope of self-disguise
Was woven round the secret spirit in things.
The subtle realms from those bright sheaths are made.
This wonder-world with all its radiant boon
Of vision and inviolate happiness,
Only for expression cares and perfect form;
Fair on its peaks, it has dangerous nether planes;
Its light draws towards the verge of Nature’s lapse;
It lends beauty to the terror of the gulfs
And fascinating eyes to perilous Gods,
Invests with grace the demon and the snake.
Its trance imposes earth’s inconscience,
Immortal it weaves for us death’s sombre robe
And authorises our mortality.
This medium serves a greater Consciousness:
A vessel of its concealed autocracy,
It is the subtle ground of Matter’s worlds,
It is the immutable in their mutable forms,
In the folds of its creative memory
It guards the deathless type of perishing things:
Its lowered potencies found our fallen strengths;
Its thought invents our reasoned ignorance;
Its sense fathers our body’s reflexes.
Our secret breath of untried mightier force,
The lurking sun of an instant’s inner sight,
Its fine suggestions are a covert fount
For our iridescent rich imaginings
Touching things common with transfiguring hues
Till even earth’s mud grows rich and warm with the skies
And a glory gleams from the soul’s decadence.
Its knowledge is our error’s starting-point;
Its beauty dons our mud-mask ugliness,
Its artist good begins our evil’s tale.
A heaven of creative truths above,
A cosmos of harmonious dreams between,
A chaos of dissolving forms below,
It plunges lost in our inconscient base.
Out of its fall our denser Matter came.