On Sri Aurobindo’s Poem ‘To the Sea’ (SAP 04)


This Sri Aurobindo’s poem is addressed to the Sea and uses the image to bring out our innate soul strength against the opposition of world forces.


TO THE SEA

O grey wild sea,
Thou hast a message, thunderer, for me.
Their huge wide backs
Thy monstrous billows raise, abysmal cracks
Dug deep between.
One pale boat flutters over them, hardly seen.
I hear thy roar
Call me, “Why dost thou linger on the shore
With fearful eyes
Watching my tops visit their foam-washed skies?
This trivial boat
Dares my vast battering billows and can float.
Death if it find,
Are there not many thousands left behind?
Dare my wide roar,
Nor cling like cowards to the easy shore.
Come down and know
What rapture lives in danger and o’erthrow.”
Yes, thou great sea,
I am more mighty and outbillow thee.
On thy tops I rise;
’Tis an excuse to dally with the skies.
I sink below
The bottom of the clamorous world to know.
On the safe land
To linger is to lose what God has planned
For man’s wide soul,
Who set eternal godhead for its goal.
Therefore He arrayed
Danger and difficulty like seas and made
Pain and defeat,
And put His giant snares around our feet.
The cloud He informs
With thunder and assails us with His storms,
That man may grow
King over pain and victor of o’erthrow
Matching his great
Unconquerable soul with adverse Fate.
Take me, be
My way to climb the heavens, thou rude great sea.
I will seize thy mane,
O lion, I will tame thee and disdain;
Or else below
Into thy salt abysmal caverns go,
Receive thy weight
Upon me and be stubborn as my Fate.
I come, O Sea,
To measure my enormous self with thee.


Notes on Text
Written in Bengal or Baroda, Circa 1900-1906. Published in the Modern Review in June 1909.
CWSA 2: 207-208

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