This is the first of a series of talks as an offering for the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. In this series we glimpse his life through his poems.
The first talk sets the note through the revelation of Sri Aurobindo and His Work as the work of the Avatar, which is primarily to open a new collective possibility for earth and embodied earthly life.
A God’s Labour
I have gathered my dreams in a silver air
Between the gold and the blue
And wrapped them softly and left them there,
My jewelled dreams of you.
I had hoped to build a rainbow bridge
Marrying the soil to the sky
And sow in this dancing planet midge
The moods of infinity.
But too bright were our heavens, too far away,
Too frail their ethereal stuff;
Too splendid and sudden our light could not stay;
The roots were not deep enough.
He who would bring the heavens here
Must descend himself into clay
And the burden of earthly nature bear
And tread the dolorous way.
Coercing my godhead I have come down
Here on the sordid earth,
Ignorant, labouring, human grown
Twixt the gates of death and birth.
I have been digging deep and long
Mid a horror of filth and mire
A bed for the golden river’s song,
A home for the deathless fire.
I have laboured and suffered in Matter’s night
To bring the fire to man;
But the hate of hell and human spite
Are my meed since the world began.
For man’s mind is the dupe of his animal self;
Hoping its lusts to win,
He harbours within him a grisly Elf
Enamoured of sorrow and sin.
The grey Elf shudders from heaven’s flame
And from all things glad and pure;
Only by pleasure and passion and pain
His drama can endure.
All around is darkness and strife;
For the lamps that men call suns
Are but halfway gleams on this stumbling life
Cast by the Undying Ones.
Man lights his little torches of hope
That lead to a failing edge;
A fragment of Truth is his widest scope,
An inn his pilgrimage.
The Truth of truths men fear and deny,
The Light of lights they refuse;
To ignorant gods they lift their cry
Or a demon altar choose.
All that was found must again be sought,
Each enemy slain revives,
Each battle for ever is fought and refought
Through vistas of fruitless lives.
My gaping wounds are a thousand and one
And the Titan kings assail,
But I dare not rest till my task is done
And wrought the eternal will.
How they mock and sneer, both devils and men!
”Thy hope is Chimera ‘s head
Painting the sky with its fiery stain;
Thou shalt fall and thy work lie dead.
“Who art thou that babblest of heavenly ease
And joy and golden room
To us who are waifs on inconscient seas
And bound to life’s iron doom?
“This earth is ours, a field of Night
For our petty flickering fires.
How shall it brook the sacred Light
Or suffer a god’s desires?
“Come, let us slay him and end his course!
Then shall our hearts have release
From the burden and call of his glory and force
And the curb of his wide white peace.”
But the god is there in my mortal breast
Who wrestles with error and fate
And tramples a road through mire and waste
For the nameless Immaculate.
A voice cried, “Go where none have gone!
Dig deeper, deeper yet
Till thou reach the grim foundation stone
And knock at the keyless gate.”
I saw that a falsehood was planted deep
At the very root of things
Where the grey Sphinx guards God’s riddle sleep
On the Dragon’s outspread wings.
I left the surface gauds of mind
And life’s unsatisfied seas
And plunged through the body’s alleys blind
To the nether mysteries.
I have delved through the dumb Earth’s dreadful heart
And heard her black mass’ bell.
I have seen the source whence her agonies part
And the inner reason of hell.
Above me the dragon murmurs moan
And the goblin voices flit;
I have pierced the Void where Thought was born,
I have walked in the bottomless pit.
On a desperate stair my feet have trod
Armoured with boundless peace,
Bringing the fires of the splendour of God
Into the human abyss.
He who I am was with me still;
All veils are breaking now.
I have heard His voice and borne His will
On my vast untroubled brow.
The gulf twixt the depths and the heights is bridged
And the golden waters pour
Down the sapphire mountain rainbow-ridged
And glimmer from shore to shore.
Heaven’s fire is lit in the breast of the earth
And the undying suns here burn;
Through a wonder cleft in the bounds of birth
The incarnate spirits yearn.
Like flames to the kingdoms of Truth and Bliss:
Down a gold-red stairway wend
The radiant children of Paradise
Clarioning darkness’ end.
A little more and the new life’s doors
Shall be carved in silver light
With its aureate roof and mosaic floors
In a great world bare and bright.
I shall leave my dreams in their argent air,
For in a raiment of gold and blue
There shall move on the earth embodied and fair
The living truth of you.
(Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, p. 216)