THE MOTHER’S SAVITRI: Book 9 Canto 2


The Mother Reads Selections from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo

 

Book 9. The Book of Eternal Night

Canto 2. The Journey in Eternal Night and the Voice of the Darkness

The Woman first affronted the Abyss
Daring to journey through the eternal Night.
Armoured with light she advanced her foot to plunge
Into the dread and hueless vacancy;
[p. 582]
* * *
Once more she heard the treading of a god,
And out of the dumb darkness Satyavan,
Her husband, grew into a luminous shade.
. . .
Death missioned to the night his lethal call.
“This is my silent dark immensity,
. . .
Entombing the vanity of life’s desires.
Hast thou beheld thy source, O transient heart,
And known from what the dream thou art was made?
[pp. 585-586]
* * *
At last she spoke; her voice was heard by Night:
“I bow not to thee, O huge mask of Death,
Black lie of night to the cowed soul of man,
. . .
Conscious of immortality I walk.
. . .
First I demand whatever Satyavan,
My husband, waking in the forest’s charm
Out of his long pure childhood’s lonely dreams,
Desired and had not for his beautiful life.
Give, if thou must, or if thou canst, refuse.”
[pp. 588; 589]
* * *
Death bowed his head in scornful cold assent,
. . .
Uplifting his disastrous voice he spoke:
. . .
I yield to his blind father’s longing heart
Kingdom and power and friends and greatness lost
And royal trappings for his peaceful age,
The pallid pomps of man’s declining days,
The silvered decadent glories of life’s fall.
[p. 589]
* * *
But Savitri answered the disdainful Shade:
“World-spirit, I was thy equal spirit born.
I am immortal in my mortality.
I tremble not before the immobile gaze
Of the unchanging marble hierarchies
That look with the stone eyes of Law and Fate.
My soul can meet them with its living fire.
. . .
Wherever thou leadst his soul I shall pursue.”
[pp. 589; 590]
* * *
Against the Woman’s boundless heart arose
The almighty cry of universal Death:
“Hast thou god-wings or feet that tread my stars,
Frail creature with the courage that aspires,
Forgetting thy bounds of thought, thy mortal role?
. . .
I will take from thee the black eternal grip:
Clasping in thy heart thy fate’s exiguous doles
Depart in peace, if peace for man is just.”
[pp. 590; 591]
* * *
But Savitri answered meeting scorn with scorn,
The mortal woman to the dreadful Lord:
“Who is this God imagined by thy night,
Contemptuously creating worlds disdained,
Who made for vanity the brilliant stars?
Not he who has reared his temple in my thoughts
And made his sacred floor my human heart.
My God is Will and triumphs in his paths,
My God is Love and sweetly suffers all.
. . .
Love’s golden wings have power to fan thy void:
The eyes of love gaze starlike through death’s night,
The feet of love tread naked hardest worlds.
[pp. 591; 592]
* * *
Once more a Thought, a Word in the void arose
And Death made answer to the human soul:
. . .
Wilt thou claim immortality, O heart,
Crying against the eternal witnesses
That thou and he are endless powers and last?
Death only lasts and the inconscient Void.
. . .
All from my depths are born, they live by death;
All to my depths return and are no more.
. . .
I, Death, am the one refuge of thy soul.
[pp. 592; 593]
* * *
But Savitri replied to the dread Voice:
“O Death, who reasonest, I reason not,
Reason that scans and breaks, but cannot build
Or builds in vain because she doubts her work.
I am, I love, I see, I act, I will.”
Death answered her, one deep surrounding cry:
“Know also. Knowing, thou shalt cease to love
. . .
But Savitri replied for man to Death:
“When I have loved for ever, I shall know.
Love in me knows the truth all changings mask.
[p. 594]
* * *
Like one disdaining violent helpless words
From victim lips Death answered not again.
He stood in silence and in darkness wrapped,
. . .
Half-seen in clouds appeared a sombre face;
Night’s dusk tiara was his matted hair,
The ashes of the pyre his forehead’s sign.
[p. 595]

* * *

Around her rolled the shuddering waste of gloom,
Its swallowing emptiness and joyless death
Resentful of her thought and life and love.
Through the long fading night by her compelled,
Gliding half-seen on their unearthly path,
Phantasmal in the dimness moved the three.
[p. 595]

End of Book 9 Canto 2


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