Book Six

Savitri In-Between

Book Six: The Book of Fate

Canto I: The Word of Fate

Attracted by the golden summer-earth
That lay beneath him like a glowing bowl
Tilted upon a table of the Gods
Turning as if moved round by an unseen hand
To catch the warmth and blaze of a small sun
He passed from the immortals’ happy paths
To a world of toil and quest and grief and hope
To these rooms of a see-saw game of death and life

He bore the ripples of the etheric sea

The secret might of the creative fire
Displayed its triple power to build and form
Its infinitesimal wave-sparks’ weaving dance
Its nebulous units’ grounding shape and mass
Magic foundation and pattern of a world
Its radiance bursting into the light of stars

He felt a sap of life, a sap of death

Into solid Matter’s dense communion
Plunging and its obscure oneness of forms
He shared with a dumb Spirit identity

… arose
King Aswapathy’s palace to the winds
In Madra, flowering up in delicate stone

… a creature beautiful, passionate, wise
Aspiring like a sacrificial flame
Skyward from its earth-seat through luminous air
Queen-browed …

He sang to them of the lotus-heart of love
With all its thousand luminous buds of truth
Which quivering sleeps veiled by apparent things

A mighty shuddering coil of ecstasy
Crept through the deep heart of the universe

Earth has gold-hued expanses, shadowy hills
That cowl their dreaming phantom heads in night
And guarded in a cloistral joy of woods
Screened banks sink down into felicity
Seized by the curved incessant yearning hands
And ripple-passion of the up-gazing stream
Amid cool-lipped murmurs of its pure embrace
They lose their souls on beds of trembling reeds

… stepping through azure curtains of the morn

… They have fed
Thy silence on some red strange-ecstasied fruit
And thou hast trod the dim moon-peaks of bliss

… body rhythmical with the spring-bird’s call

Life’s perilous music rings yet to thy ear
Far-melodied, rapid, grand, a Centaur’s song
Or soft as water plashing mid the hills
Or mighty as a great chant of many winds

Thou comest like a silver deer through groves
Of coral flowers and buds of glowing dreams
Or fleest like a wind-goddess through leaves
Or roamest, O ruby-eyed and snow-winged dove
Flitting through thickets of thy pure desires
In the unwounded beauty of thy soul

As a cloud plays with lightning’s vivid laugh
But still holds back the thunder in its heart
Only he let bright images escape

As a wind flatters the bright summer air
Of living beauty and of present blis

… the carved shield of symbol images

Caught in the song that sways the Apsara’s limbs
When she floats gleaming like a cloud of light
A wave of joy on heaven’s moon-stone floor

Her body like a brimmed pitcher of delight
Shaped in a splendour of gold-coloured bronze
As if to seize earth’s truth of hidden bliss
Dream-made illumined mirrors are her eyes
Draped subtly in a slumberous fringe of jet
Retaining heaven’s reflections in their depths

Heaven’s lustrous mornings gloriously recur
Like drops of fire upon a silver page

Earth’s flowers spring up and laugh at time and death

… let thy blessing chant that this fair child
Shall pour the nectar of a sorrowless life
Around her from her lucid heart of love

… heaven’s daughters dripping magic rain
Pearl-bright from moon-gold limbs and cloudy hair
So are her dawns like jewelled leaves of light

He looked into the unseen with seeing eyes

Arisen into an air of flaming dawn
Like a bright bird tired of her lonely branch
… this sweetness wandered forth
Cleaving her way with the beat of her rapid wings
Led by a distant call her vague swift flight
Threaded the summer morns and sunlit lands

Virgin who comest perfected by joy
Reveal the name thy sudden heart-beats learned
Whom hast thou chosen kingliest among men?

On the borders of a dreaming wilderness
Mid Shalwa’s giant hills and brooding woods
In his thatched hermitage Dyumathsena dwells …
The son of Dyumathsena, Satyavan
I have met on the wild forest’s lonely verge
My father, I have chosen. This is done

Whether it seem good or evil to men’s eyes
Only for good the secret Will can work

Death is our road to immortality

Lend not a dangerous vision to the blind

Here are not happy peaks the heaven-nymphs roam
Or Coilas or Vaicountha’s starry stair
Abrupt jagged hills only the mighty climb
Are here where few dare even think to rise

… they forget the wounded feet of man
His limbs that faint beneath the whips of grief
His heart that hears the tread of time and death

… if crouches unseen a panther doom
If wings of Evil brood above that house
Then also speak …

What help is in prevision to the driven?

A future knowledge is an added pain
A torturing burden and a fruitless light
On the enormous scene that Fate has built
The eternal poet, universal Mind
Has paged each line of his imperial act
Invisible the giant actors tread
And man lives like some secret player’s mask
He knows not even what his lips shall speak
For a mysterious Power compels his steps
And life is stronger than his trembling soul

No cry or prayer can turn her from her path
She has leaped an arrow from the bow of God

Her sweetness that deserved another fate
Only a larger measure given of tears

Aspiring to the nature of the gods
A mind proof-armoured mailed in mighty thoughts
A will entire couchant behind wisdom’s shield
Though to still heavens of knowledge she had risen
Though calm and wise and Aswapathy’s queen
Human was she still and opened her doors to grief
The stony-eyed injustice she accused
Of the marble godhead of inflexible Law

Her tranquil spirit she called not to her aid
But as a common man beneath his load
Grows faint and breathes his pain in ignorant words
So now she arraigned the World’s impassive will
What stealthy doom has crept across her path
Emerging from the dark forest’s sullen heart

The dreadful angel angry with his joys
Woundingly sweet he cannot yet forego
Is pitiless to the soul his gaze disarmed
He visits with his own pangs his quivering prey
Forcing us to cling enamoured to his grip
As if in love with our own agony
This is one poignant misery in the world
And grief has other lassoes for our life

We have sorrow for a greatness passed away
And feel the touch of tears in mortal things

His words set free the spring of cosmic Fate

The great Gods use the pain of human hearts
As a sharp axe to hew their cosmic road
They squander lavishly men’s blood and tears
For a moment’s purpose in their fateful work

A single word lets loose vast agencies
A casual act determines the world’s fate
So now he set free destiny in that hour

A marvel of the meeting earth and heavens
Is he whom Savitri has chosen mid men
His figure is the front of Nature’s march
His single being excels the works of Time
A sapphire cutting from the sleep of heaven
Delightful is the soul of Satyavan
A ray out of the rapturous infinite
A silence waking to a hymn of joy
A divinity and kingliness gird his brow
His eyes keep a memory from a world of bliss
As brilliant as a lonely moon in heaven
Gentle like the sweet bud that spring desires
Pure like a stream that kisses silent banks
He takes with bright surprise spirit and sense
A living knot of golden Paradise
A blue Immense he leans to the longing world
Time’s joy borrowed out of eternity
A star of splendour or a rose of bliss

A tranquil breadth of sky windless and still
Watching the world like a mind of unplumbed thought
A silent space musing and luminous
Uncovered by the morning to delight
A green tangle of trees upon a happy hill
Made into a murmuring nest by southern winds

In one brief year when this bright hour flies back
And perches careless on a branch of Time
This sovereign glory ends heaven lent to earth
This splendour vanishes from the mortal’s sky
Heaven’s greatness came, but was too great to stay
Twelve swift-winged months are given to him and her
This day returning Satyavan must die
A ligntning bright and nude the sentence fell

Heaven mocks us with the brilliance of its gifts
For Death is a cupbearer of the wine
Of too brief joy held up to mortal lips
For a passionate moment by the careless gods

Death is the gardener of this wonder-tree

Once my heart chose and chooses not again
The word I have spoken can never be erased
It is written in the record book of God
The truth once uttered, from the earth’s air effaced
By mind forgotten, sounds immortality
For ever in the memory of Time
Once the dice fall thrown by the hand of Fate
In an eternal moment of the gods
My heart has sealed its troth to Satyavan
Its signature adverse Fate cannot efface
Its seal not Fate nor Death nor Time dissolve

I am stronger than death and greater than my fate

As one she cried who in her heavy heart
Labours amid the sobbing of her hopes
To wake a note of help from sadder strings

He whom thou lovest now, a stranger came
And into a far strangeness shall depart

Our joys are perfumes in a brittle vase

O then what wreck is this upon Time’s sea
To spread life’s sails to the hurricane desire
And call for pilot the unseeing heart

For man, below the god, above the brute
Is given the calm reason as his guide
He is not driven by an unthinking will
As are the actions of the bird and beast
He is not moved by start Necessity
Like the senseless motion of inconscient things

Each year a mile from the heavenly Way
Each dawn opens into a larger Light

My fate is what my spirit’s strength can make
My fate is what my spirit’s strength can bear

Beating of one vast heart in the flame of things

The riches of a thousand fortunate years
Are a poverty …

… Silent
They sat and looked into the eyes of Fate

Canto II: The Way of Fate and the Problem of Pain

Yet hope sank down like an extinguished fire

… in the earth’s strange twi-natured life
By what pitiless adverse Necessity
Or what cold freak of a Creator’s will
By what random accident or governed Chance
That shaped a rule out of fortuitous steps
Made destiny from an hour’s emotion, came
The direr mystery of grief and pain?

Then first appeared the malady of mind
Its pang of thought, its quest for the aim of life

In the pale starlight falling from thought’s skies

Lost was the instinct’s safe identity
With the arrow-point of being’s inmost sight

Cast down to suffer on this hard dangerous earth
Our life was born in pain and with a cry

Our bodies are an engine cunningly made
But for all its parts as cunningly are planned
Contrived ingeniously with demon skill
Its apt inevitable heritage
Of mortal danger and peculiar pain
Its payment of the tax of Time and Fate
Its way to suffer and its way to die
This is the ransom of our high estate
The sign and stamp of our humanity
A grisly company of maladies
Come, licensed lodgers, into man’s bodily house
Purveyors of death and torturers of life

In the malignant hollows of the world
In its subconscient cavern-passages
Ambushed they lie waiting their hour to leap
Surrounding with danger the sieged city of life

Ourselves within us lethal forces nurse
We make of our own enemies our guests
Out of their holes like beasts they creep and gnaw
The chords of the divine musician’s lyre
Til frayed and thin the music dies away
Or crashing snaps with a last tragic note

All that we are is like a fort beset

A treasure misspent or cheaply, fruitlessly sold
In the bazar of a blind destiny
A gift of priceless values from Time’s gods
Lost or mislaid in an uncaring world
Life is a marvel missed, an art gone wry

A growing register of calamities
Is the past’s account, the future’s book of Fate

As if the world’s stone load was not enough
A crop of miseries obstinately is sown
By his own hand in the furrows of the gods
The vast increasing tragic harvest reaped
From old misdeeds buried by oblivious Time

He ransacks earth for means to harm his kind

An idiot hour destroys what centuries made
His wanton rage or frenzied hate lays low
The beauty and greatness by his genius wrought
And the mighty output of a nation’s toil
All h e has achieved he drags to the precipice

Since That we are and out of That we came
Whence rose the strange and sterile interlude
Lasting in vain through interminable Time

The eternal witness once of eternity
A deathless sojourner mid transient scenes
He camps in life’s half-lit obscurity
Amid the debris of his thoughts and dreams

… where begins and ends illusion’s reign?
Perhaps the soul we feel is only a dream
Eternal self a fiction sensed in trance

His forehead shone with vision solemnised

Was then the sun a dream because there is night?

Pain ploughed the first hard ground of the world-drowse
By pain a apirit started from the clod
By pain Life stirred in the subliminal deep
Interned, submerged, hidden in Matter’s trance
Awoke to itself the dreamer, sleeping Mind

Pain is the hammer of the gods to break
A dead resistance in the mortal’s heart
His slow inertia as of living stone

Ever they travail driven by Time’s goad

A cry arises like a moaning sea
A desperate laughter under the blows of death

Men die that man may live and God be born

Pain is the hand of Nature sculpturing men
To greatness: an inspired labour chisels
With heavenly cruelty an unwilling mould

He who would save the race must share its pain
This he shall know who obeys that grandiose urge

They are caught by the Wheel that they had hoped to break

The Son of God born as the Son of man
Has drunk the bitter cup, owned Godhead’s debt

The sorrow of all living things shall come
And knock at his doors and live within his house
A dreadful cord of sympathy can tie
All suffering into his single grief and make
All agony in all the worlds his own
He meets an ancient adversary Force
He is lashed with the whips that tear the world’s worn heart
The weeping of the centuries visits his eyes
He wears the blood-glued fiery Centaur’s shirt
The poison of the world has stained his throat

In the market-place of Matter’s capital
Amidst the chafferings of the affair called life
He is tied to the stake of a perennial Fire
He burns on an unseen original verge
That Matter may be turned to spirit stuff
He is the victim in his own sacrifice

The Immortal bound to earth’s mortality
Appearing and perishing on the roads of Time
Creates God’s moment by eternity’s beats
He dies that the world may be new-born and live

Only by hard sacrifice is high heaven earned
He must face the fight …

A secret enmity ambushes the world’s march

Our lives are caught in an ambiguous net

A whisper lures to evil the human heart

This world is in love with its own ignorance
Its darkness turns away from the saviour light
It gives the cross in payment for the crown

His work is a trickle of splendour in a long night

… few are they who tread the sunlit path
Only the pure in soul can walk in light

But how shall a few escaped release the world?

The human mass lingers beneath the yoke

Escape, however high, redeems not life
Life that is left behind on a fallen earth

… the evil is slain in its own home

His will immobile meets the mobile hour

The feints of Nature mislead not his sight

He must pass to the other shore of falsehood’s sea

The body’s self taste immortality

On death and suffering he builds his throne

His little “I” has swallowed the whole world
His ego has stretched into infinity
His mind, a beat in original Nothingness
Ciphers his thought on a slate of hourless Time
He builds on a mighty vacancy of soul
A huge philosophy of Nothingness

Thou art a vessel of the imprisoned spark

Indifference, pain and joy, a triple disguise
Attire of the rapturous Dancer in the ways

Then, curious of a shadow thrown by Truth
It strained towards some otherness of self
It was drawn to an unknown Face peering through night

The music of ruin and its glamour and crash
The savour of pity and the gamble of love
And passion and the ambiguous face of Fate

… what the soul imagines is made a world

This haunt of Ignorance, this home of Pain
There are pitched desire’s tents, grief’s headquarters
A vast disguise conceals the Eternal’s bliss

Infallibly the curves of life are drawn
Following the stream of Time through the unknown

… freedom walks in the same pace with Law

… till the hour reveals the fateful script
The writing waits illegible and mute
Fate is Truth working out in Ignorance

Fate is a balance drawn in Destiny’s book
Man can accept his fate, he can refuse
Even if the One maintains the unseen decree
He writes thy refusal in thy credit page
For doom is not a close, a mystic seal

Thy goal, the road thou choosest are thy fate

Across the dust and mire of the earthly plain
On many-guarded lines and dangerous fronts
In dire assaults, in wounded slow retreats
Or holding the ideal’s battered fort
Or fighting against odds in lonely posts
Or camped in night around the bivouac’s fires
Awaiting the tardy trumpets of the dawn
In hunger and in plenty and in pain
Through peril and through triumph and through fall
Through life’s green lanes and over her desert sands
Up the bald moor, along the sunlit ridge
In serried columns with a straggling rear
Led by its nomad vanguard’s signal fires
Marches the army of the waylost god

This world was not built with random bricks of chance …
A conscious power has drawn the plan of life

Time’s accidents are steps in its vast scheme

Pacing the silence of eternity

As a star, uncompanioned, moves in heaven
Unastonished by the immensities of space
Travelling infinity by its own light
The great are strongest when they stand alone

She must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time
And reach an apex of world-destiny
Where all is won or all is lost for man

A brilliant arrow pointing straight to heaven
The luminous body of the eternal seer
Assailed the purple glory of the noon
And disappeared like a receding star
Vanishing into the light of the Unseen

A high and far imperishable voice
Chanted the anthem of eternal love

Book Seven


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