Sunday, January 01, 2006

Out of the paths of the morning star

To celebrate the turn of a fresh new year, a quote from Aurobindo Ghose's visionary epic poem Savitri:

Out of the paths of the morning star they came
Into the little room of mortal life.
I saw them cross the twilight of an age,
The sun-eyed children of a marvellous dawn,
The great creators with wide brows of calm,
The massive barrier-breakers of the world
And wrestlers with destiny in her lists of will,

The labourers in the quarries of the gods,
The messengers of the Incommunicable,
The architects of immortality.
Into the fallen human sphere they came,
Faces that wore the Immortal's glory still,
Voices that communed still with the thoughts of God,
Bodies made beautiful by the spirit's light,
Carrying the magic word, the mystic fire,
Carrying the Dionysian cup of joy,
Approaching eyes of a diviner man,
Lips chanting an unknown anthem of the soul,
Feet echoing in the corridors of Time.
High priests of wisdom, sweetness, might and bliss,
Discoverers of beauty's sunlit ways
And swimmers of Love's laughing fiery floods
And dancers within rapture's golden doors,
Their tread one day shall change the suffering earth
And justify the light on Nature's face.

You can read the whole of Savitri online at the official web site. The site also includes Aurobindo's comments on the writing of Savitri. I found this quote especially interesting: Savitri is blank verse without enjambment (except rarely) - each line a thing by itself and arranged in paragraphs of one, two, three, four, five lines (rarely a longer series), in an attempt to catch something of the Upanishadic and Kalidasian movement, so far as that is a possibility in English.

For anyone who wants to write epic or narrative poetry, Savitri is not to be missed. Happy 2006!


  1. Lori Humphreys (your fan forever!)1:45 PM

    Bliss, my friend! You know this will radiate with many.

  2. wonderful, thanks Rachel --
    had not read these lines in a long time (and only lately I've become aware of the online Savitri, quite a resource).

    Reading this short passage, it's interesting how there seem to be clear hints of (as well as clear differences from) the typical Whitman passage --

    in a sense both practice the painting of a large picture through the line-wise building up of rich detail after detail, thought after thought, facet after facet, perception after perception. But the special extra something in Aurobindo's language -- a gemmy rather than, what?, woody quality? -- seems equally interesting to note.
    (This not even attending to the "content"!)

    best wishes,