Savitri | a Legend and a Symbol




Savitri Canto Recordings

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Book Four
The Book of Birth and Quest

Canto One
The Birth and Childhood of the Flame

[Savitri B-04 C-01 Canto Name]


Play Section One
[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01]


A Maenad of the cycles of desire

Around a Light she must not dare to touch,

Hastening towards a far-off unknown goal

Earth followed the endless journey of the Sun.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-01]


A mind but half-awake in the swing of the void

On the bosom of Inconscience dreamed out life

And bore this finite world of thought and deed

Across the immobile trance of the Infinite.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-02]


A vast immutable silence with her ran:

Prisoner of speed upon a jewelled wheel,

She communed with the mystic heart in Space.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-03]


Amid the ambiguous stillness of the stars

She moved towards some undisclosed event

And her rhythm measured the long whirl of Time.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-04]


In ceaseless motion round the purple rim

Day after day sped by like coloured spokes,

And through a glamour of shifting hues of air

The seasons drew in linked significant dance

The symbol pageant of the changing year.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-05]


Across the burning languor of the soil

Paced Summer with his pomp of violent noons

And stamped his tyranny of torrid light

And the blue seal of a great burnished sky.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-06]


Next through its fiery swoon or clotted knot

Rain-tide burst in upon torn wings of heat,

Startled with lightnings air's unquiet drowse,

Lashed with life-giving streams the torpid soil,

Overcast with flare and sound and storm-winged dark

The star-defended doors of heaven's dim sleep,

Or from the gold eye of her paramour

Covered with packed cloud-veils the earth's brown face.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-07]


Armies of revolution crossed the time-field,

The clouds' unending march besieged the world,

Tempests' pronunciamentos claimed the sky

And thunder drums announced the embattled gods.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-08]


A traveller from unquiet neighbouring seas,

The dense-maned monsoon rode neighing through earth's hours:

Thick now the emissary javelins:

Enormous lightnings split the horizon's rim

And, hurled from the quarters as from contending camps,

Married heaven's edges steep and bare and blind:

A surge and hiss and onset of huge rain,

The long straight sleet-drift, clamours of winged storm-charge,

Throngs of wind-faces, rushing of wind-feet

Hurrying swept through the prone afflicted plains:

Heaven's waters trailed and dribbled through the drowned land.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-09]


Then all was a swift stride, a sibilant race,

Or all was tempest's shout and water's fall.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-10]


A dimness sagged on the grey floor of day,

Its dingy sprawling length joined morn to eve,

Wallowing in sludge and shower it reached black dark.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-11]


Day a half darkness wore as its dull dress.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-12]


Light looked into dawn's tarnished glass and met

Its own face there, twin to a half-lit night's:

Downpour and drip and seeping mist swayed all

And turned dry soil to bog and reeking mud:

Earth was a quagmire, heaven a dismal block.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-13]


None saw through dank drenched weeks the dungeon sun.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-14]


Even when no turmoil vexed air's sombre rest,

Or a faint ray glimmered through weeping clouds

As a sad smile gleams veiled by returning tears,

All promised brightness failed at once denied

Or, soon condemned, died like a brief-lived hope.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-15]


Then a last massive deluge thrashed dead mire

And a subsiding mutter left all still,

Or only the muddy creep of sinking floods

Or only a whisper and green toss of trees.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-16]


Earth's mood now changed; she lay in lulled repose,

The hours went by with slow contented tread:

A wide and tranquil air remembered peace,

Earth was the comrade of a happy sun.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-17]


A calmness neared as of the approach of God,

A light of musing trance lit soil and sky

And an identity and ecstasy

Filled meditation's solitary heart.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-18]


A dream loitered in the dumb mind of Space,

Time opened its chambers of felicity,

An exaltation entered and a hope:

An inmost self looked up to a heavenlier height,

An inmost thought kindled a hidden flame

And the inner sight adored an unseen sun.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-19]


Three thoughtful seasons passed with shining tread

And scanning one by one the pregnant hours

Watched for a flame that lurked in luminous depths,

The vigil of some mighty birth to come.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-20]


Autumn led in the glory of her moons

And dreamed in the splendour of her lotus pools

And Winter and Dew-time laid their calm cool hands

On Nature's bosom still in a half sleep

And deepened with hues of lax and mellow ease

The tranquil beauty of the waning year.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-21]


Then Spring, an ardent lover, leaped through leaves

And caught the earth-bride in his eager clasp;

His advent was a fire of irised hues,

His arms were a circle of the arrival of joy.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-22]


His voice was a call to the Transcendent's sphere

Whose secret touch upon our mortal lives

Keeps ever new the thrill that made the world,

Remoulds an ancient sweetness to new shapes

And guards intact unchanged by death and Time

The answer of our hearts to Nature's charm

And keeps for ever new, yet still the same,

The throb that ever wakes to the old delight

And beauty and rapture and the joy to live.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-23]


His coming brought the magic and the spell;

At his touch life's tired heart grew glad and young;

He made joy a willing prisoner in her breast.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-24]


His grasp was a young god's upon earth's limbs:

Changed by the passion of his divine outbreak

He made her body beautiful with his kiss.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-25]


Impatient for felicity he came,

High-fluting with the coïl's happy voice,

His peacock turban trailing on the trees;

His breath was a warm summons to delight,

The dense voluptuous azure was his gaze.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-26]


A soft celestial urge surprised the blood

Rich with the instinct of God's sensuous joys;

Revealed in beauty, a cadence was abroad

Insistent on the rapture-thrill in life:

Immortal movements touched the fleeting hours.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-27]


A godlike packed intensity of sense

Made it a passionate pleasure even to breathe;

All sights and voices wove a single charm.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-28]


The life of the enchanted globe became

A storm of sweetness and of light and song,

A revel of colour and of ecstasy,

A hymn of rays, a litany of cries:

A strain of choral priestly music sang

And, swung on the swaying censer of the trees,

A sacrifice of perfume filled the hours.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-29]


Asocas burned in crimson spots of flame,

Pure like the breath of an unstained desire

White jasmines haunted the enamoured air,

Pale mango-blossoms fed the liquid voice

Of the love-maddened coïl, and the brown bee

Muttered in fragrance mid the honey-buds.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-30]


The sunlight was a great god's golden smile.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-31]


All Nature was at beauty's festival.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-01 F-32]


Play Section Two
[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02]


In this high signal moment of the gods

Answering earth's yearning and her cry for bliss,

A greatness from our other countries came.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-01]


A silence in the noise of earthly things

Immutably revealed the secret Word,

A mightier influx filled the oblivious clay:

A lamp was lit, a sacred image made.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-02]


A mediating ray had touched the earth

Bridging the gulf between man's mind and God's;

Its brightness linked our transience to the Unknown.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-03]


A spirit of its celestial source aware

Translating heaven into a human shape

Descended into earth's imperfect mould

And wept not fallen to mortality,

But looked on all with large and tranquil eyes.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-04]


One had returned from the transcendent planes

And bore anew the load of mortal breath,

Who had striven of old with our darkness and our pain;

She took again her divine unfinished task:

Survivor of death and the aeonic years,

Once more with her fathomless heart she fronted Time.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-05]


Again there was renewed, again revealed

The ancient closeness by earth-vision veiled,

The secret contact broken off in Time,

A consanguinity of earth and heaven,

Between the human portion toiling here

And an as yet unborn and limitless Force.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-06]


Again the mystic deep attempt began,

The daring wager of the cosmic game.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-07]


For since upon this blind and whirling globe

Earth-plasm first quivered with the illumining mind

And life invaded the material sheath

Afflicting Inconscience with the need to feel,

Since in Infinity's silence woke a word,

A Mother-wisdom works in Nature's breast

To pour delight on the heart of toil and want

And press perfection on life's stumbling powers,

Impose heaven-sentience on the obscure abyss

And make dumb Matter conscious of its God.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-08]


Although our fallen minds forget to climb,

Although our human stuff resists or breaks,

She keeps her will that hopes to divinise clay;

Failure cannot repress, defeat o'erthrow;

Time cannot weary her nor the Void subdue,

The ages have not made her passion less;

No victory she admits of Death or Fate.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-09]


Always she drives the soul to new attempt;

Always her magical infinitude

Forces to aspire the inert brute elements;

As one who has all infinity to waste,

She scatters the seed of the Eternal's strength

On a half-animate and crumbling mould,

Plants heaven's delight in the heart's passionate mire,

Pours godhead's seekings into a bare beast frame,

Hides immortality in a mask of death.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-10]


Once more that Will put on an earthly shape.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-11]


A Mind empowered from Truth's immutable seat

Was framed for vision and interpreting act

And instruments were sovereignly designed

To express divinity in terrestrial signs.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-12]


Outlined by the pressure of this new descent

A lovelier body formed than earth had known.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-13]


As yet a prophecy only and a hint,

The glowing arc of a charmed unseen whole,

It came into the sky of mortal life

Bright like the crescent horn of a gold moon

Returning in a faint illumined eve.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-14]


At first glimmering like an unshaped idea

Passive she lay sheltered in wordless sleep,

Involved and drowned in Matter's giant trance,

An infant heart of the deep-caved world-plan

In cradle of divine inconscience rocked

By the universal ecstasy of the suns.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-15]


Some missioned Power in the half-wakened frame

Nursed a transcendent birth's dumb glorious seed

For which this vivid tenement was made.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-16]


But soon the link of soul with form grew sure;

Flooded was the dim cave with slow conscient light,

The seed grew into a delicate marvellous bud,

The bud disclosed a great and heavenly bloom.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-17]


At once she seemed to found a mightier race.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-18]


Arrived upon the strange and dubious globe

The child remembering inly a far home

Lived guarded in her spirit's luminous cell,

Alone mid men in her diviner kind.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-19]


Even in her childish movements could be felt

The nearness of a light still kept from earth,

Feelings that only eternity could share,

Thoughts natural and native to the gods.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-20]


As needing nothing but its own rapt flight

Her nature dwelt in a strong separate air

Like a strange bird with large rich-coloured breast

That sojourns on a secret fruited bough,

Lost in the emerald glory of the woods

Or flies above divine unreachable tops.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-21]


Harmoniously she impressed the earth with heaven.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-22]


Aligned to a swift rhythm of sheer delight

And singing to themselves her days went by;

Each minute was a throb of beauty's heart;

The hours were tuned to a sweet-toned content

Which asked for nothing, but took all life gave

Sovereignly as her nature's inborn right.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-23]


Near was her spirit to its parent Sun,

The Breath within to the eternal joy.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-24]


The first fair life that breaks from Nature's swoon,

Mounts in a line of rapture to the skies;

Absorbed in its own happy urge it lives,

Sufficient to itself, yet turned to all:

It has no seen communion with its world,

No open converse with surrounding things.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-25]


There is a oneness native and occult

That needs no instruments and erects no form;

In unison it grows with all that is.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-26]


All contacts it assumes into its trance,

Laugh-tossed consents to the wind's kiss and takes

Transmutingly the shocks of sun and breeze:

A blissful yearning riots in its leaves,

A magic passion trembles in its blooms,

Its boughs aspire in hushed felicity.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-27]


An occult godhead of this beauty is cause,

The spirit and intimate guest of all this charm,

This sweetness's priestess and this reverie's muse.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-28]


Invisibly protected from our sense

The Dryad lives drenched in a deeper ray

And feels another air of storms and calms

And quivers inwardly with mystic rain.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-29]


This at a heavenlier height was shown in her.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-30]


Even when she bent to meet earth's intimacies

Her spirit kept the stature of the gods;

It stooped but was not lost in Matter's reign.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-31]


A world translated was her gleaming mind,

And marvel-mooned bright crowding fantasies

Fed with spiritual sustenance of dreams

The ideal goddess in her house of gold.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-32]


Aware of forms to which our eyes are closed,

Conscious of nearnesses we cannot feel,

The Power within her shaped her moulding sense

In deeper figures than our surface types.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-33]


An invisible sunlight ran within her veins

And flooded her brain with heavenly brilliances

That woke a wider sight than earth could know.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-34]


Outlined in the sincerity of that ray

Her springing childlike thoughts were richly turned

Into luminous patterns of her soul's deep truth,

And from her eyes she cast another look

On all around her than man's ignorant view.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-35]


All objects were to her shapes of living selves

And she perceived a message from her kin

In each awakening touch of outward things.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-36]


Each was a symbol power, a vivid flash

In the circuit of infinities half-known;

Nothing was alien or inanimate,

Nothing without its meaning or its call.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-37]


For with a greater Nature she was one.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-38]


As from the soil sprang glory of branch and flower,

As from the animal's life rose thinking man,

A new epiphany appeared in her.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-39]


A mind of light, a life of rhythmic force,

A body instinct with hidden divinity

Prepared an image of the coming god;

And when the slow rhyme of the expanding years

And the rich murmurous swarm-work of the days

Had honey-packed her sense and filled her limbs,

Accomplishing the moon-orb of her grace,

Self-guarded in the silence of her strength

Her solitary greatness was not less.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-40]


Nearer the godhead to the surface pressed,

A sun replacing childhood's nebula

Sovereign in a blue and lonely sky.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-41]


Upward it rose to grasp the human scene:

The strong Inhabitant turned to watch her field.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-42]


A lovelier light assumed her spirit brow

And sweet and solemn grew her musing gaze;

Celestial-human deep warm slumbrous fires

Woke in the long fringed glory of her eyes

Like altar-burnings in a mysteried shrine.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-43]


Out of those crystal windows gleamed a will

That brought a large significance to life.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-44]


Holding her forehead's candid stainless space

Behind the student arch a noble power

Of wisdom looked from light on transient things.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-45]


A scout of victory in a vigil tower,

Her aspiration called high destiny down;

A silent warrior paced in her city of strength

Inviolate, guarding Truth's diamond throne.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-46]


A nectarous haloed moon her passionate heart

Loved all and spoke no word and made no sign,

But kept her bosom's rapturous secrecy

A blissful ardent moved and voiceless world.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-47]


Proud, swift and joyful ran the wave of life

Within her like a stream in Paradise.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-48]


Many high gods dwelt in one beautiful home;

Yet was her nature's orb a perfect whole,

Harmonious like a chant with many tones,

Immense and various like a universe.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-49]


The body that held this greatness seemed almost

An image made of heaven's transparent light.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-50]


Its charm recalled things seen in vision's hours,

A golden bridge spanning a faery flood,

A moon-touched palm-tree single by a lake

Companion of the wide and glimmering peace,

A murmur as of leaves in Paradise

Moving when feet of the Immortals pass,

A fiery halo over sleeping hills,

A strange and starry head alone in Night.

[Savitri B-04 C-01 S-02 F-51]



Book Four Canto One End

The Birth and Childhood of the Flame

[Savitri B-04 C-01 Canto End]