Savitri | a Legend and a Symbol




Savitri Canto Recordings

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Book Five
The Book of Love

Canto Three

Satyavan and Savitri

[Savitri B-05 C-03 Canto Name]


Play Section One
[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01]


Out of the voiceless mystery of the past

In a present ignorant of forgotten bonds

These spirits met upon the roads of Time.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-01]


Yet in the heart their secret conscious selves

At once aware grew of each other warned

By the first call of a delightful voice

And a first vision of the destined face.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-02]


As when being cries to being from its depths

Behind the screen of the external sense

And strives to find the heart-disclosing word,

The passionate speech revealing the soul's need,

But the mind's ignorance veils the inner sight,

Only a little breaks through our earth-made bounds,

So now they met in that momentous hour,

So utter the recognition in the deeps,

The remembrance lost, the oneness felt and missed.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-03]


Thus Satyavan spoke first to Savitri:

“O thou who com'st to me out of Time's silences,

Yet thy voice has wakened my heart to an unknown bliss,

Immortal or mortal only in thy frame,

For more than earth speaks to me from thy soul

And more than earth surrounds me in thy gaze,

How art thou named among the sons of men?

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-04]


Whence hast thou dawned filling my spirit's days,

Brighter than summer, brighter than my flowers,

Into the lonely borders of my life,

O sunlight moulded like a golden maid?

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-05]


I know that mighty gods are friends of earth.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-06]


Amid the pageantries of day and dusk,

Long have I travelled with my pilgrim soul

Moved by the marvel of familiar things.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-07]


Earth could not hide from me the powers she veils:

Even though moving mid an earthly scene

And the common surfaces of terrestrial things,

My vision saw unblinded by her forms;

The Godhead looked at me from familiar scenes.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-08]


I witnessed the virgin bridals of the dawn

Behind the glowing curtains of the sky

Or vying in joy with the bright morning's steps

I paced along the slumbrous coasts of noon,

Or the gold desert of the sunlight crossed

Traversing great wastes of splendour and of fire,

Or met the moon gliding amazed through heaven

In the uncertain wideness of the night,

Or the stars marched on their long sentinel routes

Pointing their spears through the infinitudes:

The day and dusk revealed to me hidden shapes;

Figures have come to me from secret shores

And happy faces looked from ray and flame.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-09]


I have heard strange voices cross the ether's waves,

The Centaur's wizard song has thrilled my ear;

I have glimpsed the Apsaras bathing in the pools,

I have seen the wood-nymphs peering through the leaves;

The winds have shown to me their trampling lords,

I have beheld the princes of the Sun

Burning in thousand-pillared homes of light.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-10]


So now my mind could dream and my heart fear

That from some wonder-couch beyond our air

Risen in a wide morning of the gods

Thou drov'st thy horses from the Thunderer's worlds.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-11]


Although to heaven thy beauty seems allied,

Much rather would my thoughts rejoice to know

That mortal sweetness smiles between thy lids

And thy heart can beat beneath a human gaze

And thy aureate bosom quiver with a look

And its tumult answer to an earth-born voice.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-12]


If our time-vexed affections thou canst feel,

Earth's ease of simple things can satisfy,

If thy glance can dwell content on earthly soil,

And this celestial summary of delight,

Thy golden body, dally with fatigue

Oppressing with its grace our terrain, while

The frail sweet passing taste of earthly food

Delays thee and the torrent's leaping wine,

Descend.  Let thy journey cease, come down to us.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-13]


Close is my father's creepered hermitage

Screened by the tall ranks of these silent kings,

Sung to by voices of the hue-robed choirs

Whose chants repeat transcribed in music's notes

The passionate coloured lettering of the boughs

And fill the hours with their melodious cry.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-14]


Amid the welcome-hum of many bees

Invade our honied kingdom of the woods;

There let me lead thee into an opulent life.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-15]


Bare, simple is the sylvan hermit-life;

Yet is it clad with the jewelry of earth.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-16]


Wild winds run—visitors midst the swaying tops,

Through the calm days heaven's sentinels of peace

Couched on a purple robe of sky above

Look down on a rich secrecy and hush

And the chambered nuptial waters chant within.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-17]


Enormous, whispering, many-formed around

High forest gods have taken in their arms

The human hour, a guest of their centuried pomps.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-18]


Apparelled are the morns in gold and green,

Sunlight and shadow tapestry the walls

To make a resting chamber fit for thee.”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-19]


Awhile she paused as if hearing still his voice,

Unwilling to break the charm, then slowly spoke.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-20]


Musing she answered, “I am Savitri,

Princess of Madra. Who art thou? What name

Musical on earth expresses thee to men?

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-21]


What trunk of kings watered by fortunate streams

Has flowered at last upon one happy branch?

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-22]


Why is thy dwelling in the pathless wood

Far from the deeds thy glorious youth demands,

Haunt of the anchorites and earth's wilder broods,

Where only with thy witness self thou roamst

In Nature's green unhuman loneliness

Surrounded by enormous silences

And the blind murmur of primaeval calms?”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-23]


And Satyavan replied to Savitri:

“In days when yet his sight looked clear on life,

King Dyumatsena once, the Shalwa, reigned

Through all the tract which from behind these tops

Passing its days of emerald delight

In trusting converse with the traveller winds

Turns, looking back towards the southern heavens,

And leans its flank upon the musing hills.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-24]


But equal Fate removed her covering hand.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-25]


A living night enclosed the strong man's paths,

Heaven's brilliant gods recalled their careless gifts,

Took from blank eyes their glad and helping ray

And led the uncertain goddess from his side.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-26]


Outcast from empire of the outer light,

Lost to the comradeship of seeing men,

He sojourns in two solitudes, within

And in the solemn rustle of the woods.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-27]


Son of that king, I, Satyavan, have lived

Contented, for not yet of thee aware,

In my high-peopled loneliness of spirit

And this huge vital murmur kin to me,

Nursed by the vastness, pupil of solitude.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-28]


Great Nature came to her recovered child;

I reigned in a kingdom of a nobler kind

Than men can build upon dull Matter's soil;

I met the frankness of the primal earth,

I enjoyed the intimacy of infant God.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-29]


In the great tapestried chambers of her state,

Free in her boundless palace I have dwelt

Indulged by the warm mother of us all,

Reared with my natural brothers in her house.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-30]


I lay in the wide bare embrace of heaven,

The sunlight's radiant blessing clasped my brow,

The moonbeams' silver ecstasy at night

Kissed my dim lids to sleep. 

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-31]


Earth's morns were mine;

Lured by faint murmurings with the green-robed hours

I wandered lost in woods, prone to the voice

Of winds and waters, partner of the sun's joy,

A listener to the universal speech:

My spirit satisfied within me knew

Godlike our birthright, luxuried our life

Whose close belongings are the earth and skies.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-32]


Before Fate led me into this emerald world,

Aroused by some foreshadowing touch within,

An early prescience in my mind approached

The great dumb animal consciousness of earth

Now grown so close to me who have left old pomps

To live in this grandiose murmur dim and vast.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-33]


Already I met her in my spirit's dream.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-34]


As if to a deeper country of the soul

Transposing the vivid imagery of earth,

Through an inner seeing and sense a wakening came.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-35]


A visioned spell pursued my boyhood's hours,

All things the eye had caught in coloured lines

Were seen anew through the interpreting mind

And in the shape it sought to seize the soul.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-36]


An early child-god took my hand that held,

Moved, guided by the seeking of his touch,

Bright forms and hues which fled across his sight;

Limned upon page and stone they spoke to men.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-37]


High beauty's visitants my intimates were.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-38]


The neighing pride of rapid life that roams

Wind-maned through our pastures, on my seeing mood

Cast shapes of swiftness; trooping spotted deer

Against the vesper sky became a song

Of evening to the silence of my soul.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-39]


I caught for some eternal eye the sudden

King-fisher flashing to a darkling pool;

A slow swan silvering the azure lake,

A shape of magic whiteness, sailed through dream;

Leaves trembling with the passion of the wind,

Pranked butterflies, the conscious flowers of air,

And wandering wings in blue infinity

Lived on the tablets of my inner sight;

Mountains and trees stood there like thoughts from God.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-40]


The brilliant long-bills in their vivid dress,

The peacock scattering on the breeze his moons

Painted my memory like a frescoed wall.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-41]


I carved my vision out of wood and stone;

I caught the echoes of a word supreme

And metred the rhythm-beats of infinity

And listened through music for the eternal Voice.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-42]


I felt a covert touch, I heard a call,

But could not clasp the body of my God

Or hold between my hands the World-Mother's feet.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-43]


In men I met strange portions of a Self

That sought for fragments and in fragments lived:

Each lived in himself and for himself alone

And with the rest joined only fleeting ties;

Each passioned over his surface joy and grief,

Nor saw the Eternal in his secret house.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-44]


I conversed with Nature, mused with the changeless stars,

God's watch-fires burning in the ignorant Night,

And saw upon her mighty visage fall

A ray prophetic of the Eternal's sun.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-45]


I sat with the forest sages in their trance:

There poured awakening streams of diamond light,

I glimpsed the presence of the One in all.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-46]


But still there lacked the last transcendent power

And Matter still slept empty of its Lord.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-47]


The Spirit was saved, the body lost and mute

Lived still with Death and ancient Ignorance;

The Inconscient was its base, the Void its fate.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-48]


But thou hast come and all will surely change:

I shall feel the World-Mother in thy golden limbs

And hear her wisdom in thy sacred voice.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-49]


The child of the Void shall be reborn in God,

My Matter shall evade the Inconscient's trance.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-50]


My body like my spirit shall be free.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-51]


It shall escape from Death and Ignorance.”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-52]


And Savitri, musing still, replied to him:

“Speak more to me, speak more, O Satyavan,

Speak of thyself and all thou art within;

I would know thee as if we had ever lived

Together in the chamber of our souls.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-53]


Speak till a light shall come into my heart

And my moved mortal mind shall understand

What all the deathless being in me feels.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-54]


It knows that thou art he my spirit has sought

Amidst earth's thronging visages and forms

Across the golden spaces of my life.”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-55]


And Satyavan like a replying harp

To the insistent calling of a flute

Answered her questioning and let stream to her

His heart in many-coloured waves of speech:

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-56]


“O golden princess, perfect Savitri,

More I would tell than failing words can speak,

Of all that thou hast meant to me, unknown,

All that the lightning-flash of love reveals

In one great hour of the unveiling gods.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-57]


Even a brief nearness has reshaped my life.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-58]


For now I know that all I lived and was

Moved towards this moment of my heart's rebirth;

I look back on the meaning of myself,

A soul made ready on earth's soil for thee.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-59]


Once were my days like days of other men:

To think and act was all, to enjoy and breathe;

This was the width and height of mortal hope:

Yet there came glimpses of a deeper self

That lives behind Life and makes her act its scene.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-60]


A truth was felt that screened its shape from mind,

A Greatness working towards a hidden end,

And vaguely through the forms of earth there looked

Something that life is not and yet must be.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-61]


I groped for the Mystery with the lantern, Thought.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-62]


Its glimmerings lighted with the abstract word

A half-visible ground and travelling yard by yard

It mapped a system of the Self and God.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-63]


I could not live the truth it spoke and thought.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-64]


I turned to seize its form in visible things,

Hoping to fix its rule by mortal mind,

Imposed a narrow structure of world-law

Upon the freedom of the Infinite,

A hard firm skeleton of outward Truth,

A mental scheme of a mechanic Power.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-65]


This light showed more the darknesses unsearched;

It made the original Secrecy more occult;

It could not analyse its cosmic Veil

Or glimpse the Wonder-worker's hidden hand

And trace the pattern of his magic plans.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-66]


I plunged into an inner seeing Mind

And knew the secret laws and sorceries

That make of Matter mind's bewildered slave:

The mystery was not solved but deepened more.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-67]


I strove to find its hints through Beauty and Art,

But Form cannot unveil the indwelling Power;

Only it throws its symbols at our hearts.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-68]


It evoked a mood of self, invoked a sign

Of all the brooding glory hidden in sense:

I lived in the ray but faced not to the sun.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-69]


I looked upon the world and missed the Self,

And when I found the Self, I lost the world,

My other selves I lost and the body of God,

The link of the finite with the Infinite,

The bridge between the appearance and the Truth,

The mystic aim for which the world was made,

The human sense of Immortality.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-70]


But now the gold link comes to me with thy feet

And His gold sun has shone on me from thy face.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-71]


For now another realm draws near with thee

And now diviner voices fill my ear,

A strange new world swims to me in thy gaze

Approaching like a star from unknown heavens;

A cry of spheres comes with thee and a song

Of flaming gods. 

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-72]


I draw a wealthier breath

And in a fierier march of moments move.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-73]


My mind transfigures to a rapturous seer.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-74]


A foam-leap travelling from the waves of bliss

Has changed my heart and changed the earth around:

All with thy coming fills. 

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-75]


Air, soil and stream

Wear bridal raiment to be fit for thee

And sunlight grows a shadow of thy hue

Because of change within me by thy look.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-76]


Come nearer to me from thy car of light

On this green sward disdaining not our soil.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-77]


For here are secret spaces made for thee

Whose caves of emerald long to screen thy form.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-78]


Wilt thou not make this mortal bliss thy sphere?

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-79]


Descend, O happiness, with thy moon-gold feet

Enrich earth's floors upon whose sleep we lie.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-80]


O my bright beauty's princess Savitri,

By my delight and thy own joy compelled

Enter my life, thy chamber and thy shrine.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-81]


In the great quietness where spirits meet,

Led by my hushed desire into my woods

Let the dim rustling arches over thee lean;

One with the breath of things eternal live,

Thy heart-beats near to mine, till there shall leap

Enchanted from the fragrance of the flowers

A moment which all murmurs shall recall

And every bird remember in its cry.”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-01 F-82]


Play Section Two
[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02]


Allured to her lashes by his passionate words

Her fathomless soul looked out at him from her eyes;

Passing her lips in liquid sounds it spoke.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-01]


This word alone she uttered and said all:

“O Satyavan, I have heard thee and I know;

I know that thou and only thou art he.”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-02]


Then down she came from her high carven car

Descending with a soft and faltering haste;

Her many-hued raiment glistening in the light

Hovered a moment over the wind-stirred grass,

Mixed with a glimmer of her body's ray

Like lovely plumage of a settling bird.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-03]


Her gleaming feet upon the green-gold sward

Scattered a memory of wandering beams

And lightly pressed the unspoken desire of earth

Cherished in her too brief passing by the soil.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-04]


Then flitting like pale-brilliant moths her hands

Took from the sylvan verge's sunlit arms

A load of their jewel-faces' clustering swarms,

Companions of the spring-time and the breeze.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-05]


A candid garland set with simple forms

Her rapid fingers taught a flower song,

The stanzaed movement of a marriage hymn.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-06]


Profound in perfume and immersed in hue

They mixed their yearning's coloured signs and made

The bloom of their purity and passion one.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-07]


A sacrament of joy in treasuring palms

She brought, flower-symbol of her offered life,

Then with raised hands that trembled a little now

At the very closeness that her soul desired,

This bond of sweetness, their bright union's sign,

She laid on the bosom coveted by her love.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-08]


As if inclined before some gracious god

Who has out of his mist of greatness shone

To fill with beauty his adorer's hours,

She bowed and touched his feet with worshipping hands;

She made her life his world for him to tread

And made her body the room of his delight,

Her beating heart a remembrancer of bliss.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-09]


He bent to her and took into his own

Their married yearning joined like folded hopes;

As if a whole rich world suddenly possessed,

Wedded to all he had been, became himself,

An inexhaustible joy made his alone,

He gathered all Savitri into his clasp.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-10]


Around her his embrace became the sign

Of a locked closeness through slow intimate years,

A first sweet summary of delight to come,

One brevity intense of all long life.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-11]


In a wide moment of two souls that meet

She felt her being flow into him as in waves

A river pours into a mighty sea.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-12]


As when a soul is merging into God

To live in Him for ever and know His joy,

Her consciousness grew aware of him alone

And all her separate self was lost in his.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-13]


As a starry heaven encircles happy earth,

He shut her into himself in a circle of bliss

And shut the world into himself and her.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-14]


A boundless isolation made them one;

He was aware of her enveloping him

And let her penetrate his very soul

As is a world by the world's spirit filled,

As the mortal wakes into Eternity,

As the finite opens to the Infinite.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-15]


Thus were they in each other lost awhile,

Then drawing back from their long ecstasy's trance

Came into a new self and a new world.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-16]


Each now was a part of the other's unity,

The world was but their twin self-finding's scene

Or their own wedded being's vaster frame.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-17]


On the high glowing cupola of the day

Fate tied a knot with morning's halo threads

While by the ministry of an auspice-hour

Heart-bound before the sun, their marriage fire,

The wedding of the eternal Lord and Spouse

Took place again on earth in human forms:

In a new act of the drama of the world

The united Two began a greater age.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-18]


In the silence and murmur of that emerald world

And the mutter of the priest-wind's sacred verse,

Amid the choral whispering of the leaves

Love's twain had joined together and grew one.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-19]


The natural miracle was wrought once more:

In the immutable ideal world

One human moment was eternal made.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-02 F-20]


Play Section Three
[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03]


Then down the narrow path where their lives had met

He led and showed to her her future world,

Love's refuge and corner of happy solitude.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-01]


At the path's end through a green cleft in the trees

She saw a clustering line of hermit-roofs

And looked now first on her heart's future home,

The thatch that covered the life of Satyavan.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-02]


Adorned with creepers and red climbing flowers

It seemed a sylvan beauty in her dreams

Slumbering with brown body and tumbled hair

In her chamber inviolate of emerald peace.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-03]


Around it stretched the forest's anchorite mood

Lost in the depths of its own solitude.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-04]


Then moved by the deep joy she could not speak,

A little depth of it quivering in her words,

Her happy voice cried out to Satyavan:

“My heart will stay here on this forest verge

And close to this thatched roof while I am far:

Now of more wandering it has no need.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-05]


But I must haste back to my father's house

Which soon will lose one loved accustomed tread

And listen in vain for a once cherished voice.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-06]


For soon I shall return nor ever again

Oneness must sever its recovered bliss

Or fate sunder our lives while life is ours.”

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-07]


Once more she mounted on the carven car

And under the ardour of a fiery noon

Less bright than the splendour of her thoughts and dreams

She sped swift-reined, swift-hearted but still saw

In still lucidities of sight's inner world

Through the cool-scented wood's luxurious gloom

On shadowy paths between great rugged trunks

Pace towards a tranquil clearing Satyavan.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-08]


A nave of trees enshrined the hermit thatch,

The new deep covert of her felicity,

Preferred to heaven her soul's temple and home.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-09]


This now remained with her, her heart's constant scene.

[Savitri B-05 C-03 S-03 F-10]


Book Five Canto Three End

Satyavan and Savitri

[Savitri B-05 C-03 Canto End]


Book Five End
The Book of Love
[Savitri B-05 Book End]