Songs of Twilight
DHAN GOPAL MUKERJI
Author of "Layla-Majnu" and "Rajani"
Nineteen Seventeen Paul Elder and Company San Francisco
Copyright, 1917 by Paul Elder and Company San Francisco
MRS. HANCOCK BANNING
MRS. WILLIAM CLARK, JR.
Like "Rajani" [perhaps more than], "Sandhya" is a slender rill that has drawn its music from my Bengali which has told upon its English structure. This and many other faults of these poems are due to their unyielding adherence to spontaneity.
"Sandhya" came then, as "Rajani" in its own way through the bed of my Bengali reflecting its sound and sense, and trying to echo back its music that descends on all with the fading twilight.
DHAN GOPAL MUKERJI.
N. B.—Since some of these poems were born without, and defy titles, I have refrained from forcing any on them.
POEM SYMBOLISM 1 SOURCE OF SINGING 2 "WITH PURPLE SHADOWS THE MIST MEASURES THE INFINITE SEA" 3 "O, OLD! O, NEW!" 4 "THE FAR AWAY CALLED HER" 5 LASSITUDE 6 "AH! PALE, COOL LIPS THAT BURN" 7 FORLORN 8 AFTER A BENGALI SONG 9 MOONRISE 10 AT VENTURA, CALIFORNIA 11 "THE SAME AIR THAT YOU BREATHE" 12 "WHY THIS RETURN?" 13 "BY THE VERGE OF THE WOODLAND" 14 THE DREAM OF HIS SOUL 15 THE EURASIAN 16 "IN THE PERFUMED SHRINE OF LOVE" 17 THE INFIRM BEGGAR SINGS 18 "KISS, MY LOVE, KISS" 19 COLOR-HARMONIES 20 SANATAN (THE ABSOLUTE) 21 COMING OF THE FOG 22 "IN LOVE'S AFTERGLOW, FULL OF STARS" 23 THE END 24 THE CONFLUENCE 25 "IN THE DEEPS OF DREAM" 26 TO LEO B. MIHAN 27 CHOPIN'S FUNERAL MARCH 28 "IN THE GOLDEN AFTERGLOW YOU LAY" 29 HENRIK IBSEN 30 AFTER HEARING "MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME" 31 THE COMING OF THE TIDE OF NIGHT 32 DEAD LOVE 33 "IT IS THE SAME TWILIGHT, DEAR" 34 WEARINESS 35 "A CALL, NOT A SONG" 36 REMORSE 37 POET 38 WANDERER 39 AT DAWN 40 "FROM HER MANY-COLORED BOW, NATURE" 41 "IF WORDS FAIL, SONG WILL COME" 42 RAINY NIGHT 43 GHOSTS 44 RAIN 45 EVENING WORSHIP 46 "THE ROSY MIST STILLY POLISHES THE ROUND MIRROR" 47 "THE SUN'S GOLDEN SPEAR" 48 TRUCE 49 A PARALLEL 50 "'NOTHING ENDURES,' YOU SAID" 51 DISAPPOINTMENT 52 BUDDHA 53 "ASK ME NOT TO STAND AT THY FRIENDSHIP'S GATE" 54 "GOLDEN VINES THEY" 55 AT SUNDOWN 56 "TEARS WELL OUT FROM MY HEART" 57 "AT LAST THOU COMEST" 58 "THE LINGERING LIGHT OF THE SUN" 59 "I HAVE DRUNK YOUR TEARS WITH INSATIATE LIPS" 60 SOUND BUTTERFLIES (IN A FOUNTAIN) 61 "EVEN IN SADNESS THOU ART BESIDE ME" 62 "BY THE SEA OF SLEEP WALKS WHITE-ROBED NIGHT" 63 FAREWELL (AFTER A HINDUSTANI SONG) 64 SATIETY 65 "DROWSY THE NOONDAY AIR" 66 CHATTERTON 67 "A SUMMER SONG IT WAS" 68 "WHO KNOWS" 69 THE FIRST VISION 70 SHANTI 71
SANDHYA, SONGS OF TWILIGHT
Tongueless the bell! Lute without a song! It is not night It is God's dawn, Silence its unending song.
Over heart's valley, In the soul's night, Through pain's window Behold! His light! On Life's Height.
No prayer, now, Though death-waves roll, Faith's candle lit, Beside it sits the soul Reading Eternity's scroll.
SOURCE OF SINGING
A bruised heart, A wounded soul,
A broken lute, That is all!
A sad evening, And a lone star,
Then song reddens— Sets life's forest afire!
With purple shadows the mist measures the infinite sea That spreads her wave-raiment in lavender, violet, gray, and green; While with thin silver rays a lone star seeks to sound the deeps.
The breeze-wings tire of flight; The mist-threads weave a rose-fringed dusky drapery To cover the bare breasts of the dunes from the moon's langour-heavy eyes.
The shadows die in purple silence; Fades the one star from the sky, As the dark mist puts out the rose-red moon from its deep.
Pale gleams the lighthouse light; No warring waves break the peace of sleep tonight Nor a hungry wind shrieks in pain from the lea.
Under her heavy veil of black A languid sea sluggishly flows To some far land of forsaken dreams.
"O, OLD! O, NEW!"
Who are you? Why make me wait From the hour of dew Till another sunset? Why do I look For your coming? Listen to the weeping brook That might bring To my lonely shore A word from you. Ah, nothing! not a leaf's tremor! O, old! O, longed for new! Who are you? I ask; Know not why I seek From day to dusk Without waking or sleep,— No sleep! no waking! A dreaming, a longing; Not knowing, yet seeking, For your coming waiting— O, spring-born! O, autumn-clad! O, soul's new morn! O, old! O, glad! So glad, so young! O, unseen, unknown, O, fugitive vision! O, eternal moan In my heart—
O, tearful Soul of laughter, Untouched, unhurt, O, sweet! O, bitter! My born yet unborn, Shadow not fallen O, undawning morn— O, message unbroken. Why, how, when? I wait, wait for you, O embrace of earth and heaven; O, Old! O, New!
[Footnote 1: "O, Old! O, New!" is the cry of a "Poati," e. g., a mother's cry to her unborn child. "Poati" has no precise English synonym.]
The far away called her— A pilgrim on the hope-lit bark of youth, A woman, a child, a soul On an argosy for the lands of south.
It called her in her dreams; Her waking into a deeper dream grew; The flute of the distant Played ceaselessly the music of the new.
With words of fire it called her, Beyond the bourne of her days To a silent sea of joy Washed by unending twilight-rays.
It called her at dawn When night shed the star-jewels from her hair; It called her at sunset When the moon mutely ascended the heaven's stair.
It called her without ceasing— Hour after hour but a calling, Till "Come, come, come!" At her soul's door kept repeating:
Come, come, come!—in Her word, her music, her song; Far away, near, far again Heedless of nightfall and dawn.
It called, it cried, it prayed, Till She, the deity, made answer Through youth, through age, through death To her own far away's receding star.
Ah! to be able to sing, To sorrow in melody; To string with silver Sorrow's dark harp!
Or, mount every thorn Crowning life's brow With lustrous stars— Those tears of the sky.
Rolling down its face When night's hand puts Darkness's crown on its head As twilight dies.
None of these, for my soul; Only to weep is given to me, To nourish my heart's crop For the scythe of barrenness to reap.
Ah! pale cool lips that burn, Body that yields, though unyielding, Oh, moon with the heat of the sun! Flashing out a million lights To cleave into nothing the endless firmament of my being. Take all; my soul's mistress! heart's queen, The flaming fancies of my dream-tortured night The intoxicating fruits of my day dream, The fiery lotus of my senses' delight That rises from the abyss of my life. The abysmal heaven of love and living Now bruised, burnt, torn and thrown To the winds of thy ravishing rejoicing Whose inarticulate words of delight and moan Make the ever-yielding music of my soul.
In the star-blurred hours of the night When the cloud-dams stay the flow of winds, Not even the shadow of a meteor moves, As in the watch-tower of love I sit; Through the casement of hope look for thy coming Along the moss-grown path of stones— Those agonies that time has built on my soul— By the unfathomable lake of my tears Shed when even prayers had failed To bring thy returning. Come, destroyer of my peace and sleep, Plunderer of lights of my days! Enigma on the scroll of my fate Before the lightnings fired my tower And thunders crashed in my life's sky. Only send the echo of thy footfalls— The ring of thy song, And a star—reflection of thy smile— Those million suns in the firmament of my dawn.
AFTER A BENGALI SONG
In the forest of my being the voice of your lute; In the depth of my heart the pearl of your tear; In the temple of my soul chimes the bell of your love.
The fire of dawn, shadow of eve, Life's sorrow, and death's mute-enchanting peace Steal away silently, fearfully, at thy flute's music.
O, frail, faint call which I seek to echo! O, breath of love laden with the aroma of my soul! Why seek I ever without, O guest at my door?
A soft light mantle of rose wear the brown hills As they look down on the valley where the rills Spin their long silver embroideries For the fringe of spring's greened draperies.
The cloud-banks recede with the fading breeze, The warblers fall into silence in the trees To listen to many-colored dream-melodies That the mute stars make on sleep's endless seas.
The last light flickers out of the sky, Shadows with golden feet o'er the green valley hie; The silver rills trill like warblers from earth's deeps As the moon, the sun of another dawn, heavenward leaps.
AT VENTURA, CALIFORNIA
The moon rises and washes the brine with silver; The dunes like white elephants restfully asleep after the chase; And the fog comes to bring the moon its veil of shades. The waves stretch their phosphorescent arms To embrace the night, The wind like a wounded gull beats its wings Over the land, over the sea, into the fog-vested intangibility.
Like a thousand trumpets the breakers Proclaim the empiry of night, The rocky caverns send back echoes Like homage from vassals near and far; A faint cry seemeth to flash like lightning; Through the clouds of the roar of waves: It is not from the rocks, nor from the sea; Ah! it is the prayer of a mightier ocean—Humanity!
The same air that you breathe Is the air that caresses my sky; The sunlight that lingers on your hair and lips Sets fire to the pathway of my life; And the call of nature's numberless birds But reflects in world's mirror the music of our heart's singing— Melody made of sweet agonies, Exquisite joys poured from pitchers of pain, As this summer's heat From the ever-burning heart of heaven. Not heaven alone; The earth, the air, flowers, and leaves Filled with passion that knows no slaking, Yet tranquil like sleep's dream-billowed sea. More than dream-billowed sea this love that I bring, Its boistrous waves seek the firmament of your yielding; While your heart-beats' arrows seek to slay my heart a'beating, As I inhale the fragrance of your breath and hair; And pour the perfume of my soul On your sun-bathed feet.
Why this return? Why this sunlight When all seemed without sun?
Whence this call? I cannot tell, Yet its mighty thralls.
Hold me, haunt me Hour after hour, With its name of thee.
All seems ended, The last light lost In the house of the dead.
Yet with time's tide Rises thy face, My heart, my soul, my bride.
Though poureth the rain, And sorrow clouds my sky, Yet not mine the pain.
What I hear I can not tell, And what I fear,
Will not endure: But thou returnest, O serene, O silent, O pure!
By the verge of the woodland, Where purling brooks loosen their brown tresses, Where the music of the breeze Is played on viols of the vines and trees, Thy soft words I hear Like songs from enchantment's strings. Ah, vanishing moments of ecstacy! Far-fleeing only to be nearer to my soul, Rest, rest awhile on the hillside of my echoing! Pour on it the sweet rain of thy words' melody Till they mingle and drown my tears Into thy kisses' passion-swept sea.
THE DREAM OF HIS SOUL
The Dream of his Soul, in flesh and blood— Not to possess, but only to see— Was given him, for an hour: Ah, fool, he lingered longer,— The Dream died like the shadow of a Star!
Indignity your part today, Suffering the guerdon of the gods; No country to claim your own, Nowhere to lay your head. The ocean of ignorance separates us; The snow-storm of commerce blinds the eye; Yet you must stand true, Bridge of blood and flesh between the West and East. In ages to come, when Man will love his brother, Irrespective of birth and breed; In the pantheon of the future, yours the immortal seat. Son of man, you are brother! Bearer of the cross of God! Your destiny the lodestar of our epoch, Your life our rood-littered road of the Lord. Arise, awake, halt not Till the goal is reached; Raise high the Host of freedom Blare the trumpet of light. "Suffer you, for the world to rejoice"; "Die" so they "can live"; Live that you may bring the light To the meeting place of the West and East.
In the perfumed shrine of love, Where burns memory's exhaustless incense From the irridescent thurible of hope, On the altar and couch of my heart Rest thy limbs, O, god of my soul. Drink of the unquenchable draught of caresses; Tear the flowers of my dreams and fancies; Scatter the sacred petals of my passion To the four winds of thy rejoicing.
Thy rejoicing, that one festival of the High Gods, Where no offering that I bring ever be too dear, Where no soul burnt in the fire of senses can perish; Where no suffering fails to be mother and daughter of joy. Take all, great God among these Gods: The pearl of my woman-soul buried in deeps of passion, The coral-wreath from the ocean of my bleeding heart; And ravish with exquisite merciless touch The one star in my heaven that has led thee hither— My life's eternity in this worship of an hour.
THE INFIRM BEGGAR SINGS
Broken and bruised by the hand of Fate, Dark night, my staff, Leaning on its shadowy strength I walk Toward thee, my God. Thy crescent my e'er-present friend; Thy wind, thy voice, Calls me to go on without end To thy star that my soul hath seen. The hour is black, my road unbuilt; My beggar's song I cannot sing; yet, thou knowest, For thy love I long! I come, O Lord! broken and battered To thy world where sorrow is not.
Kiss, my love, kiss My burning, breaking being; So when cold death Will put out the light In some wilderness Of far forsaken life Might each kiss blossom Into a lotus and a Shephali. And in the desolate hours Of loneliness of traveling In the dusk of despair One petal of these Will cheer the vagrant souls That tread the pathway Of love's forsaking. Or, when Death will sow This Soul of mine On the lake-shore of sorrow, Like a weeping willow I will spring, And with my green tresses And bending body Shall shelter secrecy-seeking lovers That love for an hour, As our twin hearts today. Kiss then, with kisses of flame; Touch me with rosy caresses; Bury this, my hope, my dream, And thy all-conquering love of me; So the kiss-flowers may each be a dream! May my willow be the vision of Eternal Spring.
[Footnote 2: Flowers full of perfume, abounding in Lower Bengal, India.]
Violet hills, Rosy mist, Limpid pool, Golden notes from sunset's lute For shadows Draped in green With purple feet To dance and swim Through irridescent undulatings. Dusk descends; Mauve cloudlets— Dying butterflies— Flit and fly and die In the opalescent ocean of mist That grows dark and still, Kisses away the last gold From the brow of the hills; Till the coral crescent With its wand of breeze Makes silver ripple-music On the pool's shadow-laden deeps.
Our hopes that fail Are but truths that set To illumine other spirits on their pathway; As our joys that come true Are their far-off dreams, That through the cadence of our life Ring out their pent-up tunes. Whatever dies—needs must live, Whatever breathes doth die too; But above death and life Shines that High Light Where all find rest, Yet endlessly move.
[Footnote 3: The word absolute is the synonym for the Sanskrit word Sanatan, meaning Eternal and Immutable Truth.]
COMING OF THE FOG
Killing the light, Blurring the stars, Marring the breeze— Nature's many-stringed harp—
It comes Silently, sinisterly, Over the land, over the sea, Spreading its beggar-raiment of brown.
Without stop, without sound, Over the valley Like a great serpent of silence Coiling around the heart of sound.
A damp insidiousness Creeps into the night; A drab numbness sets in Dripping in lugubrious drops From the haggard fingers Of the autumn trees.
It strangles the last sound, It devours the last light, Trembles in fear To see its own visage;
It moves on, on, and around, Ceaselessly, untiringly, Till the black night is drowned In an abyss of brown.
In love's afterglow, full of stars, Those lilies of the river of night, Sing no song, dear, speak no word.
The white noontide has ebbed into gold; Shores-breaking seas cease to roar; Lo! the moonrise of our soul.
Hardly a kiss, or the shadow of a caress; No decking the hour with the jasmines of touch; But a rose-petal shivering in exquisite agony—our love.
The weary sunset has grown wearier; A vague lassitude encircles us twain, As separation builds its pathway of tears.
Cease weeping, yet the saffron light lingers; The stars throb in nebulous lustre, As our hearts to the music of desire.
What matters if winter be nigh? We sang summer to sleep, And autumn on its bed of leaves.
Now comes the hour of parting for us, As the last light flickers and fades; Even love's afterglow dying, and is dead.
Alas! thou art gone, as are the hours of day; The hard gem-burning stars do not set! Oh, In what dark, in what forest roamest thou?
Art thou about me Amid falling leaves And autumn's circling winds When the golden shadows Grow russet and rosy And the purple sunset sets fire to the sky? Art thou the breath That burns my being When cold feel my limbs in terror, and awe? Who art thou? My love? Stranger in a strange garb! Far and farther to be nearer to my heart! Why make spring-flames leap From passion's autumn leaves? Why this urge through fatigue When time falls fast asleep Under the shadow of its grave— The winter ice? Yet, and yet The circling winds Repeat passionate speech, The sunset burns, As my soul In desire's golden heat, Though night be not far Shadows creep near With chilling breath and clutching hands To pluck To destroy The flowers of yielding from your heart: Powerless, fear-stricken; I tremble, I stagger, I fall Into oblivion's pit As time creeps Into winter's grave Silent, empty, white.
Tears of Ages come in a stream, Sighs flow in from Life's hoary height, Souls of Sorrow bring their gleam Of a light that is but a moan, not a sight.
The gray waves of the Sea of Death Congeal under the cold Sun of Suffering, While Time, playing the flute of Fate, Charms them, snake-like, and doth bring.
Out of a Cave, beyond Lights and Shades Present's storm,—made stormier by Future's promises,— To mingle in the Ocean of Death Like Sleep, yielding to Dream's caresses.
In the deeps of Dream O'er the pool of Sleep A lone star her face Seeking, with song-kindled eyes Her Isle of Rest.
Across the dusky hills The first flush of waking Unfurls its silver banner To signal the Isle for her: She vanishes, as before, into the fading Night.
Thus the Eye of Life Searches for the home of Peace Night after night: And when the sun of Death rises It flees,—it loves its own night.
LEO B. MIHAN
Few notes out of the coffer of sound, An image from the gallery of Nature, An hour from the infinity of Time,— Out of these, blessed creature, Createst thou the world of endless rhyme!
CHOPIN'S FUNERAL MARCH
The keyboard black and white; Shadow-Light the Evening's scale; Half silent the voice of thy singing. Quiver the notes in pain; Exquisite, sad, the melody at thy touch; Like the silver arrow of Desire Piercing the Soul's golden heart.
The room is lost in dark. The ivory keys, white fringe Of a music long since mute; Yet, in the black night Tremble and toss notes Unheard, undreamt,—like sleep Sleepless, and waking full of smart.
In the golden afterglow you lay, When the emerald moon Made thin silver fog-veils For the bride of night, Whose saffron-sandled feet Walked the foam-strewn floor of the sea. In my arms you listened To words of love Poured by the infinite heaven of my heart, Echoed by the endless symphony of the sky. Your silent gaze, Deeper than the song of the sea, Farther than the moon, Nearer than your own heart-beat, Asked mine for speech. "What can my love say At this sad sacred hour?" Hour of parting this! Love's ever-feared moment, Longing's much-dreaded end, Yet no voice sorrows in our being, No woe dims the moon-face tonight. Between the sheltering dunes and fading light On an aerial couch lying, Adorned in kiss-woven garments of nudity Our spirits garlanded with myriad embraces, Borne on passion's flaming wings Cross this ocean of parting Unto that far island of Cythera Where only love reigns In eternal majesty.
Lone as the lone north star, Stern as the rocks that guard the sanctity of his home, Pure as the white snow of his land, And beauteous his visions like the fjords At each turn of the mariner's helm.
The lofty glaciers engage his eyes, As life's height the sight of his mind; And his Imagination, expansive as the sea, Tries to push the boundary-line of the sky, his Soul, Further and further, where a new North Star Awaits his exploring eye.
AFTER HEARING "MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME"
I know not whose the words, Nor the maker of their music; In my sorrow-laden heart The aroma of its pathetic art Like the soothing breath of dream.
Joy borrows its charm from sorrow; Sorrow feverish with the color of joy; An opaque crystal, a stone on life's string Made of music that doth ring As the stars on the lyre of night.
A pain it is, made perfect; A call made clear by the voice of peace; A silver stream of song Darkened, yet floweth on and on Between black banks of memory, into the Soul's white home.
THE COMING OF THE TIDE OF NIGHT
Pale this twilight-face, Shade-ridden the horizon-light; The forest, a green-gold vision of grace In its frame of lavender mist.
No rose-leaf washed in moonlight; No vine on vermilion walls; Pale sunlight fading into night, Dark tunes, the music of the hour.
No death, nor life is ours, here; But the vast vague sea of black Sounded by star-mariners Seeking the Infinite's track.
Pour no blood on ashes, brother, That is not the way; Better say nothing, Blood is no life-giver; It makes death look so gay.
Dead life, or dead love Need no blood at all. No trumpet's call can Bring back what you lived, and strove: The ashes know no thrall!
Why cry for a colored glass That for jewel you took; The magic—the dream— All returning to dust and grass, Not a day love your soul forsook.
At last, you have known it, That is more than they do. Be not afraid, O friend, Alone, alas, alone! you have loved and lived it, Pour no blood on the ashes, for blood can not turn into dew.
It is the same twilight, dear, The hour of love and tear When in raiments of shadows Fancies, fears, hopes, and sorrows Tread the path of sunset, While like barks of jet Float the clouds from east to west.
I think of thee, my darling, As in my heart strange chords ring Out melodies of many memories, And half-forgotten reveries Telling of this or that scene, That is and has been Trod by thee, Queen of queens.
My dreams of thee are ceaseless, As my love of thee is endless; Whether it be sunset or sunrise, Hour of star-song, or bird-cries It is of thee that I dream, In the heart of my soul's stream That flows to thy feet, my darling.
Dark grows both east and west; Flower-heads droop into rest, As I seek to lay my heart and loving On thy star-white breast, my darling, And sink into that pool of sleep That rises from thy singing's deep, While all are silent, as my desires near thee, my Queen.
What peace thy presence breathes! What serenity weaves its wreathes! What myriad wonders touch hands Across many seas, from many lands, When a thought of thee Heralds thy coming to me Between palpitating desires, and fragrant dreams.
Weariness the tune of this evening melody, Pain the lute to which I sing; Ah! goddess, why this gray measure In thy starry harmony?
The white conch of the half-moon Silent as though all worship's ceased, No incense-perfume from the forest censer The breeze brings; all still, like torrid noon.
I row in a black bark on a copper-colored sea, The sun fades like a golden bubble in its deep; Weariness the chart that I hold in my hand, Weariness the tune of this evening melody.
[Footnote 4: In a Hindu temple conch shells are blown during or at the close of a worship.]
A call, not a song; A command, not a prayer; No mellowing moonlight, but dawn, Frail, fanciful, and fair In the east of my dream and desire. At the portal of unending desire, Draped in diaphanous dreams, With a whispered word of fire That quivers and gleams Through the clouds of my longing. Longings poignant with pains and tears Enfold, and fill my soul That aches with hopes and fears As thy chariot wheels' roll Sets fire with torches of gold To my words, my silences, my singing, And to this black pyre of my life To take my being on the wings of thy embracing To sail away, far away from man's hate and strife Where only love reigns on its throne of unending light.
Gently descending dark— Curtain of silence From heaven to earth;
The drama of day over, Empty the seats of life, Dead the twilight fire.
Curtains of black Woven from threads of purple By the hands of a star,
That lone soul weeping Over the dead hours Laid by mute time in the eternal's grave.
In the night of my soul Not even a ray, Nor a mourner present;
But a deep dark hollow Where no fate weeps Even fear is afraid to tread:
Fear-forsaken, hollow within hollow, Even silence flees from me— O, the pity of it!
To distil a few golden drops of song Through the gloom of this hour; To filter true emotions Through passion's burning fire When the sun bubble-like fades in the west; As our being craves for night's rest That pool of silver in life's forest of distress.
To light some pale candles In the cavern of a lonely isle And draw the wine of day From the must of midnight, Or plant a star-seed in the gray-ploughed eve— So out of the abyss of the blackness of night Dawn's million-colored fountain might spring.
The silvery beach, a riband around the flowing hair of the sea, Where gleam the foam-flowers garlanded in multitudinous nebulous rings: Here, on the frontier of many worlds and the billow-rocked cradle of eternal sleep, No sound, no music, no silence that a wounded soul can heal.
A longing more tempestuous than the craven breeze-possessed deep, And tears that outweigh the salt of the woeful brine, Yet no sleep dream-robbed, or dream-laden, nor even death's pallid peace; But a ceaseless crying over my heart's forsaken valleys Where love like a wraith haunts the empty tombs of memory.
With the breath of dawn Cooling thy feverish brow, And the fading of the last footfall of the stars No kiss can I bring to thy bedside, Nor caresses of cooling fire, my sweet. Yet through this dreamful silence That writes on the rim of the golden light The story of our love With most eloquent poignancy, More love we pour into each other Than the tryst of an eternal night.
From her many-colored bow Nature Has hurled her silver arrows of rain And slain the hosts of Dark.
Jeweled with a single star, the Moon Walks the garden of Night; Higher and higher Through the star-enflowered pathways of sapphire She draws her train of silver.
If words fail, song will come; If thought fades, souls will not be dumb; If sound ceases, Silence our song; If Life fails,—Death join our hands.
Like tears shed over a dream, Like sighs that stream In an unseen nameless way Into the heart of our lay.
It seemed hour on hours, Years like fading flowers Scattered their petals and bloom In a half-lit forest of gloom.
The softness of its sounds, Like the coursing of a million hounds Of dream over the glade of sleep Where tortured silences creep.
Exquisite, pain-laden, peaceful, This night most beautiful, What love forsaken by loving Sets his heart a'singing?
No torment in it, but tenderness; A liquid star-music of sadness Pours into my soul half asleep; While the willows at my window weep.
Flames flickered in the fireplace, As memories on the hearth of life; Two shadows we, watching, brooding, To catch our reflection In a non-existent stream.
The ghost-witness of it all, The clock brings its proofs; Moments melt into moments, Like notes of sad music, Like a white cerement.
Cold memories shroud our life; Speech flees before this; Faces turn away from each other; The fire throws light on them; There, too, flames burn and flicker.
What world-agony distils its poignancy this day? What pain-laden heart pours out its exhaustless lay Of tormenting woe and tortured silences?
From the far reaches of the marshland Along and beyond the crescent-bed of the sea-sand What tempest on the wave's-strings makes its cadences?
The distant hills dimmed like dull and forgotten dreams Raise their shadowy heads where pour in streams The tears of the heart-hollowed mourners of the skies;
While into the turgid heart of the fens at their feet Turbidly fall and dance sheet upon sheet To the measureless measure of the wind's empty sighs.
No light but a dismal gray, that neither throbs nor quivers On the torn banks of the heavens' cloud-rivers, But stonily stands still, like death that dies never.
Not-dead, but a weeping world bathing its corpses— Its memories, its lost hopes, in regret's hearses To be buried in flowerless graves, without incense or prayer.
It writhes in agony, rolls out in undulating rills, This rain-melody from the sea-waves to the farthest hills, Thence to the dreary distance lost to hearing or sight.
It is all dark and dank, a mourning of earth and heaven, Sorrow-laden, life-weary, long-lost, death-craven, A day lost to time, a light more baleful than night.
No dead these, but a living death seeking peace From the furies—their own thoughts—sorrow—surcease, Kissing the lashing wind thinking it to be the breeze.
Pour, pour, pour, O relentless, exhaustless pain! To the measure of thine own agony, thy woe's refrain, These desolate streams of thy music, thy pangs of a million seas.
The amber west melts into saffron, The east, a misty vision of rose: Like the sun, our souls seek repose. The mountains, empurpled priests, The river, the chant from their lips, Sunlit the pine-candles' crimson tips.
At this hour of worship Shadows spread their wings; Silently the breeze-bell rings. The stars put a silver riband round night's tresses, The light fades like a receding song As fall soundless sounds from Nature's moon-gong.
The rosy mist stilly polishes the round mirror, The moon; Golden her face
Reflecting the cool sweet glory of a Baby sun When dangling
His short golden arms in the cradle of the sky After night Gave him birth,
And herself died as day dies to see the moon, This golden Rose-washed stone
That the unseen hand puts on the crown of night Beside it puts Bits of white—
The star-jewels like million fancies, worshipping The goddess Of dream.
The sun's golden spear, The violet cloud writhing in pain; Golden the tint of the sky, The tall trees wave their green-gold hair.
Music of this hour! The zephyr's perfume-laden argosy Drifts with the song of lutes Down the sunset-stream that falls from heaven's bower.
Another flow of light, Tinkling like the intangible bells of paradise, Flows out of my heart Into the mysterious love-perfumed ocean of night.
A field of battle—this sky, The sun, the hero bleeding to death; The shadows and lights hurl their Hosts of clouds ceaselessly: No peace? Warfare all? Nay, lo! she cometh— The Spirit of Truce, The Evening Star!
Time has passed, since Shadows trembled to watch Twilight sweep the earth For the phantoms to trip and mince.
A dark breeze the forest-heart stirs; Yet merry the face of the sky— Twinkling in joy Its innumerable eyes, the stars.
Hushed the music within; Pleasure's silver laugh, dead; Thought lost in reverie— Reverie receding into nothing.
The taper of dreams flickers Out, leaving the soul in dusk By the altar of love, Flower-laden as the night with stars.
"Nothing endures," you said; "None can die," quoth love; "In the firmament of loving No stars set, no meteors fall."
Yet, nothing endures, nothing, Naught but dust; Naught but regret and vain desire The twin monuments of life,
Reared by time, by wrecking All that we seek and find. Its relentless waves of years Break even the impregnable wall of memory That thought builds On the embankment of hope.
Pass all away, even we who loved, Dreamt as none dreamt before— Borne by the tide of life— But, lo! from our defeated destiny Rise our seeds reared by time Consecrated to love and living!
They think thee bitter: Thou art not made o' laughter Nor love's smile Can thy vision beguile: Like a black-fiery comet Suddenly, sinisterly, thou comest; Making thy fateful journey, Littering the floor of destiny With wreckages of life, Of love, of heart— Of all visitors thou art the surest; Halting nowhere long, endlessly passest, Dragging behind thee thy train of fire That burneth all, heedless of curse or prayer.
On thy Lotus-seat of Night,— Meditation closing thy eyes,— The Star Hosts thy awe-struck devotees: The Moon, thy halo unchanging. White-robed time telling his beads Of aeons on the thread of Eternity By the ocean of space Slumbering in peace at thy feet; While Destiny stringing the lyre of death Sings Nirvana's hymn.
Ask me not to stand at thy friendship's gate— I, who loved thee, now must like a cold spectre from a far forgotten land of snow Watch thee fall asleep on the couch of freezing friendship? In these arms thou sought and joyed on many delights Excavated the ruins of passion to build them anew, Or sailed on thy wings—these arms—over love's enchanted sea. Friendship! Barrier not this, but a coward's refuge— A shadow, not the rainbow-light of loving and life. O come, my pilot, conduct the bark of our twin souls From cold friendship's haven Over love's boistrous desire-foam-fringed ocean Till in the sheer joy and fatigue of flying We fail, fall and fade Into the heart of Passion's another fire-born day.
Golden vines they, These thin lines of light, Climbing the sky-wall After the sun sank into sleep.
Like rills, thread-like, Seen from a jutting rock Where air is dizzy And fancy infinite, free.
What fiery wine Tingles in these vines Weaving golden arabesques On the pale evening sky?
Ah, the heavens this hour Have drunk of sunset's ruby Wine For those golden cobwebs to weave Their magic of twilight dreams.
Two shadows fell, tremulous and frail, From the upland over the lake-surface pale, While the shivering reeds shook at sunset, As the swans sailed into a sea of jet.
The rippling waters, and the breeze, And the shadows that fall from the trees, Mingled and melted with the twain, A song of whitewashed away by its black refrain.
Only words remained, palpitating and few, Falling through the gloom and night's dew Like jewelled fancies rising out of a dream That live for a moment and die ere they gleam.
Tears well out from my heart, As clouds overcast my soul, And blur my vision of thee.
Melancholy this dawn, When thy smile and words, And thy sky-shaming eyes Are not beside me to rouse me from sleep.
Though cry I without end, Yet a thought of thee heals many wounds, Why? thou ask me; how can I tell?
All thou wish to take is thine; Not even the dust of thy feet I seek, Only leave me the star of thy memory To bathe in the rain of my weeping.
At last thou comest; Thy footsteps I hear across the ages, Over wandering fancies, Through shadows of dreams Is thy coming, Queen of queens.
This shimmering summer of life That thou bringest with thee As a gift to my silent waiting Is but what I prayed to bring To the altar of thy coming.
I spread the seat of my soul, For thee to rest thy tired limbs; And wave the fan of my heart To cool thy lotus-shaming face, Lady of light, queen of grace.
Come to my bower of worship, Where burns the incense of devotion, Lay thy rose-robed body In the shrine of my longing, Where love's rainbow-songs are ringing.
The lingering light of the sun Takes from the chalice of the valley Its mist-perfume to wash the Moon-face with rose. In the pool at my feet the goldfishes drag their trains of brown Which cleave it into parts that ceaselessly mingle anew. The moon, silver bright Through thousand streams sends her light Into the valley aswoon, listening to the harmony of night.
I have drunk your tears with insatiate lips; I have broken like a toy the heart of your life; What have I given? your last query! The cup of my heart filled I with love; The chalice of soul with the substance of my God, For thee to drink my life's first love. Thou drankest as one that comes from a desert, Thou spiltest the nectar heedless, like mad; Yet I cursed not, nor shed tears; But loved thee, longed to live for thy love. Alas! thy tears grew salt, thy love thy self's greedy grasp,— O, it is the end; let us part! The morning of indifference wings the gray sky; The bird-song of the other dawns the raven's shriek now,— Shed no more tears, I tire of my drink; Break not thy heart; thy soul? Let it be still! Beyond the gray-cloud is the land of sunrise: Let us part, dear, let us be wise.
(IN A FOUNTAIN)
Like interpenetrating bells of silver, The water-drops ring and melt Into new drops, like new notes From an untiring lyre, That in colored succession Paint our heart-beats From the gold of sunrise into sunset fire; Yet, not like that, this brush of water-drops Limns on the silver rim of Joy The dark Butterflies of Desire.
Even in sadness thou art beside me, In gladness, none so happy as thee; I love thee; May my love kiss the feet of thy love of me.
My dreams are thine, day or night, My sleep sings in silence to the night Of thy delight; May thy heart's gifts like stars my heart's heaven bedight!
Though a sigh rises in my soul this hour; Closes its petals in the west the golden day-flower; In my bower Let thy love pour its rainbow shower.
By the sea of sleep walks white-robed Night; The breeze but the faint rustle of her drapery That calls the mist-made bark of dream From the cavern of the Unknown to sail to us, Laden with endless star-like fancies. And She! the magician, walks on and on Over the sapphire embankment of the sky Like a moving magnet drawing behind her a million dream-argosies.
(AFTER A HINDUSTANI SONG)
Farewell, fairest of loves! Life's most fanciful of gifts, Joy and treasure, love and wonder, Waking's elusive reality, Dream's ever-yielding divinity. Even thou must pass Beyond time's starless bar: Thy eyes, their lambent flames Shall no more illumine my night; Nor thy brow, home of many moods, Tranquil yet tormented as a sea, Shall ever wear the coronal of my kiss. Ah, kisses! blisses of fire, Passion's long lingering melody Played by thy lips on mine. Even they must die— Intangible realities of rapture, Ever present wonders of desire— Now like autumn leaves Fly with the west-wind of fear. No, not fear that takes thee from me, Nor love's slayer, satiety; Yet art gone; thou art going. Oh, not to crush thy heart on mine: Thy breasts made but for my hands, No more to quiver in rapture therein! Who wills this cruel decree? The warmth of thy body, The staggering storm of thy yielding, The intoxicating perfume of thy mouth: These, and many other endless Viols and lutes of passion, love, life, Delights of a thousand heavens, Who robs them of me? Fate! that fool in the court of love, Who hath no wit for laughter, Steals it all from me In the mid-hour of life; And as it befits his mind, Scatters it all over the turbid Stream of fear and lies.
All thy gifts must die, All thy thoughts must fail; Such were the decree writ by time With shadows on the scroll of fate. Even thy memory recedes into forgetting, Thy lustrous words star-like set, Ah, sweet! autumn's breath withers all, Even the west-wind fears to tread. All yield to the power of relentless time That no love nor passion can stay, Blown like dried leaves we now On the granite pavement of fate. No more thy lip-touch on my brow, Nor thy hands pleading caresses, Thy gifts fall and fade into nothing, Thy vision grows dim in life's sunset-west.
Drowsy the noonday air, Under the trees the still shadow Like a fugitive fragment of night Seeks shelter from the sun.
The bird has ceased singing, The beggar unable to bear The wealth of the sun Spreads his torn garment,
To find peace in The benign shadow of sleep. Ah, lone soul like him, I spread this rag of my song.
Under the tree of life Over which blazes the sun of fate. The calm of its shadow Protects me, but where my peace?
For summers seventeen This flower of spring Scattered fragrance That dwelt in its petals seventeen. Seventeen song-hours, A heart never weary; A soul with honey of all flowers A song as enchanting as stars.
A boy never grown old, A lute never tiring to sing, A mind ne'er chilled Though Hunger's hand lay cold.
Steely-cold on his breast, Yet the boy sang; Loved as alone a poet can Endlessly, without rest. Just seventeen! Ne'er old, though time passes; A golden lyre-string Has not yet ceased ringing:
Rings through the heart of time O'er the summit of death To the music of the Nine Into the heart of Eternal Rhyme.
A summer song it was, Counting of many unseen stars In an intangible sky Making new milky ways— Silver-shadow-paths that lead From sapphire abysses Into deeper abysses still. The deeps of our souls Lit by passion's burning flowers Tremulous, timorous flames of silver, That with thousand hands Our hearts sought to pluck and scatter, Or make barbed garlands For love's nuptial hour. Nuptial hour, briefer than a moment, Longer than Heaven's Eternal summer, When each flower burns to soothe, And each soothing petal burns anew; Till myriad streams of fire Strewn with countless flaming stars Bear us to the far sea of Time Where no summer dies, Nor endure the stinging moments of love's winter.
Time's torment, Life's woes, And sorrow's wan gaze Are but shades In a picture of light Where nothing abides, All things fade. In fading there is beauty, By shedding tears We bathe our hearts— Those crushed flowers full of smart— For a deity not far from our souls. Yet, no solace in prayer, Pain has no largess; Dark has stars, But no barren earth its flowers. All are dismal and fallow; Yet, from the mountain's stony heart Spring multitudinous rivers Sparkling at dawn, and Deepening night's gloom with mysterious murmurs; And who knows? These streams that pass By the balcony of our past, Through present's wilderness, Into desolate future May reach the land of the farthest star. Who knows? Ah! who knows? May these song-rills From my heart's little hill Empty their singing waters Into a sea of song-making Where nothing endures But the sound and echo of singing. Where sound, and echo are one, A moonset vale of sunset land, Where light is wedded to shade Without death, full of dying, yet not dead.
THE FIRST VISION
The impenetrable dark— Darkness of cloud and night Coming on black silent wings Surround me in their folds, As it sits by my side on the shore of time.
No fear, no sorrow, no hope, Not even the footfall of a star; Dim, deep sable tones Rise from the organ of nothing With its flats and sharps of clouds and night.
Ripples of moments Waves of hours and years Break on the shore of space To speak vague, soundless words To my soul, alone, shade among shades.
Not even the unheard whisper Of the shadow of a breeze, But silence ponderous, peaceful, Afraid of its own self A mute hound at my feet.
Who art thou? Whom do I know in this emptiness? Who has lived with me? And called me from the deeps of time?
Recedes the bank of space; Fades away even the unfilled time, No light, no sound, not even a dream; Yet who speaks through silence? Who plays this music of night?
Like an intangible river it flows With waves of shadow-sound Between banks of mountainous silence— O, who! who are you? Light in a world of shadows, Rainbow among sunless clouds, Bark of song on this sea of silence, O ferryman of the soul! O Word on Infinite's scroll.
Sleep shadows, sleep light; Sleep tune, sleep speech; Sleep night, sleep day; Sleep children in the cradle of rest.
Dream stars, dream moon; Dream sea; dream O, sun; Dream rainbow, dream storm; Dream rain, O, milk from Heaven's breast.
Rest ye feet, rest ye hands; Rest bleeding hours of even; Rest O, heart torn and burnt, Rest my fancies, day is done.
Sleep night, sleep with star-eyes closed; Sleep sorrow in death's silent repose; Sleep O, Soul, be it twilight or morn; Sleep thou too, O, sleep, heedless of moon and sun.
[Footnote 5: Shanti is the Sanskrit for "Peace."]
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Page 17, lines 6 and 7 should read as follows:
Yet its mighty thrall Holds me, haunts me