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object:3.2.03 - To the Ganges
book class:Collected Poems
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Poetry

To the Ganges
Hearken, Ganges, hearken, thou that sweepest golden to the sea,
Hearken, Mother, to my voice.

From the feet of Hari with thy waters pure thou leapest free,
Waters colder-pure than ice.

On Himaloy's grandiose summits upright in his cirque of stones
Shiva sits in breathless air,
Where the outcast seeks his refuge, where the demon army moans,
Ganges erring through his hair.

Down the snowwhite mountains speeding, the immortal peaks and cold,
Crowd thy waves untouched by man.

From Gungotry through the valleys next their icy tops were rolled,
Bursting through Shivadry ran.

Poems from Manuscripts


In Benares' stainless city by defilement undefiled
Ghauts and temples lightly touched
With thy fingers as thou ranst, laughed low in pureness like a child
To his mother's bosom clutched.

Where the steps of Rama wandered, where the feet of Krishna came,
There thou flowest, there thy hand
Clasps us, Bhagirathie, Jahnavie or Gunga, and thy name
Holier makes the Aryans' land.

But thou leavest Aryavurtha, but thou leapest to the seas
In thy hundred mighty streams;
Nor in the unquiet Ocean vast thy grandiose journeyings cease,
Mother, say thy children's dreams.

Down thou plungest through the Ocean, far beneath its oozy bed
In Patala's leaden gloom
Moaning o'er her children's pain our mother, Ganges of the dead,
Leads our wandering spirits home.

Mighty with the mighty still thou dwelledst, goddess high and pure;
Iron Bhshma was thy son,
Who against ten thousand rushing chariots could in war endure;
Many heroes fled from one.

Devavrath the mighty, Bhshma with his oath of iron power,
Smilingly who gave up full
Joy of human life and empire, that his father's wish might flower
And his father's son might rule.

Who were these that thronged thereafter? wherefore came these puny hearts
Apter for the cringing slave,
Wrangling, selfish, weak and treacherous, vendors of their nobler parts,
Sorry food for pyre and grave?


Baroda and Bengal, c. 1900 - 1909

O but these are men of mind not yet with Europe's brutal mood alloyed,
Poets singing in their chains,
Preachers teaching manly slavery, speakers thundering in the void.

Motley wear these men of brains!
Well it is for hound and watchdog fawning at a master's feet,
Cringing, of the whip afraid!
Well it is for linnet caged to make with song his slavery sweet.

Man for other ends was made.

Man the arrogant, the splendid, man the mighty wise and strong,
Born to rule the peopled earth,
Shall he bear the alien's insult, shall he brook the tyrant's wrong
Like a thing of meaner birth?
Sreepoor in the east of Chand and Kedar, bright with Mogul blood,
And the Kings of Aracan
And the Atlantic pirates helped that hue, - its ruined glory flood
Krtinasha's waters wan.

Buried are our cities; fallen the apexed dome, the Indian arch;
In Chitore the jackals crowd:
Krishna's Dwarca sleeps for ever, o'er its ruined bastions march
All the Oceans thundering loud.

Still, yet still the fire of Kali on her ancient altar burns
Smouldering under smoky pall,
And the deep heart of her peoples to their Mighty Mother turns,
Listening for her Titan call.

Yet Pratapaditya's great fierce spirit shall in might awake
In Jessore he loved and made,
Sitaram the good and mighty for his well-loved people's sake
Leave the stillness and the shade.

Poems from Manuscripts


And Bengal the wide and ancient where the Senas swayed of old
Up to far Benares pure,
She shall lead the Aryan peoples to the mighty doom foretold
And her glory shall endure.

By her heart of quick emotion, by her brain of living fire,
By her vibrant speech and great,
She shall lead them, they shall see their destiny in her warm desire
Opening all the doors of Fate.

By the shores of Brahmaputra or where Ganges nears the sea,
Even now a flame is born
Which shall kindle all the South to brilliance and the North shall be
Lighted up as with the morn.

And once more this Aryavurtha fit for heavenly feet to tread,
Free and holy, bold and wise,
Shall lift up her face before the world and she whom men thought dead,
Into strength immortal rise.

Not in icy lone Gungotry nor by Kashi's holy fanes,
Mother, hast thou power to save
Only, nor dost thou grow old near Sagar, nor our vileness stains,
Ganges, thy celestial wave.

Dukkhineswar, Dukkhineswar, wonderful predestined pile,
Tell it to our sons unborn,
Where the night was brooding darkest and the curse was on the soil
Heaviest, God revealed the morn.


Baroda and Bengal, c. 1900 - 1909

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