Home > Art & Culture > Poetry >  An evening of poetry

An evening of poetry
in the Amphitheatre



The World Soul
at the Amphitheatre / Tues. 24th Feb : 7 pm

The silent Soul of all the world was there:
A Being lived, a Presence and a Power,
A single Person who was himself and all…

A reading from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri
Inter-woven with poetry from around the world.
Homer = Ovid = Basavanna = Nammalvar = Shakespeare =
Blake = Rumi Hafiz = Whitman = Langston Hughes =
Mandelstam = Milosz = Rimbaud Ungaretti = Seng-t’san =
Wu-Men Hu K’ai = Neruda =Jimenez = Darwish Tukaram =
Walcott = Rilke = Dickinson = O’Hara= Lidia Bravo.

With: Aurevan, Jeremy, Nikolai, Aurelio, Srimoyi, Anu, Otto, Norman and Aster

See you under the stars

Photo by Manohar

more Poems...


Shweta Ketu


A few days ago, Aurovilian Anu (Anuradha Majumdar Legrand, writer and poet) arranged for a powerful recital at the Amphitheatre, together with several other Aurovilian artists. Picture the scene...: the wide open space in darkness, some simple candle lighting, stars, the different voices coming through from the dark, and Matrimandir silently behind it..,  - in its own space.., real.., and, as always, very present..

photo by ManoharThe central text was from Sri Aurobindo's Savitri:
Book II: The Traveller of the Worlds / Canto XIV: The World Soul,
and Anu had  interwoven it with poetry from around the world by Osip Mandelstam, Rimbaud, Ungaretti, Langston Hughes, William Blake, Darwish, Seng-ts'an, Rilke, Tukaram, Emily Dickinson, Hafiz, Frank O'Hara, Nammalvar, Neruda, Rumi, Lidia Bravo, Whitman, Derek Walcott, Homer, Milosz, Ovid, Basavanna, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Wu-Men Hui-K'ai..

It made for a true World Soul reading..

(Posted by Mauna)



Photo by Manohar





Under the stars
in the company of the poets'
luminous words,
a little music,
and sometimes, silence…

The World Soul:

In a far shimmering background of Mind-Space …

A recluse gate it seemed, musing on joy…

Away from the unsatisfied surface world…

A well, a tunnel of the depths of God…

It plunged as if a mystic groove of hope

Through many layers of formless voiceless self…

To reach the last profound of the world's heart,

And from that heart there surged a wordless call…

As if a beckoning finger of secrecy …

As if a message from the world's deep soul.


Osip Mandelstam:

She has not yet been born:

she is music and the word,

the untorn fabric

of what is now stirred…

Silent the ocean breathes.

in a bowl of grey-blue leaves...

My lips rehearse

the primordial silence.


The World Soul:

As one drawn to his lost spiritual home

Feels now the closeness of a waiting love,

Into a passage dim and tremulous

That clasped him in from day and night's pursuit,

He travelled led by a mysterious sound.


The World Soul:

A murmur multitudinous and lone,

All sounds it was in turn, yet still the same.

A hidden call to unforeseen delight

In the summoning voice of one long-known, well-loved,

But nameless to the unremembering mind,

It led to rapture back the truant heart.



In the woods there is a bird; his song stops you and makes you blush…

There is a clock that never strikes…

There is a hollow with a nest of white creatures…

There is a cathedral that goes down and a lake that goes up…

There is a little carriage abandoned in the copse or that goes running down the road beribboned…



M'illumino d'immenso...

I illuminate myself with the immensity...


The World Soul:

The immortal cry ravished the captive ear.

Then, lowering its imperious mystery,

It sank to a whisper circling round the soul.

It seemed the yearning of a lonely flute

That roamed along the shores of memory

And filled the eyes with tears of longing joy.

A cricket's rash and fiery single note,

It marked with shrill melody night's moonless hush

And beat upon a nerve of mystic sleep

Its high insistent magical reveille.


A jingling silver laugh of anklet bells

Travelled the roads of a solitary heart;

Its dance solaced an eternal loneliness:

An old forgotten sweetness sobbing came.


Or from a far harmonious distance heard

The tinkling pace of a long caravan

It seemed at times, or a vast forest's hymn,

The solemn reminder of a temple gong,

A bee-croon honey-drunk in summer isles

Ardent with ecstasy in a slumbrous noon,

Or the far anthem of a pilgrim sea.


Langston Hughes:

I've known rivers:

I've known rivers ancient as the world,

And older than the flow of human blood in veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when the dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo where it lulled me to sleep.

I looked on the Nile and raised pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of Mississippi down to New Orleans.

I have known rivers:

Ancient dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep with those waters.

My soul has grown deep.


The World Soul:

An incense floated in the quivering air,

A mystic happiness trembled in the breast

As if the invisible Beloved had come

Assuming the sudden loveliness of a face

And close glad hands could seize his fugitive feet

And the world change with the beauty of a smile.



To see a world in a grain of sand

Heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.


The World Soul:

Into a wonderful bodiless realm he came,

The home of a passion without name or voice,

A depth he felt answering to every height,

A nook was found that could embrace all worlds,

A point that was the conscious knot of Space,

An hour eternal in the heart of Time.

The silent Soul of all the world was there:

A Being lived, a Presence and a Power,

A single Person who was himself and all

And cherished Nature's sweet and dangerous throbs

Transfigured into beats divine and pure.

One who could love without return for love,

Meeting and turning to the best the worst,

It healed the bitter cruelties of earth,

Transforming all experience to delight;



On the day when my words were earth

I was a friend to stalks of wheat.

On the day when my words were wrath

I was a friend to chains.

On the day when my words were stones

I was a friend to streams.

On the day when my words were rebellion

I was a friend to earthquakes.

On the day when my words were bitter apples

I was a friend to the optimist.

But when my words became honey

bees came and sat on my lips!


The World Soul:

Intervening in the sorrowful paths of birth

It rocked the cradle of the cosmic Child

And stilled all weeping with its hand of joy;

It led things evil towards their secret good,

It turned racked falsehood into happy truth;

Its power was to reveal divinity…


Infinite, coeval with the mind of God,

It bore within itself a seed, a flame,

A seed from which the Eternal is new-born,

A flame that cancels death in mortal things.

All grew to all kindred and self and near;

The intimacy of God was everywhere,

No veil was felt, no brute barrier inert,

Distance could not divide, Time could not change.



The Great Way is not difficult

For those who have no preferences,

When craving and hatred are both absent

Everything becomes clear and undisguised.

Make the smallest distinction however,

And heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.



My eyes already touch the sunny hill.

going far ahead of the road I walk.

We are grasped by what we cannot grasp;

it has inner light, even from a distance -

and changes us into something else,

which, even if we do not reach, we already are.

A gesture waves us on answering our own wave,

but all we feel is the wind in our faces.


The World Soul:

A fire of passion burned in spirit-depths,

A constant touch of sweetness linked all hearts,

The throb of one adoration's single bliss

In a rapt ether of undying love.

An inner happiness abode in all,

A sense of universal harmonies,

A measureless secure eternity

Of truth and beauty and good and joy made one.

Here was the welling core of finite life;

A formless spirit became the soul of form.



It is found again.


Eternity. It is the sea, gone with the sun.



Where does one begin with you?

You have no opening line, Beloved.

It's so hard to get you started.

And whatever I just said has vanished in the sky…

My first verse will be the thread of the Three Worlds.

My second verse will find division nowhere.

My third verse, fathomless space.

My fourth, a mill

Where I will grind all into one being.


Emily Dickinson:

I'm nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there 's a pair of us -- don't tell!

They 'd banish us, you know.


How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!



We are not in pursuit of formalities

Or fake religious laws,

Through the stairway of existence

We have come to God's Door.


We are people who need to love.

Love is the soul's greatest life,

Love is creation's widest ecstasy.


Through the stairway of existence

We have now come

To the Beloved's Door .


Frank O'Hara:

The sky was burning blue and something extraordinary happened…


The World Soul:

All there was soul or made of sheer soul-stuff;

A sky of soul covered a deep soul-ground.

All here was known by a spiritual sense:

Thought was not there but a knowledge near and one

Seized on all things by a moved identity,

A sympathy of self with other selves,

The touch of consciousness on consciousness

And being's look on being with inmost gaze

And heart laid bare to heart without walls of speech

And the unanimity of seeing minds

In myriad forms luminous with the one God.

Life was not there, but an impassioned force,

Finer than fineness, deeper than the deeps,

Felt as a subtle and spiritual power,

A quivering out from soul to answering soul,

A mystic movement, a close influence,

A free and happy and intense approach

Of being to being with no screen or check,

Without which life and love could never have been.

Body was not there, for bodies were needed not,

The soul itself was its own deathless form

And met at once the touch of other souls

Close, blissful, concrete, wonderfully true.



The earth and the far-flung sky

Are all within Thee.

But now Thou hast entered through the ear

Into my heart…

Remain there forever…

Infinite in Thy glory,

I ripen with Thy grace…

All the wealth I want

Is never to forget Thee…

Puviyum iruvisumbum ninakhaththa niiyen,

Seviyin varli, pukhundhen ullaayi.

Avivindri yaan periyan, nii periyai, yenbathanai, yaar arivaar?

Uun parugu neemiyaayi. Ullu


The World Soul:

As when one walks in sleep through luminous dreams

And, conscious, knows the truth their figures mean,

Here where reality was its own dream,

He knew things by their soul and not their shape:

As those who have lived long made one in love

Need word nor sign for heart's reply to heart,

He met and communed without bar of speech

With beings unveiled by a material frame.




photo by Manohar











You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.

Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;

cook, your blood is quick as the soil.

Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.


Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;

your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;

you know the deep essence of water and the earth,

conjoined in you like a formula for clay.


Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,

they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.

This is how you become everything that lives.


And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms

that push back the shadows so that you can rest--

vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.


The World Soul:

There was a strange spiritual scenery,

A loveliness of lakes and streams and hills,

A flow, a fixity in a soul-space,

And plains and valleys, stretches of soul-joy,

And gardens that were flower-tracts of the spirit,

Its meditations of tinged reverie.

Air was the breath of a pure infinite.


A fragrance wandered in a coloured haze

As if the scent and hue of all sweet flowers

Had mingled to copy heaven's atmosphere.

Appealing to the soul and not the eye

Beauty lived there at home in her own house,

There all was beautiful by its own right

And needed not the splendour of a robe.

All objects were like bodies of the Gods,

A spirit symbol environing a soul,

For world and self were one reality.


Rimbaud :

J'ai tendu des cordes de clocher à clocher ; des guirlandes de fenêtre à fenêtre ; des chaînes d'or d'étoile à étoile, et je danse.

I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.



Come, come, whoever you are.

Wonderer, worshipper, lover -

It doesn't matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow

A thousand times.

Come, yet again…

Look, these spiritual window-shoppers,

Who idly ask, 'How much is that?' Oh, I'm just looking…

They pick up a hundred items and put them down,

Shadows with no capital.


What is spent is love.

But these walk into a shop,

and their whole lives pass suddenly.


Where did you go? “Nowhere”

What did you have to eat? “Nothing much.”

Even if you don't know what you want,

Be part of the exchanging flow…

Start a huge foolish project,

Just like Noah…

It makes absolutely no difference

What people think of you…

Remember God so much that you are forgotten….


Lidia Bravo:

All fish carry seas in their mouths

and what is the sea if not just an open mouth,

and a night that wants to be made of water

so that day may be submerged in her

and all may be in the end

like it was in the beginning: a single voice.

Yes and no, you and I, everything and nothing,

light and shade.

* Todos los peces llevan mares en la boca

y qué es el mar sino una boca abierta

y una noche que quiere ser de agua

para que el día en ella se sumerja y todo sea al fin,

como fue en un principio, una voz sola.

Si y no, tú y yo, todo y nada, luz y sombra .


The World Soul:

Immersed in voiceless internatal trance

The beings that once wore forms on earth sat there

In shining chambers of spiritual sleep.

Passed were the pillar-posts of birth and death,

Passed was their little scene of symbol deeds,

Passed were the heavens and hells of their long road;

They had returned into the world's deep soul.

All now was gathered into pregnant rest:

Person and nature suffered a slumber change.

In trance they gathered back their bygone selves,

In a background memory's foreseeing muse

Prophetic of new personality

Arranged the map of their coming destiny's course:

Heirs of their past, their future's discoverers,

Electors of their own self-chosen lot,

They waited for the adventure of new life.




I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume

For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,

Born here of parents, born here of parents the same.

I, now thirty-seven years old, in perfect health, begin

Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,

Retiring back awhile, sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,

I harbour for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,

Nature without check, with original energy.


The World Soul:

A Person persistent through the lapse of worlds,

Although the same for ever in many shapes

By the outward mind unrecognisable,

Assuming names unknown in unknown climes

Imprints through Time upon the earth's worn page

A growing figure of its secret self,

And learns by experience what the spirit knew,

Till it can see its truth alive and God.



Derek Walcott:

When sunset, a brass gong

vibrates through Couva

it is then I see my soul, swiftly unsheathed

like a white bird growing ever more small,

over the ocean of evening canes.

I sit quiet, waiting for it to return,

because for my spirit, India is too far away.

But at that evening gong,

clouds assemble and sacred robes

sacred even to Ramalochan,

singing Indian hit songs from his jute hammock

while evening strokes the quiet flames

and the silver horns of his maroon taxi.

Mosquitoes whine their evening mantras,

my friend Anopheles sits on the sitar

and fireflies make every dusk, Divali.

I knot my hair with a cloud

and my hands grow as brittle as these old pages

of Ramayana.



The World Soul:

Once more they must face the problem-game of birth,

The soul's experiment of joy and grief

And thought and impulse lighting the blind act,

And venture on the roads of circumstance,

Through inner movements and external scenes

Travelling to self across the forms of things.

Into creation's centre he had come.

The spirit wandering from state to state

Finds here the silence of its starting-point

In the formless force and the still fixity

And brooding passion of the world of Soul.




Lay down the golden chain from Heaven

And pull at its links -

For who hearkens to the gods, the gods give ear…

And unextinguished laughter shakes the skies.



A day so happy.

Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.

Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.

There was no thing on earth I wanted to posses.

I knew no one worth my envying him.

Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.

To think I was once the same man did not embarrass me.

In my body I felt no pain.

When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and the sails.


The World Soul:

All that is made and once again unmade,

The calm persistent vision of the One

Inevitably re-makes, it lives anew:

Forces and lives and beings and ideas

Are taken into the stillness for a while;

There they remould their purpose and their drift,

Recast their nature and re-form their shape.

Ever they change and changing ever grow,

And passing through a fruitful stage of death

And after long reconstituting sleep

Resume their place in the process of the Gods

Until their work in cosmic Time is done.



There was a man here, Pythagoras, a Samian by birth, who fled Samos and its rulers, and, hating their tyranny, lived in voluntary exile.

Though the gods were far away, he visited their region of the sky, in his mind, and what nature denied to human vision he enjoyed with his inner eye.

When he had considered every subject, through concentrated thought, he communicated it widely, teaching the silent crowds, who listened in wonder about the origin of the vast universe, and of the causes of things: where the snows arise; the origin of lightning; by what laws the stars move; and whatever else is hidden.

‘Now, said Pythagoras , since a god moves my lips, I will follow, with due rite, and reveal my beloved Delphi and the heavens themselves, and unlock the oracles of that sublime mind.

Of things not fathomed earlier and things long hidden.

I delight in journeying among the distant stars, said Pythagoras , I delight in leaving earth and its dull spaces, to ride the clouds; to stand on the shoulders of mighty Atlas, looking down from far off on men. I say there is nothing in the whole universe that persists, said Pythagoras. Everything flows, and is formed as a fleeting image. Time itself, glides, in its continual motion, no differently than a river.

For neither the river, nor the swift hour can stop: but as wave impels wave to the shore, so time flees equally, and, equally follows, and is always new. For what was before is left behind: and what was not comes to be: and each moment is renewed.


The World Soul:

Here was the fashioning chamber of the worlds.

An interval was left twixt act and act,

Twixt birth and birth, twixt dream and waking dream,

A pause that gave new strength to do and be.



The rich

will make temples for Shiva,

what shall I

a poor man do?

My legs are pillars

my body, the shrine

my head

a cupola of gold.


Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,

things standing shall fall,

but things moving

ever shall stay…



The gods have no other substance

Than the one I have. I have like them,

The substance of all that has been lived.

And all that remains ever to be lived.

I am not only the present

But the streaming flight from end to end.

And what I see on one side or the other, roses,

the remains of wings, shadow and light,

belongs only to me…


The World Soul:

Beyond were regions of delight and peace,

Mute birthplaces of light and hope and love,

And cradles of heavenly rapture and repose.

In a slumber of the voices of the world

He of the eternal moment grew aware;

His knowledge stripped bare of the garbs of sense

Knew by identity without thought or word;

His being saw itself without its veils,

Life's line fell from the spirit's infinity.


Along a road of pure interior light,

Alone between tremendous Presences,

Under the watching eyes of nameless Gods,

His soul passed on, a single conscious power,

Towards the end which ever begins again,

Approaching through a stillness dumb and calm

To the source of all things human and divine.


There he beheld in their mighty union's poise

The figure of the deathless Two-in-One,

A single being in two bodies clasped,

A diarchy of two united souls,

Seated absorbed in deep creative joy;

Their trance of bliss sustained the mobile world.


Behind them in a morning dusk One stood

Who brought them forth from the Unknowable.

Ever disguised she awaits the seeking spirit;

Watcher on the supreme unreachable peaks,

Guide of the traveller of the unseen paths,

She guards the austere approach to the Alone.


Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all…


I've heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.



I embraced the summer dawn.

Nothing yet stirred on the face of palaces. The water was dead. The shadows still camped in the woodland road. I walked, waking quick, warm breaths. The gems looked on and wings rose without a sound.


The first embrace was in a path already filled with fresh, pale gleams, a flower who told me her name. I laughed at the blond waterfall that tousled through the pines: on the silver summit I recognized the goddess.


Then, one by one, I lifted up her veils. In the lane, waving my arms. Across the plain, where I notified the cock. In the city she fled along the steeples and domes; and running like a beggar on the marble quays, I chased her.


Above the wood near a laurel wood, I wrapped her up in her gathered veils, and I felt, little by little, her immense body.


The World Soul:

At the beginning of each far-spread plane

Pervading with her power the cosmic suns

She reigns, inspirer of its multiple works

And thinker of the symbol of its scene.

Above them all she stands supporting all,

The sole omnipotent Goddess ever-veiled

Of whom the world is the inscrutable mask;

The ages are the footfalls of her tread,

Their happenings the figure of her thoughts,

And all creation is her endless act.



- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than dreamt of in your philosophy…

- Give me my robe, put on my crown;

I have immortal longings in me…


The World Soul:

His spirit was made a vessel of her force;

Mute in the fathomless passion of his will

He outstretched to her his folded hands of prayer.

Then in a sovereign answer to his heart

A gesture came as of worlds thrown away,

And from her raiment's lustrous mystery raised

One arm half-parted the eternal veil.


A light appeared still and imperishable.

Attracted to the large and luminous depths

Of the ravishing enigma of her eyes,

He saw the mystic outline of a face.

Overwhelmed by her implacable light and bliss,

An atom of her illimitable self,

Mastered by the honey and lightning of her power,

Tossed towards the shores of her ocean-ecstasy,

Drunk with a deep golden spiritual wine

He cast from the rent stillness of his soul

A cry of adoration and desire

And the surrender of his boundless mind

And the self-giving of his silent heart…


Wu-Men Hui-K'ai

The Great Way has no gates,

Thousands of paths enter it;

When you walk through this gateless gate,

You walk freely between earth and heaven.


Photo by Manohar



Home > Art & Culture > Poetry > An evening of poetry

  Auroville Universal Township webmaster@auroville.org.in To the top