Sri Aurobindo was once asked, in 1939, during the course of a conversation by one of his disciples: “When did you begin to write poetry?” He answered: “When my two brothers and I were staying at Manchester. I wrote for the Fox family magazine. It was an awful imitation of somebody I don’t remember.”
The magazine which Sri Aurobindo had referred to was the Fox’s Weekly which saw the light of the day on 11 January 1883. And the poem of Sri Aurobindo, titled Light, which was deeply inspired by P. B. Shelley’s The Cloud, was published in the very first issue of 11 January 1883. Let’s recall that in 1883 Sri Aurobindo was barely ten years of age.
We take the opportunity of sharing this poem with you all.
With warm regards,
From the quickened womb of the primal gloom,
The sun rolled, black and bare,
Till I wove him a vest for his Ethiop breast,
Of the threads of my golden hair;
And when the broad tent of the firmament
Arose on its airy spars,
I pencilled the hue of its matchless blue,
And spangled it around with stars.
I painted the flowers of the Eden bowers,
And their leaves of living green,
And mine were the dyes in the sinless eyes
Of Eden’s Virgin queen;
And when the fiend’s art in the truthful heart
Had fastened its mortal spell,
In the silvery sphere of the first-born tear
To the trembling earth I fell.
When the waves that burst o’er a world accurst
Their work of wrath had sped,
And the Ark’s lone few, tried and true,
Came forth among the dead.
With the wondrous gleams of the bridal beams,
I bade their terrors cease,
As I wrote on the roll of the storm’s dark scroll
God’s covenant of peace.
Like a pall at rest on the senseless breast,
Night’s funeral shadow slept—
Where shepherd swains on Bethlehem’s plains,
Their lonely vigils kept,
When I flashed on their sight, the heralds bright,
Of Heaven’s redeeming plan,
As they chanted the morn, the Saviour born—
Joy, joy, to the outcast man!
Equal favour I show to the lofty and low,
On the just and the unjust I descend:
E’en the blind, whose vain spheres, roll in darkness and tears,
Feel my smile—the blest smile of a friend.
Nay, the flower of the waste by my love is embraced,
As the rose in the garden of kings:
At the chrysalis bier of the morn I appear,
And lo! the gay butterfly wings.
The desolate morn, like the mourner forlorn,
Conceals all the pride of her charms,
Till I bid the bright hours, chase the night from her flowers,
And lead the young day to her arms.
And when the gay rover seeks Eve for her lover,
And sinks to her balmy repose,
I wrap the soft rest by the zephyr-fanned west,
In curtains of amber and rose.
From my sentinel steep by the night-brooded deep
I gaze with the unslumbering eye,
When the cynosure star of the mariner
Is blotted out from the sky:
And guided by me through the merciless sea,
Though sped by the hurricane’s wings,
His companionless, dark, lone, weltering bark,
To the haven home safely he brings.
I waken the flowers in the dew-spangled bowers,
The birds in their chambers of green,
And mountain and plain glow with beauty again,
As they bask in their matinal sheen.
O, if such the glad worth of my presence on earth,
Though fitful and fleeting the while,
What glories must rest on the home of the blessed,
Ever bright with the Deity’s smile.