Chapter IIChapter II Commentary︎︎︎
1. I passed into the mountain of lapis-lazuli, even as a green hawk between the pillars of turquoise that is seated upon the throne of the East.
2. So came I to Duant, the starry abode, and I heard voices crying aloud.
3. O Thou that sittest upon the Earth! (so spake a certain Veiled One to me) thou art not greater than thy mother! Thou speck of dust infinitesimal!
Thou art the Lord of Glory, and the unclean dog.
4. Stooping down, dipping my wings, I came unto the darkly-splendid abodes. There in that formless abyss was I made a partaker of the Mysteries Averse.
5. I suffered the deadly embrace of the Snake and of the Goat; I paid the infernal homage to the shame of Khem.
6. Therein was this virtue, that the One became the all.
7. Moreover I beheld a vision of a river. There was a little boat thereon; and in it under purple sails was a golden woman, an image of Asi wrought in finest gold. Also the river was of blood, and the boat of shining steel. Then I loved her; and, loosing my girdle, cast myself into the stream.
8. I gathered myself into the little boat, and for many days and nights did I love her, burning beautiful incense before her.
9. Yea! I gave her of the flower of my youth.
10. But she stirred not; only by my kisses I defiled her so that she turned to blackness before me.
11. Yet I worshipped her, and gave her of the flower of my youth.
12. Also it came to pass, that thereby she sickened, and corrupted before me. Almost I cast myself into the stream.
13. Then at the end appointed her body was whiter than the milk of the stars, and her lips red and warm as the sunset, and her life of a white heat like the heat of the midmost sun.
14. Then rose she up from the abyss of Ages of Sleep, and her body embraced me. Altogether I melted into her beauty and was glad.
15. The river also became the river of Amrit, and the little boat was the chariot of the flesh, and the sails thereof the blood of the heart that beareth me, that beareth me.
16. O serpent woman of the stars! I, even I, have fashioned Thee from a pale image of fine gold.
17. Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue.
18. Between its wings I sate, and the æons fled away.
19. Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went.
20. A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said:
21. Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?
22. And laughing I chid him, saying: No whence! No whither!
23. The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey?
24. And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?
25. And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy!
White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!
26. O silence! O rapture! O end of things visible and invisible! This is all mine, who am Not.
27. Radiant God! Let me fashion an image of gems and gold for Thee! that the people may cast it down and trample it to dust! That Thy glory may be seen of them.
28. Nor shall it be spoken in the markets that I am come who should come; but Thy coming shall be the one word.
29. Thou shalt manifest Thyself in the unmanifest; in the secret places men shall meet with thee, and Thou shalt overcome them.
30. I saw a pale sad boy that lay upon the marble in the sunlight, and wept. By his side was the forgotten lute. Ah! but he wept.
31. Then came an eagle from the abyss of glory and overshadowed him. So black was the shadow that he was no more visible.
32. But I heard the lute lively discoursing through the blue still air.
33. Ah! messenger of the beloved One, let Thy shadow be over me!
34. Thy name is Death, it may be, or Shame, or Love.
So thou bringest me tidings of the Beloved One, I shall not ask thy name.
35. Where is now the Master? cry the little crazy boys.
He is dead! He is shamed! He is wedded! and their mockery shall ring round the world.
36. But the Master shall have had his reward.
The laughter of the mockers shall be a ripple in the hair of the Beloved One.
37. Behold! the Abyss of the Great Deep. Therein is a mighty dolphin, lashing his sides with the force of the waves.
38. There is also an harper of gold, playing infinite tunes.
39. Then the dolphin delighted therein, and put off his body, and became a bird.
40. The harper also laid aside his harp, and played infinite tunes upon the Pan-pipe.
41. Then the bird desired exceedingly this bliss, and laying down its wings became a faun of the forest.
42. The harper also laid down his Pan-pipe, and with the human voice sang his infinite tunes.
43. Then the faun was enraptured, and followed far; at last the harper was silent, and the faun became Pan in the midst of the primal forest of Eternity.
44. Thou canst not charm the dolphin with silence, O my prophet!
45. Then the adept was rapt away in bliss, and the beyond of bliss, and exceeded the excess of excess.
46. Also his body shook and staggered with the burden of that bliss and that excess and that ultimate nameless.
47. They cried He is drunk or He is mad or He is in pain or He is about to die; and he heard them not.
48. O my Lord, my beloved! How shall I indite songs, when even the memory of the shadow of thy glory is a thing beyond all music of speech or of silence?
49. Behold! I am a man. Even a little child might not endure Thee. And lo!
50. I was alone in a great park, and by a certain hillock was a ring of deep enamelled grass wherein green-clad ones, most beautiful, played.
51. In their play I came even unto the land of Fairy Sleep.
All my thoughts were clad in green; most beautiful were they.
52. All night they danced and sang; but Thou art the morning, O my darling, my serpent that twinest Thee about this heart.
53. I am the heart, and Thou the serpent. Wind Thy coils closer about me, so that no light nor bliss may penetrate.
54. Crush out the blood of me, as a grape upon the tongue of a white Doric girl that languishes with her lover in the moonlight.
55. Then let the End awake. Long hast thou slept, O great God Terminus! Long ages hast thou waited at the end of the city and the roads thereof.
Awake Thou! wait no more!
56. Nay, Lord! but I am come to Thee. It is I that wait at last.
57. The prophet cried against the mountain; come thou hither, that I may speak with thee!
58. The mountain stirred not. Therefore went the prophet unto the mountain, and spake unto it. But the feet of the prophet were weary, and the mountain heard not his voice.
59. But I have called unto Thee, and I have journeyed unto Thee, and it availed me not.
60. I waited patiently, and Thou wast with me from the beginning.
61. This now I know, O my beloved, and we are stretched at our ease among the vines.
62. But these thy prophets; they must cry aloud and scourge themselves; they must cross trackless wastes and unfathomed oceans; to await Thee is the end, not the beginning.
63. Let darkness cover up the writing! Let the scribe depart among his ways.
64. But thou and I are stretched at our ease among the vines; what is he?
65. O Thou beloved One! is there not an end? Nay, but there is an end. Awake! arise! gird up thy limbs, O thou runner; bear thou the Word unto the mighty cities, yea, unto the mighty cities.