The Triumph of Love

Original Text: 
Govinda Krishna Chettur, The Triumph of Love (Mangalore, India: Basel Mission Bookshop, n.d. British Library 11655.aaa.2
DEDICATION
1Dearest, and yet more dear than I can tell
2    In these poor halting rhymes, when, word by word,
3    You spell the passion that your beauty stirred
4Swiftly to flame, and holds me as a spell,
5You will not think he writeth "ill" or "well",
6    Nor question make of the fond truths averred,
7    But Love, of that, by Love's self charactered,
8        A perfect understanding shall impel.
9            Therefore do I seek comfort in this wise:
10                That though my song have neither grace, nor wit,
11            Yet, of your tenderness, there shall arise
12                A lasting beauty in each line that's writ;
13            For it shall find a meaning in your eyes,
14                And hungry-hearted love shall perfect it.
I
15Brave words we mouthed at parting, though your lips
16    Trembled a little palely as we kissed:
17I said: "Dear love, grey Time that ever strips
18    The glory from the rose shall go unmissed,
19        And nought shall change; our love shall be as fair
20            And proudly joyous as when first we met."
21        You said: "Mine own, true love knows no despair,
22            And we have loved, and we can never forget."
23                I held you closely, whispering, "Dearest one,
24                    Take heart of God, for love is in God's keeping--"
25                And then 'twas time, and I must needs be gone,
26                    And once we kissed, though both of us were weeping.
27                        "Sweetheart--" you sobbed, but I had fled heart-broken,
28                        And Love's last words, for love, were left unspoken.
II
29These are the secret dreams of passionate youth:
30    To be so wise, that the dim after years
31    Shall hold no wisdom new, nor any fears,
33        In the clear eye of Truth to be most pure,
34            To battle nobly with Joy's shining spears,
35            Know Sorrow to the uttermost of tears,
36        And Pain, and Passion's scourge, and Love's sweet lure.
37                Aye, this, in sum: to touch serenity,
38                    Ascending to it by a hundred ways,
39                And Beauty's swift untiring ministry.
40                        So, Love may gather when the shadows hover,
41                    Proudly, a perfect dream of perfect days,
42                        To fashion yet another perfect lover.
III
43Because, one night my soul reached out and found
44    Yours, in the dim and visionary maze
45    Of dreams, and Love upon the starry ways:
46Because, when, with heart bleeding and eyes bound,
47I stumbled to your feet, you raised and crowned
48    My sorrowing with tears and tender praise:
49    Because, sometimes men dream of perfect days,
50With Death's encircling arms about them wound:
51        Because of this, because of all of this,
52            Am I for ever dreaming of sweet hours,
53        As flowers dream anight of the wind's kiss:
54                For ever fashioning to Love's demands
55            This passionate joy, this wonder that is ours,
56                I that have yearned for the least touch of your hands.
IV
57Wherefore, I make this song for you to sing,
58    Building of dreams and broken harmonies,
59    And shaping it to wondrous ecstasies,
60And even though it be a little thing:
61        That so, may hurt be healed, or joy receive
62            The benediction of a God-like bliss,
63                And none of all our heart-beats beat amiss:
64        That so, we may arise purer and cleave
65                Unto the body of a deathless host,
66                    And with new wisdom make more beautiful
67                    The soul's desire: that so, the intimate rule
68                Of beauty may unto the uttermost,
69                        Yield us, of passion, this all-perfect praise,
70                        Ere the dark shadows fall upon our days.
V
71The years have dowered you with heavenly grace,
72    And beauty fairer than is mortal's due,
73As though the gods had dreamt of some proud race
74    In fashioning the wonder that is you,
75        Compact of universal loveliness,
76            And one swift cast into the broken night
77        Set you amongst us thus, that Love might bless
78            Himself and you for this thrice blessed sight.
79                But no! Not ever thus! -- Although you held
80                    Ten years agone, the promise of this noon,
81                And he, that knew you then, this hour had spelled:
82                    As who, far gazing on the frail new moon,
83                        Glimpses, all suddenly, the shadowed whole,
VI
85O how I love you, love you! -- Who shall say
86    It is not love but that most pitiful thing
87    Misnamed of love: for such sweet passioning
88Have men ere now deserved immortal clay.
89        I love the glory of your womanhood,
90            And the slow passion of my smouldering verse
91            To sudden and swift flame your beauty stirs:
92        But now the shadow of this quietude
93                Beats on the broken doors of misery:
94                    Nor song nor laughter shall there any more
95                    Rise from the heart of dream: these things are o'er:
97                        And the lorn echo, in my heart, of things
98                        Beyond all utterance, that the twilight brings.
VII
99The sparrows cease their chirping in the eaves,
100    Deepens the hush, as the grey shadows fall,
101    And the white moon's ray creeps upon the wall
102With tender tracery of windy leaves:
103Away upon the plain a dimness heaves,
104    For Night's old wizardry compelleth all:
105    Along remembered paths, the old stars crawl,
106And o'er remembered love, the lover grieves.
107        What shall I think on dear, when the proud heart
108            Lies humbled in the dust of vain despair?--
109        How play this part that is all sorrow's part,
110                Who never knew that love should come to this?--
111            Who dreamed a dream most beautiful and fair,
112                Remembering pain of that last pitiful kiss!--
VIII
113The sky is not more multitudinous
114    With hope, wanting the moon, than hungry Love,
115That with insatiate longing, clamorous,
116    Filleth the stabbing gloom with dreams thereof,
117        Against the time, when, like the risen moon
118            Flooding the heavens with her pure pale tide
119        And yielding loveliness a lovelier boon,
120            Love, by fulfilment, shall be glorified.
121                For, when, like to the moon, thou shalt attain
122                    The zenith of my heart's high altitude,
123                I shall forget the fever and the pain,
124                    Forget the bitter and the sorrowful mood,
125                        And in the heart of all-compassionate Time,
126                        Kindle a flame that shall outlast all rhyme.
IX
127Have I not loved you since the world began?
128    Aye: for your beauty and your gentleness
129    My lonely heart did suddenly possess,
130With that unquiet, that sweet thrill which ran
131        And stirred to music the first lover's heart;
132            That makes a miracle of gladness wake
133            Again in blossom upon heath and brake,
134        Shaming each time, anew, man's careful art.
135                And so the wandering years shall bring to me
136                    You, whom I loved and lost: as the rich pride
137                    Of leaf and flower to the heart of spring
138                Returneth in its time continually:
139                        Wherefore I shall not grieve; but patient-eyed
140                        Await again Love's re-awakening.
X
141It is the woman's soul of you I love,
142    With love beyond the perishing flesh of us,
143    Knowing that in swift moments perilous,
144More than all passion known, here or above,
146    To quell the spirit fiercely mutinous,
147    For love imperiously fashions thus,
148        And gathers seven-fold strength into a vow.
149            And so I shape my way unto the heart
150                Of all things pure and good, as to your feet,
151            Humble,--nay, proud, for sorrow's counterpart
152                    Of this our love, that only your quick tears,
153                Fallen from pity, but by love made sweet,
154                    May heal beyond the passion of the years.
XI
155They know the impenetrable and dark ways
156    Of the world's sorrow, who have seen like me
157        The shadowed eyes of Beauty bound with pain,
158        Beauty that with the seasons comes again,
159Yielding her meed of light, of gladsome praise:
160    And bud, nor blossom, nor the billowing sea,
161        Nor the slow fires of the starry train,
162Hold the quick spells each owned in other days.
163            But you, O Love, have broken through the gloom,
164                Bringing the healing touch of Love's own art,
165                    And I am risen on celestial wings,
166            Out of the horror of this ageless tomb,
167                Unto the holy beauty of your heart,
168                    And glory of unutterable things.
XII
169Linger, a little, where the gentle moon
170    Disposes to a sweet melancholy,
171    And gazing on the far unquiet sea
172Of nameless silence, where the glittering noon
173Of worlds unnumbered yields a marvellous boon
174    Of beauty to earth's shadowed canopy,
175    Ponder awhile upon this mystery:
176Here are no fevered changes, late or soon,
177        Nor hate, nor lust, nor all-exacting pride:
178            Only the passion of a perfect plan
179        Controls infinity: and these abide
180            Beyond the sorrows of our mortal span:
181                While we, a wanton hour yield and pass,
182                Tumultuously, like shadows on the grass.
XIII
183O love, my love, if only life could be
184    Less burdened with the burden of vain tears,
185    That through the far off silence of the years,
186Have welled in sorrowing eyes continually,
187And love for love's true sake make ministry
188    To sorrow's needs despite a thousand fears,
190Might Love, each morn, declare this constancy!
191        For then would Love not be this pitiful thing
192            Of wanton sighs and endless moaning blent,
193        But clothed with beauty of eternal spring,
195            Of praise and prayer a perfect argument:
196                And there were then the dreaming of great dreams.
XIV
197Go look upon the mountains in the haze
198    Of a November morning: how they throw
199    To Heaven the mighty bulwarks of their woe,
200Above the pitiful and wandering ways
201Of dull mortality: come, tell their praise!
202        How steadfast are they, and how great of heart,
203        That with such wondrous patience play the part
204Beyond the passion of our numbered days!
205            We that are here today are gone tomorrow,
206                Yet hide our faces for a nameless dread,
207            And make wild moaning for a ceaseless sorrow,
208                    Knowing nor how, nor why, these things should be:
209                And till the end, endure uncomforted,
210                    Fretting the heart of peace impatiently.
XV
211O dear my heart, I would not have you do
212    This thing of all the things that love demands:
213    Love has no need of this, nor understands
214These half-desires that pierce us through and through.
215Think what a lovely dream we hold in lieu
216    Of the fond traffic of sweet amorous lands,
217    How mutely borne our pain, and how held hands
218Beneath the moon and smiled, and bravely too!
219        For, where have nested the white birds of Fate
220            No sorrowing is, nor the grim fear of death:
221        For, there, the longings fierce, insatiate,
222                Of men are stilled, and the dim hours pass
223            As in an ecstasy with hushèd breath,
224                And, there, no shadows sweep along the grass.
XVI
225Men peer beyond the wisdom of the wise
226    In vain pursuit, and an all-mastering urge
227    Impels them forward from life's dizzy verge
228To pierce the incommunicable skies,
229        Which are the veil before their vanities,
230            Until upon them falls the white-hot scourge
231            That sears the brain: thenceforward, like the surge,
232        Blindly, they beat upon their memories.
233                Love, this were wisdom, ere the heart be spent,
234                    In love's sweet prime all Beauty to adore:
235                Life were too brief for pain and languishment,
236                        And Beauty's largesse shall all things amend.
237                    Therefore, being wise, I'll love you more and more
238                        Until of Love and Beauty there be end.
XVII
239Sometimes, I linger, where the roses shed
240    Their faded fragrance on the evening air,
241    And flowers that were once most sweet, most fair,
242Fall pale and withered on their pitiless bed:
243Nor take I thought, in grief, that they lie dead,
244    O'ermuch, o'erlong, knowing their beauty rare
245    Lives perfectly in Love's most secret care,
246More beauteous yet, and I am comforted ....
247        And even though you be so far away,
248            And all our sweet companioned ecstasies
249        A memory of pain, the far-flung sway
250            Of your most dear enchantment fills mine eyes
251                With dreams more exquisite than memories,
252                Which love's fulfilment shall immortalise.
XVIII
253Rejoice this day, for this day love is near,
254    And sunlight gleaming slantwise on the grass,
255    And hope and beauty of all things that pass
256Yet come again with the returning year:
257        They may not die, these things that once were ours;
258            And love, not less, that liveth in the mind:
259            Therefore all ills forget, all griefs that bind,
260        And all unwisdom of unhappy hours:
261                Remembering only the great gift of bliss
262                    Love brought to us one shining summer morn,
263                When on my lips you placed that shy sweet kiss:
264                        Wherefore we sing all time with passionate praise,
265                    Despite of pity and pain and tears forlorn,
266                        This loveliness and glory of our days.
XIX
267How many golden hours have we won
268    From that grey leaden-fisted miser Time,
269Rich with the suns, the odorous moons that spun,
270    Across this perfect passion of our prime?
271        Love makes no count! -- Sufficient unto each
272            Unmortal moment is the bliss thereof;
273        Tis grief that yearneth every way to reach
274            Remembered rapture by remembered love.
275                Love takes no count! -- Forget the tale, fond lover,
276                    Today, the hours are freighted with pure gold;
277                And when the golden days of love are over,
278                    And naught remains but as a story told,
279                        With benediction of that grace sublime,
280                        Life shall unfold love's page a second time.
XX
281Silence, for sweet fulfilment: nay, but see,
282    There, on the margent of the westering tide,
283    Day pauses, now, upon his wearied stride,
284And leans to Night's embrace impatiently.
285Silence, for deep fulfilment: now shall be
286    Content. O hush! let not your murmurous pride
287    Revel against desire: let all things bide:
288The hour is peace, and perfect harmony.
289        There is no stir upon the land or ocean,
290            The world is very quiet from this hill:
291                No whisper here of the great town that strives,
292        Roars in its highways, 'neath us, its commotion
293                Shaking the souls of many thousand lives.
294            But mount! From here, the world is very still.
XXI
295I thought, God being so very far away,
296    Farther than I upon this little height,
297    He cannot see nor know our piteous plight,
298Nor how we strive, nor how we fall astray,
299But sets the sun and moon upon their way,
300    And lights the stars, and dreams that all is right
301    As I, even I, in this still shadow of night,
302Might dream that down below no city lay.
303        Then cried I in mine anguish, "Lord, not so,
304            But thus: as I, even I, though from the call
305                Of love be so remote, yet am all-wise,
306        So in proportion doth Thy knowledge go,
307                As God to man, and from the all-seeing skies
308            Knoweth all things, Thy love o'ershadowing all."
XXII
309Somewhere, the shadow sweeps upon its way
310    That shall our day engulf in darkest night:
311    Somewhere, the shadow of a dead delight
312Creeps on our wondrous dreams of yesterday:
313        Somewhere, a glory fades into the gloom
314            Of nothingness: somewhere, new glories rise:
315            Between the shadowed and the burning skies
316        Man waits the hour of his passionate doom.
317                Love, when the shadows close upon our dreams
318                    And hungry Night leans low upon Desire,
319                        We that have passioned sweetly for this thing
320                Shall know no fear, knowing proud Death that seems
321                    So fierce, shall pale before the undying fire
322                        Of love made holy by our suffering.
XXIII
323Who that has lived, and loved, and seen fair things,
324    And striven with darkness beating into day,
325With spears dream-pointed, and climbed with wings
326    Above the tumult of the lesser way,
327        Shall speak thereafter slightingly of God?
328            They that have known this brief infinity
329        Are one with the immortals. They have trod
330            The floors of Heaven in Heavenly company,
331                Intoxicate with blessed harmonies.
332                    So we, the proud inheritors of love,
333                Grown God-like in unmortal ecstasies,
334                    Dream, God-like, of a day that love shall prove
335                        Magnificently, in the after years,
336                        Beyond the mortal touch of time or tears.

Notes

0] "To My Wife" (p. 5), Subhadra. The poet writes of being sent away from his wife and daughter after he has fallen sick of a cancer from which he dies in 1936. Back to Line
32] uncouth: unknown. Back to Line
84] silvern: silver.aureole: halo. Back to Line
96] guerdon: reward. Back to Line
145] enow: enough. Back to Line
189] chanticleers: crowing cocks. Back to Line
194] purpurate: purple. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1932
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2006
Form: