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Sri Aurobindo The Poet

Sri Aurobindo The Poet
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Item Code: NAZ521
Author: K.D. Sethna
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
Language: English
Edition: 1999
ISBN: 9788170585787
Pages: 436
Cover: PAPERBACK
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.6 kg
Introduction

This collection of surveys, studies, discussions, annotations, queries and controversies is meant to serve, in general, as a companion volume to the author's earlier book of 1947,, The Poetic Genius of Sri Aurobindo. What was there developed is, as a rule, practically passed over here, except when a too scant treatment would leave a serious gap in the exposition. Similarly, that book itself avoided repeating the contents of two pieces written before it and now included in this. But either work, in its particular way, has a certain completeness of its own.

The Poetic Genius of Sri Aurobindo worked out a definite scheme in three parts. The present collection is a looser series, yet a significant sequence in a sometimes strict and some- times broad sense has been attempted in the arrangement. Further, as the essays were written at different times to meet various needs, there is a small amount of overlapping amongst them. But for the most part they bring forward new aspects and complement one another as both analytical and evalua- tive commentaries. Even when a few quotations repeat and a topic is touched again, fresh light is sought to be thrown in a setting which is itself new.

The title of the book has the interest of deriving indirectly from Sri Aurobindo himself. It is the same as that of the opening piece which was originally called "Sri Aurobindo as a Poet’. Sri Aurobindo found the name rather flat and suggested the proper caption.

The poetry of Sri Aurobindo is too vast and rich for a mere couple of fair-sized volumes to do full justice to it. But the author has tried his best to give a succession of interpretative insights, hoping to catch the ‘‘many-splendoured" poet in his essentiality even if failing to cope in a satisfying manner with his totality.

This procedure must involve some sins of omission. Yet, when properly understood, they may become pardonable.

To range exhaustively over each genre practised by Sri Aurobindo has not been the avowed pursuit. Nor has it been the explicit aim in any of the dissertations to follow a story or to expound its message. Even those long poems which have been dealt with at a length seeming more or less commen- surate have hardly been searched in particular for the sake of the plot or the ‘philosophy’; both have emerged into view on several occasions but mostly in the course of appreciating the fine points of the literary expression. The imaginative cast, the emotional mould, the verbal shape, the rhythmic pattern and, behind everything, what may be designated the intuitive turn creating and animating by its inner form and function all the outer forms and functions; these have been the principal object of sympathetic scrutiny and critical enjoyment. The concentration has been on the poetic art of Sri Aurobindo. And this art can be appraised in its fundamentals by no more than judicious dips into various sections of a number of works or even into just one work typical of many. Lack of close study of the tale’s unfoldment and the theme's presenta- tion leaves unaffected the quality of the appraisal. So too does want of sampling every member of a literary class. In the event, the sins of omission appear rather natural acts, though what is omitted is never shunned as intrinsically negligible.

However, Sri Aurobindo is not only the poetic artist: in fact, he is chiefly something else and something more. Again, the art of poetry at its subtlest and greatest is itself an instrument of the art of life and even channels a way for a force and a value beyond both life and poetry: the force is felt as a rapturous inspiration, the value cognised as a luminous revelation. So a perceptive plumbing of the artistry of self- expression in a poet like Sri Aurobindo is especially bound to overpass the domain of art proper, the inner intuitive form of consciousness no less than the outer linguistic form of communication. Sri Aurobindo’s universal humanity, his farranging contact with secular living, his comprehensive venture to convert the human into the divine, his movement towards an all-round sagehood and seerhood, his long mission to establish on earth a wider liberty one with a deeper self-law, a more inclusive love in tune with a higher light are sure to break out in whatever he does. A book about the poet in him must bring in his transcendence of the poetic art. It may bypass the story-teller and the plot-weaver, the message- giver and the theme-builder. But to omit his transcendence of the poetic art is a sin the book would be powerless to commit, even if it strove to do so.

All the same, the act of transcending is brought home mainly in connection with the poetic art. It is Sri Aurobindo the poet who stands here in the forefront. And through his inward-outward creativity of perfection in word, phrase, line and passage all the rest of him has to assume a body.

Perhaps such a mode of development will be deemed a limitation. But, if there is a limitation, it is one which cries out to be accepted - for two reasons. First, has not Sri Aurobindo declared that the poet was the earliest side of his personality, the primal aspect, as it were? We may add that none of the others coming later diminished the poet. The poet grew along with them. Possibly they grew out of him and it was the poet who exceeded himself with their coming: Sri Aurobindo the poet chose to transcend his art. The wielder of the poetic art was basic to Sri Aurobindo’s grand whole.

Secondly, to appreciate poetry as an art is a difficult job, calling for a large sensitivity, an intense penetrativeness. If one does not gather oneself up in a book to meet the rigours of this occupation one is very likely to disperse one’s energy and be unsuccessful. The field is often entered but rarely mastered. If any degree of mastery can arrive only on condition that one gets narrowed and specialised, is it not worth being confined to a small-seeming circle of activity? The apparent smallness is in itself no fault. Everything depends on the possibilities opened up within it. And when one’s mind is fixed on a poet of all life who is also a thinker and seer and mystic, one may point happily to that ancient symbol of poetic fervour and spiritual illumination as well as of earth-quickening ardour, the symbol of India’s Surya- Savitri and Greece’s Phoebus Apollo - the sun which, to all appearance and for all practical purposes, is but a small circle in the immensity of the sky.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages













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