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object:2.1.7.05 - On the Inspiration and Writing of the Poem
book class:Letters On Poetry And Art
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
media class:chapter

1933

I have gone through your article. I have struck out like that of Savitri and changed will be into would be. Dont make prophecies. And how do you know that Savitri is or is going to be supramental poetry? It is not, in factit is only an attempt to render into poetry a symbol of things occult and spiritual.

1933
***
2 Aug 1933

You wrote to me the other day that Savitri is not supramental poetry, but I suppose there are lines in it which can be considered supramental. And why have you refrained from making it all supramental? As everything in the universe, including human language, is derived at the highest from the Overmind, I wonder if it will not be necessary to introduce some radical change in language to express supramental idea and rhythm. Can supramental speech be understood or appreciated by those who havent any glimmering of the influence of its source? Of course if it has a special symbology, one who is not supramentalised will find it very hard to grasp it, until explained, but will even its rhythm be incomprehensible?

All these are questions for the Supermind to settle when it has got down and settled into power.

2 August 1933
***
29 Mar 1936

We have been wondering why you should have to write and rewrite your poetryfor instance Savitriten or twelve times.

That is very simple. I used Savitri as a means of ascension. I began with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a higher level I rewrote from that level. Moreover I was particularif part seemed to me to come from any lower level, I was not satisfied to leave it because it was good poetry. All had to be as far as possible of the same mint. In fact, Savitri has not been regarded by me as a poem to be written and finished, but as a field of experimentation to see how far poetry could be written from ones own Yogic consciousness and how that could be made creative. I did not rewrite Rose of God or the Sonnets except for two or three verbal alterations made at the moment.

29 March 1936
***
26 Oct 1936

In Savitri there is no attemptas in the poetry of us lesser fryto make things specially striking or strange or new, but a simple largeness of gesture which most naturally makes one surprising revelation after another of beauty and power.

Well, it is the difference of receiving from above and living in the ambience of the Abovewhatever comes receives the breadth of largeness which belongs to that plane.

26 October 1936
***
29 Oct 1936

I dont know yet whether every line [of a passage] is final, but I send it all the same.

29 October 1936
***
30 Oct 1936

Why shouldnt every line be final? Do you ever have to pay attention to technique? That is, when revising do you think whether you have varied the pauses and the rhythm-modulations and the sentence-lengths? I suppose that if the expression satisfies you it automatically means a perfection of technique also, without your having to keep a special eye on it.

Every line was not sure of being final because three or four were newly written in the rebuilding, and I can never be certain of newly written stuff (I mean in this Savitri) until I have looked at it again after an interval. Apart from the quality of new lines, there is the combination with others in the whole which I have modified more than anything else in my past revisions.

I dont think about the technique because thinking is no longer in my line. But I see and feel first when the lines are coming through and afterwards in revision of the work. I dont bother about details while writing, because that would only hamper the inspiration. I let it come through without interference; only pausing if there is an obvious inadequacy felt, in which case I conclude that it is a wrong inspiration or inferior level that has cut across the communication. If the inspiration is the right one, then I have not to bother about the technique then or afterwards, for there comes through the perfect line with the perfect rhythm inextricably intertwined or rather fused into an inseparable and single unity; if there is anything wrong with the expression that carries with it an imperfection in the rhythm, if there is a flaw in the rhythm, the expression also does not carry its full weight, is not absolutely inevitable. If on the other hand the inspiration is not throughout the right one, then there is an after examination and recasting of part or whole. The things I lay most stress on then are whether each line in itself is the inevitable thing not only as a whole but in each word; whether there is the right distribution of sentence lengths (an immensely important thing in this kind of blank verse); whether the lines are in their right place, for all the lines may be perfect, but they may not combine perfectly togetherbridges may be needed, alterations of position so as to create the right development and perspective etc., etc. Pauses hardly exist in this kind of blank verse; variations of rhythm as between the lines, of caesura, of the distribution of long and short, clipped and open syllables, manifold combinations of vowel and consonant sounds, alliteration, assonances, etc., distribution into one line, two line, three or four or five line, many line sentences, care to make each line tell by itself in its own mass and force and at the same time form a harmonious whole sentencethese are the important things. But all that is usually taken care of by the inspiration itself, for as I know and have the habit of the technique, the inspiration provides what I want according to standing orders. If there is a defect I appeal to headquarters till a proper version comes along or the defect is removed by a word or phrase substitute that flasheswith the necessary sound and sense. These things are not done by thinking or seeking for the right thingthe two agents are sight and call. Also feelingthe solar plexus has to be satisfied and, until it is, revision after revision has to continue. I may add that the technique does not go by any set mental rulefor the object is not perfect technical elegance according to precept, but sound-significance filling out word-significance. If that can be done by breaking rules, well, so much the worse for the rule.

30 October 1936
***
3 Nov 1936

The poem was originally written from a lower level, a mixture perhaps of the inner mind, psychic, poetic intelligence, sublimised vital, afterwards with the Higher Mind, often illumined and intuitivised, intervening. Most of the stuff of the first book is new or else the old so altered as to be no more what it was; the best of the old has sometimes been kept almost intact because it had already the higher inspiration. Moreover there have been made successive revisions each trying to lift the general level higher and higher towards a possible Overmind poetry. As it now stands there is a general Overmind influence, I believe, sometimes coming fully through, sometimes colouring the poetry of the other higher planes fused together, sometimes lifting any one of these higher planes to its highest or the psychic, poetic intelligence or vital towards them.

3 November 1936
***
19 Nov 1936

It will take you exactly eight minutes to read the third section and two more minutes are enough for you to decide in the matter of alternatives.

You have queer ideas about poetic time! Sometimes it takes me months to get the right form of a line.

19 November 1936
***
20 Nov 1936

As far as I know, you dont need to recast anything in the third section, except an occasional word which is too closely repeated. As for the rest you have only to decide in a few places which of the two alternatives already found by you is the right onea problem which your solar plexus can polish off in a jiffy.

Allow me to point out that whatever I did in a jiffy would not be any more than provisionally final. It is not a question of making a few changes in individual lines, that is a very minor problem; the real finality only comes when all is felt as a perfect whole, no line jarring with or falling away from the level of the whole though some may rise above it and also all the parts in their proper place making the right harmony. It is an inner feeling that has to decide that and my inner feeling is not as satisfied in that respect with parts of the third section as it is with the first two. Unfortunately the mind cant arrange these things, one has to wait till the absolutely right thing comes in a sort of receptive self-opening and calling-down condition. Hence the months.

20 November 1936
***



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2.1.7.05 - On the Inspiration and Writing of the Poem
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