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object:2.1.7.07 - On the Verse and Structure of the Poem
book class:Letters On Poetry And Art
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
media class:chapter

25 Dec 1932

Please send me some passages from Savitri together with my selections from the blank-verse poetry of Abercrombie that I sent you in order to help me distinguish at a glance Hyperion from a satyr.

Savitri is built on another plan altogether. It is blank verse with out enjambements (except rarely)each line a thing by itself and arranged in paragraphs of one, two, three, four, five lines (rarely a longer series), in an attempt to catch something of the Upanishadic and Kalidasian movements, so far as that is a possibility in English. You cant take that as a model it is too difficult a rhythm-sculpture to be a model. I shall myself know whether it is a success or not, only when I have finished 2 or 3 books. But where is the time now for such a work? When the supramental has finished coming down then perhaps.

25 December 1932
***
25 Oct 1936

This First Book is divided into sections and the larger sections into subsections; you might wait till one section is with you before you type. E.g. the first section is the last Dawn, i.e. the dawn of the day of Satyavans death (but it must be remembered that everything is symbolic or significant in the poem, so this dawn also,) the next is the Issue both of these are short. Then comes a huge section of the Yoga of the Lord of the Horse (Aswapati, father of Savitri) relating how came about the birth of Savitri and its significancefinally the birth and childhood of Savitri.

25 October 1936
***
31 Oct 1936

Savitri was originally written many years ago before the Mother came as a narrative poem in two parts, Part I Earth and Part II Beyond (these two parts are still extant in the scheme) each of four books or rather Part II consisted of 3 books and an epilogue. Twelve books to an epic is a classical superstition, but this new Savitri may extend to ten books if much is added in the final revision it may be even twelve. The first book has been lengthening and lengthening out till it must be over 2000 lines, but I shall break up the original first four into five, I think in fact I have already started doing so. These first five will be, as I conceive them now, the Book of Birth, the Book of Quest, the Book of Love, the Book of Fate, the Book of Death. As for the second Part, I have not touched it yet. There was no climbing of planes there in the first version rather Savitri moves through the worlds of Night, of Twilight, of Day all of course in a spiritual sense and ended by calling down the power of the Highest Worlds of Sachchidananda. I had no idea of what the supramental World could be like at that time, so it could not enter into the scheme. As for expressing the supramental inspiration, that is a matter of the future.

31 October 1936
***
31 Oct 1936

Here is the beginning of the second section which is entitled The Issue that is of course the issue between Savitri and Fate or rather between the incarnate Light, the Sun Goddess, and Death the Creator and Devourer of this world with his Law of darkness, limitation, ignorance.

31 October 1936
***
1 Nov 1936

I was trying doublets again because in the third Section, first subsection (Yoga of the Lord of the Horse Ascent to Godhead) there is a long passage describing Aswapatis progress through the subtle physical, vital and mental worlds towards the Overmind which is far yet from being either complete or au point. It was only a brief interlude of a few lines formerly, but I had been lengthening it out afterwards with much difficulty in getting it right. I have now got the subtle physical and lower vital worlds into some kind of order, but the big dark Asuric vital and the vital heavens are still roaming about in a state of half solid incompleteness. Still I suppose as I am taking my vacation (from correspondence), I may have time to put all that right.

1 November 1936
***
10 Nov 1936

Dont you consider it rather necessary that some interpretative hint ought to be given of the term Horse in this section? Otherwise the section title [The Yoga of the Lord of the Horse] may mystify somewhat.

No. The name is Aswapati, Lord of the Horse, and it will be explained elsewhere. I dont want to be allegorical, only mystic and allusive.

10 November 1936
***
16 Nov 1936

I suppose the name of the section finished yesterday is Aswapati, Lord of the Horse and not, as originally conceived, The Yoga of the Lord of the Horse?

No. The proposed title would have no connection with the text except the name of the man which is not relevant as yet. The Yoga of the Lord of the Horse covers a number of sections making the greater part of the first book,it is not the title of one section only. This title is essential to the plan of the work. The subtitle Ascent to Godhead covers the two sections, the one just finished and the one now begun.

16 November 1936
***
19 May 1937

I am not quite sure of the sections (titles) yet the fourth section is obviously a continuation of the Ascent to Godhead it is the realisation of Godhead with which it will ascend after that the Unknowable Brahman, then the Purushottama and finally the Mother.

19 May 1937
***
1946

You will see when you get the full typescript [of the first three books] that Savitri has grown to an enormous length so that it is no longer quite the same thing as the poem you saw then. There are now three books in the first part. The first, the Book of Beginnings, comprises five cantos which cover the same ground as what you typed but contains also much more that is new. The small passage about Aswapati and the other worlds has been replaced by a new book, the Book of the Traveller of the Worlds, in fourteen cantos with many thousand lines. There is also a third sufficiently long book, the Book of the Divine Mother. In the new plan of the poem there is a second part consisting of five books: two of these, the Book of Birth and Quest and the Book of Love, have been completed and another, the Book of Fate, is almost complete. Two others, the Book of Yoga and the Book of Death, have still to be written, though a part needs only a thorough recasting. Finally, there is the third part consisting of four books, the Book of Eternal Night, the Book of the Dual Twilight, the Book of Everlasting Day and the Return to Earth, which have to be entirely recast and the third of them largely rewritten. So it will be a long time before Savitri is complete.

In the new form it will be a sort of poetic philosophy of the Spirit and of Life much profounder in its substance and vaster in its scope than was intended in the original poem. I am trying of course to keep it at a very high level of inspiration, but in so large a plan covering most subjects of philosophical thought and vision and many aspects of spiritual experience there is bound to be much variation of tone: but that is, I think, necessary for the richness and completeness of the treatment.

1946
***



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