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Sri Aurobindo's Humour >> Poetic >> .. ...




MYSELF: I send you a poem. I didn't send it yesterday because it was the day of our vengeance and who knows my little verse might have been the last straw....But since all people profit at your expense, it wouldn't be wiser for me to stand aloof. So the poem and your kind opinion on it.

SRI AUROBINDO: My opinion is "good, but not good enough"—more stuff is needed.

It is good you did not throw your straw on the waters yesterday—the flood might have carried it away into the beginning of next week.


MYSELF: I can't resist the temptation of disturbing your Sabbath, Sir; here is a poem. The forceps were indispensable, but I hope it will be an 'Angel'!

SRI AUROBINDO: It is not bad at all—can be accorded the "order of merit". Traces of the forceps are visible. But if you go on, probably the forceps will not be indispensable.




MYSHLF:  N.K. says that before writing or painting he bows down once before Mother and you. If that is the magic, why, I will bow a hundred times. Sir!

SRI AUROBINDO: It depends on how you bow.


MYSELF: Today I surprised myself by completing a poem of 18 lines in about two hours and 8 lines of another poem in

one hour!

SRI AUROBINDO: Glory to God!


MYSELF: My disgust is becoming more and more acute as regards poetry. I suppose the slightly lit-up channel has closed again. Things are pushing me towards medicine—an absolutely opposite pole! Where is your alchemist. Sir?

SRI AUROBINDO: Has taken opium probably and is seeing visions somewhere. Perhaps they will come out some day

from your suddenly galvanised pen.

MYSELF: Everyone is doing something. I am only Tennysonning. Don't you feel pity for me. Sir?

SRI AUROBINDO: Not so much. If you were Browning, I might. On second thought I keep the poem one day more.

MYSELF: About the Bengali poem—I wrote the lines marked and then the Muse failed. Nishikanta saw them, picked up the poem and completed it. Naturally he has expressed his own sentiments. They are not mine, neither did I know what they would be when I started. I intend some day to write one myself with those lines as they seem quite good.What's your opinion?

SRI AUROBINDO: Your lines are very good. N's poem is very fine, but his style is too strong to agree with yours. It is as if a trumpet were to take up the notes of a flute.


MYSELF: Two English poems from N enclosed; one old and the other new. But no use asking what is the metre. N has only begun learning it.

SRI AUROBINDO: All right, I think. Re-reading it, I find it très  joli. Congratulations to myself and Nishikanta with Nirod Talukdar in the middle.

MYSELF: Why bother about the metre, precise Englishness etc. ? They will come some day and in the meantime let him go on writing and learning by corrections, lessons, so on.

SRI AUROBINDO: That's all right—but I rub in a bit of metre and stresses so that his ear may learn—and yours also. Finding by the last poem there is a distinct progress but where is the credit? Corrected by Amal? Or only by your sole poetic self?


MYSELF: By the way, you didn't like my poem or you hesitate to call it mine because of so many corrections by N? Others say it is very fine.

SRI AUROBINDO: It was very good; mixed parentage does not matter, so long as the offspring is beautiful.


MYSELF: I have made quite a vigorous programme to start from the New Year. One, Eng. metre with Arjava—he is willing and another, French with S, provided Mother has no objection. So?

SRI AUROBINDO: No objection at all. Enthusiastic approval!


MYSELF: May I ask that promised poem as a New Year present?

SRI AUROBINDO: You may ask, but who has time for it? Not yours truly.




MYSELF: Here is my attempt at the use of anapaests in the iambic metre:


The dismal clouds haunting my days and nights

Dissolve into a calm transparent wide

 Horizon, when ascends on the black heights

 Thy moon increasing in its luminous tide.


SRI AUROBINDO: It is stressed transparent, not transparent. What a howler! It makes me "drop into poetry"—thus


Sir, you seem apparently ignorant

That parent is the trick and not parent.

 And yet the stress transpires transparently

And is apparent to both ear and eye.

 So you compare and do not compare things;

Your soul prepares, not prepares heavenly wings.

 Your use of anapaests is still clumsy.


MYSELF: I have composed a sort of a poem:


Once swayed unmeasured insolent hopes in my breast:

Melting like snows heaped upon Himalaya-crest

Songs of my glory would o'erflow land and sea

 In tempestuous floods bursting the limits of Eternity.

(Sri Aurobindo's version):


Once swayed an insolent hope unmeasured in my breast:

That like bright snows heaps upon Himalay's crest

Songs of my glory overflowing land and sea

 Would break in deathless floods through the long Eternity.


MYSELF: Too grandiloquent?

SRI AUROBINDO: Yes. But, man alive, what is the metre? It seems to be neither pentametre fish, not lyrical red herring. I have turned it into alexandrine.


MYSELF: You forgot to have a look at Nishikanta's poetry yesterday? It has come back just as I sent it—want of time and absence of mind, I mean overmind?

SRI AUROBINDO: How is that? But it is not surprising if I overlook something, considering the crash through which I have to go at a gallop.


MYSELF: It seems I am not very rich in the faculty of imagination. And without that hardly any creation worth the name is possible.

SRI AUROBINDO: What is this superstition? At that rate Sophocles, Chaucer, Milton, Wordsworth are not good poets because their poetry is not full of images? Is Kalidasa a greater poet than Vyas or Valmiki because he is fuller of images?



What thinkest Thou of this anapaest poem, Sir,

 Written by my humble self? Pray, does it stir

Any soft feelings in Thy deep within

Or touches not even thy Supramental skin?


So soft, so soft, I almost coughed, then went aloft To supramental regions where rainbow-breasted pigeons Coo in their sacred legionsâe”


N.B. This inspired doggerel is perfectly private. It is an effort at abstract or surrealist poetry, but as I had no models to imitate, I may have blundered.

MYSELF: I had to show that doggerel to Amal as I couldn't decipher. Amal suggests if your "perfectly private" is a joke,

after all.

SRI AUROBINDO: No, sir. Quite serious. Can't afford to play jokes like that in public.

MYSELF: Is that "Coo in their sacred legions"?

 SRI AUROBINDO: Yes, the cooing is the supramental zenith of the softness and the surrealistic transformation of

the cough.


MYSELF: How is it. Sir, that my letter with the poem came away as they went? Because I was late or some Supra- mental forgetfulness?

SRI AUROBINDO: Never had a glimpse of either of them Must have been hiding scared in your bag.

MYSELF: For this have I kept awake at night and done sadhana. I've endured mosquito-bites all over my body, and it has come back without receiving your gracious look. Now I'm bursting into tears of despair. I'll send it again at your door, you'll kill me, 0 Guru, if you forget it this time!



0 must I groan and moan and scarify my poor inspired bones

To get my poem back as it were a bill from Smith or Jones?


N.B. Abstract poetry very abstract.


MYSELF: You gave no remark on the poem. You see, all our values depend on how you appraise them. If Mother smiles at somebody we think him good; if she doesn't, well...!

SRI AUROBINDO: What a coupling of disparates! What a blunder! Don't you know that the Divine smiles equally on the wicked and the good together?

MYSELF: You referred to "circumstances being exceptional" as regards my early success in English versification. But how are they exceptional?


Let me know

How 'tis so

A dullard like me

Bursting like the sea

With the heart of the Muse

Makes his rhythm fuse?




You are opening, opening opening

Into a wider, wider scopening

That fills me with a sudden hopening

That I may carry you in spite of gropening

Your soul into the supramental ropening.


N.B. Surrealist poetry.


MYSELF: I asked you what were the exceptional circumstances. In reply you have delighted my soul with surrealist poetry, but not my intellect, "widening, widening" is not the cause, but the effect.


 SRI AUROBINDO: Well, but that's just it. Widen, widen, scopen, scopen and the poetry may come in a torrent roaring and cascading through an enlarged fissure in yours and the world's subtle cranium.


MYSELF: Now I don't find poetry anywhere on the horizon.

SRI AUROBINDO: How do you know? It may be hiding behind a cloud.


MYSELF: At times I think why the devil do I bother my head with poetry? Poetry, poetry, poetry! Have I come here for blessed poetry?

SRI AUROBINDO: You haven't. But the poetry has come for you. So why shout?

MYSELF: I know that success in English poetry is as far away as the stars in heaven in spite of your remark to the contrary, though I must confess to having some contentment in writing.

SRI AUROBINDO: Rubbish! the stars in heaven don't stroll in and pay a visit—nor do they stroll out again.


MYSELF: I will tell you how an Englishman looks at our versifications in his tongue which has thrown cold water on it.

SRI AUROBINDO: I am not interested in the looks of your Englishman.

T's 'tongue' has thrown cold water on it—or what? This sentence is almost as unintelligible as T's own English.

MYSELF: You say T doesn't deserve a public castigation. I wish he did because he is again bombarding Dara on Indian English—apart from other things!

SRI AUROBINDO: Not only so, but I refuse to figure as discussing with him on an equal platform. You will ask me next to enter into a debate with Chellu¹ on Vedanta. There are limits.

MYSELF: In my case I have found that mostly I have to make a great effort and then when the thing comes down, people call it the result of the Force, I am quite justified in refusing to allow the Force most credit.

SRI AUROBINDO: Quite. It was your efforts that turned non-poets into poets! Hail, you wonder workers!

MYSELF: If you say that the Force has different ways of working—at times making me sweat and struggle for the sake of fun and at other times coming and sweeping one like spring-breeze, nothing to argue.

SRI AUROBINDO: It is the experience of the Yogis—but that is of no value.

MYSELF: If you don't exclaim 'Again X!'


MYSELF: I will write what he very aptly and eloquently expresses—I did everything with my effort, and you say that the Force has made me do it! If it's the Force that's doing it, then why, alas, this bone-breaking!

SRI AUROBINDO: All I can say is that if it was X's Force (of effort) that turned in a moment a hobbling ass into a winged eagle for that was what happened to his poetry, it has done something no one ever did before. But no doubt you are both of you right. I am rather coming to the conclusion that this world should be left to his own "efforts" to arrive where it can and the Mother and myself should take tickets for some other.


MYSELF: "Over the lone heights in the still air roamed," but roamed what. Sir?

SRI AUROBINDO: How the deuce am I to know? I wrote


 Â¹ Chellu was an Ashram  servant what came as a metrical example and the roamer did not come in view.


MYSELF: I hope you didn't intend to make me an April- fool. Otherwise Virgil and Nirod to be mentioned in the same pen-stroke !

Sri Aurobindo wrote in pencil:

What a modest poet! Most think themselves the superior of Homer, Milton and Shakespeare all added together.

MYSELF: (I couldn't read it) Absolutely .unreadable. Sir, not even by Nolini!

SRI AUROBINDO: I repeat then from memory. What a modest poet! Most think in their heart of hearts that they are superior to Homer, Virgil, Milton and Shakespeare all piled upon and fused into each other.


MYSELF: Getting depressed, discouraged, thinking of giving up the blessed business of writing poetry. Binapani has no compassion towards me.

SRI AUROBINDO: Nonsense! She has plenty—at times.

 MYSELF: Will try again, if no result, will absolutely fall flat. Can't blame me, I think you have no time to send any Force.

SRI AUROBINDO: Had no force to send, at least some that I considered worth something. Fell flat myself for the last two or three days—as flat as I could manage to at this Stage. Am recovering curvilinear proportions and shall try to send something along.


MYSELF: By the way, what do you think of my taking lessons in English metre now? But at times I feel that when there is some improvement in Bengali poetry, then I shall think of it; otherwise as they say, I'll be Jack of all trades.


SRI AUROBINDO: There is no harm in studying English metre. It won't prevent you becoming a John of some trades hereafter.

MYSELF: What poem, you ask? Good Lord! Didn't I request you to compose a poem illustrating some points of prosody? Already forgotten? If the Guru is so forgetful, the śisya can be worse.

SRI AUROBINDO: And didn't I tell you that it was an extravagant and unwarrantable idea to demand a poem for such a grammatical purpose and I kept the carte blanche that I might use it for other purposes? What's this śisya who does not read his Guru's objurgations, however illegible?


MYSELF: Last night I tried to compose a poem. It was a failure, I fell asleep over its first two lines.

SRI AUROBINDO: You call it a failure when you have discovered a new soporific?




MYSELF: I let go the typescript, but the poem? How can I allow you to break your promise?

SRI AUROBINDO: Break a promise? who's going to do that? No time was fixed—so the promises can be fulfilled, say in 1997. If you say you are not likely to be alive then, nor I either—well, our heirs can complete the transaction.




MYSELF: Here is a stanza from a poem of mine.


I gather from some fathomless depth of Mind

Transparent thoughts that float through crystal wind

 And weave the dance of the Spirit's mystery

Around the star-fires of infinity.


SRI AUROBINDO: I read your variation first as "stumps". What a magnificent and original image! the starry stumps (or star-stumps) of infinity! But I fear, alas, that it would be condemned as surrealistic. I can't make out the variation for crystal. Wearied? Tired of carrying tons of transparent thoughts? Surely not!

MYSELF: In yesterday's poem I am much tempted to take the "stump", even if it is surrealistic. Who cares what it is when you find it magnificent? It was not "weary wind" but tranced wind.

SRI AUROBINDO: Don't do it, sir, or you will get stumped. The "star-stumps" are "magnificent" from the humorous- reckless-epic point of view, but they can't be taken seriously. Besides, you would have to change all into the same key e. g.


"I slog on the boundless cricket field of Mind

Transparent thoughts that cross like crystal wind

 God's wicket-keepers dance of mystery

Around the starry stumps of infinity."




Sri Aurobindo

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When someone is destined for the Path, all circumstances through all the deviations of mind and life help in one way or another to lead him to it. It is his own psychic being within him and Divine Power above that use to that end the vicissitudes both of mind and outward circumstance.

Sri Aurobindo