December 08, 2007

Blank verse has attained in the hand of Sri Aurobindo its fulness, harmony and perfection

Sri Aurobindos' Savitri (an Adventure of Consciousness) Asoka K. Ganguli
Previous Contents Next CHAPTER TWO SAVITRI as an Epic An epic, particularly the primitive or primary epic, deals with a story from the heroic age concerning some great war or exploits of the hero. An objective story is the dominant feature of this epic. Ancient epics belong to this category.
The literary or secondary epics do not have a strong and pure story element. Dante’s The Divine Comedy has neither a mythological nor a historical story. It is allegorical in nature. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, too, a strong and pure story element is missing. It seems that as the epic moves away from expressing the outer life, the objective story element has been dwindling. From Milton to Sri Aurobindo, a span of about three centuries, and the epic tradition has completely revolutionised. A total reversal of the epic method now enters into English poetry; from objectivity of the past the epic writing moves to pure subjectivism in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. To quote the poet himself:
“Savitri is the record of a seeing, of an experience which is not of the common kind and is often far from what the general human mind sees and experiences. You must not expect appreciation or understanding from the general public or even from many at the first touch; as I have pointed out, there must be a new extension of consciousness and aesthesis to appreciate a new kind of mystic poetry”.2...
Every great poet is in essence a mystic. To be a mystic poet does not depend on his religious faith or attitude, nor on his intellectual argument for God or against it. Even the unreligious and the atheists like Lucretius may in their inspired moments leap up to express a sense of the mysterious Unknown...Sri Aurobindo broadly classifies mystical planes as occult, psychic and spiritual. The occult speech is not instinct with the Divine; it has the impress of a Celtic mystery that is at once weird and magically supernatural, as in the poetry of Coleridge and Yeats. This poetic speech transmits ‘baffling buried heavens of Beauty’. The psychic speech of the mystical poetry has
“a deeply delicate radiance moving the heart to some far sweetness or suffusing it with an exquisite ecstasy of God’s love”.10...
Savitri as a mystical poem brings readers in touch and closeness with the presence of the Divine by a consciousness directly aware of the supreme Spirit. Here is no conceptual notion; the poet lets
“spiritual facts seen in dimensions other than our universe take shape in poetry, and the poetry springs from those dimensions, throbbing with the strange tangibilities there...”15
All the visions and vibrations of the consciousness pervading those worlds are transmitted by the poet with entire poetic faithfulness. That is why the shapes and scenes are so incalculable, so bewildering. Only ‘a receptive hush’ in our being and nature can make us understand ‘the strangely worded and strangely rhythmed lines’.
Speaking of mystical poem and the mystic poet’s role, Sri Aurobindo explains,
“The door that has been shut to all but a few may open; the kingdom of the Spirit may be established not only in man’s inner being but in his life and his works. Poetry also may have its share in that revolution and become part of the spiritual empire”.16
“seeks to enlarge the field of poetic creation and find for the inner spiritual life of man and his now occult or mystical knowledge and experience of the whole hidden range of his and the world’s being, not a corner and a limited expression... but a wide space and as manifold and integral an expression of the boundless and innumerable riches that lie hidden and unexplored as if kept apart under the direct gaze of the Infinite.”16...
Savitri is
“a mystic and symbolic poem although cast into a different form and raised to a different pitch”34
Mystic poetry is like unmasking the Divine, unveiling the great Mystery or part of it. Not to unveil part of the Mystery, but integral and total unmasking of the Divine is his yogic aim and the epic gives expression to that. To achieve this Sri Aurobindo climbs realm after higher realm of consciousness into the highest Truth-Consciousness...
A splendid achievement of Sri Aurobindo in his poetic writings and specially in Savitri is the perfect unification and harmonisation of Overhead vision with the Overhead word-rhythm. Take the example where the poet by concrete vision and magnificent rhythmic movement of poetic speech describes Aswapati’s climb to high ‘mystical altitudes’...
The Overhead creation of Sri Aurobindo and his Overmind aesthesis herald a new age of poetry and poetics. To appreciate and enjoy this poetry, a threefold method of reading approach is to be adopted. For Overhead poetry can never be appreciated or enjoyed by the normal mind consciousness; there is need ‘ to develop our aesthetic sense to a pitch subtler than in our normal response to poetry’.
Secondly, there must be a stilling of our mind and vital so that the poet’s overhead vision may not get coloured; to receive the truth of the poet’s vision, a still receptivity of the reader’s mind, ‘a sort of receptive self-opening and calling – down condition’ is required. Thirdly, as the Overhead poetry has its own rhythm of poetic expression, so in ‘the in-drawn stillness’ the reader has to listen to the new rhythm. In other words Savitri has to be read aloud as one chants mantras; the vibrations of the word sound enter the reader’s inner being and create a true mantric effect. Savitri is from beyond the level of human mind and trying to understand it by the mind will baffle our effort or, as Sethna says, we get no more than a ‘run of disconnected flashes’ or still worse ‘a jostle of grandiose abstractions’.
One important characteristic of the Overmind poetry is its perfection and harmony of all its elements.
“There is the perfection of the language and there is the perfection of the word-music and the rhythm, beauty of speech and beauty of sound, but there is also the quality of the thing said which counts for something. If we consider only word and sound and what in themselves they evoke, we arrive at the application of the theory of art for art’s sake to poetry.”52
Not only all these have to be perfect in themselves but they have to live together in perfect harmony in the poem. This naturally applies to the poetic medium too, in the case of Savitri to its blank verse. In this sense it may be said that blank verse has attained in the hand of Sri Aurobindo its fulness, harmony and perfection...TOP

No comments:

Post a Comment