January 19, 2008

Difficulty in fusing the predictable academic criteria with what Sri Aurobindo calls Overmind Aesthesis

Image, Symbol and Myth in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry--G. S. Pakle
by RY Deshpande on Fri 18 Jan 2008 03:36 PM PST Permanent Link
When symbolism arrived in Europe, following Mallarmé who proposed the view that the act of creation lies in not naming but in suggestion, it was thought that the ever-changing objective world is not a reality, but only a reflection, that all that one could do was to hint at the inner eternal truth underlying it. “The resulting poetry of this philosophy was intense and complex, full of condensed syntax and symbolic imagery. Their poetry also emphasized the importance of the sound of the verse, creating music through words.” No wonder, these sounds and these words, these charged symbols, will find a most appropriate place in any genuine mystical poetry, poetry coming from the deeps of the soul or descending form the heights of the superconscient spirit poised for expression. It is good this aspect has been quite perceptively presented by our author. Yet there are other considerations also.

About the opening line of Savitri—It was the hour before the Gods awake—the author conjectures if one of the gods mentioned in it is the Muse, Saraswati. There is a tradition that epics open with an invocation to the Goddess of Poetry, and here too it could be so. “Because when on the temporal level of the poem the gods do wake up the change in the atmosphere assumes a lyrical tone. Suddenly the universe becomes synonymous with poetry, as if the waking of the gods were the revelation of a divine poetry.” The suggestion could be that, Sri Aurobindo was invoking Saraswati before he started writing the epic. Is it so? But this line appeared for the first time in his twenty-fifth draft. This would mean that, only after those many attempts did she oblige him in giving him the opening line; or else he realised late in the day that he should make invocation to her. We wonder. One has to make a distinction between the poetry written by a seer-poet and others, and this must be borne in mind in every respect when comparisons are made.

In that regard the tools of poetry for the poet of Savitri acquire luminosity and keenness of something else, shaped by the powers of the spirit itself. He is the hearer of the Ineffable’s Word, and the seer of the Invisible’s Truth-and-Beauty in the calm delight of the creative rush; he is kavayah satyaśrutah. In his case a symbol, for instance, always expresses a living reality or inward vision or experience of things, making that experience a realisable possibility for the ready souls; it never is just a “conceptual representation”, an abstraction of some observation, as the professional critics might like to maintain. A symbol in mystic poetry can never be considered as a “detachable ornament”. This is particularly so in the case of Sri Aurobindo’s later sonnets and Savitri. Therefore, while studying the literary aspects of his works, a distinction has to be made as far as his several works are concerned. In other words, there seems to be a difficulty in fusing the predictable academic criteria with what Sri Aurobindo calls Overmind Aesthesis. May be some of these issues could be tackled with focused attention in future work by the author.

On the whole we must say that Dr Pakle’s Image, Symbol and Myth in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry is a fine piece of professional examination. It should prove to be a valuable aid in scholarly and academic work. In fact, it can very well form a text-book at the post-graduate level for the students of English literature. An exhaustive index and careful proofreading will make it more acceptable. The publishers should also check if the price could be made favourable for the student community to have personal access to it.
RY Deshpande
NB: The review first appeared in Recent Publications of Sabda. While posting it here, it has been lightly revised. Keywords: SriAurobindo, Savitri, Poetry, Mysticism, Literature Posted to: Main Page EDUCATION LITERATURE .. Book reviews .. Poetry PUBLICATIONS .. 'Savitri'

No comments:

Post a Comment