Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spirituality in Sri Aurobindo’s poetic design is not something abstract, nor is it intellectual or philosophical, but vivid, living and concrete

The Poetics Of Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo’s Poetics R. K. SINGH

Sri Aurobindo does not endorse intellectualism -- richness of images and symbols without the corresponding essence of experience of ideas and feelings that are in the spirit. The poetic vision of life is not a critical or intellectual or philosophical view of it, “but a soul-view, seizing by the inner sense.”31 The intensity of rhythm and word is important but what is more important is the intensity of vision, the classic quality of “comprehensiveness”, concealing “the whole genius of a people,” to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase.32

Spirituality in Sri Aurobindo’s poetic design is not something abstract, nor is it intellectual or philosophical, but vivid, living and concrete and the use of images and symbols is inevitable in that it is the “straight way to avoid abstractness.” Formulated by the mind, images and symbols are the harmonizing elements in the structure of any poetic creation. The objects and ideas contemplated by the creative mind turn into symbol standing for something different from and beyond themselves, as Kant also points out in this Critique of Judgment .33

The poet realizes his images as very real and concrete to express his spiritual vision.The aesthetics of Sri Aurobindo propounds not only the dynamic mythic quality of languages but also its mythopoeic possibility as an index of cultural and spiritual evolution. Poetry-making is a symbolic act as long as it is a means of spiritual upliftment, the raising of consciousness to the ideal divine and the heightening and concentrating of simple sense experiences in truth. The poetic imagination, to quote Northrop Frye, “presents us with a vision, not of personal greatness of a poet, but of something impersonal and far greater: the vision of a decisive act of spiritual freedom, the vision of the recreation of man.”34

It is archetypal to the extent it concentrates on the motifs of totality, spirituality, universality, mythic consciousness and vision; symbols and images that appeal to the soul-culture of man, that bring out the spirit of the universe and the inner life, the essence of the eternal in the synthetic or harmonizing vision of the poets: poetry as the imaginative projection of man’s desires revealed in the form and expression of the poet. Symbol in Sri Aurobindo’s ideal is the natural body of the inner truth or vision, itself an intimate part of the experience. It is no intellectual abstraction but the native medium for the expression of the experiences of things realized inwardly. It induces inseeing and brings the high feeling of significance to what would otherwise be mere ordinary perception of the world. He wants an “imaginative use of tale and legend”35 and aspires after a “noble kind of poetry” with “the power to lay a great hold on the ancient figures and re-create them to be symbols of a new significance.”36

His concept of intuitive- spiritual poetry, that is the product of a direct spiritual perception and vision, stresses the total image which alone can bring out the beauty and power of thought and make it one with life. The spiritual reverie blends with the poetical, the personal fuses into the universal, and the self-knowledge leads to the cosmic knowledge.Poetry is the rhythmic voice of life, but it is one of the inner and not one of the surface voices. The creative-interpretative use of myths, legends and symbols opens up “new realms of vision, new realms of being” and not mere crude actuality of life.

Sri Aurobindo drives at the interpretative function of the poetic imagination which is identical with the power of representation in terms of images and symbols. He uses myths to manipulate a relationship between antiquity and contemporaneity, and at the same time as a symbolic device to seek self-knowledge and express the emotions experienced in the process of intuitive perception. As an evolving form myth adapts to the inner voice of the poet, as Lillian Feder confirms. Sri Aurobindo believes that the use of myths and legends will reconstruct the world for us and interpret the realities behind the veil.

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