Poetry

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“Nirodbaran: Is X creative?

Sri Aurobindo: I don't think he is; he is also lyrical.

In that poem of his, “Transformation of Nature”, doesn't he give a creative force? He first describes the aspects of ordinary consciousness and sees the utter futility of it and slowly by turning to the Divine the transformation comes.

It is the description of an ideal. Does he enable you to enter into that state of consciousness, live in it? Very few poets are creative.

But we have heard that people have been helped in their sadhana by reading his poems.

That is a different matter. You don't understand what I mean. When you read Hamlet, you become Hamlet and you feel you are Hamlet. When you read Homer, you are Achilles living and moving and you feel you have become Achilles. That is what I mean by creativeness. On the other hand, in Shelley's “Skylark” , there is no skylark at all. You don't feel you have become one with the skylark. Through that poem, Shelley has only expressed his ideas and feelings. Take that line of his:

”Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts.”

It is a very fine poetical statement. But it is not creative in the sense that it doesn't make you live in that truth or that expression.

But in poems of Bhakti, devotion, you do feel the Bhakti.

It is a feeling only. It doesn't create a world for you to live and move in. Feeling is not enough in order to be creative.”[1]




Collected Poems
“The Bird of Fire”
Collected Poems - The Bird of Fire.jpg
PDF (1 page)
      Collected Poems
“Shiva”
Collected Poems - Shiva.jpg
PDF (2 pages)
  Francis Thompson
“The Hound of Heaven”
Francis Thompson - The Hound of Heaven.jpg
PDF (4 pages)


“Nirodbaran: Purani says your “Bird of Fire” has creative force. It is a creative symbolic poem.

Sri Aurobindo (smiling): I don't know. (Looking at Purani) It is for Purani to pronounce.

He also thinks your “Shiva” has it.

Why not leave my poetry out of it? If you want examples, there is “The Hound of Heaven”, as I have said, and there is Chesterton's “Lepanto”. They have the creative force.”[2]


“Nirodbaran: This morning I had an argument with Purani over your poem “Shiva”. Purani says it has creative force, just as your “Bird of Fire” has.
Purani: Didn't you agree with me?
Nirodbaran: Yes, about “Bird of Fire”. About the other I said that I didn't find creative force in it and asked, “Do you become Shiva when you read it?”

Sri Aurobindo: It is not necessary to become Shiva. The point is whether you find the picture painted there to be living and feel that Shiva is alive in the poem.

Purani: I find it creative in that sense. It is not merely an idea of what Shiva is or stands for that has been depicted. What I find here is a personality, a being.

When you feel that, it means that the thing depicted is a piece of creation. Tagore also seems to have liked this poem very much.

Nirodbaran: Yes, that is the only poem he liked. According to you, then, to be creative means that what is depicted is vivid, alive, appearing real.

Yes.”[3]




  1. Talks with Sri Aurobindo, p.370, 18 January 1940
  2. Ibid., p.373, 19 January 1940
  3. Ibid.


Sri Aurobindo on poets

See also