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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Poems

CWSA.- Volume 2

Note on the Texts

Sri Aurobindo once wrote that he was “a poet and a politician” first, and only afterwards a philosopher. One might add that he was a poet before he entered politics and a poet after he ceased to write about politics or philosophy. His first published work, written apparently towards the end of 1882, was a short poem. The last writing work he did, towards the end of 1950, was revision of the epic poem Savitri. The results of these sixty-eight years of poetic output are collected in the present volume, with the exception of Savitri, dramatic poetry, poetic translations, and poems written in Bengali and Sanskrit. These appear, respectively, in Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, Collected Plays and Stories, Translations, and Writings in Bengali and Sanskrit, volumes 33 – 34, 3 – 4, 5, and 9 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.

The poems in the present volume have been arranged in seven chronological parts. The dates of the parts overlap because some of the books that define each period contain poems from a wide range of dates. Within each part, poems from books published by the author are followed by complete and incomplete poems published posthumously. Poems that appeared in books published by Sri Aurobindo during his lifetime are arranged as they were in those books. Otherwise, poems within each section of each part are arranged chronologically. Poems written in Greek and in French appear in an appendix at the end of the volume.

Part One: England and Baroda, 1883 – 1898

Sri Aurobindo went to England as a child of seven in 1879. He lived in Manchester until 1884, when he went to London to study at St. Paul’s School. From there he went to Cambridge in 1890. Three years later he returned to India, and until 1906 lived and worked in the princely state of Baroda. He began writing poetry in Manchester, and continued in London, Cambridge and Baroda. His first collection, published in Baroda in 1898, contained poems written in England and Baroda. This collection is reproduced in the present part, along with other poems written during these years.

Poem Published in 1883

Light. Published 1883. Asked in 1939, “When did you begin to write poetry?”, Sri Aurobindo replied: “When my two brothers and I were staying at Manchester. I wrote for the Fox family magazine. It was an awful imitation of somebody I don’t remember.” The only English journal having a name resembling “the Fox family magazine” is Fox’s Weekly, which first appeared on 11 January 1883 and was suspended the following November. Published from Leeds, it catered to the middle and working classes of that industrial town. A total of nine poems appeared in Fox’s Weekly during its brief existence. All but one of them are coarse adult satires. The exception is “Light”, published in the issue of 11 January 1883. Like all other poems in Fox’s Weekly, “Light” is unsigned, but there can be no doubt that it was the poem to which Sri Aurobindo referred when he said that his first verses were published in “the Fox family magazine”. The poem’s stanza is an imitation of the one used by P. B. Shelley in the well-known lyric “The Cloud”. Sri Aurobindo remarked in 1926 that as a child in Manchester, he went through the works of Shelley again and again. He also wrote that he read the Bible “assiduously” while living in the house of his guardian, William H. Drewett, a Congregationalist clergyman.

Songs to Myrtilla.

This, Sri Aurobindo’s first collection of poems, was printed in 1898 for private circulation by the Lakshmi Vilas Printing Press, Baroda, under the title Songs to Myrtilla and Other Poems. No copy of the first edition survives. The second edition, which was probably a reimpression of the first, is undated. The date of publication must therefore be inferred from other evidence. The book’s handwritten manuscript, as well as the second edition, contains the poem “Lines on Ireland”, dated 1896. The second edition contains a translation from Chandidasa that almost certainly was done using an edition of Chandidasa’s works published in 1897. On 17 October 1898, Sri Aurobindo’s brother Manmohan wrote in a letter to Rabindranath Tagore: “My brother . . . has just published a volume of poems at Baroda.” This book evidently is Songs to Myrtilla. In another letter Manmohan tells Tagore: “Aurobinda is anxious to know what you think of his book of verses.” This second letter is dated 24 October 1894, but the year clearly is wrong. Manmohan had not even returned to India from England by that date. When the two letters are read together and when other documentary evidence is evaluated, it becomes clear that the second letter also was written in 1898, and that this was the year of publication of the first edition of Songs to Myrtilla.1 The “second edition” apparently appeared a year or two later.

A new edition of the book, entitled simply Songs to Myrtilla, was published by the Arya Publishing House, Calcutta, in April 1923.

When a biographer suggested during the 1940s that all the poems in Songs to Myrtilla were written in Baroda, except for five that were written in England, Sri Aurobindo corrected him as follows: “It is the other way round; all the poems in the book were written in England except five later ones which were written after his return to India.” The following poems certainly were written in Baroda after his return to India in 1893: “Lines on Ireland” (dated 1896), “Saraswati with the Lotus” and “Bankim Chandra Chatterji” (both written after the death of Bankim in 1894), and “To the Cuckoo” (originally subtitled “A Spring morning in India”). “Madhusudan Dutt” was probably also written in Baroda, as were the two adaptations of poems by Chandidasa. This makes seven poems. The number five, proposed by the biographer and not by Sri Aurobindo, was probably not meant by Sri Aurobindo to be taken as an exact figure.

The handwritten manuscript of Songs to Myrtilla contains one poem, “The Just Man”, that was not printed in any edition of the book. (It is reproduced here in the third section of Part One.) The manuscript and the second edition contain a dedication and a Latin epigraph, which Sri Aurobindo later deleted. They are reproduced here from the manuscript:

To my brother

Manmohan Ghose

these poems

are dedicated.

Tale tuum nobis carmen, divine poeta,

Quale sopor fessis in gramine, quale per aestum

Dulcis aquae saliente sitim restinguere rivo.

* * *

Quae tibi, quae tali reddam pro carmine dona?

The Latin lines are from Virgil’s fifth Eclogue, lines 45 – 47 and 81. They may be translated as follows:

So is thy song to me, poet divine,

As slumber on the grass to weary limbs,

Or to slake thirst from some sweet-bubbling rill

In summer’s heat...

How, how repay thee for a song so rare?

Four of the poems in Songs to Myrtilla are adaptations of works written in other languages: two in ancient Greek and two in mediaeval Bengali. These adaptations are published here in their original context. They are also published in Translations, volume 5 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.

Songs to Myrtilla. Circa 1890 – 98. This, the title-poem of the collection, is headed in the manuscript “Sweet is the night”.

O Coοl, Coοl. Circa 1890 – 98. The coοl is the koyel or Indian cuckoo.

Goethe. Circa 1890 – 98.

The Lost Deliverer. Circa 1890 – 98. In the manuscript and the Baroda edition, this epigram is entitled “Ferdinand Lassalle”. Lassalle (1825 – 64), a German socialist leader, was killed in a duel over a woman.

Charles Stewart Parnell. Dated 1891, the year of the Irish nationalist leader’s death.

Hic Jacet. Dated 1891 in the manuscript; subtitled in the manuscript and in all printed editions: “Glasnevin Cemetery”. This is the cemetery in Dublin where Parnell is buried.

Lines on Ireland. Dated 1896 in the manuscript and all printed editions.

On a Satyr and Sleeping Love. Circa 1890 – 98. This is a translation of a Greek epigram attributed to Plato.

A Rose of Women. Circa 1890 – 98. This is a translation of a Greek epigram by Meleager (first century B.C.).

Saraswati with the Lotus. 1894 or later. Written after the death of the Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838 – 94).

Night by the Sea. Circa 1890 – 98.

The Lover’s Complaint. Circa 1890 – 98.

Love in Sorrow. Circa 1890 – 98.

The Island Grave. Circa 1890 – 98.

Estelle. Circa 1890 – 98.

Radha’s Complaint in Absence. Circa 1890 – 98, probably towards the end of this period. This is an adaptation of a poem by the Bengali poet and mystic Chandidasa (late fourteenth to early fifteenth century).

Radha’s Appeal. Circa 1890 – 98, probably towards the end of this period. Another adaptation of a poem by Chandidasa.

Bankim Chandra Chatterji. Circa 1894 – 98. Certainly written after Bankim’s death in 1894. The poem is entitled in the manuscript “Lines written after reading a novel of Bunkim Chundra Chatterji”.

Madhusudan Dutt. Circa 1893 – 98.

To the Cuckoo. Circa 1893 – 98. Subtitled in the manuscript “A Spring morning in India”. The subtitle may have been deleted from the Baroda edition simply for lack of space.

Envoi. Circa 1890 – 98, probably closer to 1898. Entitled “Vale” in the manuscript. No title was printed in the Baroda edition, perhaps for lack of space. The title “Envoi” was given when a new edition of Songs to Myrtilla was brought out in 1923. The Latin epigraph is from the Appendix Vergiliana (poems once ascribed to Virgil, but more likely by a contemporary), Catalepton, Carmen 5, lines 8 – 11.

The following translation of these lines is by Joseph J. Mooney (The Minor Poems of Vergil [Birmingham, 1916]):

O Muses, off with you, be gone with all the rest!

Ye charming Muses, for the truth shall be confessed

Ye charming were, and modestly and rarely still

Ye must revisit pages that I then shall fill.

Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1891 – 1898

All but one of the pieces in this section and the next are taken from a notebook Sri Aurobindo used at Cambridge between 1890 and 1892.

To a Hero-Worshipper. September 1891. From the Cambridge notebook.

Phaethon. Circa 1891 – 92. From the Cambridge notebook.

The Just Man. Circa 1891 – 98. This poem forms part of the manuscript of Songs to Myrtilla but was not included by Sri Aurobindo in the printed book.

Incomplete Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1891 – 1892

Thou bright choregus. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1891 – 92. These two stanzas are from the Cambridge notebook. Published here for the first time.

Like a white statue. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1891 – 92. This incomplete prose poem is from the Cambridge notebook. In the manuscript, there is a comma at the end of the last line.

The Vigil of Thaliard. 1891 – 92. Sri Aurobindo wrote this incomplete ballad in the Cambridge notebook. He dated certain passages of it August and September 1891 and March and April 1892.

Part Two: Baroda, circa 1898 – 1902

Complete Narrative Poems

Urvasie. Circa 1898. This poem first appeared in a small book printed for private circulation by the Vani Vilas Press, Baroda. (A deluxe edition was printed later by the Caxton Works, Bombay.) In 1942, Sri Aurobindo informed the editors of Collected Poems and Plays that Urvasie was printed “sometime before I wrote ‘Love and Death’”, that is, before 1899. He also indicated that Urvasie was subsequent to Songs to Myrtilla, which was published in 1898. Taking these data together, one is obliged to assign Urvasie to 1898 – 99.

Love and Death. The handwritten manuscript of this poem is dated “June. July 1899”. The poem first appeared in print in the review Shama’a in January 1921, and was reprinted the same year by Mrinalini Chattopadhyay, Aghore Mandir, Madras.

A Note on Love and Death. Circa 1921. This is the longest of three handwritten drafts of a note Sri Aurobindo thought of adding to Love and Death when it was published in 1921. In the event, the poem was published without a note.

Incomplete Narrative Poems, circa 1899 – 1902

Khaled of the Sea. 1899. The handwritten manuscript of this poem is dated in three places: “Jan 1899” at the end of the Prologue, “Feb. 1899” in the middle of Canto I, and “March, 1899” at the end.

Uloupie. Circa 1901 – 2. A portion of the rough draft of this poem was written below some notes that may be dated to May 1901. The poem was never completed, but was drawn upon in the writing of Chitrangada (see below, Part Four).

Sonnets from Manuscripts, circa 1900 – 1901

Sri Aurobindo wrote the twelve sonnets in this section, as well as the fourteen poems in the next section, in a notebook that contains the fair copy of Uloupie, which was written in 1901 – 2. The other contents of the notebook may have been drafted sometime earlier; “The Spring Child” certainly was. The notebook was seized by the British police when Sri Aurobindo was arrested in 1908. This made it impossible for him to revise or publish these poems after his release from jail in 1909. In the manuscript, the first four sonnets are grouped together under the heading: “Four Sonnets”. None of the twelve have titles.

O face that I have loved. Circa 1900 – 1901.

I cannot equal. Circa 1900 – 1901.

O letter dull and cold. Circa 1900 – 1901.

My life is wasted. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Because thy flame is spent. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Thou didst mistake. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Rose, I have loved. Circa 1900 – 1901.

I have a hundred lives. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Still there is something. Circa 1900 – 1901.

I have a doubt. Circa 1900 – 1901.

To weep because a glorious sun. Circa 1900 – 1901.

What is this talk. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Short Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1900 – 1901

Sri Aurobindo wrote these fourteen poems in the notebook he used also for Uloupie and the above sonnets. He wrote the heading “Miscellaneous” above the poems. They are arranged here in the order in which they appear in Sri Aurobindo’s notebook.

The Spring Child. 1900. As recorded in the subtitle, this poem was written for Sri Aurobindo’s cousin Basanti Mitra, who was born on 9 Jyestha 1292 (22 May 1886). The title and opening of the poem involve a play on the Bengali word bāsantī, which means “vernal”, “of the spring”.

A Doubt. Circa 1900 – 1901.

The Nightingale. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Euphrosyne. Circa 1900 – 1901. The Greek word euphrosunē means “cheerfulness, mirth, merriment”. In Greek mythology, Euphrosyne was one of the three Graces.

A Thing Seen. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Epitaph. Circa 1900 – 1901.

To the Modern Priam. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Song. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Epigram. Circa 1900 – 1901.

The Three Cries of Deiphobus. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Perigone Prologuises. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Since I have seen your face. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1900 – 1901.

So that was why. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1900 – 1901. Sri Aurobindo wrote this passage at the bottom of several pages of the notebook that contains the above poems. Dramatic in style, it may have been intended for a play.

World’s delight. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1900 – 1901.

Part Three: Baroda and Bengal, circa 1900 – 1909

Poems from Ahana and Other Poems

Ahana and Other Poems was published in 1915. It consists of the long poem Ahana, written in Pondicherry, and twenty-four shorter poems, most of which were written in Baroda. Sometime after 1915, Sri Aurobindo wrote in his copy of the book, “Written mostly between 1895 and 1908, first published at Pondicherry in 1915.” This inscription shows a degree of uncertainty: “1895” was written over “1900”, while “1908” was written over “1907”. Neither of the dates, written more than a decade after the poems, need be considered exact. Surviving manuscript drafts of these poems do not appear to be earlier than 1900. Near-final drafts of many of them are found in a typed manuscript that may be dated to 1904 – 6. When Sri Aurobindo looked over these poems in 1942 while his Collected Poems and Plays was being arranged, he commented: “I find that most of the poems are quite early in Baroda, others later on and others in the second period [of poems in the book, i.e. 1906 – 9]. It would be a pity to break up these poems, as they form a natural group by themselves.” In the present volume, these twenty-four poems are published in a single group, while “Ahana” is published along with other works written in Pondicherry. Two of the poems in this section, “Karma” and “Appeal”, are adaptations of mediaeval Indian lyrics. They are published here in their original context, and also in Translations, volume 5 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.

Invitation. 1908 – 9. This poem was published in Sri Aurobindo’s weekly newspaper Karmayogin on 6 November 1909, under the inscription: “(Composed in the Alipur Jail)”. Sri Aurobindo was a prisoner in Alipore Jail between 5 May 1908 and 6 May 1909.

Who. Circa 1908 – 9. Published in the Karmayogin on 13 November 1909.

Miracles. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Reminiscence. Circa 1900 – 1906. A typewritten copy of this poem was an exhibit in the Alipore Bomb Case in 1908 (see Bande Mataram weekly, 5 July 1908, p. 13).

A Vision of Science. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Immortal Love. Circa 1900 – 1906.

A Tree. Circa 1900 – 1906.

To the Sea. Circa 1900 – 1906. A version of the poem was published in the Modern Review in June 1909.

Revelation. Circa 1900 – 1906. A draft of this poem, entitled “The Vision”, is found in the manuscript notebook that contains “Uloupie” and other poems included in Part Two. This draft differs considerably from the version found in the typed manuscript of 1904 – 6, which was used as the basis of the text published in Ahana and Other Poems.

Karma. Circa 1900 – 1906 or later. This is a free rendering of a poem by the mediaeval Bengali poet Chandidasa.

Appeal. Circa 1900 – 1906 or later. This poem is based in part on a song by the mediaeval Maithili poet Vidyapati. The first stanza follows Vidyapati’s text fairly closely; the next two stanzas are Sri Aurobindo’s own invention.

A Child’s Imagination. Circa 1900 – 1906.

The Sea at Night. Circa 1900 – 1906.

The Vedantin’s Prayer. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Rebirth. Circa 1900 – 1906.

The Triumph-Song of Trishuncou. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Life and Death. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Evening. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Parabrahman. Circa 1900 – 1906.

God. Circa 1900 – 1906.

The Fear of Death. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Seasons. Circa 1900 – 1906.

The Rishi. Circa 1900 – 1908. Sheets containing draft passages of this poem were seized by the British police when Sri Aurobindo was arrested in 1908. Sometime after the poem was published in Ahana and Other Poems, Sri Aurobindo wrote under it in his copy of the book “(1907 – 1911)” – but see the note under the section title above.

In the Moonlight. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1900 – 1906

Sri Aurobindo wrote these poems around the same time that he wrote those making up the previous section. Many of them form part of a typed manuscript that contains poems included in Ahana and Other Poems. Sri Aurobindo chose not to include the poems in the present section in that book when it was published in 1915. They first appeared in print posthumously.

To the Boers. Circa 1900 – 1902. According to the subtitle, this poem was written “during the progress of the Boer War”. The Boer War began in 1899 and ended in 1902.

Vision. Circa 1900 – 1906.

To the Ganges. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Suddenly out from the wonderful East. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1900 – 1902. This poem is Sri Aurobindo’s earliest surviving attempt to write a poem in dactylic hexameters. A fair copy is found on the same sheet as a fair copy of “To the Boers”, which was written around 1900 – 1902. This and another draft of the poem were seized by the British police when Sri Aurobindo was arrested in 1908. Several years later, in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo began what appears to be a new or revised version of this poem, but wrote only three lines:

Where in a lapse of the hills leaps lightly down with laughter

White with her rustle of raiment upon the spray strewn boulders,

Cold in her virgin childhood the river resonant Ganges.

On the Mountains. Circa 1900 – 1906.

Part Four: Calcutta and Chandernagore, 1907 – 1910

Sri Aurobindo left his teaching position in Baroda in February 1906 and went to Calcutta to join the national movement. Between November 1906 and May 1908 he was the editor of the daily newspaper Bande Mataram, and had little occasion to write poetry. In May 1908 he was arrested and imprisoned in Alipore Jail. During the year of his detention he managed to compose a few poems that were published after his release in May 1909. Between June 1909 and February 1910, he was the editor of the weekly journal Karmayogin, in which several of his poems appeared. In February 1910 he went from Calcutta to Chandernagore, and six weeks later to Pondicherry, where he spent the rest of his life.

Satirical Poem Published in 1907

Reflections of Srinath Paul, Rai Bahadoor, on the Present Discontents. This poem was published on 5 April 1907 in the daily Bande Mataram. This political newspaper, edited by Sri Aurobindo and others, carried a number of satirical poems, most of which were the work of Sri Aurobindo’s colleague Shyam Sundar Chakravarti. This piece is the exception. Sri Aurobindo remembered writing it in 1942 when his poems were being collected for publication in Collected Poems and Plays. (It was not published in that collection because the file of the daily Bande Mataram was not then available.) Later the poem was independently ascribed to Sri Aurobindo by Hemendra Prasad Ghose, another Bande Mataram editor and writer, who was in a way responsible for its composition. In his report on the session of the Bengal Provincial Conference held in Behrampore in 1907, Hemendra Prasad wrote that the chairman of the Reception Committee, a loyalist named Srinath Paul (who bore the honourary British title Rai Bahadoor), finished his address “perspiring and short of breath” (Bande Mataram, 2 April 1907). This phrase moved Sri Aurobindo to write this amusing piece of political satire. It was published under the heading “By the Way”, which was the headline he used for his occasional column in Bande Mataram. The same words were used in place of a signature at the end.

Short Poems Published in 1909 and 1910

The Mother of Dreams. 1908 – 9. Published in the Modern Review in July 1909, two months after Sri Aurobindo’s release from the Alipore Jail. The following note was appended to the text: “This poem was composed by Mr. Aurobindo Ghose in the Alipore Jail, of course without the aid of any writing materials. He committed it to memory and wrote it down after his release. There are several other poems of his, composed in jail.”

An Image. Circa 1909. Published in the Karmayogin on 20 November 1909. (This was the third poem by Sri Aurobindo that he published in the Karmayogin. The first two, “Invitation” and “Who”, were included in Ahana and Other Poems in 1915, and so are included in Part Three of the present volume.) “An Image”, Sri Aurobindo’s first published lines in quantitative hexameters, may be related in some way to Ilion, his epic poem in that metre, which he began to write in Alipore Jail (see below, Part Five).

The Birth of Sin. Circa 1909. Published in the Karmayogin on 11 December 1909. A fragmentary draft of a related piece is found in one of Sri Aurobindo’s notebooks in handwriting of the 1909 – 10 period. That piece, which is more in the nature of a play than a poem, is published in Collected Plays and Stories, volume 4 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.

Epiphany. Circa 1909. Published in the Karmayogin on 18 December 1909. Around 1913, Sri Aurobindo copied the Karmayogin text into a notebook, making a few deliberate changes as he did so. Later he revised the opening and close of this version. Three decades later, when Collected Poems and Plays was being compiled, the editors, not knowing about the 1913 version, sent the Karmayogin text to Sri Aurobindo, who made a few revisions to it. This version was used in Collected Poems and Plays (1942) and reproduced in Collected Poems in 1972. The editors of the present volume have selected the more extensively revised version of 1913 for the text reproduced here. The 1942 version is reproduced in the Reference Volume.

To R. 1909. Published in the Modern Review in April 1910 under the title “To R – ” and dated 19 July 1909. “R” stands for Ratna, which was the pet name of Sri Aurobindo’s cousin Kumudini Mitra, who was born on 3 Sraban 1289 (18 July 1882). In the Modern Review, the poem was signed “Auro Dada” (big brother Auro).

Transiit, Non Periit. 1909 or earlier. This sonnet to Rajnarain Bose, Sri Aurobindo’s maternal grandfather and a well-known writer and speaker, was first published at the beginning of Atmacharit, Rajnarain’s memoirs, in 1909. As mentioned in the note beneath the title, Rajnarain died in September 1899. Sri Aurobindo may have written the poem anytime between 1899 and 1909; but since there are no drafts among his Baroda manuscripts, and since the poem belongs stylistically with those of 1909, it seems likely that it was written close to the date of the publication of that book. Quite possibly it was written especially for the book in 1909. The Latin title means: “He has gone beyond, he has not perished.”

Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1909 – 1910

Perfect thy motion. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1909. The single manuscript text of this poem is found in a notebook that Sri Aurobindo used for the dramatic version of “The Birth of Sin” (see the previous section) and for the dialogue that follows. All these poems are in the handwriting of the 1909 – 10 period.

A Dialogue. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1909. Written in the same notebook and in the same handwriting as “Perfect thy motion” and the dramatic version of “The Birth of Sin”. Unlike that piece, it is not structured as a play, and so has been printed here as a dramatic poem.

Narrative Poems Published in 1910

Baji Prabhou. Circa 1904 – 9. Sri Aurobindo wrote that this work was “conceived and written in Bengal during the period of political activity”. This leaves the precise date of its composition unclear. Sri Aurobindo went to Bengal and openly joined the national movement in February 1906, but he had been active behind the scenes for some years before that. A partial draft of Baji Prabhou is found in a notebook he used from around 1902 to around 1910. The handwriting of this draft is that of the later years in Baroda (1904 – 6), and it is probable the poem was written during that period. (Sri Aurobindo spent a good deal of time in Bengal during these years.) Baji Prabhou was published for the first time in three issues of the Karmayogin: 19 February, 26 February and 5 March 1910. At some point he revised the first instalment of the Karmayogin text, but did not make use of this revision subsequently. In 1922 he published the Karmayogin text (with new, very light, revision) at the Modern Press, Pondicherry. This text became the basis of a further revised version published in Collected Poems and Plays in 1942. This 1942 version is the basis of the present text. (In the version published in Collected Poems [1972], the editors included readings from the revised Karmayogin text. In the present edition these readings have been ignored, but the 1922 and 1942 revisions, both approved by Sri Aurobindo, have been included.)

Chitrangada. 1909 – 10. This incomplete poem is related in theme and form to “Uloupie” (see above, Part Two), which Sri Aurobindo wrote around 1901 – 2. The manuscript of “Uloupie” was confiscated by the police in 1908 and never returned. There were, however, two draft passages of the poem in a notebook that Sri Aurobindo had with him in 1909 – 10, and he apparently drew on these to write Chitrangada. Many of the lines in the final version are identical or almost identical to those in the draft passages. Sometime before he left Bengal in February 1910, he gave the manuscript of Chitrangada to the Karmayogin staff for publication. The poem appeared in that newspaper in the issues of 26 March and 2 April 1910. “To be continued” was printed at the end of the second instalment, but the issue in which it appeared was the last to come out. The manuscript of the rest of the poem has been lost. Around 1930, one of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples typed the incomplete poem out from the Karmayogin and sent it to Sri Aurobindo, who expressed some dissatisfaction with it. In 1937 he indicated that the poem required some revision before it could be published, but that it was “not the moment” for that. More than a decade later, he revised Chitrangada for publication in the 1949 number of the Sri Aurobindo Circle annual. The following note was printed along with the Circle text: “Sri Aurobindo had completed this poem but the original has been lost, only this fragment remains. It has been revised for publication.” The revision considerably enlarged the passage containing the speech of Chitrangada’s “dying sire”. The new lines appear to be the last poetical lines Sri Aurobindo composed, with the exception of the final revisions and additions to Savitri.

Poems Written in 1910 and Published in 1920 – 1921

These three poems have an unusual history. They form part of a manuscript containing material apparently intended for three issues of the Karmayogin. This manuscript also contains articles on yoga, historical studies, satirical sketches, and pieces headed “Passing Thoughts”, which was the name Sri Aurobindo gave to his weekly column in the Karmayogin early in 1910. (See the Note on the Texts to Early Cultural Writings, volume 1 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, for more information on this “Chandernagore Manuscript”.) In the middle of February 1910, Sri Aurobindo left Calcutta for Chandernagore, where he remained for six weeks before departing for Pondicherry. It would appear that he left the manuscript containing these poems behind in Chandernagore, that someone there made copies of the poems and other contents of the manuscript, and that at some point the original manuscript was sent to him in Pondicherry. (See Arun Chandra Dutt, ed., Light to Superlight [Calcutta: Prabartak Publishers, 1972], p. 207.) In 1920 – 21 defective texts of the poems (as well as some of the other contents of the manuscript) were published in the Standard Bearer, a journal brought out from Chandernagore. Sometime after their publication, Sri Aurobindo revised the Standard Bearer texts. In 1942, the Standard Bearer versions were given to Sri Aurobindo for further revision before inclusion in Collected Poems and Plays. Evidently he and the editors of the volume had by this time forgotten about the existence of the original manuscripts. These manuscripts, however, are superior to the defective Standard Bearer texts and also to the 1942 version, which is based on those texts. The editors of the present volume have therefore based the texts printed here on the original manuscripts, incorporating the deliberate changes made by Sri Aurobindo in 1942. The texts printed in Collected Poems and Plays are included in the Reference Volume.

The Rakshasas. 1910. This poem was intended for the first issue of the Karmayogin to be printed from the manuscript described in the above note. A corrupt version was printed in the Standard Bearer on 14 November 1920. This version was revised by Sri Aurobindo for inclusion in Collected Poems and Plays in 1942. The present version is based on the original manuscript.

Kama. 1910. This poem was intended for the second issue of the Karmayogin to be printed from the manuscript described in the above note. A corrupt version was printed in the Standard Bearer on 27 March 1921. This version was revised by Sri Aurobindo for inclusion in Collected Poems and Plays in 1942. The present version is based on the original manuscript.

The Mahatmas. 1910. This poem was intended for the third issue of the Karmayogin to be printed from the manuscript described in the above note. In the manuscript, the poem is entitled “The Mahatmas: Kutthumi”. A corrupt version was printed under the title “The Mahatma Kuthumi” in the Standard Bearer on 12 and 26 December 1920. This version was revised by Sri Aurobindo for inclusion in Collected Poems and Plays in 1942. The present version is based on the original manuscript.

Part Five: Pondicherry, circa 1910 – 1920

Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry in 1910 and remained there until his passing in 1950. During this period he published four collections of short poems as well as Collected Poems and Plays (1942). He also published a number of short poems in journals, and wrote scores of poems, long and short, that were not brought out until after his passing.

Two Poems in Quantitative Hexameters

Ilion. Sri Aurobindo began work on this epic in quantitative hexameters in 1908 or 1909. The earliest surviving manuscript lines of the poem – then entitled “The Fall of Troy: An Epic” – were dated by the author as follows: “Commenced in jail, 1909, resumed and completed in Pondicherry, April and May 1910.” Between then and 1914, he worked steadily on this “completed” poem, transforming it from a brief narrative into an epic made up of several books. During the first stage of this enlargement, between April 1910 and March 1913, he produced almost a dozen drafts of the first book and a smaller number of drafts of the second. In March 1913, a sudden fluency permitted him to complete and revise a version of the epic extending up to the end of what is now Book VIII. He wrote the fragmentary ninth book (untitled and not actually headed “Book IX” in the manuscript) in 1914. Probably before then, he copied out the first eight books into notebooks that bear the title Ilion. Subsequently he revised and recopied the completed books, or passages from them, several times. This work continued until around 1917. It would appear that two factors – the writing-load of the monthly journal Arya (1914 – 21) and the attention demanded by his other epic, Savitri – caused him to stop work on Ilion before completing what presumably was intended to be a twelve-book epic.

During the twenties and thirties, Sri Aurobindo returned to Ilion from time to time. As late as 1935, he complained jocularly that if he could get an hour’s freedom from his correspondence every day, “in another three years Savitri and Ilion and I don’t know how much more would all be rewritten, finished, resplendently complete”. He in fact never found time to complete Ilion, but in 1942 he revised the opening of the first book to serve as an illustration of the quantitative hexameter in “On Quantitative Metre”, an essay that was published in Collected Poems and Plays in 1942 and also in a separate booklet issued the same year. This revised passage of 371 lines was the only portion of Ilion to appear in print during his lifetime. The full text was transcribed from his manuscripts and published in 1957. A new edition, corrected against the manuscripts and with the addition of the opening of the fragmentary ninth book, was brought out in 1989. The present text has been rechecked against the manuscripts.

Ahana. This poem in rhymed hexametric couplets, grew out of “The Descent of Ahana” (see below), which took its final form around 1912 – 13. “The Descent of Ahana” is divided into two parts. The first part consists of a long dialogue between Ahana and “Voices”; the second consists of a speech by Ahana, a speech by “A Voice”, and a final speech by Ahana. In the final draft of “The Descent”, the last two speeches of the second part comprise 160 lines. In or before 1915, Sri Aurobindo revised and enlarged these 160 lines into the 171-line poem that was published in Ahana and Other Poems. In this version, Sri Aurobindo added a head-note setting the scene of the poem and a footnote glossing the term “Ras”. Sometime after 1915, he revised the 1915 text, but apparently forgot about this revision, which has never been published. In or before 1942, he again revised the 1915 text for publication in Collected Poems and Plays. This 1942 revision brought the poem to its present length of 518 lines.

Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1912 – 1913

The Descent of Ahana. Circa 1912 – 13. The earliest known draft of this poem is found among the papers that the police seized from Sri Aurobindo’s room when he was arrested in May 1908. A complete fair copy is found in a manuscript notebook that may be dated circa 1912 – 13. The second part of the fair copy was subsequently revised and published under the title “Ahana” in Ahana and Other Poems (1915). See the note to “Ahana” in the previous section.

The Meditations of Mandavya. 1913. Sri Aurobindo wrote the date “April 12, 1913” at the end of a draft of the first part of this poem. The incident of the scorpion-sting happened before 14 February 1911, when Sri Aurobindo mentioned it in Record of Yoga as something that had happened in the past. In the mid 1930s, when the book entitled Poems Past and Present was being prepared, a copy of “The Meditations of Mandavya” was typed for Sri Aurobindo, who revised it lightly. He chose however not to include the poem in that collection. The revisions done at that time are incorporated in the text for the first time in the present edition.

Incomplete Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1912 – 1920

Thou who controllest. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1912. Sri Aurobindo wrote these lines in dactylic hexameter inside the back cover of a notebook that he used sometime before November 1912. He was working on Ilion at this time, but these lines do not seem to belong to that poem. Neither do they appear to be a translation of lines from the Iliad, the Odyssey or any other classical text.

Sole in the meadows of Thebes. No title in the manuscript. 1913. Written on the same manuscript page as the following poem, at around the same time. It is almost certainly to this poem that Sri Aurobindo was referring when he wrote in Record of Yoga on 21 September 1913 of beginning an “Eclogue in hexameter”.

O Will of God. No title in the manuscript. 1913. Written on the same manuscript page as the previous poem.

The Tale of Nala [1]. Circa 1916 – 20. There are very few clues by which this incomplete poem might be dated. Judging from the handwriting, it was composed towards the end of the second decade of the century. It obviously is based on the story of Nala, as recounted in the Mahabharata and later texts, but does not seem to be a translation of any known Sanskrit work. The passages separated by a blank line were written separately and not joined together.

The Tale of Nala [2]. Circa 1916 – 20. Sri Aurobindo seems to have written this rhymed version of the opening of his proposed poem on Nala after the blank verse version. He retained several lines from the earlier version unchanged or practically unchanged.

Part Six: Baroda and Pondicherry, circa 1902 – 1936

Poems Past and Present

These eight poems were published as a booklet by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1946. (Four of them – “Musa Spiritus”, “Bride of the Fire”, “The Blue Bird” and “A God’s Labour” – had appeared in journals connected with the Ashram earlier the same year.) All the poems were written at least a decade, one of them four and a half decades, before 1946. The first draft of “Hell and Heaven” dates back to around 1902, early drafts of “Kamadeva” and “Life” to around 1913. A notebook containing these three early poems was uncovered by Sri Aurobindo’s secretary, Nolini Kanta Gupta, in April 1932. He typed out copies and sent them to Sri Aurobindo with this note: “I have copied these poems out of a notebook that was being hopelessly eaten away by insects. I do not know how far I have been able to recover the text.” Sri Aurobindo revised these poems around that time, adding a fourth, “One Day”, while he worked. Several years later these four poems were published along with four that had been written in 1935 and 1936 under the title Poems Past and Present. The eight poems are reproduced here in the order in which they are printed in that book.

Musa Spiritus. 1935. An early draft of this poem occurs between drafts of “A God’s Labour” and “The Blue Bird” (see below). Sri Aurobindo wrote the date “31.7.35” at the end of a later draft. There are two handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript of this poem.

Bride of the Fire. 1935. The first draft of this poem is dated 11 November 1935. There are two handwritten and two typed manuscripts.

The Blue Bird. 1935. The first draft of this poem is dated 11 November 1935. There are two handwritten and two typed manuscripts.

A God’s Labour. 1935 – 36. A late draft of this poem is dated as follows: “31.7.35 / Last 4 stanzas 1.1.36”. There are four handwritten and two typed manuscripts.

Hell and Heaven. Circa 1902 – 30s. The earliest extant draft of this poem is found in the typed manuscript that contains drafts of “To the Ganges”, “To the Boers”, etc. (see above, Part Three). Around 1912 Sri Aurobindo copied the poem out by hand in a notebook. Twenty years later, his secretary Nolini Kanta Gupta typed this and the next two poems out from this notebook and presented them to Sri Aurobindo for revision. Fourteen years after that they were included in Poems Past and Present. There are one handwritten and two typed manuscripts.

Kamadeva. Circa 1913. The earliest surviving drafts of this poem and the next one are found in the notebook that contains “The Meditations of Mandavya” (see above, Part Five), the opening of which is dated 1913. In 1932 they were typed out and fourteen years later included in Poems Past and Present. There is one handwritten and one typed manuscript.

Life. Circa 1913. The earliest surviving drafts of this poem and the previous one are found in the notebook that contains “The Meditations of Mandavya” (see above, Part Five), the opening of which is dated 1913. In 1932 they were typed out and fourteen years later included in Poems Past and Present. There is one handwritten and one typed manuscript.

One Day. Circa 1932. Sri Aurobindo wrote the first draft of this poem in the notebook containing drafts of the previous three poems, which Nolini Kanta Gupta uncovered and sent to him in 1932. This draft was lightly revised and later included in Poems Past and Present. There is one handwritten and one typed manuscript.

Part Seven: Pondicherry, circa 1927 – 1947

Sri Aurobindo published three short volumes of poetry, and a volume on poetics that included poems as illustrations, between 1934 and 1946. One of the volumes of poems, Poems Past and Present, comprises Part Six of the present volume. The other volumes are included in this part, which also contains complete and incomplete poems from his manuscripts of the same period.

Six Poems. These poems were written in 1932, 1933 and 1934. In 1934 a book was planned that would include the six poems along with translations of them into Bengali by disciples of Sri Aurobindo. This book was published by Rameshwar & Co., Chandernagore, before the end of the year. Shown a proposed publicity blurb for the book, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “One can’t blow one’s own trumpet in this monstrous way, nor do I want it to be indicated that I am publishing this book. It is Nolini’s publication, not mine. Why can’t a decent notice be given instead of these terrible blurbs?” He also wrote his own descriptive paragraph stating that the six poems were in “novel English metres” and that the book included “notes on the metres of the poems and their significance drawn from the letters of Sri Aurobindo”. The texts as well as the notes were reprinted in Collected Poems and Plays (1942).

The Bird of Fire. 17 October 1933. No handwritten manuscripts of this poem survive. There are three typed manuscripts, two of which are dated 17 October 1933. In a letter written shortly afterwards, Sri Aurobindo said that “Bird of Fire” was “written on two consecutive days – and afterwards revised”. He also wrote that this poem and “Trance” (see below) were completed the same day.2

Trance. 16 October 1933. There are two handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript, which is dated “16.10.33”. In the same letter in which Sri Aurobindo wrote about the composition of “The Bird of Fire” (see above), he noted that “Trance” was written “at one sitting – it took only a few minutes”. In Six Poems “Trance” was placed after “The Bird of Fire”.

Shiva. 6 November 1933. There are two handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript, which is dated “6.11.33”.

The Life Heavens. 15 November 1933. There are four handwritten and three typed manuscripts. The typed manuscripts are dated “15.11.33”.

Jivanmukta. 13 April 1934. There are four handwritten and two typed manuscripts. The typed manuscripts are dated “13.4.34”. The poem was published in the Calcutta Review in June 1934.

In Horis Aeternum. 19 April 1932. Sri Aurobindo began this poem while corresponding with Arjava (J. A. Chadwick, a British disciple) about English prosody. He wrote the first stanza in a letter to Arjava and the full poem in a subsequent letter (Letters on Poetry and Art, pp. 231 – 34). There are two handwritten and two typed manuscripts. One of the typed manuscripts is dated “19.4.32”.

Notes. These notes were compiled from Sri Aurobindo’s letters and revised by him for publication while Six Poems was under production.

Poems. These six poems were written during the early 1930s and published as a booklet by the Government Central Press, Hyderabad, in 1941. The next year they were reprinted in Collected Poems and Plays under the heading “Transformation and Other Poems”. Sometime in the 1940s a small edition of the book was published by the India Library Society, New York.

Transformation. Circa 1933. This sonnet was published in the Calcutta Review in October 1934. Two months earlier, Sri Aurobindo asked his secretary to type copies of this poem and three others (“The Other Earths”, “The World Game” and “Symbol Moon”) from the notebook in which they and others had been written. When “Transformation” and “The Other Earths” were published in 1934, Sri Aurobindo informed a disciple that they were “some years old already” (Letters on Poetry and Art, p. 211), but it is unlikely that they were more than a year old at that time. The first draft of “Transformation” occurs in a notebook just after the first draft of “Trance”, which is dated 16 October 1933; it is probable that “Transformation” was written the same year. There are two handwritten and two typed manuscripts of this poem. In a note written after “Transformation” and the next two sonnets were typed for publication, Sri Aurobindo said that he wanted the sestets of Miltonic sonnets to be set as they have been set in the present book, irrespective of rhyme scheme.

Nirvana. August 1934. This sonnet was written while the texts of “Transformation” and “The Other Earths” were being prepared for publication in the Calcutta Review. It was published along with them in that journal in October 1934. There are two handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript of this poem.

The Other Earths. Circa 1933. This sonnet was published in the Calcutta Review in October 1934. Its first draft occurs just after the first draft of “Transformation”, which is dated 16 October 1933; thus it belongs, in all probability, to the year 1933. See the note to “Transformation” for more details. Writing to a disciple who was trying to translate it into Bengali, Sri Aurobindo wrote that the line “Fire importunities of scarlet bloom” meant “an abundance of scarlet blossoms importuning (constantly insisting, besieging) with the fire of their vivid hues”. There are two handwritten and two typed manuscripts of this poem.

Thought the Paraclete. 31 December 1934 (this is the date on a typed manuscript; the handwritten manuscripts were probably written in June 1934). This poem originated as a metrical experiment, in which Sri Aurobindo tried to match a Bengali metrical model submitted to him by his disciple Dilip Kumar Roy.3 There are at least three handwritten and two typed manuscripts of this poem. A printed text was produced sometime before 1941, but apparently was never published.

Moon of Two Hemispheres. July 1934. Like “Thought the Paraclete”, this poem originated in an attempt to duplicate a Bengali metre proposed by Dilip Kumar Roy. Replying to Dilip, Sri Aurobindo began: “After two days of wrestling I have to admit that I am beaten by your last metre. I have written something, but it is a fake.” He then wrote out the first stanza of the poem, pointing out where he had failed to meet Dilip’s specifications. He closed by saying: “I have some idea of adding a second stanza”, though “it may never take birth at all” (Letters on Poetry and Art, pp. 235 – 36). He did write a second stanza later. The poem was published in the “Sri Aurobindo Number” (volume 2, number 5) of the Calcutta fortnightly journal Onward in August 1934. There are four handwritten and two typed manuscripts of this poem.

Rose of God. 29 – 30 December 1934. There is one handwritten and one typed manuscript of this poem. The typed manuscript is dated 31 December 1934; however Sri Aurobindo wrote in a letter to a disciple that “Rose of God” was ready “on the 30th having been written on that and the previous day”. On 31 December, he wrote to his secretary that the just-typed “Rose of God” could be “circulated first as a sort of New Year invocation”. On 2 March 1935, his secretary wrote to him saying that the editor of a quarterly journal had asked for a poem to be published, and asking whether “Rose of God” could be sent. Sri Aurobindo replied: “I feel squeamish about publishing the ‘Rose of God’ in a magazine or newspaper. It seems to me the wrong place altogether.”

Note. This note did not form part of Poems (1941); it was first published in 1942 in Collected Poems and Plays.

Poems Published in On Quantitative Metre

With two exceptions, these poems were written in 1942 for publication in Collected Poems and Plays. Sri Aurobindo later commented that he wrote them “very rapidly – in the course of a week, I think”. In regard to “Flame-Wind” and “Trance of Waiting”, this would refer not to the composition but the revision, since the first drafts of these pieces were written during the mid 1930s. The fourteen poems, along with the first 371 lines of Ilion, first appeared as an appendix to On Quantitative Metre. This text was published as part of Collected Poems and Plays, and also as a separate book, in 1942. Each of the poems was followed by a footnote written by the author giving details of the metre used. These notes have not been included in the present volume, but may be seen in the text of On Quantitative Metre, published in The Future Poetry with On Quantitative Metre, volume 26 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. The first 371 lines of Ilion appear in Part Five of the present volume as part of the full text of the poem.

Ocean Oneness. 1942. Two handwritten manuscripts, both entitled “Brahman”, precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Trance of Waiting. Circa 1934. The first draft of this poem was written around the same time as “Jivanmukta”, which is dated 1934. Two handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work in 1942.

Flame-Wind. 1937. A handwritten draft of this poem is dated 1937. This draft is entitled “Dream Symbols”. Three other handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work in 1942.

The River. 1942. Three handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Journey’s End. 1942. Two handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

The Dream Boat. 1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Soul in the Ignorance. 1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

The Witness and the Wheel. 1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Descent. 1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

The Lost Boat. 1942. Two handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Renewal. 1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Soul’s Scene. 1942. Three handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Ascent. 1942. Two handwritten manuscripts precede the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

The Tiger and the Deer. 1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

Sonnets

Sri Aurobindo wrote a total of seventy-five sonnets between 1933 and 1947. Only three of them were published in a book during his lifetime (see above under Poems). The other seventy-two are reproduced in the present section. See the note to “Transformation” for typographical conventions. Sri Aurobindo wrote in 1934 that he intended his sonnets to “be published in a separate book of sonnets”. This was done in the book Sonnets, first published in 1980.

Three Sonnets. One of these sonnets was written around 1934, the other two in 1939. Sri Aurobindo selected them from among his completed sonnets for publication in the Sri Aurobindo Circle, Bombay, in 1948. They were published under the heading “Three Sonnets”.

Man the Enigma. 17 September 1939. Three handwritten and two typed manuscripts precede the Circle publication in 1948.

The Infinitesimal Infinite. Circa 1934. Three handwritten and four typed manuscripts precede the Circle publication in 1948.

The Cosmic Dance. 15 September 1939. Four handwritten and two typed manuscripts precede the Circle publication in 1948.

Sonnets from Manuscripts, circa 1934 – 1947

On 31 December 1934, Nolini Kanta Gupta wrote in a note to Sri Aurobindo: “Sometime ago I typed Seven Sonnets – Are they not in their final form?” Sri Aurobindo replied: “No. I have had no time to see them – and I am still a little doubtful about their quality.” The seven sonnets were (in the order of Nolini’s typed copies): “Contrasts”, “Man the Thinking Animal”, “Evolution [1]”, “Evolution [2]”, “The Call of the Impossible”, “Man the Mediator”, and “The Infinitesimal Infinite”. Sri Aurobindo later revised most of the seven, along with an eighth, “The Silver Call”, which is related to “The Infinitesimal Infinite”. After further revision he published “The Infinitesimal Infinite” as part of “Three Sonnets” in 1948 (see above).

Man the Thinking Animal. Circa 1934. Five handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript, the earliest contemporaneous with close-to-final drafts of “Transformation” and “The Other Earths”.

Contrasts. Circa 1934. Five handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript, the earliest contemporaneous with close-to-final drafts of “Transformation” and “The Other Earths”.

The Silver Call. Written on or before 25 April 1934 (when Sri Aurobindo quoted five lines in a letter to Dilip Kumar Roy); revised 1944. Five handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript; the first handwritten manuscript was written shortly after those of the two preceding sonnets. The original poem went through several versions, eventually becoming two, “The Silver Call” and “The Call of the Impossible”. The final version of “The Silver Call” is dated “193 – (?) / 23.3.44”.

Evolution [1]. Circa 1934, revised 1944. Five handwrittenmanuscripts and one typed manuscript, that is dated “193 – (?) / 22.3.44”. This poem and the one above were often worked on together, as were the two that follow.

The Call of the Impossible. 1934; revised subsequently. Four handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript. This poem began as a variant of “The Silver Call”: the first lines of the two poems were once identical – “There is a godhead in unrealised things” – and the first rhyming words remain the same even in the final versions.

Evolution [2]. Circa 1934. Two handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript. The handwritten drafts were written around the same time as early drafts of “The Call of the Impossible”; the final typed versions of the two poems are also contemporaneous. The present sonnet has the same title as the one which forms a pair with “A Silver Call” (see “Evolution [1]” above). There is no textual relation between it and its namesake, but there is some between it and “The Silver Call”: its closing couplet was first used as the close of “The Silver Call” and its second and fourth lines are similar to the tenth and twelfth lines of “The Silver Call”.

Man the Mediator. Circa 1934. Four handwritten manuscripts and one typed manuscript. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next five sonnets in 1934 or 1935, at around the same time. He did not ask his secretary to make typed copies of any of the five, and gave titles to only three of them. The other two (one of which began as a variant of one of the first three) were found recently among the manuscripts of this group and recognised as separate poems.

Discoveries of Science. Circa 1934 – 35. Three handwritten manuscripts.

All here is Spirit. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934 – 35. One handwritten manuscript. Published here for the first time.

The Ways of the Spirit [1]. Circa 1934 – 35. Four handwritten manuscripts.

The Ways of the Spirit [2]. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934 – 35. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Science and the Unknowable. Circa 1934 – 35. Three handwritten manuscripts. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next two sonnets in the early part of 1936.

The Yogi on the Whirlpool. 1936. Two handwritten manuscripts, neither of them dated, but certainly written just before “The Kingdom Within”.

The Kingdom Within. 14 March 1936. Two handwritten manuscripts. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next three sonnets in the early part of 1938.

Now I have borne. No title in the manuscript. 2 February 1938. Two handwritten manuscripts.

Electron. 15 July 1938. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Indwelling Universal. 15 July 1938. Two handwritten manuscripts. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next nine sonnets in July and August 1938 and revised them in March 1944.

Bliss of Identity. 25 July 1938, revised 21 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “Identity”.

The Witness Spirit. 26 July 1938, revised 21 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Hidden Plan. 26 July 1938, revised 18 and 21 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Pilgrim of the Night. 26 July 1938, revised 18 March 1944. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “In the Night”.

Cosmic Consciousness. 26 July 1938, revised apparently on 21 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “The Cosmic Man”.

Liberation [1]. 27 July 1938, revised 22 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Inconscient. 27 July 1938, revised 21 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts.

Life-Unity. 8 August 1938, revised 22 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Golden Light. 8 August 1938, revised 22 March 1944. Two handwritten manuscripts. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next thirty-nine sonnets between 11 September and 16 November 1939. He wrote two other sonnets, “Man the Enigma” and “The Cosmic Dance” during the same period (see above under “Three Sonnets”).

The Infinite Adventure. 11 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Greater Plan. 12 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Universal Incarnation. 13 September 1939. Four handwritten manuscripts.

The Godhead. 13 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts. This sonnet is about an experience Sri Aurobindo had during the first year of his stay in Baroda (1893).

The Stone Goddess. 13 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts. This sonnet is about an experience Sri Aurobindo had at a temple in Karnali, on the banks of the Narmada, near the end of his stay in Baroda (c. 1904 – 6).

Krishna. 15 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Shiva. 16 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Word of the Silence. 18 – 19 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Self’s Infinity. 18 – 19 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the second entitled “Self-Infinity”.

The Dual Being. 19 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Lila. 20 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the second entitled “The Thousandfold One”.

Surrender. 20 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Divine Worker. 20 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Guest. 21 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “The Guest of Nature”.

The Inner Sovereign. 22 September 1939, revised 27 September. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “The Sovereign Tenant”.

Creation. 24 September 1939, revised 28 September. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “The Conscious Inconscient”.

A Dream of Surreal Science. 25 September 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

In the Battle. 25 September 1939. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Little Ego. 26 September 1939, revised 29 September. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Miracle of Birth. 27 September 1939, revised 29 September. Six handwritten manuscripts, the second entitled “The Divine Mystery”, the third “The Divine Miracle-Play”, and the fourth and fifth “The Miracle-Play”.

The Bliss of Brahman. 29 September 1939, revised 21 October. Five handwritten manuscripts; the first has the epigraph: “He who has found the bliss of Brahman, has no fear from any quarter. / Upanishad [Taittiriya Upanishad 2.4]”.

Moments. 29 September 1939, revised 2 October. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Body. 2 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Liberation [2]. 2 – 3 October 1939, revised 5 November. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Light. 3 – 4 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Unseen Infinite. 4 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “The Omnipresent”.

“I”. 15 October 1939, revised 5 November. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Cosmic Spirit. 15 October 1939, revised 5 November. Two handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “Cosmic Consciousness”, revised to “Cosmic Self”.

Self. 15 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “Liberty”.

Omnipresence. 17 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first two entitled “The Omnipresent”.

The Inconscient Foundation. 18 October 1939, revised 7 February 1940. Two handwritten manuscripts.

Adwaita. 19 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts. This sonnet was written about an experience Sri Aurobindo had while walking on the Takht-i-Sulaiman (“Seat of Solomon”), near Srinagar, Kashmir, in 1903.

The Hill-top Temple. 21 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, the first two entitled “The Temple on the Hill-Top”. This sonnet is about an experience Sri Aurobindo had at a shrine in the temple-complex on Parvati Hill, near Poona, probably in 1902.

The Divine Hearing. 24 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, one of which is entitled “Sounds”.

Because Thou art. 25 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts, all untitled.

Divine Sight. 26 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Divine Sense. 1 November 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Iron Dictators. 14 November 1939. Two handwritten manuscripts.

Form. 16 November 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next two sonnets in 1940.

Immortality. 8 February 1940. One handwritten manuscript.

Man, the Despot of Contraries. 29 July 1940. Two handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “The Spirit of Man”. Sri Aurobindo wrote the next two sonnets during the middle to late 1940s.

The One Self. Circa 1945 – 47. One handwritten manuscript, undated, but in the almost illegible handwriting of the late 1940s.

The Inner Fields. 14 March 1947. One handwritten manuscript, legible only with difficulty, and another in the handwriting of Nirodbaran, Sri Aurobindo’s scribe.

Lyrical Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1934 – 1947

Sri Aurobindo once wrote that he wanted his short poems published in two separate books, one of sonnets and one of “(mainly) lyrical poems”. In the present section are published all complete short poems, sonnets excluded, that he wrote between 1934 and 1947. Parodies written as amusements, poems written primarily as metrical experiments, and incomplete poems have been placed in the sections that follow. It sometimes is difficult to determine whether Sri Aurobindo considered a given poem to be complete when he stopped work on it.

Symbol Moon. Circa 1934. Three handwritten and two typed manuscripts. On 7 August 1934, Sri Aurobindo asked his secretary to type the first drafts of “Symbol Moon”, “The World Game”, “Transformation” and “The Other Earths” from the notebook in which he wrote these and other poems.

The World Game. Circa 1934. Three handwritten and two typed manuscripts.

Who art thou that camest. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934 – 36. One handwritten manuscript, written in a notebook used otherwise for Savitri.

One. 14 March 1936. One handwritten manuscript, written on a sheet of a small “Bloc-Memo” pad.

In a mounting as of sea-tides. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936 – 37. One handwritten manuscript.

Krishna. Circa 1936 – 37. One handwritten manuscript.

The Cosmic Man. 15 September 1938. One handwritten manuscript.

The Island Sun. 13 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

Despair on the Staircase. October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Dwarf Napoleon. 16 October 1939. Three handwritten manuscripts.

The Children of Wotan. 30 August 1940. Two handwritten manuscripts.

The Mother of God. One handwritten manuscript, undated, but in the handwriting of the mid 1940s.

The End? 3 June 1945. One handwritten manuscript.

Silence is all. No title in the manuscript. 14 January 1947. (The manuscript is dated “January 14, 1946”, but this is probably a slip, as the rest of the contents of the notebook in which the poem is written are from 1947.) One handwritten manuscript.

Poems Written as Metrical Experiments

Sri Aurobindo wrote most of these pieces in a somewhat playful effort to match metrical models submitted to him by his disciple Dilip Kumar Roy. As Dilip writes in Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p. 233: “At the time I was transposing some English modulations into our Bengali verse which he [Sri Aurobindo] greatly appreciated in so much that, to encourage me, he composed short poems now and then as English counterparts to my Bengali bases.” One such experiment resulted in the poem “Thought the Paraclete”, which Sri Aurobindo later revised and included in the book Poems (see above). All but one of the others exist in one or more drafts in Sri Aurobindo’s notebooks of the period. The exception, “In some faint dawn”, is known only by the text published by Dilip in Sri Aurobindo Came to Me. The nine poems published in that book are reproduced here in the same order. Another poem written in response to a letter from Dilip is placed before the rest, while two others, also metrical experiments, have been placed at the end of Dilip’s set. All the poems except the last seem to have been written in 1934. All but one are untitled in the manuscripts.

O pall of black Night. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934. Three handwritten manuscripts. See Letters on Poetry and Art, pp. 236 – 37, for a letter that shows the genesis of this poem.

To the hill-tops of silence. No title in the manuscript. 1934. One handwritten transcript in Nolini Kanta Gupta’s hand.

Oh, but fair was her face. No title in the manuscript. 1934. One handwritten transcript in Nolini Kanta Gupta’s hand.

In the ending of time. No title in the manuscript. 1934. One handwritten transcript in Nolini Kanta Gupta’s hand.

In some faint dawn. No title in the printed text in Sri Aurobindo Came to Me. 1934.

In a flaming as of spaces. No title in the manuscript. 1934. One handwritten manuscript.

O Life, thy breath is but a cry. 1934. Early typed copies of this poem are dated 21 June 1934 and are entitled “Life and the Immortal”. Sri Aurobindo took up this poem in 1942 while preparing poems to be published in On Quantitative Metre. He gave the revised draft the title “Life” and indicated the rhyme scheme as follows: “Iambics; modulations, spondee, anapaest, pyrrhic, long monosyllable”. Eventually, however, he decided not to include the revised poem in On Quantitative Metre. The editors have incorporated his final revisions in the text, but used the first line as title as with the other poems in this subsection. Two handwritten manuscripts.

Vast-winged the wind ran. No title in Sri Aurobindo Came to Me. 1934. No manuscripts. An early typed copy of this piece is dated 25 June 1934. Note that in Sri Aurobindo Came to Me this piece and the two that follow are placed after the mention of “Thought the Paraclete”.

Winged with dangerous deity. No title in the manuscript. 20 June 1934. See Letters on Poetry and Art, pp. 234 – 35 for a letter that shows the genesis of this poem. Two handwritten and two typed manuscripts.

Outspread a Wave burst. No title in the manuscript. 26 June 1934. Two handwritten manuscripts, one in Nolini Kanta Gupta’s hand.

On the grey street. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934. One handwritten manuscript.

Cry of the ocean’s surges. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1940 – 41. One handwritten manuscript.

Nonsense and “Surrealist” Verse

Sri Aurobindo wrote the first of these poems in isolation during the late 1920s or early 1930s. He wrote the other items as an amusement after some of his disciples tried to interest him in the subject of surrealistic poetry. See also the more serious sonnet “A Dream of Surreal Science” in the section ”Lyrical Poems”.

A Ballad of Doom. Late 1920s or early 1930s. There is one handwritten manuscript of this piece, the writing of which has completely faded away. A transcription made years ago was published in the journal Mother India in April 1974. The editors have verified and corrected this transcription using images made by means of infrared photography, scanning and imaging software. Several words in the text remain somewhat doubtful.

Surrealist. Circa 1936. One handwritten manuscript, written before 28 December 1936, when Sri Aurobindo mentioned it in a letter to a disciple.

Surrealist Poems. Circa 1943. (The Moro River, mentioned in the second poem, is a river in Italy that was the site of a battle between Canadian and German forces in December 1943; the notebook in which the poem is written was in use during the early 1940s.) One handwritten manuscript, consisting of two pages of a “Bloc-Memo” pad. Sri Aurobindo first wrote, in the upper left hand corner, “Parody”, then, as title, “Surrealist Poems”. Beneath the first poem, he wrote a tongue-in-cheek explanation within his own square brackets, then, after “2”, the title and text of the second poem.

Incomplete Poems from Manuscripts, circa 1927 – 1947

Thou art myself. No title in the manuscript. 1927 – 29. One handwritten manuscript, jotted down in a notebook used otherwise for diary entries, essays, etc. In the manuscript, the word “Or”, presumably the beginning of an unwritten second stanza, comes after the fourth line.

Vain, they have said. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1927. Although written, like “Ahana”, in rhymed dactylic hexameter couplets, these lines do not seem to have been intended for inclusion in that poem. (The phrase “to infinity calling” does occur both here and in “The Descent of Ahana”, but in different contexts.) One handwritten manuscript.

Pururavus. Circa 1933. Several handwritten drafts in a single notebook. It would appear from the manuscript that Sri Aurobindo began this passage as a proposed revision to the opening of the narrative poem “Urvasie”. The passage developed on different lines, however, and Sri Aurobindo soon stopped work on it.

The Death of a God [1]. Circa 1933. Two handwritten manuscripts; a third manuscript is published as “The Death of a God [2]”.

The Death of a God [2]. Circa 1933. One handwritten manuscript.

The Inconscient and the Traveller Fire. Circa 1934. Two handwritten manuscripts, the first entitled “Death and the Traveller Fire”.

I walked beside the waters. No title in the manuscript. April 1934. Sri Aurobindo wrote the first part of this poem (down to “gloried fields of trance”) on 25 April 1934 after Dilip Kumar Roy asked him for some lines in alexandrines (Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, pp. 226 – 29). In an accompanying letter, he explained how the caesura dividing the lines into two parts could come after different syllables. Dilip, noting that in Sri Aurobindo’s passage there were examples of the caesura falling after the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth syllables, asked for an example of a line with the caesura coming after the third syllable. Sri Aurobindo obliged by sending him the couplet:

And in the silence of the mind life knows itself

Immortal, and immaculately grows divine.

On 28 April 1934, three days after Sri Aurobindo sent the first passage, his secretary asked him: “Can your last poem (in Alexandrines, sent to Dilip) be put into circulation?” Sri Aurobindo replied: “No. It is not even half finished.” He wrote two more passages but never wove the three together into a completed poem. The editors have reproduced the passages as they are found in Sri Aurobindo’s notebooks and loose sheets, separating the three passages by blank lines.

A strong son of lightning. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934. Three handwritten manuscripts.

I made danger my helper. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934. Two handwritten manuscripts. Sri Aurobindo wrote these four lines on the back of a typed manuscript of “The World Game”. They do not, however, appear to have been intended for inclusion in that poem. The metre is not the same as, though possibly related to, the metre of “The World Game”.

The Inconscient. Circa 1934. Four handwritten manuscripts.

In gleam Konarak. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1934 – 35. A single handwritten manuscript on the back of a sheet used for a draft of “Thought the Paraclete”, which is dated 31 December 1934. The fragment consists of three stanzas, the second of which is incomplete.

Bugles of Light. Circa 1934 – 35. A single handwritten manuscript on the back of a note written to Sri Aurobindo on 31 December 1934.

The Fire King and the Messenger. Circa 1934 – 35. A single manuscript, written in a notebook near a draft of “Thought the Paraclete”.

God to thy greatness. No title in the manuscript. March 1936. A single manuscript, written between drafts of “The Yogi on the Whirlpool” and “The Kingdom Within”, both of which are dated 14 March 1936.

Silver foam. No title in the manuscript. March 1936. One handwritten manuscript, written on a sheet of a “Bloc-Memo” pad between “The Kingdom Within” and “One”, both of which are dated 14 March 1936. In the manuscript, there is no full stop at the end, suggesting that the piece is incomplete.

Torn are the walls. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936. Two handwritten manuscripts.

O ye Powers. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936. Three handwritten manuscripts. In the final manuscript, the last line ends in a comma, indicating that the piece is incomplete.

Hail to the fallen. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936. Italy invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in October 1935. Britain and France stopped trying to broker a peace in December, and in May 1936, after a heroic resistance, Emperor Haile Selassie fled the country. “Lion of Judah” was a title borne by the Emperors of Ethiopia. The star towards the end was written by Sri Aurobindo. One handwritten manuscript.

Seer deep-hearted. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936 – 37. One handwritten manuscript.

Soul, my soul [1]. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936 – 37. Two handwritten manuscripts; a third is published as “Soul, my soul [2]”.

Soul, my soul [2]. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1936 – 37. This is the most completely revised, but shortest, manuscript of this poem.

I am filled with the crash of war. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1938. Compare the third and fourth line of this poem with the third line of “The Cosmic Man” (see above); the two poems seem to be related. “The Cosmic Man” is dated 15 September 1938. One handwritten manuscript.

In the silence of the midnight. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1938. One handwritten manuscript.

Here in the green of the forest. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1939. One handwritten manuscript. The star before the last four lines was written by Sri Aurobindo.

Voice of the Summits. Circa 1946 – 47. One handwritten manuscript. The poem was probably written after “The Inner Fields”, which is dated 14 March 1947.

Appendix: Poems in Greek and in French

As a student in England Sri Aurobindo wrote many poems in Greek and in Latin as school or college assignments. A typical assignment would be to render an English poem into Greek or Latin verse of a given metre. The Greek epigram below appears to be an example of such an assignment. Sri Aurobindo also learned French in England, and in later years wrote two poems in that language.

Greek Epigram. January 1892. Sri Aurobindo wrote this epigram in a notebook he used at Cambridge. At the end he wrote “Jan. 1892 (Porson Schol)”. This refers to the Porson Scholarship examination, which was held at Cambridge that month. In order to win this scholarship, candidates had to take twelve papers over the course of a week. One of the papers required contestants to provide a Greek translation of the following poem by Richard Carlton (born circa 1558), an English madrigal composer:

The witless boy that blind is to behold

Yet blinded sees what in our fancy lies

With smiling looks and hairs of curled gold

Hath oft entrapped and oft deceived the wise.

No wit can serve his fancy to remove,

For finest wits are soonest thralled to love.

Sir Edmund Leach, late provost of King’s College, Cambridge, who provided the information on the scholarship examination, went on to add:

It is possible that [Sri Aurobindo] Ghose was a candidate for the Porson Scholarship; alternatively it is possible that his King’s College supervisor set him the Porson Scholarship paper as an exercise to provide practice for the Classical Tripos examination which he was due to take in June 1892.

Sri Aurobindo’s epigram is not a literal translation of the English poem, but an adaptation of it in Greek verse. Transliterated into the Latin alphabet, the Greek text reads as follows:

Mōros Erōs alaos th’; ho d’homōs ha g’eni phresi keitai

Hēmōn, ophthalmous ōn alaos kathora.

Pai, su gar hēdu gelōn iobostrukhe kalliprosōpe,

Diktuōandra kalōkai sophon exapatas.

Oude sophos per anēr se, doloploke, phuximos oudeis;

Kai proteros pantōn doulos erōti sophos.

Lorsque rien n’existait. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1914 – 20. Sri Aurobindo seems to have written this prose poem during a fairly early period of his stay in Pondicherry. Published here for the first time.

Sur les grands sommets blancs. No title in the manuscript. Circa 1927. Sri Aurobindo wrote this incomplete poem in a notebook he used otherwise for the Record of Yoga of 1927.

Publication History

1898-1950

During his lifetime, Sri Aurobindo published poetry in a number of periodicals: Fox’s Weekly (1883), Bande Mataram (1907), The Modern Review (1909, 1910), Karmayogin (1909, 1910), Shama’a (1921), The Calcutta Review (1934), Sri Aurobindo Circle (1948, 1949), and others. He also published poetry in twelve books:

1. Songs to Myrtilla and Other Poems (c. 1898),

2. Urvasie (c. 1899),

3. Ahana and Other Poems (1915),

4. Love and Death (1921),

5. Baji Prabhou (1922),

6. Six Poems (1934),

7. Poems (1941),

8. Collected Poems and Plays (1942),

9. On Quantitative Metre (1942),

10. Poems Past and Present (1946),

11. Chitrangada (1949)

12. Savitri (1950 – 51).

Details on the first editions of all these books except the last two may be found in the above notes. Four of the books had further editions during Sri Aurobindo’s lifetime: Songs to Myrtilla (1923), Urvasie (c. 1905), Love and Death (1924, 1948), and Baji Prabhou (1949).

Collected Poems and Plays was the first attempt to bring out a comprehensive edition of Sri Aurobindo’s known poetic output. It was planned by Nolini Kanta Gupta for release on 15 August 1942, Sri Aurobindo’s seventieth birthday. Following Sri Aurobindo’s instructions that “only poems already published should be included in this collection”, Nolini collected all poems, poetic translations and plays that had been published until then, typed them and sent them to Sri Aurobindo for revision. The book was published by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, and printed at the Government Central Press, Hyderabad. Work on the book extended from around February to August 1942.

1950-1971

Between 1950 and 1971 a number of poems that had remained unpublished at the time of Sri Aurobindo’s passing were printed in various journals connected with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and in three books: Last Poems (1952), More Poems (1957) and Ilion (1957).

In 1971, all of Sri Aurobindo’s known poetical works were published in Collected Poems: The Complete Poetical Works, volume 5 of the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library.

Ten other poems were included in the Supplement (volume 27) to the Centenary Library in 1973:

O face that I have loved

I cannot equal

O letter dull and cold

My life is wasted

Because thy flame is spent

Thou didst mistake

Rose, I have loved

Still there is something

I have a doubt

World’s delight

and three fraghments (that were not included in this edition):

Blue lotus of the sea, on her large eyes...

We are no wizened hermits...

He passed the unbridged seas whose waters lap...

1971-1985

About a dozen poems discovered between then and 1985 were published in the journal Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research.

The first almost complete collection of Sri Aurobindo’s Sonnets was published in 1980. Lyrical Poems 1930 – 1950 came out in 2002.

Present edition

In the present volume are collected all previously published poems and at least three that appear here for the first time in print: “Thou bright choregus”, “All here is Spirit” and “Lorsque rien n’existait”. The poems have been arranged chronologically. As far as possible, books published during Sri Aurobindo’s lifetime have been presented in their original form. The texts of all the poems have been checked against the author’s manuscripts and printed editions.

Differences in titles of poems in SABCL and CWSA

SABCL CWSA
Death and the Traveller Fire The Inconscient and the Traveller Fire
Discoveries of Science I Discoveries of Science
Discoveries of Science II The Ways of the Spirit
Discoveries of Science III Science and the Unknowable
In the silence of midnight In the silence of the midnight
Is this the end The End?
Morcundeya O Will of God
Our godhead calls us The Call of the Impossible
Perigune Prologuises Perigone Prologuises
The Conscious Inconscient Creation
The Dumb Inconscient Man the Mediator
The Human Enigma Man the Enigma
The Ways of the Spirit The Ways of the Spirit [1]
Tiresias Sole in the meadows of Thebes
Urvasie [Short poem, fragment] Pururavus

 

1 Manmohan Ghose’s letters to Tagore are reproduced and discussed in Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research, volume 12 (1988), pp. 86 – 87, 89 – 91.

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2 Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Poetry and Art, volume 27 of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, p. 244.

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3 Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo Came to Me (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1952), p. 237.

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