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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

How is it, Sir, that my letter and the poem came away as they went? Because I was late or some Supramental forgetfulness?

Never had a glimpse of either of them. Must have been hiding scared in your bag.

After the day's hard work, you can understand my disappointment when with all froth and bubble of joy I opened the letter to find that not a line of your hand was there! I had to sigh and say:

(Tagore) “For-this have I kept awake all night and done sadhana,” or (Nishikanta) “I have endured mosquito-bites all over my body for this and it has come back without receiving your gracious look,” or (Nirod) “Now I am bursting into tears of despair. I'll send it again at your door. You will kill me, O Guru, if you forget it this time!”1

(śrī arabinda)2 O must I groan and moan and scarify my poor inspired bones

To get my poem back as if it were a bill from Smith or Jones?

N.B. Abstract poetry, very abstract.

By the way, today is the date of my arrival, if you remember. I had forgotten it myself until Sanjiban reminded me. When you read this the day will be a past date, but the blessings won't!

Blessings and plenty of them!

For J's eczema I suppose a stimulating ointment should be given,

Umph! If it is necessary.


One more | poem. | Amal | was not || avail|able. | Ĭ have tried |

to stick | to the nor|mal form, || unless | my scan|sion is

wrong. | Ĭ have put | the scansion. || Ĭ find | that in | the

fore-|going | ones my || scansion | was wrong. | For in|stance,

I | scanned: ||3

A wide | inexpres|sible Peace | seizes | my soul,

Pervad|ing the spac|es a | profound | Presence | I feel

Inscru|table, vas|ter than | the sea, | sky-still.

That, except in the second line, is the orthodox method of scansion, but even so the two lines are not iambic pentameters. The first is anapaestic-trochaic with an iamb at the beginning and another at the end. In the second line the orthodox scansion would make it a line of six feet.

You scanned: Illumined | by thousand | resplendent | suns.

I did: Illum|ined by | thousand | resplen|dent suns.

That is a mathematical scansion, not rhythmic. If you scan like that, there is no prose that cannot become verse. I have scanned in that way your prose. “Mother, one more poem” etc.

The stress in “thousand” is on the first syllable, not the second. The natural stresses are “Illъ|mined by thoъ|sand resplen|dent suns.” If you stress the unstressed “by” and the unstressed “sand” and destress the strongly stressed “thou” in “thousand”, then no law of accent remains, you land yourself in pure license and there is no reason why you should not scan “Īllu|mīned by | thoūsănd | rēsplěn|dēnt suns” and make a trochaic line of it. You cannot ignore stresses in the English language.

I really cannot see how you find iambic rhythm in “Pervading the spaces a profound Presence I feel”. If there is any rhythm, it is the rhythm of free verse not of any fixed metre.

You have to train your ear to recognise (1) the difference between the various basic rhythms, iambic, trochaic, anapaestic and the various lengths pentameter etc. (2) the extent to which other feet can be admitted without upsetting the basic rhythm. These two things are indispensable.

Nishikanta thinks that it is easier for you to send Force for English verse than for Bengali. He has felt it, he says. Even D the sceptic, thinks that for English you have an easy work comparatively – words, expressions, even the technique you can direct through your Force.

Why the deuce should I do that? If I had to compose the whole poem myself, why go on and pump it into some other person's mind? Haven't I a fountain-pen and couldn't I write it and isn't there Nolini to type it?

Whereas in Bengali it is more of a general sort. True? Since Bengali code you don't know, or shy to admit, you can't do that?


“Benighted traveller sore, why do you moan

Because a transient darkness entwines your way?”

What is this “sore”? It sounds like a bear with a sore head. Benighted also sounds like an abuse.

“When the Divine like a loving friend has poured His luscious grace on thee...”

“luscious” is too palatal or sensual to be an adjective of “grace”.

Mulshankar is quite well, no pain. He wants to come out, but it would be better not to do so till the 20th.

Not till the 20th. Till he is able to walk and look after himself. What is the use of his coming on the 20th if he is not able to walk to the Pranam? However, you need not say that to him till the time comes.



1 Original in Bengali.


2 Sri Aurobindo


3 The scansion was done by Sri Aurobindo.











1936 02 16 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran