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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

About that “transparent”, well, I thought. Sir, it is transparent, but consulted the Ox. pocket dictionary and found transparent, though I did not understand how two accents can come one after the other.

Two accents can come together if the first syllable takes long to pronounce; but the accent then is minor, the other major – The main stress is on the 2nd syllable.

I am not an Englishman like you, Sir, to contradict or question the authority. I am only a Bengali and almost a hill-tribal at that!

Oxford Dictionary does not put the accents on the 1st and 3rd syllables as you do – so it does not contradict me.

You may say that they have divided the syllables like that, but other words also they accent in that way, e.g. transpire. There is the rub.

I don't understand. Of course transpire is stressed on the second syllable, that was my whole point that transpire, transparent, compare, prepare, apparent are stressed on the second syllable, not on the first. Transparent also follows the same rule – the stress falls on the second syllable, it cannot fall on the first and third.

If O.D. puts a stress also on the first, that must be a minor stress due to the length of the syllable – but it cannot cancel the massive accent on the second or bestow an accent on the third where it does not exist.

Can you tell me why my poems tend to be so simple and bare? No images at all and whatever there is, is only common and almost hackneyed.

Poetry depends on power of thought, feeling, language – not on abundance of images. Some poets are rich in images, all need not be.

It seems I am not very rich in the faculty of imagination. And without that hardly any creation worth the name is possible.

What is this superstition? At that rate Sophocles, Chaucer, Milton, Wordsworth are not good poets, because their poetry is not full of images? Is Kalidasa a greater poet than Vyas or Valmiki because he is fuller of images?

After what you have seen of my English-poetry, is there any chance for me?


I have looked at the Ox. Dictionary here and I find it clearly puts the accent on the 2nd syllable, with none on the first, thus transparent, the ° marking the accent. In their system they put the sign of the stress after the stressed vowel e.g. rely° – but where there is an r after the r, as in transparent. In their signs they make no difference between minor and major stresses. No English Dictionary, however eccentric, would justify your transparently wide – But perhaps you are writing for the 21st century?


1936 02 18 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran