We all know Sri Aurobindo in this or that way. Some know him as a philosopher he was. Some know him as a freedom fighter who looked beyond fighting the external oppressors. Some perceive him as a master of yoga, spirituality and seer. Many know him as a poet, a poet of fine excellence and qualities that seldom any other Indian poet could have (or will ever have). However, none of us, the mortal and general ones who have rarely any connection with the hardcore literary world, knows Sri Aurobindo as a literary critic (a genius one) who had wonderful ideas about poetry, and the purpose of poetry and also opinions on poets before him. Sri Aurobindo as a literary critic – did you ever know?
Sri Aurobindo was a versatile literary genius who read a lot and wrote even more. He translated many wonderful works of ancient Indian literature into English and opened to the West a kind of gateway to learn more about Indian culture, history and civilisation richness that only we have (as Indians). His collection of essays on poetry, poets and other wider domains related to poetry is published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram in a volume called The Future Poetry. And this is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the function of poetry.
In the book The Future of Poetry, there are many essays that exhibit the literary genius of Sri Aurobindo. His understanding of poetry extends beyond aesthetic pleasure and sensual appeal. He ascribes to poetry many great purposes and ideas. He discusses the ‘vision’ that poets must have in order to take their poetry many steps ahead and to offer something to the readers that allow them to assess their life from various perspectives and yet enjoy the poetry at the same time.
The author has also written about poets who wrote in English. He has written about famous poets like Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and others who wrote just before him. He has discussed the importance of aesthetic and realistic aspects of poetry in great detail. Anyone who is interested in knowing more about his opinions on these ideas must read the book. The Future Poetry by Sri Aurobindo can be downloaded free from the Sri Aurobindo website – SriAurobindoAshram.com
It is unfortunate that the literary genius of Sri Aurobindo is not appreciated widely. His qualities as a literary critic are far superior to many critics I have read. Sadly, even Indian universities don’t consider prescribing the essays by Aurobindo on poetry to the students of undergraduate or postgraduate level… it should open new dimensions to understand poetry in better and more perspectives than we have been doing for centuries now.
Written by Nakshatra for Desi Readers