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.
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems – Notes on the Texts : CWSA, Vol. 2
…. It cannot be explained—poetry. You must feel it and not reason about it. Poetic inspiration is beyond the reason. You must not bring it down into the domain of reason, because then it is spoilt. It is felt much more than… it can be understood by an inner contact much more than by words.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM, Vol.6, p457
For neither the intelligence, the imagination nor the ear are the true recipients of the poetic delight even as they are not its true creators; they are only its channels and instruments: the true creator, the true hearer is the soul….
Sri Aurobindo – The Future Poetry: CWSA, Vol. 26, p12
Vision is the characteristic power of the poet, as is discriminative thought the essential gift of the philosopher and analytic observation the natural genius of the scientist. The Kavi was in the idea of the ancients the seer and revealer of truth, and though we have wandered far enough from that ideal to demand from him only the pleasure of the ear and the amusement of the aesthetic faculty, still all great poetry instinctively preserves something of that higher turn of its own aim and significance. Poetry, in fact, being Art, must attempt to make us see, and since it is to the inner senses that it has to address itself,—for the ear is its only physical gate of entry and even there its real appeal is to an inner hearing,—and since its object is to make us live within ourselves what the poet has embodied in his verse, it is an inner sight which he opens in us, and this inner sight must have been intense in him before he can awaken it in us.
Sri Aurobindo – The Future Poetry: CWSA, Vol. 26, pp31-32
…. It is noticeable that even the deepest experience, the pure spiritual which enters into things that can never be wholly expressed, still, when it does try to express them and not merely to explain them intellectually, tends instinctively to use, often the rhythmic forms, almost always the manner of speech characteristic of poetry. But poetry attempts to extend this manner of vision and utterance to all experience, even the most objective, and therefore it has a natural urge towards the expression of something in the object beyond its mere appearances, even when these seem outwardly to be all that it is enjoying.
Sri Aurobindo – The Future Poetry: CWSA, Vol. 26, p14
Following are few sample poems followed by link to all the Collected Poems:
The Golden Light
Thy golden Light came down into my brain
And the grey rooms of mind sun-touched became
A bright reply to Wisdom’s occult plane,
A calm illumination and a flame.
Thy golden Light came down into my throat,
And all my speech is now a tune divine,
A paean song of Thee my single note;
My words are drunk with the Immortal’s wine.
Thy golden Light came down into my heart
Smiting my life with Thy eternity;
Now has it grown a temple where Thou art
And all its passions point towards only Thee.
Thy golden Light came down into my feet;
My earth is now Thy playfield and Thy seat.
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems: CWSA, Vol. 2, p605
A God’s Labour
I have gathered my dreams in a silver air
Between the gold and the blue
And wrapped them softly and left them there,
My jewelled dreams of you.
I had hoped to build a rainbow bridge
Marrying the soil to the sky
And sow in this dancing planet midge
The moods of infinity.
But too bright were our heavens, too far away,
Too frail their ethereal stuff;
Too splendid and sudden our light could not stay;
The roots were not deep enough.
He who would bring the heavens here
Must descend himself into clay
And the burden of earthly nature bear
And tread the dolorous way ….
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems: CWSA, Vol. 2, p534
In the blue of the sky, in the green of the forest,
Whose is the hand that has painted the glow?
When the winds were asleep in the womb of the ether,
Who was it roused them and bade them to blow?
He is lost in the heart, in the cavern of Nature,
He is found in the brain where He builds up the thought:
In the pattern and bloom of the flowers He is woven,
In the luminous net of the stars He is caught.
In the strength of a man, in the beauty of woman,
In the laugh of a boy, in the blush of a girl;
The hand that sent Jupiter spinning through heaven,
Spends all its cunning to fashion a curl. ….
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems: CWSA, Vol. 2, pp201-02
A tree beside the sandy river-beach
Holds up its topmost boughs
Like fingers towards the skies they cannot reach,
This is the soul of man. Body and brain
Hungry for earth our heavenly flight detain.
Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems: CWSA, Vol. 2, p207