Works of Sri Aurobindo » English » CWSA » The Future Poetry » The Course of English Poetry ­ 1

It has to be seen how this has come about; for it has not been accomplished at all easily, but only by much seeking and effort. We observe first that English poetry has covered the rising field that lies before the genius of poetry by strictly successive steps, and these steps have followed the natural ascending order of our developing perceptions as the human consciousness rises from the first physical view of things through the more inward life-vision, through the constructing and pondering intellect and last through a vivid or a brooding intuition to the gateways of the spirit. The English creative genius began by a quite external, a clear and superficial substance and utterance. It proceeded to a deeper vital poetry, a poetry of the power and beauty and wonder and spontaneous thought, the joy and passion and pain, the colour and music of Life, in which the external presentation of life and things was taken up, but heightened, exceeded and given its full dynamic and imaginative content. From that it turned to an attempt at mastering the secret of the Latins, the secret of a clear, measured and intellectual dealing with life, things and ideas. Then came an attempt, a brilliant and beautiful attempt to get through Nature and thought and the veiled mind in life and Nature and its profounder aesthetic suggestions to some large and deep spiritual truth behind these things. This attempt did not come to perfect fruition; it stopped short partly because there had not been the right intellectual preparation or a sufficient basis of spiritual knowledge and experience; only so much could be given as the solitary individual intuition of the poet could attain by a difficult groping or a sudden sovereign effort. But partly also it failed because after the lapse into an age of reason the spontaneous or the intense language of spiritual poetry could not easily be found or, if found at times, could not be securely kept. So we get a deviation into a second age of intellectualism, an aesthetic or reflective poetry with a much wider range, but much less profound in its roots, much less high in its growth, the creation of a more informed, but less inspired intelligence. And partly out of this increasing wideness of the observing intelligence, partly by a dissatisfaction and recoil from these limitations has come the trend of a recent and contemporary poetry which seems at last to be approaching on some of its lines and in spite of many mistakes and divagations the secret of the utterance of profounder truth and the right magic of a speech and rhythm which will be the apt body and motion of its spirit....cont

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