In The Future Poetry Sri Aurobindo surveys the history of poetry, from the mantric hymns of the Vedic age to the free verse of modern times, with special emphasis on English poetry. He then explores the possibility of "a new deeper intuitive poetry", one whose voice would "speak of new things and of old things in a new way". This new poetry would offer "a changed vision of the world" and "restore to us the sense of the Eternal, the presence of the Divine which has been taken from us for a time by an intellect too narrowly and curiously fixed on the external and physical world".
A long essay, "On Quantitative Metre", is also included in the book, with examples of poetry in this metre.
Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on 15 August 1872. At the age of seven he was taken to England for his education. He studied at St. Paul's School, London, and at King's College, Cambridge. Returning to India in 1893, he worked for the next thirteen years in the Princely State of Baroda in the service of the Maharaja and as a professor in the state's college.
In 1906 Sri Aurobindo quit his post in Baroda and went to Calcutta, where he became one of the leaders of the Indian nationalist movement. As editor of the newspaper Bande Mataram, he put forward the idea of complete independence from Britain. Arrested three times for sedition or treason, he was released each time for lack of evidence.
Sri Aurobindo began the practice of Yoga in 1905. Within a few years he achieved several fundamental spiritual realisations. In 1910 he withdrew from politics and went to Pondicherry in French India in order to concentrate on his inner life and work. Over the next forty years, he developed a new spiritual path, the Integral Yoga, whose ultimate aim is the transformation of life by the power of a supramental consciousness. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator the Mother, he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. His vision of life is presented in numerous works of prose and poetry, among the best known of which are The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita and Savitri.
The Future Poetry was first published in the monthly review Arya in thirty-two instalments between December 1917 and July 1920. These instalments were written immediately before their publication.
Sri Aurobindo twice undertook to revise The Future Poetry. During the late 1920s or early 1930s he revised seventeen chapters; in 1950 he dictated changes and additions to twenty chapters, thirteen of which had been revised earlier. The work of revision was never completed and The Future Poetry was not published in the form of a book during Sri Aurobindo's lifetime.
In 1953 the Arya text of The Future Poetry was brought out as a book, with only two passages of the later revision added. In 1972 the same text was included in The Future Poetry and Letters on Poetry, Literature and Art. In 1985 a second edition of The Future Poetry, incorporating all available revision, was published.
The present volume includes the full texts of The Future Poetry and of On Quantitative Metre, an essay first published in 1942. The texts of both works have been checked against the author's manuscripts and the original printed versions.
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