Fragment of a Poem in French by Sri Aurobindo

Dear Friends,

4 April 2020 marks the 110th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondicherry which went on to become the ‘cave’ of His ‘tapasya’. On this special occasion, we are sharing with our readers a fragment of a poem in French written by Sri Aurobindo around 1927. He used alexandrine couplets, the form favoured by classical French writers, but did not observe the convention of alternating masculine and feminine rhymes. The alternative to the beginning of the fourth line was written later than the textual versions. A blank in the last line was left unfilled. The two lines printed here after the asterisk were written on the page of the manuscript facing the page used for the text. Sri Aurobindo wrote this incomplete poem in a notebook He used for the Record of Yoga of 1927. The translation of the poem has been made by Peter Heehs.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Founder,

Overman Foundation.

                                     Fragment of a Poem in French by Sri Aurobindo

                                     Sur les grands sommets blancs, astre éteint et brisé,

                                     Seul dans l’immense nuit de son cœur désolé,

                                     L’érémite Amita, l’homme élu par les dieux,

                                     Leva son vaste front [1] comme un ciel vers les cieux,

                                     Et austère il parla, triste, grave, immuable,

                                     L’homme divin vaincu au Peuple impérissble:

                                     “O vous que vos soleils brillants, purs et lointains

                                     Cachent dans les splendeurs, immortels et hautains,

                                     O fils de l’Infini, rois de la Lumière!

                                     Guerriers resplendissants de la lutte altière!

                                     Nation à la mort divinement rebelle,

                                     Vous qui brisez la loi de la nuit éternelle!

                                     O vous qui appelez à vos sommets ardus

                                     Les pantins de la terre, [2] tribus!

                                     La vaste Nuit parla aux infinis cachés,

                                     L’amante à ses amants terribles et voilés.

[1] Ou: “Leur leva son front pur”.

[2] The line is incomplete.

                                                       Translation

                      Upon the great white peaks, a star extinct and broken,

                      Alone in the heart’s vast night where no word is spoken,

                      Amit, the eremite, the Chosen, raised his eyes

                      And with them his vast brow, a sky unto the skies.

                      Austerely then in tones immutable he spoke,

                      The vanquished human god to the undying Folk:

                      “O ye concealed within the glory of your suns

                      That stainless shine from far proud gods, immortal ones!

                      O sons of the Infinite, monarchs of the Light,

                      Resplendent warriors in heaven’s lofty fight,

                      O nation that revolts divinely against death’s might,

                      Who shatter the iron law of the eternal night,

                      O ye who summon to your giant arduous peaks

                      The puppets of the earth, the tribes… [1]

                      Night spoke to the infinities that her vast shade obscures,

                      A lover to her veiled tremendous paramours.

[1] The line is incomplete.

5 thoughts on “Fragment of a Poem in French by Sri Aurobindo

  1. It is a pity that Sri Aurobindo did not write more in French. The organ overtones and undertones of a Hugolian spirit fill the reader’s heart. Peter has, in a masterly manner, taken up the challenge of maintaining the rhyme scheme of the original. A grand gift from Overman Foundation on this significant date.

  2. What a delightful offering to us by the Master who never ceases to astound us with his vast creative Breath! And for those not familiar with French, Peter’s English rendering is remarkably faithful to the original carrying its own flow and force.
    Beautiful! And thank you!

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