On Sri Aurobindo’s Sonnets ‘Thou Didst Mistake’ and ‘Because Thy Flame is Spent’ (SAP 01)


The first video from a new series “Reflections on Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry”. Today we read two sonnets of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo wrote them in Baroda in 1901-1902 in a notebook, which was seized by the British police when Sri Aurobindo was arrested in 1908. This made it impossible for him to revise or publish these poems later, and they were not given titles. Their text is given below.

THOU DIDST MISTAKE

Thou didst mistake, thy spirit’s infant flight
Opening its lovely wings upon the sun
Paused o’er the first strong bloom that met thy sight
Thinking perhaps it was the only one.
But all this fragrant garden was beyond.
Winds came to thee with hints of honey; day
Disclosed a brighter hope than this unsunned
Thought-sheltered heart and called thee far away.
Thou didst mistake. Must I then rage, grow ill,
With tortured vanity and think it love,
Miscall with brutal names my lady’s will
Fouling thy snowwhite image, O my dove?
Is not thy kiss enough, though only one,
For all eternity to live upon?
[CWSA 2: 179]

BECAUSE THY FLAME IS SPENT

Because thy flame is spent, shall mine grow less,
O bud, O wonder of the opening rose?
Why both my soul and Love it would disgrace
If I could trade in love, begin and close
My long account of passion, like a book
Of merchant’s credit given to be repaid,
Or not returned, struck off with lowering look
Like a bad debt uncritically made.
What thou couldst give, thou gav’st me, one sweet smile
Worth all the sunlight that the years contain,
One month of months when thy sweet spirit awhile
Fluttered o’er mine half-thinking to remain.
What I could give, I gave thee, to my last breath
Immortal love, immovable by death.
[CWSA 2: 179]

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