A Personal Favorite Poet Who Inspires My Work

Poetry is my passion and I love to work with words. It has been my companion since my coming of Age days. I have found innumerable moments of pleasures reading and writing poems. I have a few favorites who have shaped my thoughts and emotions over the growing years. Among them is John Milton, his “Paradise Lost” was a compulsory reader for me during my college years. It was part of the books listed for the Poetry paper and I was so moved by Lucifer’s fall that I wondered at the space of information about the fall that Milton explored. Here is a poem which truly inspires me and is still my personal favorite.

On His Blindness

By John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Exploring the Poem My Style

The last two weeks, I have been experiencing some problem with my eyesight and somehow I panicked to have it tested. I wear progressive spectacles and never learned how to look down in the lower rim to read, so I land up having the habit of lifting my spectacles to read.

The first time, I went to Rajan Eye Clinic, I was seen by Dr. Rajan, himself. He was the first doctor after my family doctor who made me comfortable talking to him. That was the first time that my eyes were dilated and the eyesight took some hours to get better. These days due to overuse of laptop has rendered my eyes incapable of being dilated and so the extra drops to force it to dilate. This then, means that it takes longer to settle down. I am slowly learning to give up my fear of hospitals and being in those spaces.

Somehow hospital experience leaves me in a state of unrest and agitated feelings. There are very few doctors who really take time for the patients to settle down and understand that the person is worried, scared and tensed about the outcome. Even if the sight were to be lost completely a humane doctor can make it seem less stressful.

Somehow, I feel that is something that comes from the old school of hospice, which is slowly been taken away by the money making trends of doctorhood. But this time, the doctor who attended my case was truly humane and I was so happy talking to her. She made me less nervous and this time also I had made sure that I had not come in a rush to have my eyes tested, but relaxed to spend the rest of the day in the hospital.

But surprisingly, my reading power had gone by a few points, of course, I still need to learn to look down using the progressive glass and that happens only when my laptop is on my lap and I am comfortably seated on the sofa. I tried to understand, why is that I feel super inspired at home and my quirks of working are really getting me to be such a clown.

So, I looked into my past and I remembered John Milton who is my inspiration for most of the Miltonian sonnets that I wrote in my young days. I love to play with words since it gives me spiritual pleasure. Everywhere I worked, I would have a word file, where I would have written poems.

I often think about why I have been born in this world and what are truly my roles. The fact that I only have a single-minded talent to write with emotions which I believe would be the gift of words that I leave behind after me.

I fear not death so much as to lose my eyes not just for myself but for others too. Then again, there is much technology that will help to live a life of high quality even when the eyesight is lost. It is not how long you live, but how well you live, that really counts. I have learned to accept some of my quirks and have gathered sufficient courage in life to be able to handle things my way.

So talking about this poem, I first read this poem in seventh or eighth I am not sure. I must say that my English classes were of a higher grade than the regular schools. So I was exposed to much poetry at a very early age. I also had my uncle’s library where I checked out a collection of Shakespearean sonnets and plays. My uncle had a good collection of the bound classics which were truly inspiring to read.

I have been a little careless with my eyes and I love to read lying down and removing my spectacles. This kind of makes my vision power to increase, but the pleasures of reading is taken over by even the risk of reading improperly.

I found in this poem an interesting connection, that I am drawn to explore. For instance, much like John Milton, my eyes even now hurts a little and throbs, as I am exploring the poems as personal experience. I will never give up writing, at whatever cost. That passion has been the founding stone of my very being.

So much like Milton, I do have a question for the Lord, if I would be of any service to Him. But it is all in the patient waiting for the call of the muse and the sanction of inspired writing. There are days when, my inspiration to write is so high, especially when I am well rested.

As Milton, the poet who is close to my spirit of writing, because I am a tone-deaf poet who loves to rhyme, unlike Milton whose poems were all about sounding right. I have written some collection of Petrachian sonnets and enjoyed thoroughly the experience of playing with words. Sometimes, it is not about doing as bid by the Lord; but it is more being in the moment and just transferring the text flashing in the mind’s eye. I sometimes feel that I cannot take ownership of the poems written by me because it was just recording the muse’s words. Now I stand in wait for that command to write from my Creator. Waiting for my inspiration with suspended animation.

Emotional Expression of Gita Govinda | An Inward Seeking

Work Title: Gita Govinda

Poet: Poet Jayadeva (12th Century  Court Poet)

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

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A Bird’s Eye View

About the Poet:

The Gita Govinda by the Bengali court poet Jayadeva of the 12th Century, which was done to be enacted as a dance drama, touches on all the emotional aspects of the lovers from separation to the final union. The creative work is divided into 12 Cantos with 8 couplet groups or Astapathi. The cantos speak of the various emotional factors of Krishna and Radha, in the cowherd incarnation. The lyrical ballad describes the parting and reunion of the two lead players of the dance drama.

Little Information About Gita Govinda

The poetry of this work uses the various eight emotions of lovers starting from separation to satisfaction of union with a clever device to be a cathartic spiritual experience. This is essentially a love song with dramatic components in them of an aspirant seeker and the goal of the search. The poet has extensively used the various dramatic and emotional pointers to bring out the flavor of various yearning that is found in the various characters involved in the lyrical song.

This piece is structured for Vasantha or Spring season celebration. Jayadeva introduces many elements which enrich the poetry to be very visual and emotional work. The fact that onlookers feel these elements as part of their emotional growth, is achieved with perfect setting and poetry. The greatest expression of love is found in this work in the form of a description of The Spring season’s scenic elements. The poet plays with the various faun and flora of the season with such poetic finesse that the poems move the minds of the reader.

Gita Govinda in Southern Vaishnavism Tradition

The poetry has traversed through the various parts of India and has been adapted with varying degree of change in the format.  In the South, the Vaishnavism of Tamilnadu has adopted this work to be presented in the musical format. The Radha Kalyanam format is set up to bring out the beauty of the poetry and musical scores have been already chosen and a tradition has been created. Of course, the performing group of Bhagavathars and their chorus can experiment as per their Mano Dharam with other ragas for the translation of original work in Tamil.

The work is treated as a spiritual expression of an aspirant seeker of God who eventually finds Him and becomes one with Him. The work is given religious value with the elements of the Bhakti movement. The gathering of the Bakthas’ experience of the presence of God’s grace being bestowed upon them is given more importance in this format.

The Story in a Nutshell

The 12 cantos play around the dramatic scene of separation of Radha and Krishna and eventually how both of them come together. The eight various aspects of the heroines’ emotions and Krishna’s mental states are described with exquisite finesse by the poet. The lyrical quality of the work is appealing to the reader who takes pleasure in the detailed expression of the various dramatic elements of the relationship between Krishna and Radha.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the fact that the poet uses the lyrical ballad mode to bring out the beauty of the relationship along with their various impressions. In this, the most important aspect would be the human emotions being explored with delicate modes of expression.

My dislike was the fact that I could not read the original work in the Sanskrit language. But the beauty of the poetry was not lost even in translation. I could still connect with the core work in translation.

My Opinion

Personally, I found the poem very erotic and it took me some time to actually fix the spiritual implication in it. Even though I travesed from the Southern version to original Sanskrit version. Bakthi movement has added spiritual value and south has added the ritualistic factor to the work. But no one can miss the lyrical beauty of the work.

Antal’s Love for the Mãl

Book Title: Antal and Her Path of Love: Poems of a Woman Saint from South India

Author: Vidya Dehejia

Translation of:  Andal’s Thiruppavai and Nacciyar Tirumozhi

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

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A Bird’s Eye View

About the Translator:

Vidya Dehejia wears multiple caps in her profession as a passionate art historian. Much like a detailed investigator, Vidya probes deep into the past and pulls out the stories behind artifacts and monuments clearly listing the era of progress in Art history and social settings of the past.

Vidya Dehejia’s professional website provides interesting information about all her interest areas. She is Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art at Columbia University. and visiting professor to the Mario Miranda Visiting Research Professorship at the Goa University.

Her Exhibition show her in-depth knowledge of the South Asian Art History. She is also a Padma Bhushan awardee, whose passion for the Art world sparkles in every one of her books published so far.

In this book, she has picked the work of the Woman Saint Antal and her center-piece theme of her poems is Krishna one of Vishnu’s ten incarnation. The Southern milieu works of the Alwars are great inspiration for sustaining the growth of Vaishnavite religion.

Vidya has done a clean translation and has been very detailed to a ‘T’ about various aspects of the poems. The translation is clean and the author had done a wonderful job of looking at the text from various perspectives, thus providing a rounded view of the age and time.

Poems in a Nutshell:

Antal is one of the 12 Alwars and the only woman alwar who is recognized and worshipped in the Temples of Srivaishanava Hindu religion. Her work in praise of the Lord Vishnu is used as text to churn the spirit of worship from within to any who reads or recites her poems.

Antal has written two poems, Thiruppavai and Nacciyar Tirumozhi. The shorter poem Thiruppavai, consisting of 30 verses, is popular and is recited during the month of Marghzi (Period: between Mid-Dec-Mid-Jan) in the Srivaishanava temples even today.

Both the poems are focused on the central theme, the love of Mãl or Vishnu or Krishna. Andal pours forth her love for Krishna in her two works with such passion that the enthusiasm of her love gets transferred into the hearer of the pasuram or verses.

Between the two works Thiruppavai is mellower than the Nacciyar Tirumozhi, which is an outcry of a young maid longing for her lover. The vastness of the poem’s angle can be seen in the approach that Antal had on the verses that she rendered in praise of the lord Vishnu.

Nacciyar Tirumozhi is more erotic and speaks of a lamenting lover grievance to be with her love. But the second work Antal is more herself and unrestricted. Where Thiruppavai is restrictive to proprietary behavior in a social settings, the Nacciyar Tirumozhi breaks those boundaries. Her second work is more a personal and private conversation between her and her lover Mãl.

Vidya does a beautiful work of bringing out the huge difference in the works and Antal cannot be better represented textually. The translated text flows beautifully and there is an unique understanding of the poetess which brings out her inherent fragrance of spirituality.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the way the words flowed into each other. The translator has done a wonderful work of almost replicating the musical quality from the source language to targeted language of translation, English. Even though both the languages have a huge difference; but Vidya had done justice to both the languages.

There were places where the flavors of South Indian scenario comes out beautifully. The rustic life and Antal’s love in translation didn’t lose its quality and intensity.

My Opinion

This book opened many of my sensitive points of thoughts in my mind as I read it. I also understood that the conversation of spiritual nature when based on emotional attachment to spiritual head, it removes almost all barrier of expression. When love becomes the expression, then the rules of social life just vanishes.

Image Source:  Amazon

Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead | By Alfred L. Tennyson

The mind takes a fancy for some deep-seated sorrow and I begin searching for a poem from my past. The one subject which I really loved in my schooling days were the English classes and especially poetry unit. I was unconscious and struggling with my grades, until I was in the eighth. Then, my schooling life’s equation changed completely. Because, in the summer of 1987, I had started to write my journals and experimenting with writing poem with fixed end-word rhyme patterns.

Everything in this life of mine, was for a reason and I strongly believe it. Some of the strange occurrences in my life was an indication for inner growth of my emotional and mental state. I love poetry and still do. For me writing long explanatory prose is tedious; while a rhyming four lines can achieve much more and effectively too!

Today, the sky is filled with rain bearing clouds and the sound of light shower pitter-patters on my window pane, while becoming an ongoing reminder of the climate. The showers reminded me of a brave recent widow whose husband’s dead body arrives home. I remembered the poem but didn’t know who wrote it and was struggling to find this poem.

Somehow this kept reminding me of a Rajput Widow and somehow I got it mixed with Sarojini Naidu. After much permutation combination of search keywords, at last, I found the poem. But then I was saddened that it was not a Indian Poet.

Here is the poem:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45379/the-princess-home-they-brought-her-warrior-dead

You may also listen to it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVi4ZtmEu7I

I was fascinated with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s version of the poem. Somehow, the Authurian Knight having parted with the spirit, now lay motionless on his mansion’s cold floor; while his lady love’s emotions are frozen like his inanimate body. Did it reach my sensitivity? A resounding yes!

This made me interested In Tennyson’s life story. According to me, some of the most experiential writers are people who have lived the words that they write, if not in real-life at least in their imagination compounding from parallel life experience. I believe the poet and their experiences are not far apart. Beneath that camouflage of emotional outburst in verse form lives the very human poet.

I was elated that I found the poem from my past, if I hadn’t found it, I would have worried my mind endlessly. Many a times, I had within me a line from my past which would grip my understanding and emotions like some kind of a fierce hold on my life. That sense of unrest can be very intense for my peace of mind.

Having restored my peace and I watched with fascination at the long narrative about Tennyson’s life and works, courtesy: poetry foundation dot com.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/alfred-tennyson

I often wondered why poems were taught away from the creator of the piece. The quintessential factor is as much the piece, as the creator of the piece. The poem without the poet is simply not a given for me.

I wondered at the meeting of emotional points in Tennyson’s poem and those of Indian sentiments. I believe any warrior’s wife from which ever country, would have been the silently grieving lady who gives expression to her sorrow when her child is placed on her arms. The past and present got culminated in the vision of the future. Why do we have war in the first place? Because we kind of try to justify the need to defend the specific ideologies. Or, simply put, if peace can be achieved only by fighting for it, then so be it attitude! But at the end of the day, we have just lost the best people, given that men and women join the armies, these days.

Where am I hypothesizing in my thoughts about war and warriors? I find it fascinating that brave and courageous warriors are in great demand to create a new world; but I disagree that it be created on the bloodshed of many innocents. I don’t propose war and especially unwarranted, but then what if it is unavoidable circumstance. What would be the most humane stand to take?

The whole gamut of the scenario is reduced to the child on the arms of the mother. Is there going to be a repeat of the incident at a future date with the son now covered with the country’s flag. I don’t agree to that scenario, but then tell me haven’t we witnessed this scene repeat itself in a loop over many centuries.  I am perplexed and confused, since this is a question that will remain unanswerable because braveness calls forth for sacrifice that mere weakling mortals cannot achieve in their lifetime.

Image Source: Pexels.com

[Poetry] Exploring Romantic Poets from Britain

Poetry can quietly get into your mind and create a load of emotions which gives pleasure. I had an especially soft spot for Romantic Poets of Britain. I liked the various movement poets for a unique reason, given that I like to be widely read. But I loved nature worship so much, that Romanticism movement was closer to my likings than other movements.

My best four poets of the Romanticism movement were William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. All these poets praised and extolled the power of nature. They explored with words the immeasurable beauty of nature.

I remember reading these Romantic poems as a young girl in my 8th grade. Around that time I had begun experimenting writing down my emotions in a young and formfree poems, which were too emotional and lacking in balance. I never experimented with anything more than four line stanzas based poems since that was the level of my control over the lines happened to be.

But my interest in reading romantic poems was a spiritual experience which I will never trade-off for anything. In the cloak of a poem, one could easily annotate one’s life experiences with sharp words.

These four poems, that I am interested in sharing here carries their own wonderful and different beat. William Wordsworth was far more cheerful than Samuel T Coleridge. Or even for that matter each of these Romantic Poets had their own special style of glorifying Mother Nature.

The pleasure given by each of the above poems is basically unique. It is like there are different emotions running around in our mind. The power of poetry captures within those few words a world of expressions.

Daffodils’ made me feel so spirited and positive. Yet in the presence of such wondrous image of the flowers sway and dipping in synchronous way makes a human heart to feel it deep within their soul.

Frost at Midnight’ brought out the protective mother in me. Though set at a dark place yet it shows sparks of innocence that becomes a prayer for the dear ones that come into our lives.

The Cloud’ was bouncy and almost begging for it to rain its knowledge on me. I always felt that cloud cannot be captured and shut into few verses; but then, P B Shelley just does that.

To Autumn’ made me smile at John Keats way of praising and extolling the greatness of the season. Somehow I like the British Autumn over American Fall. The word ‘Autumn’ has a sensuality to it which a mere ‘Fall’ can never replace.

If I could just take my pick of words from both the variant languages then I will take some from British and some from American and some from Indian English.

Any language for that matter has the power to penetrate into the inner most recess of the human heart and bring about a change. I feel a poem is a combination of a poet’s entire rainbow of emotions. Their personalities become the strongest presence that calls out to human sensitivity.

Not only do I just enjoy the presence of a poem; but also enjoy creating them too. Because of its emotional content I tend to keep my poetry just for myself and share with no one. Yet sometimes there is a secular poem that burst forth for sharing. Those poems are rare and as always have my emotional side coloring it.

The Diverting History of John Gilpin | My Take

Whenever I am not well, I go in search of a poem that would move my mind. If that particular poem turns out to be a humorous one, then I believe I’m set for recovery. I happened to like the early 19th Century poets for their raw sense of humor.

I always thought working with humor is rather difficult, especially in poems. Poetry for me is like breathing. I don’t know when my desire to read moved toward creating my own poems. I think it was an almost natural transition for me. But I was the most surprised person!

Among the various humor-filled poems, The Diverting History of John Gilpin by William Cowper was at Ek level up with the others. I think I fell a little in love with John Gilpin, even though he is one-woman-man, who never made it to his wedding anniversary dinner.

What really makes for a good humor filled poem? I have asked this question many times and every time, my answer would be the element that builds up the humor.

In my imagination, John Gilpin was slightly on the heavier side of England’s rural milieu. Add to his unfailing attempt to please his wife without questioning his own ability in accomplishing feats for her.

So the poet slowly builds up on the moment of making the entire poem a pleasurable experience. The initial main characters fine-tunes to just the horse and John living the experience of a run.

There is much that was pleasing and comical about that hilarious ride. There is something about how world sees things and how they take it. Everyone believed that John is participating in a cross country race while John alone knew about the fear chemistry between him and his friend’s horse.

John is even keeled sense of humor give it a perfect camouflage for his good humor. The poem could have been done with just one side run; but the poet got extra gaffs from sending John back to his house resulting his missing his wedding anniversary dinner with Mrs. Gilpin.

Humor is really unique where sadness brings the prettiness of things in a poem. I found that very few poets actually achieved it. I have been working on my humor for quite some time, only to settle down to fact that it would be dark humored.

Image Source: https://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/caldecott-randolph/gilpinsrideillustrationfr.html

A 100 Year After of Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken”

The poem has been written over a 100 plus years ago; and even today, it has the power to move my inner thoughts. There have been many routes that converged, turned, split across, and continued on to another without returning. In this process of my life’s marathon, I found solace and comfort from walking through them.

There isn’t anything about taking the well worn path or the path less traveled, because both were equally enjoyable with varying degree of past advises to be passed on to me. The point was the joy of the travel and the experience of walking through it.

Smithsonian Magazine carried an article titled “What Gives Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” Its Power?” by David C Ward. The writer of the said article has done such a wonderful analysis of the poem that brought back my college memories.

I remember being the only person who wondered about his choice of poetic form that was simultaneously modern and old-fashioned. It puzzled me why the Poet wished to be a rural poet and not picking more cosmopolitan topics. But then, his very choice defines him as my favorite poet.

The interesting part is that, I am also at a threshold to take a serious decision in my life. Two roads opened up in front of me and I will have to make a choice much to my distress. Writing is more than my passion, because it defines me as an individual. Unlike Mr. Frost I don’t have a plan for my publishing route with clarity.

But then somehow I watch the publishing road dramatically keep changing right in front of me like a time warp window. I fear if I don’t step into that gaping hole, then I will be left behind in the ancient times when fire was just being discovered. Not that it would make an interesting novelette worth exploring.

But as a writer, I’m still trying to find my audience. Since, my writings are in my adopted mother-tongue: English, my expression contains the influences of my natural mother-tongue: Tamil. I am essentially a Chennaite with clear view of my almost rural thoughts. I merely had to decide, how I wish to share and feel satisfied in such a sharing.

Much like Robert Frost, I keep trying to find Native speakers of English for their feedback in the hope, that if there is any changes, then that would make me improve my Poet-Writer voice. Hidden within these lines of aspiration is the desire to see my work be seen and talked about.

That way, I think I like the simplicity of Robert Frost’s work which sings to my soul. Life is never simple; it is filled with choices, regrets, nostalgia and sickening tendency to pull the rug out from under me. But it is so much about enjoying the freefall too.

I always thought of the two roads in the wood actually were somewhere in the milky-way. In the vast endless route, I choose one time tunnel and find myself within a unique situation with no point of return.

It is over a hundred years now since the publication of “Road Not Taken” created by my favorite poet who made me feel that sense of surprise every time I read it. Every poem brings with it a sense of surprise that converts a dramatic event into something life-changing.

This poem invokes a lot more feeling within me. I can sense completeness in the words strung together. The most captivating lines where in the third stanza which remains folded within my thoughts even today.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back”

 

~ Robert Frost

There is a spiritual pleasure in walking out on the complicated streets of Chennai, while dreaming in waves of determination. I have very few rural experiences, since I have been essentially a city girl.

I find my pleasures in experiencing rural settings by reading up on rural stories, poems and the works. This poem is one such rural poem that is well crafted.