Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Are you in love?

In bangalore,not upto too much right now! An enquiry about my blog address this morning reminded me that i hadn't posted anything in a long here goes.
For this post I have chosen the first in a long list of favorites......

If you were coming in the fall

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.
If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.
If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.
If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.
But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.
-- Emily Dickinson.
In one of her most straightforward poems,Dickinson brings out,very beautifully the angst of separation and in classic dickinson style this one can be interpreted in many ways.
In the simplest sense,it could be looked at as someone talking of a lover who has gone away. Pining for the lover and the good times they had.
Reminds one of Kalidasa's Meghadootham.In what is possibly the best example of 'vipralambasringaara' (separation) in Sanskrit literature, the banished yaksha speaks of his wife and all the good times they have had.
This poem as well as Meghadootham always leave me wondering how we "fall in love". A life that's hitherto been your own, you are made to share with someone else and you do so willingly. In fact, for a majority of us, finding a partner to "love and cherish" seems the primary aim in life. There has to be something to it,beyond the evolutionary baggage that we carry.
Unrequitted love
Having said all that,however ,what I think makes this poem very special is the subtle suggestion of unrequitted love. It paints a picture of a lonely individual in love with someone who does not reciprocate that love. However, the love also brings with it the hope of reciprocation. The poet talks of waiting all her life, of giving up life if need be. Also reminds one of the numerous Bhakthi movement songs where the yearning of the jeevaatma for then paramaatma is brought out using lovers as metaphor.
Besides all this, what I find very interesting about the poem is,of course, the use of words. Very simple and lyrical. The metaphors almost pass you by without your noticing them the first time you read it, yet they make the impact they should.
My favourite is : I'd toss it yonder like a rind,And taste eternity
It speaks of a love that is so intense and holds such promise that life seems like but a rind that is in the way of getting to the sweet fruit.
This brings me back a full circle to my initial question. What makes us seek out a mate? How does evolution explain the concept of love? Even in the social context what is it that makes us want to dedicate a lifetime to being with someone,alter all life's plans to help them fit in or fit into their life? So is falling in love worth all that its made out to be?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

God's in his heaven

Pippa's Song
THE year 's at the spring,
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;
The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;
God 's in His heaven—
All 's right with the world!
-Robert Browning
While I am at it, here's another poem which marvels at God's creation, albeit from a different view of things.Pippa's Song by Robert Browning is one of my favorites.It has a childlike ,wide-eyed ,open-mouthed quality to it.
To me the highlight of the poem is, predictably, the last line. It takes a lot to say " All is right with the world" and to say it means to be at a level of being which most of us spend a lifetime chasing.
Starting from the start..:)
The whole poem paints an ideal picture.....Spring, the best time of the year,Seven in the morning when the sun is just out and spreading a warm glow, The dew is still there giving the whole world a pearly hue, the lark and snail are where they should be, doing what they do best.
It is so beautiful because it presents an over-simplified picture.An innocent view where all is right with the world.
I wonder though, if it is in fact trying to suggest that in this very simplicity lies the happiness that we strive to achieve. It is in fact in the beauty around us and the "simple" things that bring us happiness. Reminds one of Wordsworth when he says-
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Pratham is the first post on this blog. For the information of any reader besides myself,if and when i decide to tell someone about it, this blog will contain my thoughts and reaction to poetry and lyrics. Though i have just started to think seriously about it, I find myself drawn toward poetry to the point of addiction. I am hoping writing about it and making a hash of my favourite poems will somehow help me get over this new found obsession.
I have to decided to mark the beginning of this blog by writing about Bharatiyar's Iraiva.
A song that celebrates God's creation. A song that appreciates all that is beautiful in the world. The simple expression and awe conveyed by the poem are very appealing.It touches the more serious aspects of our being when it talks of Bhakti and Mukti. This,in my opinion, is significant because it outlines Bharatiyar's stand. Born a brahmin, he shunned the rituals of brahmin society maintaining that he is as close,if not more, to God by treating his fellow beings as equals. Bharatiyar songs strongly reflect the ideas put forth in the Bhakthi movement of the medieval ages.

Ettanai kodi inbam vaithaai,engal iraiva!

Chittinai Achittudan inaithaai,
Angu serum aimbhoothatthin viyan ulagam amaithaai,
Attanai ulagamum varna kalanjiyamaaga,
pala pala nal azhaigugal samaithaai.

Mukti endru oru nilai samaithaai
Angu muzhuthinaiyyum unarum unarvu amaithaai,
Bhakthi endru oru nilai vaguthaai
engal parama!

I am attempting a crude translation without which the point i am trying to make may not come through.
He starts off by saying " You have created innumerable sweet things o lord!"
Its a wonderful piece of poetry because it puts across so many tenets of philosophy in such simple words without failing to make the necessary impact.
The first paragraph talks of consciousness and unconsciousness. He says its a wonder that two such states exist in harmony with one another because the world lies in the interface of these two.
I find this idea most intriguing. He combines the Hindu philosophy that states that all matter is made of the five elements-Air,Water,Fire,Earth and Ether- beautifully with the suggestion that the world around us is in fact not fully percieved by the conscious mind. The unconscious mind percieves and registers what the eye does not see and the ear does not hear and the interplay of all this is what we believe is "our" world.

The next paragraph goes into the next plane of being-the plane of salvation or mukti. He describes Mukti as a state where one can feel everything. This is a thought which seems radically opposite to the popular belief that Salvation frees one of all feeling. However, a deeper look makes me rethink the line and I wonder is "everything" in this context is in referance to the Brahman. In fact, he uses the word "muzhuthinayum" meaning all of it or whole. This may in fact be a reference to the sloka :
"Om purnamadah purnamidam purnaat purnamudachyate purnasya purnamaadaaya purnamevaaavashishyate"
This is the speech of the brahman wherein He says " I am Whole and every part of me is also Whole"
The next line reiterates the ideology of the bhakti movement. He uses bhakti as an adverb rather than a verb. Here he calls bhakti also a state suggesting the link between the two.
The poem makes one want to look at nature and the world makes one want to be thankful for all that is and it confers on the reader a peace that comes from the security that He is there to love and protect.
Its poems like these that leave agnostics like me in confusion!