For this 25th post on my blog, I’ve gone back a long way – to one of the first poems I wrote after college. (I think it must have been in late 2011 or early 2012.) Also, given the occasion, I’ve had my mother recite the poem.
I suggest you read the afterword (below). It offers context and a few details that I think you’ll find interesting.
Upon a Winter Morning’s Walk
A solitary crow alights upon
The half-torn branch of the broken tree;
Cawing to a misted winter morning
Blooming silently into its glory.
A rustle; the frightened crow flies off
The half-torn branch of the broken tree,
And its rising wing brushes a leaf
That does not know how tò be free.
The fallen leaf will wet and wither
Beneath the winter’s sun and rain,
But that black crow that flies the skies
Will never léarn what it has done.
But a little squirrel that saw it all
Will plant a treasured nut when it is spring,
And a tree will open beautifully
With the leaf that fell from the crow’s black wing.
I recall the incident that inspired the poem quite vividly.
I’d woken up unusually early that day and decided, on a whim I imagine, to go take a morning walk through the Tata Institute. When I set out, the sun had only just begun to make its way upwards and spread its warmth upon the cold, misty morning. The route I took brought me to the top of the long slope that descends to the IISc’s swimming pool. I began my walk down that road, enjoying the bracing breeze and watching the sunlight create a light-and-shadow play as it made its way through the green that arched above me. As I neared the bottom of the slope, the green above began to give way to the fresh blue of the lightening sky. I decided to turn right and walk one of those mud-and-stone paths that give the IISc its inimitable old-world charm. I had only just stepped off the flagstones and onto the path when I saw it – the solitary crow, the broken tree, the happiness of blue and green in the background.
The first lines of the poem came to me when the crow took off. Having no pen or paper, I recited them to myself over and over as I made my way to the campus canteen – where I pencilled down the first four lines or so on a piece of crumpled bill-paper. The rest of the poem came gradually (over the next day or two).
Note: I don’t think I could write a poem like this today. For better or for worse, I have moved past such romanticism – like most writers do as they grow older and more experienced. When I wrote it, not only was I a fledgling writer but a young man greatly influenced by and extremely attracted to the overwhelming beauty and romanticism of Yeats’s early poetry.