Lines Begun After Sundown

All sadness does not lead to song,
all gloom cànnot make a poem;
there is too much sadness in the world
for that, and too much gloom.

Most misery cannot be told,
most torment cannot shed a tear;
they lie simply in the breast:
wordless, soundless, unremarked.

Let them live there if they must,
do not mine them for a song;
there is sorrow beyond reach —
to speak of it would be wrong.

Sing, instead, some happy song
you listened to when you were young;
let all immured sorrow know —
outside there is delighting.


(written ca. late 2015)

Note: I might not have chosen to post this poem were it not for my good friend Daniel wondering aloud – in a comment about my poem, ‘Happiness‘ – if I could “depict sadness with equal acuity?”. While I’m not sure this poem ‘depict[s] sadness’ in a manner that parallels ‘Happiness’, it seemed like it could serve as a possible ‘answer’ to Danny’s ‘question’. In any case, this one’s for you, Danny boy! 🙂

When The Heart Blooms (or Why Poetry?)

Because –
is it not enough if poetry
can make you happy
and push the borders of the heart
a líttle further apart
so that the joy that grips the soul,
(a joy that cannot be told),
turns the rhythm
of the breath into a hum
ming bird, that shooting like a charge
throughout the blood
both fills and floods
the being with a boundless surge.


(written ca. 2015)

Note:

I just learnt that today is World Poetry Day. So I thought to share what I consider a relevant poem – relevant not simply for this occasion but also for these rather dark times. That is to say, I believe it possible for poetry – not to mention music and other forms of art – to lift the spirit; to help it shake off its “earthboundedness” and soar, if only for a moment; and I hope this poem helps make happen – for some of you at least.

For my part, I’d also like to draw your attention to some of my other poems on this blog-website as well as to the poems on my other blog-website. I trust at least a couple of them will help lift your spirits. 🙂

Stay happy and stay safe everyone!

The Dancer Asks

And let me dánce, Natarāja*
to the rhythm of your drum;
and let me flów, Natarāja,
like Gangé* from your locks;
and let my límbs spread smóothly
and my waíst slide shyly
and my ánklets tinkle
and my brácelets jingle
and my sáree rustle
to the echóes of your drum*.


(written in 2015)

Glossary:

1. naṭarāja — literally, king of dance but perhaps better translated as ‘Lord of Dance’. An appellation of Shiva’s, one of Hinduism’s major gods. His dance – the cosmic tāṇḍava – can be various and can signal both creation and destruction. The joyful form of his dance is the ānanda tāṇḍava.

2. gangé — the way Gangā, Hindu culture’s most sacred river, is written and pronounced in Kannada. Here’s some more detail about the mythology concerning Shiva and Gangé.

3. drum — the ḍamaru is Shiva’s “drum”, one he uses to keep time during his cosmic tāṇḍava. A mythological story tells of how the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are the sounds that emerged from Shiva’s drum as he danced his dance of creation.

Lament

My words of verse are not like ráin
stréaming from a water-burdened cloud;
nor like the blossom on the vine-tip
that fálls and reaches the ground
despite the absence of a wind.
Nor like the green ringlet that peeps
out from the seed-born stem;
nor even like the little bird
whose wings outspread
of their own accórd.
I seek instead for similes,
search nature with deliberate eyes,
(wearing a poet’s disguise),
to find and praise what must
be praised; what does not rust
(with words that I to rhyme entrust).
Yet all the while I wish so much
to write like I were heaven-touched.


(written ca. September 2015)

Funnily enough, this was written out in about five minutes or so. There have been times both before and after I wrote this poem where I have had a line or two “flash” or “come to me”. There was even one time – just the one though – when I got up in the middle of the night, wrote down a line, and went back to sleep. (It was only next morning that I learnt what I’d written down.) But, by and large, this “lament” remains; that is to say, it remains my wish to receive (as it were) a poem.

Happiness

happiness’s
a gulmòhar flower
cáught in the crosshairs of the sun
guarded by drawn-leaves of green
shaded by the blue of sky
within a wreath of wind;
happiness’s
the rising wave
crested by a froth of white
washing onto watered-shore
mágicked by the purple shell of sea;
happiness’s
the sunset-sky
coloured by the spilling bow of rain
mòving asymptotically;
happiness’s
a wickly-flame
casting shadows of its warmly light
into a halfly dark;
happiness’s
the koeling bird
rousing the pitchness of the night
into the daying light;
happiness’s
the well of words
flowing over heartly kerbs
to flood the paging white


(written on June 9, 2019)

I want my poetry

to be as real as the fight between hot-headed boys
who are really truly angry;

to speak the language of the street
and the music of the flute
(and even mix them cleverly);

to learn to walk before it learns to run;

to run with the rhythm
and hunt with the rhyme –
idiomatically;

to echo – sound – resound
and then move on rather than wait
until a rhyming word comes by;

to look around and see
the tree – the dog – the smoking man – the fly
(and simply smile and let them be);

to play with English like a favourite toy –
(wind it up and send it forth
then leap in front and change its path
because it wants a rhyme for bath);

to see the world through others’ eyes –
then, opening its own, seek originality;

to be best friends with the dictionary;

to learn to wait,
to learn that it need not hurry;

to metaphor and simile
(but if it can’t, then just to say
the sky is blue and blood is red);

to sign a clause of non-compete
with other poetry
(like so many different ships upon a plural sea);

to feel it’s free to turn to prose
when it wants a break or clarity;

to skip article –
unironically
(because that’s how English
is often spoken really);

to (also) be Indian in its samskriti* –
to view this ancient land with sympathy
(but not ignore the blatant cacophony
of each traffic-tormented city)

to go out in the sun and feel its warmth
and simply stretch all lazily;

to try its best to find
its way to self-express
and when it’s done (or hasn’t done) –
sleep happily;

to be simple and straight and free
(and shun the comfort of trickery);

to know that it’s all right to
watch the moon’s light silently;

to find a way to make Kannada Englishy –
and English a kannaḍi*

to make sure to think for itself –
and not just jump into chaḷuvaḷis*;

to know that poetry, like knowledge,
is replenished
by giving and by taking;

to speak the truth it knows,
to feel lucky to be free;

to be and being make me
be.


(written in Feb 2020)

Glossary:

1. kannaḍi — the word for “mirror” in Kannada

2. chaḷuvaḷi — a Kannada word with meanings like agitation, movement, etc.

3. samskriti — broadly, a Sanskrit (and Kannada) word that means “culture” (though it has several shades of meaning)

My Boyhood and my Poetry

As boy, I was stranger to the winter and spring,
but an honoured child of the summer and rain:
I hardly marked the winter’s tree,
or the movement of the spring

But summer time was for play and swim
and hours beneath the largesse of the sky
that looked down with its shutless eye
on worlds I saw and did not see.

And with the rains, then all around
the waters hurried fast and free
and jalpātas* burbled by the door
as I jumped with my father through puddles undeep.

So, now, if I rhyme of the winter and spring,
they are my dues to a poetry
with its sense of time and its geographies

For when I was boy with the world at my feet,
the cut of the winter and the rich of the spring
were masked by the wet of the rain and the summer’s swing.


(written ca. late 2015)

Glossary:

*jalpāta ~ waterfall (in Kannada)