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! 🙂
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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;
the rising wave
crested by a froth of white
washing onto watered-shore
mágicked by the purple shell of sea;
coloured by the spilling bow of rain
casting shadows of its warmly light
into a halfly dark;
the koeling bird
rousing the pitchness of the night
into the daying light;
the well of words
flowing over heartly kerbs
to flood the paging white