Since as long as I can remember I have been at loggerheads with poetry. I admired the rhyme but could often find no reason. Prose was my cup of tea I decided. I tried writing poetry but always felt a sort of disconnect with it, as I struggled to understand them and worse never really enjoyed the ‘hassle’ of penning them. I struggle with prose too but it is never a chore, I can sit with it for hours – just like I have been at this post!
But then I came across a post by Theresa, which forced me to re-look into my antipathy towards poems. And understand that poetry is not about understanding but about feeling.
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. T.S. Eliot
I had the first inkling of this when I came across the Shiv Tandav Stotram by Ravana, which he composed to appease Lord Shiva. Ravana is a Hindu mythological figure and that he composed a song is in itself mind boggling – did he actually exist? And then comes the poem, in Sanskrit, a language that I don’t know. Yet the song, the poem with its onomatopoeias and alliterations resonates and never fails to pull me right into it, leaving me exhilarated, uncaring and unmindful of the world and its shenanigans. I finally understood why Lord Shiva forgave him. Anyone who can compose like this, deserves another chance, and another, and another….
But that didn’t stop me from dissecting poems, struggling, scoffing, scorning until Theresa introduced me to this poem:
Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
but all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
I was stunned – I was guilty of doing exactly the very same thing! I should technically be ashamed and embarrassed but I am too relieved and flying high to be any such thing 😀 Thank you Theresa! Do visit her blog for the complete post and more amazing poems.
I would also like to share with you with a poem written by the French poet, novelist, and dramatist Jean-Pierre Simeón. It has been translated into English by Claudia Zoe Bedrick, and illustrated by Ollivier Tallec.
The poem is about a little boy Arthur, whose fish Leon is dying from boredom. His mother advises him to give Leon a poem. And thus begins Arthur’s journey to find a poem. He meets and asks several people and finally returns with this to Leon:
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.
is words turned upside down
the world is new.
Click here for Leon’s reaction, the complete poem, illustrations and original links. And while you are there, you may consider subscribing to Brain Pickings, a goldmine and a must read for all 🙂
a new distance
Suraja Roychowdhury, USA
Congratulations Suraja – look forward to many such pearls 🙂
The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. Dylan Thomas
Thank you for reading – wishing you all a wonderful weekend, Happy Easter, Happy Baisakhi, Happy Vishu and Shubho Noboborsho and anything else I may have missed! 🙂
For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 132