Sunday, November 15, 2015

Poems heal, Poems Probe....Poems teach us to be Humans again...!

Indian Bloggers

The first sound that a baby hears, apart from her mom's words, is a lullaby. It soothes her when she is distressed. It calms her mind. It is the music in it that she can relate to. The words are yet to form some meaning because she doesn't understand language yet. As she grows, she begins to understand the words too and the connection with words begins. Kids at an early age develop an affinity toward poems. Poems attract them because they are lyrical and they are easy to remember. Poems tell stories and generate knowledge in an easy manner for them. Thus, early learning teachers stress on alliterative and rhyming poetry. Poetry that is repetitive, that plays on words in essentially every child's favorite. I would like to share a very fascinating poem here which I read recently. It comes from an anthology of poems (The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry) my son's teacher had suggested for him to read. It is simple, and playful. It creates an imagery for the child's mind and by its repetitive use of words makes it a hit among them. Children relate to it on a different level too. Like, when they tasted a food for the first time and found its taste funny. They also find it hilarious because it is like a tongue twister. They say the words wrong and then they say it right and the fun continues...

Rabbit by Ann Hobermann

A rabbit Bit 
A little bit
An itty-bitty Little bit of beet 
Then bit 
By bit 
He bit 
Because he liked the taste of it
But when he bit
a wee bit more
It was more bitter than before
"This beet is bitter",
Rabbit cried
"I feel a bit unwell inside!"
But when he bit 
another bite, that bit of beet
Seemed quite all right.
When all is said and done
Better bitter beet
Than none.

As we grow up, poetry speaks to us in more soulful ways. It reflects our deep thoughts and touches an inner chord of heightened sensitivity. It speaks in a way that feels blissful. It questions our fallacies by the honesty with which it creates meaning. Good poetry is like good music. It makes us cry, it melts our biases, it cleanses us of our deceptions, it purges us of our pain. It delves way deeper than any other medium and because of its unique style, interrogates in a way nothing else can.

Poetry has various forms too. It can be lyrical, like the songs or lullabies we hear. It can be an epic narrative, like Homers' Illiad and Odyssey. It can be a short poem like a haiku or tanka. It can be a fourteen line sonnet. It can be an ode, a ballad or a free verse. There are umpteen number of ways a poem is written. A good poem, irrespective of its length, moves its readers. See for example, this short piece by Ryokan, a poet from ancient Japan:

The thief failed to take it - 
The moon shining
At the window. 

Image Source here

Inspirational poems are like lighthouses that help us see when everything else has become murky and miserable. Most of us are familiar with Harivansh Rai Bachchan's है अँधेरी रात पर दीवा जलाना कब मना है . I will quote a few lines from that poem here

क्या हवाएँ थीं कि उजड़ा प्यार का वह आशियाना
कुछ न आया काम तेरा शोर करना, गुल मचाना

नाश की उन शक्तियों के साथ चलता ज़ोर किसका

किंतु ऐ निर्माण के प्रतिनिधि, तुझे होगा बताना
जो बसे हैं वे उजड़ते हैं प्रकृति के जड़ नियम से
पर किसी उजड़े हुए को फिर बसाना कब मना है
है अँधेरी रात पर दीवा जलाना कब मना है 

(Source here)

The sordid human condition that prevails in a decadent, spiritually lost world, is well depicted by one of my favorite poets T. S. Eliot. The Hollow Men is a strong, sharp commentary on the utter desolation of  humanity. The hollow men are barren of emotions, they are devoid of the very essence of humanity.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;......

or the lines

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here

In this valley of dying stars

In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

(Source here)

In contrast to this is a very sweet poem written by W. B. Yeats. It speaks beautifully of love. The lines are so simple, the feelings coming straight from the heart, they make each and every word of the poem sublime. Read the poem to see if you can feel what I felt after reading it. 

The Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 

Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
(Source here)

The great thing about poetry is precisely this - it touches on a myriad of subjects with equal efficiency. Each theme that a poet picks becomes intensely probing. Poems shake away our deafness, our blindness, our indifference. They are weapons of change, they are balms of calmness, they appease, they unsettle. They are poems.

Written for Indiblogger IndiSpire #91


  1. Loved reading the different kinds here. The inspirational poem by senior Bachchan is too good. Reading it here for the first time.

    1. It is a great poem read the whole of it.....

  2. Interesting post Sunaina. Nice to read about the different forms of poetry and the apt examples that you have cited. We naturally take a liking to some poetry and songs without even realizing. True that irrespective of the length, good poetry has the ability to move us.

    1. Thanks Somali.....There is something in poetry that cannot fail to move us....!

  3. Poetry intoxicates. It's as good as whisky for the brain. You've mentioned some fine examples. I love Eliot and much of the Romantic poetry too. Browning's monologues are sheer thrill for me. But good poetry is almost extinct today.

    1. Thanks Sir......Eliot has been with me since the day I started reading him.....There is something in his poetry that is just unique......Browning's monologues, yes they are brilliant in their own way....Wordsworth and Blake have been my favorites when it comes to the Romantics......Ah, poetry....poetry.....I can never have enough of it....!

  4. Wow..Interesting..:)

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  5. Poetry is the essence of life. Each and every thing in life can be expressed through poetry and if done in the right way, it can leave a huge mark in the minds of readers.
    A wonderful post. Thanks for sharing some amazing poems :)

    1. Thanks Purba......You are a great poet yourself...!

  6. Poetry is soothing and soul-stirring. Lovely post Sunaina!

    1. True Leena......Thanks for reading it....!

  7. Completely agree with your statement that poetry speaks with soul. It is always good to read poems.Nice post Sunaina :)

  8. I always wondered what I would have done without many poems while doing my MA :)

    1. So many poems....and yet we want more...!

  9. The cloths of heaven is one of my favourites too. Loved reading your entire selection though :)

    1. Yes, it is a lovely poem...! Thanks for reading it....!

  10. What beautiful lines Sunaina.. Even I have a soft corner for poems.. I love expressing via them..


    1. Yes, poems touch our hearts like nothing else can...!

  11. Very beautiful poems, Sunaina! Loved your post...:-)

  12. What an amazingly poetic tribute this to poetry itself!
    Just loved it! Thorough and scholarly too..