What is poetry?

What is Poetry?

Is it a form of delirium, an opiate to dull the pain of living, a prayer, incantation, gentle nostalgia for a lost world of innocence, an anguished cry from the heart or a new explosive to blow up an imbecile world, a clarion call to a change of heart and mind?

When for weeks or sometimes months on end, not a single word of poetry ever emanates from the mind, would it mean that the senses have numbed? Does it means that I can feel no pain nor admire beauty?

Is poetry then not a demanding and often formidable goddess that will come to you only when you awaken your senses to both the pain and the joy that life is throwing at you and asking, in fact demanding you, not to shy away but open up your chest and allow those emotions to embed inside your being itself.

Only then does this pricey enigma reveal itself.

As lovers of poetry are we celebrating pain, nostalgia, anguish and hurt, then? Would it be right to say that when we applaud someone’s poetry and hope they would write more such words, we are wishing for them loneliness, betrayal, longing or even death?

Even within romantic poems, the heart smiles when the poet writes about longing, separation, or the sweet pain of desires.

It often seems like the goddess may be the keeper of reality, or instigator of pain itself.

goddess.jpg

As Javed Akhtar says,

Dilon Mein Tum Apni Betaabiyan Leke Chal Rahe Ho Toh Zinda Ho Tum.

When I read these words, it is as though he is implying that the purpose of every pain, ache and sorrow is to make you feel alive and lest you forget you have the goddess of Poetry to remind you.

A poem on nostalgia By Javed Akhtar.

Transliteration

Mele

bap ki ungli thame
ek nanha sa bachcha
pahle-pahal mele mein gaya to
apni bholi-bhaali
kanchon jaisi aankhon se
ek duniya dekhi
ye kya hai aur wo kya hai
sab us ne puchha
bap ne jhuk kar
kitni sari chizon aur khelon ka
us ko nam bataya
nat ka
bazigar ka
jadugar ka
us ko kaam bataya
phir wo ghar ki jaanib laute
god ke jhule mein
bachche ne bap ke kandhe par sar rakkha
bap ne puchha
nind aati hai
waqt bhi ek parinda hai
udta rahta hai
gaon mein phir ek mela aaya
budhe bap ne kanpte hathon se
bete ki banh ko thama
aur bete ne
ye kya hai aur wo kya hai
jitna bhi ban paya
samjhaya
bap ne bete ke kandhe par sar rakkha
bete ne puchha
nind aati hai
bap ne mud ke
yaad ki pagdandi par chalte
bite hue
sab achchhe bure
aur kadwe mithe
lamhon ke pairon se udti
dhul ko dekha
phir
apne bete ko dekha
honton par
ek halki si muskan aai
haule se bola
han!
mujh ko ab nind aati hai

Translation

Fairs
Clutching his father’s finger
When a small child
Went to the fair for the first time
His innocent
Bright eyes
Looked on a new world
What is this? What is that?
He asked excitedly
His father, bending low
Told him the names
Of many things, many spectacles
About the jugglers
The daredevils
The conjurers
And what they did
Then they turned towards home
The child rocked
in the cradle of his father’s arms
And rested his head upon his shoulder
The father asked:
Are you sleepy?
Time is like a bird
That keeps flying
The fair returned to the village
The old father
Clutched his son’s arm with trembling hands
While the son
Explained all he can
About what this was and what that was
The father rested his head on his son’s shoulder
The son asked:
Are you sleepy?
The father turned
Looked down the memory lane
Saw the dust kicked up
By the feet of moments past
Good ones and bad
The bitter and the sweet
And then
Turning towards his son
A faint smile playing
On his lips
Said softly:
Yes!
I am sleepy now.

If you have a bit more time, please read this amazing article by Jayanta Mahapatra on Poetry as a form of freedom.

http://www.thehindu.com/books/singing-of-trampled-grass/article19689961.ece

 

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