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Posts tagged “Poetry

Of Stardust Born

This sky, my sky was blue with joy all day. How quickly this sky, my sky turned black from exhaustion; worn out from weary obeisance to King Sun whose splendour is glimpsed one half of every twenty four hours. This night, my night of winking stars; stars shimmering behind fuzzy white clouds; stars alive far beyond the constricted perimeter of our solar cocoon. Tonight’s constellation I can only imagine for the universe, my universe, is walled behind the fog that floats below the sky, my sky. I hear the drones of aeroplanes flying above cotton buds pregnant with vapour and I am comforted that at least someone up there is pondering how wondrous it is to be one with stardust. My stardust.


Nothing To Fear

Craving to be popular and fitting in
Buries our singular individualism
Imitation may be the best kind of flat-
tery; to pacesetters, but not copycats
For a thing to be different
It, first, must not be the same
One might as well quote Foucault
For it’s better to be an originator

Hankering after success
Leads others to like you less
For to supplant them yet remain friends
Is a sore contradiction in terms
Keep your friends in close
And your enemies even closer
One might as well quote Machiavelli
For he was wise to sly demagoguery

Praying for immortality
Denies the evolutionary duality
For as Earth has, its energy, given us
Its fair and fulsome price, pay, we must
All the world’s a stage and we are but
Bit players with entrances and exits
One might as well quote Shakespeare
For there’s nothing to fear, but fear


Ah, Spring … We’ve Been Expecting

Ah, Spring
We’ve been expecting you

Longer suns, shorter moons
Warm dawns, cold monsoons
Long walks, short tempers
Hot Jocks, iced Vanillas

Tank tops, muffin tops, flip flops
Struts and poise, fresh faced boys
Lasses in season, cute belly button
Blushing mothers, incensed Papas
[“You’re not going out in THAT!”]

Cogitation
Trepidation
Conjugation
Exultation

Old lovers bashful no longer
Car park roving, night time dogging
Primal, tribal, anonymous, perfidious
Pensive, restive
Icky, sticky, licky, messy

[It’s here! ‘Tis the season for ….]
Relatives! Banns! The Expense!
Wedding bells, giddy spells
Telling kisses, fretful Missus
Relatives! Cause such Offence!

Seaside reveries, holiday miseries
Wasp blue loafers
Pool tanned shoulders
Lens, rucksack, cameras
Theft! Damn foreigners

New books, unread tomes
Unrequited looks, forgotten names
Fickle friends, fecund thoughts
Fecal thoughts, Flickr friends

Parades, charades, sunshades, lemonades
Babbles, revels, prattles, drivels

Ah, Spring
We’ve been expecting you


Ballade Of The Bookworm

by Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

Far in the Past I peer, and see
A Child upon the Nursery floor,
A Child with books upon his knee,
Who asks, like Oliver, for more!
The number of his years is IV,
And yet in Letters hath he skill,
How deep he dives in Fairy-lore!
The Books I loved, I love them still!

One gift the Fairies gave me:  (Three
They commonly bestowed of yore)
The Love of Books, the Golden Key
That opens the Enchanted Door;
Behind it BLUEBEARD lurks, and o’er
And o’er doth JACK his Giants kill,
And there is all ALADDIN’S store, –
The Books I loved, I love them still!

Take all, but leave my Books to me!
These heavy creels of old we bore
We fill not now, nor wander free,
Nor wear the heart that once we wore;
Not now each River seems to pour
His waters from the Muses’ hill;
Though something’s gone from stream and shore,
The Books I loved, I love them still!

ENVOY.

Fate, that art Queen by shore and sea,
We bow submissive to thy will,
Ah grant, by some benign decree,
The Books I loved–to love them still.


The Greatest War, Anti-War And Poem Ever?

I first read The Iliad almost twenty years ago and what a turgid hard read that was. I couldn’t wait to put it down. It was my first contact with Greek literature and everything about it was unfamiliar and frustrating: the style, the characters, the length. Fast forward to today during which time I have spent a considerable time reading Greek literature and history and I thought, “Hmm let’s tackle The Iliad again but let’s get a new translation.” So I got this one by Robert Fagles. The Introduction is massively important and I’m glad I read it first. Then I jumped right in and the story hits you right out the gate: the power, the electricity, the passion. It felt like I had turned the corner from a street enveloped by darkness into one illuminated by the blinding razzle-dazzle lights of an amusement park.

The story is set in the final year of the great Trojan War between the Greeks and the rich, proud city of Troy. The war was started when Paris, the handsome godlike prince of Troy stole or eloped with Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Lacedaemon. She refused to go back to her wedded husband who, as far as he was concerned, believed she had been kidnapped. So ensued ten years of bitter bloody war that involved some of the greatest and most illustrious names in pre-writing Grecian history (or myth): Odysseus, Agamemnon, Ajax and the two central heroes, Achilles (on the Greek side) and Hector (on the Trojan side).

This book is, if anything, an incredible rush. Homer will make your hair stand on its roots and his pace and rhythm (as translated by Fagles) will make your heart race. Also captivating are the sideline schemes of the Gods – Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Poseidon etc – all supporting different sides and torn with grief when a favourite is doomed to hit the dust. The air is filled with a palpable sense of tragedy especially for the soldiers; their hopes and fears and fathers and mothers and wives and children to whom they will never return. Homer spares you none of the gory details of death and that darkness that claims the eyes when a spear runs one through and comes out the back or when an axe spills open the contents of the brain. Fagles is quite adept at ensuring your stomach turns.

It is easy to see how generations of Greek recruits could be energised by these stories and today’s flying of the Stars & Stripes gives an idea but doesn’t come close. But after six hundred pages one also starts to feel sick of the earth running black with blood. In that respect the greatest war book also becomes a potent anti-war polemic. When the book draws to a close with its climactic finish you feel subdued awe at what just happened. Homer does not end with the sacking of Troy (via the Trojan Horse) but you know it’s coming and your mind creates the carnage that must have ensued. [Homer’s “The Odyssey” and Vergil’s “The Aeneid” carry on from the end of the Trojan War if you want to read more].

PS. I thought that since I loved this translation I should go compare with the one from twenty years ago to appreciate the difference a translation makes. Oops, turned out the old was the new; it was the same translation! Goes to show how we often get rubbed the wrong way by the new and unfamiliar like I was twenty years ago; and how a little education, like I’ve done in the meanwhile, can make us less intimidated by worlds (and people) unlike what we were used to and to open us to discovery and a wider circumference of enjoyments.


Let’s Sleep

“Quick, better to live or die, once and for all, than die by inches, slowly crushed to death”
– the mighty Ajax from Homer’s Iliad

So the week came and threw mud in my face
Well, mud gives way to water and I washed my face with relish

And the week came and flung banana skins in my path
Well, my feet are shod with springs and I bounded over the yellow peril

Yet the week prevailed slinging office politics at my patience
Well, Good Sense is wiser than Retort, and Resolve mightier than Surrender

Now the week ends here and sly as a fox it slips out at midnight
Well, I too at midnight will settle my spirit in Sleep’s sweet embrace

But, shall I go out first, amidst the noise, amongst the boys,
Partake of nighttime revels and the naughty melee
Nah. Let’s sleep.


Absurdities

So if the enemy of my enemy is my friend
How to describe the friend of my friend?

The lover of my lover? That’s easy, he is a scoundrel, kill him!
But the killer of my killer? Shall he not be a friend also?

If I murder myself, stain these hands with my blood
And commit this crime in anger for blasphemies
Shall I be purged in purgatory
Or shall my soul rest in Heaven’s bosom?

Shall I steal bread to feed a hungry thief?
But if he steals what’s mine to feed his famished dog
Surely, a curse on his head for ever more!

Can I hate my life and love my foe
Or hate my toe and love my wife
For if I can be friend to the Far and a scourge to the Near
I shall find a delightful home in Absurdities