I realise I’ve been neglecting my blog for longer than I’ve wanted to but perhaps time is not always that kind. Anyway, so this post is going to be rather random, like many of my other posts in the past.
Lately I’ve been reading and re-reading a lot of poetry from different poets and have been filling up myself with the beauty of poetry. I do try to write poetry but when I read beautiful poetry, I realise how far behind I really am.
Some of the poets I’ve been rediscovering are Yeats and Donne. I studied Yeats in school and though some of the poems I studied (and analysed might I add) were ‘Wild Swans at Coole’, ‘The Second Coming’, among a few others (I’m growing too old and have forgotten), two of my favourite poems still are ‘When You Are Old’ and ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’. I’ll paste the latter here.
“HAD I the heavens’ 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.”
The beauty of this poem astounds me. I don’t think I’d ever be able to think of viewing dreams as a cloth to spread near the feet of a beloved. Just the imagery, and the pain that is laced in this poem, makes it one of my favourites. If you’re remotely familiar with Yeats’ life, you would know that he was very much in love with a woman called Maude Gonne and a lot of his poetry was inspired by her. They never did marry, but yes his love for her laster a great number of years and is one of the best known facts about Yeats’ life.
After Yeats, I started reading a lot of John Donne’s poetry. It’s painful to know that Donne was extremely poor. He died penniless and for most of his life remained so poor that he could not afford basic necessities. However, he is one of the most revered poets now, and I’ve been reading a number of his poems, my favourites being ‘The Good Morrow’ and ‘The Broken Heart’. Here’s an excerpt from ‘The Good Morrow’.
“My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.”
I love the way in which Donne says that if love is not mixed equally, then it dies. I love his comparison of love being such ‘hemispheres’ without polarising differences.
Sadly, I don’t think this kind of poetry is written nowadays, or I do not think many people enjoy poetry like this written by present-day poets.
A poet I discovered recently is the Persian poet Forough Farrokhzad. Sadly I cannot read Farsi and her Farsi poetry is supposed to be unsurpassed. I read everything in translation and I’m sure a lot of the beauty in her poetry is lost that way. If you’ve watched Abbas Kiarostami’s ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ you will be aware that there is a scene in which the protagonist recites Farrokhzad’s poem. In fact the title of the film is actually a line from Farrokhzad’s poem.
Apart from being the most famous female Persian modern poet, Farrokhzad’s life was also full of controversy. She married impulsively at the age of 16, only to divorce her husband 4 years later. She had a son from the marriage. She went into deep depression, rose again, wrote some of the most controversial poems about female sensuality. She was even known for numerous affairs (but this is debated). She died extremely young, at the age of 31, in a car accident. Apart from being a poet, she is also credited with starting Iranian New Wave Cinema with her documentary ‘The House is Black’. Here’s an excerpt from one of her poems ‘Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season’.
“And this is I
a woman alone
at the threshold of a cold season
at the beginning of understanding
the polluted existence of the earth
and the simple and sad pessimism of the sky
and the incapacity of these concrete hands.”
I think anyone who has attempted to write poetry knows that poetry is one of the few ways to express oneself. It is like the catharsis of the soul because one can pour so many emotions into a poem. Writing a poem is like finding a friend in loneliness, finding a voice in the darkness, and sharing a dream in a world overrun with nightmares. I do not believe poetry has any other function than simply being born out of emotions. Like Oscar Wilde said ‘all art is useless’. Art serves no other purpose than existing for the sake of itself. Art is a product of thought and emotion and the moment it seeks to have a purpose rather than being art, it ceases to be art.