To recall the exact moment when I fell utterly and irrevocably in love with poetry is quite similar to trying to find a trunk full of treasure with a Cartoon Network inspired treasure map. Not only is it unlikely that one can pin point to that life-changing moment, it also is an utter waste of time (which can be better spent reading more verses). But, for the sake of indulgence, it might have been during the summer vacations when my grand father recited Iqbal to me. It is also possible that Gulzar’s “Mujhko Bhi Tarkeeb Sikha Koi Yaar Juu’lahy..” (Dear weaver! Teach me this trick of yours…) had a huge part to play. But we will never know.
It was in my teens that I discovered Bukowski and that heart-ache is a beautiful thing. Neruda gave me hope. Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Robert Frost showed me the world as it ought to be. Walt Whitman and Gulzar wrapped me in their honeysuckle words and rocked me to sleep on the nights I was too terrified or too sad or too lonesome. I didn’t have many friends growing up, I changed schools and cities, my parents were busy with things that keep parents busy, but I was never alone. There was a point in time, I swear, when words of Bukowski kept me from falling to pieces. But I was never alone.
It has been written about earlier, and it will be said again, a writer writes not for the world but for the most selfish reasons. Nobody can state it better than Robert Frost, A poem begins with a lump in the throat.
I often wonder, is this what I want to do best with my time – sit and read poem after poem while the world is on slow combustion mode. The thought that I must do something, play a part in saving the world somehow has crossed my mind over and over again. And now here I am, not reading, but writing about poetry for I believe if there is anything that can save the world, it is poems. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t imagine a poem to fly over Syria to form a protective shield from the bombs that are rocking the cradles day and night. No, i don’t think that the flood ridden Puerto Rico will find that the source of electricity they need is hidden in a book of Green Grass by Walt Whitman. Trust me, I have no such notions.
I do, however, believe that in the face of adversity if there is anything that can comfort you like a mother’s warm smile it is poetry. If there is anything that will be a tender kiss on your cheeks like your lover, it will be poetry. When you no longer have the strength to carry on, it will be poetry that will be the beacon of hope.
Now, don’t go replacing people with poems on my stead. Just replace poetry with the trite Taylor Swift songs. Do let me know when you do that, it will be my little victory and I will know I have done a tiny bit for this world.
- Mujhko bhi woh tarkeeb sikha by Gulzar
Don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.
There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
You can’t beat death but
You can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
Your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
You are marvellous.
The gods wait to delight
3. Since Feeling is First by E. E. Cummings
Since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world.
My blood approves
and kisses are a better fate
lady I swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
We are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
and death I think is no parenthesis.