Saturday, November 28, 2015

Haircut

Teaching Rayan similes and metaphors, as used in poetry. So, wrote the following lines on a topic he understands all too well. As it's his lament every two months or so, I hope he can relate to the poem and grasp the concepts. 

HAIRCUT (29/11/2015)
----------------------------------

My head looks like a silly lawn, 
That had been mowed afresh. 
My hair, they bow and jump back on, 
With every stroke of brush. 

My hair when long, made my face look round, 
It was a bright full moon. 
What's it now, but a chicken egg, 
That has been laid too soon. 

I could style my hair as was my wish, 
And gel them to a shine. 
But now my head has a singular look, 
Like the back of a porcupine. 

😜😝

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Lament at the State of Men

Terrorism...war...bloodshed...these have always angered me, saddened me and made me thoughtful of philosophies of life. This poem was written in just another instance of such a mood.

I Lament at the State of Men (22-03-2001)

O what has human history been?
But wars and wars (some peace between).
“That’s nature, boy”- some say to me.
To kill and die, to drive and flee?
Why isn’t then blood our staple diet,
That runs in streams in every riot?

While millions hungry beg for alms,
Millions are spent trading in arms.
Our brains have grown in content, sure.
But hearts are still so immature.

I’m restless that we’ve sailed so fast
Through many a sea of science, full mast.
Playing with all the catch is fun,
As is to a child with a loaded gun.
Such risks are what we humans face,
Unless we grow-up, as a race.

I think, as I spend life at ease,
Any time these peaceful days may cease.
Disturbed and sad from all I ken,
I lament at the state of men.

Scotland

It was the August Bank holiday and I went for a three day trip from London to Scotland. I was so impressed by its natural beauty that I did what any poet would do. Read on. This is one of the most popular ones among my friends.

Scotland (27-08-2000)

O Lord all praises are to thee.
Ah! What a beauteous country.
It’s August now, and all is green-
Nothing as splendid have I seen.

In these wondrous peaks I see
Heights of grandeur and beauty.
Each valley that in awe I spy
Doth look like a cup of joy.

Amongst many a Scottish hill
Are castles- ruined, yet stately, still.
O hear! On winds, amongst the vales
Come enchanting medieval tales.

No Scottish landscape is complete
Without these lochs- a visual treat.
These waters lovely, deep and calm
Like a maiden’s heart, have a wondrous charm.

These waters- clear, silent and still
Reflect each majestic mountain, hill.
O hear! Upon the lowly breeze
Sail tales of monstrous mysteries.

Three days that I have spent in here
Shall remain with me, ever so dear.
These splendid sights again to see,
O Scotland, I’ll return to thee.

The Cracked Pot

A colleague forwarded me a mail with an inspiring story. I rewrote the same story as a poem and here it is.

The Cracked Pot (30-6-2000)

A water bearer, old and wise,
With a song on his lips- gentle, nice,
Would come to the stream with the rising sun
And have his fruitful day begun.

Two pots he’d fill, and tie to a pole,
And take to his master’s thirsty soul.
One of the pots had a crack, though small,
So it ne’er arrived full at all.

Two years passed, and there still was this leak,
So the pot, depressed, decided to speak.
“O sir, my sir, I am ashamed and sad,
I am half as good or twice as bad!”

“The other pot, full to the brim,
To your master’s house, right from the stream,
Ne’er would miss a chance to tease-
Sir, I can take no more of these”.

The wise one smiled, and said to the pot,
“Now as we back to my master trot,
Look to your side, and glad you’d feel,
For the flora is a connoisseur’s steal”.

It saw the flowers, and the pot was pleased,
At their gentle dance in a gentle breeze.
But, in the end it still was sad-
“The flowers are good, but still I am bad”.

The water-bearer, old and wise,
Spoke to the pot in the kindest voice-
“Your crack and leak, O pot, my dear,
Had watered the flowers to bloom each year”.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An Appreciation of Human Faculty

Simple situation: I was working on a project that looked hopelessly jinxed. My team and I needed some good inspiration, and out flowed this poetry.

An Appreciation of Human Faculty (9-3-2000)

If pain could stop, weariness prevent
Men from running behind their dreams.

If pressures could kill, stresses succeed
In tying hands, paralysing limbs.

If sweat could cool, tears freeze
The heat of working mental gyms.

If reason could block, rationale convince
Minds against fanciful whims.

If terrors frighten, patience could die,
Energy flag, aspirations thin.

If depths could drown, darkness blind,
And death could dread, from what may seem.

Each dream of man, from fire to flight

Forever would have remained a dream

Aspirations

This poem came after an Interview I had attended. The interviewer asked what I wanted to be in life. Well, I gave him some standard answers (no wonder), but started to reflect on that question later on that day. This poem paraphrases some of my aspirations- in fact my ambitions- of how I want to lead my life.

Aspirations (25-1-1999)

My head as high as it can be,
Not down with shame or low with guilt;
Living a happy and honest life,
On love and kindness built.

My countenance shall not display
The slightest tint of sad bemoan;
And all the while I shall keep
A heart of love, not that of stone.

I'll grow unto me strength enough
To be human in thought and deed;
To lend my hand to fallen ones
And hungry ones feed.

Good to friends and to family true,
Love and be loved by one and all.
Free from burden of sin and vice,
Never from heights of goodness fall.

Beggars On the Indian Roads

It was a particularly cold night and I was returning home from work- warm and cosy from my jacket and shoes. While waiting for my bus, I noticed a few beggars who had made the footpath their home for the night. It made me feel rather sad that so many millions like them spend their winters on cold footpaths and torn clothes. I wrote this in that emotion soon after I reached home.

Beggars On the Indian Roads (December, 1996)

When nights are cold, what do we do?
Coats and rugs we tuck into.
And warmly all night hibernate-
But many are not so fortunate.

The footpaths that we often tread
For many, by night, are home and bed.
They lie on stones we walk upon,
With bags and rags to keep them warm.

Skins infected, blood diseased,
Just rotten leftovers to feed;
Craving for love that’s never bestowed-
Like dogs and pigs they are dead on road.

God knows why they were ever born,
Why all their lives were scorned upon.
Among reasons that we never thought,
What share’s ours- the better offs?

Reflections Before Sleep

This was written on one of those reflective moods that silent solitude so often induces. It was the middle of night, and my mind got all philosophical thinking about the virtues and vices of rest versus work. Sleeping under the open sky is a wonderful experience (minus the mosquitoes, of course). I actually wrote this poem in the dim light from the moon and other luminar sources in the street- being a studious student has the advantage that a pen and notebook are never too far. Not even in the middle of night.

Reflections Before Sleep (6-3-1996)

The night is quiet, the city sleeps;
I just fell on my bed.
Though I want my eyes to close,
They scan the sky instead.

The moon is a sequin in the sky,
And the sky with its thousand eyes
Winks at me and stares at me,
While a shooting star flies by.

My heart is tired, my body aches,
My eyes heavy become;
Sailing on the silent breeze
Sweet sleep has at last come.

Should I love the night more than the day?
(I love the slumber and repose.)
Each morn brings in a hectic day,
Each night I see its chapter close.

The night is pleasant, slumber sweet,
But I can’t wish them to stay;
I do require for needs of life,
For bread and butter another day.

Vanity

It was exam time- second year, fourth semester of my Engineering. There were five days between the previous exam and the next one. Now, Metallurgy was a subject I was supremely confident I could score well so I basically loafed off the five days instead of studying. When I looked at the question paper, it dawned on me that the answers were vaguely familiar but not familiar enough. That was the first and last time I ever flunked in a paper- the lesson was learnt. I wrote this as soon as I came home from the exam hall.

Vanity (30-8-94)

Five days at stretch were spent in vain,
In sport and flights to fairy lands,
In indolence and indifference,
And marches with satanic bands.
Did slumber on the dusting books
Bring from untouched pages wrath?
God knows. But, I could plainly see
Each passing moment point at me
And cry- “For shame O boy,
Thou lets me pass and do not care
What my coming brethren bear!”
And surely its successors brought
Ugly gifts and said to me:
“The fault, the fruit are both with thee”.
“The fault, the fruit are both with thee”.

A Mason's Song

I had watched scores of men labour to build a luxurious hotel in the heart of the city. It then occured to me that these people will never be able to enter it after the inauguration ceremony. Imagining myself to be one of the masons working on the building, I wrote the following.

A Mason’s Song (15-11-94)

My mates and me, for years three
Had toiled to build thy grace;
And now all know thy owner’s name
But of us masons no one cares.

Thou art a five star hotel called,
An Epitome of luxury;
Whilst we, thy makers, little paid,
Are left to die in penury.

Ere thy were open declared,
Many a night I slept in thee.
Many a night had dinner where
Now am denied entry.

For keeping me away from thee
The richer men I do not blame.
I feel not sad, nor I complain-
But have a feeling I cannot name.

Confessions of a Poet

This was written in a rather reflective mood, thinking about poetry. There isn't a story or occasion to act as a reason for this poem. It just came, and I just wrote. Just like that.

Confessions of a Poet (21-8-94)

I know no reason, yet opine
That half my soul is poetry.
The other half, though it is mine,
Remains to date a mystery.

Each morn I wake to one more day;
Each morn I spy new troubles nigh;
Problems pester me through noon,
And with the dying sun they die.

My life I see, as others do,
In much the angle they have spied;
And yet the poet in me shows
All its contents magnified.

This is perhaps the reason why
The little joys I seldom get
Very much do compensate
The troubles that often beset.

Life is dull, yet I can see
Its colours in a brighter way,
And with my poet’s help I can
Smiling close a hectic day.

My Castle

I had realized pretty early in life that "we are responsible for everything that happens in our life". And most of the time, things don't work out because our dreams were big, but our plans were small. Our aspirations were high, but our resolve was weak. This poem was a lesson from my heart to my mind to be careful of how it planned for my life.

My Castle (27-11-1993)

A castle great in size and style
It was my wish to own.
And hence I built a castle great
With halls and walls of red sandstone.
As was my wish, its doors were high
(Their beauty magnified
By flowers and vines of ivory
Entwining on all sides).
I had all its windows done
In golden architrave,
And valence which in silk was spun,
And which in wind would gently wave.

But a single folly, basic though,
Was somehow committed by me,
For which I am sorry now
And sorry all my life will be;
No sooner than I had it made
So grand, so good, beyond compare,
That it had a disastrous end
For it was built in air.

Prayer

Someone I knew, and who lived near us, had a scandalous affair with a girl from our impoverished neighbourhood. The episode, which culminated in him getting beaten up and fleeing the street, made me realise that I too had entered a stage in life where I was an easy prey to temptations of all kind. It looked like I needed some divine help to be able to lead a chaste, yet cherishable life. Hence the poem.

Prayer (22-4-1994)

O lord that I in youth have stept-
The devil’s favourite age;
Please help me preserve and protect
My long held good image,
And face the hardships of my life
With vigour and courage,
And to my childish innocence
Make a mature change;
But let a fraction still remain
Lest I should need again,
That innocence in some fraction
Of life’s so short a range;
And help the good in me to stay
For thy mercy on the judgement day.

Upon the Ancient Mariner

It wasn't the first time I read this masterpiece by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Neither was it the first time I was moved by it. The inspiration had built up over the years till the following verse of appreciation came about.

Upon the Ancient Mariner (3-5-1994)

This is the finest poetry
That any human framed
(That’s how I feel, while another may
For another work the honour claim).

Thy adventures, O mariner,
Upon the ghastly sea,
Wiser made the wedding guest
And wiser they made me.

I owe thee lot, O poet great,
Thou made a kinder man of me;
And greater I love them today-
My earth-mates of all decree.

Man

I was always (I still am) angered by the vices I see among ourselves. The realization that our all the blessings we received from God are being used for satanic purposes made me sad and angry. The following poem is one that I wrote during one such bout of anger against some quarrelsome neighbours.

Man (9-2-1994)

Two hands to serve, two eyes to see
And pity someone in agony.
A tongue for prayer, heart for love
Were given to man. The heaven above
Was built for man’s own delight.
The radiant sun, with all its light,
The moon, the stars shining bright,
The earth and ocean, in all their span,
Were built for the man, the man.

The music of the wind among
The swaying trees and the song
Of the lark endure because
Their absence would have been a loss
For weary minds of tired men
Toiling under the summer sun.

Earth would have with these things been fine,
But, for those ugly things we find
(And sadly which also endure
With place in hearts of men secure)-
Anger, greed and evil desire
Bare, or oft clad in attire
Of the better things of man
To fight against whom but man.

It’s wonder! Men are easy prey
To satanic army and they
Working with the devil’s brain
Succeed in their attempt to train
The human brain in things that are
Major tactics in the war
Of devil with the human clan
And the devil’s soldier is the man.

Two hands to fight, two eyes to see
And enjoy a scene of agony;
Tongue for malice, brain to plan
All evil moves for Satan-
Possessions are of a modern man.

Nature would have, in her conniption,
Sent humans into extinction,
(And surely Mother Nature can)

But, for her love for the race of man.

When Earth Shook

1993 saw a devastating earthquake in Maharashtra-Karnataka border that killed thousands. A newspaper photograph stirred my emotions- A silently wailing mother sat on the ruins of her home and in front of her, covered in a saree, was the dead body of her little son. The scene made tears flow from my eyes and the following verse from my pen.

When Earth Shook (30-12-1993)

She sits amongst the ruins made
By angry earth that danced the night;
And all that was a little home
(Blessed with bliss and boundless love)
Transformed into a heap of stones.
A battered door lies at her feet
Which once adored the walls of mud,
Crowned which were by a thatched roof-
And all these made not just a hut-
They made something she called her home.

Now she sits on the debris mound,
Once where stood her lovely home,
Filled with love and children’s play-
It was to her a paradise.
This paradise was just not made
In a moment by some magic spell,
But labour of a love filled heart,
Whose abode was the woman’s breast,
Facing many a torrent great,
Built the heaven on a piece of earth.
But, mighty nature’s fury came
And brought the sleeping folk a wrath.
It rocked the slumbering house in dark
And brought down every inch of it-
But, there’s more for which the woman weeps.

A few feet from the lady sad
I see an old sari piece,
From head to toe in which is clad
Something that every human eye
Can know among the ruins-
She took nine months to give it form
And many a year of nursing made
The baby into a child that played
And danced and made its mother proud,
Until nocturnal terrors came
And demanded from the child long sleep.
In a coffin made from the mother’s robe,
Here it lies- overpowered by death,
And she- a mother, a mortal too,
Can’t do a thing but weep on fate.

The quake, it shook a tender heart
And rocked and rocked till the heart
Like many a hope and many a dream
Crumbled into a heap- a mass
Of umpteen pieces broke.
Another house may come up there,
On the ruins where the mother sits,
Yet she a doleful life shall live;
For broken hearts and ruined homes
Have never known resurrection.

The Common Man

As I grew into latter teens, one philosophical thought that filled my mind was about my identity- my place among the billions on the planet. My fears told me I was a nobody- small and fragile. My ego told me that I was great. My humility tried to teach me that I was better than some, but there were others better than me. I thus learnt that I am just another 'Common Man'.

The Common Man (1993)

Wandering on some lonesome path
An old sage once met me.
“Who are you, I think I know,
I’m sure I know”, quoth he.

“Those eyes, those eyes- O yes I know;
You once ran from a war.
You coward- hark! Let me see,
You haven’t that cheek with a scar”.

“That nose, that nose- yes, now I know;
You are the fool I met.
Or are you not? Well let me see-
He looked different I bet”.

He scratched his head, and then his beard
And fixed his glance on me.
Who are you I think I know,
I think I am sure”, quoth he.

“Are you that knight who yesterday
Fought the demons in the sea?
Those sinews, well, you lack them son,
No! Him you cannot be”.

“That saint I knew, well was it you?
No! Ripe of age was he.
Who are you I can’t recall,
Son, what’s your identity?”

Ripe of age seemed that sage;
Could I bother such a man?
I spoke in the end, as he listened,
I’ll tell you who I am”.

“I am the best of worse men;
No coward was ever valiant as I,
No fool had a more sagacious brain,
No saint uttered so many a lie”.

“You know me right, you know me well,
You do know who I am.
Dear old sir, you know me well-
Lo, I am the common man”.

To The Hero Asleep in Me

Many Indians remember 1993 as the year when Bombay burnt. The communal riots were probably the worst in the history of the city. This poem stemmed from the anger at propogators of such mindless violence and frustration that I am too small in the grand scheme of things to be able to do anything about it. This poem was a summon to the hero asleep in me who, I hoped, could bring peace to the world. It won me a special prize at Hollywood's Famous Poets' Society, but failed to stir this 'hero'. The idiot still sleeps.

To The Hero Asleep in Me (1993)

Dost thy slumber know no end?
For like a broken log lies thee-
Rise, rise from my inside, my friend,
It’s time for thy actions free.

Arise and have a look around,
And see how homes have turned to pyres.
A scene that in this world abounds,
A creation of man’s evil desires.

This world, without thy presence felt,
Had no worse time before.
Never so many eyes did melt
For beloveds slain in the gore.

Thou cans’t be dead, but just asleep;
And shalt rise, but do it soon.
For mothers who for their dead sons weep
Can’t afford to have thy ears immune.

Arise, awake O paladin
And give thy ear unto my plea.
Its time to help good save its skin-
How long shalt thou then sleep in me?

A Drop of Tear

I hardly write long verses, but this is the shortest. Also, most of my poetry has an unmistakable rhyme- a style that I sometimes forego in favour of poetic freeflow.

A Drop of Tear (1993)
Grief, when it finds my heart too small;
Colossal joys when cannot be contained;
Things of joy when return to my mind;
When songs and tunes long forgotten,
Yet which were by me held dear,
Are caught again by my ear,
Then people discerning my tear
Point and shout, “Behold! he cries”.

Dead are Men of Virtues Good

Ok. Ok. Poets are prone to over-reacting. I had read in the newspaper about something (I don't exactly remember) that showed how self-centered people can get. The following poem was a result of that 'anger'.

Dead are Men of Virtues Good (1992)

Dead are men of virtues good,
Their souls were pure as fire.
All those men with humble blood
Have long reached their pyre.

Gone are they, most wise of men,
Most humane and most kind.
Kings die too, but unlike them
They left no heir behind.

Gone are friends, those faithful ones,
Their bones now lay in rest.
With them in coffins put their sons
All loyalty they had possessed.

This bitter truth I comprehend
It pains my heart to say:
None of them will ever end
His repose till the judgement day.

What a sorrow, what a pity,
To see and hear this:
Justice, love and loyalty
Are all, today, antiquities.

Survival of the Fittest

During my 12th standard, I was POOR in maths. However, I realized that I need to get better if I had to get into Engineering or else I will be filtered out in the entrance exam- a place where the Darwinian notion holds sway like nowhere else.

Survival of the Fittest (1992)
Lost in an ocean, far from the land
Afloat was a ship with a broken helm.
Though many a fatigued hand did command,
Every inch of the ship disobeyed them.

The angered skies- they roared and poured
And blew such winds that rocked that craft;
That tore the sails and broke the panes
And cleaved the bow, and broke the shaft.

Walls of waves fell on the ship,
Sweeping away all the crew’s hoard;
Breaking and cracking the mast and the hull
And washing the vulnerable overboard.

And then though the storm slowly died,
The ship reached the ocean floor;
And down with it went most of the men,
Save those who could swim to the shore.

My Countenance

Typical mid-teen frustration. I found that I am clearly not a kid anymore and was a tad scared of growing up not knowing what life had in store for me. The following verse came straight from that confused teenager's concerned heart.

My Countenance (1991)
The time flew, never to return,
Stealing from me my own grace;
The glossy skin and radiant eyes
No more form part of my face.

The limpid glory has run away
Leaving on me an awful taint;
Envenoming the softness of my skin
And pouring on me an ugly paint.

Though a lad, and pretty innocent,
I could in a moment learn a score;
But today this insipid world has made
Even the most interesting a bore.

Ennui in me has taken birth
So, I leave even the best behind;
Oh! How I wish my face to relume!
For, the face is the index of mind.

The Land of My Dreams

Please note that I was only 14 years and a few months old when I wrote this- my first "recorded" poem.

The Land of My Dreams (1990)

Smokeless air around to breath,
Snow topped barriers rising high.
An evergreen carpet covering the land
And silver edged clouds ruling the sky;
Beautiful flowers of all hue
Swaying in the cool morning breeze
Amidst the beautiful streams and vales,
With jolly fishes and lovely trees;
And caring people with loving hearts
Who’ve never heard painful screams,
Are all but just a part
Of that fair land, the land of my dreams.