Tag Archives: Books & Literature

NPM ’11: Day 30 – Farewell (Post #18)

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Damn, was my last post seriously on April 22nd?! Woops! For any of you who check this blog regularly, my apologies for falling behind on the poetry excursion. The majority of my screen time lately has been for work and work only. Being on the computer used to be a leisurely activity for me. Then I got an office job. You do the math.

Nonetheless, today I have a poem to share with you. I figured I would close out National Poetry Month 2011 by posting another piece from Emily Dickinson. Our journey began with her and so shall end with her. And perhaps when my eyes aren’t threatening to close, I’ll get back on here and write a reflective post about my experience with this year’s National Poetry Month.

But first, here is Dickinson’s Farewell:

TIE the strings to my life, my Lord,
        Then I am ready to go!
Just a look at the horses —
        Rapid! That will do!

Put me in on the firmest side,
        So I shall never fall;
For we must ride to the Judgment,
        And it’s partly down hill.

But never I mind the bridges,
        And never I mind the sea;
Held fast in everlasting race
        By my own choice and thee.

Good-by to the life I used to live,
        And the world I used to know;
And kiss the hills for me, just once;
        Now I am ready to go!

NPM ’11: Day 19 – The Song of Tom Bombadil (Post #16)

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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,
Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,
Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,
Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water:
Old Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
green were his girdle and his breeches all of leather;
he wore in his tall hat a swan-wing feather.
He lived up under Hill, where the Withywindle
ran from a grassy well down into the dingle.

Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!
Light goes the weather-wind and the feathered starling.
Down along under Hill, shining in the sunlight,
Waiting on the doorstep for the cold starlight,
There my pretty lady is, River-woman’s daughter,
Slender as the willow-wand, clearer than the water.
Old Tom Bombadil water-lilies bringing
Comes hopping home again. Can you hear him singing?

Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! and merry-o,
Goldberry, Goldberry, merry yellow berry-o!
Poor old Willow-man, you tuck your roots away!
Tom’s in a hurry now. Evening will follow day.
Tom’s going home home again water-lilies bringing.
Hey! come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?

Hop along, my little friends, up the Withywindle!
Tom’s going on ahead candles for to kindle.
Down west sinks the Sun: soon you will be groping.
When the night-shadows fall, then the door will open,
Out of the window-panes light will twinkle yellow.
Fear no alder black! Heed no hoary willow!
Fear neither root nor bough! Tom goes on before you.
Hey now! merry dol! We’ll be waiting for you!

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Photo Credit: Hildebrandt Brothers

NPM ’11: Day 17 – Life (Post #14)

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Life

What is our life? A play of passion,
Our mirth the music of division,
Our mother’s wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss.
Our graves that hide us from the setting sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest, that’s no jest.

-Sir Walter Raleigh

NPM ’11: Day 10 – Roads Go Ever On & On (Post #10)

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Today’s reading comes to you in the form of a video. Here is Tolkien reading Roads Go Ever On & On:

And now, the ‘inspired by Tolkien’ version of the same poem as featured in the LOTR: FOTR film:

NPM ’11: Day 8/9 – The Port (Post #9)

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My apologies for not posting a poem yesterday! Today (and yesterday)’s featured poem is a prose poem by Charles Baudelaire.

The Port

A Port is a delightful place of rest for a soul weary of life’s battles. The vastness of the sky, the mobile architecture of the clouds, the changing coloration of the sea, the twinkling of the lights, are a prism marvellously fit to amuse the eyes without ever tiring them. The slender shapes of the ships with their complicated rigging, to which the surge lends harmonious oscillations, serve to sustain within the soul the taste for rhythm and beauty. Also, and above all, for the man who of mysterious and aristocratic pleasure in contemplating, while lying on the belvedere or resting his elbows on the jetty-head, all these movements of men who are leaving and men who are returning, of those who still have the strength to will, the desire to travel or to enrich themselves.

NPM ’11: Day 5 – Shakespeare’s Sonnet 128 (Post #6)

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I’ve been reacquainting myself with my piano lately, so I thought this was a fitting choice for today. And now I’m off to tickle the keys of my freshly-tuned piano! Hurrah!

Sonnet 128: How of, when thou, my music, music play’st

-William Shakespeare

How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st,
Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips
O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

NPM ’11: Day 4 – Variations on the Word Love (Post #5)

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This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It’s the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn’t what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there’s the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It’s not love we don’t wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It’s a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.

~Margaret Attwood

NPM ’11: Day 2 – Agneepath (Post #3)

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Let’s dabble today with a little world poetry. Agneepath (meaning Path of Fire) is a Hindi poem written by Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Many consider this poem to be one of the most inspirational poems Dr. Bachchan ever wrote. It speaks about the struggles faced by humanity and about persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity. I can’t seem to find the English translation of this online (all the translations online are crap! Booo.) But it’s still worth sharing, if only for its visual value. If I feel up to it later, I might come back and translate it for ya’ll. But I’ll have to ask my mom for help because this level of Hindi (much more sophisticated than Fiji Hindustani or conversational Hindi) is beyond my skill level. :o)

[And, yes, for those of you who are wondering – the last name is not coincidental; Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan is the father of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.]

Vruksh ho bade bhale,
ho ghane ho bhale,
Ek Patra chhah bhi mang mat, mang mat, mang mat,
Agnipath, Agnipath Agnipath;

Tu na thamega kabhi tu na mudega kabhi tu na rukega kabhi,
Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Kar shapath,
Agnipath, Agnipath, Agnipath.
Ye Mahan Drushya hain,
Chal raha Manushya hain,
Ashru, Sweth, Rakta se Latpat Latpat Latpat…
Agnipath, Agnipath, Agnipath.

April = National Poetry Month

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Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I had no idea until tonight, but I’m sure glad I found out!

If you read my last blog, then you are aware that, as of late, I have been struggling quite seriously with my creativeness. And, to elaborate a bit further on my thoughts from last night, I think part of my problem is my tendency to subconsciously believe the misconception that ‘true’ or ‘pure’ creativity and inspiration can only happen organically and never as a result of one’s deliberate intentionality. However, a fellow artist and friend of mine, after reading my last blog, said something to me that really hit home; it’s nothing I haven’t heard before, but it was definitely the reminder I needed: “…sometimes,” she said, “you have to be really purposeful and specific about creativity.”

Words of wisdom, those are! Thank you, Michelle!

It’s true, though, how we succumb to this belief that something isn’t really creative if we’ve created it through a scheduled and/or disciplined agenda. Somehow – and I have no idea why this is – in our minds, spontaneity becomes synonymous with true creativity.

But the two ideas are not synonymous, as Michelle pointed out. One can tap into her fullest potential and create something that’s true and meaningful and authentic while also being deliberate and completely strategic about it. Jeez, I, of all people, should know this! I’m a pianist!! Sure, the gruelingly long hours at the keys, practicing scales and arpeggios and the like can suck, but when you put everything together and apply the technicalities to, say, Liszt’s “Gnomenreigen”, the pieces all fall into place; and suddenly you find yourself effortlessly playing a highly creative, highly genuine masterpiece. A song. Not simply a series of complex notes and rhythms.

My point? You don’t just wake up one day and play a Liszt piece. You practice. And practice. And PRACTICE! Day after day, note by note, one fragmented measure at a time – for hours and hours and hours! Until a work of art is born. Now if that’s not an example of intentional, disciplined artistry, then I’m not sure what is!

All that to say, Michelle is right. Being specific and purposeful is key.

And that’s precisely where National Poetry Month comes in. First of all, I love poetry. And, for whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry more than I have prose (even though I think I’m actually better at the latter). Some of you know that I attempted National Novel Writing Month last year and failed miserably. Regardless, I think a specific plan and focus will help me get back on track with my writing, and the thought of writing (or reading) poetry for thirty days excites me far more than the idea of writing a shitty novel in a month.

Thus, I’m committing myself to a one-month poetry writing/reading/sharing challenge. For the entire month of April, I will attempt to interact with as much poetry as I can, whether it be original poetry that I’ve written myself or simply another poet’s work(s) that I read (and then share with my blog readers). After all, in any genre of literature, to be a good writer is to be a good reader first. Right?

So…let the poetry writing & reading begin!

[And just for kicks, check out this video of an 8-year-old who plays “Gnomenreigen” better than most adults probably ever will. Wowza! CLICK HERE.]