Dr. Binoy Barman
Plato wanted to banish poets from his ideal state. The fault with them was their exuberance of emotion. The poets are alleged to be impractical. They tend to judge everything with emotion rather then reason and it might be a symptom of insanity, which makes them social misfits. Therefore the ancient Greek philosopher took an avowed stance against them. It is probably true that poets are emotional as they deal with the subtle art of poetry. Poetry is mostly intended to convey emotive meaning, beyond rule-constrained connotation. That is, the meaning of poetry may not be found in the surface of words but in the undercurrent hidden inside the visible and audible symbols. According to William Wordsworth, poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings taking origin from emotions recollected in tranquillity. To be a poet, one has to have emotion and he has to utilise it in his writing.
I disagree with Plato's viewpoint that poets are of no use in society because of their emotion. Emotion is the most fundamental trait of sentient beings. It is a quality rather than a disqualification, a virtue rather than a vice, and certainly, an advantage rather than a shortcoming. It is essential for human beings. Without it, man is rather robotic, who cannot think or feel. Intelligence can be created artificially, but not emotion. It is an invaluable property of human beings. We are human as we have love, hatred, anger, joy and sorrow.
Poetry is the blessed daughter of emotion. It springs from the deepest feelings of a poet, stimulating the network of neurons, flowing through the stream of blood, ultimately trickling down to expression. One cannot probably write poetry simply with intellect unless he has the impulse to express his feelings, caressed by emotion. He will be meditative and ventilate his emotions in sensuous language to exert an impact on the readers' mind. Poetry transcends realisation by virtue of emotion. Its electric flow elevates poetic articulations to great heights. Poetry is tender but strong, brief but taut. In its soul resides the ray of the sun while its body radiates the beauty of the moon. Reading and writing poetry is a divine experience.
We can ask whether poetry is relevant to the age of technology as we see it today. Is it consistent with the aspiration of life in the twenty first century? Can it bring any wellbeing to the society? I believe poetry still carries much importance. It may play a significant role in various aspects of present day phenomena. With its immaculate sublimity, it can fill the world with bliss and peace, internally and externally. The appeal of poetry is eternal. It was, it is and it will be, as long as human beings are there and as long as they will search for beauty and truth, which are intermingled in poetry, as John Keats observes, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”
Poetry is aesthetic. It has its association with mind vis-à-vis its intrinsic beauty. Of all literary genres, poetry is unique with its diction and rhythm. Poetry entails unimaginable feat of imagination on part of the poet. The poet creates a new world of reality. He uses words so craftily that they get a new dimension. He as if prepares a nakshi kantha, stitching beauty in language. Poetry makes use of words economically for expressing any profound thought. It exploits metre along with features of rhyme and alliteration to sway the mind of audience. It uses various figures like metaphor, simile, hyperbole, synecdoche, metonymy and personification, to embellish the way of expression. It impresses whoever reads it or hears it. It acts as a great source of joy. Some poetic lines leave so indelible mark on reader's mind that they remember it all through their life. They recall it in leisure for their own pleasure or recite for others' delight.
Poetry holds special significance for the romantic souls. It glorifies the story of heart. People in love must love poetry as only the poets could express their true feelings. Lovers would like to utter love-soaked lines of poems to deepen their infatuation for each other. They will sit under the tree or by the lake, or walk down the park or sidewalk, and whisper the poetical phrases, which sound more soothing than the mantras of holy scriptures. They will look at each other's eyes and be immersed in the depth of ocean. Only poetry is compatible with that transcendental feeling. Love gets, as it were, exciting with poetry and dull without it.
Poetry can make any cultural celebration more appealing. Just think how observance of Nababarsha, Shahid Dibosh and Ekushey Boi Mela will be without poetry. Poetry is the essential part of those festivities, and many others. Even when we celebrate Independence Day and Victory Day, we also invoke poetry, which adds to solemnity and colour. Poetry recital is often juxtaposed with music. But we must not forget that music is only a different version of poetry. It is poetry which makes music possible. Lyrics are characteristically poems. A tune is attached to the words with the aid of instruments and we get music. If there was no poetry, there could be no music. Poetry and music -- twin children of Minerva/Athena -- can render a cultural programme really gorgeous.
Poetry can arouse a whole nation from slumber. It really did so for Bangladesh and its inhabitants from 1952 to 1971. The poems of Nazrul revolted against the British rulers. Poetry written on Ekushey and on subsequent events during Pakistani era inspired people to take part in the liberation war and clinch independence for them. Poetry evokes patriotism and engages masses in nation-building activities. It is indeed a very powerful tool to attain political goal. The message passed through the magical chants hits the head and heart alike and moves them to desired direction. Our destination was independence and we got it in due course. Poetry has a fair share in the glory.
Poetry is inextricably connected with the history of human civilisation. At the dawn of civilisation the literary tradition was basically oral; then poetry used to be held in high esteem. So the great instances of literature we get of that time are all epics, like Iliad or Mahabharat. Poetry has a distinct advantage of mnemonic; it, unlike prose, helps memorisation by means of its melodious quality. So it was very much suitable for the days when writing was not developed. We see the ancient world through literature of that time, mainly poetry. If we deduct poetry from our life, we lose our root -- our heritage. We become alienated from our past. We lose our very self.
Writing and reading poetry is also a great intellectual exercise.
That is way it still occupies the syllabi of educational institutions. The students of schools, colleges and universities read poetry and get acquainted with the creative genius. School children read easy rhymes and commit them to memory. It provides a game-like pleasure. Adults read them for the cognitive purpose; they analyse them, delving deep into the meaning. The study of poetry (its basic principles, forms and techniques) is called poetics and the analysis of its rhythmic structure is called prosody. Poetry is an excellent artistic endeavour which the erudite readers approach scientifically. So it is interesting and valuable as a topic of disciplinary study.
It is a common allegation that poetry is not read by people today. Life is so busy nowadays that people have little time to read poems. Many think reading poetry is just waste of time. It appears true, more or less, for other sectors of literature (like story, novel, drama, essay) as well. The demand of poetry is on the decline. So publishers also show less interest in the publication of poetry books. The consequence is that poets are rarely moneyed. But the poverty of poets is insufficient to prove that poetry is worthless. Poets are superb creatures. They are not mad and their creations are not the raving in madness. They are superior humans and their products, albeit having less economic value, formidable stuff which the world may boast of.
Without poetry, human life is dry and human society is barren. Those who brush aside poetry as trash are imbecile. Plato might be wrong in his assessment of poets and poetry! A poem can do a lot if it is a poem. Now, what is a poem? What qualities it should have? I have no answer of my own. I would rather resort to great American poet Archibald MacLeish for the answer. See whether it can satisfy you:
A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit
As old medallions to the thumb
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
A poem should be equal to:
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -
A poem should not mean
The writer is Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, Daffodil International University.
Watching the blind
Hear the world speak of lost causes
As ageless hymns turn to shadowed prophecies
Once living at the absolute end
Hear the prophets who claim and preach democracy
Albeit, not that the 'real' should be sent from above
Mere mortals living on the Demon's cause;
Superficial understanding of irrelevant facts,
We all pass in the incumbent desires of the past.
As the seven eras of the empire is left undone;
Scared faces of indulgence in hiding under a crimson sun
Fighting the redemption of heinous crimes
Of emotions left withered by melodic wooden chimes,
Searing the encounters of muted vengeance
Staring through the epochs of parchments unwritten.
In a faded vision that chooses lies
One calls for silence and the other laughs
One cries for help; the other runs away from his path
In a timeless tale of heroes and dragons
Innocence alas; is enslaved in glass dungeons.
Aunts in orgies of gossip
Plough through mountains of betel,
Outchewing a flock of goats;
I don't listen to them.
to the head, elbows
on a creaking escritoire,
I've missed dinner to imagine
the real terrors behind rumours
that bite their own tails;
when suddenly the air
is tinted silver,
through the window a rain-washed garden looks in
like eyes prettified by tears,
on the river beyond a canoe
goes by with a glitter:
it's that ageless moron again,
the moon. You don't belong
here, I tell it sharply.
Zahidul Naim Zakaria
I am a desert.
I am bare and void and fruitless.
I am thousands of acres of desolated estate,
a purgatory ablaze of fire that burns flameless.
I am utter nothingness.
Composed of innumerable grains of sand...
Zero possibilities lie within my hopefulness,
radiation of a hellish aura is my only brand.
I am potentially only death.
Life become inanimate, around me only a few survive.
I am a widespread miasma of ceaseless dearth,
Countless attempts of my vitalization misfire.
I am an ocean.
I am wide and open and blue.
Even though life replenishes from my domain,
to what dangers lurk amidst me, there is no clue.
I am a giving and donating spirit.
Inevitably I fulfill every crevice,
What alien form lays within me? None knows it.
None knows fully what treasure I possess.
I follow cycles according to atmospheric feasibility,
Water vapour become droplets and then it rains...
Sometimes things go awry; I give way to unpredictability,
and create storms and typhoons and tsunamis.
I am a mountain.
I am huge and high and stationary.
I see the globe, but cannot browse my own terrain,
as I am too heavy for this world to carry.
I am the perfect setting for an accident,
But I am also a sanctuary of scenic beauty.
Being innately strong and resistant,
I shun outsiders from the riches that lay beneath me.
I grow cagey due to apathy,
since passers-by never cross me.
Sometimes I fear immortality,
When I see them going around me to avoid me.
I am an iceberg.
I am cold and ruthless and steel-nerved.
Since most of my qualities hide under the surface,
From my appearance, you only know my vanguard.
I am undiscovered, a victim of gravity.
But never am I an example of foolhardy.
So much to deliver, so much to make a part of my destiny,
yet I cannot step up as my own pride bears down on me.
I could melt so easily,
Everywhere around me, warmth is ubiquitous,
But it doesn't care enough to touch me.
Eternally, I await the arrival of my quietus.
I am a tree.
I produce and provide, but mostly stay unappreciated.
I whimper in silence for my futile fantasy of mobility,
and watch seasons that bewitch my leaves to grow faded.
I am used and abused,
and finally stripped away of my consciousness.
With metallic parts and nails, I am fused,
in spite of my natural selflessness.
Each day passes like a monotonous and tedious breath,
and my life unfolds slowly and steadily.
Redemption surely comes along with death,
which remains a distant flight of fancy.
I am an enigma.
I am uncharted and unknown and a mystery.
Some know me by my charisma,
Others, by my inherent humanity.
I am a dynamically changing vortex.
Like a chameleon, I blend and I adapt.
In my endless quest for myself,
I run in circles in a boat with a broken haft.
I try so hard to maintain my own personality,
and somehow that bitter strife makes me better.
I fear my life being over before I figure out my identity,
sooner than I need it to be, sooner than I can go hither.
I am a human being.
I am tender and dangerous and limitless.
Of all of His creations, I am the supreme.
Only I can comprehend the magnitude of true love's caress.
I am the sufferer, the enjoyer, the narrow and the vast,
a sleeping possibility and an open can of expired fruit.
I am the progeny of broken promises and misplaced trust.
I am the rotten, the barren, the compassionate and the brute.
I am granite, I am stone, I am an unbreakable obstacle,
forced out of hate and mould out of difficulty.
Because of society, I am nevertheless shaped by revel,
But sometimes when I try to be polite, I come off as needy.
The world around me takes away my possibilities,
It leaves me as a stereo-typed mass produced creature.
It forces me to lose my innate qualities,
and all the essence of life in me could be lost forever.
I am an atom. I am positive and negative energy sources.
I attract and repel, I drive and destroy, I create and kill.
I watch intermolecular forces determine my courses,
and inexorably hope that what I feel is real.
A Leap of Pity
Alone I stand under the twilight of the past…being the only witness to my conclusion,
A breeze flows by providing me with a shiver.
All around me I desperately try to find some memento…some sign of salvation,
Yet all I find is I, standing under the shade of the moribund moon in confusion.
The gravel under my naked feet grasps on to my toes pleading for my sanity,
But the endless sympathy for my sanity is infested by leeches of delusions.
I looked up into the heaven, while I left my conscience in conflagration,
Withering away the last bits of strands of hope to ashes and smoke.
A small tear ran its course downhill as I waited for my savior angel to provide me reason.
Instead, the call to take part with the forbid grew with the mocking season,
My satiety further gifted me with the profound urge to be one with the darkness.
Surprisingly I do not feel myself enraged at this world, but pitying it in contrarily.
The world is all but a pathetic profoundness of delusion rotting beneath the filth of truth.
The choices we make in our life decays away the sanctity of our lives itself.
It is for that sole reason we are called humans,
Weaklings gifted with monumental prejudice and pride,
Putting blindfolds over our already blind eyes,
Yet swearing to each other that the colors of the world we stare at are beautiful.
We as humans create a society fueled on anarchy,
And stand up with heads high living in a make believe serenity.
We walk the life with bolts and spears pierced through our heart,
Jolting in pain with every step, tick and turn,
Masking away our pain and smiling at the ones who failed.
We all but wish for the world to decipher our utmost feelings,
But the second later confound the fact that we can be deciphered at all.
Begging the forgiveness to God for crying,
To my friends and family for trying,
My head felt at peace, my heart in paradise while…
The dark wind chaperoned me to my legacy beneath.
O the goddess of knowledge
Let me tear the curtain of mirage.
Let me find the light, not the image.
Let me see once your holy visage.
Let me see the celestial glow
And the waves of melody flow.
Let me get aptitude and knowledge.
Let me see once your holy visage.
Shamim Ansary Sumon
You're my first ever companion, well-wisher and guide
None but you have the utmost right to love me or chide.
Fittingly you shroud subterranean anguish that looks lean
I avow, you're the paramount personality I've ever seen
My affliction ails and ecstasy lets you in seventh heaven
For you? Petite: entire earth, headdress amaranth woven.
Whatever good in me is your contribution, bad is mine
It is by no means feasible to reimburse my debt to thine!
Your sheer melancholy, I discern, will prod my empathy,
I my bliss, I'll side with you, without a slender of apathy.
You nourished, schooled, moulded me and nothing is due
Oh my very dear Mother, I loved, love & will love you!
My wonderful world
When the wind is blowing,
I can see some grass nearly flying.
The blue sky never turns grey,
Sunflowers face the sun all day.
Birds sing there favorite songs,
Golden bells go ding, dong, dong.
White clouds float around the sky,
Rainbow-colored butterflies fly.
Busy bees give the sweetest honey,
Magic trees filled with golden money.
Here I am in my wonderful world,
which is very sunny.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2009