Monthly Archives: April 2012

Water

River of life,

Streams that gleam;

In your crystalline purity

Cleansing me whole,

When we meet

Peace prevails.

 

Torrents of joy

Coursing through veins,

Refreshing

Cold to taste

On the tip of my tongue,

Drinking in lungfuls.

 

Flushing the body

Of impurities,

Unfreezing the mind;

Beneath the falls,

Knotted shoulders

Unloosed.

 

From the mountaintop,

Ribbon of silver glinting

Like an invitation,

Rich with promise;

Water you flow

A potent undertow.

 

Calling,

An echo of rest;

Desire springs in the crash,

Lust in the ocean

Glory in the song

You sing.

 

Water, I offer

Words that burble,

You give me this:

Limpid currents

Pulsing

Fresh dreams.

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Some notes on Random Acts of Kindness

In a world where lies, deceit, thuggery and manipulation can so often seem to hold sway, it is easy to forget, perhaps, that the majority of people are fundamentally kind. After all, being kind is an essential part of what it is to be human as well as all those less savoury aspects that make up our protean selves. Surely, what sets kindness apart is that it is contagious. It realises endorphins; in short, it makes us feel good. The effect on the person committing the act of kindness and the person on the receiving end is one of mutual happiness. I was made aware of this a couple of weeks back, when I was RAK’D (someone who has been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness). A random member of public gave me the remainder of their unused parking ticket just as I was about to slip some coins into the machine. It was completely unexpected, so simple, so generous, so unexpected, yet it left a glow in my heart. Naturally, this episode got me thinking about the nature of kindness.

Is kindness a conscious or unconscious act? I would argue that it is a mixture of both. Unconsciously, we are kind to those whom we care most deeply about: family, friends, lovers, close acquaintances etc. Maybe the greater feat is directing kindness to those whom we have less affiliation with, i.e. strangers, distant relatives, people/colleagues who might pass in and out of our lives and those whom we struggle to connect with. When I was Rak’d it was impossible not to spread the circle of kindness; the tug was irresistible, almost as if I was now part of a subliminal chain reaction, in which I had to play a part.

My small gesture was sending a book to a dear old friend of mine who had been going through a rough time, hoping that it might be a beacon of joy to light up the well of darkness that was engulfing his being at the time. Giving books, I have always thought, is an act of wondrous benevolence, which is also why I was thrilled to be part of this year’s World Book Night, handing out books to strangers. It was a joy to hear from my friend that this gesture had lit up his day. Who knows, maybe he will bear the torch of kindness and extend the circle of goodwill?

Kindness breeds kindness, that I am sure of. Yes, we do live in a benighted world at times but kindness is to the mind, what dancing is to the body, uplifting. We love surprises, especially if they are pleasant, and to perform an act of kindness, no matter how big or how small, is lovely. After all, unless cryogenics is your thing, we aren’t around on this sweet earth for that long a time. All things considered, why not embrace kindness as a way of life. It’s great.

 

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” (George Sand)

“We should be careful of each other, we should be kind while there is still time” (from The Mower by Philip Larkin)

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom” (Theodore Rubin)

“that best portion of a good man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love” (William Wordsworth)

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” (Albert Schweitzer)

 

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The genius of Philip Larkin and why The Mower is such a brilliant poem

I suspect that like most Larkin aficionados of my generation, I first came across Philip Larkin’s poetry when I was at school. Naturally, the poem that most struck a chord with any angst-ridden, rebellious teenager was “This Be The Verse”. Even committing this poem to memory felt like a delicious act of subversion. When I first heard Larkin’s unique laconic rendition of this poem, it all made sense. It was Larkin’s ironical detachment and ability to distil complex ideas with lucid language that proved to be appealing. It wasn’t poetry concocted in an ivory tower but poetry rooted in experience.

Sometimes, Larkin’s poetry didn’t always make an impact in the classroom, precisely because we were compelled to read it and butcher to death the various poetical tricks that Larkin’s deploys, where all that was crying out was for the language to be assimilated. It is only when I branched out and explored his poetry independently that I fully understood Larkin’s philosophy that poetry should “communicate and give pleasure to the reader”. For this is the genius of Larkin and why he has such timeless appeal – across generations, gender and background. He speaks to all of us about the sundry themes that constitute life and living, in an accessible way, which warrant re-reading throughout our lives.

To choose one poem from an incredible array of poems that Larkin produced is nigh on impossible. There are many that I love: “Wants”, “Toads”, “Spring”, “Days”, “Water”, “A Study of Reading Habits”, “The Trees”, “Aubade”, “Party Politics”. The list is pretty extensive. But if I were to choose one, it would be “The Mower”. All of Larkin’s virtuosity as a master of his craft is on display here. His command of language, acuity of observation, precision with punctuation and all-round technical brilliance. It is Larkin at his conversational best. Like all great poets he knows how to use language and how to get maximum power out of a word or a phrase.

Every time I read this poem, the words “killed” and “unmendably” hit me, exactly as Larkin intended. But perhaps what I love most about this poem is its concluding statement. Larkin, despite being cast as a melancholic chronicler on the vicissitudes of life was able to hit the heights of understated optimism and offer the occasional uplift to leaven his lugubriousness. Like the ending of “The Trees”, Larkin removes his ironical cloak and speaks with searing clarity. One of Larkin’s great gifts is for writing the appropriate phrase. The sentiment he expresses at the conclusion of “The Mower” is a worthy one to live up to, no matter how hard it might be to put into practice all of the time.

 

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You are Divine

You are divine,

finer than wine;

When the rain pours

your presence roars.

 

Take this sweet peach

onto the beach,

feast on the fruit

scare off the brute.

 

Admire the sea,

just let it be;

dance in the waves

warmed by the rays.

 

Your eyes sparkle,

make me startle;

lighting the night

a stellar sight.

 

In you there’s truth,

fountain of youth

offering calm,

scent of a balm.

 

These words I give

the world outlives;

while there’s still time,

jive and let’s chime.

 

I bow down low

heeding the tow,

the joy of you

lifts me from rue.

 

The dreams we share,

beauty most rare;

Enthralled by this,

Sealed with a kiss.

 

Morning comes round,

glorious sound

of birds in tune,

love is a boon.

 

Laughter flows forth

ill winds go north;

kinder than wine

you are divine.

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Villanelle by Water

I would like to take you down by the stream

and watch the clear water glide gently by,

sharing and staring while the trees do beam.

 

This request needn’t be a fruitless dream

for as long as the sun shines bright up high,

I would like to take you down by the stream.

 

We would taste such pleasures until we scream,

while the fish flit as they patrol the Wye;

sharing and staring while the trees do beam.

 

To be with you when the soft light does gleam,

bathing our minds, hear the soothing reply;

I would like to take you down by the stream.

 

The mountains stand tall, lord of all they deem;

let us be natural, kiss so we fly

Sharing and staring while the trees do beam.

 

This is the scene that shimmers with a sheen,

laugh and love with a flow that does not die;

I would like to take you down by the stream

sharing and staring while the trees do beam.

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Peace Under A Tree

Beneath the cherry blossom drinking tea,
love’s fair face sketched on the shimmering sea;
as the sun sinks low like a dying fire,
the beat of the world proceeds to inspire.

No matter the mood that assails the soul,
who can deny this beauty that comes whole?
simple pleasures unknot the tangled itch,
caressing the soft hairs that dance and twitch.

A kiss, a cup, a song – these charms may prove
that life’s granular pulse can purr and move;
cascades that bathe, cleansing and plentiful,
the tree stands tall, a hopeful sentinel.

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