Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Write...Edit...Publish : Is love then so simple?










It's time for the first challenge of the Write...Edit...Publish blogfest for 2016, hosted by ubercool bloggers/authors Denise and Yolanda.  This month's prompt is naturally themed on Valentine's Day and celebrations of love.  I am back with some poetry and a...well, a rant, but don't worry, it's a mild one :)


~~~


If there is any form that positively leaps into my mind when anyone says 'love' it's got to be the sonnet. The sonnet is a fourteen line poem, a 'little song' that originated in 13th century Italy.  Over time it was adapted into English, and many English poets wrote sonnets using love as the theme, the most notable being Shakespeare, of course. A Western form that has been widely associated with love, its object, and its celebration, so it feels super-apt to use it here.



Landfall


Love turned out much simpler than I had thought,
there was no blindness, no madness, no raves.
It was the tranquil landfall of a boat -
firm underfoot at last instead of waves.


It didn’t need to speak even a word
just moored into place but without a sound.
The waves murmur, the oceans can be heard;
but there’s hardly a whisper from the ground.


You offered your hand, I took it in mine
as if I’d held it for countless lives and known
each knuckle, each nail, each whorl, every line
across centuries, as closely as my own.


Love’s turned out simpler than it’s supposed to be.
In this birth and others. As you’ve come to me.


~~~

This is part of the same theme that I wrote to in an earlier Valentine's post  - the idea of the universe being cyclical, eternal. And that extends to lesser thing as well - life, karma, love.  True lovers never die, their souls meet in the garb of different bodies in various reincarnations, their need for each other also eternal and undying. 

As the Western sonnet is to love, so is the Eastern ghazal. The word ghazal is based on a root-word which means 'talking to women,' and traditionally it is themed on love, earthly and divine both. A form which originated in Arabia and diffused through Iran to India, where it remains an extremely popular form to recite and to sing.  I have written on ghazals and to the form many times. The rules are somewhat fiddly, but we needn't bother with technicalities here, so long they are adhered to broadly. My second offering is written to this form:


Each day’s a celebration with you, my love,
the smallest things I say or do, my love,


though my hands are draped, still, across my lap
and the stillness sits a bit askew, my love.


Some days you tuck wildflowers into my hair
but even when you don’t, it’s true, my love.


Sometimes the city itself is a darkness
your presence in it the open blue, my love.


On sleepless nights you gently kiss my eyelids
and you’re my rest that’s overdue, my love.


What’s a season worth, a day, a calendar?
Time stops at your wrists, the world does too, my love. 


~~~

(WC - 466) 






Well, love is a staple for poets, right? Valentine’s Day being the issue it is, and Mars being Mars and Venus being Venus, a stand between fab and frivolous is almost mandatory.  And if you’re from India, then God and godmen, businessmen, politicians and policemen have also got into the act, no way you CANNOT have an opinion!


But. The truth is - Valentine’s Day was unknown in both the countries I grew up in, this was a long, long time ago, so I was spared the angst of who bags what - how many cards and gifts and legions of the opposite sex scalped. Phew! 


V-Day became popular in India following economic liberalisation in the 90’s.  However, it's had a rocky ride, drawing flak from right wing groups as an ‘attack’ on Indian culture, and from the left as some kind of terrible capitalist conspiracy to nab the last coins from harried middle-class hands, frittered away on heart-shaped cupcakes instead of bread.  


Ancient India celebrated love, including romantic/sexual love, without undue prudery.  There is the demigod Kamadeva, who goes around with a bow made of flowers shooting his hapless victims and making them fall in love, sounds familiar, yeah?  There is the treatise of Kamasutra written 2000 years ago, a manual of relationships social and sexual. 


There are the ancient Indian poets like Kalidasa and Jayadeva with their exquisite and explicit Sanskrit erotic verses.  The thousand year old temples where the Maithunas are depicted, a man and a woman becoming part of the Divine through their spiritual and physical union, Shiva and Shakti united. The love stories of the gods – Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Shiva-Parvati are celebrated in countless ways in daily life, in literature and the arts.  The deep Shiva-Shakti philosophy is beyond me, but the message seems clear - love and its expressions are life-affirming, divine, beautiful, blissful. What’s with all this ill-tempered moral policing?

Detail of Maithuna, top panel, Konark Sun Temple (1250 CE)

Every year there are sanctimonious groups hectoring young people about V-Day, and on the other side there are campaigns using pink knickers and public kisses and other defiant gestures in protest. Excuse me? I mean, the world is falling apart.  In so many spectacular ways. And all you're worried about is how V-Day fits in, or not? Pick your battles, peeps.


Personally, I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day with the usual markers. Every day is an opportunity to love and be loved and express that in whichever manner suits the moment. That’s my two p's worth, two of my poems here are actually titled 'Love's not a Christmas thing' and 'It's not a Valentine's thing either,' so...

But if flowers and cupcakes are somebody’s thing, then hey, they're welcome. If some folks want a card, who am I to interfere? Live and let live, love and let love - that's the general mantra around here. Anything else leads to ulcers, wrinkles in awkward places, and possibly a broken nose.


(WC - 1003)

Read the other entries here




36 comments:

  1. Oh how I love this post.
    The little things are HUGE in my world. In love and in life. Which I hope never to separate.
    I am more familiar with the structure of sonnets, but your ghazal spoke directly to my core.
    I loved the historical and cultural background too.
    Thank you so much.

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    1. The little things are what life's all about. And life and love and loss can't be separated, all inextricably twined together.

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  2. I love your sonnet, heck, I love your poetry! But your rant, I have to say really touched me. VD is nothing more than a capitalist haul of cash. I eloped on VD, but there wasn't a card with hearts, a box of chocolates, nothing that signified the holiday except the date. We exchanged vows, in a small country church with two witnesses. Something he'd arranged before hand. I wore a blue dress, he wore a blue suit. It was simple and beautiful - and all about love!
    Thanks, Nila!

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    1. Loved your love story, Yolanda, truly touched my heart! Totally blessed and beautiful!

      Though must admit sotto voce I'd never say no to a box of chocs, on any day :-)

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  3. '...the world is falling apart. In so many spectacular ways. And all you're worried about how V-Day fits in, or not? Pick your battles, peeps.' I had to copy this in case anyone missed it, lol! So perfect. But if everyone practised VD all year round the world wouldn't be going to hell in a handbasket.
    Loved this post, Nila. Loved your two poems. Both were beautiful, but I loved the ghazal. Seemed sweet and capricious with the motif of 'my love' throughout. So, Nila, how do I love this post? Let me count the ways...
    VD came late to Australia too, and being such a cynical mob, we take it with a grain of salt and relegate it to school children making cards and teenage angst.

    Thanks for this well-thought-out post for WEP's VD challenge. I hope you haven't been out of your sick bed too long to craft it!

    Denise :-)

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    1. Jumped out of the sick bed now pffft to the flu! :-)

      V-day is a teenage/childhood thing really, it doesn't take long to outgrow it and exchange the fantasies for the real thing. And if you're lucky the real thing turns out infinitely better :-)

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  4. Hi Nil
    I admire those who can craft poetry and you certainly can. Each poem touched a special place in the romantic.

    I don't do anything for VD. When I was a child we passed out cards at school. That was fun. Once I bought my family individual candies. They didn't give me anything. I think I quit liking cupid after that.

    Our anniversary is Feb. 4. 34 years. So we have never done anything for VD. But I did buy my children and now my grandchildren a stuffed toy each. I love buying them toys so I do it year round.

    Enjoyed your post.
    Nancy

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    1. Love is a year round thing, and I do like the idea of a stuffed toy for the grandkids on V-day and others, cute.

      Congrats on 34 years together! A love like that is better than any poem ever written.

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  5. Beautiful poetry and a very thoughtful post. I also grew up in a country with no Valentine. For me, it's not about the usual trappings. It's just one day a year set as a holiday of love. Some eat chocolate on that day or give the gift of flowers to their beloved, but whatever people choose to do, it's right to have such a holiday. We celebrate silly things sometimes - think of the boxing day or Halloween. Why not celebrate love? It's such an important part of our lives.

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    1. I agree, silly ways of celebrating love also have their place. Often, the silly ways come to mean more within a relationship than the public, traditional, serious ways. I am basically okay with any way two people choose to celebrate it, so long as they don't feel pressurised to do it. It's entirely a private thing.

      And any day/celebration that gives me an excuse to dip into more chocolate has to be all good :-)

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  6. The rhythm of your first sonnet reminds me of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. Love your ideas and the research that you did on love.
    Shalom,
    Pat

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    1. I am completely blown away to see my sonnet placed in the same sentence as 116. Thank you! Beyond speechless!

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  7. Hi Nila - this is an excellent post - I loved the history .. as I didn't know anything about it .. so that was enlightening. Valentine's Day sort of passes me by and I don't miss it - or envy people going out ... I'd rather be home and not waste money anyway.

    Love is much more important than superficial cards, forced flowers, fattening chocolates or heart shaped 'things' ... all useful gimmicks for manufacturers and retailers.

    It's the thoughtfulness that matters and the caring for a long life together ... little things.

    I'd love to be able to write poetry - but I so enjoyed reading these ... and will be back to re-read.

    I had a Valentine card from Lenny in the States - the lad who befriended my mother and me when they were both ill .. he's been amazing - and it's his caring attitude for his 'grandblogmom' - me!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Lenny sounds like a great valentine :-) so nice to know about him!

      Glad you enjoyed the post Hilary. V-Day goes unmarked here as well...as you say, it's the thoughtfulness and the commitment that counts. Sometimes that can manifest in the weirdest or the most unexpected 'gifts' without a show of cards, flowers or hearts. Beyond a certain point, the trappings just become mindless and meaningless. For me, and it appears for a lot of others as well. Nevertheless - each to his own.

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  8. Poetry doesn't "speak" to me, often I don't understand the meanings. But this line of yours, I understand. "True lovers never die, their souls meet in the garb of different bodies in various reincarnations, their need for each other also eternal and undying." It reminds me of a dream I had long ago, where I kept meeting the same soul, as a different man each time, but with a recognition in both of us, that we were meant to be together.

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    1. That is a cool dream! Even cooler if it turns out to be real..

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  9. We make too much of one day instead of harboring love in our hearts and sharing with those close EVERY day. Your sonnet is a classic. I am without words to adequately say how fine it is.

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    1. Agree! Too much focus on outward things and not enough everyday mindfulness. Thank you the warm words re sonnet.

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  10. I loved the imagery you were able to evoke in so few words. Expressions of love that are simply about two lovers enjoying each other's company rather than grand declarations of affection or sweeping gestures. Ultimately, I think that's the core of any relationship.

    And of course, it's funny (by which I actually mean sad) how so many 'godly' people are against the idea of two people enjoying each other's company without some sort of official seal of approval. Because preaching gospel about love and tolerance is one thing. But two people displaying affection for one another? Sacrilege!

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    1. For me love is in the everyday ordinary things, more than grand gestures. No arguments if some people prefer the grand gestures though.

      And agree that it is beyond sad - most of us are so quick to judge and condemn anything that differs a tad from our own ways/opinions. So much energy spent on such trivial differences, uff!

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  11. Beautiful sonnet and lovely thoughts about true love being forever reincarnated. You're right. The sonnet is truly a perfect message form for love.

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    1. It's poetic comfort food, true love and its reincarnations and nothing ever dying out completely or being wasted..

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  12. Love the sonnet! Perfectly balanced, beautiful message.

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    1. Thank you. I love the symmetry and the lyrical qualities of the form, and also its brevity...

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  13. Ahhh, your poetry speaks to my lyrical heart! Simply beautiful. I wrote my first novel under the influence of what you so eloquently stated, "True lovers never die, their souls meet in the garb of different bodies in various reincarnations, their need for each other also eternal and undying." SO much love for these words and the weight of their meaning.

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    1. Glad you liked the poetry...reincarnation and eternal love is the stuff of many a book, both ancient and modern...

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  14. Loved both the poems and your explanations and 'rants' were especially succinct in explaining cultural differences. Valentine Day is so commercialised now, even the young children at school are pressurised into making something of it, not helped by parents sending them cards! We are going wrong somewhere in teaching the next generation about love.

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    1. Cynicism twinned with a sense of false entitlement, and a consumerist culture doesn't make for the right education on love, or anything else, for that matter. Glad you enjoyed the poetry, thanks.

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  15. A lovely description of love in your sonnet and poem. Interesting about the cultural bit. Even here in the US some people think Valentine's is just too commercial. I agree that it is good to show love more than just on a love holiday.

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    1. Most things in our current world are too commercialised, V-Day is no exception I guess. Thanks for being here.

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  16. I loved your poems Nila. It was an added delight to have you write your thoughts and to bring in the kama sutra. Pleased to be here.

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  17. I'm feeling so much from this post. Too much information, haha, but very interesting!

    I've never managed to make a sonnet sound good. Yours I like! I'm going to have to google the rules for a ghazal because I've never heard of that and I like poetry rules. I feel like it stretches the creativity to have to write within confines. I do like yours do. Really lyrical, could see folks singing it, actually!

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    1. I only follow the rhyme scheme for the sonnet, the rules on iambic pentameter scare me silly :) Many famous poets have written ghazals in English - it's a very enticing form to write to I feel. Rules are good, the rigour and discipline of writing to form poetry stretches the writing muscles. But also good to bend them a little and make them your own sometimes!

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  18. WOW. A sonnet writer. I want to write one so bad. I'm afraid of them. But after reading this beautiful piece I vow to try. You have grabbed me in your description. Love your excitement over writing the sonnet. Great job.

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    1. Thank you! and good luck with your sonnets!

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