Friday, December 7, 2012

Quote Quintet - November

Aah yes. I am late by about a week. I have a decent excuse though - exams! They do not have a reputation of ever having spared anybody. The only concession I had this time was that I was writing papers in a subject I understood and enjoyed. This is not a privilege I have happened to carry with me for most of my life. If anything, its novel.

I am romancing the world of literature these days in Jamia Millia Islamia. Quite surprisingly, this new world encapsulates in itself vistas that from a distance I could not even have imagined. Being a literature student is fun and challenging at the same time. One needs not just the power of language but analysis as well, to develop discourses on themes which could be anachronistic, contemporary or even futuristic. However, these ramblings deserve a separate post of their own.

For now, the quintet. November was  a month full of mad-scurrying for notes, last minute completion of syllabus, confused/harried faces and other general attributes of exam times. November was also a month of bonhomie - pleasant classroom banter, close friends getting closer. For this month, I will not share some random lines drawn from newspapers (I had not been reading much of them anyway). I will share here excerpts from five best pieces of poetry which were taught to us by our wonderful professors at Jamia - Dr. Anisur Rahman and Dr. Ameena Kazi Ansari.

My favorite lines might mostly be the romantic ones. So, feel the love and read on!

#1
A cordiform map projection
My face in thine eyes, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
- John Donne, The Good Morrow
John Donne is one of the great metaphysical poets whose poems speak a language of their own. His most prolific achievement, however, is that he is my friend, Mishail Sharma's favourite poet, and owing to her incessant and excited monologues, I have developed a mini-expertise on him as well. These lines are remembered fondly by me because of the way they philosophise on love, because of the way they make you see two lovers. As two hemispheres, the north of which is not too cold and the west of which is not declined towards darkness, these lovers complete a whole - they complete a world for their existence - beyond which nothing is desired. Donne goes on to say that such love is eternal. If it died, that love was not which could find a balance.

#2
The handsomest among poets
There is not a joy the world can give like that it takes away
When the glow of early thought declines in feelings' dull decay
- Lord Byron, Youth and Age
Despite not preparing this poem for my examination, I remember vividly its first line. How very true, or as my teacher put it, very 'axiomatic'. We have heard of the cliché about the value of things becoming apparent only upon losing them. Byron has restated that very ideal, perhaps in a more provoking way. True it is - the most precious happiness is that which has been snatched from us. This poem is about what the title says it is - youth and the journey towards old age - and it reflects on that path and the things we lose on our way to the end of life. Byron is graceful in his acceptance of the ageing process, though a tinge of longing for the transience of youth is palpable in his tone. That sense of longing is what makes this poem remarkable for me.

#3
When hearts have once mingled,
Love first leaves the well-built nest;
http://arb.hubpages.com/hub/The-Journey-chapter-1
The weak one is singled 
To endure what it once possessed.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, When The Lamp Is Shattered
It is another of those poems which deal with the concept of transience, thought Shelley succeeds in taking forward the concept of impermanence to the concept of death, which eventually leads to regeneration. In these particular lines, however, what catches my attention is the sensitivity which the poet displays towards relationship of lovers which is ephemeral like everything else. It is the weak one, the more attached one who is always left to suffer the pangs of longing for what once was his. I find these lines echoing in me because I can see their manifestation in many instances around me. My age, after all, is the age of heartaches and heartbreaks.

#4
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay On Man, Epistle II
I will admit - Pope is not one of those poets I have understood well, yet, I remember the way our Professor delivered these lines in class and they instantly became a hit with me. I quote them frequently and ask my friends what they think of it. In this section of his extremely lengthy poem, Pope has urged mankind to stay away from prying into the affairs of God, and to seek answers for their own powers and limits, strengths and frailties, reason and impulse, within the ambit of worldly existence. To know his affairs, Man must study himself. However, I always feel a greater meaning lurks behind those lines. Does something pop up in your mind when you read these?

#5
Purple flower by the moss
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!
- William Wordsworth, She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways
Wordsworth is among my favorite poets, for the simple reason that he talks in a language I understand and he conveys ideas which touch my heart. In a set of five poems, together called the Lucy Poems, Wordsworth has concocted an iconic romantic character in the form of Lucy - one who can be romanced and loved, but never be achieved. No one knows the identity of Lucy for sure; not even if she was real or a figment of his imagination. But Lucy poems, taken together, are pregnant with a sense of an impending loss - of love, of Lucy. Of all the five, these lines reverberate often in my mind. His object of love, pristine and virginal and untouched - she lived hidden from the prying eyes of the world. But now, she is no more, and while the world might carry on at its pace, it makes a difference, a huge difference to him.

I should've perhaps undertaken this exercise before the exams. However, as they say, 'better late than never!' Hope you had a good time reading this one.




10 comments:

  1. She lived unknown, and few could know
    When Lucy ceased to be;
    But she is in her grave, and, oh,
    The difference to me!

    Amazing..!! Be awesome..!!

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    Replies
    1. These lines are an absolute favourite. Eternally!

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  2. Thanks for sharing these lines Saumya.. really nice :) hope u had a good time with the exams :D

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    Replies
    1. Oh, they are still going on. But I have a long gap till the next one. :)

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  3. *zada tareef achhi nahi hoti* :P

    Awesome! Keep it up. :)

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  4. My face in thine eyes, thine in mine appears,
    And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
    Where can we find two better hemispheres
    Without sharp north, without declining west?

    Awesome words – Saumya, thanks for sharing these lines and more than that for explaining its meaning which otherwise I would not have understood with so depth.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Alka! I feel you have become my little blog friend. I wonder if you blog too. Do you?

      And if you come to Delhi sometime, we can sit and discuss poetry at length. Anytime!

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  5. Ahha amazingly amazing saumya di...:)

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