Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ash Wednesday

So, I read poetry. So, I like Eliot. The present is flawed, but, I don’t look for a “lost illusory Eden.” Elegance after all, need not be reflective. Poetry need not be Byronic. Wednesdays need not be ashen. Sometimes, I think that there is an irrevocable sadness in Eliot’s poetry. Despair.

I have been going through the poems of Wendy Cope. Today, I stumbled across a gem. It is a parody of Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday.”

Here is the poem by Eliot.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

I have always felt that “Ash Wednesday” is not a poem. It is so much more. It is an incantation. And yet, it is shattering. It is a confession. It is an old man’s plea in the wake of death. He tried to be somebody else. In the end, he had to confront who he was. Who was he? He never found out.

Here is the parody by Wendy Cope. It made my day. It is called “A Nursey Rhyme.”

Because time will not run backwards
Because time
Because time will not run
Hickory dickory

In the last minute of the first hour
I saw the mouse ascend the ancient timepiece,
Claws whispering like wind in dry hyacinths.

One o'clock,
The street lamp said,
'Remark the mouse that races toward the carpet.'

And the unstilled wheel still turning
Hickory dickory
Hickory dickory
Hickory dickory dock.

PS: It seems that I was wrong. There are some very well read people in the college.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

To a Life

“There was a Viking whose eyes never looked farther than the point of his sword, but there was no boundary for the point of his sword; a Viking who walked through life , breaking barriers and reaping victories, who walked through ruins while the sun made a crown over his head, but he walked, light and straight, without noticing its weight; a Viking who laughed at kings, who laughed at priests, who looked at heaven only when he bent for a drink over a mountain brook and there, overshadowing the sky, he saw his own picture; a Viking who lived but for the joy and the wonder and the glory of the god that was himself. When the Viking stood on a tower over a city he had conquered, he smiled as men smile when they look up at heaven; but he was looking down. His right arm was one straight line with his lowered sword; his left arm, straight as a sword, raised a goblet of wine to the sky. The first rays of the coming sun, still unseen to the earth, struck the crystal goblet. It sparkled like a white torch. Its rays lighted the faces of those below. ‘To a life,’ said the Viking, ‘which is a reason unto itself.’
-Ayn Rand ( from “We the Living”)

The aforementioned story is in commemoration of Kira’s spirit. It was an insurmountable spirit. It was a hymn. It was a spirit, if only because it could have been, because it should have been. It was a realization of all that is possible. It was a realization of the complete passion to a single goal. It was the goal. It was a tribute to the sanctity of that which is inexorable. It was a tribute to the human life. It was a value, a promise, a jubilation.

I first read this book when I was thirteen, soon after I had read “The Fountainhead.” I read it once every six months now. It is an important read. It reminds me of what is important in my own life. I remember my indignation when I first read it. I remember the heroic in Leo. I recall his disintegration inspite of that, because of that. I remember that he did not bend. I remember that he broke. I remember his life after that. The vacuity, the lies, the dissipation, the living-death. I recall Kira’s undying campaign. I remember a life that could have been.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Of shoes and ships and cabbages and kings

“Wine comes in at the mouth,
Love comes in at the eyes,
And that’s all we shall
Know for truth,
Before we grow old and die,
I lift my glass to my mouth,
I look at you, I sigh.”
-WB Yeats

A friend recently asked me if I believe in love at first sight. First thing is first, I couldn’t stop laughing. It was funny. We were waiting for photocopies at the electrical canteen. And so, I immediately “shut” my eyes and laughed. And laughed. She patiently waited for an explanation. I told her that it is unimaginable. More incredible than finding a male reading Browning in the mech canteen. I haven’t met anyone (of either sex) who likes poetry at the campus. Actually, in the narrow ambit of my school and college acquaintances, I don’t think that I know a guy who reads Eliot, Tennyson, Yeats, Whitman and the likes. Even at school, the guys I was working with in the Poetry club worshipped Morrison and Floyd. That’s where it started and that’s where it ended. Sure, Morrison is a modern marvel. But, what about Plath? And Hughes? And Faraz? What about them?

What is it about guys who read in public places? Why do I have to know what they are reading? Even when I know that I will be disappointed and the book will be a Chetan Bhagat, why do I still want to see what they are reading? Now, you may ask why only guys inspire such a reflex? I will just say that it’s my blog and I am allowed to write whatever I want. Let me get on with my work, you know. Girls read a whole lot more than guys and the novelty is lost anyway.

People here have varied literary preferences. A lot of people have read Tolkein. I met a singular guy who is reading Bard. Somebody else likes Wilde and Munro. But, Dan Brown wins hands down. Every time somebody here informs me that he is the best author (ever! gasp!), I control myself and nod my head in a semblance of politeness. “There is a cosmos beyond Dan Brown you know,” I feel like shouting. It is bad manners to shout at seniors though. His books have a magazine like quality in them. You read them and you forget them. You don’t come back to them. I like the ingenuity of his plot. Except that I don’t remember the plot.

Maybe, I am being a bit harsh. A guy-friend from school does like Alexander Pope. A couple of others like Ogden Nash too.

I remember being fourteen and foolish. I remember my naïve excitement in class nine when I saw a spate of people with “The Merchant of Venice.” Ofcourse, the fact that I had read “Julius Caesar” weeks before did not help matters of temperance. Stupid as I am, it took me ten minutes to find out that it was a part of the eleventh standard curriculum.

Now, I am eighteen. Collegiate and wise. Please don’t smirk. That’s what I like to think. There is a Universe to explore and I haven’t even read the complete works of Shakespeare. One of these days, I am going to lock myself in a room with them. One of these days.

I will end this post with words of magic.
“What do you mean when you say that you don’t believe in fantasy? It is the truth.”

PS: Meanwhile after three days of sleep deprived existence, I feel like a zombie. Must get back to TGA now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The evolution of democracy...

Mid-sems start tomorrow. We have an essay called democracy in the humanities curriculum. It doesn't have much to do with democracy. It is an enamored cogitation on Nehru.
I have started reading "Tehelka." It is incisive. Sensational. Subjectively objectivist. So anyway...

'I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue,
"Come, tell me where's the bill,"
I cried
"And what you are going to do?"
He said,
"I search for gibes and pins,
To prick the Bishop's calves.
I hunt for royal commandments too,
To use as safety valves." '
-HH Munro

"The majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed."
-Harold Pinter

I am going to read Pinter after the mid-sems. I cannot believe that I have so blind and for so long.

Added later: I finished reading the text properly just now. The essay is entitled “Nehru the democrat” so, I guess the essayist’s serenade is justified.

Friday, September 5, 2008


It has been a month now. The mid-sems are fast approaching even as I type. I am reading Mein Kamph at the insistence of a friend. It is sermonizing. Radical. I am also reading Eliot. Again. He is my favourite poet. Prufrock is true magic.

I have also started listening to Buckethead and Hendrix. They are strangely addictive.

I feel suspended in time. Everyday is like a new adventure. I meet new people everyday. I have finally made a few friends. Friends who I know will endure. I should write about them.

Pankaj belongs to the tongue-in-cheek school of humour. He is riotous. An off-hand remark in the accompaniment of a casually quaint countenance entails a volcanic explosion of the ha-ha variety. His words of wizdumb will be sorely missed when he goes to nsit post the first semester. He is one of THE funniest people I know. Maybe, it has something to do with going to an all boys school. Yeah, he is from St. Columba's.

Abhranil a.k.a Abs_hotshot is another good friend. Zany, smart but Dan Brown loving. I have coaxed him into reading Saki for now. He is reading it, deciphering it. We are discussing it. The connubial exigencies of wumples the dog notwithstanding. He has gone to nsit now. Thursday was his last day in college. He has promised to meet up with Pankaj and me every Saturday. I will go back to the age old maxim of the days of childhood now: promise breakers are shoemakers.

Sam short for Samdrisht is a wizard. He is also known as God. The terminal christening was done by the seniors for reasons I am not supposed to know because “you-are-not-a-dude.” I will say “thank God for small mercies” to that. The citation of God here is open to interpretations. Amen.

Shreya is going to nsit too! Sob! She is really very sweet. You have to know her to understand what I am saying. She has started studying for the mid-sems too!

Sneha and Abhranil are from the same school (DPS Dwarka). Sneha has become a great friend in a month. We are alike in many ways. We have shared many laughs already. I know that there are more to come.

Then there are Sonali, Nandita, DK, Happy, Sud, Anshu……………… who deserve more than a mention.