Sunday, October 5, 2008

As imperceptibly as grief

I know that winter is approaching when my mom starts fretting that it is 6:30 in the evening and I am still not home. This is a beautiful time of the year. It is damp but, not chilly. Today, it is overly sunny, maybe, as a reminder of the ethereality, the fragility of beauty. I sit at home as I am typing this. Hendrix, Floyd and the doors have been playing in the background since Friday evening. Now, Schubert is mourning the loss of something that I have no conception of. But, I know that it is a loss. “It is a secret place, the land of tears.” Schubert was there. He created sublimity out of it. We gained from his loss.
Here is something by Dickinson.

As imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away, -
Too imperceptible, at last,
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled,
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature, spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone, -
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape,
Into the beautiful.

I fell in love with this poem when I first read it. She inverts the elements of grief into levity. The summer makes her “light escape.” She mourns summer. She welcomes winter. The new morning is courteous and yet, harrowing. The foreign presence reminds her of the absence of that whose golden die is imperceptibly, indelibly imprinted on her being. The poem is a celebration of sorrow and through this, an erosion of the betrayal that has led to the sorrow. Maybe, she is trying to say that it is impossible to say when one has ceased to be unhappy. When are we liberated from the shackles of grief? A month, a year, ten, an eternity? Maybe, we get accustomed to the grief, so that, even when it leaves, we feel a sense of loss. Maybe, it is the slow erosion of this grief that assuages the absence of that which has become a part of our lives. Maybe, she is comparing the loss of grief to the loss of summer. Perhaps, she is reversing the comparison to welcome the advent of sublimity.
In a discussion about poetry with a friend, very recently, I told him that sometimes we like illusions because they are hazy. Sometimes, we shouldn’t dissect the things that we like. Sometimes, we like things albeit we don’t understand them. I never look up the poems that I like for the fear that they will mean something else and they will be taken away from me. Sometimes, I spend an hour reading and re-reading a poem. I don’t know what this poem actually means, but, I think that I have got it right.
When I first read Ariel by Sylvia Plath, I did not pay much attention to the poem “Lady Lazarus.” After a couple of friends read the poem, recently, I have been forced to think about it and I can’t believe how off target I was.
Today, I will read Victor Hugo or Guy De Maupassant. I can’t make up my mind. I have been reading Salinger’s short stories (Thanks Sushant!). I think that he captures the conflict in his era very well. I also, finished a book on Chekov.
I know that I’ve been writing soppy and rambling stuff. Next time, I’ll write something fun.


Saksham Agarwal said...

All I know of Sylvia Plath and Nissim Ezekiel is that I've read them in the English textbooks that we were forced to read at school.
Yeah, so that is how far my appreciation for poetry goes.
You write really well, keep it up!

Sayan said...

Maybe she's mourning for her youth...

Aarushi said...

How does it matter? and thanks!

It could be anything though.