ठुकरा दो या प्यार करो

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan


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Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

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हो गई है पीर पर्वत-सी पिघलनी चाहिए

Dushyant Kumar

हो गई है पीर पर्वत-सी पिघलनी चाहिए,
इस हिमालय से कोई गंगा निकलनी चाहिए।
आज यह दीवार, परदों की तरह हिलने लगी,
शर्त लेकिन थी कि ये बुनियाद हिलनी चाहिए।
हर सड़क पर, हर गली में, हर नगर, हर गाँव में,
हाथ लहराते हुए हर लाश चलनी चाहिए।
सिर्फ हंगामा खड़ा करना मेरा मकसद नहीं,
सारी कोशिश है कि ये सूरत बदलनी चाहिए।
मेरे सीने में नहीं तो तेरे सीने में सही,
हो कहीं भी आग, लेकिन आग जलनी चाहिए।

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आज एक आकाश नीचे उतर आया

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

आज एक आकाश नीचे उतर आया
करने आच्छादित मुझे, मेरे उपरान्त भी,
अस्तित्व हुआ तरल झीनी चादर सा,
चित्त हुआ सरल, जो था कातर सा,
तन मन हुए भारहीन ,
निज पर की सीमा मिटी,
संकल्प विकल्प सारहीन ,
चेतना की सब धाराएं अंतर को प्रवाहित सी,
कुण्डलिनी ज्यूँ स्वयं की धुरी पर समाहित सी,
प्रेम बना दृष्टि, संवाद भी !
प्रतीक्षा बनी स्वभाव...
आज एक आकाश नीचे उतर आया...

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An Indian Love Song

Sarojini Naidu


Lift up the veils that darken the delicate moon
of thy glory and grace,
Withhold not, O love, from the night
of my longing the joy of thy luminous face,
Give me a spear of the scented keora
guarding thy pinioned curls,
Or a silken thread from the fringes
that trouble the dream of thy glimmering pearls;
Faint grows my soul with thy tresses' perfume
and the song of thy anklets' caprice,
Revive me, I pray, with the magical nectar
that dwells in the flower of thy kiss.


How shall I yield to the voice of thy pleading,
how shall I grant thy prayer,
Or give thee a rose-red silken tassel,
a scented leaf from my hair?
Or fling in the flame of thy heart's desire the veils that cover my face,
Profane the law of my father's creed for a foe
of my father's race?
Thy kinsmen have broken our sacred altars and slaughtered our sacred kine,
The feud of old faiths and the blood of old battles sever thy people and mine.


What are the sins of my race, Beloved,
what are my people to thee?
And what are thy shrines, and kine and kindred,
what are thy gods to me?
Love recks not of feuds and bitter follies,
of stranger, comrade or kin,
Alike in his ear sound the temple bells
and the cry of the muezzin.
For Love shall cancel the ancient wrong
and conquer the ancient rage,
Redeem with his tears the memoried sorrow
that sullied a bygone age.

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The Love Poem Unwritten

Prof Makarand Paranjape

The poem he wished to write began this way:
Is it come to this
That I am reduced to writing love poems
To you....
There he stopped. A heavy onus
Of unresolved emotions
Seemed to gag him.
He wished to say:
How ironic it was that separation
Had revived their love,
How she still defined his existence
By absence, as she had once done
Through her presence;
How distance generated intimacy,
So that now they were in love again.
And how corny, how odd, how unusual that felt.
Like nothing they'd felt before,
In fact, almost like in the movies,
Their romance was beginning to dramatize itself.
Yes, this was the intoxication
Of not just being in love,
But of being in love with being in love.
He wanted to say: I love you.
I love myself when I love you.
I love what you do to me.
I love what my love does to you.
When I think of us, there's a tremor
Not in my heart, but in the pit of my stomach,
It's a dull fire that spreads upwards,
From my loins. It's a hormonal high
When I remember how we lie side by side,
Naked, and how we make love.
Unlike the past, now we don't even need foreplay.
We are so hot just being next to each other.
And we are so serene when we join,
We even talk and smile.
But as I push into you, in, in, in,
All words are stuck in the throat.
I feel myself dissolving into you,
My self sinking lower and lower,
To vanishing point.
By entering you, I give you back to yourself.
There you are, your face flushed, but calm.
And then there's neither you nor me,
But only a warmth, throbbing and vital,
Which says: Love, love, love,
Or Om, Om, Om--just the primordial note.
We look at each other like this,
And an eternity passes away
As time forgets itself.
He wanted to say:
Now that we're apart once again,
I think, how strange it is to be in love
And to write about one's love,
To write poems to you,
Telling you how much I miss you,
How I am pining away,
And yet how delicious the pain is,
How exciting, inviting, welcome.
To reinvent language to say all this
To call back to oneself the sighs and tremors
Of love, to talk of your eyes and lips,
To celebrate your face, to get lost
In your fragrant tresses, to seek refuge
In the shade of your eyelashes, to praise
The softness and warmth of your touch,
To talk of the scent of your breath,
To remember your intimate gestures,
To cup your breasts in my hands
Like two panting doves,
To nestle my face between them,
And to remember all the noises you make,
And how you clown around, making faces,
And how we invent silly names for each other...
To talk about all this and much more.
In words, words, words, to project myself at you.
Then after this burst of verbal energy, fear:
To think that the person I am in love with
Is not you, but something that I have created myself,
An image of what I love. To think that I have made
An idol of you which in my loneliness I adore.
And how such love fills me with both
Ecstasy and dread, lest you interrupt these effusions,
Breaking through the image, declaring
Your real self, shattering the mirror of dreams.
How all this fits in with the poetry reading
In which I read love poems to you,
Thus becoming a poet in love,
Wooing you with my poems,
Making public our passion,
And in the process, making you my dream, my love, my muse,
Always passive, the recipient of all this homage,
The silent deity to which the priest-poet
Lights his lamps, pouring out his devotion.
And so the recurrent fear:
It's so easy to love one's own creation,
But how difficult to love a real person.
O God, how scared I am of loving you.
He wanted to write all this,
But how awkward and unconvincing it sounded,
And a silent onus seemed to gag him.
He felt saddened at his inability to love.
He thought: being in love is easy,
But to love someone so difficult.
He wondered if he could ever love,
If there was any hope for him,
If his heart heart would melt,
If he would be saved.
How important it was to find love:
It was the perfume of existence;
And life was arid without it.
He examined himself and his own life,
His compulsions to write,
To project things, to become something else,
To alter life, to change reality,
Always the drive, the ceaseless flow of words, words, words.
And now, the onus on his heart,
The inability to write, to express
His stirring love for his own wife,
The inability to force all this into words,
The fear of being found out as a liar,
The anxiety of being exposed and branded,
The dread of discovering his own changeability,
To find out, alas, that he couldn't, didn't,
Was unable to love, to love her.
At last he wrote:
There are those who love;
And there are others who only write poems.
It is you who love;
And I only write poems.
Did he then realize
The simple release of love
And the bitter doom of having to write only poems?

Poem from "The Serene Flame"
Read More at www.makarand.com

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आप और जी की सम्बोधन औपचारिकता से होते हुए
अर्द्धांगिनी और स्वामी तक के हमारे आत्मीय सफर में
मैंने जाना कि,
जीवन की तमाम अनिश्चिताओं और
वैचारिक भिन्नताओं के बावजूद
प्रेम, तमाम विसंगतियों को पार करते हुए
अंत में सरोवर में खिले कमल की भांति प्रतीत होता है :
मनोरम, मनोरम बस मनोरम।

लेखक परिचय:
उत्तर प्रदेश के बाँदा जिले के निवासी वैभव जी कुमार वैभव नाम से कविताएं लिखते है। वैभव जी ने अंग्रेजी साहित्य से पोस्ट ग्रेजुएशन किया है, और उन्हें सभी भाषाओं के साहित्य से प्रेम है।

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An Introduction

Kamala Surayya

I don't know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.

I am Indian, very brown, born in Malabar,
I speak three languages, write in two, dream in one.
Don't write in English, they said,
English is not your mother-tongue.
Why not leave me alone,
Critics, friends, visiting cousins, every one of you?
Why not let me speak in any language I like?
The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.
It is half English, half Indian,
Funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don't you see?
It voices my joys, my longings, my hopes, 
And it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions,
It is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there,
A mind that sees and hears and is aware.
Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain 
Or the incoherent mutterings of the blazing funeral pyre.

I was child, and later they told me I grew, for I became tall, 
My limbs swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.
When I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask for 
He drew a youth of sixteen into the bedroom and closed the door,
He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank Pitifully.
Then… I wore a shirt and my brother's trousers, 
Cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness.
Dress in sarees, be girl, be wife, they said.
Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants.
Fit in. Oh, Belong, 
Cried the categorizers.
Don't sit on walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala.
Or, better still, be Madhavikutty.
It is time to choose a name, a role.
Don't play pretending games.
Don't play at schizophrenia or be a nympho.
Don't cry embarrassingly loud when jilted in love...

I met a man, loved him.
Call him not by any name, 
He is every man who wants. a woman, 
Just as I am every woman who seeks love.
In him... the hungry haste of rivers, 
In me... the oceans' tireless waiting.
Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is I.
Anywhere and, everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I
In this world, he is tightly packed like the sword in its sheath.
It is I who drink lonely drinks at twelve, midnight,
In hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh,
It is I who make love
And then, feel shame, 
It is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat.
I am sinner, I am saint.
I am the beloved and the betrayed.
I have no joys that are not yours,
No aches which are not yours.
I too call myself I.

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Harivansh Rai Bachchan

मृदु भावों के अंगूरों की आज बना लाया हाला,
प्रियतम, अपने ही हाथों से आज पिलाऊँगा प्याला,
पहले भोग लगा लूँ तेरा फिर प्रसाद जग पाएगा,
सबसे पहले तेरा स्वागत करती मेरी मधुशाला।।१।

प्यास तुझे तो, विश्व तपाकर पूर्ण निकालूँगा हाला,
एक पाँव से साकी बनकर नाचूँगा लेकर प्याला,
जीवन की मधुता तो तेरे ऊपर कब का वार चुका,
आज निछावर कर दूँगा मैं तुझ पर जग की मधुशाला।।२।

प्रियतम, तू मेरी हाला है, मैं तेरा प्यासा प्याला,
अपने को मुझमें भरकर तू बनता है पीनेवाला,
मैं तुझको छक छलका करता, मस्त मुझे पी तू होता,
एक दूसरे की हम दोनों आज परस्पर मधुशाला।।३।

भावुकता अंगूर लता से खींच कल्पना की हाला,
कवि साकी बनकर आया है भरकर कविता का प्याला,
कभी न कण-भर खाली होगा लाख पिएँ, दो लाख पिएँ!
पाठकगण हैं पीनेवाले, पुस्तक मेरी मधुशाला।।४।

मधुर भावनाओं की सुमधुर नित्य बनाता हूँ हाला,
भरता हूँ इस मधु से अपने अंतर का प्यासा प्याला,
उठा कल्पना के हाथों से स्वयं उसे पी जाता हूँ,
अपने ही में हूँ मैं साकी, पीनेवाला, मधुशाला।।५।

मदिरालय जाने को घर से चलता है पीनेवाला,
'किस पथ से जाऊँ?' असमंजस में है वह भोलाभाला,
अलग-अलग पथ बतलाते सब पर मैं यह बतलाता हूँ -
'राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल, पा जाएगा मधुशाला।'। ६।

चलने ही चलने में कितना जीवन, हाय, बिता डाला!
'दूर अभी है', पर, कहता है हर पथ बतलानेवाला,
हिम्मत है न बढूँ आगे को साहस है न फिरुँ पीछे,
किंकर्तव्यविमूढ़ मुझे कर दूर खड़ी है मधुशाला।।७।

मुख से तू अविरत कहता जा मधु, मदिरा, मादक हाला,
हाथों में अनुभव करता जा एक ललित कल्पित प्याला,
ध्यान किए जा मन में सुमधुर सुखकर, सुंदर साकी का,
और बढ़ा चल, पथिक, न तुझको दूर लगेगी मधुशाला।।८।

मदिरा पीने की अभिलाषा ही बन जाए जब हाला,
अधरों की आतुरता में ही जब आभासित हो प्याला,
बने ध्यान ही करते-करते जब साकी साकार, सखे,
रहे न हाला, प्याला, साकी, तुझे मिलेगी मधुशाला।।९।

सुन, कलकल़ , छलछल़ मधुघट से गिरती प्यालों में हाला,
सुन, रूनझुन रूनझुन चल वितरण करती मधु साकीबाला,
बस आ पहुंचे, दुर नहीं कुछ, चार कदम अब चलना है,
चहक रहे, सुन, पीनेवाले, महक रही, ले, मधुशाला।।१०।

जलतरंग बजता, जब चुंबन करता प्याले को प्याला,
वीणा झंकृत होती, चलती जब रूनझुन साकीबाला,
डाँट डपट मधुविक्रेता की ध्वनित पखावज करती है,
मधुरव से मधु की मादकता और बढ़ाती मधुशाला।।११।

मेहंदी रंजित मृदुल हथेली पर माणिक मधु का प्याला,
अंगूरी अवगुंठन डाले स्वर्ण वर्ण साकीबाला,
पाग बैंजनी, जामा नीला डाट डटे पीनेवाले,
इन्द्रधनुष से होड़ लगाती आज रंगीली मधुशाला।।१२।

हाथों में आने से पहले नाज़ दिखाएगा प्याला,
अधरों पर आने से पहले अदा दिखाएगी हाला,
बहुतेरे इनकार करेगा साकी आने से पहले,
पथिक, न घबरा जाना, पहले मान करेगी मधुशाला।।१३।

लाल सुरा की धार लपट सी कह न इसे देना ज्वाला,
फेनिल मदिरा है, मत इसको कह देना उर का छाला,
दर्द नशा है इस मदिरा का विगत स्मृतियाँ साकी हैं,
पीड़ा में आनंद जिसे हो, आए मेरी मधुशाला।।१४।

जगती की शीतल हाला सी पथिक, नहीं मेरी हाला,
जगती के ठंडे प्याले सा पथिक, नहीं मेरा प्याला,
ज्वाल सुरा जलते प्याले में दग्ध हृदय की कविता है,
जलने से भयभीत न जो हो, आए मेरी मधुशाला।।१५।

बहती हाला देखी, देखो लपट उठाती अब हाला,
देखो प्याला अब छूते ही होंठ जला देनेवाला,
'होंठ नहीं, सब देह दहे, पर पीने को दो बूंद मिले'
ऐसे मधु के दीवानों को आज बुलाती मधुशाला।।१६।

धर्मग्रन्थ सब जला चुकी है, जिसके अंतर की ज्वाला,
मंदिर, मसजिद, गिरिजे, सब को तोड़ चुका जो मतवाला,
पंडित, मोमिन, पादिरयों के फंदों को जो काट चुका,
कर सकती है आज उसी का स्वागत मेरी मधुशाला।।१७।

लालायित अधरों से जिसने, हाय, नहीं चूमी हाला,
हर्ष-विकंपित कर से जिसने, हा, न छुआ मधु का प्याला,
हाथ पकड़ लज्जित साकी को पास नहीं जिसने खींचा,
व्यर्थ सुखा डाली जीवन की उसने मधुमय मधुशाला।।१८।

बने पुजारी प्रेमी साकी, गंगाजल पावन हाला,
रहे फेरता अविरत गति से मधु के प्यालों की माला'
'और लिये जा, और पीये जा', इसी मंत्र का जाप करे'
मैं शिव की प्रतिमा बन बैठूं, मंदिर हो यह मधुशाला।।१९।

बजी न मंदिर में घड़ियाली, चढ़ी न प्रतिमा पर माला,
बैठा अपने भवन मुअज्ज़िन देकर मस्जिद में ताला,
लुटे ख़जाने नरपितयों के गिरीं गढ़ों की दीवारें,
रहें मुबारक पीनेवाले, खुली रहे यह मधुशाला।।२०।

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पथ की पहचान

Harivansh Rai Bachchan

पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले
पुस्तकों में है नहीं छापी गई इसकी कहानी,
हाल इसका ज्ञात होता है न औरों की ज़बानी,
अनगिनत राही गए इस राह से, उनका पता क्या,
पर गए कुछ लोग इस पर छोड़ पैरों की निशानी,
यह निशानी मूक होकर भी बहुत कुछ बोलती है,
खोल इसका अर्थ, पंथी, पंथ का अनुमान कर ले।
पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले।
है अनिश्चित किस जगह पर सरित, गिरि, गह्वर मिलेंगे,
है अनिश्चित किस जगह पर बाग वन सुंदर मिलेंगे,
किस जगह यात्रा ख़तम हो जाएगी, यह भी अनिश्चित,
है अनिश्चित कब सुमन, कब कंटकों के शर मिलेंगे
कौन सहसा छूट जाएँगे, मिलेंगे कौन सहसा,
आ पड़े कुछ भी, रुकेगा तू न, ऐसी आन कर ले।
पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले।
कौन कहता है कि स्वप्नों को न आने दे हृदय में,
देखते सब हैं इन्हें अपनी उमर, अपने समय में,
और तू कर यत्न भी तो, मिल नहीं सकती सफलता,
ये उदय होते लिए कुछ ध्येय नयनों के निलय में,
किन्तु जग के पंथ पर यदि, स्वप्न दो तो सत्य दो सौ,
स्वप्न पर ही मुग्ध मत हो, सत्य का भी ज्ञान कर ले।
पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले।
स्वप्न आता स्वर्ग का, दृग-कोरकों में दीप्ति आती,
पंख लग जाते पगों को, ललकती उन्मुक्त छाती,
रास्ते का एक काँटा, पाँव का दिल चीर देता,
रक्त की दो बूँद गिरतीं, एक दुनिया डूब जाती,
आँख में हो स्वर्ग लेकिन, पाँव पृथ्वी पर टिके हों,
कंटकों की इस अनोखी सीख का सम्मान कर ले।
पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले।
यह बुरा है या कि अच्छा, व्यर्थ दिन इस पर बिताना,
अब असंभव छोड़ यह पथ दूसरे पर पग बढ़ाना,
तू इसे अच्छा समझ, यात्रा सरल इससे बनेगी,
सोच मत केवल तुझे ही यह पड़ा मन में बिठाना,
हर सफल पंथी यही विश्वास ले इस पर बढ़ा है,
तू इसी पर आज अपने चित्त का अवधान कर ले।
पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले।

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Kanaka da geet

Amrita Pritam

ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਗੋਡੀਆਂ
ਕਹਿੰਦੇ : "ਲੰਘ ਗਈ ਏ ਰਾਤ
ਕਹਿੰਦੇ : "ਆਈ ਏ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਤ"
ਮੇਰੇ ਅਰਸ਼ਾਂ 'ਤੇ ਸ਼ਾਹੀਆਂ ਅਜੇ ਓਡੀਆਂ ਹੀ ਓਡੀਆਂ ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਗੋਡੀਆਂ !
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਜੰਮੀਆਂ
ਰਾਹੇ ਰਾਹੇ ਜਾਂਦਿਆ
ਓ ਸੁਣਦਿਆ ! ਸੁਣਾਂਦਿਆ !
ਦੁਖਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਦੁਖਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਵੀ ਲੰਮੀਆਂ ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਜੰਮੀਆਂ !
ਕਣਕਾਂ ਉੱਗੀਆਂ
ਖੇਡੇਗੀ ਜਿੱਤ ਮੇਰੀ
ਖੇਡੇਗੀ ਹਾਰ ਮੇਰੀ
ਦੇਈਂ ਦੇਈਂ ਮੀਟੀ ਜਿੱਤੇ ! ਹਾਰਾਂ ਨੇ ਪੁੱਗੀਆਂ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਉਗੀਆਂ !
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਸਾਵੀਆਂ
ਰੋਂਦੇ ਨੇ ਮਾਂਹੀਵਾਲ
ਰੋਂਦੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਸੋਹਣੀਆਂ
ਰੋਂਦੀਆਂ ਝਨਾਵਾਂ ਅਜ ਰੋਂਦੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਰਾਵੀਆਂ ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਸਾਵੀਆਂ !
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਪੀਲੀਆਂ
ਕਾਲੇ ਨਾਗਾਂ ਦੇ ਡੰਗ
ਕਾਲੇ ਹੋ ਗਏ ਨੇ ਰੰਗ
ਪ੍ਰੀਤ ਦੀਆਂ ਨਾੜੀਆਂ ਹੋ ਗਈਆਂ ਨੇ ਨੀਲੀਆਂ ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਪੀਲੀਆਂ !
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਛੰਡੀਆਂ
ਅਸਾਂ ਕੱਠਿਆਂ ਸੀ ਗੋਡੀਆਂ
ਇਕੱਠਿਆਂ ਸੀ ਬੀਜੀਆਂ
ਓਏ ਕਿਨ੍ਹੇ ਆਕੇ ਸਿੱਟਾ ਸਿੱਟਾ ਦਾਣਾ ਦਾਣਾ ਵੰਡੀਆਂ ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਛੰਡੀਆਂ !
ਕਣਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਕੱਖ ਕਾਣ
ਲਹੂ ਲਹੂ ਪੀਤੇ ਅਸਾਂ
ਲਹੂਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਛਾਣ ਛਾਣ ।
ਕਣਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਨਿੱਕ ਸੁੱਕ
ਨਾਲੇ ਅਸਾਂ ਵੰਡ ਲਏ ਨੇ
ਹੰਝੂਆਂ ਦੇ ਬੁੱਕ ਬੁੱਕ ।
ਕਣਕਾਂ ਦੀ ਧੂੜ ਧਾੜ
ਸਾਡੀ ਦੇਸ਼ ਭਗਤੀ ਦੇ
ਕਾਰਨਾਮੇ ਮਾਰ ਧਾੜ ।
ਕਣਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਰੋੜ ਰਾੜ
"ਰਾਖ਼-ਰਾਖ਼" ਖੇਡੀ ਅਸਾਂ
ਮਹਿਲਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਾੜ ਸਾੜ ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਸਿੱਲ੍ਹੀਆਂ
ਲੋਕ-ਪੀੜਾਂ ਤੇ ਰੋਣ
ਕਦੇ ਬਣਦੇ ਨਾ ਗੌਣ
ਅਜੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਦੇਸ ਦੀਆਂ ਅੱਖੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਗਿੱਲੀਆਂ।
ਹੋ ਕਣਕਾਂ ਸਿੱਲ੍ਹੀਆਂ !

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Awaited Letter

Prof Makarand Paranjape

The Awaited Letter
is always penned at night,
not necessarily in stealth
but in a site or manner more
cherished and rare--privacy.
Much of it comes in single
cloud-bursts of ardour or
empathy; much more than ink
flows when it is written.
Then, only words on the page
remain and the pleasure of
being spent. What actually
was written is forgotten.
Once finished, the writer is
anxious to dispatch it as if
its portents must reach their
favoured destination at once.
The eyes that read it over
and the hands that seal
the cover are wont to be a
trifle restless, impatient;
sometimes the stamp can be
askew, the flap soaked
in glue, or there's a minor
error in the address.
The act of actually posting it
is never innocent; prominent
post offices are preferred
for the security they induce.
But once in, it's out of her
hands; a certain feeling of
freedom follows but also a
familiar fear: will it reach?
All night the letter lies awake
quietly, waiting, almost smugly
because it knows how unlike
it is to its pedestrian peers.
The envelope is picked up, marked,
sorted, flung, trussed up, tossed
hither and thither, handled by
so many during its long journey,
creased, sometimes stained with
greasy fingers, or damp and
smudged in the rain. But inside,
the letter itself is intact,
a virgin, unseen and untouched
by any, snugly smiling in anti-
cipation of yielding itself
only to her rightful owner.
The latter already knows it
is on its way as if the sender
had kissed him in a dream
to inform him of its coming.
Yet a feline unease shadows him
as he awaits to repossess that
which he surrendered so suddenly
in a fond or foolish overture.
Waiting, even for what he
knows will arrive, is so hum-
bling; whom can he blame if a
promised missive miscarries?
While he cannot admit the eager-
ness of his need, it has already
reached his post office to be
dropped into his box tomorrow--
or else, it glows distressed,
like a radioactive particle,
in some godforsaken graveyard
of undelivered messages.
Having once reached, look how
teasing it can be, lurking
inconspicuously between all
sorts of junk-mail, only to
spring into his hands suddenly,
dazing him with surprised
joy, and making him shy with
pride, like a woman pleased.
Perhaps, the sender well knows
that both her hands and eyes
have left invisible traces that
rekindle themselves on contact:
some letters, like poems, must
not only be read, but smelt,
stroked, held, and even carried
like shy brides, to bed.
But life is not literature;
an awaited letter is habitually
never written; if written
it is often never posted
but recessed into that inner
wilderness which is awaste
with so many unlived or erased
wishes and sickened dreams.
Even when it is signed, posted,
and received, its comforts
eventually abate: found,
the lost beloved is revealed
as the image of one's own
self. Correspondents who
are experienced know that
somewhere the longed-for one
awaits every seeker; we watch
helpless as a strange magnetism
draws us together even over
the chasms of several shipwrecked
births: how the received letter
works its magic fusing him into
into her! Now the reply he must
write becomes the awaited letter.

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आज उस पक्षी को फिर देखा

Kedarnath Singh

आज उस पक्षी को फिर देखा
जिसे पिछले साल देखा था
लगभग इन्हीं दिनों
इसी शहर में
क्या नाम है उसका
मुझे कुछ भी याद नहीं
मैं कितनी आसानी से भूलता जा रहा हूँ
पक्षियों के नाम
मुझे सोचकर डर लगा
आख़िर क्या नाम है उसका
मैं खड़ा-खड़ा सोचता रहा
और सिर खुजलाता रहा
और यह मेरे शहर में
एक छोटे-से पक्षी के लौट आने का विस्फोट था
जो भरी सड़क पर
मुझे देर तक हिलाता रहा।

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हजारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी


हजारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी कि हर ख्वाहिश पे दम निकले
बहुत निकले मेरे अरमाँ, लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले
डरे क्यों मेरा कातिल क्या रहेगा उसकी गर्दन पर
वो खून जो चश्म-ऐ-तर से उम्र भर यूं दम-ब-दम निकले
निकलना खुल्द से आदम का सुनते आये हैं लेकिन
बहुत बे-आबरू होकर तेरे कूचे से हम निकले
भ्रम खुल जाये जालीम तेरे कामत कि दराजी का
अगर इस तुर्रा-ए-पुरपेच-ओ-खम का पेच-ओ-खम निकले
मगर लिखवाये कोई उसको खत तो हमसे लिखवाये
हुई सुबह और घर से कान पर रखकर कलम निकले
हुई इस दौर में मनसूब मुझसे बादा-आशामी
फिर आया वो जमाना जो जहाँ से जाम-ए-जम निकले
हुई जिनसे तव्वको खस्तगी की दाद पाने की
वो हमसे भी ज्यादा खस्ता-ए-तेग-ए-सितम निकले
मुहब्बत में नहीं है फ़र्क जीने और मरने का
उसी को देख कर जीते हैं जिस काफिर पे दम निकले
जरा कर जोर सिने पर कि तीर-ऐ-पुरसितम निकले
जो वो निकले तो दिल निकले, जो दिल निकले तो दम निकले
खुदा के वास्ते पर्दा ना काबे से उठा जालिम
कहीं ऐसा न हो याँ भी वही काफिर सनम निकले
कहाँ मयखाने का दरवाजा 'गालिब' और कहाँ वाइज़
पर इतना जानते हैं, कल वो जाता था के हम निकले

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नया साल

Amrita Pritam

जैसे सोच की कंघी में से
एक दंदा टूट गया
जैसे समझ के कुर्ते का
एक चीथड़ा उड़ गया
जैसे आस्था की आँखों में
एक तिनका चुभ गया
नींद ने जैसे अपने हाथों में
सपने का जलता कोयला पकड़ लिया
नया साल कुछ ऐसे आया...
जैसे दिल के फिकरे से
एक अक्षर बुझ गया
जैसे विश्वास के कागज पर
सियाही गिर गयी
जैसे समय के होंठों से
एक गहरी साँस निकल गयी
और आदमजात की आँखों में
जैसे एक आँसू भर आया
नया साल कुछ ऐसे आया...
जैसे इश्क की जबान पर
एक छाला उठ आया
सभ्यता की बाँहों में से
एक चूड़ी टूट गयी
इतिहास की अँगूठी में से
एक नीलम गिर गया
और जैसे धरती ने आसमान का
एक बड़ा उदास-सा खत पढ़ा
नया साल कुछ ऐसे आया...

This is one of the rare examples in literature ushering in a new year with a resolute melancholy, written by Amrita Pritam, a prominent Punjabi poet.

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इसका रोना

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

तुम कहते हो - मुझको इसका रोना नहीं सुहाता है ।
मैं कहती हूँ - इस रोने से अनुपम सुख छा जाता है ।
सच कहती हूँ, इस रोने की छवि को जरा निहारोगे ।
बड़ी-बड़ी आँसू की बूँदों पर मुक्तावली वारोगे । 1 ।

ये नन्हे से होंठ और यह लम्बी-सी सिसकी देखो ।
यह छोटा सा गला और यह गहरी-सी हिचकी देखो ।
कैसी करुणा-जनक दृष्टि है, हृदय उमड़ कर आया है ।
छिपे हुए आत्मीय भाव को यह उभार कर लाया है । 2 ।

हँसी बाहरी, चहल-पहल को ही बहुधा दरसाती है ।
पर रोने में अंतर तम तक की हलचल मच जाती है ।
जिससे सोई हुई आत्मा जागती है, अकुलाती है ।
छुटे हुए किसी साथी को अपने पास बुलाती है । 3 ।

मैं सुनती हूँ कोई मेरा मुझको अहा ! बुलाता है ।
जिसकी करुणापूर्ण चीख से मेरा केवल नाता है ।
मेरे ऊपर वह निर्भर है खाने, पीने, सोने में ।
जीवन की प्रत्येक क्रिया में, हँसने में ज्यों रोने में । 4 ।

मैं हूँ उसकी प्रकृति संगिनी उसकी जन्म-प्रदाता हूँ ।
वह मेरी प्यारी बिटिया है मैं ही उसकी प्यारी माता हूँ ।
तुमको सुन कर चिढ़ आती है मुझ को होता है अभिमान ।
जैसे भक्तों की पुकार सुन गर्वित होते हैं भगवान । 5 ।

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Harivansh Rai Bachchan

वृक्ष हों भले खड़े,
हों घने हों बड़े,
एक पत्र छाँह भी,
माँग मत, माँग मत, माँग मत,
अग्निपथ अग्निपथ अग्निपथ।
तू न थकेगा कभी,
तू न रुकेगा कभी,
तू न मुड़ेगा कभी,
कर शपथ, कर शपथ, कर शपथ,
अग्निपथ अग्निपथ अग्निपथ।
यह महान दृश्य है,
चल रहा मनुष्य है,
अश्रु स्वेद रक्त से,
लथपथ लथपथ लथपथ,
अग्निपथ अग्निपथ अग्निपथ।

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सबसे अधिक तुम्हीं रोओगे

Ramavtar Tyagi

आने पर मेरे बिजली-सी कौंधी सिर्फ तुम्हारे दृग में
लगता है जाने पर मेरे सबसे अधिक तुम्हीं रोओगे !
मैं आया तो चारण-जैसा
गाने लगा तुम्हारा आंगन;
हंसता द्वार, चहकती ड्योढ़ी
तुम चुपचाप खड़े किस कारण ?
मुझको द्वारे तक पहुंचाने सब तो आये, तुम्हीं न आए,
लगता है एकाकी पथ पर मेरे साथ तुम्हीं होओगे!
मौन तुम्हारा प्रश्न चिन्ह है,
पूछ रहे शायद कैसा हूं
कुछ कुछ बादल के जैसा हूं;
मेरा गीत सुन सब जागे, तुमको जैसे नींद आ गई,
लगता मौन प्रतीक्षा में तुम सारी रात नहीं सोओगे!
तुमने मुझे अदेखा कर के
संबंधों की बात खोल दी;
सुख के सूरज की आंखों में
काली काली रात घोल दी;
कल को गर मेरे आंसू की मंदिर में पड़ गई ज़रूरत
लगता है आंचल को अपने सबसे अधिक तुम ही धोओगे!
परिचय से पहले ही, बोलो,
उलझे किस ताने बाने में ?
तुम शायद पथ देख रहे थे,
मुझको देर हुई आने में;
जगभर ने आशीष पठाए, तुमने कोई शब्द न भेजा,
लगता है तुम मन की बगिया में गीतों का बिरवा बोओगे!

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और भी दूँ

Ramavtar Tyagi

मन समर्पित, तन समर्पित,
और यह जीवन समर्पित।
चाहता हूँ देश की धरती, तुझे कुछ और भी दूँ।
माँ तुम्‍हारा ऋण बहुत है, मैं अकिंचन,
किंतु इतना कर रहा, फिर भी निवेदन-
थाल में लाऊँ सजाकर भाल मैं जब भी,
कर दया स्‍वीकार लेना यह समर्पण।
गान अर्पित, प्राण अर्पित,
रक्‍त का कण-कण समर्पित।
चाहता हूँ देश की धरती, तुझे कुछ और भी दूँ।
माँज दो तलवार को, लाओ न देरी,
बाँध दो कसकर, कमर पर ढाल मेरी,
भाल पर मल दो, चरण की धूल थोड़ी,
शीश पर आशीष की छाया धनेरी।
स्‍वप्‍न अर्पित, प्रश्‍न अर्पित,
आयु का क्षण-क्षण समर्पित।
चाहता हूँ देश की धरती, तुझे कुछ और भी दूँ।
तोड़ता हूँ मोह का बंधन, क्षमा दो,
गाँव मेरी, द्वार-घर मेरी, ऑंगन, क्षमा दो,
आज सीधे हाथ में तलवार दे-दो,
और बाऍं हाथ में ध्‍वज को थमा दो।
सुमन अर्पित, चमन अर्पित,
नीड़ का तृण-तृण समर्पित।
चाहता हूँ देश की धरती, तुझे कुछ और भी दूँ।

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चाँदी की उर्वशी

Ramavtar Tyagi

चाँदी की उर्वशी न कर दे युग के तप संयम को खंडित
भर कर आग अंक में मुझको सारी रात जागना होगा ।
मैं मर जाता अगर रात भी मिलती नहीं सुबह को खोकर
जीवन का जीना भी क्या है, गीतों का शरणागत होकर,
मन है राजरोग का रोगी, आशा है शव की परिणीता
डूब न जाये वंश प्यास का पनघट मुझे त्यागना होगा ॥
सपनों का अपराध नहीं है, मन को ही भा गयी उदासी
ज्यादा देर किसी नगरी में रुकते नहीं संत सन्यासी
जो कुछ भी माँगोगे दूँगा ये सपने तो परमहंस हैं
मुझको नंगे पाँव धार पर आँखें मूँद भागना होगा ॥
गागर क्या है - कंठ लगाकर जल को रोक लिया माटी ने
जीवन क्या है - जैसे स्वर को वापिस भेज दिया घाटी ने,
गीतों का दर्पण छोटा है जीवन का आकार बड़ा है
जीवन की खातिर गीतों को अब विस्तार माँगना होगा ॥
चुनना है बस दर्द सुदामा लड़ना है अन्याय कंस से
जीवन मरणासन्न पड़ा है, लालच के विष भरे दंश से
गीता में जो सत्य लिखा है, वह भी पूरा सत्य नहीं है
चिन्तन की लछ्मन रेखा को थोड़ा आज लाँघना होगा ॥

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तू अब भी है

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

सब लुट गया तो क्या, तू अब भी है,
अँधेरी रातों में तेरी महक अब भी है !
टूटती नहीं ये खुमारी क्या करें,
वजूद में मेरे घुली मिली, तू अब भी है !
जानता हूँ खूब नज़र फिर गयी तेरी,
दिल की तन्हाईयों में मगर , तू अब भी है !
तेरे होने, ना होने से अब फ़र्क नहीं कोई,
इस आशिकी के जुनून में ,तू अब भी है !
दौर-ए-हिज्र में हालांकि हुए घायल,
एहसास-ए-शुक्रमंदी में, तू अब भी है !
तिजारत की दुनिया रखे हिसाब तेरा,
इश्क में आज़ाद तू तब भी थी , तू अब भी है

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जलियाँवाला बाग में बसंत

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

हाँ कोकिला नहीं, काग हैं, शोर मचाते,
काले काले कीट, भ्रमर का भ्रम उपजाते।

कलियाँ भी अधखिली, मिली हैं कंटक-कुल से,
वे पौधे, व पुष्प शुष्क हैं अथवा झुलसे।
परिमल-हीन पराग दाग सा ब

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यह समय

Kailash Manhar

यह सोचने का समय है
सोच सोच कर परेशान होने का समय है
सोचते हुये ऊबने का समय है
ऊबते हुये डूबने का समय है यह
किन्तु फर्क़ भी क्या पड़ता है इसमें कि
डूब रहा है जब सारा देश
जब सारा समाज डूब रहा है ऊबते हुये
सोचते हुये और परेशान होते हुये
जब कविता से बच रहा है प्रत्येक व्यक्ति
यह कविता रचने का समय है
कविता पढ़ने का समय है यह
कविता को गुनने का समय है

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Indian Weavers

Sarojini Naidu

Weavers, weaving at break of day,
Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . .
Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,
We weave the robes of a new-born child.
Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . .
Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green,
We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.
Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . .
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man's funeral shroud.

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Mantras from Savitri

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh

All can be done
if the God-touch is there
Only a little
The God-light can stay.
A traveller between summit and abyss.
The human in him
Paced with the Divine.
God shall grow up
While the wise men
Talk and sleep.
We are sons of God
And must be even as he.
Beyond earth’s longitudes and latitudes.
Our life
Is a holocaust
Of the Supreme.
Oh, surely one day
He shall come to our cry.
None can reach heaven
Who has not
Passed through hell.
Our human state
Cradles the future god.
The One by whom all live,
Who lives by none.
Escape brings not the victory and the crown.
In absolute silence
Sleeps an absolute Power.
A God comes down greater by the fall.
A giant dance of Shiva tore the past.
Whoever is too great
Must lonely live.
The soul in man
Is greater
Than his fate.
The life you lead
Conceals the light you are.
The great are strongest
When they stand alone.
The day-bringer
Must walk
In darkest night.
Our life is a march
To a victory
Never won.
Man can accept his fate,
He can refuse.
His failure is not failure
Whom God leads.
I wear the face of Kali
When I kill.
One man’s perfection
Still can save the world.
He who would save the world
Must share its pain.
All is too little that the world can give.
I shall save earth,
If earth consents
To be saved.
He Who Chooses The Infinite Has Been Chosen by the Infinite
Truth born too soon
Might break
The imperfect earth.
A cave of darkness guards the eternal Light.
A death-bound littleness is not all we are.
A Light there is that leads,
A Power that aids.
A moment sees,
The ages toil to express.
All our earth starts from mud and ends in sky.
All rose from the silence;
All goes back to its hush.
All things are real
That here are only dreams.
An idiot hour destroys what centuries made.
Love is a yearning
Of the One
For the One.
Mortality bears ill
The eternal’s touch.
The spirit rises mightier
By defeat.
The soul that can
Live alone with itself
Meets God.
There is a purpose
In each stumble and fall.
A future knowledge is an added pain.
To know is best,
However hard to bear.
But few are they who tread the sunlit path.
Death helps us not,
Vain is the hope to cease.
Earth is the chosen place of mightiest souls.
Eternity speaks, none understands its word.
Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.
For joy
And not for sorrow
Earth was made.
Heaven’s call is rare,
Rarer the heart that heeds.
My God is Love
And sweetly suffers all.
Only the pure in soul
Can walk in light.
The gods are still too few
In mortal forms.
We are greater
Than our thoughts.
Even the body shall remember God.

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The Infinitesimal Infinite

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh

Out of a still Immensity all came!
These million universes were to it
The poor light-bubbles of a trivial game,
A fragile glimmer in the Infinite.
It could not find its soul in all that vast:
It drew itself into a little speck
Infinitesimal, ignobly cast
Out of earth’s mud and slime strangely awake,-
A tiny plasm on a little globe,
In the small system of a dwarflike sun,
A little life wearing the flesh for robe,
A little mind winged through wide space to run!
It lived, it knew, it saw its self sublime,
Deathless, outmeasuring Space, outlasting Time.

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The Looking Glass

Kamala Surayya

Getting a man to love you is easy
Only be honest about your wants as woman. 
Stand nude before the glass with him,
So that he sees himself the stronger one
And believes it so, and you so much more
Softer, younger, lovelier.
Admit your Admiration.
Notice the perfection
Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under the shower,
The shy walk across the bathroom floor,
Dropping towels, and the jerky way he urinates.
All the fond details that make him male 
And your only man.
Gift him all,
Gift him what makes you woman,
The scent of long hair,
The musk of sweat between the breasts,
The warm shock of menstrual blood,
And all your endless female hungers.
Oh yes, getting a man to love is easy, 
But living without him afterwards may have to be faced.
A living without life when you move around, 
Meeting strangers, with your eyes that gave up their search, 
With ears that hear only his last voice calling out your name
And your body which once under his touch had gleamed
Like burnished brass, now drab and destitute.

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भरपूर मनुष्य की तरह

Kailash Manhar

ख़ुद से बना रहे मेरा लगाव
स्वाभिमान के साथ
जन से बना रहे जुड़ाव
ईमानदारी से और
बना रहे सच्चाई का भाव
पारदर्शियतायुक्त मन में
बनी रहे हिम्मत
अन्याय के विरुद्ध बोलने की
शोषण की पोल खोलने की
न्याय के पक्ष में रहने की
झूठ को तनिक भी नहीं सहने की
आदत बनी रहे शब्द पर विश्वास की
सार्थकतापूर्ण आस की
फिर क्या फर्क़ पड़ता है कि तुम
कवि मानो या न मानो मुझे
अथवा बना रहूँ या नहीं मैं स्वयं भी
क्या इतना-सा ही काफ़ी नहीं
कविता के लिये
कि जिसे कवि कहा जाये वह
एक भरपूर मनुष्य की तरह जिये

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Couplet by Ikram

Ikram Rajasthani

हमारी बातों में नफरत की कोई बू नहीं आती
हमारे बीच में हिंदी या फिर उर्दू नहीं आती

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I am not

Dr. Gaurav Mathur

Victim or victor
I am not
Friend or lover
I am not
Poet or philosopher
I am not
Seeker or seer
I am not
Thought or thinker
I am not
Experiencer or doer
I am not
Do not ask who I am
For I am not
I am not

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Swayam ka Ghuspaithiya

Dr. Pariksith Singh, Razi Hashmy

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Sky Bird

Dr. Pariksith Singh

To fly
Is to be
The infinite space
To rise
Into openness
The vast opens as I
My love of transparence
Fills me now
To flesh and marrow
The journey upon my breast
Enters each cell
As the journey within
Each horizon
My new home
Where stillness is flight
And skin porous as space
The seeking of flesh
To be light
A bird of thought
Behind each background
Secretly preening
The gyre of each dream
Ascending higher
To the Great Bird
Can each bird
Winging through my pen
Escape the tyranny of word?
The expanse of flight
Caught within
A secret winging
And space too
Is turned into
The thought of a bird

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One Cosmic Dance

Dr. Gaurav Mathur

Thought and its futility
Are seen
Desire and its pointlessness
Are seen
Fear and its subsidence
Are seen
The unwavering flame of attention
Engulfs all that is
Mind is still, void of content
Ego sinks back in quiet repose
To its source
All is as is
Naturally at ease
And the Self is all there is
A presence within and all around
The benevolent monarch
Calm and eternal
Patient and gentle
Soft and subtle
All-pervading, yet untouched
Creator, mover and destroyer
Of worlds upon worlds
Which are all but itself
Playing with itself
The raas of Krishna
And Shiva’s tandav
Are one cosmic dance
Of the unmoving Self

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College Days

Prof Makarand Paranjape

In the grilled window overhead
Before ringing the bell
I see your face.
It is only love, nothing else.
You rush down the stairs
You hold my hand,
Your cheeks flushed with excitement.
It is only love, nothing else.
We sit on the lawn
In cushioned wicker chairs.
The night queen exudes its scent.
It is only love, nothing else.
You smile at me,
I lean over,
The world blurs out of focus again.
It is only love, nothing else.
At the sound of the car
We hastily disengage,
You rearrange your hair.
It is only love, nothing else.
* * *
Then, your parents suspect.
They inspect your mail,
They take counter measures.
It is only love, nothing else.
We meet elsewhere
Whispering in dingy cafes,
Under the waiter's suspicious gaze.
It is only love, nothing else.
Or else outside your college,
Or on a park bench,
Or in a shopping centre on a weekend.
It is only love, nothing else.
On your birthday, before the final exam,
You lie you're at a friend's place,
We meet in an expensive restaurant.
It is only love, nothing else.
In the dim light you say
We can't go on like this.
In silence I stare ahead.
It is only love, nothing else.
* * *
At last it is time to graduate.
You hold my last letter,
Now smudged, tightly to your chest.
It is only love, nothing else.
What will become of me, you wail,
My throat catches too,
The sari slips off your heaving breasts.
It is only love, nothing else.
In a flash, all the memories--
Letters, phone calls, innumerable meetings--
Dart by as we watch, helpless.
It is only love, nothing else.
You resist my caress, at first
But suddenly yield, with vehemence.
It is to be our last embrace.
It is only love, nothing else.
I leave town.
You settle down,
Marrying somebody else.
It is only love, nothing else.

Poem from "The Serene Flame"
Read More at www.makarand.com

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Getting Outside Patriarchy

Prof Makarand Paranjape

Our distances are intimate,
We grow vast in our silences.
In freedom we have blossomed,
Not having thwarted one another.
How unrestricted are our movements:
We have never tried to trim each other to size.
You come back, asynchronious,
Twisted by your concourse with others.
I react to your divergences.
How we have fought,
With no holds barred
Tearing at each other fiercely,
Until our brains nearly exploded.
Then, all anger spent,
Not one word or hit, left unstruck,
We gaze at each other mutely--
Astonished at the devastation
Each has wrought on the other.
Standing forlorn amidst the debris of our selves,
We heal, and once again
Stretch towards each other,
All our crooked places straightened.
We are the enemies of each other's egos
Ruthless in hunt;
Thus we destroy and recreate each other ceaselessly.
Yet our eyes talk and understand
The subtle signals of love,
The open smile of happiness
Wrapping the other in a warm embrace.
Indeed, our gestures are complete.
My curses have failed.
The blows that I struck you
Drained me of all violence.
Even memories have lost their sting.
Instead, eternal be my blessing
Overflowing all the harsh sayings,
Washing them away like loose dirt.
So go, you are not mine--
Prosper and flower wherever you are.
And yet stay,
Grow strong and straight
Like a companion eucalyptus,
Tall and elegant,
And restless in the breeze.

Poem from "The Serene Flame"
Read More at www.makarand.com

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Free Fall

Prof Makarand Paranjape

Let me forget myself momentarily
as the divine did itself when it made this
beautiful world of sound, light, and colour,
and peopled it with all kinds of creatures,
great and small, peaceful or violent.
So let me find myself completely in the object
of my desire, let my self be totally lost
in the other, let me thus become a woman,
and fall hopelessly in love with the man
in her. Let this love have no destination,
no hope of fulfilment or consummation;
let it be entirely futile, pointless, even
inconsequential. And let my heart be riven,
broken, crushed, scattered beyond all
retrieval or recognition, let all my poise
and self-control, my pride of manhood
be totally undone in this all-consuming
passion. O victory, I shall seek you
in my utter ruination, like a desperate
soul seeking solace in everlasting annihilation.
My obsession brooks no restraint or moderation;
I must be totally destroyed before I'm done,
no particle of me left safe or untouched.
I risk all to gain all; I am reckless in love
because I know that the one I love, after all,
is not I or you, but the lost whole of which
both are parts. I am willing to wager all
because I know that my love will be as safe
with you as it is with the Mother of God.


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Ikram Rajasthani

ढूंढ़ता है आदमी, सदियों से दुनिया, में सुकून।
धूप में साया मिले, कमल जाये सहरा में सुकून।
छटपटाती है किनारों, पर मिलन की आस में
हर लहर पा जाती है, जाकर के दरिया में सुकून।
बेक़रारी है कभी, पूरे समन्दर की तरह,
और कभी मिल जाता है बस, एक क़तरे में सुकून।
ज़िन्दगी को इससे ज्य़ादा और क्या कुछ चाहिए?
लबस हो इक प्यार का, और उसके लमहात में सुकून।
हर सवाली चेहरे पे लिख़ी इबारत देखिए,
चैन है कि न आँखों में, और कौन से दिल में सुकून।
वो खुदा से कम नहीं लगता है, मुझको दोस्तो,
मेरे ख़ातिर माँगता है जो दुआओं में सुकून।
ये उसी दामन की भीनी खुशबू का एहसास है,
जो मुझे महसूस होता है हवाओं में सुकून।

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Zakhm phir se khula

Dr. Pariksith Singh

ज़ख्म फिर से खुला तो हुआ आईना
लहू की जगह बस एक शुआ आईना
तेरा ही अक्स झलकता था नज़रों में
दिल से उठती बस एक दुआ आईना

A wound opened again and became the mirror
In place of blood, a ray of light the mirror
Your reflection alone shimmered in my eyes
Only a prayer arising from my heart the mirror

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Ye Nayaa Andaaz Hai Aapkaa

Dr. Pariksith Singh

ये नया अंदाज़ है आपका
ख़ामोश हर अलफ़ाज़ है आपका
मिलते हो जब हट जाऊं मैं तुम
फ़ाश भी हो राज़ है आपका
This is your new style
Each word of you has fallen still
You meet me when I disappear
Even exposed you are under a veil

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देखो, टूट रहा है तारा

Harivansh Rai Bachchan

देखो, टूट रहा है तारा!
नभ के सीमाहीन पटल पर
एक चमकती रेखा चलकर
लुप्त शून्य में होती-बुझता एक निशा का दीप दुलारा!
देखो, टूट रहा है तारा!
हुआ न उडुगन में क्रंदन भी,
गिरे न आँसू के दो कण भी
किसके उर में आह उठेगी होगा जब लघु अंत हमारा!
देखो, टूट रहा है तारा!
यह परवशता या निर्ममता
निर्बलता या बल की क्षमता
मिटता एक, देखता रहता दूर खड़ा तारक-दल सारा!
देखो, टूट रहा है तारा!

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The Paradigm of Quantum Physics

Dr. Pariksith Singh

One of the great achievements of modern science in the last century is Quantum Physics. While confusing to many, counter-intuitive and disruptive of the traditional Newtonian world-views, it has, nonetheless, liberated modern thought from limitation of senses and common logic. To realise that the Universe at the sub-atomic level is no longer made up of discrete particles and that location of these ‘particles’ is dependent on probability is a revolution in understanding.
My personal encounter with Modern Physics began in the 11th grade, as we were introduced to Maxwell and Planck, Heisenberg and Bohr. I must say that the fascination has only grown. As the insights began to sink in and continue to do so,(yes, even after more than three decades, it grows on one), it became a fascinating story to try to follow and understand.
What happened along the way was that physics that had been boring and Cartesian became alive and resplendent with poetry. Gazing at a table in front of me became as awe-inspiring as gazing at distant stars in the night. While I chose a career in Biology and Medicine, Physics remained a life-long journey of exploration and discovery. However, I must confess that there was still a gap somewhere. It just did not register fully- the monumental realization of what had happened. Until I read Carlo Rovelli and his two books, ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’ and ‘Reality Is Not What It Seems’.
With a lucidity that I have not come across in any of the books on Physics yet, he details how Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity were a tremendous leap of imagination. Einstein’s understanding that gravity and space are not two separate entities, but one and the same, transformed the way we see the world. Space is not emptiness pervaded by a gravitational field but space is gravity. And I was spaced out.
Similarly, when Heisenberg says that 'he imagined that electrons do not always exist; they only exist when someone or something watches, or better, when they are interacting with something else’, changes our understanding of how electrons function. Thus, the world is not built of ‘things’ as our common sense might surmise. How then does this probabilistic transformation affect the natural world we live in, still needs to be further investigated and understood. How does our DNA, for example, get affected by such uncertainty, needs to be ‘quanta-fied’.
Physics continues to search for the Holy Grail, the Unified Field Theory. Various approaches have been tried; the Superstring Theory, the S Matrix, and now the Loop Gravity Theory. Rovelli even tries to understand the self or consciousness in terms of Physics and to this he devotes his last lesson in his “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’. And this is where he seems to flounder.
For understanding consciousness in terms of physics would be like trying to investigate organic life by investigating inorganic matter or trying to explain mind by explaining organic life. The principles can’t be encapsulated in the older frames of reference. To understand organic life in terms of matter would be a cardinal error and one would have to step out of the frame of reference of matter, evolve new modes of studies and modelling to begin to approach the phenomenon of life.
Consciousness may not be a by-product of quantum phenomenon. It may not be explicable by the Standard Model of elementary particles. Nor are its terms in the realm of thought or physical experiment. Consciousness has to be tackled and studied in entirely different paradigms, determined by its very own nature and characteristics.
Nonetheless, Rovelli’s books are definitely a step forward in higher education. Every student of science, art or humanities would do well to understand the implications of Quantum Physics. It is sad, that even after nearly a hundred years after Quantum Physics was accepted as a valid model to explain the events of the atomic world, its impact on religion, philosophy, theology and other sciences has been minuscule. Religions continue their indoctrinations with Cartesian paradigms. Philosophy has struggled after existentialism, Wittgenstein and deconstruction. And theology still sees a God outside the Universe sitting mightily as a judge or schoolmaster measuring our sins and good deeds for further reward or retribution.
An understanding of Quantum Physics leads to thought more grounded in reality and subtilizes the gross manner in which our sciences and humanities are expounded. I hope that such books are shared with students in high schools everywhere, whether they belong to arts or non-physical sciences. If not, it would be akin to limiting Beethoven’s concertos or Picasso’s art only to students of music or painting.

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Faiz Ahmed Faiz: The Neo-Classicist

Dr. Pariksith Singh

Last night, your lost memories came to me
As spring steals into the wilderness
As the morning breeze skims the desert gently
As a patient finds solace without cause
These lines, among the peaks of Urdu poetry, are written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, widely considered as one of the greatest poets from the Indian sub-continent. Born in Sialkot, British India, in 1911, he stayed on in Pakistan after independence. A classical poet to the core, he extended the traditional idiom of Urdu poetry. Where in the past Urdu poetry was restricted to the Saaqi, the wine, roses and nightingales, he changed the concept of the divine wine-bearer to mean the social and political revolution which would bring justice, freedom and equality to the oppressed. For him love for the Saaqi became a call to arms to create a new world order based on the principles of liberty and fraternity. It is perhaps these opinions that got him in trouble with the authorities. Arrested for subversive activities twice in Pakistan, he spent about 5 years in prison between 1951 and 1959. Yet, this did not blunt his desire to speak on behalf of the underprivileged in various capacities throughout his life.
Faiz was Chief Editor of Pakistan Times, and later, Editor of Lotus magazine published by Afro-Asian Reuters Association. He was awarded the prestigious Lenin award by U.S.S.R. in 1962. In his day he was deemed one of the worthiest nominees for the Nobel Prize. That he did not win it is one of the gravest omissions in the history of the award. Faiz passed away in 1985.
He remains one of the most romantic poets in world literature, comparable to Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth or Tagore. However, what makes his poetry unique is how it moves effortlessly between romanticism and reality. One of his most famous poems, typical of his style, starts off in this manner:
Do not ask for love as before, my dear!
I had thought that if you are, life is light,
If you are sad, what quarrel is worth the world’s sadness?
Your face is the reason for spring in the Universe.
What else is there in the cosmos if not your eyes?
But as the poet realizes the harsh realities of life, he is forced to confront them and sing a different tune:
Life has more torments than love alone
And greater solace than being with the loved one.
Do not ask for love as before, my dear!
Faiz does not jar the reader’s sensibility with startling juxtapositions or shock the brain with post-modern effects, merely for the sake of it. Each line is measured, deliberate, refined, quiet. Yet, when he makes a transition from one thought process to another, the results could not be more striking, in part due to their subdued texture underlining a sharp contrast. In the example given above, we find a clear contradiction between two visions and compelling movements. One is the pull of the beloved; the other, the suffering of his people. Faiz does not scream, he whispers; when he speaks softly, you pay attention because of what he has to say, not solely because of how he says it.
He does not break rhyme or rhythm like free-verse poets. His images are apt and not arbitrary like Lorca. His music rings with compassion, subtlety, wit and innovation in its neo-formalism. If Ghalib was the Father of Urdu Poetry, Faiz, to my mind, is the Father of Modern Urdu Poetry.
Faiz is old but new, traditional but contemporary. His feelings are true and deep. Whether it is in dealing with his beloved or the masses, his is not rhetoric or high-pitched falsetto. One feels the presence of a genuine emotion, an individual concern growing so deep that it becomes universal. Faiz cannot be classified only as a communist, even though he was associated closely with the socialist movement; his empathy makes him a true bearer of his religion even though he seems irreligious on the face of it. His compassion rings true and cannot be restricted to a movement or philosophy.
Faiz loved his people and his land deeply. But he was not blinded by his love. Being a true humanist, he showed his appreciation for all peoples and lands. He was able to overlook the cultural and religious baggage that well-meaning people carry, especially when it came to the rivalry between India and Pakistan. That he remained as popular in India as in Pakistan is testament to his reach beyond borders.
For any student of Modern Poetry, Faiz remains extremely significant. He needs to be studied until he becomes a part of one’s blood. Faiz ranks among the great poets of any language. He is as great a peak as Tagore, Yeats, Neruda, Rilke, Eliot or Sri Aurobindo.
Classics never die. They grow as you mature and mature as you grow. The poetry of Ghalib or Tagore or Shakespeare or Faiz is immortal and worthy of being read again and again till it changes us for the better. Even in suffering, it sings of joy and hope.
Be close to me…my assassin, my beloved, stay close to me…
When the night moves, the dark night, having drunk the red blood of skies…
Laughing, singing, ringing the epileptic anklet of pain…
When the night moves, funereal and empty…
Stay close to me…

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The Ghazal: A Poorly Adapted Form in English

Dr. Pariksith Singh

The ghazal is perhaps one of the most exotic forms of poetry. Steeped in oriental traditions and imagery, it stands unique in being a major non-narrative lyrical form of poetry in world literature. No other form poem follows the classical rules of rhyme and rhythm, and yet, gives a complete leeway to the poet to vary subject matter at will with each stanza.
Briefly, a ghazal in its classical form comprises an odd number of thematically related or unrelated couplets strung together by a common rhythm and a rhyme scheme (aa, ba, ca, da, ea, …). On the one hand, this makes it highly conducive to poetry of love and mysticism allowing impulsive shifts of thought and free association; on the other, it also places greater demands on the poet in some ways. As one critic has pointed out, the ghazal is easy to write but difficult to master. Free verse may hide (or reveal, depending on how one may look at it) much of a poet’s mediocrity but a ghazal will starkly highlight it. Even in Urdu, there are seldom more than a few poets writing quality ghazals at one time and a good ghazal is as difficult to write as perhaps a good sestina.
The word ghazal derives from the word ghazaal from Arabic, which means a gazelle. And that perhaps sums up in one word what the form stands for. Delicate and graceful, quick and erratic, the gazelle moves in leaps and bounds, often changing directions from one jump to another, often reversing its course entirely, capricious yes, but ever delightfully energetic and beautiful.
Historically, the ghazal originated in Persia and migrated along with the moguls to India. There it became one of the foremost vehicles of poetic expression of a new language, Urdu, which came out of a commingling of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Punjabi and Hindi. In Urdu Literature, its importance rivals that of a sonnet in English.
The Exemplars of the Urdu Ghazal
The ghazal was used highly successfully by Mirza Ghalib, easily the greatest poet in Urdu to this date. He exploited the natural rhythm and felicity of the language to reach new heights of simplicity and lyricism. An example of Ghalib’s wit can be seen in this translation (translation mine) of his ghazal:
You bring a rose to your face and say, like this.
Show me with my own lips how to lean for a kiss.
How to steal hearts without a word from your lips.
Each action of hers reeks with attitude like this.
When I suggested that her guests leave,
She asked me to get up and go, like this.
Do you feel that closeness brings an end to passion?
The waves in the sea still toss and turn, like this.
Those who say that the Persian ghazal is greater than Urdu,
Read them a selection of my verse, like this.
With time, however, the ghazal adopted new themes and imagery. It gave up the traditional rose, the moon and the Saaqi (the wine-bearer). Fervent religious reformers like Iqbal and romantic realists like Faiz entrenched it indelibly in the consciousness of the Indian sub-continent.
The Ghazal in English
The ghazal, thus, is full of great possibilities. It can be sung, it can move masses, and it can be a prayer or an ode or an elegy or a love-lyric or a call for revolution. Unfortunately, it has never fulfilled its promise in English. This may be due to the lack of awareness of its true structure, the lack of rhyming words in English, or the non-linear structure of the form itself, which requires a new mode of thinking. More likely, this is so because it has never been successfully adapted into English. The language has always risen to new challenges in the past and all that may be needed is to create an appreciation of the form among poets and critics.
Adrienne Rich and many others have written free verse ghazals. They have used a string of couplets in vers libre, usually more than four or five, and unrelated in content, as their criteria of ghazal. To me, this is equivalent to calling a fourteen-line poem a sonnet. While I do not contest a poet’s freedom to modernize and improvise, I feel that an attempt must be made to create the ghazal in its classical form, too. One should know the rules before deciding to break them.
The Mastery of the Craft
One must appreciate that the ghazal in some ways is diametrically opposite to free verse. The ghazal, as discussed earlier, while adhering to external form rigorously, leaves the emotion to leap from one couplet to another. It relies solely on unity of rhythm, the radeef, while free verse poems usually rely on unity of thought or image. An analogue to the ghazal may be the renga in its classical form with strict rules regarding syllable count, season words, etc., and a strictly non-narrative structure. The other kin to a ghazal may be sequence, though the sequence has no formal structure.
The first couplet in a ghazal provides the zemeen or basis on which all subsequent couplets stand. The theme of the following couplets may be unrelated, may contradict the previous one, may represent another perspective on the idea, and may even be part of a narrative (though this is less common). The second line in a couplet sometimes may even be unrelated to the first.
Often each couplet is an entirely different poem in itself, yoked to others only by reason of rhyme and rhythm. The strict limitation of form and length with stanzas of two lines only, each of which is an independent poem in itself places immense pressure on the poet. He must excel with each line. He has to touch the reader’s or listener’s intellect or emotions quickly and just as quickly move on. There is no time for expostulation.
The ghazal writer relies on pun, paradox, bathos and other literary devices or tarqeebs. Brevity is the key. An example of witty spiritual insouciance or romantic flirtation can be seen in this line from Ghalib and Faiz respectively (translations mine):
Is it ordained that each shall get the same reply?
Come, let us take a trip to Mount Sinai.
Love in the heart makes them upset;
On my lips, it becomes a secret.
The English Ghazal
To attempt an English metrical equivalent, one should perhaps limit oneself between five to twelve feet per couplet, like most English meters. Each line may include two hemistiches, though this is not essential. The two lines in a couplet may not have the same number of feet.
The earliest English poetry, to my understanding, was based on rhythm and not so much a metrical prosody. Urdu, being a relatively new language, does the same. The zemeen or basic rhythm is the key. Usually, each line is end-stopped and does not use, what Coleridge called, a feminine ending. Thus, a typical zemeen in Urdu may sound taut and simple as in this couplet:
That you were not aware,
We could hardly care.
Or it may be more spread out and complex:
Such pain that even wounds could not be witnesses;
At your arrival, there were no apocalypses.
(Above two examples translated from my ghazals in Urdu)
In place of rhyming the last word of each couplet, one may use a phrase as a refrain, as in Ghalib’s ghazal in the first section of this essay. Or one may use slant rhymes or incomplete rhymes and that would depend on the creativity of the poet. Or, one may use internal rhymes to bolster the refrain, e.g.,
Wounds of light have dared to flow
Since I moved closer to you.
Kiss them with the lips of sight,
The tongue of eyes whispers to you.
Lost in the stars you wake anew,
Mirrors at night are jewelers to you.
(Translated from my ghazals in Urdu)
All these rules, however, are only on the surface. The true measure of a ghazal is its saleeqah or the way a certain thing is said or not said, or left unsaid. Wit is highly prized along with nazuk-khayali or the subtlety of thought of feeling. An example of this fineness of perception can be seen in this couplet of Ghalib:
At each turn, you ask me who am I.
Tell me, is this the way to reply.
The ghazal then, to quote T. S. Eliot in another context, is a ‘precise way of thinking or feeling’. Trans-creating it into English may mean a new self-discipline and self-development. If the attempt succeeds, ‘a new wing to the opulent mansion of English poetry’ will be added and we shall have learnt something new in the process. Seeing the resourcefulness of the modern poets in English, I have no doubt that the English ghazal will soon become a native in this foreign soil and thrive in this land of immigrants.
(Parts of this essay published in ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum, 1997, Volume 7, Number Three and in SIRS, a resource publication for libraries in U.S. and Canada.)

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The Future of Indian Poetry

Dr. Pariksith Singh

Indian poetry in English is flat. There is no depth. This was my impression when I read some anthologies edited by Pritish Nandy few decades ago. This remains my impression after reviewing an anthology of more modern poets that I chanced upon recently. I came out with the feeling that I had read a newspaper. To be fair to Indian poets, much modern poetry is similar. Mental. Superficial. Sensational.
DH Lawrence had said that the best literature transforms your blood. My blood remains the same. The skin sags a bit more.
Save a few poems. A few poets.
Ezra Pound described poetry as comprised of three components: logopoeia, melopoiea and phanopoeia. Meaning, music and image. A very anatomic dissection reveals this as the sinews and muscle of poetry. But the best poetry accomplishes something else that is significant. It brings together an intense fusion of thought and feeling, of sensation and gut, intensity and subtlety, wideness and height and depth.
In the Indian context, the term ‘bhaava’ has been used, which implies a profounder feeling and thinking and sensing. TS Eliot while discussing metaphysical poets talks about a poetry where thoughts are felt. Bhaava implies such a fusion but it is yet more than a coming together of mind and heart. It means ‘to be’.
Great art absorbs one, drowns the reader or beholder. Technical perfection is one requirement, perhaps a basic one. But the identification of consciousness with the art opens it to new perspectives, insights, visions. Such new vistas in modern poetry are missing. As Steve Jobs complained, while discussing the products with his developers at Apple, ‘There is no sex in them.”
I am afraid that we have become TS Eliot in pyjamas if not ‘Mathew Arnold in a sari’. To turn this around, we will need to be bold and uncompromising.
A high fusion of content and craft, theme and style is what will distinguish excellence from mediocrity. Indian-English poetry does not seem to dare greatness. That might happen when Indian literature re-discovers or explores its own roots. As Tagore did.
What are these roots or myths? What are the conditions or the darshan? Or perhaps an even deeper question. Who are we? What is unique about us? This is journey we must make, no matter how excruciating or unfulfilling. To boldly sing in our own voice, steep ourselves in our svadharma, to draw in our own blood. To carry it as a woman carries her child in the womb. That is the only way we can deliver a new being, art with its own individuality.
To paraphrase McLeish, I would say, ‘Great poetry must not mean, but be.” In bhaava, in the dare, in the sva-darshana or self-seeing. Such is the future of our poetry if we may dare to hear and trace the notes of our own heart-beat. Shall we follow?

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The Musical Structure of Four Quartets

Dr. Pariksith Singh

The Four Quartets is a masterpiece. It is Eliot at his maturest, though perhaps not necessarily best with each line. The great achievement of this poem, if one may call it one poem, is its verse structure made to look or sound like a quartet. While it is impossible for a poem to sound like a quartet, Eliot has used different ‘instrumental voices’ in his ensemble to project a similar interplay of sounds.
In this essay, I have restricted myself to the versification in each quartet as opposed to the substance. Eliot has also very adroitly created an interaction of various themes and images to run parallel to his musical structure. But that is a subject that would invite another exposition beyond the parameters of this essay.
What is a quartet? Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines it as a musical composition or movement in four parts each performed by a single voice or instrument. Usually, a quartet comprises of two violins along with a viola and a cello. The violins touch the highest frequencies of sound, the cello the lowest, while the viola employs the middle range of frequencies. Usually, the instruments play at the same time though one instrument may dominate at one time or another. It is important to understand the musical composition of a quartet to better appreciate what Eliot accomplished as a poet.
The only way Eliot could create another voice poetically was by employing a different line-length and verse-form to represent each different instrument. He used blank verse and lyrical structures, narrative and dramatic forms, at times resorting to Dantesque terza rima, at times breaking into Chaucerian diction. He broke each quartet into different segments, varying the sound-texture of each segment. Some of the segments could stand as separate lyrics of their own. Some are more like verse essays, where he thought slowly, deliberately.
Throughout Eliot has retained a classical approach—just as one would expect a quartet to be— though at times he breaks off into free verse. He does not try to split the page into two vertical poems running parallel to another, like Mallarme did—an experiment which failed, incidentally, even in Mallarme’s masterly hands.
If we take ‘Burnt Norton’, for instance, the meditation in the beginning of the poem is a hidden iambic pentameter:
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
The second segment begins with an intricate and dense versification, that is lyrical, rhymed and in tetrameter.
Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
He then employs the famous Upanishadic line ‘at the still point of the moving world’ in a heptametric section that, to me, is the epitome of meditative poetry:
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards…
He then moves again to pentameter, continuing the meditation, yet changing the color of the sound:
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood…
He begins the third segment switching back and forth between tetrametric and pentametric lines, then startlingly moves to a trochaic line that is a heptameter:
…Time before and time after,
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London…
He reverts to a pentametric line immediately after and again alternates between four and five syllables in each line.
The fourth segment is short, the first five lines lyrical and rhymed:
Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?
The next five lines vary in length with each line, still rhymed, lyrical and involved, the first line only a word, like a note floating in air.
Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
The fifth segment begins with a tetrametric tone, slow and deliberate, bringing to a synthesis the various voices that played through the entire piece. However, he quickly moves to the pentameter with the next line:
Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach…
He again alternates between four and five syllables to each line and ends the poem with a burst of tetrameter:
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.
The other three quartets employ a similar—though not same—interaction of voices, each comprising of five segments. Each quartet has a distinct flavor to it, and together, all four reach another new synthesis in musical composition.
The Four Quartets are truly Eliot’s magnum opus. He attempted to create a new interaction of verse forms and tones in his work like a quartet and succeeded brilliantly. His quartets are not quartets musically speaking but are more in the nature of verse artifacts, curiosities, something truly novel and a remarkable addition to the vast repository of English poetry.

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Sri Aurobindo, the Challenge of a Poet

Dr. Pariksith Singh

Of all the poets over the last few centuries, Sri Aurobindo presents the most unique challenge to the reader. He is not difficult with contorted meanings like Celan or surrealist like Lorca or complex like TS Eliot. These others can still be fathomed if one spends enough time with them; they can be extremely dense, sometimes cryptic to the max, yet, the challenge is in meaning or import.
But Sri Aurobindo needs a new experience and consciousness to understand. In this, he is akin to the ancient Vedic rishis who composed the Vedas and Upanishads. An entirely new range of discernment and awareness is needed. Sri Aurobindo challenges one’s DNA as it were.
Modern poetry has been extremely severe, almost savage, in its criticism of his poetry, though his prose seems relatively well-placed now. The question is is there anything of value in his poetry and, if there is, does it need to be discovered on terms set by him?
To my mind, Sri Aurobindo is exploring the consciousness inherent in sound, among other things. In his best poems and lines, we see a sound-significance that is transformative. He is a poet of sound and the consciousness of sound. When we read passages in Savitri such as ‘The Adoration of the Divine Mother’ or sonnets such as ‘Nirvana’, we find the spiritual experience clearly described verbally but, on closer attention, the experience is created with the sound of the incantation and the harmonies created by a remarkable choice of words. In this, his aim to catch the Upanishadic element in English verse seems to have been realized.
We also see in his poetry the fusion of abstract with concrete, what to us is barely perceived or perceivable is described clearly by him with precise details. This is confusing and vague to the uninformed mind and creates a reaction in the modern mind. But in his best poems, he has found what we might call ‘the subjective correlative’ to paraphrase Eliot.
It is the misfortune of Indian poetry that Sri Aurobindo’s classicism was a mismatch in the age of Eliot and Pound. A lot of bad verse has been written in imitation of the modernist poets in the 20th century and the achievements made by Sri Aurobindo in verse were seldom realized. His experimentations with form poems and new rhythms in English are quite remarkable and sometimes extremely successful, e.g., ‘The Image’ written in quantitative hexameter or the sapphics in his poem ‘The Descent’.
Fame and fortune of a poet are no reflection of his or her excellence. It is my surmise that Sri Aurobindo’s greatness and achievements as a poet shall be duly recognized by Indian critics and critics around the world once they separate their instinctive dislike of his classicism and read him with a more discerning eye and ear.
We have far lesser poets who are well-known and studied with less than half a dozen good poems to their credit. Sri Aurobindo has many more, not only as a poet but also as a poet-translator of Upanishadic and Vedic shlokas.

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विश्व सारा सो रहा है

Harivansh Rai Bachchan

हैं विचरते स्वप्न सुंदर,
किंतु इनका संग तजकर,
व्योम–व्यापी शून्यता का कौन साथी हो रहा है?
विश्व सारा सो रहा है!
भूमि पर सर सरित् निर्झर,
किंतु इनसे दूर जाकर,
कौन अपने घाव अंबर की नदी में धो रहा है?
विश्व सारा सो रहा है!
न्याय–न्यायधीश भू पर,
पास, पर, इनके न जाकर,
कौन तारों की सभा में दुःख अपना रो रहा है?
बिश्व सारा सो रहा है!

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अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है

Harivansh Rai Bachchan

अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?
उठी ऐसी घटा नभ में
छिपे सब चांद औ’ तारे,
उठा तूफान वह नभ में
गए बुझ दीप भी सारे,
मगर इस रात में भी लौ लगाए कौन बैठा है?
अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?
गगन में गर्व से उठउठ,
गगन में गर्व से घिरघिर,
गरज कहती घटाएँ हैं,
नहीं होगा उजाला फिर,
मगर चिर ज्योति में निष्ठा जमाए कौन बैठा है?
अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?
तिमिर के राज का ऐसा
कठिन आतंक छाया है,
उठा जो शीश सकते थे
उन्होनें सिर झुकाया है,
मगर विद्रोह की ज्वाला जलाए कौन बैठा है?
अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?
प्रलय का सब समां बांधे
प्रलय की रात है छाई,
विनाशक शक्तियों की इस
तिमिर के बीच बन आई,
मगर निर्माण में आशा दृढ़ाए कौन बैठा है?
अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?
प्रभंजन, मेघ दामिनी ने
न क्या तोड़ा, न क्या फोड़ा,
धरा के और नभ के बीच
कुछ साबित नहीं छोड़ा,
मगर विश्वास को अपने बचाए कौन बैठा है?
अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?
प्रलय की रात में सोचे
प्रणय की बात क्या कोई,
मगर पड़ प्रेम बंधन में
समझ किसने नहीं खोई,
किसी के पथ में पलकें बिछाए कौन बैठा है?
अँधेरी रात में दीपक जलाए कौन बैठा है?

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