Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blast From The Past: Poems Loved By Me

Just few days back, while I was looking through some of my college books ( I finished my college education ages ago) I couldn't help noticing all the lovely quotes and parts of some really good poems enjoyed by me in those days, jotted down here and there inside my books.

I used to have beautiful handwriting, and I used to write with the slant of letters towards the right. However, there were times, I used to change my style by writing straight, or making the letters come out more rounded and so on. All the styles looked good.

It brought tears to my eyes, when I saw my hand writing, for today I cannot write like that as I have lost my ability to write fluently or even continuously, or even fast. After about 1 or 2 lines my writing loses is clarity.

I could have worked on it, and I can still work on overcoming this very simple problem through regular practice, but it is sheer laziness that is stopping me from achieving any success in this matter, also the keyboard is to be blamed to some extent. This problem is because of a Stroke which I had suffered 13 years back. 
I was so thrilled at overcoming almost all my stroke related problems, that, I never bothered much about my writing. Although,  I can manage without perfecting this art, I am going to start writing a few pages each day.

Now,  that is another story to be told, in another blog, at another time, but for now let me take you to my favorite poems.

Parts of some of the poems loved by me:

These beautiful lines from "The Blessed Damozel" ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

And still she bowed herself and stooped

Out of the circling charm;

Until her bosom must have made

The bar she leaned on warm,

And the lilies lay as if asleep

Along her bended arm.

Another one from the same poem:

' I wish that he were come to me,

For he will come', she said.

'Have I not prayed in Heaven?--on earth,

Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd?

Are not two prayers a perfect strength?

And shall I feel afraid?

It is a very sad story of a young girl separated from her beloved, however, she has not given up hope and is waiting for the reunion. It is a very sensual poem. She dreams of the day that they will be together and present themselves in the beauty and glory of God. Gabriel Rossetti lets the reader know that she has not yet entered heaven. She is at the outer gates of the kingdom of heaven waiting for her lover.

In those days, being young meant having some crush on somebody, and we could easily relate with all the emotions and feeling depicted here.

I remember how we used to enjoy our poetry classes and the reason behind it was that we were all romantically inclined.

Another favorite: 
Stanzas From The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam.

The Moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it

There was a time I truly believed in this philosophy, but with experience I understood, that none of the words written above is true, or applicable to me. However, there are people who still believe in such theories and feel some unseen fate has control over their lives. Even now I love these lines, though their meaning no longer resonate with me.

John Keats, the most loved poet:

Ode To A Nightingale:

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wing├Ęd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

In the end the poet says: Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:- do I wake or sleep?

The emphasis is so much on Nightingale's immortality. As we go through the poem we feel the happiness felt through the song of the Nightingale, but only to realize soon, that we are to face this ugly world full unhappiness and despair, we are left feeling lost, for we cannot be like the Nightingale.
Those days when we felt down and sad, we would go through such poems, and make ourselves more miserable.

When we felt lost and dejected, we would also turn to Shelly for inspiration:

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of prophecy; O, Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

I am sure many of us were inspired by Shelly's Ode To The West Wind.

The most romantic poem, and I simply love it: it is by Robert Burns

My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June :
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love,
And fare thee weel a while !
And I will come again, my love,
Thou’ it were ten thousand mile.

Then there is the beautiful sonnet of Milton's

On His Blindness
Who can forget these famous lines:

"God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

I also thoroughly enjoyed his Paradise Lost too

Then there is Wordsworth. We can never forget the famous lines from his famous poem: Daffodils:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance

The waves beside them danced, but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay

In such a jocund company:

I gazed -and gazed -but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills

And dances with the daffodils.

Awesome lines, flowing so beautifully one after another, which only Wordsworth could do. There was time I could recite this poem by heart, and even now although I don't remember it so well, I still enjoy reading it.

Then there is the sad romantic in all of us: Christina Georgina Rossetti was my favorite :

To meet, worth living for:
Worth dying for, to meet.
To meet, worth parting for:
Bitter forgot in sweet.
To meet, worth parting before,
Never to part more

I think I must have been crazy about her poems for they reflected everything I felt at that particular time. Here is another:

As you set it down it broke-
Broke, but I did not wince;
I smiled at the speech you spoke,
At your judgment that I heard:
But I have not often smiled
Since then, nor questioned since,
Nor cared for corn-flowers wild,
Nor sung with the singing bird.

Another :
My blindest buzzard that I know,
My special mole, when will you see?
Oh no, you must not look at me,
There's nothing hid for me to show.
I might show facts as plain as day;
But since your eyes are blind, you'd say:
Where? What? and turn away.

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those
that tell of saddest thought.

Another favorite poet, Robert Frost.
What he said is so true even today. 

Such great poets, and such wise words.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. "

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep".

Robert Frost

I can't believe I had written some of these verses and more, in the various empty back pages of my books in my beautiful handwriting.
Do you have any favorite poems which you enjoyed in your youth or enjoy now?
Please feel free to share them here.


  1. I should really thank you for sharing these wonderful poems. I'm a fan of poetry too, Wordsworth being my favourite closely followed by Robert Frost (Specially for his Road not taken). There are some poems which you would like to read again and again and end up thinking in new ways every time you read them. I've not read too many poems of PB Shelly, but I remember reading a few good ones. As Wordsworth wonderfully said, poetry is 'emotions recollected in tranquility.' How wonderfully true!

    1. Yes Ashwini you are so right, It is the same whether it is poetry, essays, novels, or even some philosophy, the more we read the same thing again and again the more we find different meanings emerging.
      It is so good to know that you also like Wordsworth and Frost.
      Thanks Ashwini for your lovely comment.

  2. The word treasures are really lovely Rama...Thank you for sharing such brilliant verses Rama :) I would have loved to read them in your writing too. As for my writing, it is legible and neat but certainly not beautiful. I envy people with beautiful cursive handwriting... I haven't read as many poems as I would have liked to, have read a lot of prose, but somehow my poetry reading is limited to whatever was part of the curriculum during school...I think its time I read poetry. Your post seems to have rekindled my interest :)
    One of my favorite poems is all about opportunity by one Berton Brailey... I remember this well because I too wrote it down in a book..
    With doubt and dismay you are smitten,
    Why, the best books haven't been written,
    You think there's no chance for you, son?
    The best race hasn't been run....
    It goes on in this manner and ends like this--
    Don't worry and fret, faint-hearted,
    The chances have just begun.
    For the best jobs haven't been started,
    the best work hasn't been done.
    The full poem can be found here- http://www.cordair.com/apotheosis/ecards/poetry/braley/opportunity.htm
    I just love the positive attitude of this poem. My comment has been going on and on, I'll stop now. Thanks Rama for reminding me of a long forgotten task on my "lovetodo" list :)

    1. Thanks for link Reshma, I will look it up. I am still searching for my Golden Treasury book of poems, if I don't find it I will buy a new one. I have so many books, I don't feel like giving them away, because i always feel, that I am going to use them someday.
      You are already a good poet, maybe by going back to the past poets can give you some new ideas, who. Thanks for taking time out to write such a nice comment.

  3. Thanks for the feast of poetry Rama, enjoyed them all so much. Thanks for reminding me of one of my previous interests, interests in life take different directions with time, but we should not forget those that were essential part of our lovely moments.

    1. It feels so good to go back and re read all that we had written years ago. I am glad that through this blog, I could rekindle something of our past.
      Thanks padmaja.

  4. I like shairi and poetry but in Hindi...

    1. Even I like Hindi poetry, though Hindi was never a compulsory subject after school. Those days my Hindi was quite good, I could read novels of Gulshan Nanda and other such writers, but as I grew out of those, my familiarity with the reading writing in Hindi too went away. Now I can talk in Hindi like a pucca North Indian, and can manage to read a little bit, but can't say much about writing in Hindi. I too love some of the Gazals.

  5. beautiful blast from the past
    nice poems

  6. I am not a poetry reading person! Yes, I appreciate good words, chain of words, but not poetry!

    I still write often, while going on tour. I jot down in a diary about the places of visit and later change it to a blog post!

    Well, reading books was there always, though it has slowed down now!

    I can see you enjoying writing this post! Past is always precious!

    1. Thanks Sandhya. When we try to go to our past, we encounter so many things about ourselves, and sometimes get inspired to go back to some of the things we really enjoyed doing.

  7. Beautiful poems, Rama. Especially Robert Burns...

    1. Thanks CN. You are right Robert Burns is really romantic and I am sure is loved by all lovers of Poetry.

  8. A delectable feast of poems that remain immortal for their sheer beauty

  9. Those are some immortal poems, Rama and they remain evergreen:)

    1. Thanks Rahul. Yeah some poems are so good, just like our old Hindi music, they remain forever etched in our minds

  10. Thanks for sharing these wonderful poems.

  11. Rama, very patiently I have gone through all these and I didn't even know I was just reading, but I was with them for a while.Great collection from your side.And writing I too don't do at all.i just keyboard everything. Thank you for sharing these lovelyl poems.

    1. I am so glad you could relate to these poems. Yes all these modern techniques has really robbed us of many beautiful things, which we used to cherish before their inventions.

  12. Rama,

    Old memories do make one so lost in past. Each poem is worth reading. I agree with one by Omar Khayyam as I always say that one must do his or her best but accept the outcome as what is destined. Please do not let your handwriting worry you. Just RELAX as you should not have any stress on your mind. Be happy with whatever it is as that will make things go better automatically.

    Take care

    1. Yes Jack, I totally agree with you, we have plenty to be grateful for, and we should never waste our precious time lamenting about things we no longer have.
      I am so glad to hear from you Jack.

  13. Thank you Rama for sharing such wonderful classic pieces of poetry from some of the finest poets of all times :) So, you made a note of them in your beautiful handwriting? Treasured memories for you!! :) Poetry rejuvenates us, it is like food for the soul!! :)