Poetry has always been a Pandora’s box for me. Through the years, as I learned to read into words and pauses, it opened a world that I wanted to embrace. Fraught with emotions, desires, and innocence, there are poems to this day that I earmark for each feeling I cannot fit into the conventional labelling. Each poem encapsulates an emotion and a journey that is only for the reader to discover. Like Barthes once echoed in his maiden essay, Death of the Author, each journey is different because everyone starts on this journey with a different view and varying levels of engagement. The metaphoric death of the author is eminent as the poem is finally embraced as one’s own, not as a reflection of the poet’s musings.
When I think of poetry that has influenced me, sorry to sound clichéd, but there are too many to count. Different poets have come to the rescue in different situations. However, the romantics have always held a safe and forlorn place in me. From the sociopolitical activism of Blake through his ‘Songs of Experience’ and ‘Songs of Innocence’, to Keats’ desperate search for meaning through ‘Nightingale’, to Wordsworth’s nature poetry to Tennyson’s grief in ‘In Memoriam’, these poets seduce readers to a world where emotions reign supreme and, anguish and pain are a source of exaltation and incumbent to creativity. Oh, who can forget Byron’s seducing notes in ‘She walks in beauty through the night’. To single out a romantic would be to single out a lone emotion. As the colours they paint are varied, the emotion their poetry beckons are multi-hued, it would be a gross injustice to give eminence to a single one. Having said all that, I do have a special place for Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’. The grief, the helplessness he feels after the death of his dear friend Hallam forms the backdrop of this mournful melody.
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasp’d no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro’ the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
Throughout this poem, there is the realization that the death of his friend, something so incomprehensible and devastating to him has no effect on the outside life. While life must have paused for his friend, it continued to bind him like the day following a night. I was introduced to this poem by Mrs Dennyson, a teacher cum scholar, who drew out each word to life. At that time, untouched by the follies of life, the poem signified not a thing. It was well appreciated for its exquisite craftsmanship, how each metaphor was weaved so beautifully. However, now after having experienced life in all its bitterness, this poem means much more than an intriguing tapestry. To continue living, to embrace life even after dealing with blows after blows, is something, that we all need to learn. Like Tennyson realized, the noise of life resists being silent for long.
About the Author : A wanderer at heart, Vibhuthi is the author of Rainbow, an anthology of poems that was published in 2009 by Nishaganti Publication