The Story Continues…

Oct 1st 2014

So yet another month has passed. It all started with the 30 day Writing Challenge in August 2014 and its a wonder that I have been writing in my blog since Aug 1st. The first month was tough because it was a new challenge and also because I was going through a very intense period of time in my personal as well as professional life. Besides having to bare my soul for public viewing every single day, it was also difficult to find the time to write my post and upload it. Somehow I persevered and with the help of a very persuasive buddy and very supportive friends, I managed to complete the challenge quite successfully.

Then I made my next decision and that was to continue writing every single day. Now this was a tougher challenge as I did not put any end date to it. Just that I needed to write atleast one paragraph and post it on my blog. Since I started the month with poetry I felt like dedicating the month of September to my favorite poets/poems and that’s what I have done! I hope my audience have enjoyed the selection as much as I did. I do eagerly look forward to any and all kinds of feedback, suggestions and comments on this blog. Please feel free to interact with me here!

Now it is my 3rd month on the run. I hope and pray I am able to continue writing every single day. There is a lot happening in my life right now and I will share some of it here in the following days. I hope my experiences will enable each one of you to feel validated or make some small changes in your life that will positively affect you and others around you. Here is wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful October.

A Moment Of Happiness by Rumi

I want to end this month devoted to poetry by sharing with you another gem from the Sufi mystic Rumi.

~~~

A Moment Of Happiness by Rumi

A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden’s beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I. The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.

~~~

Love is simple really. You don’t have to make an effort when you are in love. Everything happens naturally and flows effortlessly between lovers. The most important component in love would be when two people can just drop all pretense and share a life of joy and peace together. And like Rumi says this is forever, in this life as well as in other worlds true love is eternal.

A Home Song by Henry Van Dyke 

This poem is new to me but I loved its simplicity and deep meaning. Basically it is about friendship and love. The poet talks about how a home where there is love and friendship is where the heart can rest. How true!

~~~

A Home Song by Henry Van Dyke

I read within a poet’s book
A word that starred the page:
“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage!”

Yes, that is true; and something more
You’ll find, where’er you roam,
That marble floors and gilded walls
Can never make a home.

But every house where Love abides,
And Friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home-sweet-home:
For there the heart can rest.

~~~

“Henry Jackson van Dyke was an American author, educator, and clergyman. Among his popular writings are the two Christmas stories, The Other Wise Man (1896) and The First Christmas Tree (1897). Various religious themes of his work are also expressed in his poetry, hymns and the essays collected in Little Rivers (1895) and Fisherman’s Luck (1899).”

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

This poem I heard about first in the movie Invictus about Nelson Mandela and the South African football team. Its an inspiring movie and the poem fits in perfectly.

Here is the poem Invictus by Henley.

~~~

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

      Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

      I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

      Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

      How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

      I am the captain of my soul.

~~~

“At age 12 Henley was diagnosed with tubercular arthritis that necessitated the amputation of one of his legs just below the knee; the other foot was saved only through a radical surgery performed by Joseph Lister. As he healed in the infirmary, Henley began to write poems, including “Invictus,” which concludes with the oft-referenced lines “I am the master of my fate; / I am the captain of my soul.”

Henley’s poems often engage themes of inner strength and perseverance. His numerous collections of poetry include A Book of Verses (1888), London Voluntaries(1893), and Hawthorn and Lavender (1899).”

These lines always inspire me, especially when I’m going through tough times. I believe everyone goes through rough patches in life and we are all challenged in life in different ways. I firmly believe that it is up to each one of us to bravely face our demons and remind ourselves each day that we are the masters of our own fate!

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

I give you Maya Angelou again with her classic poem ‘Still I Rise’. This is one poem that can make any woman feel confident and strong enough to face the hurdles of life. I know everyone could use with some inspiration so here it is.

 

~~~

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.


Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.


Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

 

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

 

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

 

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

~~~
There is nothing more I can say after this poem. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain. I rise. I rise. I rise.

The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

Today we look at another gem by the lady known as Oriah Mountain Dreamer. The Dance is her second poem after The Invitation. This is what she has to say about this poem:

“The Dance is the story of how we can live soulfully on a daily basis. It is the story of my discovery that the question is not “Why are we so infrequently the people we want to be?” but rather “Why do we so infrequently want to be the people we really are?” It is the story of discovering why our quest for self-improvement does not lead to happiness or better lives or a more peaceful, just world. It is the story of finding who we really are, becoming all we are and knowing it is enough. It is the story of our struggles with those things that make it hard to remember who and what we really are, the places where is easy to become afraid-in our culture, the places where we deal with sex and death and money and power.

The stories, reflections and meditations in The Dance ask us to go further than we did in The Invitation-beyond the longing to the living, beneath the desire to the deeper ache and the knowledge that guides us in living true to what we are. It is the story of my human struggle to live with the shock of being awake, if only for intermittent moments, guided by the spirit of those wonderful lines by Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks:

There are lovers content with longing.
I’m not one of them.”

 

~~~

 

The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.

Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.

Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when
you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.

Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I live.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.

Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .

I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall, to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?

And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the clear, healthy boundaries that
help us live side by side with each other, let us risk remembering that we never stop silently
loving
those we once loved out loud.

Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make
my heart whole again and again.

Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us shout that soul’s desires have
too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.

Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs
you want our children’s children to remember.
And I will show you how I struggle not to change the world,
but to love it.

Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.

And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.

Don’t say, “Yes!”
Just take my hand and dance with me.

 

~~~

 

These powerful lines leave me breathless always. The poet is basically asking us to bare our inner souls to ourselves. Get to know yourself not just in your peaks but also in your darkest lows. Accept yourself for who you are. Love yourself unconditionally. Find your peace within. Be willing to take risks in order to follow your heart. Don’t be afraid of falling, just pick yourself up and keep moving. As long as you know what it is that you seek, there is no stopping you. Like the poet implores, just say YES and Dance with me!

 

Pathways by Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke — was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets”, writing in both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke’s work as inherently “mystical”. His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry, and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes haunting images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety. These deeply existential themes tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist writers.”

 

Today I present to you a short poem by Rilke called Pathways.

 

~~~

 

Pathways by Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Understand, I’ll slip quietly

away from the noisy crowd

when I see the pale

stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.

 

I’ll pursue solitary pathways

through the pale twilit meadows,

with only this one dream:

You come too.

 

~~~

 

Don’t you simply love the last line of this poem? In this one line, the poet manages to include you into his stunningly beautiful world of twilit meadows, rising stars and solitary pathways. And suddenly you are happy to share his world. I think this is a wonderful example of how a poet manages to create this alluring visual with his words and then invites you into it so charmingly that all you can do is say a loud and resounding YES.

 

Love Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

 

So here is yet another Love poem by Pablo Neruda. I can never tire of sharing this man’s poems. Every single one of them is truly lyrical and so poetic that anyone can enjoy it.

 

~~~

Love Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

 

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

 

~~~

 

 Beautiful. That’s my first thought on reading this poem. Every single time. I believe in Love and so whenever a poet is able to convey the beauty of Love in such a romantic way, I am overjoyed. Let us look at some of the lines of this wonderful poem.

 

“…I love you as one loves certain obscure things, secretly, between the shadow and the soul…”

 

What is usually private to most of us are the things that expose the true nature of our soul. Our public persona is often molded to cater to the needs of our society. So when the poet says he loves the obscure things what he is saying is that he loves you for who you are!

 

“…I love you directly without problems or pride…”

When in love, pride is often the first to fall away. Even problems that usually affect you severely seem to be something like a thorn in your side! A nuisance more than a debilitating issue. So the poet is talking about loving with such abandon that problems and pride just disappear from the scene!

 

“…so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.”

The intimacy and closeness portrayed in these lines do not need any further analysis. What more can I say about these lines. They just take my breath away!

To Any Reader by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

I have always enjoyed reading R L Stevenson’s books – especially Treasure Island! His stories were all very thrilling and adventurous. I was not aware of his poetry for a long time and when I finally chanced upon them I realized what a genius he truly was.

 

“Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. He is best known as the author of the children’s classic Treasure Island, and the adult horror story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both of these novels have curious origins. A map of an imaginary island gave Stevenson the idea for the first story, and a nightmare supplied the premise of the second. In addition to memorable origins, these tales also share Stevenson’s key theme: the impossibility of identifying and separating good and evil. Today’s poem is from “A Child’s Garden of Verses” – a collection of poetry for children. The collection first appeared in 1885 under the title Penny Whistles, but has been reprinted many times, often in illustrated versions.”

 

~~~

 

To Any Reader by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear, he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

 

~~~

 

What an imagination! The poet is talking to us about this child who is a character within the pages of a book. He tells us that we can watch him but not reach out to him. This is because what we see is perhaps the lingering ‘feel’ of the child, who has long since grown up and moved away. According to the poet, we could say that all characters in a book continue to keep living even after the book is over. We are just given a glimpse of their lives within the book and nothing more! What we need to remember is that the story continues…

 

Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye

 

Today I present to you another poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. This particular poem talks about being famous. Oxford dictionary defines Famous as being “Known about by many people“. Most of us are familiar with famous people or famous organizations and so on. The word Famous immediately brings to our mind a certain set of images. Look at this poem now and see how this wonderful poet talks about ordinary things that could be famous and how!

 

~~~

 

Famous By Naomi Shihab Nye 

 

The river is famous to the fish.

 

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

 

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

 

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

 

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

 

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

 

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

 

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

 

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

 

~~~

 

Simply divine, isn’t it? Naomi talks about being Famous in the sense where we mean something important to someone. She talks about how a Boot is more Famous to the Earth than the Dress Shoe simply because she sees more of the Boot obviously. How a photograph is Famous to the one who carries it. Or how a Tear is Famous to the Cheek, albeit briefly! What a way to look at being Famous. The poet wants to be Famous for something as simple as being the one who smiled back! Or for being the one who never forgot what she could do! Think about it. If only we could all view life in a similar way! Our dreams and aspirations would be so different and easily achievable. Everyone can be Famous. Just by being themselves. What a thought.