23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: A Song from the Suds

Poem number 4

A Song from the Suds by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is among the queens of queens and I dote on her. She is one of the authors who have permanently been on my reading list and I do hope I can someday strike her name off that never ending Neverland of a parchment. I have grown up watching the Little Women anime and the 1949 adaptation has been a favourite. Although I must admit that I’ve quite forgotten the specifics of the tale since I last saw the movie 6 years ago or so. This challenge has reminded me of my teen love and I will surely fall back into its arms as soon as I get the opportunity to sweep away the mundane dust of life (which is pretty much the theme of my next poem).

The Poem:

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart’s-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
“Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!”

My Thoughts:

I adore the simplicity of the poem. The words mean what they appear to mean, yet Louisa’s art of writing is pretty evident in the crafting of her sentences: they are short, crisp and lyrical. Her sense of humour is unparalleled and philosophical, if I might call it that. Her thoughtfulness is evident, but it is the clarity of her thoughts and words that I love the most, for clarity is something I strive to achieve in my writing. I have a muddled mind and I am a frazzled human being. And anybody who is not so inspires me and captivates me and enchants me.I am enthralled by this poem.

This is going to be one of the poems I will read to my kids someday, for it is beautiful and funny. Louisa compares a washcloth, out of all the things in the word, to life! And anybody who can pick up such a mundane and common thing and find beauty and grandeur in it is gifted according to me. She reiterates my philosophy of life: make yourself so busy that you have no time to think about the dullness and trauma surrounding life. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I took a lone trip this summer to satiate my wanderlust and realized that I’ve been fooling myself into believing that I’m not a loner. I realized during my sojourn just how beautiful life is when you do not have to depend on anybody else, but march to the beat of your own heart. Relationships are treacherous; they fool you into believing that you cannot survive on your own, when in fact being your own wolf pack is spectacular (and addictive). I’ve become so involved in myself that I barely have the time to think about unnecessary complications (but I still do drown in my misery sometimes, for I too am human).

I guess Louisa has found the answer to Alaska’s question, “How do you escape the labyrinth of suffering?” Dwell on thoughts, be angry and sad and broken, but do not stay idle. Work towards something. Work for something. Goals are one of the things that breathe sensibility into human existence. And all I do to stay sane is keep my eyes on the prize, when every inch of my body wants to stand and stare.

4 down, 19 poems and 24 days to go!

© That Girl in the Fray, 2015. All rights reserved. 

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23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: Soliloquy of the Solipsist

Poem number 2

Soliloquy of the Solipsist by Sylvia Plath

I have been in love with Sylvia Plath ever since I listened to The Bell Jar audio book, right before bedtime everyday for a fortnight. Her words have caressed my soul and there are few with whom I could identify more. It probably wound’t be considered too socially acceptable, or for a matter of fact sane, but I have gone through almost every emotion that has been captivated by Sylvia in The Bell Jar and I cannot put to words how accurate her expressions and metaphors have been. The beauty of the darkness in her life is baffling and awing at the same time.

I stumbled upon this poem recently and was, yet again, baffled by the preciseness of her words. The ideology of the poem is what I have been breathing by for quite some time now.

The Poem:

I?
I walk alone;
The midnight street
Spins itself from under my feet;
When my eyes shut
These dreaming houses all snuff out;
Through a whim of mine
Over gables the moon’s celestial onion
Hangs high.

I
Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look’s leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.

I
When in good humor,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott any color and forbid any flower
To be.

I
Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it’s quite clear
All you beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

My Thoughts:

I feel this poem is somewhat related to existentialism much imbibed by writers like Albert Camus. Plath knows it is she who gives any person or thing the power to be who he/she/it is by seeing it that way. It is her own perception that makes things out to be what they are rather than their own qualities. To interpret it deeply, she feels that she herself is the ultimate truth in the universe and every other human being or thing is just an extension of her vision and mind, rather than having an existence of its own. This is the philosophy that I have been living by recently: it is me who gives anybody the power to hurt me or make me happy or affect me in any way and I have the ultimate control over how I feel or how I want my life to be. I’ve started caring less about other people and more about my own happiness and if that makes me sound shallow, so be it. For it is I who have to deal with the broken pieces at 3 am after I cannot possibly go to sleep because my mind won’t shut up and my eyes won’t stop bleeding. I’m the only one who has ever been there for me through thick and thin and so, I will do what will help me keep myself together when the storm is trying to tear me apart. I have to look out for myself because no one else really cares.

Plath embodies this chain of thought spectacularly. As she walks in her solitude through the street, she realizes that she controls her life and can alter it as she wishes, because she is the only thing that is real. She can turn the road she walks on into nothingness by closing her eyes. She controls how people appear to her, and one decision of her will can kill them all for her, metaphorically. It is only when she is happy that the world’s true colours are visible, and it is completely in her power to turn the world into monotone when sorrows envelope her. The world changes according to what she feels, because she is the only thing in the world that is absolutely real. Her world revolves around her and nothing else matters to her.

Towards the end, Sylvia mentions a lover who believes that his love makes him real to her. But Sylvia slyly retorts that it is her own perception that makes her lover worthy of her love, for she sees him that way. So he too is a figment of her imagination and fancy. This makes me think of Margo from Paper Towns by John Green and her theory that people believe the person they love to be more than that person actually is because of their feelings. Their own perception clouds the truth, of which Sylvia Plath is well aware.

So now I’m left with 21 poems and 34 days.

A Letter to Myself from a Year Ago

Dear Me in September 2014

I know you’ve been through one of the darkest times of your life and that you’ve been working endless days and sleepless nights on a dream, feeling unappreciated, unloved, abandoned and more alone than ever. But know this, I love you for your strength, no matter how staggering you feel it is. And the first piece of advice your future self would give you is this: hold on. It is the key to every thorn and thistle in life. Think of this dark time as a roller coaster that you discover, as soon as it starts moving, is too fast for you, with every turn and spiral attempting to wrench your gut out of your body and making you curse yourself for drinking that damn lemonade right before you got on it. You just have to close your eyes, hold your insides inside you and wait for it to end. And trust me when I tell you this, it will.

After you’re done dealing with this low, you’ll probably be blinded by the high, as is always the case. My advice to you is, enjoy it while it lasts. This high too shalt pass and you will have to embrace the slump that follows, because this is life. It is a saga of highs and lows, of crests and troughs, of rises and falls, and the only time life would be a straight line is when the heart monitor shows that you’re dead. There will be pain, no matter how hard you will try to shield yourself with the iron armour you will cast and no matter how you will swear to never show your fragile soul to those around you. Do that, protect yourself, stand up for yourself, fight for yourself. No one else will do that for you but you yourself. But honey, you can’t let fear keep you from living your life. Your time is limited, slipping through your fingers relentlessly as it always will. Spend it in a way that you have no regrets left when father time does wake up and it is time for Narnia to end.

To dilute the melancholy, let me tell you that with the advent of summer, winter will fall behind and the sun will shine upon you. You will have the best time of your life and meet amazing people as you satisfy your wanderlust and fall in love just too many times with too many things. I don’t want to give away too much, since I’m hoping by some loophole in the space time continuum you are reading this a year ago from today. But I tell you this, your summer will be beautiful. There is nothing else to warn you about or prepare you for when it comes to summer because having gone through it all, I do not think I would change anything one bit. You need this just the way it is going to come to you. If I in all honesty had to advise you regarding this wondrous prospect about to dawn upon you in a few months, I would say take more risks and be brave.

To end this sermon I’ve been preaching, I just want to tell you that when it comes to pain and heart breaks and happiness and beauty, you have barely scratched the surface. Although I must tell you that the worst is behind you, things ahead are not that easy. You will fall and stumble and pass through the tunnel of darkness numerous times in the coming year. But I promise you there is also laughter and a lot of good books and Korean dramas awaiting you at the end of that tunnel. Your heart will ache. But you have to learn to deal with it, And remember, above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

All my love

Your future self from September 2015

The World Has Been Broken into Pieces

“..The world has been broken into pieces. All this chaos, all this discord. And our job – everyone’s job – is to try to put the pieces back together. To make things whole again.”

“..Maybe it isn’t that we’re supposed to find the pieces and put them back together. Maybe we’re the pieces. Maybe, what we’re supposed to do is come together. That’s how we stop the breaking.”

Ever since I came across this quote from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and was acquainted with the beautiful philosophy of “Tikkun Olam” in Judaism, it has somehow stayed with me. They were words that don’t really reveal their true power the moment they hit you. They stay hidden in the recesses of your mind, at the corner of the thin dividing line between the conscience and the subconscience, and then somehow without actually knowing that it is actually happening, you start connecting everything that happens in your life to those words, to the powerful idea behind those words and somehow your perception about life, about love, about people, everything changes.

I believe our soul is scattered into pieces that are spread all over the world and our entire life is defined by us looking for and finding these pieces that complete us. It could be that perfect song that you hear playing in a store at the mall and suddenly, even if only for a second, life starts making sense and you’re transported to that parallel universe of utopia, a sense of completion prevailing over every dystopic sentiment your heart has ever felt. It could be a book that changes life as you know it forever, bestowing you with the elixir of a brand new perspective that you never knew existed. It could be that perfect moment when the stars in heaven are aligned in such a wondrous pattern that things that you fear have been lost forever find their way back to you in the most unexpected and magical way. Your favourite band, your favourite quote, your favourite colour, everything that in a way defines you, sets you apart and boasts of your uniqueness are all pieces to your soul that you’ve discovered in your life, as you’ve had numerous experiences and epiphanies.

It is the way I’ve come across some of the scattered segments of my own soul that enchants me. Somehow fate intertwines in my plans, or lack thereof, and sets in motion a series of events that make me stumble upon these pieces of my very own jigsaw puzzle. Or maybe it is my own subconscience that leads me right to the doors that hold my hidden self. But when this precious miracle does happen, all the voices in my dark mind quiet down, if only for a few seconds, and a glow of serenity and completeness that is utterly unmatchable to any other feeling in the world, consumes me. The world stops falling apart and somehow even the confusion in my own head makes sense. And this is what we end up doing all our lives, trying to make sense of this chaos by looking for those lost pieces in order to build our souls into whole again. Some people travel to do some soul searching, while others like me just look for signs everywhere. Every book I pick up has a story behind it and most of the times the truth is that it is the mortal book chooses me, while I stand awestruck at fate’s design.

This is also the reason all of us do not like the same things in all actuality. Our souls are thorough variants with such uncommon intricacies that at most there is one possible soul out there that does have lost pieces similar to our own. And we spend our lives looking for that special soul, who is also, in fact, a lost piece we need to complete ourselves.

So, the books I read, the music I love, the movies that inspire me, the places that give me solace, my odd habits, moments that truly move me, are all but parts of my soul. I do not care if people think I’m weird, unsociable or hate me for my lack of interest in things that are commonly acknowledged and liked. It really doesn’t matter too much that there is no one who actually understands the various pieces to my soul or shares them with me. I will always love what I love no matter how many times I’m told I’m wrong to believe in things that appear silly to the masses. I have my own universal task of completing my own soul and working towards the reparation of my own crumbling world. I neither have the time nor patience to change myself just to fit into this mould that has been crafted by the generalis that everyone seems to accept. I will not pretend and do things just to feel accepted while shutting off my own soulfulness in a metal safe and drowning it into the river. Until my last breath, I will wait for that insightful soul who will accept me for who I am rather than pointing out my imperfections and weirdness and trying to change me.

I may be wrong in believing in my beliefs and fighting against the multitude of opinions and perspectives of general conformity, but right now, exactly at this precise moment, in the midst of the ocean of all my ideas, all my thoughts, all the truths that I’ve been acquainted with, all the discoveries I’ve made, all the stories and voices I have inside my head and in my soul, as the sun sets turning the waves into molten gold, and its aurum rays sparkle at the zenith of my dreams turning the sky purple at this dusk of my life, as I hold my breath and imbibe this last vision I have before I let the water take me and close my eyes, amid all of this, I know that I’m right. And no one can take that away from me. In other words, anybody who doesn’t live inside my head has no right to say that I’m wrong.