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. 

Advertisements

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.

Escaping the Labyrinth

It is a truth well acknowledged that I usually write when I’m horribly lost among the horrible monsters that reside in my brain. So that makes it reasonably important to tuck away little pieces of sunshine so that I can dig them up when I feel like I’m floating about without a center of gravity.

Time and again I’ve been forced to acknowledge the fact that things mostly never turn out the way you want them to and more often than not disappointment is a constant comrade. As W.B Yates says, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

Quoting something I read recently, “The Buddha knew one thing science didn’t prove for millennia after his death: Entropy increases. Things fall apart.” I guess the only way to survive life is to accept that the world is ephemeral. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing stays the same forever. So depending on anything, or anyone for that matter, is sheer foolishness.

So how do you “escape the labyrinth” of never ending suffering and torment? To answer Alaska Young’s question, you hold on. You hold on to things of beauty, to moments of clarity, to stories and sentiments of epicness and save them in your heart forever. You etch them in your mind, save them in ink and paper, carve them, treasure them and never let them escape. When your sky is dark and the earth is shaking your bed, when your hope is at its end, you relive these moments, draw strength from them and build your broken self up again.

A Message into the Void

I dedicate this to every soul on this planet who has ever felt like a misfit,

To those who have felt the coldness creep into the spine as they look upon the world, with no sound but the beating of their own heart and nothing to keep them warm but their own breath,

To every braveheart who has stood up for a belief so strong, pure and powerful that it scares the multitude, who is unable to grasp its beauty,

To every innocent soul who has trusted someone despite their better judgement, let down their walls and allowed someone to see their true self sans the inherent protective cavalry, but instead of acceptance found criticism, judgement, deceit and a crumbling wall of fake vows.

To everyone who has ever felt alone, judged, deceived, heartbroken, unloved, unappreciated, cheated, ignored, hollow, unwanted, misunderstood, awkward, weak, frail, broken, lost, I dedicate every word, every syllable, every thought, every idea to you.

No matter how hard it is not to believe in the goodness of people, the truth is that you will be let down by most of them. Then infiltrates the anger, mostly at your own self for ever trusting someone with your thoughts and secrets. And then comes in the determination to never ever trust anybody again, to build castle walls around your heart, to shut your soul off in the highest tower and throw away the key so that it can never be found and no one can ever hurt you again. But then despite all of the pain and suffering and tears, you open the castle doors after piecing together your shattered soul, sewing up your tattered heart, and venture out again, get hurt, come back, lock yourself up, cry, and the vicious cycle never breaks.

One thing that I’ve realised as I’ve had people rip my heart out again and over again is that in the moments I feel completely and utterly alone, like I’m the only person to ever feel so brutalized at the hands of cold, oblivious and inhumane antagonists of my life, I visit the darkest places imaginable, my mind drowns in the depth of the deepest darkest thoughts and I feel utterly lost. It is in these moments we need to hold on to the beauty and peace that seems like an illusion, a chimera, a mirage at such times.

As John Green says, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in the world. But you do have some say in who hurts you.” I do believe that there’s an exception out there, someone who is going to make me question every opinion I have and prove all my cynical perceptions wrong, someone worth all the pain and suffering, someone who will be the reason for me to break down all walls. But until the day I meet that noble soul, I refuse to be hurt by ungrateful fiends. I wield the shield of numbness, indifference and ignorance as I wander alone, my moments of clarity guiding me home against the forces of the wind and tide. I choose not being hurt.