Whispers of December

First of all, I owe an apology to one and all who were following my “23 Poems Before I Turn 23” Challenge. But then again having a blog that is more of a quaint boutique rather than a Tiffany Store on the most expensive street in the world has its own perks. This blog is my bitch and I can do as I please.

I still do apologize for the unannounced hiatus and, most ardently, for not keeping my word. I had intended to blog about at least 23 poems before I could turn the age that is represented by two of my least favourite numbers, but alas, life got in the way and I horribly failed. But what I do intend and what I will do to make up for my laziness is turn the challenge a resolution for my 23rd year. I will finish the challenge while I’m of this age.

And if anybody ever reads this hollow voice into the void, I will be happy to talk about any poem of your choice. It could even be your own poem. So suggestions are most welcome!

To synopsize what has been going on in my life of recent would be fairly represented by a single sonorous word: finals *gong*. The fact that another phase of my life is at its close isn’t as comforting a thought as I had thought it would be. I guess what they say about forbidden love is true: it will end in tragedy. (Yes, I made that up *gong*.) I’m falling for a place I have loathed for a better part of my mortal life and instead of rainbows and butterflies, it is turning out to be rather difficult and would leave me broken in the end; I can prophesize that.

To continue ranting about my life, I think I’m still hung up on everything that has happened to me over the summer. I think I’ve lived through the entire chapter a hundred times over in my mind, going over the conversations over and over again. I know now how Cinderella felt after the clock had struck midnight.

I keep reliving it all, in my dreams and in my daydreams, and the problem with it is that I’ve romanticized it into this perfect godly sojourn, which it never was. It was full of mess and struggle, of moments of self doubt and frustration, and that is the reason why I loved it. I got to fight a war with my demons and defeat them. My deepest fear is that I’m going to turn it into something unreal and fictional. The words, the touches, the feelings. I want to remember everything unsullied.

Maybe December is a month for introspection, for whispers of the bygone year flowing in the wind weaving its way to the crypt at dusk. Or maybe I’ve just lost it.


23 Poems Before I Turn 23: Alone

Poem number 5

Alone by Edgar Allan Poe

My love for the dark is no secret, so it was only befitting that I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe’s work when I first came across him as an English Honors student in college. His Gothic style and chilling tales are scattered with chunks of gold that illuminate every word and every sentiment. I came across this particular poem when I read The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe a few years ago, although basking in candor I must admit I never could quite finish the mammoth book. I do plan to get back to it someday soon.

The Poem

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

My Thoughts

This poem is one of my favorites because I can identify with it to an extent. It is no secret that Poe lead a difficult life, with his parents dying when he was three and being shrouded with financial difficulties throughout. He never could fit in and thus, is considered one of the great literary figures who brought about change in writing styles and literature. As is the case with those who bring about change and stand out, he never could get the recognition he deserved during his lifetime and it wasn’t until after his death that people discovered and valued his true greatness.

I thoroughly identify with the first half of the poem, for I too find myself unaffected by what seems to be loved and adored by the world around me. I have never really liked the mainstream; the things I have loved most have oft been gems I have discovered on my own, usually quite before any one I know knew about their existence. And every time the world has discovered something before me, I have usually found such a thing to be too overrated. I have been mocked and ridiculed over this trait of mine one too many times, but never have I given in. Sticks and stones. I have always stood for who I am and always will, no matter how bitter people get over it. It is quite hard for people to accept that unlike them, I am not a sheep that follows the herd regardless, for I march to the beat of my own drum. My passions can never be brought from the common spring.

I think Poe in the poem addresses how the storms and thunders of his childhood are the reason for who he has become. I love the way the poem ends with a hyphen, highlighting how so much is still unsaid and that the metaphors in the poem truly stand for something so much more. It feels as if the demons still haunt him when he dwells upon his past, as he struggles helplessly to make sense of it all.

15 days and 18 poems till my birthday!

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. 

23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond

Poem number 3

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond by E. E. Cummings

This is pretty much the first poem by the great E.E. Cummings that I have read, *dramatic pause* because fate never really intertwined. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Cummings (using his last name because I’m not well acquainted with him) ever since the good old One Tree Hill days, with Lucas Scott beginning the narration with quotes by him. He has been on my reading list since forever, so I grabbed the first opportunity I got and read him (which was today). (I’ll be using too many bracket comments in this post because this is Mr. Cummings’ poetry style.)

The Poem:

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

My Thoughts:

I had to look for the poem on two different poetry sites because I thought the lack of capitalization in the poem was due to some technical glitch, but as it turns out, that is how it has been written by mr. cummings (yes, I did that on purpose). I feel that gives the poem a little casualness, as does the title which is in fact, incomplete in its meaning if you read the first line of the poem. Or maybe it intends to describe the protagonist as being someone who is not too comfortable falling in love with someone, not too happy with the vulnerability and proximity. I never thought something so poetically licensed could be so beautiful.

His sheer brilliance resonates with every syllable in the poem. (Yes, it is a love poem. As my group leader from the Yale Writer’s Conference would say, all of this points towards my genre writing.) But calling this work of art a love poem would prejudice the readers against it. It is more of a paradox rather than a metaphor for a romantic relationship. (It is a bundle of contradictions. Yes, I used that phrase yet again in my blog post.)

The complexity of the poem is immense and I know my bare reading don’t even scratch the surface, but I feel this piece is a saga of the excitement and fear of getting into a new relationship. Every little mundane thing his lover does fascinates him, and now that she is near him, he is filled with the inherent fear that he will do something that would ruin their relationship (which i cannot touch because they are too near *sigh*).

He pretends to be stoic in her presence for the fear of being hurt but she unravels him and sees what is hidden inside the walls he has built. (And Mr. Cummings says so with utter beauty and sensuality- touching skilfully,mysteriously *sigh* *sigh* *swoon*.) This poem could very well be read with the coyness of ‘To His Coy Mistress‘ by Andrew Marvel (*raises eyebrows* *whistles*).

He acknowledges the fact that as soon as he realizes he is getting close to his lover, he shuts her out for the fear of being left bare in the winter snow. He is afraid of being left heartbroken. But he also realizes that nothing in this world compares to her beauty and he gives up everything, every fear, every breath. He surrenders to her completely.

He wonders if she too is afraid of getting to close to him. Towards the end, he talks about the intricate ways she has of reaching the most fragile and well hidden parts of him. I think she pays attention to the littlest of things and affects him in a way that brings out his true self, which is what I believe love to be: having no fear of showing your true self because you know you would be accepted, cherished, loved and protected no matter what. (not even the rain,has such small hands is one of the most beautiful lines I have ever ever read *dreamy sigh*)

20 poems, 33 days till my nameday!

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 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.

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.

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.

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.