Monday, April 02, 2007

To Rabindranath Tagore

This week at Poetry Thursday, the (cato) assignment is in two parts: write a poem to, for, or about a poet; and write a letter to a poet. I am both attracted to and humbled by this idea - to speak to those who speak so eloquently to me. I've always been a reader, a voracious consumer of words. I particularly loved the transportative quality of great novels - swallowing me whole and depositing me, hours or days later, in a strange and different place. Surfacing from the words like waking from a long sleep: surprised by the sunlight, a little disoriented, newly aware of my skin.

But - life intervened. Though I still love novels, I don't have room in my life to lose hours that way. When I do succumb to that temptation, I finish feeling a little sick - looking around, seeing forgotten dinner dishes soaking in gelid water, a bit like having a hangover.

Poems, though, are a different story. Reading them doesn't require a large investment of time, and yet they slip inside the pockets of my soul, resonating, slipping into the synapses of memory. A great poem becomes a part of me always - I can take it out and revisit it, stunned as always by its capacity to capture and transform.

Case in point: this excerpt from Rabindranath Tragore's The Gardener:

I am restless. I am athirst for faraway things.
My soul goes out in a longing to touch the skirt of the dim distance.
O Great Beyond, O the keen call of thy flute!
I forget, I ever forget, that I have no wings to fly,
that I am bound in this spot evermore.

Ah, Gurudev, you died 26 years before my birth, and yet you know me.

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