Between a Sip and a Cup

 

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Image source: Google+

Note: For the love of COFFEE, the magic word, a beautiful poetry prompt initiated by The Wordsmiths, a poetry group in Facebook.

Between a sip and a cup, here I stand, a mistress of your desires, brewing in your coffee with my own feminine juices, a dash of my own spiced up wants gone awry, a tinge of your own fragrant clouds, blowing the mist of your long, wistful years.

I don’t get the thick broth of your molten voice any more as you sip the remnants of the cup with an intent oblivion, as I still long to grip your hands around the coffee mug, dull, blunt, practiced in traversing the known route now, the route of a ripened home where love is not a sonata anymore.

But then, between a sip and a cup, here I stand, housing forgotten echoes of lovelorn voices, the musk of my shimmering remnants spewing a beautiful venom in that one coffee mug, a concoction that might still glitter in the pastures of your throat as you pass that one dart of a glance and kill me yet again, kill me with your red velvet mouth, your brazen kisses, whisking me away.

Between a sip and a cup, here I stand, threadbare, coughing up my staccato wants, waiting to become a doomed fairy-tale.

Metamorphosis: Poem published in READ FINGERS

Note: A poem reflecting on the estrangement of a couple in love, published today at READ FINGER Journal. Do read, comment and share:

Memories of hands clasped,

lips locked, tasting

The intoxication of contentment,

remembered, outlived.

Memories floating

in languid waters, the amplitude

and awe of picking pearls

and weeds, together

as the man and wife;

only an act of encoding, storing

and retaining a past

that no longer matters.

To read the full poem, do visit:

http://www.readfingers.com/portfolio-item/metamorphosis-by-lopa-bhattacharya/

Heaven’s Zone: Ekphrastic poetry

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a classic painting of Hundertwasser, a famous poet from Austria. Pic courtesy: The Woman Inc Poetry Project

 

A colony of colored houses
Hangs over my haywire dreams
My eyes house them all,
A painter’s palette of light,
The azure blue, the sunlight yellow,
The crimson and the glistening white,
Stretching out like heaven’s zone.
And the vines and the tender greens
That whisper like birds singing,
At the prime of kissing the earth.

My eyes are succumbing
To the painterly strokes.
I am one with the juicy pastures,
Roaming in the blue night
With the hummingbird,
The faint clouds and the moon.
Grazing along with the blue-winged dreams
Exhaling the stillness, the infinity
Of the scene, stumbling in its glimmering beauty.

Footnote: An ekphrastic poem, based on a classic painting of Hundertwasser, a famous poet from Austria who was known for his paintings about houses. I thank the Woman Inc Poetry Project for providing this picture as a theme to evoke our creative/artistic responses towards it.

Dreaming: The Resurrection

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Image source: bestfreepoems.wordpress.com

 

The Times Square in your words of lilting love,

A happy coronation, giving a home to your candle-lit promises,

A lustrous, magical night on the New Year’s Eve, with its winged flight.

The Caribbean cruise, our bodies undulating in the sensual calling

Of the ocean, the mirrored reflections of us, coiled, smothering.

 

Deep into the sea, in the turquoise blue waves,

Your hungering touch races, sobers down, and whispers:

“Would you love me, all your life, little mermaid?”

 

 

Resting on my new bridal breasts, deepest sighs of pain

Slide down to the waters, holding me for moments,

Strumming their unsaid words like fingertips dancing, playing,

I feel the ripples of their fingers, emaciated, drowning.

Fingers that had wrote a world for long forsaken love stories,

Drift ashore. I open my mouth and moan, in an island of sanctioned love.

 

And yet, the world around us, a carnival of trampled love,

Our longings, crackling with unfinished songs,

We forget the impending warranty of our mortality.

In the ephemeral twilight of the island,

The conch shell blows, awakens, unleashes and conjoins

Copulated souls. The symphony of a new, unknown raaga

Plays on, “na jayate na mriyate va kadaachin, naa yam bhutwa  bhavitya

Na hanyate hanyamaane shareere”……

The soul that is unperishable, immortal, old, eternal,

Undefined by birth or death, becomes a trembling, raging river of love.

The newly discovered terrain may or may not be

The bustling Times Square, the iconic Eifel Tower,

Or the mighty, cascading richness of the Niagara. But it sure is

The smoldering hearth of the bride who takes you in,

Throws herself with you in the boundless waters, melts with you

In the wild spring’s song, as you whisper to her:

“Would you love me all your life, little mermaid?”

 

The dream is but a commonplace one, collapses and resurfaces

In every wake of dawn, a corpse washed out of its last remnants of blood,

As it calls us, in a chilled world of grey, to take in its scattered ashes.

We breathe in and breathe out the promises that blossomed,

Weaved memories in pieces, wilted and died, to rise from their ashes,

Phoenix-like, spreading across the spring canvas.

“Ajo nityo saswatohayang puraane/Na hanyate hanyamaane shareere”.

The soul that is unperishable, immortal, old, eternal,

Undefined by birth or death, chases you in curved lines

Of the landscape of this life, dances barefoot,

To the silken music of death. In the horizon beyond,

Another life, surges, ripples in light, dreams,

In the shared tapestry where we have woven our love.

 

Lopa Banerjee. December 9, 2014

 

Footnotes: This poem is actually a sequel of my other love poem ‘The Drunken Lovers’ Song’, part of a series of love poems that I am developing out of the thoughts and contexts of some old Bengali love poems I had penned a decade earlier. The Bengali poems were written with more or less similar thoughts, but with different nuances.

 

 

 

The Poetry of John Keats – A Celebration of Beauty, Classicism and Romantic Richness

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Being an ardent lover of poetry, to be more specific, romantic poetry, I have always been fascinated with the sense of oneness I feel with the poets’ world. Romantic poetry, for some of its major attributes like pictorial quality, imagery, mysticism, absorption in the beauty and life of nature, classical features and above all, celebration of beauty and aestheticism—has a huge amount of appeal to the highly refined and sophisticated readers of all times. And surprisingly, it is this pictorial quality, sensuous delight in nature, sheer artistic beauty and richness of imagery unfolded by romantic poets that continue to inspire us in some way even after so many years!

When we come to think of the Romantic poets, the name John Keats, the finest flower of the Romantic Movement-comes foremost on our minds. Deeply revered as one of the greatest word-painters in English poetry, his verses present subtle imagery and a fusion of different sensations that has time and again, produced musical effects, and in that, he was rather a conscious artist.

The age of Keats and the literary influence on Keats:

The Romantic era, as history says, was the time when almost the whole of Europe was intensely shaken by the ideas and ideologies of the French Revolution. Major poets of that period were greatly inspired by the personal and political liberty of the revolution, breaking the bonds of the artistic conventions of the 18th century. Those were the times when these ideas and ideals “awaked the youthful passion of Wordsworth, of Coleridge”, “stirred the wrath of Scott” and “worked like yeast on Byron”… However, Keats was distinguished from his contemporary poets and literary figures in the fact that the excitement and the turmoil that gathered round the revolution was not directly represented in his poetry. Thus saying, it is worth mentioning that some portions of ‘Hyperion’, ‘Fall of Hyperion’, and ‘Endymion’ do bear testimony to that fact that Keats was influenced by the political turmoil – but it’s definitely not as pronounced as the works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, or Shelley. His poetry, on the other hand, was an embodiment of his vision of beauty that he sees everywhere in nature, in art, in human deeds of chivalry and in the fascinating tales of ancient Greece. This in fact, was the profoundest and the most innermost experience of Keats’ soul, which he expresses most emphatically in his ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’:

“Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty’, that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Tracing his poetic growth, researchers have found out that he was educated almost exclusively by the English poets. While in the early part of his career, the influence of Edmund Spenser, specially his ‘Faerie Queene’, was instrumental in awakening his imaginative genius; the brooding love of sensuous beauty, the luxuriance of fancy and the response to the charm of nature characteristic of Spenser’s poems were to be re-echoed in Keats’ poems. In the later years, critics have cited the influence of Shakespeare, Milton, and even Wordsworth in his poems. While the influx of Shakespearean words, allusions find expression in the 1817 volume of his ‘Endymion’, he was also greatly influenced by the distinctive spirit and vocabulary of the old English poets, especially those of the Renaissance. Thus saying, it is worth mentioning that the influence of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is highly visible in his ‘Hyperion’. At the same breath, the classical influence on his poetry has also been a subject of intense research by scholars.

Critics today say that what makes the poetry of Keats the most distinguished among all romantic poets is the fact that his poetic genius blossomed under the romantic breeze, and matured under the sunshine of classicism. The genuine classicism of ancient Greece, which shows the characteristic classical restraint, is very much present in his poems. What more, it is harmoniously blended with the romantic ardor of his poetry, which results in a wonderful fusion of romantic impulse and classical severity. This statement holds much truth when we take into account his more mature Odes, where we notice Keats’ sense of form, purity and orderliness. His Odes have all the spontaneity and freedom of imagination that characterize the poetry of the Romantic era. For example, when in his ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, the poet describes the bird’s song as the voice of eternity and expresses intense longing to die in the hope of merging with eternity, there is this romantic suggestiveness of sensual delight of the poet in these lines:

“The same that oft-times hath/Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam/Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn”.

However, at once, the poet restrains himself with the lines:

“Forlorn! The very word is like a bell/To toll me back from thee to my sole self”…which is a perfect example of romantic passion fused with classical restraint. In all his mature Odes, including ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, Ode on a Grecian Urn’, ‘Ode to Melancholy’ and ‘Ode to Psyche’, he is said to have cast aside his over-loaded diction of his earlier poems and come out with a romantic richness that is replete with the Hellenic clarity characterizing Greek literature.

The poetic alienation and the theme of melancholy:

While beauty and mutability are said to be the recurrent themes in Keats’ mature Odes, critics have pointed out that he was somewhat “obsessed by the close juxtaposition of joy and grief, delight and pain”. Some point out, that in his pursuit of beauty, he became an escapist, ignoring the realities of life. In his earlier poems, ‘Isabella’, ‘Lamia’, The Eve of St. Agnes’ and others, his imagination certainly plays with the romance of love, with medieval elements, cruel, mysterious ladies, ‘a faery’s child’, the spell and enchantment of the magical world. However, all this is characterized by his sense of alienation as a creative thinker, which, assume a deeper tone and meaning in his later works, i.e., his Odes. Throughout his journey as a poet, he strived to harmonize what scholars today say ‘the life of sensation with life of thought’. His earlier hankering for unreflecting enjoyment of sensuous delights, as seen in his ‘Sleep and Poetry’, is later replaced by a strong yearning to subject himself persistently and unflinchingly, to the joy and beauty of life, that is accompanied by the inevitable pain, hopelessness and despair of life. Hence, the lines: “Joy whose hand is ever at his lips/Bidding adieu”. Keats knew that joy and beauty on this earth is transient, and from this transience, the melancholy so very typical of his poems originate. Melancholy, he says, “dwells with beauty/Beauty that must die”.

It is this triumph of the stoic acceptance of life over despair which he attains through a deep spiritual experience, as he expresses in his ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, “When old age shall this generation waste/Thou shall remain in midst of other woe than ours’…

These lines can never come from the pen of an escapist. For me, he was purely a thinker profoundly concerned with the mystery of life which he deals as a poet, not as a political rebel or as a philosopher. Scholastic researches strive to bring out new perspectives of his poetry even today. As a reader, I would be content exploring the romantic fervor and richness of imagery of his poems for years to come!

Some useful resources that helped me write this article:

Muir,Kenneth (ed): John Keats: A Reassessment (Liverpool 1957)
Ridley, M.R.: The Craftsmanship of John Keats
G.M. Bowra: The Romantic Imagination
Middleton Murry: Studies in Keats
Dr. S. Sen: John Keats: Selected Poems with Odes, Hyperion, and Fall of Hyperion