Having been immersed in a Ghalib biography over several days, I summoned the courage to attempt a ghazal in tribute. It follows the broad conventions of a Ghazal in terms of rhyme, refrain and meter (radeef and kaafiya). I present this humble attempt, dear reader.
In awe begins this ode venerable Ghalib,
For your tavern’s drunk men are still rampant, Ghalib.
Your love for Persian, his Urdu devotion,
How could you be that emperor’s servant Ghalib?
You owe Delhi a debt, and your emperor too,
For drinking your verse even when flippant, Ghalib.
Think not our regard for you is diminished, for
Your reed wasn’t pliant for an instant Ghalib.
Time has awarded you that, which you desired,
Your words blaze even today, though distant Ghalib.
Hurriedly ends this lazy scrawl, this puerile verse
This dismal offering from an infant, Ghalib.
Emperor refers to Bahadur Shah Zafar, who incidentally (as was the custom of the age) preferred Urdu over Ghalib’s preferred medium of Persian for prose and poetry. Ghalib was known to be irreverant towards religion, customs, as well as the great poets of the past whom he praised sparingly only if he felt that they deserved it.
Silky golden rays, (the unrelenting sun)
Spill through the window in silence.
Morning melds into noon,
The mist turns to sticky sweat.
Irritated yelps of neighbourhood dogs,
The symphonic sizzle of spices,
In proximate apartment kitchens.
And the measured rhythm of weekly washing,
Foam, splashes and strained muscles.
The reassuring, invigourating fragrance,
Of the day’s first cup of tea.
The rustle of the weekend supplement,
The coarse pages of that new novel,
Set the stage for a stimulating afternoon,
Or plain, drowsy, melancholic moments.
While l roll in bed, sweaty, unmindful
Of our collective lives playing out.
– (c) Mohit
A previous poetic muttering: Metropolitan Verse
Via India Uncut, I am reminded of this nice poem by Vikram Seth. Puts things in perspective – this youthful rush to one’s destination, without caring to notice the journey cannot take us very far.
Sit, drink your coffee here; your work can wait awhile.
You’re twenty-six, and still have some of life ahead.
No need for wit; just talk vacuities, and I’ll
Reciprocate in kind, or laugh at you instead.
The world is too opaque, distressing and profound.
This twenty minutes’ rendezvous will make my day:
To sit here in the sun, with grackles all around,
Staring with beady eyes, and you two feet away.
The complete collection of Seth’s poems occupies a pride of a place in my bookshelf. I dip into it often, as an exercise to pay closer attention to all that is around us in silence, while we listen intently to the noise. And yes, most of my occassional poetic mutterings do find their inspiration from Seth’s works.
After a day of mental labour,
And physical inertness,
Detached debates, and contemplation,
I brew a cup of that old elixir.
Two bags I dip in rapid succession,
And watch the brown hue disperse.
The warmth of the cup is reassuring.
The familiar aroma tells me,
Another long night is in the making.
I type furiously, playing with words,
And thank the creator for tea,
Without whose comforting presence,
These days would all be one.
The last train lurches,
Churchgate to infinity.
Midnight mind numbness.
Obese man in white,
With uncertain wife steps in.
Loneliness hidden in phone,
Crowd of wage workers.
On the day’s stock trading,
Young couples arm in arm,
With minds elsewher e.
Silent mingling of sweat, tears,
We all lurch ahead.
The city’s humanity mass,
Its order and chaos.
Tomorrow, we will return,
To resume this human dance.
– (c) Mohit Kishore
What is Choka?
Chōka* is a form of Japanese long poetry pre-dating, but related to, haiku. You can think of it as haiku’s super-fun great-great-grandfather. As with haiku, the lines of a choka should not rhyme
but should follow a syllabic pattern (onji), namely 5-7-5, 7-5, 7-5, 7-5 … 7-7.
Visit http://bigpoem.blogspot.com, and join in a worldwide effort to collaboratively come up with the world’s longest poem (in choka form). The work in progress is here.
It is easier to appreciate forms of poetry that are founded in some sort of literary discipline. I have always preferred poetry in rhyme and meter as opposed to free verse. Free verse always seems like prose that has been chopped off into small pieces, for no apparent reason other than to convert regular sentences into verse. A potato in the form of a chip and a french fry is still a potato! Poetry in rhyme and meter is more musical to the ear and easy to remember, apart from the fact that it also requires the poet to be more meticulous in his choice of words.