The Send-Off. Wilfred Owen Poem. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran.

052. The Send-Off. Wilfred Owen Poem. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 17th Jan 2013.  Short URL http://nut.bz/2m900dvw/

Posted in Wikinut>Essays

Jean Jacques Bebel, the Swiss historian has calculated that in the 5000 years of the recent history of the world, only 282 years were devoid of any kind of wars. Peace is the brief interval between two wars. A shot sent at a visiting Prussian Prince and his wife by a young student at Austria, and the life of millions was shattered and the way of life of the world changed for ever. Horrors of the First World War were sung by thousands but Wilfred Owens’ poems were brought hot from the war front.

The voice of the First World War passed away, knowing not about the fame that was to come to his name.

Owen Send Off 01 War imminent. US Poster. Michael P. Whelan 1914.War imminent. U S Poster by Michael P. Whelan 1914

If World War First had a voice, we can say that it was Wilfred Owen, employed in active service, singing about the horrors of war and killed in action. In his brief life time, only four of his poems were published, but after his death, dozens of them were published and brought out as books. It is believed, many of them have not still come to light. Awarded the Military Cross for bravery posthumously, he passed away in poetic anonymity, knowing not about the fame that was to come to his name in future. Speaking for men in the trenches under his leadership was what he did through his poems, which, it seems, were all written during the last two years of his life, 1917 and 1918.

Soldiers sitting in trains, in funeral decorations, going to war front.

Owen Send Off 02 Pre war breakfast. Ferdinand Max Bredt 1918.Pre war breakfast. Ferdinand Max Bredt.

Wilfred Owen was a British poet who was killed during action in the First World War. Insensibility, Strange Meeting and The Send-Off are his most famous anti-war poems in which he brings out the pity, realism and irony of war, reflecting his and his soldiers’ negative attitude towards war. He sees no romanticism or chivalry in war, but only death, destruction and decay. True, what else is there in war except the glory of victory for a few and the shame of defeat or death for many? But when defense of one’s motherland is concerned, opinions may vary and war may have to be justified. In the poem The Send-Off, soldiers in a mountain military camp are ordered to move out to war front, who sing their way to the railway siding-sheds and line the train with faces grimly gray, meaning faces darker than black. Decorations all white, like wreath and spray, are pinned to their breasts making them already looking like dead men clad in white, sitting in a row, all looking out the train windows. We are forced to think about the tremendous thoughts streaming through those troubled souls, someone’s father, brother, uncle, one among them certainly the poet himself. The strong sentiments these and the coming scenes create in our minds move us and carry us such away that we are forced to weep, cringe and shudder, which is this poet’s victory which he enjoys standing among the stars. How many of these soldiers will ever return?

A few more minutes’ sunshine and mountain air before going to the frontier, never to return. 

Owen Send Off 03 Going to war. Johann Peter Krafft 1813.Going to war. Johann Peter Krafft 1813.

A military camp normally will be a nuisance to the local people there. So exactly there were none there to give them a proper send-off. Those people might only be glad to see them all go and never return. A few dull porters and a lone tramp were the only ones there to see them go and sorry to see them going too, for they were the ones who benefited from the camp, now losing their daily bread and jam. At least the mechanically punctual railway signals, unlike the local human beings, could have shown them a little of mercy by sparing them a few more minutes’ sunshine and mountain air. But they, the unmoved signals too, nodded heartlessly, a railway lamp winked to the guard and the train began to move, all in time. They were gone.

Local girls are what add colour to mountain military camps. Farewell sisters.

Owen Send Off 04 Writing to father in war. Eastman Johnson 1863.Writing to father in war. Eastman Johnson 1863.

True, the soldiers were not soldiers but they were all hushed up heaps of wrongs and evil doings, the poet admits. They did wrong to the villagers and they will be doing wrong on the war front too. Therefore their losses in battle, limb or life, needn’t be regretted. All military movements are secret and under cover of night. So the people never heard to which war front these soldiers were being sent. As everywhere, the local girls were what added colour to the monotonous life in the upland camp. Romances might have budded and nipped. Tears and sighs might have been shed in darkness, and weeping farewells told in whispers. To meet and part, that is the soldier’s life. And they, the village girls, had jokingly asked them boys: cousins, will you ever return? The soldiers had mocked their words then, but after feeling the dead heat of the battle front, the poet wonders, whether they would still be mocking those meaningful words of the village women.

For those who return from field to camp alive, trodden paths would be half-forgotten in their semi-madness.

Owen Send Off 05 Help daddy gone to war. Norman Lindsay 1915.Help daddy gone to war. Norman Lindsay 1915.

Soldiers gone to war front have a lesser chance of survival and returning alive to their camp, the least in those times. Direct combat was characteristic of military operations, till this war ended, when it gave way to covert operations, carpet bombing from sky and if possible, nerve gas and nuclear attacks. But in that dawn of 20th century, war techniques had not progressed much from the primitive. Only a few of them may return perhaps, too few to receive a proper reception of bells and drums and yells. And those who do return will be invalid, silent and thirsty apparitions, not walking but creeping back silent to still village wells, up half-known roads, yearning for a place to lower their weary bodies on. Even the once-familiar roads would be half-forgotten in their semi-madness, after having gone through the unspeakable horrors of war.

Entered the services of the church, found it hopeless for the poor, and condemned it.

Owen Send Off 06 A mountain military camp entrance. US Fed Gov.Mountain military camp entrance. U S Federal Govt.

Wilfred Owen was born in 1893 and brought up in a religious atmosphere by his parents. His full name was Wilfred Edward Salter Owen. Fallen from fortune, this family could scarcely provide for the education of their four children; Owen served as a teacher-student and matriculated. Theologically trained by his mother, the Bible influenced him during this period. In the Reading University, he studied botany and old English. To earn boarding, lodging and tuition fees, he served as an assistant to the vicar at Dunsden parish, this close familiarity leading to contempt of church later. Reluctance of church to get involved in helping and alleviating the pain of the poor was what infuriated him to condemn church. Disillusioned by church, he left England for France and lived there for a while tutoring English and French in private homes when war broke out.

The mother and son stood looking across the sun-glorified sea, looking towards France with broken hearts, saying goodbye to each other.

In France, Owen staying and working near Pyrenees Mountain Ranges remained totally oblivious of war for a time. But copies of The Daily Mail newspaper his mother sent to him from England opened his eyes and he began to regularly go to a nearby hospital, acquaint with a doctor and inspecting war casualties brought there each day. At last he could no longer endure his impatience and in 1915, returned to England and volunteered to fight. He was sent again to France to fight in 1916 where from he was brought back wounded and shocked for recuperating. Before going to France for war, he and his beloved mother Susan Owen ‘stood looking across the sun- glorified sea towards France with breaking hearts, saying good bye to each other’ when the son quoted Rabindranath Tagore’s words ‘when I go from hence, let this be my parting word’. Susan Owen is known to have written a letter to Tagore when he was in England. We don’t know for sure whether her letter reached Tagore after her simply writing ‘Tagore, London’ in the address column of the envelope, but we certainly know about the reputation, efficiency and dignity of the British Postal Service, especially during the war period. 

Publication of his poems in time would have prevented Viet Nam nightmare.

Owen Send Off 07 Reconnaisance before attack. Pedro Americo 1871.Reconnaissance before attack. Pedro Americo 1871.

Enlisted in 1915 into Rifles Officers’ Corps in England, shell-shocked in mortar explosion in a trench in France, and removed of all romanticism for war, he was removed to War Hospital and brought back to England for recuperating. His romantic ideas of war faded when his soldiers and he had to go through gas attacks, sleeping for months in the open in deep snow and frost, loosing friends to death and the stench of rotting dead blanketing the earth all around. War in his eyes now became just a political equation, unbalanced. No wonder he had to be admitted in the psychiatric department of the hospital. His were the same psychic experiences thousands of Viet Nam War Veterans went through decades later. Publication of his poems and experiences in time would have prevented altogether the nightmare we called Viet Nam and resulted in the governments’ adopting a more humane attitude towards soldiers. 

Back to regiment from safety, to die with loved friends and comrades.

Even though Owen from his youth very much wished to become a poet and was impressed by the writings of Keats and Shelley, his actual writing of poems which made him world famous were written during the fifteen months he spent in trenches in the war front in 1917 and 1918. The war which once shocked him then seemed to thrill him, the reason for which can be attributed to the poetic sentimentality and recklessness to be with his loved friends and comrades in the war front in the days of their misery. Certainly like all poets or cowards, on regaining health and fitness, he could have left war and lived in security and safety after released from the War Hospital. He indeed had joined or formed an intelligent literary circle there in Edinburgh during the days of his recuperation. But instead, he returned to his regiment, to be killed days later, just before the war ended. In fact, his friends and family were eagerly waiting for his return when the news of truce reached them. The news of his death reached his village on November 11, 1918 along with the bells of armistice and peace. What horrifies us is the vain death of a brilliant poet in duty who filled his poems with the futility of war. It was the sacrifice of a poetical fame for fine citizenry. 

Would Owen have lived longer if he was recognized as a published poet and also given the Military Cross?

Owen Send Off 08 Burning crops so that enemy won't eat. Emanuel Leutse 1852.Burn crops so that enemy won’t eat. Emanuel Leutse

Rejoining duty on fitness, he was delegated to lead a party to storm the enemy positions in a village in Ors. He seized a German machine gun and used it to kill a number of Germans. He was shot on the bank of a canal and killed while trying to cross the canal, only days before the war ended. He always considered him as a remarkable war poet, who he actually was, but only four of his poems had been printed by any publishers in his life time. That too was only because he happened to be the editor of the magazine The Hydra published by the War Hospital at Craig Lock hart, Edinburgh where he recuperated. And this Hydra Magazine had only a very limited circulation among the patients, doctors, nurses and staff of that hospital, a very discouraging situation for any poet. What would have happened had he not been shell shocked and admitted there but died directly in action? Would fate have changed his destiny if he had been given due recognition as a published war poet by printers…? He always sought in secret the Military Cross for his supremacy as the most talented war poet of his times, but it was awarded only after his death, in 1919. What if Military Cross had been awarded earlier while he lived…?

Personally manipulated a captured enemy machine gun and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy.

Owen Send Off 09 What the other side feels. Horace Vernet 1814.What the other side feels. Horace Vernet 1814.

The citation to the Military Cross awarded to the poet reads: ‘2nd Lt, Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, 5th Battalion. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack on the Fonsomme Line on October 1st/2nd, 1918. On the company commander becoming a casualty, he assumed command and showed fine leadership and resisted a heavy counter-attack. He personally manipulated a captured enemy machine gun from an isolated position and inflicted considerable losses on the enemy. Throughout he behaved most gallantly’. Even after this Military Cross awarded for his gallantry, the world was not willing to acknowledge his poetry. Today, Wilfred Owen is a synonym for war poetry but for having been presented with this much fine war literature to read, we owe our debt to his family. He sent 600 letters to his loved mother who kept them all safe, from which was the war front feelings, emotions and experiences of Owen were discerned later. His sister donated these letters to the University of Oxford where people can still see them. His brother collected his manuscripts and helped bringing out his poems as a book.

Writing boldly about the horrors of war was his catharsis to escape from shell shock trauma.

Owen Send Off 10 American Marines in Belleau Wood 1918 by Georges Scott.American marines in Belleau Wood. Georges Scott.

Was Wilfred Owen overly influenced by friends like Siegfried Sassoon and physicians like Arthur Brock is still a thing of debate, which they did more or less. Sassoon himself was an accomplished poet who advised Owen to abandon the old style he followed since when he was ten years old and turn to more seriously writing about the futility of war. We shall dismiss all critics’ allegations of them sharing an attachment more than manly. Arthur Brock treated him when he was admitted in the War Hospital following shell shock trauma and advised him not to try to forget the horrors of war which haunted his mind, but to go straight continuing to boldly write about them which would serve as his catharsis, a fine clinical advice in those times of Sigmund Freud. Anyway, since joining the army and fighting in the front line, we see a dramatic change in the poetic style of Owen. Every soldier who took part in the world war underwent war horrors and trauma which went untold in the chronicles of historians. With Owen putting them into words after actually experiencing them, recorded them in livid humility for future generations to see and evaluate in times to come.

World War started with liberation, and ended with cessation, annexation and colonization.

Owen Send Off 11 The Dead Soldier. Joseph Wright of Derby 1789.The dead soldier. Joseph Wright of Derby 1789.

Liberation of Belgium was the objective with which the First World War started but war politics soon turned into the objective of grabbing colonies for future which the civilians did not recognize but poets like Wilfred Owens and philosophers like Bertrand Russell did, and they reacted through their writings to rouse civilian conscience. Theirs was not blind rage against wars but mature protest against abandoning the honoured causes of war and turning to use war to grab colonies. Owen’s poem ‘The Strange Meeting’ even went to creating the extreme human situation of a dead American soldier meeting a dead German soldier whom he had killed and listening to his version of the war, the enemy finally becoming a friend.

The front line picture painted by Wilfred Owen in The Send- Off.

Owen Send Off 12 What is left of a war. Juan Manuel Blanes 1879What is left of a war. Juan Manuel Blanes 1879.

Publishers of his times ignored him, perhaps due to their inability to cope with or even go through the great quantity of war poetry poured in each day. He, as an acclaimed poet and as a civil servant dedicated to those soldiers under his care, wanted only for his poems to be read by all and the people to open their eyes to the futility and horrors of war. Who can say this brilliant young man who sacrificed his life for his country would try to limit the circulation of his poems by wishing not to be read here again? We think it only just and fair to include his lines here, without which this appreciation won’t be complete or contained. See the front line picture painted by Wilfred Owen in The Send-Off.

THE SEND- OFF * WILFRED OWEN

Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men’s are, dead.

Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp
Stood staring hard,
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
Winked to the guard.

So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.
They were not ours:
We never heard to which front these were sent.
Nor there if they yet mock what women meant
Who gave them flowers.

Shall they return to beatings of great bells
In wild trainloads?
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to still village wells
Up half-known roads.

______________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
______________________________

Dear Reader,
If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
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Appreciation Studies, Armistice In Ww1, Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Poets, English Poems, First World War, Futility Of War, Irony Of War, Killed In Action, Military Cross, Military Poets, Mountain Military Camps, P S Remesh Chandran, Pity Of War, Reintroduced Literature, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Soldier Poets, The Send Off, Truce In World War First, War Front Action, War Poems, Wilfred Owen, Years 1917 And 1918

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’.

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Comments

Sivaramakrishnan A
18th Jan 2013 (#)

My fervent hope and prayers are for war and strife to end. Am I being idealistic? So be it! We have come thus far and we know wars kill and affect the most innocent. The heroes who are decorated for bravery also end up with mental anguish at being part of the insane violence. I believe few start wars and incite their citizens. With the help of technology the majority should unite and not fall into their vicious hands time and time again. Like a World War veteran reminisced – what use a piece of paper of peace in the end for those who are killed and maimed? Thanks for this wonderful post – siva

PSRemeshChandra
30th Jan 2013 (#)

War is an unnecessary expense in which nations waste resources and innumerable units of precious time and man power. To defeat another country, we spend unimaginably huge sums of money. Most often those countries could be bought with only a fraction of this money. Such futile and waste is war because it never improves mankind. Thank you dear Sivaramakrishnan A for your informative and inspiring note.

Md Rezaul Karim
20th Jan 2013 (#)

Wow! what a nice piece of article to read, wonderfully attached paintings and pictures. Thank you Ramesh ji.

PSRemeshChandra
30th Jan 2013 (#)

When I saw these paintings and pictures for the first time, I thought they were waiting for the right literary creation. Wilfred Owen’s Send Off suited them most. I am immensely thankful to those painters and photographers who were moved like Owen by the horrors of war, to create these masterpieces. I hope the painters, photographers and the poet would supplement each other. Thank you dear Md Rezaul Karim for caring to leave a comment.

Madan G Singh
22nd Jan 2013 (#)

A wonderful post. You have put in a lot of effort. Congratulations

PSRemeshChandra
30th Jan 2013 (#)

When I read your articles in Wikinut, I feel the same as you noted here. What can I say when a compliment comes my way from an accomplished writer like you? Thank you dear Madan G Singh.

Sivaramakrishnan A
31st Jan 2013 (#)

Thank you RameshChandra. It is time war and violence are removed from the face of the earth. What use making all the arms for them to fall into “wrong” hands! What use a piece of peace treaty for those killed, maimed and orphaned? Even the survivors and victors carry severe scars mentally. Politicians start the war making use of the innocent people creating hatred. And the less said about religious fanatics of all hues the better – all Gods can defend themselves, thank you! They don’t need our help! Best regards – siva.

Madan G Singh
1st Feb 2013 (#)

Thank you for the nice words, but I feel I am ordinary. But I really appreciate your writing.

The Patriot. Robert Browning. Appreciation.

19.

The Patriot. Robert Browning. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 13th May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1i9q667s/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry,

 

Browning was a skilled poet, an expert in creating frantic situations in poetry. In the Pied Piper of Hamelin it was mysterious loss of all children from a town due to a word not being kept. In My Last Duchess it was killing of a long line of innocent duchesses by a jealous duke, the story being told without even presenting a second character. In The Patriot, it is adoration by people immediately followed by chaining, dragging through the streets, stoning by crowds and execution in the gallows.

Majestic portrayal of fall from authority and subsequent condemnation.

Young Browning. A Painting.

Robert Browning in his poem ‘The Patriot’ describes the different treatments the same man receives from the same people within a course of one year. First he was received by the people royally like a patriot. After one year he was dragged through the streets by the same people and given a scornful send-off to his death as a condemned man. The poet does not tell exactly what crime was committed by such a famous and worshipped man to be sent to the gallows within one year. Perhaps he might have turned a traitor to his country or people, or might have done much favouritism and corruption for his friends while he was in power, or else people might have made a serious mistake in judging him.

People’s applause and esteem is but a momentary bubble soon to explode.

Royal reception of a popular hero.

We have examples of a Caesar returning victoriously after an Egyptian Tour, received jubilantly by people inRomeand declared by Senate as the Dictator for the entire Roman lands and after that, within days, assassinated by a senator in front of all senators fearing for the likely chance of him declaring himself as an Emperor of Rome. We also have before us the example of the Oracle of Delphi proclaiming none was wiser than Socrates and then Socrates being assassinated by the City Council of Athens for a puny charge of corrupting their youth. Execution of Sir. Thomas Moore, the modern day Socrates also is vivid in our memories. History is so full of such admonition messages from the past that now we all know that people’s applause is but momentary and that their admiration shall not be taken into account in assessing a man’s real worth.

We have fetched the Sun for you: Need anything more?

Only moments would be needed to change this mood.

When the patriot was received for the first time by people, they went mad and spread on his path roses mixed with evergreen laurels. House roofs were filled with people just to have a glimpse of their worshipful hero. Lights burned all night and flags fluttered freely in churches. Sweet sounds of bells filled the atmosphere. People seemed to be such loyal to and eager to please their hero then that had he asked for the Sun, it would immediately have been fetched and they would have asked him, if he needed anything more.

In the rain, hands fettered, stoned all the way, dragged to the death-post.

Price of ethereal love paid in earthly blood.

We learn from the poem that the patriot did many impossible things for the people which made them pleased. ‘Nought man could do, have I left undone’, the poet writes. The patriot did everything for his people that a man could do. All of a sudden people turned against him and decided to hang him publicly as a punishment for his crimes committed during one year. Everything he did during one year had become crimes when viewed from another angle. Now we see him hands fettered, suffering in rain, stoned all the way, being dragged to the death post. And now there is nobody on the roof-tops to watch the spectacle. All have gone to the death-post at Shambles’ Gate to witness the best sight of hanging him. What an unpredictable twist of human attitude!

A condemned and executed man is received to the merciful hands of God.

Crucified for delivering the message of love.

We have seen this exact scene in history a few centuries before, in the mountains of Gagultha. A human representative of the creator and moulder of mankind, an innocent carpenter, was executed on the cross for the crime of loving mankind. On his way to death, the patriot has a few such consoling thoughts. A man honoured in this world may most likely have to suffer in heaven. But a man who is unjustly tortured and punished in this world is sure to get God’s love in the other world. Thus, though on the brink of his death, the patriot is solaced enough at the thought of being really safe in the hands of God within minutes.

________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at: https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

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Tags

Appreciations, British Poets, English Literature, English Poems, English Poets, English Songs, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Reviews, Robert Browning, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Songs, The Patriot

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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Sara
27th May 2011 (#)

Thanks for this really useful article.

Rathnashikamani
17th Jun 2011 (#)

Excellent analysis by an excellent editor.

PSRemeshChandra
17th Jun 2011 (#)

Browning painted such an excellent and majestic scene with words that it was very easy for me to remember it and redraw. Moreover I did an experiment with this poem. When I functioned also as a journeyman lecturer, I taught this poem while reading it for the first time. My first thrill of reading, actually singing it for the first time could therefore be transferred somewhat to the students. They said it was a pleasant new experience for them, but they never knew I was reading the poem for the first time. Therefore I still remember vividly my analysis of the poem then. Another time I did the same thing with a famous short story, Anton Chekhov’  ‘The Bet’. Me and the whole band of learners were carried away and could not speak or look at others for several minutes. It is not the skill of the reteller but the excellent editorial powers hidden in the writer that make readers spellbound.

 

 

Waterloo. Lord Byron. Appreciation.

18.

Waterloo. Lord Byron. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 26th Apr 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/3.ub8mva/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry

 

The maps of Europe were drawn and redrawn many times during the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth centuries. Countries became nations and empires which in no time were reverted back to nations and countries. It was not uncommon for people of those times to lay down spoons and forks in the dead of night and take muskets and pistols to brave war. Lord Byron in his famous poem portrays such a scene from the European arena.

Political thought should be followed by political action.

Byron in Albanian Dress.

George Gordon Noel Lord Byron was born in England in the Eighteenth century and lived through the Nineteenth century. He was a lame person and so he could not take part in the active moments of his nation. Because of this handicap, he possessed exceptional vigour, strength, courage and force at least in his writings. He believed that political thought should immediately be followed by political action. He had firm political opinions which could not be uttered in his century which naturally made him to turn himself into an irresistible revolutionary poet. His name stands brilliant and great among the star line of English poets. The Vision of Judgment, The Prisoner of Chillon and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage are his most famous poems.

Spoon and fork lain down to take musket and pistol.

Vast Belgian halls where rich and famous assembled

Childe Harold means the child of Harrow University which was the poet himself. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage is a long poem in which Byron describes his European travels. There are perhaps only two other famous poems of the like in English literature. They are Matthew Arnold’s ‘The Scholar Gipsy’ and William Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey Revisited’. These three constitute the University Trio in English poetry. Waterloo is a famous section from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

The war of English and the French enters Belgium in the dead of night.

A ball in Brussels in 1815.

In Belgium he attended a midnight ball of the rich and famous in Brussels, the capital city. It was at that time that the French and English opened war which soon reached Belgium. The midnight revelry was broke down by cannon fire but instead of the expected chaos, Byron could not help but admire what he saw of the quickness with which the Scottish soldiers there responded to the sudden attack. Due to graphic descriptions of contradicting scenes before and after the outbreak of sudden war, this part of the poem became memorably fine and specially noted in the poem.

Heavy cannon fire shatters the sound of midnight revelry.

Battle in Brussels. Formed in ranks of war.

All the brave and beautiful in Brussels were assembled in that ball room in a large mansion to celebrate night. There were not less than a thousand people gathered in that vast hall. Lamps shone bright everywhere and soft music filled the atmosphere. It was not just opulence and extravaganza of the rich and powerful. Belgians thought and did everything great and magnificent. Electricity in the atmosphere could be touched with hands. Loving eyes exchanged glances. All went merry as a marriage bell until the deep sound of a cannon struck.

Youth and Pleasure chase the night with flying feet.

Austro-Bavarian-French Battery Charge.

In the midst of the revelry, most of them did not recognize it to be sound of French guns. Some said it was wind and some said it was chariot passing through the stony street. The midnight revelry continued. People had decided to sleep not till morn. Youth and Pleasure had decided to chase the night with flying feet. Personification of Pleasure here is delightful and apt, resembling Milton’s personification of Laughter in his University poem L’Allegro. The aristocrats, government officers, soldiers, students, lovers and lazy personages all reverted back to merriment and carnal festivity. Then the heavy sound was heard once again, this time nearer and louder. Now there was no doubt it was the opening roar of cannons.

Midnight carnival turns into a carnelian carnage.

The Scotts riding to battle.

The noble Duke of Brunswick was sitting in a niche in the festivity hall, passively nursing his drinks. He was fighting on the part of the English and had anger towards the French for taking away his power and authority. He was a soldier head to heel, was always alert and was the first to recognize the sound as a cannon’s roar. When he said it and said it was near, the others laughed. But he knew the sound too well which had stretched his father, a great Chieftain, on a bed of blood years ago. His desire for long awaited vengeance was immediately roused; he rushed into the field outside and fell fighting foremost as a hero. The Duke of Brunswick’s reaction to the sound of cannon heard in the distance was a forewarning to the massacre and carnelian carnage that was to follow. War was at their door step. Byron’s description of the reverberating din of merriment in the hall and the heart-rending rush to his death by the Duke of Brunswick are equally classical.

Love or lust or wine, the Scottish soldiers are duty-bound.

Byron Abroad. His Reception at Missolonghi.

It is interesting to note how this sudden crisis affected the Scottish soldiers present. Death of the Duke of Brunswick confirmed that it was not a joke but actual war. No one had thought such awful a morn could rise upon such sweet a night. Dancing stopped and partners parted. Some wept, some trembled, some sighed and all were pale. Many doubted whether they would ever meet again. The civilians all were dumb struck and silent, but the Scottish soldiers in the assembling were the first to recover. Love or lust or wine, they proved once more that they were duty-bound.

Squadrons and chariots swiftly forming in ranks of war.

Reenactment of Battle of Waterloo 1815.

They soon began to prepare for the war. There were hurried movements everywhere. Horses were quickly mounted; squadrons and chariots rode out with impetuous speed and all swiftly formed in ranks of war. Horns and trumpets were sounded which roused all soldiers into action. Famous Scottish war songs trumpeted through Scottish bagpipes resounded through the columns and ranks of the armies and thrilled even the enemies. The famous song, ‘Cameron’s Gathering’ rose high and wild and echoing through the Albion’s Hills, and reached the Anglo-Saxons as well as the French. In no time the soldiers were marching away to the battle field.

The Ardennes Great Woods shed tear drops over the unreturning brave.

Ardennes shed tears over the unreturning brave.

Byron stood apart and watched the soldiers marching away to Waterloo. This last part of this portion of the poem is his reflections on the soldiers marching away to their death and glory. It is not possible that many of them may return alive to their land. As the English army marched away through the Ardennes Great Woods, trees waved their branches and shed tear drops over the unreturning brave. It was nature’s send-off and lamentation for her dearest of sons.

Morning noon and night, and morning day again.

Artificial hill raised on the spot of Waterloo.

This lamentation of the woods is a fine and memorable scene in the poem, an achievement of Byron’s poetical diction and imagination. The brave soldiers who are now treading the grass might be dead and lying cold and low beneath the same grass before evening. The descriptions go through the calendar of activities of the day: Morning, evening, midnight, morning and day again; how quick and unexpected was the transformation from the peak of happiness to the depth of distress! But death would show no distinctions to man or beast. When the thunder clouds of the war clear away, the Earth would be uniformly covered with dead soldiers from both sides. Nature shows her kindness and justice by allowing the rider and horse and friend and foe to share and enjoy the same red burial ground which is grand and majestic after a war. 

________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

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Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

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Tags

Appreciations, British Poets, Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, English Language And Literature, English Literature, English Poems, English Songs, Gordon Lord Byron, Literary Criticism, P S Remesh Chandran, Poems, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Songs, Waterloo

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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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The Lotos-Eaters. Tennyson. Appreciation.

17.

The Lotos-Eaters. Alfred Lord Tennyson. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 24th Apr 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1f8a7337/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

The great veil of Victorian hypocrisy was lifted by Alfred Lord Tennyson and was shown to the world the lovely English mind behind it that was his. The Lotos-Eaters is the world’s greatest poetical experiment synchronizing sublime music with the changing moods and fancies of the exotic, psychedelic intoxication of a band of marine soldiers marooned on an island that nowhere existed.

Failure of musical geniuses in exactly imitating changing moods of the exotically intoxicated.

Alfred Lord Tennyson was a Nineteenth century English poet. He is considered the greatest poet and true representative of the Victorian Era. In Memoriam was his masterpiece. The Lotos-Eaters is a memorable poem in which he describes the arrival of Ulysses’ Greek soldiers on theislandofLotos Eaters. They are a lazy philosophic lot who do not like hard labour of any kind. Once the sailors in the ship are given the lotos fruit, leaf and stem and they have eaten them, they too are such transformed that they no more wish to sea-travel and see their homes. Sublime music and selected words create an atmosphere of languor, laziness and sleepiness in the poem which is Tennyson’s unique achievement and craftsmanship. This is the poem in which Tennyson experimented with music changing with the moods of each action, each bit of music perfectly reflecting the corresponding change in mood. Attempts to perfectly orchestrate this song have more or less failed through years due to failure of musical geniuses in exactly imitating the changing mind and moods of the exotically and psychedelically intoxicated.

A land of mountains, rivers, valleys, wind and waves, and Lotos plants.

A Portrait of Baron Tennyson.

Greek hero Ulysses and his band of soldiers had spent ten years in the Trojan War. Returning home they were lost in the sea and had to spend a few more years in roaming the sea. At last they sighted land. It was the land of Lotos Eaters. From the height of their anchored ship they could see far into the interior of the island. It was an island of mountains, rivers, valleys, wind and waves. Streams and falls were everywhere. Green woods and meadows ornamented plains and hills. It was a land where all things always seemed the same. No signs of cultivation or other human activities were to be seen anywhere there.

Lotos: Personification of exotic, psychedelic intoxication of human mind.

Then the mild and melancholy eyed island dwellers appeared and they silently approached the ship. They bore branches, leaves and stems of that enchanted plant of Lotos as presentations to visitors to their island from which they gave to each. Before Ulysses could prevent, his soldiers one and all had eaten them. Once they tasted this magical herb their attitudes and outlook dramatically changed. The once-courageous and strong mariners and soldiers all seemed tired suddenly. Those famous soldiers who fought bravely beside Ulysses in the fierce Trojan War now no more wish to bear the burden of sailing their ship through turbulent seas. Whoever tasted that magical herb given by those islanders became exactly like them. They seemed to be deep asleep yet all awake. The voices of nearby persons seemed to them thin voices from the depth of grave. Even their own heart beats resounded loudly and musically in their own ears. So now we see the Ulysses’ famous soldiers all sitting on the yellow sand, begin singing a chorus, the likeness of which has never ever been seen anywhere in English literature. All the efforts of their captain, the mighty Ulysses, could not move them an inch or release them from their hallucination and the spell of that magical plant.

Why sweetness of soul’s music and soothing pleasure of sleep are denied to man?

Path to Tennyson’s Monument in the Isle of Wight.

The mariners who tasted Lotos all became philosophers overnight who begin to worship idleness. Man is the roof and crown of things. He is the first and foremost of things but he alone is destined to toil. He makes perpetual moan in his life and is thrown from one sorrow to another perpetually. Enjoying leisurely the sweetness of his soul’s music and the soothing pleasures of sleep are forbidden to him. Weariness, heaviness and distress weigh him down. Hearing the excellent arguments of the mariners expressed in their chorus will make us wonder at the mathematical perfection of their logic and philosophy. We will be moved to stay with them and approbate their logic verbatim. That is the descriptive skill of Tennyson which made him the prominent poet of his era and after. There has never been a poem describing the attitude towards life and the philosophizing of a unique, exotically and psychedelically intoxicated band of humans more vividly.

The leaf and fruit and flower all have their sweet lives; man alone toils.

Tennyson’s House in Farringford.

The mariners begin to compare the tediousness of their lives with the easiness and quietness of the lives of leaves, fruits and flowers. They complete the cycles of their simple lives without any toil. Leaves open, grow and fall gently. The ripe fruits drop silently in autumn nights. Whereas man is a traveller and roamer, flowers are fast-rooted in their fertile soil. Flowers enjoy their allotted length of days, bloom and fade and fall, without toil. But man is the only being that is seen to be toiling in one way or another, in the fields, forests or oceans. Time driveth onward fast and in little time man’s life period is expired. Whatever man achieves is taken from him to become portions and parcels of a dreadful past which we commonly call history. All things under the Sun have rest except man. Therefore the mariners are not going to mount the rolling waves and travel any more. They want to stay forever on the island. After listening to their arguments we will be tempted to do nothing but agree.

Why return after years like apparitions to their native island of chaos?

Fresh Water Bay seen from Afton Down.

But Ulysses is a very persuasive person. He used every trick and argument in his quiver to tempt his mariners to return toIthaca. But they warn their captain that it would not be wise for them to return to their island home ofIthaca. Everything might have changed there. Their sons would have inherited them after all these years. The returning ancestors would only be viewed as ghosts and apparitions come to trouble their joy. Or else the over-bold island princes ofIthaca, fearing no return of the heroes might have married their wives and spent their fortunes. Their great deeds in wars would have been half-forgotten, sung only in songs. Even if they are lucky and oriented enough to return to their land, it would be harder still to please their gods after all these years and settle order once again in their island. So why not spend the rest of their lives in this quietislandofLotosand enjoy sleep and laziness to their fill? How can even a very persuasive person counter, in the face of this unbroken torrent of reasons?

Mariners declining to resume travel: the dread of all sea-going captains.

Coastal Path to Tennyson’s Monument.

These instances were not uncommon in the days of the rowing sea ship travels. They were the dread of every captain. Crew may refuse to move on after months of tiresome travels and incline to stay for ever in a new found land. A sailor’s life is a life of action. The mariners here have had enough of action and of motion in their lives. They had been constantly rolling to the starboard and larboard sides of the ship as it swayed left and right on the surging waves. The deep sea where the wallowing monster that is the whale spouted his foam-fountain had been their home and playground for too long. Now that is past and enough. They are tired of the sea and now they are inclined only to live and lie reclined in the hollow Lotos Land forever.

Gods lying together happily on their hills, careless and fearless of mankind!

When man does not obey, the clever will threaten him with the consequences of antagonizing their gods. As a last resort Ulysses seems to have done this, because now begins their discourse which, if he had had an opportunity to listen to, might have converted even the most firm believer into an atheist. When sensations and feelings were divided between man and gods, miseries were reserved for man while pleasures went to gods. Man suffers much in this world. Blight, famine, fire and earthquake, ocean flood and desert heat are all his lot. Man sows the seed, reaps the harvest and toils endlessly till his death. He stores wheat and wine and oil for his future but he has no future as he is most often withdrawn silently without notice from this world. Even after death he is doomed to suffer in hell. Man’s sorrowful songs of lamentation steam up to gods’ abode in heaven, like tales of little meaning though the words are strong. But listening to them, gods find music in his woes and laugh. It is the gods who are responsible for man’s sorrow. But they act indifferent to man. They lie together happily on their hills, careless and fearless of mankind. They keep their divine food nectar always close to them; what else do they do except relishing and draining it? They hurl their thunder bolts at man far below craving in the valleys, that is a joke to them. They sit in their golden houses surrounded by clouds and smile at the misery of man far below. All arguments of their captain were blunted by the magnificent and sincere defense of the mariners. Tennyson in the poem does not tell us whether their captain was finally able and eloquent enough to persuade his soldiers to return to their home land, but history does.

_________________________________

Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

_________________________________

 

Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books,Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:

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Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

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Tags

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Appreciations, British Poets, English Language And Literature, English Literature, English Poems, English Songs, Literary Criticism, P S Remesh Chandran, Poems, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Songs, The Lotos-Eaters, Victorian Poets

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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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No More Hiroshimas. James Kirkup. Appreciation.

11.

No More Hiroshimas. James Kirkup Poem. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books,Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 23rd Mar 2011   Short URL http://nut.bz/c-q37yc7/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

Mankind hates to destruct, in spite of the destructive traits inherent in man. In his heart, man is a good being who likes to preserve mankind’s achievements intact for the posterity. But politics is often not led by men, but by mobs and crowds. Wars when fought by single persons have always turned to be good to this world: Socrates, Tolstoy, Louis Pasteur. When fought by people, they turned hell loose in this world.


292 years free of war in a history of 5500 years.

US bombers moving to Japan over Mount Fuji.

In the history of mankind, one will find no desire which is older and stronger than the desire for a world without wars. For centuries, peace in this world meant only the interval between two wars. Swiss historian Jean- Jacquess Bebel calculated that out of the 5500 years’ history of the world, only 292 years remained free of any kind of wars. Two World Wars emanated from the soil ofGermany. But in Europe the guns are silent now. People hope that the clock of history won’t be turned back again.

Sumee-Ko, War And Peace and The Flowers Of Hiroshima.

Had it not been Imperialism!

Arms-Limitation, Anti-War Literature and Detente brought about this favourable situation. Countless novels such as War And Peace, Sumee-ko and The Flowers Of Hiroshima, and dozens of plays including Henrik Ibson’s Ghost moulded human minds to remain synchronized with upheavals and outbreaks of political profiteerism and in the midst of chaos, practise the negative virtue of tolerance. Wilfred Owen and James Kirkup were just two of the hundreds of committed poets who added the influence of poetry too to the goodwill of this world-wide movement.

Three-headed fishes and children with no head at all : The balance-sheet of a mega ton blast.

The pre-war serenity in Japan.

The atom-bomb which blasted inHiroshimain the Second World War wiped out millions of people from the face of the earth for ever. Millions more survived only for being subjected to life-long agony. Three-headed fishes and children with no head at all were no wonder in the affected areas for so many years. Radio-activated patients overcrowded hospitals in the cities and villages, the sustaining and affording of whom became a national problem, stealing into the already scant national resources. Catastrophe continued through generations. Destructions of war were great, the relics of which were, and are, exhibited in Museums and War Memorials to remind the world that wayward politicians no more care for humanity.

The poet and traveller who finally arrives in Japan to settle.

Hiroshima City before the bombing.

James Falconer Kirkup was a poet, translator and travel-writer who was born inEngland. His poems, plays, novels and autobiographies made him a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. After a few years of an eventful life in the island, he travelled through and resided in Europe,America, Far East and finally reached Japan where he settled for 30 years and taught English Literature in several Universities. He was very skilled in writing Haiku Poems and was much respected by the Japanese. Even the Emperor of Japan and the Empress invited him to recite poetry in their presence and he was presented with many prestigious awards there. ‘No More Hiroshimas’ is his famous poem in which he reveals to the world the commercialized post-war faces of Japan.

A river once polluted, refuses to be rehabilitated and remains sad.

Hiroshima after the atomic blast.

In the poem we see the poet arriving at a railway station in the reconstructed city ofHiroshima. He quite forgets which city it is, since all looks similar in the post-warJapan. It resembles any other town inJapan, since all towns are noisy, muddy ramshackles alike after the war. In the dim dew-falling evening, he walks towards the city proper. Neon exhibits of traders attract his attention. They are advertising Atomic Lotion for hair fallout. It looks ridiculous to the much travelled poet, but who knows the pain and frustration of those whose hair fallout rapidly daily? Just as Oliver Goldsmith said in hisDesertedVillage, ‘trade’s unfeeling train had usurped the land and disposed of the swaine.’ Whatever had remained unsellable for centuries in the pure and proud tradition of the Japanese were being made sellable to attract tourists, the sustaining revenue of a wrecked nation. He passes the rows of fruit stalls and meat stalls, observing the scenes around him on his way and finally reaches the river. The face ofHiroshimawas changing. Losses were recompensed and destructions repaired. Everything was being restored or rehabilitated to its former position. But the river alone ‘remains unchanged and sad, refusing any kind of rehabilitation.’ The river symbolizes the stream of life in the city. Once polluted, it can never be rehabilitated into its former position. ‘It was the pride of a bold peasantry that was broken and hurt.’

A traveller and a poet fights in a dilapidated hotel room.

A melted down clock from the Ground Zero.

In the city proper, the poet finds life splendid, busy and ornamental. People seem to have forgotten what have happened. In some shops, cheaply decorated mini models of the famous, bombed Industry Promotion Hall are on display for sale. The indecent modernity of the tourist hotel in which he stays displeases him. The very twisted stair cases which have witnessed the heavy blast appear that they may collapse and fall anytime. He feels ‘the contemporary stairs treacherous, the corridors deserted and peopleless, his room in the hotel an overheated mortuary and the bar, a bar in darkness.’ It should be specially noted here that the traveller poet is uncertain as to whether he should grieve or relish the unrepaired state of the heavily damaged and dilapidated hotel of his stay. The traveller in him craves for comfort and the poet in him longs for nostalgic status-quo.

The power to forget is the greatest faculty of the oriental mind.

Japanese surrender before the U.S.

When a nation and a people feel that they are wronged, it is common consensus that they have a right to be angry. But in the city ofHiroshimathe poet sees that it was evident that the people forgot everything too soon. Their sorrow seems short-lived. He has his own European logic in such matters and is angry that their anger too is dead. He is plain to speak that anger should not die and should be kept alive till war-destructions are avenged. ‘To forgive is to cut branches of the tree; but to forget is to lay axe to the very roots’: though not his lines, it reflects his philosophy. It has to be noted here that the poet was born and brought up inBritain, had travelled through and lived for years in Europe,Americaand the Far East and had only arrived inJapanrecently. He knows nothing about the workings of the Oriental Mind. Oriental Mind means magnanimity, deliquescence and tolerance. Had it been otherwise, great philosophies such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism would not have originated from there. Also if it had not been so, those places would have become the vast burial grounds of the colonial British. Had man remembered everything from his birth, his brain would have become overcrowded to the point of bursting itself. That is why Nature provided man with the power to forget as a pressure-valve, the very essential to the oriental mind.

‘How times are altered, trade’s unfeeling train usurps the land’.

Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima.

But in Japan, instead, atomic peace was seen geared to meet the demands of the tourists’ trade. War relics were renovated for promoting tourism industry, adding new charm, loveliness and nobility to those relics. But the poet feels that this renovation is a shame and indignity to those relics. As indignated already, they are beyond all hope of further indignation by anyone.

Who will not weep if they see it?

Tranquillity restored.

It is when he reaches the ParkOf Peacethat the emotional poet finds something perfectly appealing to his orthodox tastes. It is the only place in HiroshimaCitythat rouses respect in his mind. It is a monument for the children who were blasted away by mankind’s crime. The various exhibits in the War Memorial Museum moved him and he wept. Melted bricks and slates, photos of various scenes after the blast and other relics of the explosion were arranged there for all the world to see. The other relics which made the poet weep were stop-watches all stuck at that destined time, burnt clothing, charred boots, twisted buttons, ripped kimonos, atomic rain-perforated blouses and the cotton pants in which blasted boys crawled to their homes to bleed and breathe their last. According to the poet, they are the only memorials of the war, worth viewing. When we come to this part of the poem, we are not inclined but forced to agree with the poet in that war remains shall not be sold and grief commercialized, however poor we are. The poet has perfectly convinced us of this. War relics are the properties of our dead, those people who lived and played and laughed with us. When death occurs in a house, it is when we see the clothes worn by the gone person hanging there that a lump is caused in our throats and we weep. It is a feeling which shall not be written, told, expressed; a feeling so sacred and private to the very soul of humans that even its utterance is a crime.

________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

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Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

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Tags

Appreciations, Atomic Disasters, Atomic Fallout, British Poets, English Poets, English Songs, James Kirkup, Japan In War, Literature And Language, No More Hiroshimas, Nuclear Blasts, Nuclear Hollocausts, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Second World War

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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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Comments

Rathnashikamani
31st Mar 2011 (#)

Great tribute to James Kirkup, the compassionate poet.

Also let us hope for no more Fukushimas.

 

 

006. Leisure. W H Davies Poem. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

006. Leisure. W H Davies Poem. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra. 16th Mar 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/qp4j6ml6/
Posted in Wikinut>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

Man is always eager to observe and enjoy the beauties of nature. Only that he does not get enough spare time to elate and thrill his mind by soaking up the magnificent spectacles Mother Nature has created around him. It was in the midst of and from these beauties that man was created. Therefore his wish to be with them is only natural. When he leaves them behind, he pines in his soul as if leaving his homeland.

Primitive man who sat in his mountain cave watching the sunset was the first writer of poetry.

Reading in leisure. The greatest of all pastimes By Cristofano Allori.

Archaeology and excavation of ancient sites of human living has taught us that there has been no time in human history that was deprived of leisure and time for rest. Whenever man got freed of inevitable and immediate works, he always found a bit of time to indulge in leisurely activities. Primitive man who after a delicious meal sat in leisure in the mouth of his mountain cave and observed the distant sunset was the first writer of poetry. From the snow-buried Neanderthal Valley in Germany and the ice-cold caves of Cro-Magnon in France, we have obtained evidence of the outcome of a hunting societies’ leisure, magnificent rock wall paintings.

The idea of calm and leisure exists in a sitting cat.

Statue of Davies on the seafront of Port Williams. Sculpture Andrew Brown, Photo A M Hurrell.

Man is not alone in enjoying the beauties of nature and leisure. Cats, horses, cows, squirrels, birds all catharsize their souls through leisure. Cats are the first to enjoy music, sunshine, rest and leisure. In beautiful evenings they have seen washing and cleaning themselves meticulously taking hours, walking to regular elevated acoustically apt places and sitting listening to their favourite church and temple songs coming through loudspeakers, basking themselves in bright warm sunlight. Cows and sheep constantly and steadily look at things far away for any length of time, but if we go and stand behind them and look for what is there so interesting for them to stare at, we will see nothing special and particular. They are enjoying their leisure.

Work stretches itself according to the time available to finish it.

Cats are the first to enjoy leisure and sunshine By 4028mdk09.

One curious thing about work is that it stretches itself according to the time available to finish it. So practically man gets no time for leisure. Leisure is something that disappears from this world. It is what brought civilization and culture into this world and what will keep the world from falling apart in future. Without its soothing balm, civilizations, societies and nations are lost. Without its cementing bondage, empires of intricate economics crumble and fall. And without its promising prospect, man’s all achievements on land and sea and space would go to smithereens.

Admiring eyes of a tramp and rural shepherd in America.

There is enough to see but man has not time By J M Garg.

W.H.Davies was a British poet who lived during 1871-1940. In his earlier years he led the life of a tramp and rural shepherd in America, the stamps of which can be seen in his poems. In his famous poem Leisure, he regrets the loss of leisure from man’s life. He was very keen in his observations of Nature, in which he stands in a line with Robert Frost and Alexander Pope.

Squirrels forget their hidden caches, man recovers them for supper.

Basking in Sun in leisure after eating apple By V Menkov.

Man is now left with no time to observe and enjoy the beauties of nature. He has now no time left to stand beneath the flowery branches of trees and stare at the things he likes as long as the cows and sheep does. The cattleman profession of the poet is reflected here. Passing through the woods, he sees the squirrels running everywhere and hiding their nuts in the grass. Sometimes they may forget to recover this cache, the thought of which makes the poet laugh heartily, for he himself had very often sought these forgotten stores in his hunger. But now he has no time to enjoy the briskness and beauty of their movements.

Watching star studded skies at night: The great pastime of primitive man.

Guardian of the gateway in leisurely vigil. A heron By Pauline Eccles.

The clean streams and brooks reflecting the broad daylight appear like the bluish star-studded skies at night, which indeed is a majestic sight to see through the woods. But alas! The rush of life urges the modern man to move forward, leaving the beautiful sight un-enjoyed behind him.

Innocent radiance of a smile would enchant anyone with its charm.

Leisure beneath the mountain canopies By Tang Yin in the 1470s.

It is also good and soothing to see the dance of nature on the hills and valleys and meadows. It is Beauty dancing. A smile begins in her eyes and finishes in her lips which would take a little time for her to complete, and for man to observe. The innocent radiance of a smile would enchant anyone with its charm and embrace anyone in its warmth. But man has no time left to enjoy the smile of nature.

Dance of nature in the hills and forests completes with the cycle of seasons.

Absolute leisure on the lap of eternity By John Webber.

Some critics have shrunk the meaning here to the presence of some mortal human beauty dancing in the wild, and un-diligent readers also may fall into the same fallacy. But the logical reference here is to the presence of the perfect beauty, i.e., Mother Nature dancing in the hills and forests. The smile of nature is complete only with completion of the cycle of seasons, which means, to see the full smile of nature, one has to wait on the same spot through one full year. Man cannot wait that long and he have not that much time to spare. So, if this life is such full of care and anxiety that we are left with no time to stand and stare at the things we like as long as we wish to, then it is a very poor life indeed in this earth.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

Tags

British Poets, English Songs, Language And Literature, Leisure, P S Remesh Chandran, Poems, Poetry, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, W H Davies

Dear Reader,

If you cannot find all the articles of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, access them via this link provided here: https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles
Also Visit Sahyadri Books Online Trivandrum in Blogger and author’s Bloom Books Channel in You Tube.
Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MuZDwnc_a0

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Author profileEditor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan: The Intelligent Picture Book. Born and brought up in the beautiful village of Nanniyode in Trivandrum District in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Unmarried and single. Edits Bloom Books Channel, world’s foremost producers of musical English Recitation Videos.

 

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