Buddha, The Light Of Asia. Earnest O. Haucer Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

32.

Buddha, The Light Of Asia. Earnest O. Haucer Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 1st Aug 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1kg0sufh/
Posted in Wikinut Essays

 

Monks fighting invaders, attackers, aggressors, robbers, daylight thieves and foreign legions is not a new thing. It has been done innumerable times in the past ages and monks in monasteries, temples, pagodas, pavilions and caves were specially trained to defend and protect the places of their worship which also served as seats of learning and centres and stores of knowledge. Remember the Cultural Revolution and cleansing which gained nothing but was a waste of human lives. It is happening again.

Dedicated to the monks undergoing international persecution in Tibet and Nepal.

A Mural From Thailand.

What do China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Tibet, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka have in common? It is Buddhism. Started from the awakening and enlightenment of North Indian prince Siddhardha Gauthama, fighting the evils and killer attacks from Hinduism, Monarchism, Autocracy, Democracy and Communism, it is continuing its journey through centuries, guiding human souls in Continents, to the right path of living. This article which was originally written by Earnest O. Haucer is reintroduced here in the light of new developments and is dedicated to the monks undergoing international persecution in Tibet.

The Golden Age of Philosophy in which three great teachers lived in three corners of the world at the same time.

Invisible God protecting extreme ascetic practices

Buddha in India, Confucius in China and Socrates in Greece lived during the same age, i.e. during the Sixth century B.C. Because the world was blessed with the presence of three great philosophers in the three corners of the world during this period, it is called the Golden Age of Philosophy. There are about 270 million Buddhists in the world. This article illustrates how Prince Siddhardha Gauthama became the Light of Asia. Kingdoms were offered as alms at his feet but he wandered through North Indian States with his begging bowl, teaching the world the philosophy of Right Living.

A prince wandering, begging and searching for the meaning of life.

Teaching always in the lap of Nature.

Siddhardha was a prince in the Himalayan kingdom Kapilavasthu. He was married and had a child. In the midst of princely happiness and pleasures, he remained thoughtful. Old helpless men, dead men and holy men troubled his thoughts. During days and nights, the picture of the sufferings and pain of his people haunted him. Gradually he decided to give up all earthly pleasures and material wealth which his kingdom and the world offered and search for the true meaning of existence. One day in the dead of night he slipped away from the castle.

There have been so many Buddhas in the past, and Gauthama has not been the last.

A Buddhist Temple in Dali, Yunnan, Chine.

The runaway wandered through the Northern and the Eastern Indian kingdoms as a homeless beggar with a begging bowl, seeking the true meaning of existence. He studied with famous Hindu teachers and fell among ascetic monks. After this long wanderings and learning, he meditated for seven days and nights under a Bo tree in Bodh Gaya in Bihar at the end of which he began to see things in a different way, with a new outlook. He had become a Buddha or ‘The Enlightened One.’ It is believed that there have been so many Buddhas, so Siddhardha was the Gauthama Buddha.

When we die, our soul enters another body, human or animal, moving the Wheel of Life a little.

Golden Temple in Kyoto Japan. Photo Ellywa.

Buddha became a moral teacher. He found material life the source of all pain and evil. Therefore he trained his followers in spiritual life. It is believed that our soul, upon our death, enters another body-human or animal. This repetition is known as the Wheel of Life. One can escape this prison of rebirth through Nirvana. For this, Buddha set forth Four Noble Truths. They are: Life is painful. Pain is caused by the craving for pleasure. Pain will cease when a person becomes free of desire. There is a way leading to the stopping of pain. This way is the Noble Eight-Fold Path, namely, right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right thinking and right concentration.

Pain from an evil act follows us like a wheel follows the hoof of the beast that is drawing the cart.

A Korean Buddhist Temple. Photo Richardfabi.

We are the result of our thoughts. If we speak or act with evil on our minds, pain follows us just like a wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the cart. For about 45 years, Buddha wandered through North and East Indian regions teaching these philosophies to people. The spiritual life, especially under so lovable a teacher appealed to many and as a result, there were so many mass conversions into his religion. His followers were not allowed to have too many possessions. Most often they were satisfied with a long single robe and a begging bowl.

A friend of monkeys, snakes, elephants, human beings and the birds.

A Simple Buddhist Temple in Sri Lanka.

Buddha was notably friendly with monkeys, snakes and elephants, a result of long rest and life in the forests. He did not like noise. He spent his time either inside the monasteries or out in the forests. He would often withdraw for periods to some lonely spot, allowing just one monk among his followers to bring him some food. His meditation added to this. Buddha passed away at the age of 80. “Strive earnestly,” was his last message to the world.

 

 

_________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
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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

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

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

Appreciations, Articles, Asian Religions, British Writers, Buddha, Buddhism, Earnest O Haucer, English Essayists, English Literature, English Writers, Essays, Gauthama Buddha, Literature And Language, Oriental Religions, P S Remesh Chandran, Prose, Reintroductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Siddhardtha Gauthama, The Light Of Asia

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

Steve Kinsman
2nd Aug 2011 (#)

Excellent article – awesome photographs. Thank you PSRemishChandra.

rama devi nina
2nd Aug 2011 (#)

What fabulous pictures you’ve found for this! Always wonderful to read about Buddha. Blessings, rd

PSRemeshChandra
2nd Aug 2011 (#)

Dear Steve Kinsman,
I am troubled by the harassment and persecution the Buddhist monks face during the present times, especially after the United States consenting to China claiming Tibet for them. China has a great economy and trade with the Sino is very lucrative. Therefore assuring support to China in whatever they do is the present fashion and trend even among countries with proven democratic and socialist commitments. U.S. and France once were synonyms of protest against international violation of human rights. Signing export and import pacts with China and embracing Dalai Lama at the same time is the present diplomacy. The world nations do not feel any shame in it. For decades, India has been publicly supporting the cause of Tibetan monks and for the same reason, China has been making united moves with Pakistan to weaken India’s position in this matter. As the land of origin of Buddhism and also as a land of fearless opinions and political stand, India has been doing good and right in defending the Buddhist monks’ cause, whatever be the world opinion in this regard. India’s firm stand with the Buddhists’ cause is exactly similar to America’s firm stand with and support to the existence, endurance, integrity and sovereignty of the Jewish nation of Israel. Thank you dear Steve Kinsman for your going through the article and adding your views.

PSRemeshChandra
2nd Aug 2011 (#)

Dear Rama Devi Nina,
I wrote this article years earlier, after teaching Earnest O. Haucer’s essay to a band of graduate students. It rested with me all through these years. In the light of the present international political developments and special circumstances, I thought publishing it would be relevant and good. No one is nowadays going to read Haucer’s writing, especially this one. But it is a must that people should go through this article again. That is why I published it. Buddha taught his disciples to endure and suffer. They are now suffering silently everywhere. They deserve international sympathy and the world’s support. Not only in Tibet, but in China itself they are mercilessly hunted and tortured, the details of which someday will surely come out, just as atrocities in Russia came out and their nation crumbled. All know that world communism limited and shrunken to just one nation in this world cannot stand against the loftier ideals of Buddhism. It is so because the present day communist leaders are steeped up to their necks in splendour, opulence and luxury. See the serenity in the face of Buddha and in everything that is associated with him. Feel the tranquillity in the pictures. It is this serenity and tranquillity that is now disturbed by petty puny little-minded mean politicians. Why can’t they stand aside, appreciate and tolerate?

 

 

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:

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

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

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

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

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

Rathnashikamani
31st Mar 2011 (#)

Great tribute to James Kirkup, the compassionate poet.

Also let us hope for no more Fukushimas.

 

 

010. Leave This Chanting. Rabindranath Tagore Poem. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

010. Leave This Chanting. Rabindranath Tagore Poem. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 22nd Mar 2011  Short URL http://nut.bz/1zdohpx2/
Posted in Wikinut  Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

God was the most beautiful creation of mankind, created in man’s exact likeness, one playful, lovely and comely. So why not love him ardently and affectionately and respect him beyond everything as the creator who decided to stay? Tagore’s poem Leave This Chanting has universal appeal, the appreciation of which is presented here by P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

A house in Bengal where Veena, Thabala and Mridangam resounded day and night.

A Tagore Portrait. By Anonymous Photographer.

Rabindranath Tagore was an educationalist, poet and social reformer of India. He wrote hundreds of poems, plays, novels and short stories in English which enjoy universal appeal and esteem. He was a noted painter also. In a house where Thabala, Veena and Mridangam resounded day and night, it is no wonder music and rhythm found their way into his heart. Only the immovable in Tagore House did not sing, dance or write. Santhinikethan was a model educational institution founded by him where all Fine Arts faculties enjoyed privileges. Educated in England and in India, he himself was an educational visionary of exceptional dreams. His multitude of poems and songs written in the Bengali language brought renaissance to Bengal. He himself tuned his songs and never translated these songs to English, a very unfortunate affair.

A poem that exposed the pseudo-zeal of worshippers everywhere.

Einstein and Tagore in Berlin 1930. By Unknown Photographer.

Politics also seemed to fit him well. Along with Mahathma Gandhi, he served as a leading light and source of inspiration for the Independence Movement of India. His famous poetical collection Geethanjali was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. His poem Where The Mind Is Without Fear is world famous in which he mixed fact and fancy, reality and dream and politics and poetry. Without telling it directly and plainly, he skillfully portrayed in this poem the position into which British Rule pushed India with a heritage far longer than the British. This poem Leave This Chanting is equally important in World Literature due to his exposing the pseudo-zeal of worshippers everywhere. Just as ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ contains his vision of a Free India, ‘Leave This Chanting’ contains his vision of Uncontaminated Worship.

God has gone out to Tillers, Stone-Breakers and Path Makers to stay with them.

Gandhi and Tagore 1940. By Unknown Photographer 

Leave This Chanting is an advice to worshippers everywhere to seek God outside temples, among the labourers. The worshippers sing Manthras and count their Rudraksha Beads inside the shut, dark, lone corners of their temples, but when they open their eyes their God is nowhere to be seen in the temples. They are blind to think that God would be pleased to stay inside shut temples. How can God rest in such suffocating places? Tagore was not new to sights of Jungle Shrines in Bengal where anyone could light a lamp and pray to the deity. When at night a desperate human being seeks solace in the door steps of a temple or church, they are closed and locked preventing entry to him. So God has gone out to stay with the tillers, stone-breakers and path makers who do the heaviest and the dirtiest of works, opting to stay with them in the heavy heat of the Sun and the chilling cold of the down pouring Rain, without minding his clothes being covered with dust. Those who seek God should put off their holy mantles, wear workers’ uniform and come down to the dusty soil to be steeped in their own sweat and tears.

Release is after as many births and deaths as there are leaves in the huge Banyan Tree.

Close family of Tagore. By Unknown Photographer.

Where and when will blind deity worshippers ever listen to good advice? They answer that they are after Deliverance, i.e. Mukthi or Moksha, which means release from the clutches of life. There is a story of a saint travelling to see God. On his way he came across a group of meditating saints who asked him to enquire with God when they would each be given their final release. He came back with the good news that the first saint would be given release after his second birth. This saint started wailing about the misfortune of the tediousness and boredom of passing through yet another life. His wailing was to last till the end of his second life, so is told. Reply to the second saint was that he had to pass through as many births and deaths before his Release as there were leaves on the huge Banyan Tree standing above him. The instant he heard this good news he began to shout and laugh out of beaming happiness that it had been made sure he would be given Deliverance some day, though in a far distant future, perhaps Aeons after. The amused and kindly God could not help himself from appearing there and offering this contended saint Deliverance then and there.

He will not leave any day: He has come to stay with the world.

Tagore born brought up and passed away here. By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary.

Deliverance is for those who love this world and the life here. Mukthi or Release is not the leaving of this world; it is not detachment but divine attachment. God created this world and decided to stay with this world forever. How beautiful, ardent, tender and comely such a God would be! Mankind would feel he is one among them. He has joyfully taken upon him the responsibility of preserving and caring for his creations. Even God does not seek Moksha. He has come to stay with us till the end of the days, and he likes being bonded to this world. Many of his worshippers are living in a virtual world of incense, meditation and flowers which displeases him much. He wishes them to come out of this world of illusion, to stand by him in Sun and Shower. There is no harm in their robes becoming tattered and stained like God’s because they are nearing their God anyway. Those who seek God should be prepared to meet him and stand by him in toil and in the sweat of their brow.

Note 

Jungle shrines are common in almost all states of India where anyone can light a lamp at any time of the day or night. In Kerala in the Trivandrum-Scencottah route, turning right at Vencollah we will reach the Saasthaam Nada Marsh where there is one such shrine. It is situated in the middle of dense forests but close to inner-going forest road and is devoted to Saastha or Ayyappan, the son and manifestation of Lord Vishnu, himself a forest and mountain dweller headquartered in Sabarimala. Lorries will stop there on their way to take in bamboo and reed loads, to pray for their safety during the precarious hill tract climbs and descends. They will dumb many oil bottles, cloth, incense sticks and match boxes nearby under rocks to protect them from rain and flash floods, so that the materials are available to anyone handy and free any time. I myself was a frequenter of this jungle spot inhabited by aborigines and have liberally made use of these materials. After bathing in the fresh and cold stream and reposing for a while lying on the shaded rocks or foliages I would light a lamp. Once we light the lamp in this cool sequestered wilderness, we will feel the sublimity and pleasure of God embracing us from our back. This spot had the stone statue of a baby elephant. One day a lone real elephant, one among a herd who usually passed that way, gave the baby elephant a blow with its trumpet and broke the statute’s trumpet. It did not like the way the baby stone elephant’s trumpet looked.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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Tags

English Songs, Indian Poets, Leave This Chanting, Literature And Language, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Poets, Rabindranath Tagore, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum

Comments

Rathnashikamani
17th Apr 2011 (#)

I love reading into the musings of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali.

There is always an unknown and revealing space in the inner sanctum of a poet with such a meditative composition of a divine song.

rama devi nina
29th Apr 2011 (#)

Ah yes, Gitanjali is one of my favorites by Tagore. You may have heard of Parameshwaraji, a famous person in Kerala. I used to visit his and share long discussions when he was admitted as a patient in Amma’s hospital in Cochin(where I do seva). He read my poems and then gifted me with Gitanjali. My favorite quote from tagore (may not be exact–from memory)

“I slept and dreamt that life is joy.
I awoke and saw that it was service;
I acted, and behold! service was joy.”

PSRemeshChandra
19th May 2011 (#)

Tagore did not translate many of his beautiful Bengali Songs into English. His Udbodhan was translated into English by Mr. Rabindranath Chowdhury which has now been recast in the true poetic form, making it an exquisite piece of poetry that can be sung tunefully. The link to this recast poem is http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/2010/09/awakening-poem-from-bengal-recast-by.html

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=qHnjSnH1qa8

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.

009. Two Famous Death Poems. Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

009. Two Famous Death Poems. Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran 

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st Mar 2011  Short URL http://nut.bz/evi23ktc/
Posted in Wikinut> Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

Death is the end of all earthly cares and the beginning of eternal things. It is believed that the moment we die, we are born in another universe. With it begins a new way of being. More number of songs and poems are written on death than on birth. It is considered an important event in man’s life. In many communities all over the world, death is an occasion for festivity and celebration. Shakespeare’s Fear No More and James Shirley’s Death The Leveller are appreciated here.

Shakespeare at last has begun to be read and appreciated, than being acted on stage.

 

1.FEAR NO MORE. A SONG BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

William Shakespeare was one of the world’s greatest poets and dramatists. He considered himself a poet, but to make a living, could not exclude himself from the tedious work of being on stage. He very much wished his plays to be read and appreciated more as literary creations, than to be acted as plays on stage. His wishes have been granted by Time. Now his plays are rarely acted, but being read and appreciated as literary masterpieces as he wished. Fear No More is a song from his play Cymbeline. Two brothers weep over the supposed death of their sister who is only unconscious. The song is actually an Ode To Death. Death comes as a release from the evils of the world and is inevitable to all. This song is the poet’s prayer for the peace of the departed soul.

Work in this World, for which wages are paid in Heaven.

When we have done our worldly works, we return to our home that is in heaven where we will be paid wages for our work done in the world. We will be blessed or punished, according to the measure of the virtue or vice resulted from our work. Death is universal and man cannot escape from it. There is no armour to hold against death and man has to succumb to the inevitable. He has no protection from this gateway to the next being. The rich and leisurely golden lads and girls, as well as the chimney-sweepers doing the dirtiest of works, have all to die. Authority, scholarship and physical strength follows suit and finally reaches the dust. Even young lovers die.

Is it to bliss that we go after death?

The parting soul gets peace, since it is released from the evils of the world. It needn’t anymore fear the heat of the Sun or the angry outbreak of winter. The frown and anger and displeasure and stroke of well-placed figures and authorities and tyrants, the very things that make human lives hell in this world, needn’t be feared anymore. Our burdens are very much lightened, for clothing and eating are no more needed. The deadly lightning and thunder-bolts, the dread of out-on-the-field workers, will not affect us any more. Abusing words and unkind criticism, which constantly humiliated us, lowered our status and self-esteem, and tormented our souls will no more reach our ears. Weeping and happiness are past. We reach bliss, supreme happiness. And distinctions are also past- the reed and the oak are the same to the dead man.

A land where sceptre and crown and scythe and spade are made equal.

 

2. DEATH THE LEVELLER. A POEM BY JAMES SHIRLEY.

James Shirley was an English poet and teacher who later became famous for his plays. He died during the great London Fire. Death The Leveller is part of one of his plays. He conceives death as a great leveller who keeps no distinctions between rich and poor, high and low and hard and soft. The glories of our blood and state are nothing but shadows. Family traditions and social status do not come to our aid when we are dying. Man has no immunity against fate. Death lays his icy hands on kings and subjects alike. Kings wearing the sceptre and crown, the symbols of their sovereignty and peasants wearing the scythe and spade, the tools of their trade are all brought to dust and made equal by death without any distinctions.

Eloquence of a poet in defense of death.

Glory is but a momentary glimpse of eternity. Great emperors like Ashoka and Alexander have conquered vast plains and armies, won battlefields and raised victory memorials, but they too have gone to the other world. Great swordsmen reap heads of their opponents in the battlefield, but even their strong nerves must yield at last and they too have to stoop to fate, early or late. Actually they are not winning over the other, but taming one another. Great war heroes one day become wounded captives creeping to their death. They are now pale with shame being in the hands of death, because unlike in the War-field, they cannot now fight against their captor. Victory memorials may wither away and great battles in history fade from memory. The once-victor will one day become a bleeding victim on the purple altar of death, purple because of blood and gore. However high our heads are held, they will have to come down to the cold tomb. Great heroic acts do not survive us. Only the just and right actions of a man will blossom and emit sweet smell, after he has long withered in dust.

Are we really living here or dreaming about living here?

 

3. WHY THIS SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO SONGS?

Death is the universal closing of a way of life in one universe and the starting of another one in another universe. It is believed that and also it is indeed a thrill to think that, once the gravitational constriction of the black hole that is the life-proofed passage between two universes is passed, the dead and reborn being would feel nothing about anything that might have or might not have happened. It would be felt like everything reversed exactly mathematically. Some seers have even doubted as to whether we are really living in this world, or lying relaxed in some universe and dreaming about living a life in the World. When poets and seers are concerned and involved, anything strange can be conceived and formulated. Bizarre notions are not un-travelled land for poets. It is therefore only their modesty and reserve that prevented William Shakespeare and James Shirley from elaborating on the above ideas, certainly not their unfamiliarity with any such notions, especially Shakespeare with his long line of uncanny characters.

Death is universal, so rouses similar feelings in man everywhere.

Since death is universal, it rouses similar feelings in man everywhere, though intensity and velocity of emotions may vary from person to person. That is the foundation for the similarity between the two poems, Fear No More and Death The Leveller. They are similar in many other aspects also. Both poems celebrate the glory of death. They hold the same views and project the same ideas. Both poems are part of their plays. Both poets used the same word Sceptre to denote Kingly Authority. Shakespeare hints that we will be paid our wages in heaven for our deeds done in this world. Shirley warns us that only our just and rightful actions would survive us. Both poets project the inevitability and inescapability of death. Shakespeare’s life period in England was 1564-1616 and Shirley’s was 1596-1666. Shirley was 14 years old when Shakespeare was 44. Therefore Shirley certainly might have been inspired by Shakespeare. And both poets were Londoners too.

Tags

Appreciations, Cymbeline, Death The Leveller, English Songs, Fear No More, James Shirley, Literature And Language, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, William Shakespeare

Comments

Rathnashikamani
Shirley might have been inspired by Shakespeare.

But, certainly I’m inspired by your literary work here on Wikinut.

This article of appreciation by you has brought the great poets together.

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.
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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.

 

 

008. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. Robert Frost. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

008. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. Robert Frost. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books,

Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 19th Mar 2011  Short URL http://nut.bz/eslzz8m7/
Posted in Wikinut> Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

Nature creates many beauties for man to observe, but man being burdened with the multitude of tasks to run a family cannot spare his time for sharing the pleasantness nature imbues. In his rush of life he is forced to abandon the easy solaces nature offers which if accepted, would have served as a balm for his mind in flames. Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening shows a glimpse of what treasures man has lost. True, what man forgets first is the beauty of his mother.

A British poet trained on practical American lines.

Matthew Arnold: The Critic and Poet. By G W E Russell.

Robert Frost was a farmer and poet who had a deep concern for nature. He lived during 1874-1963. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening is his world famous poem which appeals to man’s desire to be always be with nature. In the poem we see the poet riding a little horse into a snow falling forest in the evening. His sense of beauty tends him to stay but his dominating sense of duty sends him away. The genius of Frost shuttles between dream and reality and finally lands on immediate reality. Perhaps his long American life might have trimmed him on practical lines.

Nature’s Cynosures are for all the world to see.

Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know. By Ruhrfisch.

The poet stops by the wood on a snowy evening in winter. He doesn’t know who the owner of the forest is. Judging from the fact that there were no signs of any modern constructions to be seen there, he assumes that the owner of the forest might not be a town’s man, but a villager. So far so good. He hopes that the owner will not appear there at that time of heavy snow fall, as he does not wish to be seen tress-passing into private land. Sweet English reserve and shyness! Even though somewhat reluctant to enter a private property, his soul’s desire to be with nature tempted him and he entered the forest riding his horse.

All a winter’s work for the squirrels and sparrows to see.

All A Winters Work. By Böhringer Friedrich.

Nature’s benedictions are man’s common asset, limited to no one’s ownership. She creates her cynosures for all the world to see, through generations and ages. She creates them not exclusively for humans, but anticipating the admiring eyes of the squirrels, sparrows, peacocks and the marsupials also.

Animal instincts are sharper-tuned to sensing danger than man’s.

To Watch The Woods Fill Up With Snow. By Adrian Michael.

Snow heavily falling on the trees and rocks and shrubs will form curious images of strange shapes and sizes. The poet plunges deep into observing their beauty and quite forgets the passing of Time. The horse was more danger-conscious and responsive to surroundings than the poet. Have anyone ever heard about an animal that took its own life? It became suspicious. What is this fellow on my back doing?

Between the woods and frozen lake.

Between The Woods And Frozen Lake. By Harke, Stuttgart.

Dangers of an ink-black night are ahead. No farm houses are to be seen anywhere nearby. They are standing between an unfriendly wood and a frozen lake where no one will get shelter and can survive. Man and animal can be lost and frozen in these circumstances. Besides, it is the darkest night of the year that is approaching. Is this man on my back having ideas of suicide? Animal instincts are sharper-tuned to sense danger than man’s. So thinking such and such, the horse gave his harness bells a shake to ask his master whether there was any mistake. Actually he was asking his master why they were stopping and staying in that unfavorable atmosphere for long.

The Tiny Little Boy with Hay-ho, the Wind and the Rain.

Forage is scarce in winter, so a long neck. By Unknown.

The sounds of the horse-bells were heard distinctly against the only other background sound there, the swish-swishing sound of the easily-flowing wind sweeping against the incessantly down-falling snow. The exquisiteness of the description here reminds the readers of another master craftsman. In The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, there is a little song sung by the clown: ‘When that I was a tiny little boy, With hay- ho, the wind and the rain.’ Everyone knows the wind and the rain, but who is this Mr. Hay-Ho? Critics have long debated who this Hay Ho is. It is very simple. Every little child knows Hay Ho; it is the combined effect of sound caused by wind on the rain personified. When wind blows against a green paddy field and the long lines of grass bow their heads in row after row, Hay Ho is present there. When we walk along a tar road while the rain comes down in torrents and the wind sweeps heavily against the rain, then again we can see Hay Ho on the road, coming towards us and going away from us. Hay Ho is indeed something to a tiny little boy and also for the poets. One is always the other. An exactly similar beauty with words is created here by Frost, in describing in vivid and suggestive words the swish-swishing of the wind and the rain in the snow-filled forest.

One single line written across the face of Time: How far to go before rest?

Miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go…..By Jim Champion.

The timely sound of his horse-bells roused the master to reality and reminded him of his immediate duties. Thus rightly inspired, the poet continues on his journey, singing those famous lines which made this song immortal.

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.’

An admirer of Robert Frost from across the oceans.

The woods are lovely, But I have promises to keep. By John Davies.

The sleep referred to here is the final sleep. These are lines written across Time, to inspire the world through ages. It is not certain whoever were inspired, excited and intoxicated with these lines. But it is known, the famous author of books such as Glimpses Of World History and The Discovery Of India and the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote them down on his walls to be seen always.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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Tags

Appreciation, English Songs, Literature And Language, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Poets, Reviews, Robert Frost, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

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=IGCceMlyqdA

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.

 

 

  

007. Song To The Men Of England. P B Shelley Song. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

007. Song To The Men Of England. P B Shelley Song. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 18th Mar 2011  Short URL http://nut.bz/21kpi-9l/  

Posted in Wikinut>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

A revolutionary is a person who causes constant changes around him wherever he is. In this sense, Shelley was a revolutionary poet. Song To The Men Of England opened up world’s eyes to the torture, brutality and exploitation workers were subjected to in England during the time of her colonial prosperity and raised the question: Why can’t we revolt?

Kill not a bird or beast or man, they are all our brethren.

A portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley. By Alfred Clint 1819.

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote each poem to celebrate and enjoy each particular tune as we can see in his Song To The Men Of England, Ode To The West Wind, To A Skylark, The Cloud and Adonais. He is considered one of the greatest poets in the English Language. And his influence on world literature is paramount. When we refer to him as a revolutionary, it does not mean he advocated merciless killing. In fact, he considered even animals as our fellow creatures, not to be slain for human food. It was after reading his works that the famous English author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw became a strict vegetarian. 

Workers and exploiters are like bees and drones in the bee community.

A 1939 weaving loom with flying shuttles. By Imus Eus.

Here in this poem, Shelley is asking the Nineteenth century peasants and workers of England why they are not revolting against the landlords and production owners who are exploiting them to the last drop of their blood. In the Bee community, female bees do all the work and the male drones live by exploiting them. Shelley calls the workers Bees and the exploiters Drones which is apt

Purpose of weapons fails when they are used against man.

A 200 single yarn beaming machine of 1907. By Imus Eus.

Shelley’s questions in the poem to the workers of England skillfully bring out their pitiful living conditions in the England of his times. He is asking them for what reason they plough the fields for the lords who are responsible for their poverty. For what reason with toil and care they weave the rich robes their tyrants are wearing, while their own children shiver in the dark without coal or cotton. From their birth till their death the workers feed, clothe and save those ungrateful drones, who in their turn would either drain their sweat or drink their blood.

Weapons become spoiled when they are stained with their makers’ blood.

The celestial forge of Venus and Vulcan. Oil By Le Nain Brothers 1641.

The Bees of England forge many weapons, chains and scourges which go straight to the hands of the tyrants to be used against them in it’s time. Weapons were invented to assist man in his works but when used against man, their purpose fails and they become spoiled. Critics have differed in their interpretations of this word ‘spoiled.’ A weapon to become spoiled means, to become stained with it’s maker’s blood. Knives were invented for cutting away tree branches from the ancient man’s path, chains were invented for lifting huge weights from the ground, and whips for taming wild animals. But when they happen to be used for throat-cutting, binding men together and for beating him, their purpose fails and they become spoiled.

Sacrificing a life, making riches and robes and arms for tyrants.

Forge arms, in your defense to bear. By Penny Mayes.

The workers pay so high a price by living in constant pain, fear and poverty but even then, in spite of all their sufferings, at least their physical and spiritual needs are not got fulfilled. If not for fulfilling their basic animalistic needs, why should they labour from morning till night and from night till morning? Leisure, comfort and calmness are the spiritual needs of man. Food, shelter and the medicinal treatment of love are the physical needs of man. It is strange to note that Shelley, unlike many of the other poets of his times, has included love as a physical need of man, like food. The workers sow seed, but the harvest is taken away by the lords. They bring wealth out of earth through their work, but the riches are amassed and kept by the others. They weave robes for the others, but their own children have nothing to wear. The arms they forge also add to the armories of the oppressors. Thus Shelley convinces the workers of England and elsewhere that they are exploited to the extreme and that rising through revolutions is their right.

A poet’s burning eloquence forcing the doors of England open.

Sow seed and reap, but let not the idle heap. By Bernard Gagnon.

We will normally expect that the poet, spreading such radical ideas will finally find his way to the London Tower, the English equivalent of the French Bastille. But it was the era of the Industrial Revolution, closely following the English version of the Italian Renaissance. No workers’ revolution occurred in England then or later as Shelley hoped and Marx predicted. Communism, the supreme theory of revolution was indeed born in England’s soil, but Carl Marx fuming and storming his head in the British Museum for Thirty two years came to no use. Prosperity extinguishes revolutionary traits whereas poverty inflames them. But England in later years became the haven and world headquarters of revolutionaries in exile, due to the open door policy there. Shelley’s burning eloquence in this song cannot be denied it’s due share of influence in bringing about this change.

The silent song of weaving their winding-sheets to their graves.

Weaving their winding sheet to their graves. By Thomas Khaipi.

Shelley showed to the exploited workers that they have a right to rise in revolts. He encourages them to sow seed but let no tyrant reap; find wealth but let no impostor heap them. But his clarion-calls fell into deaf ears. Seeing the inertness of the English workers, towards the end of the poem, Shelley condemns them. By not revolting, they will have to finally shrink to their cells, cellars and holes that are supposed to be their residences, as the vast halls they constructed are all possessed by the privileged. Imagine a great massive elephant melting itself down and disappearing into the tiny pit of a sand-elephant; that is how the proletariat shrinks. The great beast does not know its capabilities. It is a pity to see them still wearing and shaking the chains they themselves wrought. ‘The steel ye tempered glance on ye’, he says. Glance here has a dual meaning. He used the word in it’s both senses: slip off from the hand causing a mortal wound, and have a quick look. The steel the workers themselves tempered ridiculingly laughs at them! If their destiny goes on unhampered in this manner, with plough and spade and hoe and loom, the tools of their trade, they will continue to build their tomb and weave their winding-sheet till their beautiful England becomes their vast sepulchre.

Note

Shelley was very bold and daring to have published these lines during the peak of England’s colonial powers. And he certainly might have been very sympathetic and delinquent in his attitude to the workers in his native land. He indeed was a very brilliant poet who set fire to the conscience of his century. This poem is a masterpiece of poetical eloquence. Commitment and involvement in flames.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

Tags

Appreciations, English Songs, Literature And Language, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poetry, P S Remesh Chandran, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Song To The Men Of England

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=zy6nlrKRH10

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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