Non-Violence. Aldous Huxley. Essay. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran.

048.

Non-Violence. Aldous Huxley. Essay. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st Aug 2012.  Short URL http://nut.bz/238onx5a/
Posted in Wikinut>Essays

When national policies conflict, there is war. It always has been so, in spite of the world’s nations’ attempts to settle things amicably. Violence is the sister of war and mighty nations are not shameful to unleash violence on their next door neighbours, next day brothers. Non-violence has been the cherished dream of mankind since the first sunrise after the dawn of civilization. Even then the realization of this dream is remaining far distant due to psychological settings of the world’s mind.

A row of successful non-violent struggles before us to imitate; still we are reluctant to adopt this proven principle.

Thomas Arnold Teacher, great grand uncle of Aldous

Here and there a few humanitarians and philosophers have occasionally looked into the prospect of moulding a new world order based on the lines of non-violence. Novelists like Tolstoy, essayists like George Orwell, H.G.Wells, Arnold Toynbee, Aldous Huxley and many others have inculcated the principles of non-violence which is fit to be adopted in international crises management. We have the fine political examples of many mighty empires having been brought down by non-violent revolutions carried out by peasants and agricultural labourers as those led by Gandhi and his contemporaries in India. Still we are reluctant to accept the principles of non-violence as our political problems solving policy. It is due to the devious and treacherous basic traits latent in man as an animal that nations still resort to violence when they have to address a problem, social, political, economical or ethnical.

Aldous Huxley was born into a family of generations of great intellectuals.

Thomas Huxley, senior brother of Aldous Huxley.

Aldous Huxley was a British essayist, novelist and critic. He belonged to a family of distinguished scientists and thinkers. The celebrated scientist Thomas Huxley was his great grand-father and the famous educationalist Thomas Arnold was his great grand-uncle. Poet Matthew Arnold was his grand uncle. His mother was a distinguished educationalist and his father Leonard Huxley was a writer. The famous biologist Sir. Julian Huxley was his elder brother. The Burning Wheel , Chrome Yellow, Brave New World , Proper Studies and Music At Night are a few of his major works. Aldous Huxley was one of the chief intellectual driving forces of his times. His essays are gentle and imaginative. The present essay discusses how non-violence is applicable to individuals, groups, nations and the people of the new industrial age.

Non-violence comes to prisons and asylums in the nineteenth century in England.

Bethlehem Mental Hospital in London in 1896.

Non-violence is the policy of passive resistance. Resistance indeed is there, only that it is not active. It has the power to overcome evil, anger and hatred. The principles of non-violence have been applied systematically in solving social and medical problems which were considered to be completely insoluble. In the past, violence prevailed over the handling of the insane, the criminal and the savage. It made the victim only incurable. Asylums and prisons were places where inmates were treated with cruelty and violence. Asylums were filthy places with dungeons, chains and torture chambers. The insane were subjected to violence as if they were criminals. In 1815 a committee of the British M.P.s investigated the state of Bethlehem Hospital in London and found it appalling. Sine then, non-violent treatment has been adopted, showing kindness and sympathy. Similarly, in prisons, torture made the innocents demoralized and the criminals more criminal. When John Howard began his investigations on prison life in the 18th century, the only decent prisons in Europe were those in Amsterdam, Holland being a country with lesser crimes. Since then, there have been many prison reforms. Thus Huxley adeptly proves that non-violence is applicable in relations of individuals with other individuals.

Missionary gossip and the role of anthropologists in the practice of non-violence.

Torture chamber in Spis Castle. By Dariusz Wozniak

Anthropologists study the origin, development and social behaviour of mankind. In the past they depended on baseless news given by travelling missionaries, i.e. ‘missionary gossip’ to form their theories. Missionaries returning from foreign lands after failed missions won’t attribute reasons for their failure to their wrong policies but would portray people of those lands as brutal intolerant savages holding pagan beliefs who brought down the missionaries’ works. As a result, colonial administrations remained violent and cruel to their subjects in the conquered lands. But later, the anthropologists practically began living with the objects of their study and learned the realities in those lands. They discovered that intelligent and sympathetic non-violence is the best and most practical policy to be adopted on subjects by an administration. Thus the colonial rule of the Belgian, Dutch, English and French became more humane, non-violent and efficient. Only the Italian Fascist Mussolini remained aggressive. His hideous methods of bombs and poison gas employed in the conquest of Abyssinia were brought to light and condemned by all.

Non-violent non-cooperation successfully prevented in England a war with Russia in 1920.

Torture rack in Spis Castle Slovakia. By Podzemnik

Non-violence is applicable in the relations of populations with governments. Gandhi’s non-violent mass movements in South Africa and India were brilliant successes. He effectively trained very large groups of people in non-violent non-cooperation and boycott, who courageously responded to brutal treatment. This impressed all and gained him favour of public opinion and support of the entire world. In England, in 1920, non-violent non-cooperation successfully prevented a war. Labour Movement declared War Boycott and refused to transport men and materials to war front. Faced with this ultimatum, the Lloyd George government abandoned its plans of war on Russia.

Man leads a dual life as a private individual and as representative of a social group.

Spanish boot in Spis castle Slovakia By Podzemnik.

In relations of governments with other governments, non-violence is often considered impractical. Examples of genuine non-violent behaviour between governments are rare. This is because of the dual nature and behaviour of man as a private individual and as member of a group. He has two systems of morality. In private life, man is honest, humane and considerate. But as citizens of a nation, he thinks his nation can go to any extreme. We all do. The nation is personified in our imagination as a being, superhuman in power and glory, but sub human in morality.

___________________________
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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To read about the life and people of Kerala, the author’s native land, visit KERALA COMMENTARY here.

For more articles of this kind, visit SAHYADRI BOOKS here or BLOOM BOOKS, TRIVANDRUM.

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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’.Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley.

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Comments

Sivaramakrishnan A
21st Aug 2012 (#)

Thought provoking post that is more relevant now. There are no victors in violence; even those who live to tell the tale of success carry heavy scars in their psyches – siva

PSRemeshChandra
21st Aug 2012 (#)

Standing on a land that is India where the first known poet and philosopher Valmiki wrote Ma Nishada, or You Never Kill, we can certainly speak to the world the gospel of non-violence and human love. The Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was, along with Rabindranath Tagore and Count Leo Tolstoy, and also George Bernard Shaw, was the greatest proclaimer of the gospel of human love to the world since the time of Jesus Christ. India through the ages disseminated the message of Gods’ affection and consideration for man. Even though somewhat diminished in the rush for prospects and physical pleasures, the tendency to sacrifice one’s life for the welfare of others is still prominent and dominant in Indian lives, especially in the lives of the poor people of India. Gandhi also sacrificed his life for his ideal of embracing the divided Indians and the Pakistanis at the same time. When India spends billions on account of preparing a war and defense machinery against the nation of Pakistan and Pakistan diverts precious national revenue for purchasing missiles and war machines against sister India, Pakistanis think how natural the Indian film stars act and the Indians think how majestic and enchanting the Pakistani Ghazal singers sing. Governments in the modern day world no more reflect the will of their people. Objectives of people which could easily and quickly have been realized through art, literature, music, cinema, cricket and football are objected to by governments, for they wish there shall be two governments to rule, two parliaments to spend time in and two judiciaries to pronounce the same universal human law in two conflicting ways. Unification of the divided German nations is their lesson for the future. Why waste precious people’s money for running two governments? The world is changing, and eliminating the evils of the ill famous Second World War one by one. Aldous Huxley’s thoughts are more important than ever in the present times, as you pointed out, dear Sivaramakrishnan A. Thank you for your valuable comment, which supplements Aldous Huxley’s observations well.

Sivaramakrishnan A
22nd Aug 2012 (#)

Thank you indeed, RC! War is waged by selfish politicians and they use common citizens as their pawns. It is so easy to rouse emotions now, like it was from primeval times! We are easily used by all types of leaders for their ends! Modern technology has made us realise – we are one and the same, but we still go at each other’ s throats at the drop of a hat! siva

A K Rao 21st Aug 2012 (#)

Simply Superb Article Dear Ramesh Chandran Sir!

PSRemeshChandra
21st Aug 2012 (#)

When we read the articles written by many philosophers like Bertrand Russell, Arnold Toynbee, Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley and H.G.Wells, we think how fortunate the world is for having tones of beautiful pages written by learned and tasty geniuses for us all to read without stop. We also will feel lonely at the thought of living at a time, with the total absence of such eminent thinkers and writers continuously conversing to us all around us in our society. It is our solace and luck they wrote profusely before they passed away, so that the intellectually impoverished we can read something refreshing, till the end our days. Unfortunately I cannot convey your appreciation to Huxley. Thank you for your comment, dear A.K.Rao.

Madan
22nd Aug 2012 (#)

Excellent post. Deserved star page

PSRemeshChandra
22nd Aug 2012 (#)

Writers like Arnold Toynbee, Robert Lynd, Aldous Huxley and Bertrand Russell produced excellent literature which captivated generations including mine. But the world now does not read them as frequently and regularly as before. I pay them respect in my simple way of reintroducing them in layman’s terms, for the sole reason they inspired me, so that they will be continued to be read and read and read. No one shall have to leave them unread. The praise goes to those excellent authors who are now gone from among us. We can only keep the world’s interest in them live. Thank you dear Madan for the comment.

Buzz
23rd Aug 2012 (#)

Simply outstanding!

PSRemeshChandra
23rd Aug 2012 (#)

Praise goes to Aldous Huxley really.

Md Rezaul Karim
3rd Sep 2012 (#)

Interestingly when you are equal, the concept of non-violence works. But if the competency or strengths and weaknesses are significant then coercion takes place and the ethics and morality wither away!

PSRemeshChandra
3rd Sep 2012 (#)

The concept of non-violence works when the concerned opponent is somewhat equal or sophisticated. It did work with the British in India when the British became convinced that India would become the country where the greatest number of dead British are burried if violence in India reached its full manifestation. The Irish Republican Army tried non-violence in British prisons by turning to non-eating fasts but found that they were only weakening their body. After the death of seven of their comrades in a days-long relay fast in Maize prison, they returned to guerrilla warfare and violence. Thank you dear Md Rezaul Karim for reading and the comment.

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Belief In God. Dr. A.J.Cronin Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran, Trivandrum.

046.

Belief In God. Dr. A.J.Cronin. Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 18th Feb 2012.  Short URL http://nut.bz/2nh_co2x/

Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Whether God exists is a question people have been trying to answer through the ages. At least once in our life we are asked this question and have to answer. One interesting fellow once observed that if we are asked this question it is always safe to answer that He does exist, because if he does not exist we have nothing to fear but if He does exist, then we will have to fear his wrath and retaliation for denying him. It is interesting to note here what a famous doctor wrote in this regard.

Citadel, the first attack on the evils and corruption in the medical profession by a lone doctor.

Decades back a novel written by a doctor shook the conscience of the world and shattered the misconceptions about the infallibility and judgment of doctors. The novel was ‘The Citadel’ and its author was ‘Doctor A. J. Cronin’. He was literally attacking the fort of medical profession which was considered invincible and impregnable till that time. How a young doctor suffers to establish his practice, how and by whom the first patients are brought to his little consultancy, how misjudging and mean the health authorities are, how wicked a few among them are to sacrifice human lives for riches and personal gains, how prosperity, academic brilliance and recognition in the medical world affects a good doctor’s view points- everything that were considered as a taboo and something unspeakable in human speech and writing- was dissected and made open by this doctor in this famous novel. If someone wishes to read this novel to learn what is in it, it is also good to know in advance about the only drawback of this novel. It will have a very good and optimistic ending if we simply tear away the last chapter. This doctor later in his life had a turning point in his career, of undergoing treatment for a disease and recuperation during which period he wrote a novel to escape from the boredom of leading an uneventful life in a quiet village. The novel became a great success. Then the world saw him settling himself as a writer. All his literary creations are simple, lucid and thought-provoking. This essay is a chapter from his book ‘Adventures In Two Worlds’.

Western science and eastern philosophy meet in closed quarters, to discuss the existence of God.

 

From a time when doctors were gods. 1942.

In the past century, when the individual achievements of science found its peak in the personality of Albert Einstein, after establishing the theory of relativity and gravity, this great scientist startled the world by hinting about the probability of the existence of a God as a Force of Super Intelligence. He once met the famous Indian philosopher and poet Rabindranath Tagore with whom, it is believed, he made a long and deep discussion in this matter in closed quarters, the details of which both these dignitaries kept private till the end of their lives. The world would have very much thrilled to read what this world scientist Einstein discussed with the world philosopher Tagore in the matter of the existence and properties of God. The matter of this discussion is still unknown to the world.

Searching for a soul inside the human body in the coal districts of England.

 

Human body is a wonder but who created this wonder and what intelligence went into the making of it is still a thing of speculation. Like all medical students, Cronin was a non-believer in the Super Intelligence. The human body seemed to him only a complex machine. As he dissected the formalin-impregnated bodies in the anatomy room of his medical college, he searched for the existence of a soul inside the bodies but could not find any. Therefore he used to deny the existence of God. He says that this might have been due to the various distractions and diversions of his mind in the young age. After graduation, when he went out into the world to work in the Coal Districts of England, he saw very poor people suffering hard, but at the same time believing in God. New spiritual values were made apparent to him through slow but regular experiences in his life. He realized that the compass of existence held more than what his medical text- books revealed. The shortness and brevity of his younger outlook was lost with time. He lost his feeling of superiority and became a humble human being, which was his first step towards finding God.

Rich significance of the lowly life of a nurse and the emptiness in the life of a dignified physician.

 

Many things to learn from nurses. A 1942 picture.

Dr.Cronin’s working with the District Nurse Madame Olwen Davies brought him many theological experiences. She was dedicated to serve the poor but was a low-paid employee. Cronin once pointed out this to her and said she actually deserved an increased salary and that God knew she was worthy of it. Then with a smile she replied that if God knew she was worthy of it, then she was satisfied. This revelation made Cronin nearer to God. The rich but humble significance of the District Nurse’s life was revealed to him. And he sensed the emptiness in his life also.

One word of challenge from a simple-minded school boy, and the ignorance of a distinguished zoologist is shattered.

 

An invisible hand behind every creation of beauty.

One half of the world believes in God whereas the other half is peopled by non-believers. No one is certain whether God exists or not. Man denies God in the light of science, but the beauty of the starlit night skies underlines the existence of a primary creator who is very intelligent, imaginative and aesthetic. A Latin tag says ‘Ex nihilo nihil’ which means ‘nothing can come of nothing.’ Dr.Cronin illustrates this in a fine example from his experience. In London, he had once organized a Working Boys’ Club where a distinguished zoologist was invited to give a lecture. ‘The Beginning Of Our World’ was the subject of his speech. In brilliant oration he explained to the boys how the first protoplasmic cell took form from the pounding pre-historic seas Aeons and Aeons ago. The lecture ended in applause. Then one innocent boy asked him how the first sea came there. Nothing can come out of nothing. This suggests that there might have been a primary creator. The orator could find nothing in answer. The logic of this test-tube scientist was crumbled by one word of challenge from a simple-minded boy.

I see my cherry trees in bud, and then in flower, and then in fruit, and then I believe in God.

 

Cherry trees in full blossom.

We often see many good people suffer in this world. This makes us doubt the existence of a God. There has to be an explanation for this injustice. Cronin says that evil and pain in life in this world is justifiable. It is part of the plan of the primary creator. He asks us to refer to the Book of Job in the Bible. Life is not a pleasure-hunt but a preparation for the other world, whether it would be life or anything else for us there in the next existence. Cronin’s meeting with an old man in an Italian church near Fiesole clarified this. Cronin asked the poor old peasant whether he believed in God. His answer was: “I see my cherry trees in bud, and then in flower, and then in fruit, and then I believe in God.”

Note:

‘When we talk with God, it is prayer. When God talks with us, it is schizophrenia.’

Mankind has the companionship of God alone in his long voyages through agonies, sufferings and miseries. He stands just behind those who pine in their hearts and those who sing in their mirth. The designer and creator of this universe certainly was a very imaginative person, a being whose mind was given to supreme conceptions of beauty and harmony.

[Prepared in September 1990]

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

To read about the life and people of Kerala, the author’s native land, visit KERALA COMMENTARY here.

For more articles of this kind, visit SAHYADRI BOOKS here or BLOOM BOOKS, TRIVANDRUM.

Tags

Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Health Services, British Novelists, Coal Districts Of England, Corruption In The Medical Field, Discussions Behind Closed Doors, Discussions Unrevealed To The World, Does God Exist, Dr A J Cronin, Einstein And Tagore, English Writers, Essays Reintroduced, Evils Of The Medical Profession, Ex Nihilo Nihil, Existence Of God, How The First Sea Came There, Is There A Creator, Nothing Comes Out Of Nothing, P S Remesh Chandran, Reintroduced Literature, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Super Intelligence, The Beginning Of Our World, The Creator Was Intelligent And Imaginative, The Life Of A Doctor, The Life Of A Nurse, Theological Experiences

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’. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Ranges.

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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/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/03/010-leave-this-chanting-rabindranath.html

 

God was the most beautiful creation of mankind, created in his exact image- man’s own image- playful, lovely and comely, so that he can easily identify himself with God. So why not love him ardently and affectionately, and respect him beyond everything? After creating mankind, God did not wish to leave them alone but decided to stay with them, which was a great sacrifice on His part. Leave This Chanting is one of the most read poems of Rabindranath Tagore, with the most universal message.

A house in Bengal where veena, thabala and mridangam resounded day and night.

 

01. A Tagore Portrait 1886 By Unknown.

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 was no wonder music and rhythm found their way into his heart. Only the immovable things in Tagore’s 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 with exceptional dreams. His hundreds of poems and songs written in the Bengali language brought renaissance to Bengal. He himself tuned his songs and rarely translated these songs to English himself, a very unfortunate affair.

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

 

02. Tagore In 1925 By Unknown.

Politics also seemed to fit him well. Along with Mahathma Gandhi, Nehru and Sarojini Naidu- all writers- he served as one of the leading lights and sources of inspiration for the Independence Movement of India. His poem ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ was a world famous creation 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 wretched position into which the British Administration pushed India into, a country with a longer and richer heritage than England. Another famous poem, ‘Govinda’s Disciple’, was a satire on the greed for material wealth manifest even in supposedly spiritual people. This poem Leave This Chanting exposed the pseudo-zeal of worshippers everywhere and gained an important place in world literature for this reason. Just as ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ contained his vision of a Free India, and Govinda’s Disciple the need for Renouncement of Material Wealth for Enlightenment, ‘Leave This Chanting’ contains his vision of Uncontaminated Worship.

God has gone out to stay with tillers, stone-breakers and path makers.

 

03. Close Family of Rabindranath Tagore By Unknown.

(Left to right: Mira Devi, youngest daughter, Rathindranath Tagore, eldest son, Rabindranath Tagore, Protima Devi, wife of eldest son Rathindranath Tagore and Madhurilata Devi, eldest daughter).

Leave This Chanting is an advice to worshippers everywhere, to seek God not inside but outside the temples, among labourers. The worshippers sing Manthras and count Rudraksha Beads inside the shut, dark, lone corners of their temples, but when they open their eyes their God is not to be seen anywhere there inside those temples. They must be blind to think that the God who created open lands and mountains and oceans would be pleased to stay inside their shut little temples. How could God rest in such suffocating places of confinement? Tagore was not new to sights of Jungle Shrines in Bengal where anyone could light a lamp and pray to the deity and stealthily come and go as he wished. (As Jungle Shrines are pagan places of worship in rustic jungles which are ideal places for Tagore’s kind of Gods to stay, a short note on Jungle Shrines is provided as Annexure at the end of this article). When at night a desperate human being seeks the solace at the door steps of a temple or a church, he finds that they are walled-in, closed and locked preventing entry. What kind of a temple and worship is that? So God has gone out to stay with the tillers, stone-breakers and path makers who do the dirtiest and the heaviest of works, opting to stay with them all day and night, in the heavy heat of the Sun and the chilling cold of the down pouring Rain, without minding his clothes getting covered with dust and dirty water. Those who seek God must put off their holy mantles, wear workers’ uniforms 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.

 

04. Tagore Born, Brought Up, And Passed Away Here By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary.

When and where 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 the 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 he sees Him 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 hoary wailing was to last till the end of his un-contented second life, so it is told. God’s message to the second saint was that he had to pass through as many births and deaths before his Release as there were leaves in that huge banyan tree standing above him. The instant he heard this ‘good news’ he began to shout and laugh out of beaming happiness now that he has been assured Deliverance some day, though in a far distant future, a day perhaps Aeons away. 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 the world any day: he has come to stay.

 

05. Tagore Reading To Others 1925 By Unknown.

Deliverance is for those who love this world and the life here. Mukthi or Release is not the leaving this world; it is divine attachment, not detachment. God created this world and decided to stay with this world forever. How tender, ardent, and comely such a God must have been! The result is 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 till the end of the days, and he likes being bonded to this world. Most of his worshippers are but 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 the Sun and the Shower. There is no harm in their robes becoming tattered and stained like God’s, because they are standing nearer to their God now anyway. Those who seek God should be prepared to meet him and stand by him in toil and in the sweat of their brow.

Tagore acquainted himself with peasants and workers at Santi Niketan.

 

06. Tagore With Gandhi And Kasturba 1940 By Unknown.

Tagore was born in 1861 in Calcutta as the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. At the age of 12 he conducted extensive travels in North India with his father. His first poem was published in 1877 at the age of 16. In 1878 he traveled to England for schooling but returned in 1800 without finishing and married Mrinalini Devi in 1883. He was 22 and she was 10, not unusual among Hindu Brahmins then. For the next ten years he managed their vast ancestral family estates in Bengal and Orissa where he acquainted himself with peasants and workers. As their Zemindar, he collected only a nominal rent from his tenants. His family’s famous Shelaidaha Estate is now in Bangladesh. In 1901 Tagore moved to the family estate at Santi Niketan (Abode of Peace) and found an ashram there- actually an experimental school. It followed in the lines of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. Soon a Sri Niketan for rural agricultural development also was founded. His educational concepts as a writer and philosopher fruitioned here and the ashram later became famous as an experimental school for young men, equally famous as its annexed Viswa Bharati World University.

 

Tagore hated closed class rooms and loved to study in the open, under shades of trees.

 

07. Tagore And Jawaharlal Nehru 1940 By Unknown.

Debendranath Tagore’s family in Calcutta consisted of thirteen sons and daughters, his in-laws and their children, most of them poets, playwrights, composers, musicians, novelists and philosophers. Their concerts and plays were performed in their vast mansion and people gathered there to view. Classical Western music and Bengali music were regularly performed there. Their interests spread from making theatrical productions and publishing literary magazines, to managing vast family estates and mansions, even in Brighton in England.

 

Tagore loved studying in the open, preferably under tree shades, and hated closed class rooms. Swimming, trekking, gymnastics, judo, wrestling, literature, history, biology, mathematics, astronomy, drawing, Bengali, Sanskrit and English- all came under the syllabus he himself decreed for him. His self-decreed syllabus more than compensated for his lack of interest in regular academic instruction. In Santi Niketan and Viswa Bharati University, he gave importance to all these faculties to be instructed in the open. It was in Santi Niketan the great bulk of his literature was produced.

 

One of the few persons who renounced British Knighthood.

 

Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his collection of poems Gitanjali after it got translated into English. He was the first non-European to get the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish Academy assessed the prize-winning Gitanjali as a ‘profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse’. He was knighted by the British in 1915 but unsuccessfully tried to renounce this title after the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as a protest against Britain’s suppressive policies in India. His repudiation letter to the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford was not accepted.

 

A prolific composer who set tune to more than 2200 songs, known collectively as Rabindra Sangeet.   

 

The talent of Tagore is spread over a variety of genres. There are fifty plus volumes of poetry and several volumes of short stories, besides eight novels and four novellas. Quite a number of essays, dance and musical dramas, travel diaries and two autobiographies were also spawned by him. Exhibitions of his drawings and paintings were held in Paris and London and throughout Europe. Tagore was a prolific composer of music who set tune to more than 2200 songs, flowing through the entire range of human emotions, this great mass of music generally known as Rabindra Sangeet. It is said ‘there is no cultured home in Bengal where Rabindranath’s songs are not sung. Even illiterate villagers are well-versed in his songs’. His achievements as a poet, philosopher, playwright, novelist, composer and visual artist reshaped the literature and music of not a few countries in his continent and other continents.

 

The National Poet of India passing away.

 

08. Tagore Portrait 1909 By Anonymous.

Tagore’s poems, plays, dramas, short stories, novels, essays and travelogues are noted for their simple and non-complicated language. His thousands of songs are noted for their rhythmic and lyrical quality. Letters from Europe and The Religion of Man are compilations of his essays, lectures and travelogues which gained for him an immortal place in world literature. The Religion of Man includes as appendix a brief note on his conversations with Einstein, titled ‘Note on the Nature of Reality’. The Complete Works of Tagore published in Bengali in connection with his 150th birthday came to eighty volumes. Tagore’s all works available in English were published as ‘The Essential Tagore’ by the Harvard University Press in collaboration with Viswa Bharati University in 2011. In 1940 Oxford University awarded him an honorary doctorate. He died on August 7, 1941 in Calcutta aged eighty. 

 

Tagore- an international influence.

 

09. Tagore With Einstein In Berlin 1930 By Unknown.

The more than thirty countries in the five continents which Tagore visited between 1878 and 1932 include England, United States, Japan, Peru Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Bali, Java, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Soviet Union and Sri Lanka. His travels in Russia, Europe and America in the 1930 were mostly lecture tours. His international friends included Charles F. Andrews, William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Robert Bridges, Ernest Rhys, Romaine Rolland, Albert Einstein, Aga Khan III, Reza Shah Pahlavi, Henri Bergson, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. Yeats wrote the preface to the English Gitanjali. Andrews came to live with Tagore at Santi Niketan. Mexico and Peru gave $100,000 each to Shanti Niketan School.

 

International celebrities and Nobel laureates influenced by Tagore.

 

10. Tagore At His Painting Desk 1932 By Unknown.

There is also a long line of international celebrities and writers, many of them Nobel Prize winners, who were influenced by Tagore directly or indirectly. Their names include Yasunari Kawabata of Japan, Vincenc Lesný of Czech Republic, André Gide of France, poet Anna Akhmatova of Russia, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit of Turkey, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral of Chile; Octavio Paz of Mexico; Zenobia Camprubí, Juan Ramón Jiménez, José Ortega y Gasset, and Jiménez-Camprubí of Spain. The sitar maestros Vilayat Khan and Amjad Ali Khan were also inspired by him.

 

Poems, novels, plays, travelogues, short stories, and memoirs written by Tagore.

 

Songs of Bhanusimha Takur 1884, The Golden Boat 1894, Gitanjali 1910, Wreath of Songs 1914 and The Flight of Cranes 1916 are original collections of Tagore’s Bengali poems. The Genius of Valmiki (Valmiki-Pratibha) 1881, The Sacrifice 1890, The King of the Dark Chamber 1910, The Post Office 1912, The Waterfall 1922 and Red Oleanders 1926 are his original Bengali plays. The Broken Nest 1901, Fair-Faced 1910, The Home and the World 1916 and Crosscurrents 1929 are his original Bengali fiction. My Reminiscences 1912 and My Boyhood Days 1940 are memoirs in Bengali. Thought Relics 1921 is one of the original works of Tagore in English.

 

Translations of Tagore from Bengali into English.

 

So many of Tagore’s Bengali works have been translated into English. They include Gitanjali: Song Offerings 1912, The Gardener 1913, The Crescent Moon 1913, Chitra 1914, The Post Office 1914, The King Of The Dark Chamber 1914, Songs Of Kabir 1915, The Spirit Of Japan 1916, Stray Birds 1916, The Hungry Stones 1916, Fruit-Gathering 1916, The Cycle of Spring 1919, The Fugitive 1921, The Wreck 1921, Fireflies 1928, My Boyhood Days 1943, The Home And The World 1985, My Reminiscences 1991, I Won’t Let you Go 1991, Glimpses of Bengal 1991 and The Lover of God 2003.

 

Critics are of the opinion that translations of Tagore’s poems into English are almost all inferior, unless Tagore himself translated them. Tagore, who was a gifted writer in English, but did not care to translate his poems into English or write them in English; only a few of them were written by him in English. That fact was, he thrilled in writing in Bengali.

 

Films in Bengali and Hindi based on Tagore’s works.

 

11. Leave This Chanting Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHnjSnH1qa8

 

Quite a number of films were produced based on the novels and short stories of Tagore. The first one Natir Puja of 1932 was directed by Tagore himself, the only film ever directed by him. Then came Naukadubi 1947, Kabuliwala 1957, Kshudhita Pashaan 1960, Teen Kanya 1961, Charulata 1964, Ghare Baire 1985, Chokher Bali 2003, Shasti 2004, Shuva 2006 and Chaturanga 2008 in Bengali, directed by eminent directors at the time. Kabuliwala was directed by Tapan Sinha, Teen Kanya, Charulata and Ghare Baire by Satyajit Ray and Chokher Bali by Rituparno Ghosh. Balidan 1927, Milan 1946, Kabuliwala 1961, Dak Ghar 1965, Uphaar 1971, Lekin 1991 and Char Adhyay 1997 were Hindi films based on Tagore’s works.

 

The man who composed the national anthems of three countries.

 

India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and Bangladesh’s national anthem ‘Amar Shonar Bangla’ were Tagore’s compositions. The Sri Lankan national anthem ‘Namo Namo Mata’ was inspired by his work. Amar Shonar Bangla was written to protest the 1905 Partition of Bengal by the British along communal lines, dividing the Muslim-dominated East Bengal and Hindu-dominated West Bengal. Jana Gana Mana was written in a Sanskritized form of Bengali, to be used in Indian National Congress platforms. Namo Namo Mata’s composer Ananda Samarakoon was a student at Tagore’s at Viswa-Bharati University in Santiniketan and it is even doubted that Tagore himself composed the tune or wrote the lyrics.

 

Narrow-minded teachers like to reiterate that Tagore wrote prose poems and free verse.

 

In a house where tabala, sitar, harmonium, violin and tambourine resounded day and night from all rooms and all inhabitants were poets, musicians or composers, how could a child grow up without music in his mind? Many experts on Tagore Literature shamelessly and ignorantly claim that he wrote poems in free verse! Actually he was locking his lines as a challenge to music lovers and teachers, to prevent the haughty and the unpersevering among them from trying to access them without doing some hard work. We know Tagore had a built-in allergy towards narrow-minded academics and closed class rooms. All great poets from Tennyson to Tagore have their locking methods to prevent the non-interested and the un-tasteful from accessing them easily. The great poet Kalidasa, when asked what his greatest wish in life was, answered that ‘he never shall have the un-luck of having to recite poems before an un-tasteful audience! Un-tasteful teachers even go to the extreme of forbidding reciting poems tunefully by students; they are unable to sing them, so they do not tolerate students singing them. They will only permit poems to be spoken like prosaic uttering, in those ridiculous accents they teach of course, hiding from children the fact that accents are impurities on language, added by generations through time. Tagore wrote poems in finished metrical forms, with perfect music inborn, but he split his lines to confuse the reader. Once the lines are rearranged as they should be, they are no more free verse but perfectly singable songs. It is not any ‘licentious dealing with the language’ as Matthew Arnold pointed out, but the legitimate right of the reader and the singer to rediscover the original tune that was in the mind of the poet when he wrote that poem. An illustration of how easy it is to recast Tagore’s poems in the true poetic form and sing them in the original tune incorporated in them is given here. Links are also provided here to recitation videos to prove that Tagore’s poems are not prose poems or free verse constructions as many teachers and critics like to repeat but perfectly metered poems with their own tunes.

 

ANNEXURE I: ABOUT METRICAL FORM AND MUSIC IN TAGORE POEMS.

 

12. Where The Mind Is Without Fear Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwQWwZsiDI4

 

Here is given a sample of the supposed free verse form Tagore used in writing ‘The Gardener 1915. See how it becomes a perfectly metered and singable poem by simply changing words in a line. It is clear Tagore wrote a perfectly metered poem and locked lines to prevent the ugly-minded and the un-interested from singing and enjoying it- a universal trend among brilliant poets.

 

I. Free verse form with lines locked:

 

‘Who are you, reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence? I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds. Open your doors and look abroad. From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before. In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.’ (From ‘The Gardener 1915’).

 

II. Metrical form with lines recast:

 

The Gardener 1915

 

Who ‘are you, reader, reading my

Po’ems a hundred years

Hence? I cannot send you one single

Flower from this ‘wealth of spring,

 

One single streak of gold from yonder

Clouds. Open your doors

And look abroad. ‘From your ‘blossoming garden

Ga’ther fragrant mem’ries

 

Of the ‘vanished flowers of an ‘hundred years before.

In the ‘joy of your heart,

May you ‘feel the living joy that sang one

Spring morning, sending

Its ‘glad vo’ice across a hundred years.

 

(Recast in the true poetic form By P S Remesh Chandran)

 

See how easy it is to recast his poems. This technique can be applied to poems written by him in English and poems of his translated into English by others. (Link to a poem by Rabeendranath Tagore from ‘Love Songs of Tagore’, translated into English free verse from Bengali by Rabeendranath Chowdhury, and recast in the true poetic form by Remesh Chandran P S is provided at the end of this article. Free verse form dissuades people from singing them. Metrical form prompts them to sing them. Unfortunately Tagore chose to write in Bengali and even when he wrote in English, he locked his lines- a great loss to the English-speaking world.

 

ANNEXURE II: ABOUT JUNGLE SHRINES.

 

13. Govinda’s Disciple Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxgGvw5SIqk

 

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-Schencottah Route, turning right at Venkolla after Madathara will bring us to the Saasthaam Nada Marsh where there is one such shrine. It is situated in the middle of a dense forest but close to an inner-going forest road and is devoted to Saastha or Ayyappa, the son and manifestation of Lord Vishnu, himself a forest and mountain-dweller headquartered at Sabarimala. Lorries will stop there on their way to take in reed and bamboo loads, to pray for their safety through the climbs and descends in the steeply inclined and curvaceous hill tracts. They will dump oil bottles, cloth, incense sticks and match boxes under nearby rocks to protect them from rain and flash floods, so that the materials could be used by anyone any time. I myself was a frequenter of this jungle beauty spot inhabited by aborigines, and have liberally used these materials. After bathing in the cold and fresh forest stream and reposing lying on shaded rocks and shielding foliages for a while, I would light a lamp. When we light a lamp in this sequestered cool wilderness- if it is daylight fading and night approaching, the better- we feel the sublimity and pleasantness of God standing on our back and embracing us from behind. It is unique in that the traditional position of we standing in front of god is reversed. It’s like a father and mother holding child on their laps, not like the child standing in front of its father and mother for worshipping. This spot had the stone statue of a baby elephant. One day a real lone elephant- one among a herd which usually passes that way- gave the baby elephant a blow with its trunk and broke the statue’s trunk. It did not like the way the baby stone elephant held its trunk.

 

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song.

 

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers. The other two Tagore poems available as recitation videos in Bloom Books Channel are Where The Mind Is Without Fear and Govinda’s Disciple.

 

You Tube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHnjSnH1qa8

 

External Links to Tagore’s works by the author.

 

1. Leave This Chanting: Poem

Article http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/03/010-leave-this-chanting-rabindranath.html March 2012

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHnjSnH1qa8 June 2015

 

2. Where The Mind Is Without Fear: Poem

Article http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2014/10/066-where-mind-is-without-fear.html October 2014    

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwQWwZsiDI4 May 2015

 

3. Govinda’s Disciple: Poem

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxgGvw5SIqk June 2015

 

4. The Home Coming: Short Story

Article http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2014/09/060-home-coming-rabindranath-tagore.html September 2014 

 

5. Awakening: Poem Lyrics

http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2010/09/awakening-poem-from-bengal-recast-by.html September 2010

 

First Published: 22nd Mar 2011

Last Edited…….: 29 March 2017

 

__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

 

Picture Credits:

01. A Tagore Portrait 1886 By Unknown.

02. Tagore In 1925 By Unknown.

03. Close Family of Rabindranath Tagore By Unknown.

04. Born Brought Up Passed Away Here By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary.

05. Tagore Reading To Others 1925 By Unknown.

06. Tagore With Gandhi And Kasturba 1940 By Unknown.

07. Tagore And Jawaharlal Nehru 1940 By Unknown.

08. Tagore Portrait 1909 By Anonymous.

09. Tagore With Einstein In Berlin 1930 By Unknown.

10. Tagore At His Painting Desk 1932 By Unknown.

11. Leave This Chanting Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

12. Where The Mind Is Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

13. Govinda’s Disciple Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

14. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives

 

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

14. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

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:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles
Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts
FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

 

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, English Songs, Free Student Notes, Indian Poems, Indian Poets, Indian Writers In English, Leave This Chanting, P S Remesh Chandran, Poem Reviews, Poetry, Poetry Appreciations, Poets, Rabindranath Tagore, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Tagore Poems.

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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 him 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

 

Divya
11th Jun 2012 (#)

 

Dear Remesh sir,
I liked the way you have given the beautiful explanation of God and his ways while analyzing this poem. The way you related Tagore’s understanding of life with apt photos is great. Congrats and thanks sir.

 

PSRemeshChandra
26th Jun 2012 (#)

 

Tagore’s family background with all in his large family being artists, litterateurs and musicians, and his national background of all geniuses of his time being optimistic about the future of mankind, contributed much to the molding of his mind, which thrilled at the prospect of creating music for a generation, just like touching the tightened string of a sitar. This ‘unknown and revealing space in the inner sanctum of his mind’ as Mr. Rathnashikamani phrases it, he attributed to the centuries-old light of thought, enveloping the heritage of India. Tagore composing his songs of the soul at the same time as Sarojini Naidu pouring out her heart through the melodious songs of hers, both in English, marks an immortal phase in the history of the world literature. Thank you, Rathnashikamani, by adding the beauty of your words to this simple page. @ Rathnashikamani.

 

PSRemeshChandra
26th Jun 2012 (#)

 

I do know about the person if it is Mr. P. Parameshwaran whom sister Rama Devi Nina is referring to here. He is a person dedicated to the spiritual up-liftment of India and keeps alive the interest of Indian society in religious awareness. He presenting a gifted poetess like you with a copy of Tagore’s Gitanjali is indeed a symbolic tribute to your singing soul. The line you quoted from Gitanjali, ‘I slept and dreamt that life is joy…..I awoke and saw that it was service…..’ reminds me of the famous lines of another poet of more than Tagore’s caliber: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ has exactly similar lines. Perhaps Tagore was inspired by the exhilarating music in Coleridge’s lines or these two great souls in two different countries might have thought the same way. Do you still find time to do voluntary service at Amrithanandamayi Hospital in Ernakulam Cochin? @ Rama Devi Nina.

 

PSRemeshChandra
26th Jun 2012 (#)

 

When we sing, the playful god stands behind us. We will actually wonder who is singing, we or him. When we write about a person, imagine that person whom we write about is standing close behind us, watching what we are writing. It is like a little school girl writing an essay for her class describing the ‘role model of her life’, which is actually her mother, and the mother is secretly standing behind her, reading it. Surely the mother will want to kiss and embrace the daughter. When we write about bygone persons, remember that are standing behind us, reading it all.

 

PSRemeshChandra
26th Jun 2012 (#)

 

God is a playful being as any of us. He is not a revengeful person. When we see tiny little children, we see him; when we hold them, we hold him. He has a child’s mind. The radiance we see in the face and body of all little children is his feature. Their character is his character. He is our early childhood, and it is out duty not to fail him ever. Thank you, dear Divya, for enjoying this article. From the flow of your words it is only evident that you intended to write more things. So please do write. @ Divya.

 

sakshinarang
26th Jun 2012 (#)

 

A very nice interpretation….one of my favorite poems.

 

PSRemeshChandra
26th Jun 2012 (#)

 

Do you like to sing it dear Sakshi Narang? Leave This Chanting is one of the most musical poems of Tagore, with admirable lyrical perfection. He himself was a music composer who not only wrote but composed music also for hundreds of songs in the Bengali language which collectively is termed as Rabindra Sangeet. His English songs like Where The Mind Is Without Fear, Govinda’s Disciple and Leave This Chanting also are all exotic musical creations. As all talented poets of the past did, like Kahlil Gibran and many others, he locked his lines to the reader, by arranging the lines in the continuous flow of prose, without marking or suggesting where the lines should end or begin. He knew a persevering reader and singer will struggle for days on end and one day, at one blessèd moment, rediscover the real music hidden in them, which would the greatest thrill for that diligent and persevering reader. So, Tagore’s poems including Leave This Chanting provide us a double delight: we delight in its meaning and sense, and then we delight in its music. Or it also can be in the other order. @ Sakshi Narang.

 

First Published: 21 March 2011

Last Edited:       28 March 2017

 

Identifier: SBT-AE-010. Leave This Chanting. Rabindranath Tagore Poem.

Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

Editor: P S Remesh Chandran

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

009

Two Famous Death Poems By 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/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/009-two-famous-death-poems-shirley-and.html

 

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 has been written on death than on birth. It is considered an important event in man’s life. In many communities throughout the world, death is an occasion for rejoicing 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.

 

I. 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 on stage as plays. His wishes have been granted by Time. Now his plays are rarely acted, but being read and appreciated as literary masterpieces as he wished. He is being taught and learned in universities, and less in theatres. 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 will be paid in Heaven.

 

01. A Burial Painting By Enrico Pollastrini 1851.

When we have done our works in this world, we return to our home which is in heaven where we will be paid our wages for the work done in the world. We will be blessed or punished according to the measure of the virtue or vice resulted from our work. It is a consolation to think that there is an after world there where our actions are weighed and judged by sympathetic and kindly beings, after having gone through a life time of injustices and ingratitude in this world. Death is a release which is universal and man cannot escape from it.

Even the young brimming with vibrancy and loveliness of life has to die.

 

02. Children Accompanying The Dead To Burial By Vasily Perov 1865.

There is no armour to hold against death and man has to succumb to the inevitability of the final passing away. Or is it the passing away final? He has no protection from death and cannot refuse to pass through this gateway of death to the next world and the next form of being. ‘The rich and leisurely golden lads and girls and the poor and lowly chimney-sweepers who do the dirtiest of works- all have to die. Physical strength, scholarship and authority follow man to the grave and finally turn to dust and oblivion. Even young lovers who seem to be brimming with the vibrancy and loveliness of life have to die some day.

Is it to bliss that we go after death?

 

03. The Poor Man’s Way To Grave By Jakub Schikaneder 1886.

The parting soul finally gets some peace, since it has now been released from the clutches of the world, 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 of well-placed persons and people in power and the mortal strikes from authorities and tyrants- the very things that make hell in human lives and man fears most – needn’t anymore be feared.

With death, our burdens of life are lightened, for we do not need clothing and eating anymore.

 

04. Wounded Worker’s Farewell By Erik Henningsen 1895.

With death, our burdens of life are lightened, for we do not need clothing and eating anymore. The deadly lightning and thunder-bolts- the dread of all out-in-the-field workers- will not touch/affect us anymore. Abusing words and unkind criticism, which we encountered everywhere in life and which constantly humiliated us, lowered our status and self-respect and tormented our souls, will no more reach our ears, for we will have no more ears. Weeping and happiness are past. We reach bliss, the state of supreme happiness. And distinctions also are things of the past; the fragile reed and the hardened oak are the same to the dead man.

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

 

05. Grave Diggers And Grieving Family By Erik Henningsen 1886.

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

 

James Shirley was an English teacher and poet who became famous later for his plays. He died during the great London Fire. Like Shakespeare’s Fear No More, Death The Leveller also is part of one of his plays. He conceives death as a great leveller, an equalizer, who levells the distinctions between the rich and the poor, the high and the low and the hard and the 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 his 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.

 

06. A Poor Man’s Funeral By Oscar Graf 1900.

Glory is but a momentary glimpse of eternity. It just shows us the magnificence waiting for us in our after life to live in permanently. Great emperors like Alexander and Ashoka have conquered vast plains of land and hordes of armies, won battlefields and raised victory memorials, but they too have had to go to the other world. Great swordsmen reaped heads of opponents in the battlefield, but even their strong nerves have had to yield at last and they too have had to stoop to fate, early or late. Actually they were not winning over the other, but taming each other. Great War heroes all will become wounded captives one day, creeping to their deaths. In the hands of death they are now pale with shame because, unlike in the battlefield, they cannot fight their captor now.

Only our just and right actions will blossom and emit sweet smell, after we have gone.

 

07. Laid At Rest In Elegance By Luis Montero 1867.

Victory memorials may wither away and great battles in history forgotten. 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 one day 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 away in dust.

Are we really living here, or lying somewhere else and dreaming about living here?

 

III. WHY THIS SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO SONGS?

 

Death is a universal closing of a way of life in one universe and the beginning of another in another universe. It is believed that, and also it is a thrill to think that, once that gravitational constriction of a black hole that is the life-proofed passage between two universes is passed, the dead and the now reborn organism would feel nothing about anything that might or might not have happened. It would be a feeling like everything reversed mathematically. Some seers have even doubted as to whether we are really living in this world, or lying relaxed in some other planet or universe and dreaming about living in this World. Where seers and poets are concerned, and involved, anything strange can be conceived and formulated. Bizarre notions are not un-travelled lands for poets. We would expect these two poets to elaborate on life after the feeling of death. It was but their modesty and reserve that prevented William Shakespeare and James Shirley from elaborating on after-death experiences, and not their unfamiliarity with any such notions, especially Shakespeare having created a long line of uncanny characters.

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

 

08. The Final Resting Place By Albert Anker 1863.

Since death is universal, it rouses similar feelings in man everywhere, though intensity and direction of emotions may vary from person to person, country to country and continent to continent. Some spend the time of bereavement in absolute silence and grief and some spend it in dancing and singing and revelry. The universality of death is a foundation for the similarity between the two poems, Fear No More and Death The Leveller. They both share the universal feeling about death. They are similar in many other aspects also. They hold the same views and project the same ideas. Both poems celebrate the glory of death. Both poems are part of plays by the authors. 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. Or it can also be that he was absolutely independent of Shakespeare’s influence in his thoughts. And both poets were Londoners too.

Has mankind lost the formula for the longevity of life?

 

What is the highest possible lifespan of human beings and how can it be raised are questions scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. How death occurs and why it occurs also have been subjects for research, and speculation, through many centuries. Some of the Biblical characters seem to have lived through 800 and 900 years. The ancient Indian classics Mahabharata and Ramayana also have plenty of characters who lived beyond a thousand years. They must have known the formula for the prolongation of life. Even though it is believed that the Bible is a coded manifesto recording everything that concerns man, even the events that may happen in his future, mankind seems to have lost this formula for suspending death and prolonging life. He could have lived at least 150 years and succumbed to death only after fulfilling his mission somewhat to his satisfaction, had he not lost this formula for longevity of life. Lifespan of human beings is not a fixed one, not seventy or eighty years anyway, for it has risen and fallen everywhere in accordance with the availability or unavailability of food and other resources.

What is the greatest wonder in this world?

 

09. Here Lies Your Ancestors By Rudolf Wiegmann 1835.

In Mahabharata, there is this story of Prince Yudhishdtira and his four younger brothers travelling through jungle in search of water when they were ousted from their kingdom after having lost a game of gambling to their co-brother. The youngest brother was the first to find water in a pond beneath a tree. But before he could drink, an incorporeal voice from heaven warned him not to drink that water lest he would die, unless he correctly answered a question before drinking. The question was ‘What is the greatest wonder in this world’? He heeded not the warning, drank the water, and fell dead then and there. His three elders who went in search of the youngest brother one after the other also had the same experience and fell dead beside that pond. Finally Yudhishdtira went in search of the four and was asked the same question by the incorporeal voice. ‘Even while death occurs everywhere around us and we still thinking we will never die is the greatest wonder in this world’ was Yudhishdtira’s answer, which pleased the incorporeal voice. It was the Man of Time in disguise, who resurrected from death the four princes and blessed Yudhishdtira for his virtuousness.

 

First Published: 21 March 2011

Last Edited……: 28 March 2017

__________________________________________

Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

__________________________________________

 

Picture Credits:

01. A Burial Painting By Enrico Pollastrini 1851.

02. Children Accompanying The Dead To Burial By Vasily Perov 1865.

03. The Poor Man’s Way To Grave By Jakub Schikaneder 1886.

04. Wounded Worker’s Farewell By Erik Henningsen 1895.

05. Grave Diggers And Grieving Family By Erik Henningsen 1886.

06. A Poor Man’s Funeral By Oscar Graf 1900.

07. Laid At Rest In Elegance By Luis Montero 1867.

08. The Final Resting Place By Albert Anker 1863.

09. Here Lies Your Ancestors By Rudolf Wiegmann 1835.

10. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

10. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

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Bloom Books Trivandrum, Comparison Poems, Cymbeline, Death Poems, Death The Leveller, Essays On Death, Fear No More, Free Student Notes, James Shirley, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Poems On Death, Poetry Appreciations, P S Remesh Chandran, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, William Shakespeare.

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008. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. Robert Frost Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandrn

008

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

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

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

Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/08-stopping-by-woods-robert-frost.html

Nature creates many beauties for man to observe but man, being burdened with the multitude of tasks of running 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.

 

01. Robert Frost Portrait 1913.

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.

 

02. Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know.

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.

 

03. All A Winters Work.

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.

 

04. To Watch The Woods Fill Up With Snow.

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.

 

05. Between The Woods And Frozen Lake.

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.

 

06. Forage is scarce in winter, so a long neck.

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?

 

07. Miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go…..

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.

 

08. The woods are lovely, but I have promises to keep.

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.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song.

 

09. Stopping By Woods Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers.

Link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Also read the article The Life And Works Of Robert Frost Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran.

 

10. Life And Works Of Robert Frost Article.

http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2017/04/073-life-and-works-of-robert-frost.html

Readers are advised to also read the article The Life And Works Of Robert Frost Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran in Sahyadri Books Trivandrum at http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2017/04/073-life-and-works-of-robert-frost.html

 

First Published: 19 March 2011

Last Edited……: 24 March 2017

 

__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

 

Picture Credits:

01. Robert Frost Portrait 1913 By The New York Times.

02. Whose woods these are I think I know By Ruhrfisch.

03. All a winter’s work By Böhringer Friedrich.

04. To watch the woods fill up with snow By Adrian Michael.

05. Between the woods and frozen lake By Harke.

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

07. Miles to go before I sleep By Jim Champion.

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

09. Stopping By Woods Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

10. Life And Works Of Robert Frost Title By Sahyadri Archives.

11. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

11. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

Tags

 

American Poets, English Poems, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Poem Appreciations, Poetry Reviews, Poem Studies, Free Student Notes, Poem Notes, College Notes, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Bloom Books Trivandrum, P S Remesh Chandran, Robert Frost, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, Nature Poems, Winter Poems

 

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

007

Song To The Men Of England. P B Shelley Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 18th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/21kpi-9l/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/07-song-to-men-of-england-pbshelley.html

 

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 they revolt? Karl Marx predicted workers’ revolution in England as follow up of the Industrial Revolution but it never happened. The English workers were inert.

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

 

01. A portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote each poem to celebrate a particular tune as we can see in his poems Song To The Men Of England, Ode To The West Wind, To A Skylark, The Cloud, Adonais and many others. He is considered one of the greatest poets in English and his influence on world literature is immense. When we refer to him as a revolutionary poet, it does not mean he stood for 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 vegetarian.

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

 

02. A 1939 weaving loom with flying shuttles.

Here in this poem, Shelley asks the Nineteenth Century peasants and workers of England why they are not revolting against the landlords and the industrial 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.

 

03. A 200 single yarn beaming machine of 1907.

Shelley’s questions to the workers of England skillfully bring out the pitiful living conditions they live in in England in 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 are shivering in the dark without cotton or coal. From their birth till their death why 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.

 

04. The celestial forge of Venus and Vulcan. 1641 Oil.

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 its creator, their purpose fails and they become spoiled. Critics have differed in their interpretations of the word ‘spoiled.’ A weapon to become spoiled means ‘to become stained with its maker’s blood’. Knives were invented for cutting away tree branches from paths of the ancient man in the forests, chains were invented for lifting huge weights from the ground, and whips were designed for taming wild animals. But when they come to be used for throat-cutting, binding men together and for beating man, their purpose fails and they become spoiled.

Sacrificing their lives, making arms and robes and riches for tyrants.

 

05. Forge arms, in your defense to bear.

The workers pay so high a price by living in constant pain, fear and poverty but even then, in spite of all these sufferings, at least their physical and spiritual needs are not satisfied. If not for fulfilling at least their basic animalistic needs, why should they labour from morning till night and from night till morning again? (Shelley can say this, but there was unbelievable poverty in England. Peasants and workers lived in abject poverty, want and exploitation in the middle of immense wealth arriving from distant colonies. Just a little food for sustenance and the shade of a shack to rest their heads beneath was all that the workers of England wished in those times). 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 not strange to note that Shelley, unlike most of the other poets in his times, has included love as a physical need of man, like food. The workers sow seed, but the harvest is taken away by lords. They bring wealth out of earth through their work, but the riches are amassed and kept by others. They weave robes for others, but their own children have nothing to wear. The arms they forge also go to the armories of oppressors. Thus Shelley convinces the workers of England and elsewhere that they are exploited to the extreme, and that rising through revolts is the only option before them.

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

 

06. Sow seed and reap, but let not the idle heap.

We will normally think the poet, spreading such radical ideas in Colonial England, will finally find his way to London Tower, the English equivalent of the notorious French Bastille. But it was also the era of the Industrial Revolution, immediately following the English version of the Italian Renaissance. No workers’ revolution ever occurred in England then or later as Shelley hoped, and Marx had predicted. Communism, the supreme theory of revolution, was born indeed in England’s soil, but Carl Marx fuming and storming his head in the British Museum for Thirty two long years came to nothing. Prosperity extinguishes revolutionary traits, whereas poverty inflames them. But England in later years did become a haven and world headquarters for revolutionaries in exile, due to the open door policy there, carved out of passionate poetry and literature by generations of sympathetic littérateurs. Shelley’s burning eloquence in this song cannot be denied its due share of influence and credit in bringing about this change.

The silent song of weaving winding sheets to graves.

 

07. Weaving their winding sheet to their graves.

Shelley showed to the workers exploited everywhere in the world that they have a right to rise in revolts. He encourages them to sow seed but let no tyrant reap the harvest; find wealth but let no impostor heap them. But his clarion-calls fell into deaf ears. Seeing the inertness of English workers, towards the end of his poem, Shelley condemns them. By not revolting against their exploiters, they finally will have to shrink to their cells, holes and cellars which are their dwelling places, as the vast halls they constructed and decorated are all possessed by the rich. Imagine a great massive elephant getting 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 the workers still wearing the chains they themselves wrought and shaking them. ‘The steel ye tempered glance on ye’, he writes. ‘Glance’ here has a dual meaning. He used the word in its both senses- ‘slip off from the hand causing a mortal wound’, and ‘have a quick look at’. The steel the workers themselves tempered is ridiculingly laughing at them! If their destiny goes on unhampered in this way, with plough and spade and hoe and loom- the tools of their trade- they will be continuing to build their tomb and weave their winding-sheet till their beautiful England becomes a vast sepulchre.

Shelley set fire to the conscience of his century.

 

08. Shelley’s poem To A Skylark Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFVoiRm-yEI

Shelley must have been very bold and daring to have published this poem during the peak of England’s colonial powers and sovereignty. And he certainly must have been extremely sympathetic and deliquescent in his attitude to workers in his native land. He indeed was a very brilliant poet to have set fire to the conscience of his century. This poem is a masterpiece of poetical eloquence, as well as of political eloquence. It is a brilliant example of commitment and involvement in flames, in action.

Thousands and thousands of workers and peasants succumbed to poverty and mortal illnesses in Shelly’s days in England. Not many poets in his times cared to write about these misfortune-struck people. And he too wrote not many poems of this kind about them. Perhaps he might have conceived that ‘the present turbulence in his times might be inimical to the fine achievements of mankind so far and become a hindrance to drastic changes in future’. That might have been why he decided to bless his land with a poem which would open everyone’s eyes to a world problem. It is a perfectly musical poem, with a perfectly balanced rhythm and a captivating tune which came along originally with the song. Actually the song and its tune are inseparable in this poem. Do not anyone be misled by those lazy, dragging and monotonous tunes which we find in many recitations of this song already circulating in the internet and those tuneless and prose-like utterances propagated by conventional and less imaginary teachers. They want only to exhibit before their listeners and poor students their pompous recitational skills and that impurity we call accent. They did sore injustice to the excellent musical-minded poet Shelley. The original tune of this poem proves that it was accompanied by some kind of rural peasants’ dance in some remote hamlet of England. It contains such a simple, light, country tune, with no complications.

Going through Shelley’s poems is like a squirrel going through a mountain of gold dust.

 

09. Shelley’s poem Ozymandias Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_exxBg5urk0

It would have been a fine spectacle to watch if someone orchestrated and choreographed the Song To The Men of England as a tribute to Shelley. Singing Shelley’s songs is like going through a savoury treat delightful to the tongue and the palates. A singer of this song would undergo an experience similar to the one of the squirrel’s who went through a mountain of gold dust and found it impossible not to be sprayed with a few golden dust particles.

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s life and works during 1792-1817.

 

10. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in 1792 August 04 in Horsham, England as the first of seven children of the Sir Timothy Shelley, a country squire and baron, and his wife Elizabeth Pilfold Shelley. His father was a British Parliamentarian of the Whigs Party. He began boys’ boarding school at Eton College in 1804. After six years’ of boarding school studies, he enrolled at University College, Oxford in 1810 where he became indifferent to studies, published ‘The Necessity of Atheism’ which made his father angry and caused his expulsion from Oxford the next year. He published his first novel ‘Zastrozzi’ also in that period. In 1811 he ran away with a young student Ms. Harriet Westbrook to Scotland who he soon became tired of. In 1813 he published the long poem Queen Mab and exposed his political views irrespective of his father being a conservative Parliamentarian. In 1814 he eloped again with the daughter of the famous writer and philosopher William Godwin- young Mary Wollstonecraft- to Europe and the next year we see Shelley hiding in London to evade his creditors. During the years from 1815 to 1818, Shelley became close friends with poets Lord Gordon Byron and John Keats, published The Spirit of Solitude in 1816, children were born and died, married the mother of their children Mary, toured Switzerland and came back with the book History of Six Weeks Tour published in 1817, his first wife Harriet took her life by jumping into London river, and his second wife Mary started writing the famous horror novel Frankenstein.

Shelley’s life and works during the years 1818-1824.

 

11. Writer Philosopher William Godwin.

In 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published Frankenstein, an all time success, Shelley published Ozymandias and The Revolt of Islam, and they travelled to Italy never to return. Song To The Men Of England and The Masque Of Anarchy were written while Shelley was in Florence. In 1820 Shelley wrote the mythological drama Prometheus Unbound, and in 1821 when John Keats died, he wrote the elegy Adonais. While living in Pisa and Rome, he completed the tragedy The Censy. In 1822 his schooner Don Juan caught up in a storm and Shelley died at the age of 29. He was cremated on the beach and his ashes buried in Rome. Sir. Timoti Shelley was still furious over the political and heretical writings of his son and threatened Shelley’s wife Mary in 1924 never to publish anymore of his son’s works while he lived. He even threatened to stop financial support to her if she did. After many years, in 1839, he reluctantly allowed Mary to publish Shelley’s collected poems and essays on the condition that ‘it contained no memoirs of his son’. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was an intellectual equal to Shelley in genius and her ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe of 1824 stands a monumental work.

Irony in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s life.

 

12. Different editions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Left wing activists considered Shelley as ‘Red Shelley’ but in real life he was a strict vegetarian and against blood sheds of any kind. His words were not final but wavering and often contradictory. He who said in his work Defense Of Poetry that ‘man’s imagination is only a reflection of god’s’ was expelled from Oxford University for publishing in 1811‘The Necessity of Atheism’. No one cared his non-belief in god was not final and binding. Literary critics pointed out that his views were contradictory and wavering for he became in soul The Cloud, The West Wind, The Skylark and The Man Of England all at the same time, synchronizing his mind with the natural elements and nature’s creations which were his characters, but these critics of Shelley forgot all the while that he synchronized his soul with his characters beautifully.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem Song To The Men Of England.

 

13. Song To The Men Of England Video Title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Bloom Books Channel has recitation videos of Song To The Men Of England, Ozymandias and To a Skylark. Their You Tube links are:

Song To The Men Of England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6nlrKRH10

Ozymandias:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_exxBg5urk0

To a Skylark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFVoiRm-yEI

A primitive prototype rendering of these song were made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, home made videos of these songs were released. In 2015, their third versions with comparatively better audios were released. The next versions, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. They are free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on them, till they become fine musical video productions, to help our little learners and their teachers.

First Published: 18th Mar 2011

Last Edited…….. : 15 April 2017

___________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
___________________________________________

Picture Credits:

01. Portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley 1819 By Alfred Clint.
02. 1939 weaving loom with flying shuttles By Imus Eus.
03. 200 single yarn beaming machine 1907 By Imus Eus.
04. The celestial forge of Venus and Vulcan 1641 By Le Nain Brothers.
05. Forge arms in your defense to bear By Penny Mayes.
06. Sow seed but let not the idle heap By Bernard Gagnon.
07. Weaving winding sheets to graves By Thomas Khaipi.
08. Shelley’s poem To A Skylark By Bloom Books Channel.
09. Shelley’s poem Ozymandias By Bloom Books Channel.

10. Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley By John Williamson.
11. William Godwin 1875 By Henry William Pickersgill.
12. Different Editions of Frankenstein By Andy Mabbett.
13. Song To The Men Of England Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.
14. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

14. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

 

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Poets, Free Student Notes, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Men Of England Wherefore Plough, P S Remesh Chandran, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poem Appreciations, Poem Notes, Poetry Reviews, Revolutionary Poems, Revolutionary Poets, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Song To The Men Of England

 

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Identifier: SBT-AE-007. Song To The Men Of England. Percy Bysshe Shelley Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Editor: P S Remesh Chandran


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/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/06-leisure-whdavies-appreciation-by.html

 

Man is always eager to observe and enjoy the beauties of nature. Only that he does not get enough time for rest 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 always be with them is only natural. Whenever he has to leave the beauties of nature behind, he pines in his heart as if leaving his homeland.

Go to a jungle river, bath and wash your clothes, spread them on rocks to dry and lie under some shady stream-side trees.

 

01. William Henry Davies Portrait 1915.

Staying with nature and enjoying the innocent beauties nature created around man is soothing to the soul and invigorating to the physic. Going to a riverside jungle, lying under a tree growing out of large boulders shading us from sunlight, listening to the voices of birds chirping nearby and the gentle murmur of a stream flowing away, is an experience not all can have everyday. Frequenting Jungle Rivers, bathing in river, washing our clothes and spreading them on rocks to dry and resting under a spreading tree while they are drying, is a pleasure we will wish to have everyday. Once we have visited such a scenic beauty spot and have rested there feeling the wind blowing across us and water flowing below us and listened to waves gently lapping over the shore, we will consider ourselves lucky and would dream of going to such places again and again and refreshing us again.

Primitive man who sat in his mountain cave watching the beauty of a sunset was the first poet.

 

02. Reading in leisure: The greatest of all pastimes.

Archaeological excavations of ancient sites of human living have taught us that there has been no time in human history that was totally deprived of leisure and time for rest. Whenever man got freed of inevitable and immediate works, he always found a little time to indulge in leisurely activities like painting, singing, writing and debating. Primitive man who, after a delicious meal, sat in leisure in the mouth of his mountain cave and watched the beauty of a distant sunset was the first person who chiseled poems on rocks. From the snow-buried Neanderthal Valley in Germany and the ice-frozen caves of Cro-Magnon in France, we have dug up evidence of the outcomes of a hunting society’s pass-time and leisure in the form of magnificent rock wall paintings, and stood in awe.

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

 

03. Statue of Davies on the seafront of Port Williams.

Man is not alone in enjoying the beauties of nature and leisure. Cats, horses, cows, squirrels, birds- they all catharsizes their souls through leisure. Cats are the first to enjoy music, sunshine, rest and leisure. In beautiful evenings they can be seen washing and meticulously cleaning themselves taking hours, then walking to their regular elevated acoustically-optimized spots and sitting there listening to their favourite church or temple music coming through loudspeakers, while basking themselves in bright warm sunlight. Cows and sheep constantly and steadily gaze at things situated far away for any length of time, but if we go and stand behind them and look for what they had been gazing at for long that much interestedly, we will see nothing particular or special. They are enjoying their leisure.

Work stretches to fill the time available to finish it.

 

04. Cats are the first to enjoy leisure and sunshine.

One curious thing about work is it stretches itself to fill the time available to finish it. The more time available to finish it is there, the work takes more time to finish. So practically man gets no time for leisure. In earlier societies in which everyone had to work without rest to make their living, there was no leisure, no civilization and no culture to be mentioned, and they remained barbarians. ‘A society enters upon the process of civilization only when it is able to afford a minority who does no work but just sit, eat and think.’ Discovery of agriculture, mechanization and tools guaranteed enough food crops to be produced for all without everyone having to work for achieving this level of self-sufficiency and generated leisure time, and civilization began. Leisure is something that is disappearing from this world. Leisure is what brought civilization and culture into this world, will keep the light of civilization burning, and 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 and politics would crumble and fall. And without its promising prospect, man’s achievements on land, air, sea and space would go to smithereens.

Admiring eyes of a tramp and rural shepherd in America.

 

05. There is enough to see but man has not time. 

William Henry Davies was a British poet who lived during 1871-1940. In the earlier years of his life 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 human life. He was very keen in his observations of nature and in this he stands in line with Robert Frost and Alexander Pope.

Flight of Leisure through Middle Ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution and Twenty First Century.

 

Duration of leisure available in society is a measure of its achievements in arts, music, science, literature, civilization and culture. Since the invention of agriculture and the wheel, human society had been advancing steadily in this respect till the middle ages. Since then, slavery and bondage for the poor and corpulent fleshly ills for the rich became a custom, civilization nearly dried up and the world fell into a long period of dark ages. Only in a few corners of the world did the light of knowledge burn dimly but without diminishing. Human intelligence- chained up and bound- strove fiercely to free itself from the bondage of evil religion and the darkness of dogma, and a few rays of bright light began to appear here and there in the world. Mechanization and a series of scientific discoveries brought leisure again to man’s society since the Sixteenth Century and the ‘re-awakening of thought began, knowledge became fashionable and science commenced to stir’, the total effect of which we called Renaissance which lasted four centuries and marked a peak in human achievements. Industrial revolution of the Nineteenth Century brought lethargy and stupor for the Twentieth and Twenty First Centuries and leisure is now giving way to round-the-clock engagement, greed for riches and prosperity, and discontentment- the enveloping of another kind of dark ages. The result: civilization is drying up again, repeating the cycle.

Squirrels forget their hidden caches and man recovers them for dinner.

 

06. Basking in Sun in leisure after eating apple.

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 as long as the sheep or cows do at the things he likes. The cattleman profession of the poet is reflected here. Passing through the woods, he sees squirrels running everywhere and hiding their nuts in the grass. Sometimes they may forget these caches and man will find them and recover them for his dinner, the thought of which makes the poet laugh heartily, for he himself had often sought these forgotten stores in his hunger. But now he has no time left to enjoy the briskness and beauty of their movements.

Squirrels have a fixed time and route to enter a grove and drink honey before going to the next.

 

Have anyone observed a squirrel harvesting honey from a plantain grove? It has a fixed time and route to enter a plantation, say 3 PM in the evening for a particular plantation. It enters at one corner by jumping from a coconut leaf from the neighboring plantation into this grove, travels harvesting through all plantains along a time-and-distance-economized route and moves out at the opposite corner by jumping into a coconut tree on the edge of the grove, passing on to the next grove to harvest. After savoring honey from one plantain tree, it will jump to another through plantain leaves till all plantains in that grove are covered, without ever coming down to the ground which is risky. To make a living, it has to cover many groves each day and that is why it economizes the time and distance of travel. So, the squirrels have their fixed time and route to enter a grove and cover it before going to the next. The author of this article has had to closely watch this time-table and schedule to enter his grove to drink honey from plantains before the squirrel arrives.

Watching star studded skies at night was a great pastime for the primitive man.

 

07. Guardian of the gateway in leisurely vigil: A heron.

Water bodies with glassy surfaces reflecting nature is a fine spectacle in woods. While walking through woods, the sudden appearance of the view of a lake or brook through the woods is delightful. Clean brooks and streams reflecting the rippling broad daylight would appear like bluish star-studded skies at night with their abundance of stars, a majestic sight to see through woods. But alas! The rush of life urges the modern man to move forward without stopping, to attend to the daily chores of life, leaving behind those beautiful sights un-enjoyed.

Innocent radiance of a smile would embrace anyone with its charm and warmth.

 

08. Leisure beneath the mountain canopies 1523.

Hills and valleys and meadows remain the same but their expressions change with time, like expressions in a human face change according to mood. We call the face along with its expressions countenance. It is nature’s countenance that is changing with time. Morning, noon and night add specific expressions to nature’s face. It’s like nature going through various emotions and smiling. We know a smile begins in the eyes and finishes in the lips which would take a little time to complete. But we cannot sit there watching through morning, noon and night to see nature’s smile finish. If someone has that much time, he is lucky indeed. Like a child’s, nature’s smile has an innocent radiance which enchants anyone with its charm and it has warmth which embraces anyone sitting for long with her. That is why man wishes to remain with nature as longer as he can.

Today the river is crystalline, tomorrow she is choky and narrow and then she is muddy and overflowing, like a fine dancer changing costumes.

 

09. Absolute leisure in the lap of eternity.

Nature also dances. And she is a lavishly gifted dancer. Her attires and adornments constantly changes with the passing of seasons. Today the leaves are tender green, tomorrow they are red and then they are dead brown. Today the earth is hot, tomorrow it is wet and then it is cold and bare with snow. Today the river is crystalline, tomorrow she is choky and narrow and then she is muddy and overflowing. It is like a fine dancer on stage changing costumes and continuing dancing. For whom does she dance? It is the mother dancing to delight and make happy the child. She is dancing for birds, butterflies, animals, fishes, snakes and man. It is ultimate beauty that is dancing there and it is soothing and solacing to see this supreme dancing of Mother Nature on hills, valleys and meadows. Birds, butterflies and animals watch it but man alone does not have time to watch his mother dance.

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

 

10. Last home of Davies in Gloucestershire, England- Glendower.

Some critics have shrunk the meaning here to the presence of some mortal human beauty dancing and smiling 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 the wild. The smile of nature is completed only with completion of the cycle of seasons, which means, to see the full smile of nature, one has to wait there at the same spot throughout one full year. Or we will see only an unfinished part of a smile without seeing its beginning and end. Man cannot wait that long and he has 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 things we like as long as we wish to, then it indeed is a very poor life in this earth.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

 

11. Leisure Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MuZDwnc_a0

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem Leisure titled ‘What Is This Life If Full Of Care’. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers.

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

 

First Published: 16th Mar 2011

Last Edited….. : 23 March 2017

 
__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

 

Picture credits:

01. William Henry Davies Portrait 1915 By Bonhams.

02. Reading in leisure: the greatest of all pastimes By Cristofano Allori.

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

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

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

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

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

08. Leisure beneath the mountain canopies 1523 By Tang Yin.

09. Absolute leisure in the lap of eternity By John Webber.

10. Last home of Davies in Gloucestershire England By Martin Evans 123.

11. Leisure Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

12. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

12. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Poets, College Notes, English Poems, Free Student Notes, Leisure, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, P S Remesh Chandran, Poem Appreciations, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, W H Davies, What Is This Life If Full Of Care.

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005. The Lake Isle Of Innisfree. W B Yeats Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

005

The Lake Isle Of Innisfree. W B Yeats Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 16th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/19ed-hvz/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/01/05-lake-isle-of-innisfree-wbyeats.html

 

Poets are accused to be unrealistic day-dreamers who are given to fancy. Day-dreaming and fancying all do and take off, but only a few can safely land also. W B Yeats was a perfect poet who could do both. Not many have expressed fancy in more beautiful words than he did, and fewer still have reminded the world of its duties and responsibilities as effectively. This poem has always been a sensation among the poetry-reading public and is the international song and manifesto of solitude-seekers.

Who will not wish to go to a Lake Island of Innisfree?

 

01. William Butler Yeats Portrait.

William Butler Yeats was an Irish Poet whose poems are noted for rich musical content. The Lake Isle Of Innisfree also was born out of an exquisite simple tune. Anyone walking through crowded city streets in any country subjecting himself to vehicle fumes, noise and dust and the irritation of rubbing elbows with others in congested and closed quarters, will wish to go to some place he knows where things are calm, quiet and spacious. All will have one such place in his mind. The placid and quiet Lake Isle of Innisfree has become the universal symbol that comes into any poetry reader’s mind when thinking about a place that would soothe his soul. Yeats immortalized the place of his choice through this poem.

The dream of all poets: a secluded hut in a lonely island.

 

02. Crowded city streets, the dread of poets.

The poet is lying buried under and entangled in the clutches of a mad city life. It has finally become such unbearable and suffocating for him that if it continues to go on so, he thinks, he will arise and go to Innisfree never to return. Standing in the street, he dreams of the beautiful and quiet Lake Isle of Innisfree and the secluded and self-sufficient life he would have lived there. The usual questions that arise in our mind would be, where he will live on this island, what will he drink and what will he eat.

A small cabin made of clay and wattles in a lonely islet.

 

03. The roadside dream of all poets.

On arriving there he would build a small cabin, made of clay and wattles available in plenty in any island. The problem of housing is thus solved. For food, he will turn to cultivation of beans, a sustaining, nutritious and easy-to-produce food eaten by hard labourers everywhere. And he will place a bee-hive somewhere in the island and collect honey which is another concentration of compact energy. Who will say honey would be scant in an island of flowers? Thus he will lead a satisfied and self-sufficient life in the island, listening to the humming of bees and lying alone contented in some bee-loud glade. What a contrast would it be to the thick city life in Belfast or London! Seeing how the questions of food and shelter are addressed, we can only hope he would be roaming the island properly dressed too in his revelry, clothed in whatever is available on the island in the form of twigs, leaves and strings.

Ideal peace is a dew-drop falling on the heated head of a cricket.

 

04. Open fire gives the wattle roof a steaming effect.

In Innisfree, finally the poet will be able to get a little peace. The poet’s conception of peace is quite different from that of others, is strange, and lovely. In modern times, peace is an interval between two wars. Then what is peace to this poet? Even his idea of peace is modeled on the usual early morning sights one sees in rustic island life. The crickets in the island have been singing and shrieking all through the night, and are now sitting with heated heads, wishing for a bit of coolness to come from somewhere. It was then that the dews of night and the morning mist condensed into dew drops and a drop of peace from the trees above fell straight into the heated head of that cricket. What a peace- that cricket yelled! The peace that cricket enjoyed then, there, is what peace is to the poet.

Which is more beautiful- morning, noon or night?

 

05. The mid-lake abode of loneliness and quietness.

How are the morning, noon, evening and midnight in the Lake Isle of Innisfree? The readers of this poem would already have guessed about the freshness and nascence of the dew-filled and misty dawns in that island. The noon would be the most dreary and dull in all places but the noon in Innisfree is as charming and pleasing as the evenings in other places. And the evenings there are exotic, due to the presence of thousands and thousands of beautiful migratory and nestling birds. And doesn’t anyone think the nights there would be devoid of similar beauty. The midnights of Innisfree are illuminated by tiny lights of millions of fire-flies. What else is needed to enchant and seduce a poet?

All alone in a bee-loud glade: roused by car horns in the middle of a street.

 

06. Alone in the middle of a bee-loud glade.

Alas! Perhaps a car horn on his very back might have roused him from his daydreams: he is still walking the city streets of London, not reclining in the pleasantness of the lake island. However, he hears in his ears the very sound of lake water lapping gently over the shore. Standing in the roadways and walking the footpaths in that crowded city, he still hears lake water resounding deep in his heart. Yes, he can have his cool revelry and daydreams; that is his privilege. He is entitled to it. We can leave him standing there in the street, thinking about his Paradise Lost, hoping he won’t jump into the onrush of traffic in the city, in his delirium.

Unnatural for the poet to recite his poem killing his music.

 

07. Inspiration for the poem: Lough Gill in Ireland.

This poem, Lake Isle Of Innisfree, was born with an exquisite tune which suited every line, word and syllable in the poem. Gramophone recordings of Yeats himself reciting this poem were made in 1932. Do not anyone think he brought out the original music hidden in this poem in this recording of his- he just read it like reading any piece of prose. It is unnatural for a poet of this magnitude to recite his poem killing his music. This might have been due to two reasons: Perhaps he may have feared the recitation pundits of his times who covered absence of musical skills by showing themselves more on pronunciation and impurities like accents. Or he may have wished his tune to never come out in his times- to be rediscovered only by later generations. This observation by the this writer is made not without taking into account how Yeats, in Chapter XV, Volume III of The Collected Works of W B Yeats- 1916 published by Simon and Schuster, described how he came to write this poem. But still the fact remains- this poem has beautiful inborn music.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

 

08. The Lake Isle Of Innisfree Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faFK9_Gneug

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers.

You Tube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faFK9_Gneug

 

First Published: 16th Mar 2011

Last Edited…… :23 March 2017

 
__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

 

Picture credits:

01. William Butler Yeats Portrait By George Grantham Bain.

02. Crowded city streets, the dread of poets By Thaejas Kocherlakota.

03. The roadside dream of all poets By Kerala Tourism.org.

04. Open fire gives the wattle roof a steaming effect By Colin Smith.

05. The mid-lake abode of loneliness and quietness By Eibsee.

06. Alone in the middle of a bee-loud glade By Twiddleblatt.

07. Inspiration for the poem: Lough Gill in Ireland By Paul Mcllroy.

08. The Lake Isle Of Innisfree Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

09. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

09. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts

Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

 

Tags

 

Bloom Books Trivandrum, College Notes, Free Student Notes, Irish Poets, Lake Isle Of Innisfree, Literary Essays, Poem Appreciations, Poem Reviews, Poetry Appreciations, P S Remesh Chandran, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, William Butler Yeats.

 

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Identifier: SBT-AE-005. The Lake Isle Of Innisfree. William Butler Yeats Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Editor: P S Remesh Chandran


004. The Leech Gatherer. William Wordsworth Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

004.

The Leech-Gatherer. William Wordsworth Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 15th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/134a-2vx/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/004-leech-gatherer-william-wordsworth.html

William Wordsworth’s poetry has no style because nature and life has no style. The perfect plainness of his poems gained him popularity. He mostly wrote about nature and man and is considered the world’s greatest nature poet. The world was very late in recognizing his merit. However, glory found its way to his grave. The Leech-Gatherer, alternatively titled ‘Resolution And Independence’ is the universal symbol of eternal human labour.

A poet’s perennial interest in man and nature.

 

01. A Portrait of William Wordsworth.

When Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Mary Shelley decided to author one horror creation each, Coleridge wrote The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner which terrorized even him and became an all-time classic in horror. Mary Shelley wrote the novel Frankenstein which still terrorizes the world by creating nightmares in the minds of whoever thinks of that abominable human being that rogue scientist assembled from several body parts. Wordsworth, so soft in nature and inept at creating situations of terror, wrote The Stolen Boat which terrorized no one except perhaps him. Failing to create horror situations remained a shame in his mind for many years which he wished to rectify by writing a poem with finer horror conceptions someday. The Leech-Gatherer was an addition to this sequel of horror tales by these three friend writers which fulfilled its mission by creating a new sophistication in horror. It is one of the immortal creations of Wordsworth and can be identified as such among the hundreds of inferior poems he created throughout his life. There has been a universal question raised in this world which we have never been able to answer yes or no: ‘Will the world look after us and provide for us when we are old?’ The Leech-Gatherer is Wordsworth’s the answer to this ages-old question.

Appearance of exquisite nature pictures in poetry pages, after Edmund Spenser.

 

02. Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Once Home to Wordsworth.

The poem opens with presentation of a series of beautiful nature pictures, second only to Edmund Spenser’s in his The Fairee Queene. After the heavy rain and storm of yester night, the Sun is rising calm and bright as if nothing had happened the day before. The atmosphere is such still and silent that the sweet sounds of birds singing in distant woods can be heard as distinctly as if they were very near. The voices of Stock-Dove, Magpie and Jay, mixed with the pleasant noise of waters flowing everywhere, fill the atmosphere. All the Sun-loving creatures are out of doors, i.e., out of their dens and caves, and the simple grass is shining bright and fresh with rain drops adorning them. Unable to hide her mirth, the hare is running races on the moor in the morning air, like frivolous playful kitten. Wherever she touches her feet, tiny water particles rises up like mist from the splashy earth, glittering in the Sun, forming beautiful rainbow-glows about her tiny feet. The poet also can feel the very pulse-beat of Nature as those creatures as he is personally present there with sensitive eyes and ears, capturing the pressure and temperature of that atmosphere and bringing to us the freshness of those scenes intact.

A poet as light and happy as a lark.

 

03. Grasmere Village With The Dove Cottage.

He was then a morning-traveller upon that moor. He was as happy as a boy that he sometimes heard and sometimes heard not the roaring sounds of the great woods and waterfalls around him.’ Now he has quite forgotten how sad he had been moments earlier, and would again be moments after. He has reached the peak of happiness if there is one, forgetting all his pangs and past memories, and that sad useless melancholic mood common and so natural to man.

Premonitions of a lonely traveller on the moor.

 

04. Waterfall and Stone Hut where the Poet wrote poems.

When we are happy, we begin to think that our happiness won’t end. And when we are sad, we begin to feel anxious about whether our sadness won’t end someday. We want our sadness to end immediately and happiness never to end. Happiness and sadness are but waves in a sea of thoughtfulness, receding to that same deep stillness. John Milton, while studying for M.A., had to write two long essays describing two entirely contrasting things for his vivo voce examination. He selected Day and Night which no other things have more contrast between, and decided to write these two essays as poetry. Therefore the world got two immortal poems. He selected the Italian title L’Allegro for Day which meant the mirthful man. And he selected the Latin title Il Penseroso for Night which meant the thoughtful man. The opposite of happiness is not sadness in his view. All the world’s philosophers know contrast to happiness and mirth is not sadness but thoughtfulness. It is only natural for man to fall from the height of happiness to the depth of dejection, and then to thoughtfulness. This happens to the poet also in that fine morning on the moor.

Clouds come thick into the serene mind of a poet.

 

05. He was a traveller then upon the moor.

Fears and fancies come thick into the poet’s mind, like clouds coming ominously into a serene sky. In the midst and presence of such blissful creatures as the warbling sky lark and the playful hare, he feels himself to be walking far away from the world and all earthly cares. His whole life he has lived in pleasant thoughts as if life’s business were a summer dream. His poetry-writing career had not brought him enough to buy even his shoe-strings. Many mighty poets have returned to earth in their misery, suffering fleshly ills such as cold, pain and heavy labour. Would he too die the same way? Would solitude, distress, pain of heart, and poverty be awaiting him too, to accompany him to the grave? Is it not that the tragic career of all poets, as a rule, begins in gladness and ends in sadness and gloom? That marvelous Village-Milton that was Chatterton, who had walked in glory and in joy along his native mountain side following his plough, living the life of a farmer, had perished in poverty, though with pride. But why are these ominous thoughts coming to him at this untoward moment? The goose-bumps springing up all through his body parked at that lonely and desolate moor told him that Nature is soon going to present him with some sign of divine warning to admonish him about the rarity and preciousness of Time. Then he saw it- the warning, placed there on the wild, for all the world to see.

The warning written on the lonely moor, beside a pool.

 

06. Sudden appearance of a ghost of a man here.

A very old man, perhaps the oldest man that ever wore grey hairs, appeared suddenly beside a pool in that wild- the oldest person the poet ever saw in this world. He never fitted in with those lonely wild surroundings. Such an extremely old man in such strangest of circumstances was odd and out of place. Nature startles man with her bizarre and striking spectacles. ‘Sometimes huge stones can be seen lying couched on tree-less bald mountain tops, causing wonder to all who look at them.’ One will begin to think whether or not they are gifted with an unnatural ability to walk up the mountain eminence and lie couching there, precariously balanced. Another equally tantalizing spectacle is at the sea shore, that of ‘some huge sea-beast crawled forth and reposing on some shelf of rock or sand to sun itself.’ Such bizarre and out of place seemed the appearance and look of that old man in such strange surroundings. Some wild experience of disease or pain had caused his body to bend unnaturally double, making his feet and head come close together in life’s pilgrimage. One will wonder how he can still make himself stand erect in that set up of a nature-tortured frame. He propped his body upon a long grey staff of shaven wood. ‘Upon the margin of that pool, he stood there as motionless as a firm cloud that moveth not in the wind, and if it moves at all, moves all together.’ It means the old man could not turn or shift his face or hand or leg without turning or shifting the whole body. Ease and flexibility of bones and muscles had totally vanished but still the old man was making his meager living through the hardest and most painful of works. It is life that is important, and it has to go on at any cost. That is not only desperation but determination also. Not anywhere else in world literature has the uncanny appearance of old age ever been pictured more graphically and movingly.

Will the world look after us when we are old?

 

07. Gardens landscaped by the poet in Rydal Mount.

The old man was stirring the pond with his staff and studying the muddy water. Wordsworth very much wished to ask the old man what his engagement and occupation was there, and why. He asked and the old man answered in an uncommon, lofty, decorated language that fitted only the ethereal and the out-of-the-world. He was simply catching leeches from the pool. Enduring many hardships on the way, he had come to this pool to gather leeches for food and for sale. He has resolved to be independent and self-reliant in his old age. He roamed from pool to pool and from moor to moor, gaining his legitimate living in this way. He ‘gained an honest maintenance and got housing by chance or choice each day through God’s help.’

Was it real, or a vision of admonition from eternity?

 

08. Pond on the moor which the poet frequented.

The old man’s words burnt deep into the lazy poet’s mind. He wondered whether he hadn’t seen this person somewhere in his dreams. Yes, this is the Eternal Man of Time- Kaala Purusha in Sanskrit- walking through ages, ‘sent from some far off region to strengthen the poet’s mind by apt admonition.’ The lonely place, the old man’s shape and speech- all troubled him, and for a while, he lost his senses. A shadow passed through the front of his eyes and a blanket of clouds moved away from his mind, letting in a ray of light. When he regained consciousness after moments, he was a completely changed and new man, like the wedding-guest in The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. The poet resolved to think about the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor in future whenever his mind lost its strength. Thus the alternate title of the poem, Resolution And Independence, is appropriate. The element of horror in the poem owes its thanks to the poet’s friend Coleridge. The plainness of the poem is derived from Burns. The genuine contribution of Wordsworth in the poem is the unique moral treatment of the Man and Nature theme.

Why should one catch leeches?

 

09. Marshes And Bogs: Breeding Grounds For Leeches.

Leeches were used to drain blood from human body as part of medical treatment. They attach themselves to human body or animal bodies like horses and cattle, suck blood, remain on the victim’s body for nearly 20 minutes, swell themselves to full size and then disengage themselves and fall. After they have fallen, bleeding from the victim’s body won’t stop before sometimes 8 hours or more. A collector of leeches could lose large quantities of blood this way and could get infected with diseases from leeches. If leeches are killed or removed before sucking much blood, they would loose biological properties and could not then be used for blood-letting in medicine. Therefore catching leeches was certainly a painful, risky and harmful affair, unlike harvesting frog-legs for restaurants. Unless the engaged person decided to sacrifice something in him, there was no question of collecting leeches for medicine. Only poor people and people with no other means for survival turned to leech gathering for a living- invariably helpless aged people. Doctors, especially surgeons, needed large quantities of leeches and naturally they could not get these themselves. Therefore this supporting occupation of leech-gathering came into being and existed till the passing of the nineteenth century when sophisticated blood-letting methods and equipments were invented. Leeches collected this way were small and inconspicuous to see till they drew blood to their fill and swelled up into enormous sizes. It indeed was horror to see them sucking up blood and swelling. Leech-gatherers had to enter ponds, lakes and rivers in marshes and bogs, expose their legs to attract leeches and bleed themselves. Over-capture and destruction of habitat caused dwindling in their numbers even in the 19th century and there is reference in Wordsworth’s poem about this: ‘One they could be seen everywhere but now they cannot be seen everywhere as before; I have had to travel far and wide to see them’.

Wordsworth’s Lake District was famous for bogs and marshes and poor men could be seen collecting leeches everywhere. Life was hard in colonial England for the majority of people, in the midst of gained and looted riches arriving in ships at every port from distant colonies. We never suspect Wordsworth as a revolutionary poet like Shelley but the hint is there. The misery of these leech-gatherers might certainly have urged Wordsworth to write The Leech Gatherer to bring world’s attention to the sad living conditions of these uncared-for poor people in England’s hamlets and villages, like Shelley wrote Song To The Men Of England to bring world’s attention to the miseries and predicament of the peasants and factory workers of England in the same century.

A special note from author: An appendix to this appreciation.

 

10. Beauty Spots Of Nature, Haunts Of Poets.

There is a jungle beauty spot with a broad, step-waterfall at Meenmutty in Nanniyode Village in the Trivandrum District of Kerala. Mighty mountains surround it. I was a regular visitor to this place where I would wash my clothes, bathe in the rushing stream and lie on the rocks. On the distant mountain folds can be seen often an old man coming down, appearing and disappearing according to the nip and dip in the terrain. Finally he would reach the river bank and take a dip beside me in the torrent. Unlike the other natives, we were the two who preferred bathing above the waterfall to rather than descending to the safety of the lower tranquil part of the river. We both liked taking the risk of being swept away down by a flash flood that may originate due to proximity to mountains. Then he would take his bait and catch one or two fishes for his dinner. Then he would rise, and taking the fishes, the firewood, two killed birds and a hare and grass bundles for his goats- all gathered from the mountains- walk down through the rocks towards his home. Whenever he appeared on the river bank in the evenings, a water crow, the blackest and the ugliest I ever saw, also appeared and sat beside him on a rock amid the stream, hoping for a fish from his catch which he invariably threw to it. I knew this old man was severe and strict to his children and wife and others and was hated by them, but his ragged and weather-beaten frame and his uncouth behavior was an attraction to me, a fascination. He, in my eyes, was a genuine unpolished creation of nature, independent and resolute in every way in his old age.

One day news came that he was bitten by a deadly snake in the mountains and was lying in critical stage in hospital in the city. Many times it was rumoured that he has gone, and that it was good for his family. The water crow sat there on the rock amid the torrent each day. It was the first time I prayed Lord Shiva to perform a miracle and do not withdraw this creation from the village too soon. The Lord, anyway, has an adornment of a magnificent snake coiled around his neck. After days of lying unconscious the man was brought back to life, to the disappointment of many. In the distant mountain folds his head can still be seen rising up and down as he comes down to the river carrying his catch. The water crow still sits there on the rock in the stream and gets its snacks.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

 

A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners, and their teachers.

You Tube Link: Will soon appear in Bloom Books Channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos .

 

First Published: 15th March 2011

Last Edited…………: 14 April 2015

__________________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
__________________________________________

Picture Credits:

01. Portrait Of William Wordsworth By Friedrich Bruckmann.
02. Dove Cottage in Grasmere Once Home To Poet By Strobilomyces.
03. Grasmere Village With Dove Cottage By Val Vannet.
04. Waterfall And Stone Hut By Andy Davidson.
05. He Was A Traveller Then Upon The Moor By Unknown.
06. Sudden Appearance Of A Ghost Of A Man Here By David Anstiss.
07. The Gardens Landscaped By The Poet In Rydal Mount PD By Cmyk.
08. Pond On The Moor Which The Poet Frequented By David Kitching.
09. Marshes And Bogs: Breeding Grounds For Leeches By Martin J. Heade.
10. Beauty Spots Of Nature By Ivan Shishkin.
11. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

11. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
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Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

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Bloom Books Trivandrum, Poetry Appreciations, English Literature, English Songs, Free Student Notes, Poem Reviews, Poetry, P S Remesh Chandran, Resolution And Independence, Poetry Reviews, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, The Leech-Gatherer, William Wordsworth.

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Identifier: SBT-AE-004. The Leech Gatherer. William Wordworth Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Editor: P S Remesh Chandran

003. Forsaken Merman. Matthew Arnold Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

003.

The Forsaken Merman By Matthew Arnold A Creation of Beauty. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

By PSRemeshChandra, 13th Mar 2011. Short URL http://nut.bz/1ljtosiw/ First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism. Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/01/03the-forsaken-merman-matthew-arnold.html

Matthew Arnold was a severe critic of literature. Essays In Criticism was his monumental work in which he let no great poet go unscathed. Usually such critics would be asked a question: why don’t you write a great poem? The Forsaken Merman was Arnold’s answer to this question in which he proved not only could he create poems with hilarious themes but incorporate multi tunes also into a single poem. After creating a few more poems, he returned to academics and criticism.

The Cornish legend holds that Matthew can still be heard singing from the deep sea.

01. Matthew Arnold Portrait 1883.

Matthew Arnold relates a very strange story in his poem The Forsaken Merman. The poem is beautiful and picture-like, descriptions of seascape and landscape vivid, and presentation of the theme logical. But the story is actually impossible to happen, and the inspiration for this theme has been traced to a spectacular sea-side village named Zennor in the County of Cornwall in England. It is not clear whether he happened to visit this village or not, but there indeed is a Mermaid Chair in the Zennor Church and also an associated legend of a hero having this poet’s name, Matthew. Perhaps Arnold might have heard or read about this legend. A mermaid who lived in the Pendour Cove in Zennor was entranced by Matthew’s exotic singing in the church and she regularly visited the church in disguise. One day Matthew found out, fell deeply in love with her, and followed her to her deep-sea cavern beneath the waves. They were never seen again on the land. The Cornish legend holds that, in silent nights, Matthew can still be heard singing from the deep sea, the sweet music faintly brought to shore by the breeze. Matthew Arnold only reversed the role of characters in his poem- it was the woman who went to the sea in the poem and later returned to land, abandoning her husband and children.

A lady from the land making her home in the deep sea cavern.

02. Ocean is nothing but land submerged.

Margaret, a lady from the land, happened to fall in love with and marry a King of the Sea, a merman. She now has her home and her children in a cavern in the deep sea where they live. The winds are all asleep there. We know the wind rages only on the surface, and beneath it, everything is calm except for ocean currents. The cavern is sand-strewn, cool and deep, and cold and dark as the abyss is. Sea plants, sea animals and sea snakes coil and twine all around their home. Sometimes great whales could be seen swimming by, like the great ships moving on the surface of the sea. Margaret has a loving husband and endeared children in that abysmal wonderland and she is now leading a happy and contented life in the depth of the sea, apparently.

Life arriving alighted on meteorites from cosmic realms.

03. Lady from the land makes home in sea cavern.

Days of festivities in the land are endeared and nostalgic to all terrestrial human beings living far away from land. One day, on a silent Christmas night, the sounds of pealing church bells from the land reach the ocean bottom. Man is mortal, temperamental and selfish. But the watery world is something precious, rare and ethereal. Ocean is where life originated, smithereens of which arrived alighted on meteorites from cosmic realms unimaginably distant, and deposited there on the ocean aeons ago. Considering the longevity or brevity of the history of life on sea or life on land, there is difference in the subtlety of these living forms’ loyalty to the place of their origin and habitat. Sea life is ancient and primeval whereas land life is recent and experimental, aged only a few million years. The sea demands much in loyalty from her inhabitants but the loyalty of land-locked beings to the place of origin of their life is brittle and untested. This test of character is what we are going to see in the poem now.

Church bells from the land reach where the winds are all asleep.

04. Where the winds are all asleep.

Hearing the toll of church bells from far away land, Margaret becomes home-sick and wishes to rise to the surface, reach land and take part in the Christmas festivities there. She forgets she is a mother and wife now. It is terrible and strange that she has become tired of sea-life by overnight. Or has she been always disliking sea life but pretending to liking it- the terrestrial conceit of a woman? She says:

“It will be Easter time in the world- ah me!
And I loose my poor soul Merman, here with thee.”

It means, it is mirth and happiness in the upper world, but ah me- I am doomed in sorrow and isolation in the nether world. She asked her merman’s permission to go to land and he generously gives it. So, with her loving husband’s permission, she rises from the sea and reaches her home in land. The land has its thrills, beauties and enjoyments just as the sea has its. Soon Margaret forgets her family left behind in the deep sea.

From the deep sea in search of beloved wife.

05. The church on the hill side.

Mermen and angels are thought to be alike in many respects. Ardence, affection, kindness and mercy are their characteristics. Monarchs of the deep, reflecting the magnanimity and loftiness of the limitless ocean, keep their vows of chastity and integrity. The King of the Sea waited long for his wife’s return from the land. At last, being anxious, one day, with their children, he too rises from the sea, comes to land and visits the church where Margaret usually prayed.

Generations of grief in the tumultuous soul of the holy trinity.

06. From the deep sea in search of beloved wife.

They secretly stood outside and peeped inside through the church window. Being not humans and therefore aliens in land, they dared not go inside. This grief-stricken trio consisting of father, daughter and son knew nothing about the Christian kindness that may or may not be flowing through that church. They were a holy trinity unto themselves, stricken by grief. Generations of grief – creative grief – had been what caused that cosmic particle from stars deposited aeons ago on the ocean to germinate, grow and evolve into life forms. Wind and waves and sky, and the warmth of the earth, could never have quietened the tumult in their souls. God manifests through man in his acts of kindness, consideration and ardence. It is man’s debt to his creator to quieten and pacify the minds of others. Won’t humans ever pay their debts to their gods?

A mother of ingratitude, her eyes sealed to the holy book.

07. Steps to the Church where Aliens walked.

Margaret’s face was buried deep in the Bible. Through mutually understandable gestures, the Merman King tried in many ways to signal to her that their children very much longed for her. He asked the children to call and appeal to the motherhood in her in their tiny voices, in the hope that children’s voices would be dear to a mother’s ear. The children called their mother in their voices familiar to her. It was all in vain. She listened not. ‘She gave them never a look, for her eyes were sealed to the holy book!’ It is the first time the readers of this poem curse and hate the holy book. Is the holy book an excuse for causing pangs of pain in other hearts? To alleviate the pain in other hearts, to act as the representative of God- that was what human beings were sent to the world for and given the holy book. She was pretending. So it was useless persuading her to go back with them to the sea, they learned. She was determined not to return to sea.

We will gaze from the sand hills, at the white sleeping town.

 

08. Her eyes were sealed to the Holy Book.

Before returning to sea with his children, the Merman once again visited the church and the town where his wife lived. He could see she was living a very happy and contended life. She was seen always singing of supreme joy. ‘She sang her fill, singing most joyfully.’ However, the merman could see a tear dropping down her sorrow-clouded eye. She was, must have been, actually sad for her children left at sea. The cold, strange eyes of her little girl child looking at her through the cold church window must have created pangs in her guilty soul. The insolent indifference of this earthly woman orphaned her little children then and there. So, the disappointed merman with his children decided to return to sea. Before he goes, he proposes to his children to visit the land in moonlit nights again. They would come and see the church and the town by nights. He sings:

“We will gaze from the sand-hills
At the white sleeping town,
At the church on the hill side
And then come back down.”

The pain in the eyes of a girl-child left out by her mother.

09. We will gaze from the sand hills.

Matthew Arnold created the closing lines of this poem ever memorable. The grief of a girl-child who is left out and abandoned by her belovèd mother can never be, and shall be, described in words. It is unspeakable taboo, sacred. Tennyson perfectly put this more touchingly than anyone in his sensational classic, In Memoriam:

‘I sometimes feel it is a guilt
To put in words the grief I feel.’

The readers will never forget the pain in the cold strange eyes of the girl-child looking at her mother through the church windows. Arnold wished to make the world weep with his poem; he succeeded.

A special note on Matthew Arnold and his musical experiment.

10. We will gaze from the sand hills at the lost town.

Matthew Arnold was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famous teacher who introduced the Public School System in England. The son did not fail his father even once, and not only shone like a star in literature, but excelled as an Academic and Inspector of Schools also. Even though he was a critic in his blood, we will forget he is, once we get deep into his poems. He is a very imaginative and gifted poet by birth too. What he really was- a fine critic or a finer poet- perhaps he himself might not have known well. Anyway, his over-indulgence in and unquenched thirst for literary criticism was responsible for the scantiness of his poems. We would wish, had he produced more poems. His creations in both fields are excellent and equally respected.

It is known that no one has ever orchestrated The Forsaken Merman in full, which is great loss to the world. Matthew Arnold used a variety of exotic tunes in the song to express each move and twist in mood appropriately and touchingly along the song which, it seems, he conceived as a complete musical entertainment for the world. I approached this song not as an academic but as an appreciator, an enjoyer, earnestly trying to sing it. I was thrilled at my success, at how Matthew Arnold was there to guide me through the movements of music in each line, through each phrase. I did nothing exceptional or special in my endeavour but sang it repeatedly with love till the original music unfolded itself; the original tune which was in the poet’s mind while writing this poem clicked and opened automatically, as a favour to me. I felt it was the poet’s gift to generations beyond ages. It was like simplicity and humbleness unlocking a closed and secured thing of precious beauty through perseverance and consistence; academic achievements and pedagogical experience have nothing to do with it. It was that simple. It must be said that this clever poet skillfully locked his lines and hid his music to prevent the lazy and the haughty from accessing the sublime beauty in them. He wished only the genuinely interested and adequately unorthodox persons to succeed in singing his lines.

The musical experiment Matthew Arnold did in The Forsaken Merman is unique in the field of music as well as in the field of literature. Only one other poet has ever attempted such a bold, thrilling experiment in music as well as in literature. It was Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the poem was The Lotos-Eaters. In this song Tennyson invented and used a number of tunes to move in synchronization with the tantalizingly changing actions of his intoxicated characters. He adapted even the swaying to-and-fro motions of the ship carrying the lotos-eaten dreamers to the island to corresponding movements in the music in this poem. The world is still waiting for good orchestrated and choreographed versions of The Forsaken Merman and The Lotos-Eaters. They are yet to come, but they will come indeed.

Bloom Books Channel has a video of this poem.

11. The Forsaken Merman Video Title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKkurqG5zp8

A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners, and their teachers.

You Tube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKkurqG5zp8

First Published: 13 Mar 2011

Last Edited:   23 March 2017

_________________________________________
Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
_________________________________________

Picture Credits:

01. Ocean is nothing but land submerged. By Asea.
02. Lady from the land makes home in sea cavern. By Chris Gunns.
03. Where the winds are all asleep. By Ricardo Tulio Gandelman.
04. The church on the hillside. By Jonathan Billinger.
05. From the deep sea in search of beloved wife. By Jan Reurink.
06. Steps to the church where aliens walked. Author Not Known.
07. Her eyes were sealed to the holy book. By Matthias Feige.
08. We will gaze from the sand hills. By Steve Cadman, London UK.
09. We will gaze at the lost town. By Daderot. Mermaid Statue at Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
10. The Forsaken Merman Video Title. By Bloom Books Channel.

11. Author profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

12. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri

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

Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at
http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.com/ and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bloombooks/videos  

Author’s Google Plus Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PSRemeshChandran/posts
Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/psremeshchandra.trivandrum

Tags

Bloom Books Trivandrum, English Poems, English Poets, Forsaken Merman, Free Student Notes, Literary Reviews, Matthew Arnold, Poem Appreciations, Poetry Reviews, P S Remesh Chandran, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum.

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Identifier: SBT-AE-003. The Forsaken Merman. Matthew Arnold Poem. Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

Editor: P S Remesh Chandran

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