Unexpected character encountered while parsing value: <. Path '', line 0, position 0.
Poetry and Songs
Vasu Reddy from Chicago
The day before Independence Day, my good friend and I thought of not remembering full lines from Vande Mataram and were thinking why we could not remember what we used to sing on a daily basis. On the eve of Indian Independence Day I tried to remember some of the songs and poems I used to sing at my Indian boarding school, and I can no longer fully remember them. I am not sure what happened but my memory of the beautiful songs and poems have become memories, with lines I should know becoming difficult to remember. Especially the remembrance of Independence Day made me think of this and reflect on what ever happened to those days when people paid attention to poems and songs.
Poetry seems to be out of the society’s system these days. The romance of singing songs and reading poetry is a distant memory at this time in our lives. I am sure most of us have thought of writing some poem or the other for one reason or the other. Probably romance, probably patriotic, probably friendship, probably of happiness, probably of our roots or probably sad, whatever the emotion poetry seems to be an outlet to express the thoughts and convey the emotions. I no longer hear of Galib or ghazals, as even the most prominent singer like Jagjit Singh is singing old Hindi songs, although very well.
Recently I watched a young lady being interviewed on India TV. She was a writer and published a book. It was nice to see that the India TV recognizes this. I was hoping for her to read a few poems and tell the audience of the romance of writing, but the interview was short (I can’t blame India TV as they have to cover a lot of stuff, and it was nice to see them do this segment). It would have done wonders to lift the emotional spirits of the viewers to listen to the young lady recite her work. I certainly was drawn immediately to the segment and started thinking of the days when I went to school and the time spent in reading, memorizing, remembering and enacting the age-old writings.
The devotional music at the temples and the Friday evening Bhajans no longer are a thing of the present, except when forced into an occasion. Lately I listen to Saibaba Devotional songs from the Internet rather than go to the Mandir. It would be an enriching experience to be at the Mandir with other devotees and sing together rather than the company of the Internet. But I know I am listening and trying to understand them even though in the company of the Internet. I really am not that busy to forget the tranquility of devotional music but somehow seem to stay away from indulging my mind and heart in peace.
Our National Songs such as “Sare Jahan Se” make my heart long for my country and my home in India every single time. Just that I only have the feeling but I have almost forgotten the lines. It is not that I don’t want to remember, but I no longer have the company to indulge in the heartfelt indulgence for quite sometime. On occasions I do get to sing a bhajan at the temple along with the rest of the crowds, when I sing the national anthem on a rare occasion, or listen to a beautiful song, or have a friend sing to me, it makes feel like a kid, joyous and happy. It does magic to my spirits to hear beautiful poems and songs that I can understand, and sometimes-even attempt sing along.
When I was in school Shakespeare and Milton and Keats were well read and young people debated them. I don’t see this anymore. I doubt if any young people know of their work and the everlasting romance associated with Hamlet. Internet overwhelms us with the information and there is so much of it I no longer think of information. It simply is there to search and find and most times unnecessary. It doesn’t provide the solace of reciting “The brook” by Wordsworth. I still remember the endless hours I indulged myself in reading and memorizing poems and reciting them. At that time I was not sure if it meant anything meaningful except it was something I enjoyed, but reflecting on the past makes me wonder why I no longer do simple stuff. I also remember the songs we used to sing praising the nation, praising the lord and just singing in groups. I no longer sing, rarely think of poetry and seldom worry about the words that meant a lot in comforting the soul.
I have to associate the changes to today’s general environment that keeps us occupied and perhaps takeaway the simple things we enjoyed. Internet, mobile, driving, politics, 24 hour cable, not having access to meaningful discourses, not having opportunity to indulge in simple things and our ability to be attracted to complicated environment are some of the reasons that make us forget the simple pleasures of things such as poetry. I come from a state where there was abundance of renowned writers and in their works they memorialized everything imaginable; they wrote of romance, revolution, joy, hunger, mythology, contemporary music, some even translated great works from other languages. I don’t find any new generation of writers who seem to have captured the imagination of the writers of yesteryear. I don’t even see English poetry in abundance, not in mainstream. It is (probably) nerdy to reflect on it, but my heart insists that poetry and songs are heartfelt, and convey feelings in simple language.
Last month one of the famous writers Vellampati Venkata Subbaiah from Andhra Pradesh was in Chicago, and I was fortunate to meet him twice. Once at the Temple in Lemont where there were about 50 people in attendance to listen to him read and recite. The organizers thought it was a good crowd. I thought (a very small number) 50 people for hearing such an accomplished writer? I did listen to him intently, and my goodness he was excellent. Although I may not know the meaning of every word he recited, his rendition, his style, his speech and his emotions were clearly evident in every word. It reminded me of my younger days when I used to go to see outdoor plays in my town with my Grandpa in open-air theater where actors enacted mythologies in songs. Really it was wonderful childhood in India. I took the opportunity to invite Mr. Subbaiah for an evening of poetry and reminiscing along with a wonderful dinner and a small group of four. I can never forget that he was even more heartwarming the second time I heard him when he read a number of poems and prose late into the night. I am very grateful to him for the evening and making me reminisce of the simple pleasures of poetry.
Life’s pleasures and sorrows, its trivia, its romance, its experiences, its revolution and flowers, water, sky, ocean, and whatever imaginable objects have been captured in a few lines. I am sure the fairer sex has been captured in poetry for centuries (probably not in this century yet) and will continue to be the object of every romantic. Love and longing, relationships and friendships have been memorialized in poetry. Heaven, hell and imaginary lands have been described as if the poet has been there. God has been an inspiration to songs and bhajans for centuries. Sure thing is that every time you read a good poem, it brings memories back.
The good thing about reading the good old poems is it will remind us of the simple times. I think the pleasures of things of the past are that they are already there. Poems and songs make us quickly associate the time we spent in our own life and when we first heard a specific stanza that touches us.
I remember the special times Amma used to sing lullabies to my siblings to put them to sleep, and I still remember them. I think Amma had a song for every occasion with the kids, either sleep, sick, happy or playful the songs were full of love and caring that is for life. All of us can try to sing our entire national anthem, and if we don’t remember all of it, it is simply because we have not heard except in rare occasions.
My intentions are only to peek into the glory of poetry and poems. From conveying the glory of our Country to the tragedy of Devdas and everything in between have been captured, and if read or heard will touch our hearts. A simple and heartfelt emotion conveyed through poetry is probably the best form of expression.
My wish is to think of the simple pleasures of poetry, and perhaps the rare occasion to simplify today’s complexities. I think we should try reading Rabindranath Tagore or Wordsworth. They can be good to the heart and soul. My wish is to sing with my friends the songs of my country. My wish is to find meaning of words of others and associate my own to them.
In my weekly opportunity to think of something As I see It (for IT), I was pondering about poetry and songs. I searched for a poetry club of Indian origin and I could not find one. I know the many temples and missions we have in the greater Chicago area have Bhajans, but then again I was looking for something uncomplicated like a poetry club. I could not find any in my Internet search, and if anyone knows one in the Chicago area please email me.
Please Share this article with your friends.
Related & Matched:
More from:Vasu's Columns