Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dear Toru

I was abruptly thinking of poetry today and how much I missed reading/savoring one. Inevitably I ran through a mental list of poets of whom I have grown with and enjoyed.
However there is one poet who in my mind ranks far greater than Emily Dickinson and this happens only when I rummage through the coarse remains of my mind. I am not sure how many of you are aware of Toru Dutt, who in my opinion the greatest poetess ever produced by India in the last few centuries. That meter & rhyme, that texture, those complex narratives laid bare almost in a kaleidoscopal fashion and all you needed was to turn the kaleidoscope enough times to gauge the beauty and finally those hauntiny lyrics. Havent left me in the last 14 years. Without much ado, please sample the following snippet and tell me what caliber of poet is needed to pull it off (Keats is the answer methinks)

Still barred thy doors! The far East glows,
The morning wind blows fresh and free.
Should not the hour that wakes the rose
Awaken also thee?
All look for thee, Love, Light, and Song,
Light in the sky deep red above,
Song, in the lark of pinions strong,
And in my heart, true Love.
Apart we miss our nature's goal,
Why strive to cheat our destinies?
Was not my love made for thy soul?
Thy beauty for mine eyes?
No longer sleep,
Oh, listen now!
I wait and weep,
But where art thou?

On the onset of her illness at age 21, she wrote the following to a friend:

"My constitution is not strong; I contracted an obstinate cough, there is more than two years, which does not leave me. However I hope to put the hand at work soon. I cannot say, Miss, how much your affection-because like them to you, your book and your letter testify some enough-for my compatriots and my country touches me; and I am proud of being able the statement which heroines of our large are worthy of any honor and any love. Is there more touching heroine, more pleasant than Sîta? I do not believe it. When I intend my mére to sing, the evening, the old songs of our country, I almost always cry. The complaint of Sîta, when, banished for the second time, she wanders in the vast forest, only, despair and fear in the heart, is so pathetic that there is nobody, I believe, who can hear it without pouring tears. I am sending under this fold two small translations of Sanskrit, this beautiful ancient language. Unfortunately I was obliged to put an end to my translations of Sanskrit, six months ago. My health does not enable me to continue them"

-Forgive the loss of meaning through the translation from the original french.
If I have any luck in any of my lives spent, one of it would be that of being a faint and a very mellow concordant echo in that mind of hers' when she does her wordsmithing on the poem "Sita" (my favoritest poem). If you would like to read more of her please peruse Ancient Ballads And Legends Of Hindustan...

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