Symbolism And Imagery In Poetry #NationalPoetryMonth

Symbolism and words
Poetry banks heavily on literary devices to make a mark on the reader’s mind. A poem that doesn’t touch the heart loses its appeal, which is enhanced with imagery and symbols.
Symbolism:
“Symbolism is the art of using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea. An action, person, place, word, or object can all have a symbolic meaning.”

Poets have used ‘Sun’ as a symbol for light and hope. Even a setting sun is glorified as it leaves with the promise of rising next day with new possibilities to explore.

There can be no better example than the following lines from ‘Auguries of Innocence’ by William Blake, loaded with symbols:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour”

I think after the simple example of sun, you  can spot the symbols in the above lines. When the poet uses ‘world’ for a grain of sand, he wants you to extend your imagination to its wilder limits and by seeing ‘heaven’ in a wild flower, he wants to convey the elation that one could feel at the sight of natural beauty.

Look at the following poem, composed by my blogger friend Miriam, in which symbolism stands out in perfect harmony with her thoughts:
Thanks to Miriam for sharing her poem.

SOARINGLY

Two herons fly
love and life in harmony
wisdom and purity,
Wingtip to wingtip they soar,

Perfection;
Thus to fly, what would we see below,
on our planet of beauty and wealth?
marred by rivers of sadness,
of people dispossessed, broken;

What blessing would it be,
so to float, in unity above;
unrestricted.
Above strife and savagery.

The herons glide down,
gracefully land;
among the reeds by the lake.
Fishing, resting,
Meeting their tribe.

Are they simply like us?
a different embodiment,
With advanced spirituality.
© miriam ivarson

Imagery:
“The mental pictures created by a piece of writing: “The imagery of “TheWaste Land”: (crumbling towers, driedup wells, toppled tombstones) conveys the author’s sense
of a civilization in decay.”

Imagery creates mental pictures and we can visualise the scene through the words. When William Wordsworth says: ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills’… he carries us along, we immediately get transported to an open area and a picture of sky opens before us.
Imagery stirs our senses.

Types of imagery

Visual imagery appeals to our eyes and is most commonly used in poetry. In the following lines, Robert Frost has mixed visual and auditory imagery to convey the thoughts of traveller’s horse and remind him that the weather was too bad to stop in the middle of the woods:

“He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.”
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

The following lines exemplify auditory imagery:
“But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.”
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The following lines show organic imagery, bringing out the emotions and hunger of the poet:
“If each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
If You Forget me.”
– Pablo Neruda

Figures of speech like metaphor, simile, personification, alliteration and assonance are mixed with imagery to enhance the beauty of poetic language.

One of my blogger friends, Radhika, who considers herself “an infant poet” who started her “odyssey with words,” with her blog has shared a poem, which uses the most powerful images like ‘smoky conversations’ and ‘frozen whispers.’

WINTER12a697cba0387228f381470e1466afd4

The air pregnant with the northern winds
embraces the earth with a shivering hug
kisses the dull morning sky with a misty spell
under the blanket of the opaque fog.
A witness to this winter morning ritual
the coy and shy flowers smile tenderly
the gentle rays of the sun peeking
through the stale grey clouds
creating gleaming patterns of mosaic
on the landscape painted in a monochrome.
Buried greenery, frosted pathways
lashing winds, chattering teeth,
smoky conversations and frozen whispers,
It’s time to enjoy the seasonal beauty
that winter brings along!
© Radhika

I would be gifting two ebooks of ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life‘, my debut book to those two readers who write the most poetic answer to all the posts I publish this month – #NationalPoetryMonth. Happy writing!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

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Interesting Facts About Poetry – Old and New #NationalPoetryMonth

Poetry inspires
Poetry as an art form predates literacy. The earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung, employed as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely related to musical traditions, and the earliest poetry exists in the form of hymns.

Historical facts about poetry:

Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monoliths, rune stones and stele. (a stone or wooden slab)

Scholars suggest that early writing shows clear traces of older oral traditions, including the use of repeated phrases as building blocks in larger poetic units.

The oldest surviving speculative fiction poem is the ‘Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor’ written in Hieratic and ascribed a date around 2500 B.C.E.

Greek epics lliad and Odyssey and the Indian Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are the oldest epic poems.

The development of literacy gave rise to more personal, shorter poems intended to be sung. These are called lyrics,which derives from the Greek lura or lyre, the instrument that was used to accompany the performance of Greek lyrics from about the seventh century BC onward.

The development of modern poetry is generally seen as having started at the beginning of the 20th century and extends into the 21st century.
(Source: Wikipedia)

What comes first – thought or title?

Another question, which has always haunted me is what comes first- the title or the content? I have never written with a title in my mind. The flow of thoughts has always been supreme in my mind.

Some of my poems remain untitled for many days and I have to struggle to decide the title.

Robbie agrees with me… “I let the words flow or fit themselves together first. Often the poem comes into my mind and almost unfolds by itself with little intervention. I think of a title afterwards.”

Wendy also agrees: “I never chose a title first. In my published poetry books there are no titles. The poems are sequentially numbered. Emily Dickinson is a poet who did not title a lot of her poetry. Her early editors titled a handful of her poetry.  In general, I am not certain what I am writing about until the poem starts brewing in me, and then I am looking for paper and a pen, which I usually have with me. I have many poems that were written on napkins, bar coasters, or whatever I could find if I did not have paper with me at the time.”

For Ritu, “It really depends on why I am writing a poem. If it is a response to a prompt the title may come to mind first. The topic is already there. If it is a time when words are pulsating and need to flow onto paper, then I will write my poem first and then title it after.”

Miriam lets the title be the first words. At times I just see the title and may be first line. I rarely search for a title.”

Radhika says: “thoughts flow in and my fingers pen them down. At times the flow is spontaneous like the gurgling brook. While at other times the thoughts ebb in a gentle flow. I enjoy flirting with different genres of poetry. With micro poetry like haiku and tanka, I take care to use words that create an impact within the limitation of syllables. Otherwise, my poems are simple and lucid, reflecting my musings, beliefs, emotions or the bewitching beauty of nature. After completing a poem, I try to bring out it’s essence in the title.”

Poetry writing is a natural gift, which can be nurtured and embellished. Poets are born!  Most of the poets find inspiration in nature and human nature.

Emotions reign supreme in most of the poetry, which slowly matures and becomes complex.

Poetry may or may not start with what we feel about us or others but it definitely takes us into a journey of self-realization. We have amongst us one such spiritual poet, Wendy E. Slater.

Today I am going to share her untitled poem:

Wendy-new
Wendy E. Slater

I would never
Build a monument
In your name,
But I will plant
A forest in your honor
To seed the love and life
We share
Into all.

And it will be called
To us:
Our terrain,
The map of our geography—
Exquisite intimate landscapes sculpting
Love.

And to others
It will be something
Like the sacred forest
Where the genesis of the beloved
Will awaken
In them
When they walk the path.

There will be wildflower
Meadows
That will have seeded
In our hearts,
And the warbler, hawk, and owl
Will come
To rest and live
In song, wisdom, and sight
As we will have
Lived our journey in grace.
©2016 Wendy E. Slater

Wendy E. Slater has three published books of modern mystical poetry, Into the Hearth, Poems-volume 14, Of the Flame, Poems-volume 15, and The Ocher of Abundance, Poems-volume 16, that are part of her poetry series, The Traduka Wisdom Poetry series. The poetry chronicles the inner journey of self-discovery and Divinity and opens doors for readers and invite them on their own spiritual journey of awakening and healing into self-forgiveness.  All the poetry can be found on her website:  traduka.com/poetry or Amazon. She can found on twitter @WendyE Slater.

 A reminder: I would be gifting two ebooks –  Sublime Shadows Of Life, my debut poetry book to those two readers who write the most poetic answer to all the posts I publish this month – #NationalPoetryMonth. Happy writing!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

How Much Of Our Poetry Is About Us?

How much Life in poetry
When I published my debut book, ‘Sublime Shadows of Life’ my excitement was at  cloud nine and I got some copies printed for friends and family and sent them, even to those friends whom I met occasionally or had not met since school days.

One of my friends who had not been in touch with me for a long time rang me up and asked: ‘Are you okay?’

I replied in affirmative and asked why was she asking.

She had a grim tone and said: ‘Is everything going well in your life?’

I laughed loudly at the tone of my fun-loving friend and asked her what was wrong with her.

She told me that she got alarmed at some of my poems, which talked about oppression and dark moments.

Though I had mentioned in the blurb “I, you, he, we and they are universal symbols, which highlight the fact that happiness is not a destination…” but who reads the introduction!

Authors draw inspiration from life and people around them and many of them agree that they do creep into their stories.

Some of my poems do give a peep into my life. I have written about an incident that moved me deeply. Some of my poems are an emotional outburst; some are inspired from the life of my friends but all of them are not about me.

This one is. I hope you would understand who this pearl is.

                                MY PEARL

Time has stood still
The storm is yet to pass
The descent of night seems eternal
Perplexed, petrified, I wait.

Wait for a new dawn
Wait for a smooth tide
Wait for that lovely flight
Which brings hope!

There was a time
When your hands held mine
The fingers so ensconced
It was hard to distinguish.

Now I hold an empty oyster
The pearl I nurtured is gone
Slipped away, leaving marks
Hard to erase, hard to forget

The purity of my pearl,
The glory of her glow,
Now brightens another world
That mitigates my woe.
© Balroop Singh, 2003

Wendy, a spiritual poet, has shared her thoughts about this topic “I have written poems about defining moments in my life. Although at that time, I may not be aware that I am writing about a moment that I would consider life defining. There have certainly been life defining moments that I did not write about at the time, but a reference to the event came much later in life as a line or stanza in a poem, as with my father’s death when I was 19.

Ritu too has written about life defining moments: “I think one of my most poignant poems about my life was the one I wrote one morning, in 10 minutes, about my journey to become a mother…” She has shared that poem with us:

FROM TWINKLE TO REALITY

Let me take you down that road,
Much travelled through eternity
The journey to become a mum,
From twinkle to reality.

F_zcVPMY_400x400
Ritu Bhathal

The plans you make at a young age,
Full of gurgles and laughter,
The horror as you realise,
What really does come after!

The fun of trying,
The monthly wait.
The disappointment,
That feeling, you hate…

The years of trying,
Full of hospitals and checks,
The medication taking you over,
You feel like total wrecks…

Then finally, the day comes
That positive is clear
The goal that you were aiming for,
Has suddenly come near.

The months of fascination,
Your changing body grows
The feeling of satisfaction
That only you can know.

Those pain-filled days, or hours
To reach the prize you sought
The feeling of satisfaction
That this little bundle brought.

I gaze at you in wonder
Are you really here?
I’m overwhelmed with happiness
And a tiny bit of fear.

Will I be able to give to you
All you want and need?
As you look at me, wide eyed
Snuggled close while you feed.

Little blessing, sent from God
My heart is filled with joy
I will do all I can for you,
My darling baby boy.

And so the cycle continues
The waits and checks again
We’re gifted with a gorgeous girl
After a little more pain.

My life is here with me right now
Some twinkles from my eyes.
But I’ll never forget those twinkles
That now, do grace the skies…

Dedicated to my wonderful children, recognising the struggles to have them, and remembering my 2 angels lighting the sky at night.
©Ritu Bhathal

Lisa has shared a poignant poem that she wrote during the difficult moments of her divorce.

PRAIRIE PRISON

Here I sit in my Prairie prison
I have known
Great joy and worse sorrow
Here I sit in my home
Longing for more…

A9dl5pvZ_400x400
Lisa Thomson

The ocean
And mountain peaks calling
I make this prison home
I look out of my window
While the prairie winds blow
Dust in my eye, pebbles in my soul

Here in my prairie prison
I long for my Ocean boy
The one and only
Yet some ties bind and clasp me
Fastening me to a make believe home
Among wheat fields

Can you blame me?
I bore my children in a prairie home
A landscape so flat
It cannot compare
To my wild, sea salt air

Maybe I’ll get there
But now
I gaze out of my prairie window
Where I found great joy
And worse sorrow.
© Lisa Thomson, Aug ‘06

I would be gifting two ebooks of Sublime Shadows Of Life, my debut book to those two readers who write the most poetic answer to all the posts I publish this month – #NationalPoetryMonth. Happy writing!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

Why Do We Like Poetry?

Love for poetry

“Poetry is painting that speaks,”said Plutarch.

A painting that gets its hues from words.
Just a metaphor can evoke emotions that could not be described in a thousand words.

Poetry is liked due to its succinct style. It soars on the wings of words.
Poetry touches your deepest cords effortlessly. It develops perceptions.
It liberates us from the mundane. It gives us wings.
Due to its ambiguous nature, it can be interpreted in more than one way, depending on how the reader discerns the thoughts.

What attracts us to poetry?

There could be a myriad answers…some poets have shared them…

Ritu says:  “I love the way words flow in rhythmic ways, rhyming or not, echoing the poets thoughts, often conveying huge sentiments in limited words and lines.”

In Deborah’s opinion, “For me it just happens. In 35 seconds, there’s a poem. Love it on Twitter, but I also write book-length verse. I’m an odd duck, but I know you understand!

Robbie Cheadle “likes the flow of words and the meter of poetry. With Haiku and tanka poems, I enjoy playing around with words to make a statement with an impact.”

Miriam feels… “It rather seems that poetry grabbed hold of me. I do find the musicality, rhythm and strength of emotions attract me in a poem.

Wendy took my heart away with her profound and philosophical reflections: “Poetry gives edges, expression, and delineation to experiences that allow the reader to help define and be with their own experience that is evoked from reading the poem… Great poetry renders a visual like a painting where one can see all the splashes and colors and layers and depths or like a beautiful symphony or ensemble of music where one has the time and space to really listen to each and every instrument and the synthesis of all the textures and resonances that create the culmination of the whole journey of the musical piece.”

Radhika says: “Poetry to me, is a celebration of thoughts and language. My feelings ooze out, into which I dip the quill and ink them on paper. It is also cathartic. The deepest pain and anguish, the euphoric love, the intense moments of life, all find an outlet through words, which when woven eloquently, creates magic. I enjoy the conversation of thoughts that emanates in my mind before they paint the paper with their hues.”

I don’t remember when I developed a liking for poetry but soulful lyrics of songs always attracted me.

My real introduction to poetry occurred when I joined university and took up English as a major. Initially it was challenging to understand Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson but the simpler poems of William Wordsworth, rich with the love of nature attracted me to poetry and my fondness kept growing.

It also depends on how well a poem is explained by our teacher and those who choose to explain even a simple simile or a metaphor are remembered fondly. I met some such gems who explained poems painstakingly.

Like my dearest friend Deborah says: The first is always special and has shared her first poem with us:

Ode to a Sunday Morn by Deborah 
[Original title. I had no idea how many lines constituted an “Ode”; still don’t, nor to I care.]
Today is made for growing
With Spring knocking at my door
The sky is dark and clouded
The rain serenely pours
The flowers gently peek
From their Winter’s hiding place
The robin he doth seek
A pine of firry lace
The rain is bringing growth
To every flower, bush, and tree
The creeks and rivers floweth
With eternal life to be
The clouds gently part
A ray of sun kisses the earth
It enlivens my heart
With the Spring’s wondrous rebirth
From a church on yonder hill
The Bells of Sabbath Ring
The world is quiet ’til
The birds begin to sing…
“I was nine years old. It was published in a 4-H magazine. I have never forgotten it, though I forget my short Twitter poems now because I write so many. The first is always special! I had been a city kid, and due to my Dad’s job we moved to the country. At first, I was afraid, but then I fell in love with nature.”
© Deborah A. Bowman

Ritu remembers that “one of my first was a poem about my brother, and how annoying he was! Apt since at 9, siblings rarely get on!”

Wendy wrote her first poem in, “I think, 6th grade (age 11 or 12, I think). It was printed in the school anthology. I wrote the poem, I believe, because it was a homework assignment to write a poem. By this age I had read quite a bit of poetry, although I suspect all of the poetry read at that point in my life had been poetry written for children. The emotion, at the time, of the poem, I believe, was silent acceptance and hope. The poem had an expression of Divinity in it-although not directly but abstractly. I think that was very reflective of where I was at in my life.”

I could not write poetry at such an early age! Even when I started writing, I didn’t share it because the poetry of John Donne, Keats, T.S. Eliot and such great poets intimidated me. My early poetry (Read here)

To be continued… Stay tuned for more!

Meanwhile please note: I would be gifting two ebooks of Sublime Shadows Of Life, my debut poetry book to those two readers who write the most poetic comments to all the posts I publish this month – #NationalPoetryMonth. Happy writing!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

How My Love For Words Led Me…

love for words

My love for words dates back to those crazy days of playing word games in school, when we perused our pocket dictionaries to accomplish the challenge of finding new words and guessing the meanings.

Despite those word-challenging games, my vocabulary remained so insignificant that I had to look up simple words like ‘gaunt’ to give the exact meaning to my students.

Can you believe that I have been accused of using difficult words in my poems?

Can you fathom my elation at such a compliment?

It is indeed a compliment for a person who has always struggled with words, who was not that blessed to be surrounded by books as a child, who was always eager to borrow books from the library but had to return them half-read!

My early poetry was very simple.

I had written few lines for my outgoing class:

Wish you love, wish you joy
Wish you all that you try
Guiding you was my goal
Avoiding advice was your role.

Shall I ever forget your faces!
Naughty but calm in all cases
Sometimes pleasant, sometimes killing
Sometimes obstinate, sometimes willing.

That laughter, that mirth
Those tears, those fears
All those hours that we shared
Those moments when you dared
To disagree and disobey
Always with me, they’ll stay.
© Balroop Singh, 1997

I was told that it seemed like some child had composed those lines.

The snub steeled my resolve to keep writing.

I dived into the sea of emotions
Floundering around I met poetry
She smiled at my naivety
But her song soothed my nerves
 
Warbling wistful notes of manumitting
Embracing her all-pervasive freedom
Effacing nonchalant, noxious attitudes
Of those who scoffed at my words
I felt an ebullient moment of accomplishment!

Keeping in mind the words of one of my favorite ghazals, written by Nida Fazli…

“Duniya jise kehte hain jadoo ka khillona hai, mil jaye to mitti hai, kho jaye to sona hai” (Urdu) –  What we call this world is a mystical toy, as useless as dust if you have it but as precious as gold if you lose it. (translated from Urdu)

The enigma of poetry through the wonder of words is thrilling beyond imagination. I keep landing in new worlds, where horizons keep widening and new mysteries keep unfolding. The quest to know more words continues with the encouragement of all of you, dear readers.

April is celebrated as National Poetry Month here and I am inviting all the poets I know to share their views about poetry. If you are interested in participating, please stay tuned. If you want to share your poetry or want to be my guest, you are welcome to contact me.

Thank you for reading this introductory piece to love for poetry and celebrating National Poetry Month. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.