How Poetry Can Inspire and Mold Personalities #NationalPoetryMonth

Poetry inspires and ennobles us

Poetry reflects life in all its hues; it is the choice of words, which makes a difference to the thoughts and sentiments that poets share. It speaks of countless experiences and puts forward the essence of life, if you pay attention to the images through which poets communicate.

Poetry enables us to understand the finer nuances of life; it nurtures the most beautiful emotions of love, trust, acceptance and empathy. A poet teaches without forcing any philosophy as he just shares his reflections succinctly, leaving the rest to the imagination and understanding of the readers.

Poetry develops creativity, flexibility, interpretational skills and critical ability effortlessly. It makes you intuitive, only if you read it without any prejudices, learn to appreciate it and read it carefully.

Let me share some verses that have enriched my personality:

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?”

These lines from ‘Leisure’ by W.H.Davies have always stayed with me, a constant reminder to get down from the whirlwind of life and look at the flowers, the bees, the butterflies and dawn breaking at the horizon.

William Wordsworth’s wisdom made me understand that life is more than just earning and spending money. 
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” His poetry inspires us to lead a meaningful life and respect the spiritual link that connects man with nature and his supreme being.

John Keats defined beauty for me and nurtured my love for beautiful things that are mentioned in his poem ‘Endymion.’
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: 
Its loveliness increases; it will never 
Pass into nothingness;…but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

Emily Dickinson’s poem helps us understand success:
“Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.”

Each line of my all time favorite poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling teaches profound lessons, 
“If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;”… It encourages us to take pride in ourselves, develop patience, stay upright in the midst of lies, don’t get agitated by others’ demeanor, follow your dreams but don’t let dreams master you and avoid pretentions.

‘I am the People, the Mob’ by Carl Sandburg inspires us to rise against exploitation and social injustice. Look at his passionate appeal:
“When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool—then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.”

Walter D. Wintle’s poem ‘Thinking has stood by me in the darkest moments, exuding light on the paths of life – a reminder that life’s battles are won by “the man who thinks he can.”
 “If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost a cinch – you won’t.”

 ‘Last Ride Together’ by Robert Browning inspires optimism.

‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost exhorts us not to regret the choices we make.

‘The Man He Killed’ by Thomas Hardy questions the futility of war, in which soldiers have to kill strangers just because he “Was out of work…” and happened to join infantry.

The Little Black Boy by William Blake says a lot with just one verse: “I am black, but Oh! my soul is white,”

I have mentioned just a few poems that have made a mark on my personality. Thank you for reading this. Do you have a poem in mind that has inspired you or conveyed a strong message? Please share your thoughts.

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Balroop Singh.

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Why People Believe in Illogical Things?

Beliefs and logic

We live in a complex world, driven by galloping technology that has opened vistas beyond our imagination yet the vice-like grip of mythology, superstitions, religion, and mysticism has not waned.

Why do we believe in the empty words of spiritual gurus who talk in circles, entrapping people in their words?

Why are we fascinated by paranormal world of fairies, mermaids, werewolves, ghosts and dragons? Why do we read books that take us into unknown realms, which we know don’t exist?

Why do we derive pleasure out of irrational movies and shows?

Why do people bow down to so many deities, offering flowers and money to get their prayers answered?

You may be having your own answers to my questions but they may seem illogical to me.

It all depends on the way you have been raised.

If you were allowed to ask questions, if they were answered convincingly; if you could dig deeper to satisfy yourself; if beliefs were never imposed on you; if your critical thinking was encouraged and nurtured, you would never believe in illogical thoughts.

How beliefs develop:

We tend to believe what we are told by our parents and peer group. All children don’t possess discerning thoughts; some can be easily led and molded. In a class of 40 students that I taught, 39 raised their hands when they were asked whether they went to a place of worship every weekend. Why? The answer was that their parents took them along. One student who didn’t raise his hand was the one who was never told to go.

Belief in Santa is created till we grow up to realize the truth of the magic that fascinates children.

Self-beliefs are created by our own mind, depending on the kind of treatment we get from friends, family and society. Once they get embedded in our minds, they become a part of our personality. We refuse to change them unless something drastic compels us to reconsider.

Books
Fantasy that carries us away…

Books we read:

Books leave a lasting impression on our minds. As children we get carried away by fantasy and believe each word we read till we start questioning the authenticity of the worlds created in those books. I have often wondered how could Alice go down the rabbit hole and find so many friends and potions there! When we grow up with such books, we think everything is possible.

Respect for others:

We don’t want to hurt the sentiments of those who believe that Feng Shui could bring harmony in our relationships and peace into our homes. I have never told cat lovers that a black cat is considered to be inauspicious if she cuts your way. The superstition of never calling a person from behind when he is leaving his home has always been respected for his wellbeing and security.

Fear of repercussions:

Many people continue the traditions, which serve no useful purpose for fear of upsetting the elders of the house. I know a friend whose grandmother had placed an idol in one auspicious corner of the house and just because she showered and worshipped it every morning before entering the kitchen, the belief had to be followed by everyone. No one could think of moving the idol to another corner. Even the direction of the beds could not be changed, however illogical it may seem!

Political beliefs too can be illogical but they can cause serious rifts between friends and partners. So it is better to keep them out of discussion.

Do you know such people who harbor illogical beliefs?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Receding Romance

cracked
Sue Vincent’s #writephoto

Rift deep inside
Drifting away into unknown self
I carry a smiling visage
With visions of drenched love

I pass by this desolate path
Receding foliage reminds me
Blossoms don’t smile here
Stoic symphonies breathe within

Knowing well –
It started with a chink
A little opening to breathe
A little freedom of giving space

We just counted our flaws
And laughed together
When did it become a fissure?
Wide enough to devour us!

We lie trapped in darkness
In the shadows of stillness
Butterflies of hope are fluttering
With tears in silent eyes.
© Balroop Singh, March 2019

Thanks to Sue Vincent for an inspiring Thursday #photoprompt Rift

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What is Success?

Success is looking forward
All aspire for ‘success’ – the magic word we hear the moment we are introduced to our goals. It is only when we have accomplished some of them that we tend to ponder over this question – what is real success? Is it what people around us define for us or is it what the world thinks or most importantly – is it what we think, and believe it to be?

Sometimes this question never comes to our mind. We get so engrossed in the perpetual race of earning money, more money and fame that any other aspect of life doesn’t just occur to us. Till we get tired of running and rushing, till we yearn for some peace, till we realize we need a break!

It is only at such a time that we let our minds wander to these irrelevant but most significant questions. There is no specific age for such reflections. It all depends on the maturity and the hard work, which we have put into our aspirations and how successful we have become.

So we come back to the question: what is success for you? Is it money or fame? Is it how powerful and popular you are in your arena? Is success measured by your purchasing power or the influence you can cast on people around you? Have you ever pondered or even thought about all this?

If you haven’t, now is the time to do so. If all you want is money, then, keep on pursuing it but I am sure you will get tired of your wild goose chase in a few years. If you want power, to influence people—this kind of illusion vanishes soon because our minds are very supple, they are easily influenced by change and new faces.

No single person can hold the attention of people for a long time and successful people know it very well. Once you have achieved some level of success, you have to take care of other aspects of your life. You can’t afford to focus on more money and more influence. There is more to success than just practical goals.

No single definition: 

Success is subjective; it can be defined in as many ways as you wish. To my mind, it does not refer to just arriving at your goals and then basking in the glory of those accomplishments. There is no end to goals. They keep on multiplying with each achievement.

Yes, it may be completing one part of your journey, which you started, to build a career of your choice but you have to continue that journey to satisfy your needs. It is at this stage that you have to define your limits. Are you satisfied? Are you making a constant progress or do you need to make a new beginning?

Success is being happy, being at peace with yourself; being able to look after yourself and being content. If you are not happy after all the efforts you have been putting in to earn money, then it is time to pause and redefine your success.

Money is no doubt an important component of success but it is not the only one. If success does not add compassion to your life, if it expects you to become mechanical, if it consumes all your time, if you have no time for your family, if your children dislike you…would you call this success?

Let’s try to understand it in a different manner – success can be defined at two levels: personal and professional. Which one is more important to you? I know all of us give a lot of importance to professional part of our life and in the process personal aspect gets pushed into background.

Sometimes it is difficult to slow down our pace and by the time we realize we need to look back, we could have missed the best part of our life, the precious hours, which we could have spent with family. Success is redefining your goals

Success does not just mean a lot of money and power or the house of your dreams, filled with lovely faces. It also means bringing a smile on those faces with your own presence. It means spending quality time with your spouse and children. It also means glowing in their happiness and feeling that much sought after peace of mind.

Success is not just money:  

Young and ambitious may equate success with more money, more comforts and enormous purchasing power. They are too immature to understand why rich people are not happy and how their money has failed to bring that stage of life, at which they can say – ‘I have nothing more to ask for.’ That stage never comes because money is never enough and it cannot buy health, contentment and peace.

You may argue that health should not be the priority for those who are just at the brink of hitting success, who are about to accomplish their goals and they have to put that extra hour to push ahead and to prove themselves. No longer so! The stress of modern life and the demands of galloping technology may affect your health in various ways.

Success in itself should be a long-term goal, which involves values we live for. If we equate it just with money and stop doing so after we have accumulated enough, it would be very difficult to change our expectations at a later stage.

Success is taking control of your life the way you want it to be. Many times the situation gets out of our control; the paths may diverge, we may not see the same kind of results we hope for and in disappointment, we may get pushed toward an unwanted way.

Success should definitely be following our passion and refusing to accept what we don’t want.

Success is:

  • enjoying our work
  •  being happy and making others happy
  •  upholding the values you believe in
  •  contributing something positive to the society
  •  bringing a smile to the faces of few
  •  earning love, respect and appreciation of people around you.

Success is leaving your footprints behind, so that others could remember you.

What does success mean to you?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

A Rising

a silhouette of a young person, with moon eclipsing the sun
pixabay image by Natan Vance

I have been lying low
I have been waiting,
Waiting for this moment
The right moment to leap out

It is now, I tell myself
‘Togetherness’ was the day –
“When they meet in wee hours,
Both the sources of light.”

Eerie silence encompassed me
As I struggled out,
I tried to run toward light
A pull seized me

Shackles entrenched my feet,
Shadows seemed to smother
My spirits, but they soared
Higher than the skyscrapers

All cries froze on my lips.
In the grip of an unseen power,
As if my bones were melting
Rays were piercing like needles

Igniting my power
Of swallowing the darkness,
I spread my arms
To gather the diminishing light

The threshold of new life smiled
I rise today
To shake off the darkness
That has eclipsed mankind.
© Balroop Singh. March, 2019

Inspired from D. Wallace Peach’s “Monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt.” Please hop over to her blog to read more and get inspired.

Thank you Diana, for a thought-provoking  #WritingPrompt.

You can click here for more poetry.

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

Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.