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.

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.

Timeless Poetry That Inspires Me…#NationalPoetryMonth

 

Poetry that inspires and awakens

I had written an Ode To Poetry and had expressed a similar emotion in that poem. Some poems carry a profound message, which remains eternally relevant.

Some poems inspire us to rise against injustice while some just sooth our disillusioned minds.

Some highlight the highhandedness of those who have always tried to oppress others. They leave an everlasting impact on sensitive souls.

All the favorite excerpts that I have picked up in celebration of National Poetry Month have been linked to full poems in case you want to read and gather what I am trying to say.

Please don’t miss another striking feature of these poems. Just see how simple the language of these poems is and can be understood even by those who find poetry beyond their comprehension.

If by Rudyard Kipling

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;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

The above lines have always inspired me to maintain my uprightness in the midst of those who resort to mean tactics to belittle you for their own motives. I kept this poem under the glass of my table so that I could read it everyday.

The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

While this poem highlights the injustice and brutality suffered by poor children in 18th and 19th centuries, what strikes me in the poem is the optimistic vision of the poet when he says:

And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free.
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the sun.

William Blake has also made an emotional comment on racism through his poem The Little Black Boy:

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white;…
.….
And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love,
And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

I marvel at the relevance of this poem even today when we grapple with discrimination all around us!

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers by Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer’s finger fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

What tugs at my heart is the message of subjugation that these lines convey in a very succinct manner. ‘Massive weight’ symbolises aunt Jennifer’s ordeals in an unhappy marriage.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

I often quote these lines not just because of their lyrical quality and aesthetic effect that they cast upon the reader but also because they actually transport me to those beautiful surroundings that the poet has captured in this poem and which gives him perpetual joy.

Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by
narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depths of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sands of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening
thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

‘The heaven of freedom’ that Tagore yearned for his countrymen has always been eluding us. Our minds are still haunted by ‘fears’ and ‘narrow domestic walls.’ The universal appeal of this poem is amazing and truthful.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – A highly acclaimed masterpiece of Robert Frost calls upon the reader to focus, to brush aside the distractions and temptations and move ahead.

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.

These are just a few memorable poems, which made a mark on my persona but there are many more like these in the annals of Literature, waiting to be explored.

To have great poets, there must be great audiences - Walt Whitman

Is there any poem, which has touched your heart in a special way? Please share it.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.
If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.
Balroop Singh.