Saturday, 23 February 2013

2. How Does One Read POETRY?

When something deeply touches the heart, poetry and indeed all true art springs forth. 
Didn't Bhagawan say, 'ART comes from the HEART'? 
And then again, 'Don't be artificial, be hearti-ficial !!"
Here is yet another gem:
"Be COMPOSERS, not computers" (To paraphrase it: Be CREATIVE, not mechanical)

Bhagawan standing on the steps of the Anantapur College foyer

CREATIVITY is a process, a process of opening the heart to the core of life. In this post, I talk about poetry, but I think it is applicable to all creative pursuits. If you have a command over language, you can rhyme words and create verses. I used to do this a long time ago. Then one day, I stopped doing it, because it felt inauthentic and somehow untrue. It was not the real thing. Shouldn't poetry flow? Why must I struggle to find words and then match them and rhyme them and so on?

I used to read poetry and study poetry and often I didn't understand what the poets meant. Poetry does this. It challenges your mind. That is why most of us prefer prose. Prose is sensible. Prose can be understood and well , you feel in control. But I will let you in on a secret! 

Think of POETRY as PROSE with a difference. It is a fill-in-the-blanks prose. And the answers to the blanks/gaps in understanding? Well. they are within you. But to get these answers the mind has to temporarily shut down and the heart has to wake up! How? Next post, I promise! The topic will be: How does the heart awaken?
Meanwhile this is how you could read a poem if you are not a poetry enthusiast.

Look at a poem in front of you and try this: RELAX. Don't try to understand it. Slowly read the words. Let the words speak to you instead of you imposing a meaning with your mind. If you get stuck at  a word, let go and dream a bit. A meaning or a synonym will pop out from somewhere. Write it down. continue reading. Do this whenever you get stuck. When you release the tension of trying to understand, you will understand !!

Slowly, and I guarantee this to you, suddenly you will UNDERSTAND and you will feel a thrill. "Oh so this what he/she  meant." Well, partly correct. The poet might have meant that in the poem. But what you understand out of it is what is important  to you! Your meaning is created by your life and your experiences. Yet, a poem has a universal quality. Life and emotions are universal, they just wear different costumes. The great poems are the ones that evoke the maximum responses down the ages. That is why a Wordsworth and a Tagore are immortal! How GITANJALI could strike a chord with W.B. Yeats.

So, a poem is a shared experience and when you read it, you are sharing the experience with the poet. Also, as you read, you interpret; so you are expanding the meaning of the poem by reading it. Isn't that a wonderful thought ?

This is one exercise that creates an inner space within us. Poetry does open the heart, it puts us in touch with our emotions and helps them to flow. True ART is born in the HEART of the artist (poet) and it wakes up the HEART of the one experiencing/reading it.


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