“…ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world.”
— Stephen Hawking, “A Brief History of Time”
Philosophers and scientists alike have longed for an explanation for human existence. And often in their exploration, they find themselves at the edge of the existing knowledge. They are unable to articulate a theory or an observation, until they hit a new breakthrough, identify a new concept and the cycle goes on.
Our personal lives are no different and to expect ourselves to process every aspect of our emotions is a tall order. Ironically, whenever I have encountered an emotion that was novel or difficult or confounding to express in day-to-day language, that’s when I have been most effective in writing a poem about it.
Poetry is subjective and touches everyone differently based on their prior experiences in life. My inspirations come from three completely different eras and geographies of the world.
My love in poetry started with the metaphysical poets of the 17th century England. As an engineer, I was naturally inclined to these group of poets that simultaneously appealed to the heart and brain of the reader. The poets skillfully use conceit to introduce striking ideas on love, life, and existence with help of highly figurative language. I almost always discover a previously hidden idea every time I re-read poems in this collection.
Closer to home, I admire the Pawadas or historic ballads that were handed down by memory from one generation to another by the wandering bards called Gondhali in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is one of the most irregular of all rhythmic forms in Marathi literature, filled with rude versification and frequent omission of words essential to the meter of the verse. But when sung in the right context, they speak volumes of the bravery and sacrifice that went in to establish independent self-rule.
Lastly, I am fond of the Urdu poetry in the form of Shayari that expresses deep feelings using the rich vocabulary that comes with the language. While the partition of India into two states in 1947 split apart the major contributors of Urdu poetry, this form continues to flourish in both countries even today. The Urdu language itself is a beautiful concoction of Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, and Turkic words. While it takes some effort to understand the vocabulary, the resulting poetry makes it more than worth the study.