Simple, Pure and Honest

15 Sep

It seemed like it was to be one of those long evenings at the doctors waiting room- watching others  or impatiently looking at my watch; when all at once my eyes fell upon “A Childs Garden of Verses” by RL Stevenson. A book I lived and breathed during my childhood.

Opening to my favorite poem – My Shadow ….i read it slowly savoring every word. I remembered how I would run around in the sun creating shadows and reciting the lines in a sing song way-

  “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me”

 “Nobody heard him, nobody saw; his picture you could never draw” The Unseen Playmate. I shut my eyes and thought of the times when these words had such a magical effect on me.

Poems never failed to stir my imagination. They awakened in me a love for words, rhyme and rhythm. Childhood would never have been complete without Lewis Carrols – Jabberwocky . The dance of the Owl and the Pussycat (Edward Lear) never failed to amuse me. I remembered the hours I kept thinking whether the gingham Dog and the Calico Cat (Eugene Field ) actually ate each other up .

Adolescence came unannounced with all its upheavals. Poetry, my faithful ally still led the way. My zillion questions on fear, friendships, loyalty, hope, all found its answers in verse

“The boy stood on the burning deck “ Casablanca and  the Charging six hundred – ‘Theirs but to do and die; Into the valley of Death ; Rode the Six hundred’ ; “Charge of the Light Brigade (Alfred Lord Tennyson)  left me amazed at their courage and valor

The simple , honest and hardworking blacksmith touched the hearts of countless readers like me.                                     Toiling – Rejoicing , Sorrowing; Onward through life he goes…….Something attempted Something done ; Has earned a nights repose.  The Village Blacksmith (Henry Longfellow).

HL Longfellow with his visual imagery used in ‘The Slaves Dream’ took me on a journey through Africa and left me feeling heartbroken at the plight of the Slave.  I must confess that I found Kiplings celebrated poem ‘If’ rather idealistic.    My all time favorite has been ‘Life is real; Life is Earnest ……….Psalm of life’ (HL Longfellow).  It was my anthem during those days.

It was Wordsworth through his poem ‘ Daffodils “  made me link  nature with the inner world of feeling. Walking alongside him through so many hills and valleys I retuned my world.  As I read through his works I was awestruck at the way he captured in words the relationship between the person and the wider world.  Just when the world was talking of multi tasking and seizing the day…….it was Wordsworth who gently whispered to me….’A poor life this is if, full of care ; We have no time to stand and stare’.

How else would one describe Lord Byrons ‘ She Walks in Beauty like the night  , but Musical, Sensuous and Tactile. With his magic of words he has portrayed a beauty so soft like the light from a candle and yet so pronounced but not overdone

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,  ;   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent ;             T he smiles that win, the tints that glow ; But tell of days in goodness spent,                          A mind at peace with all below ; A heart whose love is innocent !

My reverie was broken by the whining child sitting beside me . I handed him the book I had still been holding…..A Childs Garden of Verses. He gave me a look of contempt and got back to his whining.  I sat back  with a feeling of nostalgia – wondering how I had unconsciously pushed back the symphony of words while I was busy getting along in life; and there it was sitting on my shoulder like a shy butterfly waiting for me to acknowledge the joy and contentment it consistently provided me with.

My mind did a quick rerun of the years that went by……..and there- what better way to  unveil them than the lines by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, Black as a pit from pole to pole  ;                            I thank whatever gods maybe ; For my unconquerable soul

In fell the clutch of circumstance ; I have not winced or cried aloud ;            Under the bludgeonings  of chance ;  My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears;  Looms but the Horror of the shade                   And yet the menace of the years ; Finds, and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate ; How charged with punishments the scroll.            I am the master of my fate ; I am the captain of my soul.                                          



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