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03 December, 2004

Learn From The Pine

(So much discussion on poetry and rhythm, and no mention of eastern sensibilities…I grew up on Basho and Issa and their ilk and am compelled to bring you a little bit of how they thought poetry ought be written. I assume, and hopefully rightly that the interest in great poets is also because we want to write good poetry. I am happy to offer you condensed wisdom from these masters and leave you to Google the rest. So please forgive me if I sound like Poetry Composition 101.)

Learn about the pine from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.

The rhythm in a poem is inherent. What makes it appear is the sabi, the colour of the poem. For example, a man may wear fancy clothes to a party or get suited in a stout armour for war. And if the man happens to be old, there is something lonely about him. Sabi is something like that.

When you are composing a verse, let there not be a hair’s breadth separating your mind from what you write.

Composition must occur in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree, or a swordsman leaping at his enemy. It is also like cutting a ripe watermelon with a sharp knife or taking a bite at a pear.

And your poem must contain reflection (utsuri), reverberation (hibiki), scent (nioi), status (kurai) or a combination of these. (A little bit like the rasas in the Indian tradition.)

And when you write, become the poem. If you try to make a poem, it will serve courts of kings but it wont be furabo, your poetic spirit. You will find it in richly figured silks and embroidered brocades but you will have to wear only woven weeds. It will find you when you let the wind sweep through you. It is aesthetic madness, let it find you.

Is there any good in saying everything?

2 Comments:

Blogger Pragya said...

Thanks, this was extremely helpful for this novice at poetry.

04 December, 2004 19:29  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Educating - I'm defi going to Google on this tomm, when I'm more awake!

PS No relation to the subject, but I couldn't help thinking of this quote by Amn poet Billy Collins, on reading your last para:-
Resist the temptation, to "tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it" beating it "to find out what it really means."

05 December, 2004 01:21  

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