Thursday, February 21, 2008

In the Throes of Separation (Inspired by Rumi's songs of love)

Oh this yearning…
What shall I do with it?
Shall I drown it out with the monotonous drone of my routine?
How long can I gently cajole it with the splendors of romantic love?
I have enticed it with the glitter of wealth, and the power of fame,
In the hope that it will find solace,
And forget the emptiness ringing in me.
It lays dormant awhile,
Playing with these toys I bring,
Considering its consolation prizes.

At every sound of Truth,
It wakes up and cries again,
Like a child without its mother in the middle of the night,
Remembering her soft warm embrace.
Like a root pulled out of the soil,
Separated from whence it came,
It remains incomplete and lost.
Alas, it will not be appeased.
Seeing through the illusory promise of happiness,
It goes on singing, crying its haunting melody,
And stirs my soul with longing again.

I carry on, listless, restless,
Continually filling my empty cup
with swiftly vanishing pleasures,
Unsure of what or when or how
this deep painful yearning will be satisfied.
Oh what shall I do with this yearning?

- Sharanya Rao
March 2003

Macavity: the mystery cat (T.S.Eliot)

Dead poet's society - session IV
Wednesday Feb 20 2008

Recited By: Vinod

T.S. Eliot wrote a lot of serious poetry. And then he wrote The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Makes you wonder why he ever bothered with the serious stuff. Cats got made into a Broadway show and I believe still holds the record for the longest running Broadway show ever. A host of memorable cats in this book of poems, Mungojerrie, Griddlebone, Gus, Macavity, Rum Tum Tugger (the terrible bore), Rumpleteazer -- to name a few.

This poem is about Macavity, the mystery cat. Macavity is the Napolean of Crime and like Professor Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame, can never be connected with any of its crimes. The poem first, the Holmes' references later:

Macavity: the Mystery Cat

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Mcavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it's useless to investigate - Mcavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
`It must have been Macavity!' - but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spaer:
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

The Sherlock Holmes references in the poem:
(The first three are from The Final Problem)
"You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?" said he.
"Ay, there's the genius and the wonder of the thing!" he cried.

"... he is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and
his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head ... "

"...the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld,
the Napoleon of Crime!"
'And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray, '
-- a reference to The Naval Treaty.

'Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way, '
-- a reference to The Bruce-Partington Plans.

'Engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.'
-- a reference to Moriarty's well-known mathematical talent.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Golden Boat

From Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat) by Rabindranath Tagore, 1894

Dead poet's society - session IV
Wednesday Feb 20 2008

Recited By: Ganesh

Clouds rumbling in the sky; teeming rain.
I sit on the river-bank, sad and alone.
The sheaves lie gathered, harvest has ended,
The river is swollen and fierce in its flow.
As we cut the paddy it started to rain.

One small paddy-field, no one but me -
Flood-waters twisting and swirling everywhere.
Trees on the far bank smear shadows like ink
On a village painted on deep morning grey.
On this side a paddy-field, no one but me.

Who is this, steering close to the shore,
Singing? I feel that she is someone I know.
The sails are filled wide, she grazes ahead,
Waves break helplessly against the boat each side.
I watch and feel I have seen her face before.

Oh to what foreign land do you sail?
Come to the bank and moor your boat for a while.
Go where you want to, give where you care to,
But come to the bank a moment, show your smile -
Take away my golden paddy when you sail.

Take it, take as much as you can load.
Is there more? No, none, I have put it aboard.
My intense labor here by the river -
I have parted with it all, layer by layer:
Now take me as well, be kind, take me aboard.

No room, no room, the boat is too small.
Loaded with my gold paddy, the boat is full.
Across the rain-sky clouds heave to and fro,
On the bare river-bank, I remain alone -
What I had has gone: the golden boat took it all.

Dead Poets Society - Session IV

Wednesday Feb 20 2008
Ashwini & Arun's Place

Vinod - Macavity: the Mystery Cat by T.S.Eliot
Ganesh - The Golden Boat by Rabindranath Tagore
Itisha - The Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Ashwini - The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth
Gaurav - One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
Sharanya - In the Throes of Separation by Sharanya Rao