On this page, I shall expand on the meaning and motivations behind some of the poems posted in this blog. I won't be able to do justice to the reason I wrote some of the pieces if I give it all away by means of a concise interpretation. But I will remain as close as humanly possible to the creative intent and hope that I make life easier for the reader. I will work my way backwards, i.e. recent works will feature interpretations ahead of older ones; but this is dictated more by demand than by my own assessment of their accessibility. Hope you enjoy!
[Aug 29, 2010] I No Longer Dream of the Stars
I came across the following words by St. Augustine of Hippo in Carl Sagan's Dragons of Eden:
"There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity... It is this which drives us on to try to discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which men should not wish to learn... In this immense forest, full of pitfalls and perils, I have drawn myself back, and pulled myself away from these thorns. In the midst of all these things which float unceasingly around me in everyday life, I am never surprised at any of them, and never captivated by my genuine desire to study them... I no longer dream of the stars."
These words, read while waiting for a connecting train to get back home at Delhi's Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, got me thinking of the reasons one would consider it perfectly acceptable to withdraw and stay impermeable to 'a sense of wonder'.
"And it's no more too dark,
No colour, no light - my eyes,
They may as well be yours."
The opening serves as a prologue (not in the Shakespearean manner) to the main body of the poem. The words set the protagonist's state of mind: The times he lives in is fraught with darkness and uncertainty, but he doesn't acknowledge the same. He goes a step further than just denial, saying that he doesn't see that the times are any different from happier ones, drawing parallels with the fact that colour and the lack of it are the same when compared in the absence of light. He challenges that he would see the same even if you traded your eyes with him (metaphorically speaking).
"Fighting those dragons all along,
The days, they seem so strange.
As the embers slowly blacken,
My ideas of life now change."
We learn that the speaker has gone through his share of challenges, referring to them as 'dragons'. Compared to his past experiences, the days he now lives through seem strange and nearing the twilight of his life, he is beginning to change his perception of life.
"Seeing beauty as vivid noise,
I wonder if my fate is recent.
Lights jar the night I behold
As my mind replays an unfamiliar scent."
He is unable to see and appreciate beauty; and neither able to discern it from random colourfulness. Failing to understand his plight, he's unsure if his state is the recent onset of a condition. Taking in the night's scene, his eyes are disturbed by the modern lights while something about it stirs an old but seemingly unfamiliar memory.
"A form flits round the corner of my eye,
And the air shivers in an imaginary breeze.
Was that 'cause of a fluff or feather(?)
These birds, they ought to be on the trees."
His eyes pick up movement at the periphery of his senses and subsequently feels the air move around him. He concludes that it was a bird that flew past. This is symbolic of his tendency to make simple deductions; and a lack of curiosity towards attempting fantastic explanations of mysterious and impossible events. Given a situation, he would rather settle for an explanation of comfort that seals the issue than search for the truth and the possibility of a an unnerving revelation.
"Try as I may to sleep and forget
By sleeping through a precious dream;
I don't remember how the stars shine,
And neither a story, rhyme or scheme."
The speaker occasionally attempts to forget his condition by sleeping it off, hoping that a soothing dream will wash away his concern. But herein is proved that his 'ideas of life' are contradictory: his dreams can't draw on memories of wonder, romance or beauty to soothe his pain. He doesn't remember the joys of life and how they affect a person (referred to here as 'how the stars shine') that could give him solace.
More to come later..