Poem is Nature, Nature is the World & the World is a Poem
Poetry may not be counted in other forms of art, but it encompasses all arts of the world. In fact, all aspects, all beauties, all essence of life can be expressed through poetry. “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance,” says Carl Sandburg. All forms of life, the whole of earth, all celestial bodies—all planets, stars, galaxies—all phenomena of the universe, and the entire cosmos reverberate in the heart of poetry. Poetry has such a big heart! Poetry can capture the entire past, the present, and all the futures. It embraces everything imaginable. It even hugs what is unimaginable.
Defining poetry and beauty is difficult. But both give immense joy. Both are inspiring. We cannot confine beauty to words. So is the case with poetry. Both beauty and poetry break limits of word-bound definitions. Defining poetry is beyond the scope of ordinary minds. One needs to dip into the extraordinary world of the imagination. When one attempts to define poetry, one chooses a different, often unimaginable, world of words.
Milton defines poetry as a prayer to the Eternal Spirit. According to V Cousin, poetry is the first of the arts because it best represents the infinite. Chinonso Uche sees in the poem everything: the air, sky, sea, plants, man, eyes, love, death. He sees the whole world as a poem: Poem is nature/ Nature is the world/And the world is a poem.
Beauty is the very soul of poetry. Anything that is not expressed or touched by a poem cannot exist intensively. Anything that is not embraced by poetry is not, and cannot be, beautiful. Poetry instills beauty and makes things exist intensely and eternally.
Only poetry makes the things, people, and events eternal. Valmiki’s Ramayana, which was composed several thousand years ago, will exist as long as the earth exists. The philosophy created during the Mahabharata is eternal because of Bhagwad Gita.
The Ramcharitmanas by Goswami Tulsidas, which was composed in the Medieval Age, is sung by billions of people all over the world.
The Ancient Greek poet Homer’s hymns that celebrate the various Gods will always be considered beautiful in European and Western literature. Acvaghosa’s Biddha-charita, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the sonnets he composed will always dwell in human hearts.
Poets who touched the soul and revolutionised the minds of the masses will always inspire people in the future. Therefore, Kalidasa will always be fresh in people’s memories. Vedavyas, the author of all Vedas, of Upanishads, of the greatest ever epic of Mahabhrata and of the Hindus’ holy book, the Bhagwad Gita, will still be sung in all the times to come.
Tulsidasa is sung in millions of families every day. Surdasa’s poetic obeisance to Lord Krishna will always inspire the masses in India.
Poetry instills sensitivity in human minds. Human courage is best expressed through poetry. Poetry ignites creativity, which is always blended with courage. It paves a pathway to the highest glory for humans. It has the guts to awaken an inert and sleeping civilisation. It has the power to infuse life even in the dead.
Poetry needs to be free from the polluting elements. There is no place for negative thoughts or pessimistic emotions—such as, superstition, cruelty, hatred, insensitivity, indifference, social disintegration, hedonism, sensuality, servility and human disgrace—in poetry. Poetry cannot have any room for these elements because it is only for spreading Light and beauty, and enhancing life.
The revival of poetry, the art of all arts, is a must; and it must be an indispensable part of the human agenda in our times.
Our future has to be beautiful. It will be only beautiful when beauty prevails with its soul: poetry.
(The author is a Professor of Environmental Science in GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology)
Monday, 07 October 2019 | Vir Singh
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