Voksenåsen, Oslo | Music Workshop - Afternoon 18 February 2009


it’s not the [m][sc]ansion[s]
[n]or an ancient [c][m]ode
[bl][f][w]inding [f][v]ault with [anot]her

it’s [h][n]ow the [g][ar][lan][d]s g[l]o[w][ing]
and eyes [fl][m]eet[ing]
[un]certain human [b][pl][w]ays

we [dr]aw[e] a[n][d] [h][n][qu]ail[ment]
[w]it[h] a [sc][r]olling [p][wh]eel
[s]logans [c][h]old [h]and[s]

[s]well up | but [w]here
what [t]urn or ph[r]ase
or sentience s[ome][ums up]

sounds of words [fr][tr][w]ill
of birds what [y]earless[ly]
[h]ours [qu][s]ickening

s[ome][ums up such] [he][p]art/sort
in/of you
and/in me

[1:58 am] [7:10 pm] 13 February 2010

Degas once said to Mallarmé that he did not know what to write although his head was full of ideas. Mallarmé replied that poems are made of words, not ideas. Symbolists like Valéry go to great lengths to establish the concept of pure poetry which, he believes, is impossible in an entire poem because the use of certain words and connections become inevitable while they also take something away from the poetic content – or the music in it. The perfect poem approaches the state of music, and Valéry even considers musicians lucky on this account because they just have to start playing and it all happens without the hindrance of words. Inspiration – that many other poets like Ghalib and Ghani and adolescents make much of – has very little place in Valéry’s world. He professedly constructs a poem, over a period of years, which will have the desired effect in the mind of the reader, and merely the intensity of the idea in the writer’s mind is not enough. Also, a poem must not be a vehicle for philosophical ideas if it is to be a good poem, and so on.

No matter how much conflict there may be in the words of these poet-thinkers, it does not appear problematic to me because they/I thrive on conflicting impressions. As Nehamas argues, there are no ‘concepts’ in beauty and hence no absolute rules are possible to establish the merit of any work of art or way of life. As I see it, good poems are suggestive of many ideas and impressions, full of surprises, like good jokes and lives, but can be read and lived more than once because they are more than narratives even when they ostensibly tell stories. Connections which we may ignore in dialectic will haunt us in verse – given sufficient love of words. No doubt, a good poem need not advance a moral or win an argument but it can surely win a[p]p[l]ause. If we call the heightening of poetic sensibility inspiration, good poets are also master crafts[wo]men in their own ways. Whether it is a traditional form, the music in their ears informed by tradition and talent, a borrowed idea or a banal word or phrase, or something else, they make themselves heard – most often in their closets and on ‘dove’s feet’.

Having said that, a[p]p[l]ause is a deliberate deconstruction of some lines which qualify for being an expression of love and free association as shown below – a matter not of being good or bad but sudden inspiration and typing:


it’s not the scansion
nor an ancient mode
finding fault with another

it’s how the glands go
and eyes fleet with
a certain human bay

that we draw the pail
from a common well:

amalgamate – where?
what for? – to sound
sentience as sound:

some are words, some
trilling birds, some
earless quickening

some sort
of you
in me.

1:58 am 13 February 2010

The point (as if I knew what the point precisely is) of making an effort to transform and present a spontaneous outpouring of symbols in a multivalent way is to share with you how one may work with words that clatter in the mind. There are so many possible turns a line may take and change the meaning of the whole, and there, I do feel with some elation and unease, the blessed sureness of chance and uncertainty playing upon our eleven odd senses which we try to organize into life plans, overt action, and word schemes.

aagahii daam-e shuniidan jis qadar chaahe bichhaa))e
mudda((aa ((anqaa hai apne ((aalam-e taqriir kaa

let intelligence spread the net of hearing to whatever extent it might wish
my world of speech has no intention/meaning at all

Ghalib {1,4}* see more interpretations here

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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