Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To write a perfect poem

To write "that" perfect poem, he decided to sit near his open window. Needless to say, it was raining a wet rain, not harsh or insistent but sullen and miserable, making him feel the wetness of rain and the timidity of his world. He lit a cigarette thinking that it might help him write, as he was looking for a great beginning. The beginning was what mattered, what always matters, he thought. But what could he write about? He could write about the West Bank or the Gaza strip or the poor of Africa. However, it seemed too tame and besides Palestine has its own poets and some great too. There are poor everywhere, so why Africa? He could write about unrequited love, one of his favourite themes but it seemed too common to pursue. He could write about his obscure and unique position in the world but somehow he was afraid that it would drift into an existential poem and it would make no difference to the sea of existentialism anyway.

A surreal poem would only increase his suffering and besides he was not fond of surrealism anyway. Reality, wasn't that surreal enough? He remembered reminding himself in the past that one could never force a poem for the waters of poetry must be allowed to rise like a fever, degree by degree till the blank white page of poetry was filled. No, that was not even his but belonged to Neruda, the refuge of all amateur poets and hopeless lovers. These days, he thought, lighting another cigarette and watching the rain, he had forgotten about the poetry he liked in the past. He preferred Pessoa to Plath and Lorca to Eliot though Eliot's April is the cruelest line still held its tremors. Anglo-Saxon poetry had lost its charm for him for even when free, those verses seemed emotionally remote, un-natural and too Hellenic. He wanted to write a Borges poem, elegiac and unresentful, simple and sad or one of those loosely melancholic Arabic poems.

True, there are many poets and he hasn't even heard the names of most of them and it was simply impossible to do so. And translated poetry was not the real thing anyway. So amongst those un-read poems was one such great and perfect poem which would remain hidden and lost. Yet, what difference would one more poem, if he really wrote it, make to either himself or others? He wasn't even sure whether he could call himself a poet though that was a matter of debate, he thought with relief. The blank page on his desk was glittering with unease as the rain fell and everything real seemed elusive and fugitive. He closed the window, stubbed the cigarette and got up. He picked the Selected Poems of Vasko Popa, his latest find and returned to his own night. He would never realize that in remaining silent and blank, he had come quite near to that elusive poem, only that it had remained hidden in the silence of his room, lost somewhere between his fingers and the blank page.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Surreal to say the least. This is a wonderful post Kubla. You just make me move and cringe in my seat and my heart warms up, saddens and then I retire like you to coldness. Keep up the goodwork!

Yosef said...

Good post

Alok said...

agree with the above two. beautiful! it is like a poem itself.

Kubla Khan said...

Thanks Alok and Anonymous.

Roxana said...

it is really very good. "the wetness of rain and the timidity of his world" is one of those striking phrases which remain for days in one's soul. or at least in mine.

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