Muse And Modernity … Tilak


There is prospect for modernity when it imbibes poesy.

For that matter, poesy itself is modern.

But just for the touch of modernity and to say something new,

why do you trouble yourself and torture me

with your borrowed-,  ill-digested experiences,

senseless imagery and haggard presentations

warping words without purport and restraint

trying to one-up Dylan Thomas in imitation?

To write

“In the wee hours of yesterday, I swallowed two knives

Poured Sulphuric acid on my tonsured head and chest,

clipping my lips  I stacked them on your  back,

At this moment, my eyes are goldfish in potion”

appears  novel and glamorous.

But this is childishness plus madness multiplied by decadence.

This decoction  backfires

this culture generates degeneracy.

Obscurity in poetry is permissible at times

But the reader should catch

The contours of your experience,

it must leave an indent,

that darkness should be translucent.

A poem should always open up

a  fresh lease of firsthand experiences

that greet and grind the reader.

Each word is potent, each word is fine-edged,

each detail has a meaning, a propriety,

waggling pebbles  in a can, don’t dub it as great music,

curse me not in ire, brother, I am not angry with you.

A harness makes no horse of an ass,

Donning Khadi makes no politician a Gandhian,

Modernity confers no acceptability to everything new ,

costumes can’t turn a commoner into a king

A prosaic idea cannot be poetic by rhyme.

Poetry is an alchemy…the secret of which only a poet could know .

Kalidasa knew—   Peddana knew

Krishna Sastry* knows– Sri Sri* knows.

Try to live in the present… reflect contemporary times,

Ventilate your house opening up all windows, welcome all currents in.

No matter what you say, it must be yours

It must come out from within, tearing you open.

Don’t resurrect the dead genres from the vaults of the past

Don’t drive into the open the crazy horses of  ideas without tack and harness

Brother! Poetry must reveal the fulgent expanses lying within.

It must expand the bourns of creative consciousness

whether it spits fire or sprays manna

Beauty and Joy are its ultimate aim.

(Telugu Original:  కవిత్వం – నవత్వం …  బాలగంగాధర తిలక్ )

* They were alive when the poem was written. And the sense of the word used in Telugu conveys both the past and present tenses. For clarity, the distinction is used here…. Murty


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