Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Poetry Meme

I have never attempted a poetry meme before so I was ecstatic that the lovely Lesley of Lesley's Book Nook would tag me- a big "thank you" to her and also to Cam from Cam's Commentary for originating the meme.

Here goes:

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was:

Abou Ben Adam by Leigh Hunt

My dad dabbled in amateur theatre as a youngster and Abou Ben Adam was a poem he could recite with a lot of dramatics and hence he was forever reciting it all over the house...infact, one of my earliest memories of my father was him reciting this poem to us children. He also recited a lot of Punjabi poems that I can't find on the net, so I'm not going to be able to write about them.

Abou ben Adam

Abou ben Adam (may his tribe increase!)

awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw, within the moonlight of his room,

Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,

an angel, writing in a book of of gold.

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adam bold,

And to the Prescence in the room he said:

"What writest thou?" The vision raised its head,

And, with a look made of all sweet accord,

Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?"said Abou, "Nay, not so,"

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,

But cheerily still, and said, "I pray thee, then,

Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night

It came again, with a great awakening light,

And showed the names whom love of God had blest,

And lo! Ben adam's name led all the rest.

- Leigh Hunt

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and........

I was forced to memorize "O Captain My Captain" by Walt Whitman and you would think I'd hate the poem, but au contraire, it's one of my favorite poems! I went on to recite it at my school's elocution competition and WON! :)

3. I read/don't read poetry because....

I don't read modern poetry because I'm an old-fashioned gal, I like poetry that rhymes. The only non-rhyming poetry I love are the Sufi poems by Rumi, Hafiz etc. Also, poetry is getting so abstract these days that I don't always understand what the poet is saying.

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is .......

When I think of the word poem in the dictionary of my mind, "Solitude" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is the poem that comes to mind. Good or bad, I've often taken her advice...

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer; Sigh, it is lost on the air. The echoes bound to a joyful sound, But shrink from voicing care.

I also love this one by RUMI

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

5. I write/don't write poetry, but..............

Sadly, I don't write any poetry, not even the rhyming kind!

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature.....

When I read certain kinds of poems it's a magical experience, it's almost as if I am lifted up and away into a different world and even when the words are long forgotten, the essence of the poem continues to stay with me. Very few bodies of literature have been able to do that for me.

7. I find poetry.....

especially the old-fashioned or Sufi poetry, fills my heart and touches my soul. I love the rhythm of poetry, I love that for the most part it is free from rules of grammar, allowing it to bend and flow any which way it wants to go.

8. The last time I heard poetry....

I think the last time was when my friend and fellow blogger "Waryer Poet" or 'Cactus Poet" as he is now known, sent me a recording of his poems.

9. I think poetry is like....

Red wine, when you read the right kind of poetry and it can intoxicate you, but when you read something that you don't particularly enjoy it gives you a headache!

There are so many on my blogroll that would love attempt this meme, so I'm going to invite all of you to play if you would like!

This might also be a nice time to introduce some friends and fellow bloggers whose wondrous and clever poetry I absolutely enjoy:

Beloved Dreamer
Gautami from Rooted
Sharanya Manivannan


ML said...

I love that Solitude poem!! What a great meme. I have not really been into poetry. I remember having to write quite a few poems in college, but other than that, I haven't had much of an interest...till now :) You listed some really good ones, Lotus.
I really liked your poetry comparison to red wine. That was great!

Unknown said...

I never liked poetry until I was in my 2nd year of grad school and then I realized how fantastic it can be.

Rebecca H. said...

Thanks for talking about Rumi -- I'd like to read him.

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks, ml!!! Like you, I haven't really read much poetry except for the ones I read in school. Rumi and some of the other Sufi poets I discovered only around a decade ago) but I read them more for inspiration and spiritual teaching even though the lyrical beauty of the writing simply astounds!

Hi Angela Care to share some of the poetry that made you a lover of verse? I'd love to hear!

Hi Dorothy You're weclome. Rumi is very easily my favorite poet and teacher! My favorite translations are by Coleman Barks, but poke around on the internet and you should get some nice options.

hellomelissa said...

i have yet to be a poetry lover, unless you count dr seuss or shel silverstein.

Lotus Reads said...

Melissa! THanks for reminding me about Shel Silverstein, I absolutely LOVE his work! Oh, and speaking of Dr. Suess I saw a really cute recipe book the other day called "Green Eggs and Ham", I wanted to thumb through it but was in a hurry to get somewhere - maybe next time!

Beenzzz said...

I have to admit that I'm not a huge poetry person either. I used to write sappy, angst ridden poetry as a teen, but that is about it! :) I do however, think its wonderful that you won an elecution contest!!!! You must have recited the poem beautifully.
My daughter is a huge Shel Silverstein fan.

Lotus Reads said...

That's OK Beenzzz not too many of us are. I used to read a lot more poetry when I was younger, but these days it's only Rumi and some other Persian and Sufi poets for me. I am fascinated by the lives of poets though - many of them lived seriously sad lives.

Les said...

I'm going to try to post this comment again. I wrote a long one last night, but Blogger decided to act up and it never got posted and disappeared in to the ether. Sigh.

I love your responses to the meme, Lotus. I've never heard of O Captain! My Captain! and fell in love with it, reading it three times in a row. I didn't realize it was about Abraham Lincoln until I mentioned the poem to my husband. I think it reminds me a bit of my dad, for some reason (he lives on a boat in Seattle).

I'll have to peruse those blogs you listed. I'm a bit gung-ho about reading more poetry and may make it a monthly topic to post about on my blog.

Do you know that Cam is keeping a running list of all the bloggers who've participated in her meme? Might want to drop her a comment.

Thanks for playing, Lovely Lotus. :)

nessie said...

Harold Bloom says that a poem can only be truly appreciated and loved over time when memorized. I always thought that to be interesting and started to memorize short poetry for that reason and well it kinda worked. When I was waiting in line or in the car the lines would come up in my head and I would go through them with relish for their company.

Most often though I tend to do that with lyrics. Many thanks.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Les

Gosh, yes, I have that (comments disappearing into thin air) happen a couple of times and it's not fun!

Les, your dad sounds like a cool guy! Do you get to visit him often? And yes, the poem is about Abraham Lincoln and lends itself beautifully to recitation!

I have left a comment on Cam's blog (thanks), she really has started something wonderful, hasn't she? I so look forward to your poetry posts, Les. I will try to dedicate more posts to poetry myself when time permits.

Hi Nessie Thank you for stopping by and for touching on something that I often discuss with my kids' teachers - the non-requirement of learning poetry by rote in today's school curriculum. When I was in school we memorized poetry all the time, but they don't do it in school today (atleast not here in Toronto where I live)...something about memorization impeding a child's understanding and enjoyment of learning! I don't agree at all - I think memorizing poetry can have nothing but benefits, cognitive and otherwise. Perhaps I shall do a whole post on this one day!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy poetry and use it sometimes as a mental exercise. It is kind of fun to have a concept and see if I can get it to rhyme and have any meaning. Here is my latest effort.

Sai said...


I am not a poetry person now but I used to love poetry when I was in school. BTW I remember Abou Ben Adam and O Captain My Captain from school too.

Albert Tennyson's "Home they brought her warrior dead" used to move me to tears. I loved William Wordsworth's "Daffodils" and "Psalm of Life" by H. W. Longfellow.

One of my favorite Indian poems was Kalidasa's description of the Himalayas in "Kumarsambhav" that I had to study in my Sanskrit class in school.

Lotus Reads said...

HelloDon Ray Thanks for visiting and for sharing your poem, I enjoyed reading it, infact, I'm enjoying your Panama blog a whole lot, too. What a fun way to learn about a country. I'm going to bookmark you.

Hi Sai Merci beaucoup! Aren't you glad we were forced to memorize poems? I wasn't always happy to learn those poems, but now I see the value of knowing certain poems by heart. How lucky you were to have studied Sanskrit - I am going to look for Kalidasa's poem now, I hope they have a translation!

Anne Camille said...

Hi Lotus. I'm glad I found your blog. Loved reading your comments. I'll add you to the link list tonight, as long as Blogger is being cooperative, which was not the case when I first read your post last night.

Do you know this Sufi poem/prayer, usually attributed to Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya:

O my Lord, if I worship You from fear of Hell,
burn me in Hell,
and if I worship You in hope of Paradise,
exclude me from it,
but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake,
then do not withhold from me
Your Eternal Beauty.

I came across this years ago and it remains a favorite of mine, although I don't usually read religious poetry.

Lotus Reads said...

Cam, thanks for the meme and for the lovely comment. I can't say I've heard the prayer attributed to Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, but the words are so true and the prayer is so beautiful, I'll be sure to read up on it some more. THanks so much, I'm always delighted to be pointed in the direction of new (to me) Sufi poems/poets.

Cassiopeia Rises said...

Lotus my dear, what a wonderful post. I too had to read aloud "O Captain My Captain" as a child and loved it. I will look up some of the other poems you mentioned.
Thank you for my welcome back and for your mention of my blog.
I have many things to catch up on
(your reviews) but I think I will take the meme to. It's good to be home again.


Susan in Italy said...

Fun post! In high school, we had to memorize "Jabberwocky" from Alice in Wonderland (or was it Through the Looking Glass?), which isn't completely English. The teacher told us that if we could memorize that, we could memorize anything.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi Beloved Welcome back and don't worry about playing catch up. Just rest and get strong and come out and play with us again!

Hi, Susan I had to take a look at "Jabberwocky", and this is what I found!

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

`Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

LOL,if I could memorize that and the 5 other equally brilliant stanzas, I would rule the world! ;)

My 11-year old might be able to do it though! :)

gautami tripathy said...

lotus, I am right person to be tagged for this. I will write as soon as I can. Thanks for this.

For someone who claims not reading much of poetry you have done well.


PS: I am going to Bangalore. So if you want something just buzz me!!


Lotus Reads said...

Hi Gautami With your love of poetry and your ability to write it so well, too, I knew you'd be the right candidate for the meme, thanks for taking it up. I wish you a happy and productive trip in Bangalore - are you going there on business? My parents and inlaws live there, wish I was going, too! :)

tanabata said...

Lotus, I love your analogy of poetry being like red wine. I guess I've been drinking the wrong kind! ;P

I'm finally catching up on some of my blog-reading and I've made a note of several of your recent book and film recommendations.

Anonymous said...

hi Lotus

Just exploring your blog after your comment on mine about fado. I remember the Abu Ben Adam (may his tribe increase) too! I think I must have learnt it by heart once since I could remember it all. It's weird because I'm not so keen on poetry and never remembered anything I learnt at school, to my great shame. Russian-speakers are always quoting great swathes of Pushkin at me and I feel I should be able to respond.

I just did a book meme on my blog. You'll see I also have plenty of overdue books!

Lotus Reads said...

Hello varske and welcome!

I know what you mean about "swathes of Pushkin" - when we were in Iran a few years ago, even the taxi drivers were reciting poetry, gave me quite a complex, I can tell you! :)

So excited about your book meme, will visit first thing tomorrow morning!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lotus
In a dream last night I was atempting to recite "Abou Ben Adam" but could not remember all the words. I doogled the title this morning and your work came up. Thank you for sharing your interest. I am no poet but I love to read poetry (even if I don't always understand what it is saying)

Lotus Reads said...

hi, anon!

This is so cool! I'm so glad this poetry post was able to help you! I love "Abou Ben Adam" it's one of the few poems I can recite by heart. Did you first learn it in school too?

Anant Bir Singh said...

I love `Abou Ben Adam` since school days. I remember the hindi version which was in our school text. Have forgoten the last lines. If anybody can help me out locate the Hindi version please, I shall be gratefull! Thanks!!