Tuesday, October 26, 2004

My First Poetry

So in tutorial yesterday, Prof. Kuin suggested that we blog on our first experience with poetry. After some thought, reflection and remembering, I came to the conclusion that poetry for me began on a birthday of mine.
It was probably my ninth or tenth birthday when I got a gift from my godparents in India: It was a book of poetry. It was by an Indian author named Vikram Seth and it was called "Beastly Tales: From Here and There" (I later found out that Seth was a famous writer in India and the world and "beastly Tales" was one of best works). The book contained fables that we all know and belong to the general canon of fable literature, 'The Tortoise and the Hare' and 'The Crocodile and the Monkey' for example. But Seth had adapted these stories into a simple free verse AA BB CC DD rhyming scheme. As an English student I now know Seth is using certain literary devices to make these poems easy to read, but as I child, I didn't know what a 'rhyme scheme' meant, or that 'enjambement' gave a poem foreword momentum. I was just amused by the rhyming. Actually, when I first got the book, I read all ten stories in one setting, I couldn't get over the easy, flowy rhyme pattern. It made the book so easy to read.
Here's an example from the "The Tortoise and the Hare." It comes when the hare and tortoise first meet and challenge each other to a race:

"Darling Tortoise," drawled the hare,
"I would thrash you anywhere-
Marsh or mountain, hill or dale,
Field or forest, rain or hail!"
Snapped the tortoise slow and steady:
"Choose your place, and I'll be ready.
Choose your time, and make it soon."
"Here!" the hare said: "Sunday at noon."

This tiny excerpt doesn't do justice to the whole poem of course, but it shows what I mean.
On more of a tangential note, reading these poems now, I find that they really a) challenge stereo types and b) deal with mature subject matter. Seth's adaptations are quite graphic (and sometimes even violent). "The Eagle and the Beetle" is a Grecian fable and one of the more graphic ones:

One day, alas, an eagle flew
Above them, and before they knew
What cloud had shadowed them, the hare
Hung from her [the eagle's] talons in mid-air.
"Please spare my friend," the beetle cried.
But the great eagle sneered with pride:
"You puny, servile, cloddish bug-
Go off and hide your ugly mug.
How do you dare assume the right
To meddle with my appetite?
This hares' my snack. Have you not heard
I am the great god Zeus's bird?
Nothing can harm me, least of all
A slow, pathetic, droning ball.
Here keep your friend's head-" And she tore
The hare's head off, and swiftly bore
His bleeding torso to her nest,
Ripped off his tale, and ate the rest.

Wow! That's a healthy dosage of ultra-violence if your ask me. I was a kid when I first read that! I remember my mom getting a bit uncomfortable when she heard me read this poem to her for the first time.

As for challenging stereotypes, Seth genders the character is his adaptations. For example, the hare, from "The Hare and The Tortoise," is a female. I remember reading that story as a child in school and seeing, in the illustrations, that both characters were made out to be male. Also, when I think of an eagle, I always think of a male. I know it's bad and I shouldn't arbitrarily assign gender to animals, but looking over these poems (after all this time) has challenged me to think in nongendered ways.

So there you have it:
A little history,
About me!


P.S.: If anyone is interested, "Beastly Tales" is in the library, you can find it here:
PR 9499.3 S39 B43 1992.


Blogger marwa said...

very interesting..the poem seems interesting too and its really good to read that poem at a young age.
I usually encourage young kids to read poetry before going to highschool because thats when it becomes challenging...so its more better to enjoy it before something comes up

October 29, 2004 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Josh C said...

Wow, I was actually expecting a happy ending there. I really wanted the beetle to reason with that damn eagle. The rhyme at the end was nice, but man, what a downer!

October 29, 2004 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Sidd Rawte said...

Ya, real downer! No room for reason in the tiny beetle's brain. But a high five is in order for the beetle, he tossed dirt at Zeus, the God of Gods!

October 30, 2004 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger squishedjuicebox said...

i don't know whether to cry or just sit in revered silence over that poem.

i came over to visit your blog becuase you visited mine and made me feel extra special. positive comments from people you don't know are always the best.

November 7, 2004 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Kaydeen said...

I enjoyed the poem, but I would have to say that deciding to think in non-gendered ways is not the answer. In fact, we, and I include myself in that as well, have to start to rethink some of our own gender issues. Maybe, why it is okay to have young children reading poems about "male eagles" decapitating the bodies of "female hares"?

November 12, 2004 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Sidd Rawte said...

I see your point and agree with it. But in the case of "The Eagle and the Beetle," the eagle is female, and the hare is male. It's interesting to think about that, in light of what you said!
I think this is why Seth gendered his characters the way he did, it's counter-intuitive. Or is it?

November 13, 2004 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Mr_Mokund a.k.a .:Ukiyo Zoshi:. said...

Hallo, when i was reading your blog, i came to realize what a huge doctor suess fan i was as a kid. I think i can relate to your amusement found in simple rhymes like those found in "green eggs in ham". I could read them here or there, i could read them anywhere.

November 21, 2004 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Rima Kaur said...

the poem that youve written is incomplete :)

August 22, 2009 at 3:05 AM  
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May 9, 2013 at 5:52 PM  
Anonymous RK Moses, India said...

It is utter nonsense talking about the gender of animals. Also remember that in the animal kingdom there is killing of other animals for food. It is exactly like we cooking our meals. It should not be disturbing for children on adults alike as NG channels and discovery channels shows animals killing for food.

Instead of appreciating a classic poem and the language look what we are discussing......

December 1, 2015 at 2:27 AM  

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