She Walks in Beauty

  
I saw her approach. She stopped and looked at my direction for a heart throbbing moment. Then, looked away. The perfumed breeze played with her long dark hair, integrating her with the colourful autumn landscape. Her flowing floral dress matched her peaches and cream complexion while red roses seemed to bloom in those cheeks. 

I was overwhelmed by the sudden brightening of the world due to her presence. The clear sky, blue lake, vibrant foliage, provided a fitting background to her supple form. Could such beauty exist? Was she a figment of my imagination? 

I started to write. It had been long since I wrote a word inspite of my self imposed exile in this cottage. Day after day, I had struggled with the dreaded writer’s block. But she appeared and my whole world changed.I needed to immortalise her in my work. 

A gentle knock jolted me out of my reverie. I put my pen down and peeped through the window. The damsel stood at my door…the evening sun formed a halo around her lovely head. I couldn’t believe my luck…!!

( The title has been borrowed from Lord Byron’s famous poem “She Walks in Beauty”. The great romantic age poet wrote this poem to celebrate virtuousness and beauty.)

This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. For more information, please CLICK HERE. Image courtesy pixabay.com

The Solitary Reaper sang of Loneliness!

  

Dear Mr William Wordsworth,

If you were alive today, I would present this letter to you in person. It concerns your timeless ballad, “The Solitary Reaper”. I gather that you created this classic wonder while observing a farm girl reaping  in the fields and singing a Gaelic song. 

The poem says that you were not able to decipher the content of her song because of the language but you could feel the ‘melancholic strain’ in the lyrics. 

In the course of your poem, you make guesses regarding her deep melancholy. 
Was she sad for old…far-off…unhappy things? Or was it for battles, familiar matters? Or perhaps for natural sorrow, loss or pain…?

But you overlooked one big reason for her sadness that was so evident – her solitude! In that big corn field, she was intimidated by her job of reaping, overwhelmed by the enveloping solitude, and helpless due to the lack of human companionship.

The highland lass was so alone… doing cutting and reaping, all by herself. I could not help suggesting Sir, that if you would have stopped and not ‘gently passed’ by her, she would have felt better in your company. But I think you have had your reasons.

  
Her melancholic song resonates even today everywhere…because most of us are solitary. We look for friends in the big virtual world but all is artificial there. The touch, feel and presence of family and friends cannot be compensated with messages, jokes and ‘connectivity’. 
In the real world, we are growing private, we have trust issues while making friends and we have embraced isolation rather than staying ‘in touch’ physically. We are afraid of going out in order to save ourselves from hurt. We are trapped trying to ‘touch’ others through mobile screens rather than fingers.

Even if we summon our courage and cry out, very few hear as everyone is looking and listening to their phones.

Alone we are “cutting and binding the grain”, and there is no one to listen to our “melancholy strain”. So guess, our plight is worst than the solitary reaper! She had you to applaud her Sir, we have no one.

If I were to meet you in person, I would urge you to write on “our solitary generation” too. But this time you would know the reason for the ‘melancholic strain’ in our lives. I really and truly wish you were here today to sing of our solitude.

I thank you profusely for this poem and applaud its relevance even in our world.

I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient admirer.
Images courtesy google

Leave Off Your Works, Bride – Relive the romance of yore!

  
  
Today, as I sat reading poetry, I came across this sublime love poem by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The beauty of “Leave off Your Works, Bride” is such that it took me back in time…in the days of our grandparents, when it was not easy for couples to meet or romance. There were customs, family traditions, disapproving elders and unwritten rules that were to be observed before the consummation of an arranged marriage. Love marriage was out of question!

The poem talks about the period of anticipation that precedes the onset of romance between newly weds in a traditional arranged marriage set up.

It is a part of ‘The Gardener’, a lesser known love poem collection than the spiritual ‘Gitanjali'(1913), for which Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Both were published in the same year – 1913, but ‘Gitanjali’ received an overwhelming response and the latter got overshadowed. Nevertheless, ‘The Gardener’ is great in its own way. And “Leave off Your Works, Bride” underscores my observation.

  
The verses evoke gentle and deep romance of the yore. It takes us into one of those ancient Bengali households, where a bride awaits her guest ( husband). The poet is encouraging her to welcome the guest (husband) but the bride seems shy, reluctant and nervous. The poet gives well meaning advices to her, asking her to leave all work and win over him. He is trying to lessen the awkwardness of first meeting between husband and wife in their first meeting. The poem abounds in imagery. It is as if Tagore, the artist-poet, is painting with words.

What made me fall in love with this song is one particular imagery – a veiled beautiul bride, holding a lamp, consumed with contrasting emotions, getting ready to meet her unknown husband!

Enjoy the poem and interpret this classic in your own way!

  
Leave off Your Works Bride – RABINDRANATH TAGORE

Leave off your works, bride. Listen, the guest has come.
Do you hear, he is gently shaking the fastening chain of the door?

Let not your anklets be loud, and your steps be too hurried to meet him.

Leave off your works, bride, the guest has come, in the evening.
No, it is not the wind, bride. Do not be frightened.

It is the full-moon night of April, shadows are pale in the court-yard, the sky overhead is bright.

Draw your veil over your face if you must, take the lamp from your room if you fear.

No, it is not the wind, bride; do not be frightened.         
Have no word with him if you are shy, stand aside by the door when you meet him.

If he asks you questions, lower your eyes in silence, if you wish.

Do not let your bracelets jingle, when, lamp in hand, you lead him in.

Have no word with him if you are shy.
Have you not finished your works yet, bride? Listen, the guest has come.            

Have you not lit the lamp in the cowshed?

Have you not got ready the offering basket for the evening service?

Have you not put the auspicious red mark at the parting of your hair, and done your toilet for the night?

         O bride, do you hear, the guest has come?

         Have you not finished your works yet?

Images courtesy Google

The Bard and the Lady

image

 “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” wrote Shakespeare by the River Thames, as he created the character of Lady Macbeth. The evil woman would instigate her husband to kill King Duncan and usurp the throne. But the tangled web of her conscience would never let her be in peace.

However, the line did not fit in the play properly. Shakespeare furrowed his brow and discarded the page.

What he did not know was a smitten Lady had been watching him everyday. Soon after the Bard left, she picked the torn page for keepsake. The precious quote filled her with admiration for him!

Years later, Sir Walter Scott held that same paper handed down to him through generations. He incorporated the precious quote in his work ‘Ivanhoe’.

(This is entirely a fictional account on the origin of this popular quote. The only truthful part in the story is the fact that the quote is indeed a part of ‘Ivanhoe’ by Sir Walter Scott.)

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here: Mondays Finish the Challenge