Merry Christmas! I have a confession to make on this holy day. In the first week of December 2015, I came across a blog in WordPress, titled Passion and Poetry. I had been following the blog for a few months by then but as Fate had it ordained, I began to explore its contents in earnest exactly 3 weeks ago. However, once I began, as time passed I became more and more attracted to the liquid clarity, emotional purity and the rhythmic melody – all abundant in the poems posted on that blog. Soon I realized those poems are conversing with my soul, motivating me to write in response and urging me to hold poetic dialogues with the poet. So it dawned on me that I must have found my Muse in that poet and her poetry. Gradually her words and imageries began to influence and appear in my poems along with her themes and motifs. Now I think I should make it official to the poets’ world that indeed I have found my Muse finally, after toiling for countless years, glimpses of which can be seen in my earlier article, The Polaris. Thus the following piece was conceived and composed.
I dedicate it to my Muse for her soulful poems.
I wonder, if I have the choice would I be a poet in the next life! Perhaps an improbable question but then again probability never had any effect on my imagination, nor will it have that pleasure now. I suppose, before diving into the wonderful realm of improbability, a brief description of what is meant by being a poet is called for. However, I must apologize in advance too, for the ostensible nature of the definition, for in the end a poet is an individual who is a poet in their words, actions and thoughts, in their way of life, religion and philosophy!
Contrary to the popular belief, many of us have spent their entire life scribbling verses, posting poems and even publishing a few books too without ever being a poet. On the other end of the spectrum, I have also come across a few poets in my life who have not written a single line, at least not yet. Along with them there are poets who never wrote poems, many of them are eminent novelists and storywriters and there are many as well who write not with words but with color, sound or melody.
So, what is it that sets a poet apart from the rest! In brief, it is the congruity in their thoughts, words and actions. A poet’s expressions, be it in the form of a painting, a tune, a speech, a poem or a novel, will be reflected in the way a poet leads his or her life. A writer or a painter who is not a poet has the luxury of writing or painting something he or she has neither reveled in, nor suffered from in their life. A poet does not. A poet, whose poetry dreams for the azure wind of the spring in the throes of winter, will not be rendered hopeless in real life at the onset of winter chill. A poet who paints will not paint the sky yellow or the land blue unless they have seen it with their eyes. A poet cannot pretend; a poet can act but can only do so when the character is thoroughly penetrated, not through feigning or pretensions.
With these feeble attempts at defining a poet, let me also add that a poet is someone who bears the most resemblance with the God among humankind. This similarity is not just in terms of creation but also in terms of love, purity and integrity. This is obvious that a poet creates; even those who do not express are creating dreams for themselves or the surrounding ones. At the same time a poet must also be godlike in their love for the universe, unfaltering, consistent and all inclusive. Last but not the least, a poet must be pure in their intentions, words and actions, whether they are evil or good in nature, the word, ‘halfheartedly’ can never have any place in a poet’s blood. The issue of having the integrity in their thoughts, words and actions has already been discussed earlier.
Perhaps it is quite evident from the above discourse that being a poet is not a bed of roses, rather it is thornier in a relative way. When the world is plagued with deception, crookedness, greed and indifference, being a poet is not only alienating but also self-derogatory and even fatal at times. When the quintessence of love is possession and dominance, a godlike selfless and all inclusive love of a poet can at best earn ridicule or at worst be thoroughly abused. When the glory is unabashedly bestowed upon imitation, creativity can only live like Crusoe did on his island, centuries ago.
No wonder, there are more sad poets than there are happy ones. I think that is one of the reasons behind the sweetness that is found in poetry. Yes, that inherent sweetness of our innate melancholy is diviner than the sweetest of nectars! A sweetness that can only be retained in and recollected from poetry! It is this fountain of eternity that makes an individual grow into a poet, the innocent childlike curiosity driving the mind on the sacred path of Poetry. Closer the solitary traveler gets to the fountain more poetic the life becomes. Finally when the explorer has tasted the sweetness of that elixir with their eyes, nose, ears, skin and tongue, one becomes a poet.
So it seems that being a poet is hardly a matter of choice. The process is more like poetry selecting someone and anointing that person’s mind with the painful flames of dejection, emptiness and being incomplete. Only when the mind is thoroughly burned over and over again to shed any impurities it might have acquired from the material world it can be called pure. Over time, the mind grows pure enough not to be contaminated by it any more even when exposed to the elements. Very similar to the purest of gold, a poet’s mind is not rigid at all but quite flexible and almost nonreactive, so are a poet’s heart, thoughts, words and actions.
As detailed in the hieroglyphic texts of Alchemy, there ought to be a precious touchstone that turns base metals to gold. I have already established that the elixir is what makes an individual a poet. Personified, that eternal fountain is called, the muse of poetry. The muse has been differently defined in different cultures but the one I believe in claims every poet has one and only one muse that guides their poetry. Obviously a muse can have many poets as his or her devotee but a poet can only have one muse. There can be many inspirations, aspirations, friends and collaborations even but a poet is by all means entirely monogamy when it comes to their muse. It is the person that begets completeness in their poetry or more appropriately the one who peels away the incompleteness from it; the person, who signifies that the poet has finally found his or her poetry, a poet’s, albeit solitary at times, sweet and sacred home. Therefore, finding home or the muse or poetry is the end of a poet’s initial refugee status and the start of being a poet.
Once a poet becomes a complete poet no amount of scorn or abuse can paint their love green, no amount of material world can manipulate their honesty or make them cast their integrity away and no amount of temptations can stain their innocent purity. They become one with the ultimate Creator, whose poetry is not only evident in human forms and facial beauty but also in abundance all around the fragrances and hues of the natural world. In the word of Alchemy, a poet is the red dragon, with their muse bringing an end to their green lion status.
Now that I think of it I cannot help feeling mesmerized at how similar the process looks to the narrative of The Rhyme of an Ancient Mariner, by S T Coleridge and W Wordsworth. How the mariner killed an albatross and through the pain and torments of hell was raised as a poet, for him the muse was the angel, who took pity on him by letting the clouds quench his desert like thirst! So, of course if there ever is a choice, I will most definitely opt to be a poet, each and every time I soil this world with my humble birth, just because once the painful path is traversed, the fountain tasted and the muse found, nothing can be more harmonious and peaceful than being a poet.