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SPN Leaders, You & Our Favorite Poets


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
It was just one of those ideas that broke unexpectedly into an afternoon chat between spnadmin, Mai ji, and artistotle ji ... somehow our favorite poets became a topic of casual conversation. I don't even remember how it happened, except that in this broken dialog that covered 40 different subjects of importance to Sikhs or to the forum or to our personal lives, poetry just slid in and out of the chat.

The idea of course is about discussion. Please take part!

It was the sort of conversation that works much like a wonderful afternoon tea: the kind that fortifies you because both the tea and the companionship change the way the world looks just a tiny bit. We discovered things we never knew about our partners. Just knowing makes a person want to know more. We were trading names of our favorite poets, and then the idea came about.

Love of poetry is a passion that smoulders, but never becomes a destructive fire; it glimmers in the background. One can go there when one wants and warm up the heart. Why not share that passion, that part of ourselves with the rest of the forum? Why not create a thread so that any member can talk about a favorite poet and post a poem or two and discuss why they like that poem.

Some of us are very shy. However, Mai ji, aristotle ji and I will begin. The very first entry however honors Admin Singh ji who never makes any claim to importance, yet .. none of this would be happening, none of it, without him

I know that Admin Singh ji has a special appreciation for Rabindranath Tagore. Translated from the Bengali

The Banyan Tree

O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little child,
like the birds that have nested in your branches and left you?

Do you not remember how he sat at the window
and wondered at the tangle of your roots that plunged underground?

The women would come to fill their jars in the pond,
and your huge black shadow would wriggle
on the water like sleep struggling to wake up.

Sunlight danced on the ripple like
restless tiny shuttles weaving golden tapestry.

Two ducks swam by the woody margin above their shadows,
and the child would sit still and think.

He longed to be the wind and blow through your rustling branches,
to be your shadow and legthen with the day on the water,
to be a bird and perch on your topmost twig,
andto float like those ducks among the weeds and shadows.

Rabindranath Tagore was Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for his book Gitanjali. Although most famed for his poetry, Tagore was a creative genius who played a crucial role in the cultural renaissance of India and Bengal in the 19th and early 20th Century. As well as being a Seer poet Tagore’s achievements included notable contributions in the fields of music, literature, plays, art and education reformer.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
re: SPN Leaders, You & Our Favorite Poets

Mai Harinder Kaur ji and I discovered that we both like the poetry of William Butler Yeats. The key to this shared appreciation probably lies in the way that the poetry, vision and life of Yeats has touched our own lives. I also like the poet William Auden. Mai ji also likes e e cummings and Sara Teasdale. We will come to all of that.

Here is a poem by Yeats, one of his mysterious poems full of contradiction, word play, imagery and symbolism, and, yes, it is grounded in history. Nothing about Yeats can be divorced from the remarkable times in which he lived.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
This poem was written in 1919, at the close of World War 1, a war that claimed more lives than today we would imagine. It was a war the changed the face of Europe, ushered social and economic revolutions, over-saw the downfall of monarchies, and marked the beginning of the end of the British raj.

W.B. Yeats ( 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of a well-known Irish painter, John Butler Yeats. He spent his childhood in County Sligo, where his parents were raised, and in London. Born into the Anglo-Irish landowning class, Yeats became involved with the Celtic Revival, a movement against the cultural influences of English rule in Ireland during the Victorian period, which sought to promote the spirit of Ireland’s native heritage.



May 11, 2010
Ancient Greece
Night Song at Amalfi
Sara Teasdale

I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love --
It answered me with silence,
Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishers go --
It answered me with silence,
Silence below.

Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song --
But how can I give silence,
My whole life long?
Mai Ji's beautiful graphic creation posted here, 'There will come soft rains' is one of Teasdale's most renowned poems.

I admire Sara Teasdale for her subtleness and amazing simplicity of style. Her portrayal of love and loss, and of the dark shades of life with happiness sprinkled in between, is simply beyond words. My favourite poems are 'Night song at Amalfi', 'The Look', 'The Song for Colin' and almost every other piece she wrote.

Sara Teasdale was born on August 8, 1884. She had poor health for most of her life, and it was only at age 14 that she was well enough to begin school. Teasdale's first poem was published in Reedy's Mirror, a local newspaper, in 1907. Her first collection of poems, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems, was published that same year.
Teasdale was courted by several men, including poet Vachel Lindsay, who was absolutely in love with her. She chose instead to marry Ernst Filsinger, who had
been an admirer of her poetry for a number of years, but later divorced him. In 1933, she committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.


May 11, 2010
Ancient Greece
Another poem by Sara Teasdale
Advice to a Girl
Sara Teasdale

No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed;
Lay that on your heart,
My young angry dear;
This truth, this hard and precious stone,
Lay it on your hot cheek,
Let it hide your tear.
Hold it like a crystal
When you are alone
And gaze in the depths of the icy stone.
Long, look long and you will be blessed:
No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
aristotle ji

I wonder if Sara Teasdale was in a way talking to herself or about herself (not worth possessing). She was depressed through most of her adult life. Feelings of being too unworthy to be possessed may lurk behind the poem. Or feelings that some other cannot be possessed in her own life, she says that one is unworthy because she encounters failure and in her heart blames herself. I was amazed reading her life that she turned down the proposal of one poet, Vachel Lindsay, who adored her, and instead sunk herself into a loveless marriage that ended badly. As if she could not bear the emotions that accompany feelings of being loved.

I have yet to post my William Auden poem. It will have to wait a bit... can't do it right now bcuz have to concentrate on some other things besides the forum. :sad:


May 11, 2010
Ancient Greece
The Swimming Pool
by Thomas Lux

All around the apt. swimming pool
the boys stare at the girls
and the girls look everywhere but the
or down or up. It is
as it was a thousand years ago: the fat
boy has it hardest, he
takes the sneers,
prefers the winter so he can wear
his heavy pants and sweater.
Today, he's here with the others.
Better they are cruel to him in his presence
than out. Of the five here now (three boys,
two girls) one is fat, three cruel,
and one, a girl, wavers to the side,
all the world tearing at her.
As yet she has no breasts
(her friend does) and were it not
for the forlorn fat boy whom she joins
in taunting, she could not bear her terror,
which is the terror
of being him. Does it make her happy
that she has no need, right now, of
of acting fool to salve
her loneliness? She doesn't seem
so happy. She is like
the lower middle class, that fatal group
handed crumbs so they can drop a few
down lower, to the poor, so they won't kill
the rich. All around
the apt. swimming pool
there is what's everywhere: forsakenness
and fear, a disdain for those beneath us
rather than a rage
against the ones above: the exploiters,
the oblivious and unabashedly cruel.
I appreciate Thomas Lux for the contemporary style his poetry represents, free from the sheckles of verse, yet perfectly rhythmic and harmonical, sometimes romantic and at others just showing us the bare naked truth. His poems actually get stuck in your mind, it is very difficult not to think of them, and having read them once, you'll always like to come back and savour them again and again.

Born in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1946 to working class parents, Thomas Lux attended Emerson College and the University of Iowa.

Lux’s first collections, including Memory’s Handgrenade and Sunday: Poems (1979), were grounded in the Neo-Surrealist techniques of contemporaries like James Tate and Bill Knott.

Lux has been praised for his poetry, but as he told Elizabeth Mehren in the Los Angeles Times, "This is not something one chooses to do…It is something I was drawn to. I do it because I love to do it, and because I don't have any choice. If I don't write, I feel
empty and lost."

Harkiran Kaur


Jul 21, 2012
My Two Favourite Poems Of All Time

The Quest
Aleister Crowley

A part, immutable, unseen,
Being, before itself had been,
Became. Like dew a triple queen
Shone as the void uncovered:
The silence of deep height was drawn
A veil across the silver dawn
On holy wings that hovered.

The music of three thoughts became
The beauty, that is one white flame,
The justice that surpasses shame,
The victory, the splendour,
The sacred fountain that is whirled
From depths beyond that older world
A new world to engender.

The kingdom is extended. Night
Dwells, and I contemplate the sight
That is not seeing, but the light
That secretly is kindled,
Though oft-time its most holy fire
Lacks oil, whene'er my own Desire
Before desire has dwindled.

I see the thin web binding me
With thirteen cords of unity
Toward the calm centre of the sea.
(O thou supernal mother!)
The triple light my path divides
To twain and fifty sudden sides
Each perfect as each other.

Now backwards, inwards still my mind
Must track the intangible and blind,
And seeking, shall securely find
Hidden in secret places
Fresh feasts for every soul that strives,
New life for many mystic lives,
And strange new forms and faces.

My mind still searches, and attains
By many days and many pains
To That which Is and Was and reigns
Shadowed in four and ten;
And loses self in sacred lands,
And cries and quickens, and understands
Beyond the first Amen.

A Dream Within A Dream
Edgar Allen Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
I have always loved Aleister Crowley's poem above... it's a very in depth description of a deeply personal spiritual journey. Though Aleister Crowley was seen by some as 'evil' in actuality was more spiritual, but since he dabbled in what was considered occult practices to progress spiritually he was misunderstood. If he was around today, people would just think he was another person who was into meditation, tarot cards etc. He actually travelled to India and studied Hinduism and Buddhism... doesn't say anything about Sikhi though but he did study many world religions and eventually founded Thelema.

Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.


May 11, 2010
Ancient Greece
Since Punjabi poetry has not featured in this thread so far, I take the liberty of posting a beautiful piece of verse by, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, who is often referred to as the Keats of Punjabi poetry.
Just to mention, my favourite Punjabi poets are Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Dhani Ram Chatrik, Professor Puran Singh, Harinder Singh Mehboob and Haribhajan Singh (quite a list, phew!)

ਕੀ ਪੁਛਦੇ ਓ ਹਾਲ ਫਕੀਰਾਂ ਦਾ,
ਸਾਡਾ ਨਦੀਓਂ ਵਿਛੜੇ ਨੀਰਾਂ ਦਾ |
ਸਾਡਾ ਹੰਝ ਦੀ ਜੂਨੇਂ ਆਇਆਂ ਦਾ,
ਸਾਡਾ ਦਿਲ ਜਲਿਆਂ ਦਿਲਗੀਰਾਂ ਦਾ |
Why ask about the condition of fakirs like us?
We are water, separated from its river,
Emerged from a tear,
Melancholy, distressed!

ਇਹ ਜਾਣਦਿਆਂ ਕੁਝ ਸ਼ੋਖ ਜਹੇ,
ਰੰਗਾਂ ਦਾ ਨਾਂ ਹੀ ਤਸਵੀਰਾਂ ਹੈ |
ਜਦ ਹੱਟ ਗਏ ਅਸੀਂ ਇਸ਼ਕੇ ਦੀ,
ਮੁੱਲ ਕਰ ਬੈਠੇ ਤਸਵੀਰਾਂ ਦਾ |
Though I knew that pictures are just
A collage of some colors -
When I entered the emporium of love,
I was entranced by them.

ਸਾਨੂੰ ਲਖਾਂ ਦਾ ਤੰਨ ਲਭ ਗਿਆ,
ਪਰ ਇੱਕ ਦਾ ਮੰਨ ਵੀ ਨਾ ਮਿਲਿਆ |
ਕੀ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਕਿਸੇ ਮੁਕਦਰ ਸੀ,
ਹਥਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਚਾਰ ਲਕੀਰਾਂ ਦਾ |
Countless bodies did I find,
But not one mind did I meet.
This was written in my fate,
In the four lines of my palm.

ਤੂੰ ਖੁਦ ਨੂੰ ਆਕਲ ਕਹਿੰਦਾ ਹੈਂ,
ਮੈਂ ਖੁਦ ਨੂੰ ਆਸ਼ਕ ਦੱਸਦਾ ਹਾਂ|
ਇਹ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਤੇ ਛੱਡ ਦਈਏ,
ਕੀਹਨੂੰ ਮਾਨ ਨੇ ਦੇਂਦੇ ਪੀਰਾਂ ਦਾ|
You call yourself a wise man,
I say I am a lover.
Let us leave it to the people to decide
To whom they will give the esteem of a pir.
Shiv Kumar Batalvi(1936-1973) was born in village Bara Pind Lohtian, Sialkot District (now in Punjab province, Pakistan), to Pandit Krishan Gopal, village tehsildar in the revenue department, and Shanti Devi, a housewife. He enrolled in an F.Sc. program, an art course and later a diploma in Civil Engineering, but did not complete any of them. Soon, he fell in love, but following the marriage of his sweetheart turned to alcohol and poetry.

He wrote extensively, and soon became a household name in terms of Punjabi poetry. He became the youngest recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967, for his epic verse play based on the ancient legend of Puran Bhagat, Loona (1965), now considered a masterpiece in modern Punjabi literature and which also created a new genre, of modern Punjabi qissa.

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