13 April 2009

The Ghost of Literature

(Because it was, is and will always be below and beyond a certain Lady to attempt anything of the sort!)

I
“Is this logic, is this sense,
Are these denizens of Literature’s den?
Where is their sweetness, where their light?
Oh, these philistines are but blight!

Surrounded I seem by prodigal fools:
Purloining papers now seems cool!
They study Literature not for its sake,
But for gold which may come in the wake!
/Will they carry this haloed legacy?
These who suffer best from palsy?
Shall they bear Wit divine,
Reason, balance, harmony fine?
The fruit of knowledge,
Will they labour to gain,
Or, suffering pangs, decide ‘tis vain?

Everywhere I see excesses great,
Follies fell wilfully made:
Fallen, falling, only to fall again,
Such the fashion that all would fain!”

Despairing thus of the world around,
This scholar did himself in Shaw ground.
Read a bit of chocolate-cream soldier’s escape,
But this time found it a deadly weight.
Irritated, disturbed, he stood up again,
And, pacing to and fro, began to complain.
II
“You, Kreative Mistress,
Who pseudo-suicidal tendencies harbour;
Why under sundry delusions do you labour?
In fits of anger thankless gits friends make,
In other passions to Olympus them raise!
Extreme, uncertain, troubled to the core,
Thy antics do really me awfully bore!

You, Movie-buff,
Who harmless folk fucking morons make;
Why do you this choleric temper fake?
Perilous, imperious, passionately moody,
You damn as a Goddess and are as choosy!
Potential you have, yet knowingly it blight,
Self-fashioned, yes, but only a plight!

You, Ok-Nikki,
Who clean-shaven lads dictator declare:
You talk as much sense as a March Hare!
Rational, balanced, calm yourself present,
Yet the world at large generally resent!
What now of those claims, those words fine?
Ha! All hollow, worthless shine!

You, Zarzu,
Who grand plans do make,
Involve all others, yet yourself prove late!
You do such wondrous schemes devise,
Which co(dd)zen good folk of precious time!
Yourself in them should more be involved,
Rather than call it the production’s fall!

You, Little Anne,
Who seem consigned to join our fold:
All qualities have, yet are not gold.
Too eager, excited, you carry on and on,
Incongruous thus appear, hopelessly torn:
Forget not your blood, your inborn fall-
Above that you will not rise at all!

You, Lady Long-locks,
Who all men doth kameena call;
What be thy problem, to be seen by all?
On petty matters you frightfully fret,
With bad jokes badger others to death!
Idiot, yes, though idiotic not,
Thy skewered vision harries me a lot!

You, Uncle Jon,
Who are cynical and smart:
Know you not how others you harm?
Motiveless, aimless, for their own sake
Your verbal barbs fly. Remember-
Sarcasm is fine, but only to an extent;
You, making an art, carry beyond ends!

You, Baba of Virgin Mounts,
Who do in matrimony antagonists join:
You do greatly over-reach thus!
For visible now is that impish babe,
That Pinku who dwells within thy nave!
Master still, yet master not,
Thy mastery now lies in the pot!

You, Master-illusionist,
Who are with various things obsessed,
In sketching dabble, onto rhetoric press.
Why of the world a distorted image paint,
When Woe-men always do prove it vain?
Never you cease from your fruitless wassails,
Even though they on all counts fail!

Last to you, O black-eyed wench,
Who do confound and bless at once;
Abuse freely, then happily act dunce!
Forget you so easily your own crimes past,
Live merrily, while others smart!
If this be your justice, this your way,
Then, by Higgins, I shall not stay!”
III
Disappointed, depressed, damnably tired,
He now to his bed readily retired;
Sought refuge with Morpheus’ lad,
Who soon in his hand him safely had.

For hours he slept in peace,
By Jove’s grace, ‘twas dreamlessly sweet!
The heavy hours slowly slipped by,
Till the clock did three sombrely chime.

Three, as all Wits know, is an hour divine,
Magic now happens, subtle, fine:
This the hour when Wit to Moon ascends,
This the hour when hostellers to bed descend!

On the twinkling stars a shadow grew,
Witty Moon too disappeared from view;
The wind saw it fit to die,
And Earth soon under darkness did lie,

From the South opaque mist drew
Enveloped his house, steadily grew.
From a crevice a way in found,
And there, flew round and round.

The scholar, chilly, suddenly awoke,
His bedside for a light madly groped.
Found instead Everyman grim,
And, clutching it close, saw the game begin.

Twisting, swirling, the vapours human form took,
Condensed into a figure made all of books!
Ay, all but the face, which was wondrously queer,
Of various things a composite drear!

Homer’s hair, Chaucer’s ears,
Shakespeare’s chin, Milton’s lips,
Pope’s nose, Dickens’ lashes,
Graves’ brows!

So countenanced was that apparition,
Which now before him stood.
Its eyes closed, it parted its lips,
And thus, in Higgins’s blessed voice, began.

“Fear me not, for as you are me,
So am I you!
You my essence, I your power:
Behold! I am the Ghost of Literature!”

“The Ghost of Literature?” the scholar asked.
“Isn’t that a very fancy term?
A very romantic exaggeration?
Are you even real, or a dream?”

“Cease!” The Ghost cried.
“Enough of the questioning,
For I will do all the talking!
For once listen without cynically interrupting!”
IV
Having him so admonished,
His never-ceasing barrage of queries banished,
The Ghost thus began-
“Listen to me well, O mortal man,
For I shall either be thy saviour, or thou damn!
I am the Ghost of Literature, true:
My task here? A change brew.
I shall alter your outlook, you reform;
So you shine, in better form!”

Saying as much, it suddenly stopped
And pursed its lips tightly shut.
Then, slowly, it opened its eyes and
Gazed into the other’s bewildered orbs.
V
Seeing those orbs, the scholar was struck:
Familiar yes, but familiar not-
Brown-black, certain doom of a zillion chickens
But that was not all.

Looking more, he saw greater depths,
Within them a canon of infinite breadth.
Sappho in them tunefully sang,
Mary through her dead brother’s woes ran;
Elizabeth, Queen, her letters compressed,
While Behn her Rover cunningly sketched;
Finch with Pope an Impromptu held,
Austen Lizzy up to Pemberley led;
Mary the rights of women vindicated,
Shelly’s Frankenstein all norms jaded;
Christina through Laura the fruit consumed,
As Eliot in Maggie foresaw her doom.
These, and others, he in there saw,
Marginalised voices; oppressed, yet strong.

Such were the eyes that pierced his own,
Till his heart with guilt heavily groaned.
VI
Commune now through eyes took-
Gazing still in those orbs, a voice him shook-
He heard it not, yet heard it still,
For ‘twas his head that it did fill.

As for the face, so this voice,
It did a bundle of paradoxes poise.
Bold yet soft; agitated, yet calm.
Music to the ears, with a nursery kid’s charm.

“You, who do the world deride,
Look first within before all you override!
The faults which you to others apportion,
Are naught but your own inherent notions!

Delusional you are, without a doubt,
That, as well a fashioned choleric with clout;
Your own balance you easily loose,
To that temper of yours, as foul as a goose!

Remember too that your own plans
Don’t often materialise;
Remember too that cultures
You may not rationally criticise!

Again, your humour too is often awry,
Jokes meant, yet black and gory.
In satire too you do over-reach,
Especially with Ladies whom you attempt to teach!

Within you too dwells an impish creature,
A Pinku with Gargantuan features!
As for distortion, in that you freely indulge,
Confuse others, while yourself bogs drudge!

Why yourself then such a scholar think,
When you too totter on Dullness’ brink!
Your own follies make a prodigal roll,
What right then have you to with others fool?
/Literature has no rigid bounds,
It may not be fixed by you critical hounds,
All may a part of it become,
Even if their tastes be a bit rum!

Therefore, though the world be a barbarous waste,
Though sense in it has waned of late,
Yet it is not all that bad:
Hope’s all around- just look for it foolish lad!”
VII
These words did him greatly shame
His ego did they effectively maim.
Yet his eyes from it he could not remove
And gazing still, his lips, soundless, moved.

“You are, O Ghost, a beacon in the dark,
Your aim hits bang onto the mark!
My faults to me now are clear,
They are now maladies that I do fear.

Change I must, and change I shall-
I am but a man, but a man I am.
If unto me is granted will,
The light of reason to chaos fill,
I will above these faults rise;
Make of myself a better being,
More tolerant, open, less prone to spleen!
Give me time, give me space,
And I shall myself imbue with greater Grace!”

Hearing this the Ghost smiled,
Opened at last its lips and “Benedicte!” cried:
All at once it then dissolved into constituent dew,
Which swiftly then from that bedchamber flew…

This then the tale, this the story,
Of how a scholar was cleansed of maladies gory:
Learn ye from him, from this be inspired,
To correct within, before you on others fire!
Notes
I
Para 1
L3- Remember Mathew Arnold?

Para 3
L2- Choice; Renaissance ideas of the will.
L3- Carries it forward; these (worse than!) Faustian falls (because they happen re-occur) happen by choice, not by accident.
II
Para 8
L6- In the Baba's words, Pinku was an accident. After Brahma was done creating the Universe, he smiled a very naughty, mischievous smile and out of that Pinku, the anti-thesis of orderly creation, was born.
III
Para 5
Those who have read Bram Stoker's Dracula will know this is how Dracula used to materialise supposedly locked and 'safe' rooms...

Para 8
In hair is all the strength, and I'm assuming Homer must have had long locks.
Chaucer's ears because he used to pick up any and every thing, from Kings talk to a Wife's babbling!
Milton's lips as a homage to Shaw (Pygmalion)- "Your native language is the language of Shakespeare, and Milton and the Bible..." Higgins speaking through Milton's lips...
Pope's nose, crooked and long, smelling all rapines, going where it should not!
(Robert) Graves' (questioning) brows, for his unorthodox and provoking theories, especially on Greek mythology!
V
Para 1
Line 3- Refer to The Borgoad.

Para 2-
Line 4- Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, Philip Sidney's sister.
Line 7- Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea...The first four lines of her delightful answer to Pope's Impromptu, "Occasioned by Four Satyrical Verses on Women-Wits,in the Rape of the Lock"- "Disarm'd with so genteel an air/The contest I give o'er;/Yet, Alexander, have a care/And shock the sex no more."
Line 9- Mary Wollstonecraft's seminal work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
VI
Para 5
Line 4- A tribute of sorts to Astha Joshi; I totally agree with what you said!
VII
Para 3
Line 2- Juxtaposing ideas about the finitude of man with those about his infinite potential, him having the capacity to make the impossible possible...

11 comments:

Creation said...

Breathtaking and colossal, you have surpassed yourself! This is nonpareil!!

As for the part that made fun of me... we'll come to it later. In fact, I think I'll SMS you at 3 in the night. You would certainly enjoy it, wouldn't you? *wink*

Creation said...

That's a nice profile picture!
Sadly, the photgrapher gets no credit...
:-(

*sigh*

ssp said...

An epic, if I may say so myself!

This is a timeless classic by Literature, for Literature. Though written for a very selective class, you do justice to it.

A note on your wonderful satire - it is indeed witty and humorous. It invoked a lot of smiles, especially about your description of me. However, an interesting observation hit me about Satire...

I might be wrong here, but I think you were one of the supporters in the no-titles motion of the farewell, your argument being, that titles restrict the personality of an individual to just one aspect.

My question being, does Satire not do the same? And since all satire deals with discarding positive aspects in favor of negative ones to evoke humor, does it not further restrict the personality of the individual in a negative connotation, which is just what you were against during the no-titles motion in the farewell?

Don't get me wrong here. I am merely theorizing about Satire, Personality and your individual stance!

rileytoks2much said...

*uhm uhm behemothic uhm uhm*
Though i must add in response to your entry about me, I don't think you're any better than a gleeking fustilarian either.
Have a good life!

ssp said...

Inspired from your post, a new entry on my blog on Facebook.


http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=90854540294

AP said...

To Creation-
Thankee! Though I think the best is yet to come!

To ssp-
Thankee!

Well, there are various forms of satire you know; an invective will just blast victims mercilessly, exaggerating their negative, or (supposedly) undesirable qualities to a prodigious extreme. In this form one takes into cognisance the positive aspects of one’s personality while presenting the negative ones as best as possible. To the unknowing reader, it will indeed seem that the poet is taking a blinkered view by highlighting just the negative aspects, but readers who know and get the allusions will understand that the poet is highlighting negative aspects only as a suggestion for change and reform. The satirist, I think, is not just the surgeon who amputates the diseased limb or the demolition man who razes structures; he is also the old fashioned family physician who prescribes bitter medicines, to be had, of course, with spoonfuls of sugar!

Therefore, though for the former type of readers it does restrict one’s personality, for the latter type, it does not, because they are acquainted with the subject(s) and know them in a holistic, all round manner. That is why poems like these are niche poems, meant only for a certain, select audience.

Of course, such poems are very subjective, even though they claim to be objective. The poet’s perception of positive and negative, desirable and undesirable traits is first and foremost his own, though it may belong, as it usually does, to a certain class of people…

The individual stance is much much harder to delineate. It keeps changing with the genre…more a mixture of individual belief and the restrictions imposed, and demanded, by the genre…

To rileytoks2much-
Still stuck on intelligent gibberish? Good, good…

I agree…we both know we’re two rotten birds of the same feather, though incapable of flocking together!

And the air of finality still persists? Que sera sera!

Little Anne said...

I am speechless.

AP said...

I don't have a Facebook account, but Kreation was nice enough to copy and email it to me.

First of all, delightful!

I just answered the issues raised therein. I agree with what you say about encapsulation, but I still, quite firmly, believe in what I have said here, in the previous comment. The satirist chooses to take up only those aspects which irk him/her, but he/she is, at the same time, aware of sundry aspects, positive and negative, of the subject.

Delightful once again!

AP said...

Little Anne speechless? I hope the raindrops are still on the roses!

Little Anne said...

To add further, you, my dear friend, have not only criticised others' shortcomings (which, perhaps, you very much relished doing) but in the process you've made a piece of art that only a 'scholar' could create.

Ishaan Mital said...

Congratulations, sir,on having successfully accomplished this piece about yourself.Pray,do not stop,since each of these works leave me anticipating another epic endeavor from your side.