Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Tintern Abbey"

"FIVE years have past; five summers, with the length

Of five long winters! and again I hear

These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs

With a soft inland murmur. -- Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

That on a wild secluded scene impress

Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect

The landscape with the quiet of the sky."

I have not been very appreciative of romantic poetry or for that matter to be more precise, of Wordsworth and the poet's "emotions recollected in tranquility." However, I had to submit to the Laureate's sentiments during the recent Khandala trip. Though the pretext was of a Marketing meet (which did take place) the real pleasure and high was Khandala and its weather.

In an essay to the "Prelude" Wordsworth lays down certain principles of poetry. Poetry, according to him should be a "spontaneous overflow of emotions recollected in tranquility... in the rustic's language." I would have continued to believe the same until I read T.S.Eliot's poetry and his criticism of the former's love for emotions in composing poetry. In those spurt of juvenile and ambitious aggression, I was more drawn more towards Eliot. Therefore, very expectedly Wordsworth and his coterie took a backseat. Eliot appeared more real because he addressed issues which were topical. His symbolism and the attempt to encompass the history of literature in poetry were immensely seductive for me. Yet, a repetitive argument in mind ensued between expressions of spontaneity and calculated expressions. The Khandala trip resolved the argument to a large extent.

Of course, Khandala might not be unknown to you all. Bollywood must have certainly driven a lot of imageries of the valley's beauty in your mind. For those of you, who have visited the place nothing better can be said other than your own expressions of the picturesque landscape. The lofty hills and graceful wisps of fog awakened in me the most subtle and 'romantic' imagination. The showers and the view from Shaheen's bungalow into the majestic mountains lent a gothic sentiment in me. With power/electricity playing truant and the night being strewn by candle light the sentiment only grew more and more overpowering. Amidst sips of scotch and touch of the icy wind, my mind explored a raw feeling of being alone and being one with the power within Mother Nature.

The defining moment of realisation, however occurs many hours and miles later when my flight takes off from the Mumbai airport. The deafening roar of the flight, increasing pressure on my Eustachian tube and shut eyes suddenly brought Khandala live in my mind. The fog touched me again and the overpowering moments of the darkness of the nights in the hills inspired some instant words from me.

"Pardon me," my co passenger repeated twice, shaking me to open my eyes to meet the bland and empty look of an air hostess.
"Did you say something?" he enquired.
"Nothing," I mindlessly expressed.
"I am told Delhi is 35 degrees," he went on.
I nodded, silently trying to acknowledge that 'I was not a game for a conversation.' Indeed I was not. I wanted to go back to my reverie, to my Byzantium. (Yeah, I use the term so deliberately now) I could not. Not for many days till today, when I write this prose. And even as I was half way through this prose the words I spoke in the flight in that heightened state reverberates-

"For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude;..."

Wordsworth again. Sigh! I must admit some "spontaneous emotions are best recollected in tranquility"
Cheers to romanticism!!

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