Poetry Podcast: Failing and Flying

I am horrendously busy. To the point where every minute, I should have added about 50 more priceless words of wisdom to the project I am working on. Of course, at this point, I feel compelled to blog. You see, the urge to blog is extremely high when the whole world is waiting at your door – to be handed IP (important papers) and VID (very important documents). So instead of being overtly creative, I decide to podcast some more poetry. This wonderful poem is from the collection, Refusing Heaven.

We now bring you Jack Gilbert’s Failing and Flying. Click here to listen to me reading it.

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
On the other side of the island while
Love was fading out of her, the stars
Burning so extravagantly those nights that
Anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
Like a visitation, the gentleness in her
Like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
Through the hot stony field after swimming,
The sea light behind her and the huge sky
On the other side of that. Listened to her
While we ate lunch. How can they say
The marriage failed? Like the people who
Came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
And said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
But just coming to the end of his triumph.

The Myth of Icarus is perhaps a story to warn people from hubris. Or edging close to the world of Gods. But in Icarus, we see that the free-fall may offer joy to some. That while the movement of a “fall” is downward, it needn’t necessarily be something takes away from an experience. The “fall” instead is the sum total of rejecting heaven and its comforts. It is, in fact an acceptance of one’s fragility. A celebration even.

Love isn’t a contract. Sometimes, it ends. As do some of its manifestations. But we fall in love nor not for the promise of enternity, but for the promise of exhilaration. For the promise of memories. The end of love then, is not failure. It is the rejection of safety and divinity. An acceptance of how the most beautiful things are necessarily mortal. And must be enjoyed in solitude. Here’s Slate’s interesting take on Jack Gilbert’s poetry

No other poet I know captures so well a mind torn between the pleasures of austerity and the fecund, intoxicating powers of abundance. What Gilbert is searching for, poem after poem, are the ideal circumstances where the two intersect, and privation becomes a form of richness, a sharpening of the attention. He is often called a poet of loss, but his poems of loss describe bereavement with a strange relish.

Why exactly am I reading poetry when I have MIW (More Important Work) to do? Because poetry is hypnotic sometimes. Especially a familiar poem. It crashes, wave after wave in some sequence of repetition that I don’t quite bother to decode. In the middle of this hypnotic read, my mind calms a bit. I return to my world, knowing that another can be refused. And reclaimed tomorrow.


PS – If you liked this – please do drop a comment. Encouragement is always welcome. (Somewhat like Ogden Nash’s advise on babies – A bit of Talcum, is always Walcum.)

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0 Responses to Poetry Podcast: Failing and Flying

  1. sudha says:

    “But we fall in love nor for the promise of enternity, but for the promise of exhilaration.”

    nice and thank you πŸ™‚


  2. Mohib says:

    I totally agree, one feels like blogging when one has atleast a thousand other things to do.

    baa-qaul kisii shaayer, “Kharaabaat meN duur kii suujhtii hai”.

    Btw, another good poetry recitation !

    I am sure you would have seen ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’. The wonderful actress in that movie, Chitrangadha Singh, has a voice similar to yours.


  3. angelo says:

    What audio editor are you using? How do you manage to make all your podcasts small in size and rich in quality? πŸ™‚

    No sea gulls this time and you’ve lost the dryness in yo throat πŸ˜€ Good!


  4. chills says:

    kya baat !..


  5. shoonya says:

    well done…i have linked your post on my blog…a little talcum πŸ™‚


  6. RaajK says:

    Though I am incapable of appreciating such a profound poetry, I can still make a comment: sweetest voice !! πŸ™‚


  7. bharat says:

    engaeyO kaetta kural!! They’re lookin’ for voice overs for the tam version of Disney’s CARS. Should I let ’em know?

    The only thing I could relate to in the piece is, I remember reading that this Icarus dood flew too close to the sun with wax wings and the inevitable happened. That too coz it was in English prose back in 11th grade. My language teacher will be proud that I remembered.

    If poetry falls under the LIW category for you, music and listening to others recite poems falls into mine πŸ˜‰ esp ones with voices that you were searching for when you were doing an album.


  8. Venk At Ease says:

    Again, very nice! Voice is simply awesome. You are quite a natural at this. I will email you a hindi poem one of these days actually I googled for it here it is
    That version has 1-2 mistakes I think, it shud say “koun tha main aur kaisa tha”, not “main kaun tha aur kaisa tha”
    It is by the great physics professor and parttime lyricist Dilip Chitre.
    Your voice will surely do justice to it. pls give it a shot.


  9. Sudha: πŸ™‚

    Mohib: I am tempted to quote Ghalib – “Ghalib-e-khastaa ke bagair – kaun se kaam band hain.”

    Angelo: Audacity. (http://audacity.sourceforce.net) Yes, I requested the gulls to please shut up for three minutes.

    Chills: Thankoo ji.

    Shoonya: Heh! Thanks. Appreciate it.

    Bharat: Easy with the ice now! If I was in Madras, I’d line up to work with Disney.

    Venk At Ease: Hhmm. Maybe I will give Hindi a shot. I just don’t want people at my door screaming that I am a Southie and cannot speak Hindi. I am quite sure that if I do actually roundup enough courage to read in Tamizh – I’ll have people telling me that as a fraud Southie I can’t speak in Tamizh. Funny.

    But yes – that piece is wonderful. Will give it a try next.


  10. Venk At Ease says:

    I am so glad you said you will give it a try! So I drove across town hunting for a copy of the film to listen to the poem – in the film it is narrated by the legendary Om Puri to the poet Smita Patil. In actuality Dilip Chitre handed it over to Nihalani. After listening to it, these are my minor corrections to the poem –

    chakravyuh mein ghusne se pehle
    kaun tha mein aur kaisa tha
    yeh mujhe yaad hi na rahega

    Pause for 2 seconds.
    Then repeat 1st para.

    chakravyuh mein ghusne ke baad
    mere aur chakravyuh ke beech
    sirf ek jaanleva nikat-ta thi
    iska mujhe pata hi na chalega

    chakravyuh se nikalne ke baad
    main mukt ho jaoon bhale hi
    phir bhi chakravyuh ki rachna mein
    fark hi na padega

    marun ya maarun
    maara jaoon ya jaan se maardun
    iska faisla kabhi na ho paayega

    2 second pause.

    soya hua aadmi jab
    neend se uthkar
    chalna shuru karta hai
    tab sapno ka sansar use
    dobara dikh hi na paayega

    us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai
    sab kuchh samaan hoga kya?

    ek palde mein napunsakta
    ek palde mein paurush
    aur theek taraazu ke kaante par
    ardh satya ?

    Don’t worry about southie-northie nonsense. Ppl take potshots when they might be depressed or in bad mood because they think blogosphere is safe outlet for rants. Later on they wish they hadn’t written all that.


  11. vidya says:

    The way you enunciated ‘extravagantly’ somehow
    makes me suspect that you’ve ever experimented with theater in some past avatar.Have you?
    The Icarus line reminded me of Thomas Edison’s attitude towards ‘failed experiments’.Emotions and Experiences work that way too!!


  12. Venk at Ease: Once you make such an effort – I can’t refuse can I? πŸ™‚ Next podcast would be this one then – however, please keep in mind – 1. I am not Om Puri and 2. It’s been donkey years since I saw this – so my reading will be interpretative. The pauses may not be respected!

    Vidya: Yes! I admit. In another lifetime – I experimented with theatre. Used to love it in fact. Should reclaim it – but I have no idea how.


  13. chitra says:

    Breathtaking. I love poetry being read out. And I’ve seen what a shoddy job some others do it on some other blogs. My ears were howling. I loved your voice and the sheer depth of your reading of the poem. I work for a publisher and it’s my job to read lots of poetry! I have been reading your blog for about a year now – I finally decided to comment today because it would be criminal not to leave a little comment for this.

    This Mr Venkatease might be right. I’d love to hear you recite that poem. It’s a personal favourite. It would be nice to see how it sounds in a woman’s voice.

    Your reading out the poems has suddenly made me realize what a warm young girl you must be. At 45, I am an old woman in front of the likes of you. Something in your voice made me want to call you home for coffee and listen to you sing. I am very sure you sing. How strange. Despite all your mature writing, your wonderful warm voice made me almost protective of you.

    Please do read that Hindi poem. I look forward to it.


  14. Anuradha says:

    Nice rendering of the poem, keep it up, and I shall keep visiting your page.