Saturday, August 8, 2009

On reading poetry

I've read hundreds of marvellously great poems over the past few days and I mean poems that are universally great, not personal favourites. [The current scope of this entry can not include (it probably never can) questioning the poetic merits of a coterie that consists of names the least of which include but are not limited to Neruda, Plath, Bolano, Whitman, Eliot and Larkin so let us please refrain from it.]

But the lines that captured my heart and squeezed it till it bled to ecstasy are by none of those. I don't always think of Borges as the greatest poet I've ever read, but I am yet to read a mind that so consistently produces words beautiful enough to put the inadequacy of language itself to shame, as effortlessly as the Argentinian can.

I read all of the others for days while I read Borges only for a few minutes (that too to refer to an old poem he wrote about Browning, coming upon these lines by accident) and I was so excited to write an entry to express my infinite debt to Larkin and Neruda but maybe that's for another day. The compass isn't working any more, there's too much interference. My mind's been brought to the ground, and I know it shows in these simple, flat words. I shall not read any more poetry tonight, let alone try to write any of my own, for I've had my fill.

But the days are a web of small troubles,
and is there a greater blessing
than to be the ash of which oblivion is made?

That, is poetry.