Maya Angelou (left) and Maggie Smith. TNS
Many among us would undoubtedly be feeling out of sorts and restless with everything that's going on around the world.
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken us up good, with people finding it hard to come to terms with a bustling world that has suddenly stopped in its tracks.
If binge eating and watching Netflix is the only thing helping you keep it together, try something different for a change — poetry.
From war to heartbreak, poetry has helped people endure all manner of painful experiences.
Stuffing your face with scoops of ice cream and watching “Friends” on loop can be done at anytime.
For now, how about pausing for a bit and reflecting with the help of the below selection of five uplifting poems?
“Insha’Allah” by Danusha Laméris (2014)
Despite all evidence to the contrary, humans will keep on praying for good things to happen. We never give up, and there is something beautiful in that.
I don’t know when it slipped into my speech
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.”
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer.
The baby will come in spring, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain.
So many plans I’ve laid have unravelled
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers.
Every language must have a word for this. A word
our grandmothers uttered under their breath
as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon,
hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes,
dropping the discarded skins into a bowl.
Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah
the rice will be enough to last through winter.
How lightly we learn to hold hope,
as if it were an animal that could turn around
and bite your hand. And still we carry it
the way a mother would, carefully,
from one day to the next.
“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith (2017)
Good Bones was written three days after a gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
It tends to re-emerge on social media in the wake of difficult times: when British politician Jo Cox was murdered, for example, or in the days following the 2016 presidential election.
The poem grapples with how to tell to one’s children to love the world when it’s filled with such pain and injustice.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
Excerpt from “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O'Donohue (2008)
While it was written as a blessing people can turn to in the wake of a break-up, this poem could be used to remedy many different forms of strife.
It encourages the reader to pause, take a moment for self-reflection, and remember that good things will come again.
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
Untitled by Kitty O'Meara (2020)
Written as the coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic, this poem soon went viral after everyone from Deepak Chopra to Bella Hadid shared it across social media.
Here O’Meara suggests social distancing could be taken up by purposeful activities such as dancing, exercise and self-reflection.
Perhaps something other than darkness could come from isolation.
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
“Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson (1861)
Here Dickenson imagines “Hope” as a bird ready to sit out the worst kind of storm.
Yet it is also confident and dignified, accepting no threats nor favours from others.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
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On the occasion of International Women's Day on Sunday, Writer-filmmaker Tahira Kashyap announced that she is coming up with her new book, titled "The 12 commandments of Being A Woman".
Now Calhoun, the author of a memoir, “The Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give,” and an urban history, “St. Marks Is Dead,” explores the issue in depth in her latest book, “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis.”
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Actress Kareena Kapoor and her husband, actor Saif Ali Khan, announced on Wednesday that they were expecting an addition to their family.
The trailer of the upcoming Mahesh Bhatt directorial ‘Sadak 2’ was released on Wednesday morning and within a few hours, the number of dislikes on the video widely surpassed the number of likes on it.