Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Poetry 2014 Shortlist, Haimanti Dutta Ray

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

We had dissected the Bard
With scissor-precision,
And had come up with ideas
Novel enough to raise him
From his coffin
Lazarus-like, he’d have come,
To vivify or vivisect – us,
The sophomores engrossed in
English literature and language graduation.
The question – whether it’s better
To live or to die in pure ecstasy,
Whether it’d ‘far better’ to be ‘mad’,
Or to escape from the ‘madding crowd’,
In an instance of annihilation of the self,
Had bothered the most mystic of minds.
To ‘be’ware or not to ‘be’ware
Of the pitfalls of sheer pedagogy,
Had held all of us in thrall.
Bifurcations abound at every step
Of human existences.
We must possess the will power to overcome
The dilemmas that we face with sang-froid.
Had there been a way to discern
Our paths out of a Hamlet-like situation,
We’d never have been where we find ourselves in.
‘The question’ of the modern psyche,
Was eked out by the Bard of Avon
Thousands of years ago. Should it be better,
To seize upon the moment or let it pass us by?
Tragic heroes are born with ‘hubris’,
Destined to be the cause of their eventual decline.
They are made from ‘sterner stuff’,
So that they can be placed before the rest of us.
We imagine that we are as exalted as tragic heroes,
But not all men are born great.
We, the commoners, are a unique lot,
We are born to live out a life,
Ordinary in every sense, yet in death,
Do we achieve a glory never before dealt with.
It is this which set us apart from ‘heroes’,
Who are born great. Mortal glory
Passes into obituaries read out by near and dear ones.

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