Poetry has a unique place in my memories and I associate it with nostalgia and heritage. When I was a child, my father used to occasionally pull out a worn but beloved copy of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury and read some of the poems aloud to me. The book has belonged to his grandfather who had passed away when his father was a mere baby and my grandfather had inherited the book. I always looked forward to the day dad would pass it on to me.
Unluckily, during one of our various moves, that copy of the book got misplaced. I later found a copy of the book in Mr. Shanbag’s Strand Book Stall in Mumbai and lugged it home, shorn of the emotional sentiment but still in love with what it represented.
Since school, when they made us learn poems by heart, I have always been peculiarly moved by poetry. I forget which poet once said that in poetry one looks for the perfect word to set in context, much like a jeweller sets stones in just the right setting. “One shade the more, one ray the less, had half impaired the nameless grace…” Like many other adolescents who enjoy writing, I tried my hand at poetry and wasn’t half bad until adolescent angst lasted.
While my favourites tend to be the romantic poets, there is a host of other poets I enjoy, from ee cummings to TS Eliot, Rabindranath Tagore whom I discovered in college and Edna St. Vincent Millay; and a host of others from an unfortunately titled ‘Posy of poems’ textbook. While life has become a lot more prosaic over the years, every time I peep into a book of poetry, I feel I am slipping back to a more contemplative time, when moments are to be savoured rather than galloped past…