The Princess who Chased the Butterflies

A princess in a castle,

A castle, as beautiful as paradise,

But it’s beauty clutched by the shadows of the forest.

Darkness smiled inside the castle,

The princess fought bravely in the battle.

On one side were the ugly butterflies,

On the other were her two beautiful guardian angels.

The butterflies scanned the princess’ body from top to bottom,

The angels, whom she loved the most,

Lectured her the lessons from the book- “How to be a Princess?”

The angels breathed in the young princess’ heart,

So she took the notes of the lecture with her beautiful pen,

Whose red ink was supplied from her own veins.

She was shrinking and all her blood became letters on the paper,

But her love blindfolded her eyes and she still took the notes.

As she filled two notebooks with the important quotes,

She realized that she could not write ’cause the twilight no more touched the castle,

But the darkness now failed to conceal the evil

Inside the butterflies fluttering around the mansion.

The princess opened her eyes,

And with her sword, she tore the butterflies into two halves.

She was proud of herself and returned to her lessons,

But she saw the butterflies of the same colour and size inside her guardian angels’ soul.

She didn’t knew how to kill the evil inside her beloved angels,

But she tried and managed to flew them away from the castle.

Now the path of the sunlight was clear and the shadows disappeared,

But the two butterflies, were still alive and watching the princess from far away.

The princess was happy because her lovely angels tore the book of lessons into two halves,

And started a new chapter, whose notes she took with love and smiles and laughter.

Even the trees in the forest were proud of the little princess,

And cherished her victory by holding the waters from the heavens in the petals.

The princess of the beautiful castle,

Indeed fought bravely in the battle!

Kindness Comes at a Cost

Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem ‘Kindness’ portrays the abstract feeling in a different light. We live our lives by being kind and by receiving kindness. But, is kindness all elegant, brighter and a beautiful emotion? Brighter the light is, the darker the shadow will be. In the same way, the journey to appreciate kindness is painful.

The first stanza of the poem starts by stating that unless we go through hardships, difficulties and excruciating pain, we can never feel kindness. We should feel our future melting away and dissolving like salt in a broth. We should feel every single block we had built falling apart one by one and should see things go crazy and beyond control. We should be wrecked and hopeless to feel and see kindness between the regions of dreary and forsaken landscape. When life feels needlessly long and dull, when everyone seems to be busy and no one really cares about what happens to us, the relief that rushes over by one extending hand causes kindness.  

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

To understand how valuable and serious the emotion of kindness is, we must see a man lying dead on the road. We must realise that such a death can occur to us too and we can also be abandoned like that man. We must see how the man was the same breathing living thing with plans and dreams before he could die.  

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Just as the lines below say, we must wake up everyday heavy with sorrow and talk with it to understand what kindness really is. We should confront our sadness and separate each of its strings and weave it into a sorrowful clothing to see how big our sorrow really is. 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 

If we do so, then we will see only kindness in every little thing and every little action. It will be kindness which ties our shoes and gives us strength to step into the outside world and do our work. Even among the ocean of bodies and faces, we will spot kindness rising its head and calling to us, “It is I you have been looking for” and following us everywhere “like a shadow or a friend”.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

These lines make us realize how we take kindness for granted most of the time. The kindness of the mother hidden in the packed lunch box, the kindness of the friend embedded in a lent pen, the kindness of a stranger who says ‘Have a beautiful day’ are slept on by us. Our mother might have lost her good sleep to pack lunch, our friend might have not even had a pen to lend or the stranger would have had a really bad morning. Thus kindness comes at a cost. When it comes, learn to appreciate it and give it back.  

A Poem in Appreciation of Solitude.

Did you know solitude is different from loneliness? Though many think the words mean the same, it is not the case. Loneliness refers to a state of feeling lonely. It is possible to feel lonely even when you are with people. But solitude refers to being alone. It means being by yourself and spending time with yourself. Many philosophers have appreciated solitude. In fact, the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, once said, ‘Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realising he is one with the whole universe.’ 

The English poet, Alexander Pope, sings in praise of solitude in his poem ‘Ode on Solitude’, just as the title says. Though a man lives secluded, he can be happy if he has a small land to take care of. He wouldn’t have big ambitions and would feel content just by breathing the fresh air of his native. He surrenders to nature and enjoys being by himself. He does so because he feels tranquility.

Happy the man, whose wish and care

   A few paternal acres bound,

Content to breathe his native air,

                         In his own ground.

He feels happy even when he is all by himself because he has enough of everything for him. His cattle provide him milk, his fields food, his congregation clothes, and his trees give him shade during summer and firewood during winter. He doesn’t need to worry about making ends and spends time for himself. 

Blessed is he who doesn’t need to worry about running out of time. He enjoys the drifting time and passing days because he can take care of himself. He is healthy and peaceful, so he is calm doing his routine in daytime and sleeps well at night.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find

   Hours, days, and years slide soft away,

In health of body, peace of mind,

                         Quiet by day,

When he has enough time for himself, he learns many things and does everything with ease. When this happens, he reflects on his deeds, his memories, and on himself. He recalls his past and re-lives those happy moments. He understands about himself and can reveal his true self without fearing to be judged. 

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,

   Together mixed; sweet recreation;

And innocence, which most does please,

                         With meditation.

The last stanza ends with the poet asking to be granted such a life where he can live   unnoticed by people and unknown to them. He doesn’t want people to mourn his death for he wants to leave this earth without regrets. When he dies, he doesn’t want to take anything from the world, not even a stone which marks his grave and let people know where he lays dead.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;

   Thus unlamented let me die;

Steal from the world, and not a stone

                         Tell where I lie.

This poem shows us how self satisfying solitude can be. We keep running and running without ever knowing what we are after. So, by being alone and spending time with ourselves, we can know what we need and what we want to do. Thus, when you enjoy loneliness, it becomes solitude.

‘The Sleep’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Have you ever appreciated your ability to sleep? Now, you will wonder if being able to sleep is something to be praised. Yes, give yourself an applause for you have been given the best gift ever and you will have to cherish this gift. The poem ‘The Sleep’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning brings out the importance of sleep and why it is to be cherished.

Of everything we have known about God from psalms and hymns, the poet asks if there is any gift which surpasses His gift – the sleep. As humans, what can we give to our loved ones? We can give the hero’s courage and determined heart to confront all the troubles; we can give them a poet’s lyrical verse to move them to ecstasy; we can give them a patriot’s voice to guide them through hurdles and motivate them; we can give them a ruler’s consolation to ease their burdens. But of everything we can give them, there is nothing that will surpass God’s gift to His beloved – the Sleep. 

“He giveth His beloved, sleep”

Sometimes we give our beloved words of consolation and sometimes we add to their difficulties, making their whole world burdened. But God’s gift – Sleep – puts an end to all such sufferings. No matter what words of consolation we say, we can’t solve the problems of our beloved. When things get hard and we have no words of consolation, all we can say to our beloved is to sleep.

“ ‘Sleep soft, beloved!’ we sometimes say,”

We say so, hoping that no bitter memories of hardships shall disturb their ‘happy slumber’. When we sleep, we forget our bad experiences and experience eternal peace. So, this peace gives us hope and when we wake up the next morning, we are prepared for the day. Now is there any gift which surpasses sleep?

Our earth is full of dreary noises and wailing voices of despair. We chase after money, wealth and other material prospects which might leave us anytime. So, God silences these wailings by putting everyone to sleep. God has created this earth and all natural elements and we humans sow and reap. Thus, Sleep is more delicate than the dew drops and clouds. It makes us feel as if we are on a delightful journey and makes us feel lighter.

We go on living, thinking, and feeling without even realizing what keeps us going everyday. It is the sleep which keeps us going everyday. When we sleep, we forget the hardships of today, and hope for a better tomorrow.

“Aye, men may wonder while they scan  

A living, thinking, feeling man  

Confirmed in such a rest to keep;”

Our world is a stage and we are like a tired child watching the performance of the mummers on the stage. So when our eyelids droop, we rest like a child on God’s lap. So, no matter how exhausted we are, it is the sleep which rejuvenates us at the end of the day.

The last stanza ends with the poet asking her friends not to mourn or weep when she dies, for she is just going to an eternal sleep and a state of peace after all. 

“Let One, most loving of you all,  

Say, ‘Not a tear must o’er her fall;  

He giveth His beloved, sleep.’“

The poem makes us understand how blessed we are to be able to sleep. We should no longer take our sleep for granted. Sleep improves both our mental and physical health. So, sleeping is the best thing ever. Finally, think if there is a greater gift than sleep.

“He giveth His beloved, sleep.”

Read the poem at https://poets.org/poem/sleep

‘A Poison Tree’ by William Blake.

“I don’t like her. I hate him. She makes me angry. He is fake. It is all an act.” 

Let us all confess that, at some point, we had hated someone. We harbor the hard feelings in our hearts and wear a façade to hide them. We act all elegant and nice outside but curse from inside. We are all hypocrites. 

So, William Blake explores this hypocrisy in his poem “A Poison Tree”. If we are angry with the other person, our anger will disappear when we talk it out. And we do so only with our friends and not our foes. When we don’t express ourselves, we let our anger grow into something ominous. 

In the second stanza, the poet illustrates how we nurture anger into a tree. 

“And I watered it in fears,

Night and morning with my tears;

And I sunned it with smiles,

And with soft deceitful wiles.”

Fear and hate are connected to each other. Where there is fear, there is hate. This can be simply explained with an example. If a person fears bugs, then they start hating bugs. This is because they fear that bugs might bite and so they kill the bugs out of hatred arising from fear. Similarly, when we fear that our anger will be exposed, we naturally start hating. We feel wronged and shed our tears. Then wearing a façade of goodness, we fake a smile and we start manipulating. Thus, the fears, tears, smiles and wiles together nurtures the tree healthy and strong.

“And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright;”

As we constantly dwell on such hard feelings, the tree grows big ‘day and night’. The tree grows until it bears ‘an apple bright’. This is an allusion to the forbidden fruit which grows in the garden of Eden. Like the forbidden tree which brings the fall of Adam and Eve, we await for the apple to cause the ruin of our foe. 

One silent night, our foe trespasses into our garden and consumes the apple even after knowing it is poisoned. When we visit our poison tree in the morning, we are happy to see our foe dead. 

“In the morning glad I see

My foe outstretched beneath the tree.”

The last lines show us that we are glad to witness the success of our trap for the foe. We grow the whole tree aiming for a ruin and it happens. But what is our mental state on achieving such a success? Can we really be happy at others’ downfall? If so, what kind of person are we? Are we good? or are we bad? These questions arise in our minds. 

We all get angry and it is a normal human emotion. But we have to confront our anger and hold its reins before it controls us. There should be moral bounds for our anger. If not, it ruins ourselves and others. In our life, we keep dwelling on such negative emotions and keep hurting ourselves. So, let us not nurture poison trees anymore. Let’s nurture the love which the world is in need of.