Canonized For Love

John Donne was a prominent 17th century Metaphysical Poet.
Poster design by Jagriti Rumi.

Love is pure truth, a divine experience, a way to live more and surpass even death.

It is a sublime fantasy that is real and better than the material world. Love is life’s paradox.

This is the idea that John Donne is expressing in the poem The Canonization. It is a reply as well as a declaration that the poet makes to the world- a world that treats lovers harshly.

He scorns the worldly, he questions the inquisitive, he proves the myths true, he places his love high and announces it as canonized.

The sudden change in his tone doesn’t bother if one recognises the powerful and apt imagery he has used in the poem.

The very first line ‘For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love’ hits hard, but certainly in a good manner. In fact, it catches the interest of the reader at once.

The poem is like a necklace, beaded with beautiful and grand images like –

‘What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?’

‘And we in us find the eagle and the dove

The phoenix riddle hath more wit/ By us; we two being one, are it’

‘As well a well-wrought urn becomes/ The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs/ And by these hymns, all shall approve / Us canonized for Love.’

Countries, towns, courts: beg from above/ A pattern of your love!

‘And if unfit for tombs and hearse/ Our legend be, it will be fit for verse’ (Stanza 4)
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

These are not empty expressions as every word in the poem is linked with the central theme – love.

If we randomly pick one word from each stanza, it will still be related to the poem.

For example, ‘improve’ (stanza 1) – one who is in love grows as an individual and improves by learning to be selfless; ‘remove’ (stanza 2) – when in love you cannot dwell on hatred, and so the negativity is removed to make space for hope; ‘Mysterious’ (stanza 3) – love is an easy mystery; ‘legend’ (stanza 4) – we all remember love stories as legends, sadly these are mostly incomplete ones; ‘mirrors’ (stanza 5) – love is as reflective as a mirror.

Love is closely related to asceticism in the poem, which is one of the conceits (an ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor) used by the poet.

He proves it with great subtlety that the lovers need nothing from the world; they complete each other and hence, know inner peace.

The poet says that the lovers rise to such a level that they become one and enter a divine world, thus leaving the material world behind. They dwell in each other’s simple presence.

In the last stanza, after canonizing himself and his lover, the poet says that his pious canonized love would be celebrated in the world by one and all.

He ends by completing the canonization of his love, placing it on a high pedestal, and separating it from the worldly pleasures.

‘And if no piece of chronicle we prove/ We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms’ (Stanza 4).
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Canonization, the title of the poem, seems to be a question and an answer at the same time. As one wonders about how love can be canonized and attain sainthood, the divine nature of the poet’s love presented in the poem gradually justifies the same.

The poet shows that his love is spiritual not merely physical, that his union with his lover has made them blissful and assures that it will radiate amongst the others.

His canonized love is not against the world rather it is for the world, acting as an inspiration. His love is not harming anyone but is a liberating force, just like a saint’s.

John Donne’s The Canonization is a smart poem with brilliant use of wit, the quintessential quality of a metaphysical poet.

He celebrates love in a simple, forthright tone that makes this 17th-century poem wondrously alive in today’s world as well.

‘Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?’ (Stanza 2)

‘Call her one, me another fly/ We’re tapers too, and at our own cost die’ (Stanza 3)

There is a message hidden in this poem and the title ‘canonization’ is the key to unveil it. Donne wants to share that every one of us, whatever be our rank in the society that runs according to the man-made rules, has the ability to reach the divine state.

Sainthood according to him is not reserved for some but is achievable by all.

What we need is to rise above the material world, to resurrect ourselves through true love. Here the beloved represents anything- a person, God, nature, the entire world.

Love is the best, the all-embracing way to reach the sublime state as it is love that makes a person truly selfless and compassionate.

Even today if someone pursues this path, they will know that they are canonized, for they are in love.

Love is to be selfless and compassionate.
Image by Nika Akin from Pixabay

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The Flying Golden-Grass Machine

The unknown labourer in the outskirts of Kolkata.
Photograph by Jagriti Rumi

Excerpts from the report

#First entry; Day 1

It landed lightly right behind the unknown labourer who was sweating his day off, certain of his actions and in complete focus, busy in a simple yet, arduous task.

#Fifth entry; Day 1

The flying golden-grass machine runs on a magic engine. A high maintenance product, if not frequently checked, leaks pixie dust.

#Thirteenth entry; Day 1

On the way back from home, that evening, when you saw an aeroplane blinking red-blue lights in the sky, you had uttered something, do you remember it, mister?

You were just fourteen then and had a rather rough day and a broken slipper was not helping either.

You had wished to fly.

Of course, you meant in an aeroplane, but you know how things are in offices, what was spoken was noted down verbatim, it became a written record and a record is the most sacrosanct concept and is hailed throughout the universe.

#Third entry; Day 3

It may look a bit raggedy to you, but it is as good as new. After the service station gave it a nod and we made them sign a nine-paged document for the record, this is its first trip. We, sir, run a professional organisation here.

#Ninth entry; Day 5

Come on now, why don’t you give it a try. The sky awaits you, explore the world and be spellbound by its majesty.

Also, then you have to fill a bunch of forms and sign it, for record purposes.

#First entry; Day 9

Listen, we do apologise for being late. Don’t be upset, in fact, you would be pleased to know that this is also an award, you are one of the most efficient and disciplined people in this world, please accept your prize… and then sign this document here… just a formality.

#Eleventh entry; Day 21

A handful of resources and a handful of desires, how do you adjust to such a life so easily? Doesn’t the heat bother you… the flies, the stench and the failures?

Is life nothing but a cycle ride to you? Oh, remember the cycle rides from your childhood? I do, very clearly, we have it in the records.

With the wind in your hair, you rode it so swiftly, beating all your friends… I bet you can beat the flying golden-grass machine as well.

#First entry; Day 40

Ahm! Let me again ask for your forgiveness for the delay, our department is not the best, it is the 6th best, well 16th actually, but keep this off the record please.

Nevertheless, there is no fault of this machine. It is a good model; many have travelled to far off lands in this little light ride.

What is remarkable is that it is in so many ways just like you, mister.

It too works year long, dreaming of meeting new travellers, visiting different lands, stopping at pixie-dust-pump-stations, collecting visions silently.

#Fifteenth entry; Day 55

Yes, for the 100th time yes, this is a magical machine… and… oh, why don’t you understand… think of it this way, you have won a lottery… you are getting to travel the world, okay? Now, don’t waste time and sign this…

*

RECORDS

Entry: 90005070QPx∞

The unknown labourer, id no.00089∞, after two months of bewilderment, shock, anxiety, panic, anger and confusion, agreed to make use of the flying golden-grass machine.

The messenger, id no. ᶲᴥ჻֎, successfully delivered the award and got the awardee’s signatures on all the forms.

Please find attached here the detailed report of the awardee’s world tour.

The messenger took charge of the flying golden-grass machine once the tour ended; the awardee’s memory was altered as per the protocol; he will now remember it as a strange dream.

Please find attached here all the signed documents for your perusal.

Blessings and bell chimes!

Bright regards,

XO

Messenger id no. ᶲᴥ჻֎

Random Honest Wishes Fulfilling Department

The Misty Realm


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The Sweet Sound Waves

Sound is a sensation and a stimulus; reflected, refracted, and humbly attenuated by its medium, the sound wave propagates. Only the frequencies between 20 Hz and 20KHz comes in the hearing range of us humans.

Voices, calls, laughs, and whispers fill this range of ours, from morning to evening. We consider, approve, discard, ignore, and absorb it as and when we understand the hidden meaning.

Colourful message carrying sweet sound waves.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The hidden meaning…? Yes, the message that every sound wave carries is the hidden meaning, it shapes this very understanding of ours.

And what an exuberating elusive message a melody is, a wonderful wordless story that nevertheless is discernible, more than that in fact, as it touches and soothes our heart and soul.

Bansuri, a bamboo flute, taps a tune, using wind as the source and wind as the medium, carrying the message as far as possible, resonating beyond the visible, accepting all, conquering all.

Two and a half ample octaves and the bansuri deciphers happily the message using the Sargam (solfege); a subtle and soulful tune reads it to us.

Lord Krishna, the Jamun coloured Hindu deity with a peacock-feathered crown, is always depicted with a bansuri in his hands. Various stories tell us how Krishna, the charmer, used to mesmerise the listeners, stopping the time as if to unveil the beauty of the cosmic play.

The jamun coloured Krishna Flutist. [Source – 4art.com]

The leading character in several ancient Hindu religious, mythological and philosophical texts, Krishna plays his bansuri to win Radha’s heart, to celebrate the victory over evil, to turn impossible into possible and routinely for shepherding cows (he played a melodious tune on the bansuri and the herd of cows themselves returned to him).

Lord Krishna playing flute and shepherding cows along with his elder brother Balrama and friends. [Source – indiafacts]

Natya Shastra as well as the other Vedic texts associated art and music with the Supreme, calling it the spiritual means to rise above, concentrate on and connect to one’s consciousness, witness it and attain Moksha (enlightenment, release).

Why would one make a creative artist’s job tougher by leaving the great responsibility of enlightening the receiver on her? Let art be for art’s sake.

Right! But apart from just being true, pure art, what if say a tune played on a bansuri leaves a listener illumined, will this not add to the beauty of the melody? It absolutely will.

If it deciphers the message for the listener, showing her more than what is on the surface, by additionally doing absolutely nothing, then surely the message is intrinsic to the composition.

Wonderfully it all also depends on perception. Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, such as sight, thus, in such cases sound involuntarily evokes an experience of colour, shape, and movement.

Read what the first recorded case of synesthesia was about –

“The earliest recorded case of synesthesia is attributed to the Oxford University academic and philosopher John Locke, who, in 1690, made a report about a blind man who said he experienced the colour scarlet when he heard the sound of a trumpet.”

Wikipedia

And so everyone perceives it (the message, meaning, and life) differently, one feels, sees, and hears differently.

Vibrating air… that is what sound actually is; a sound wave cannot travel in the vacuum of space. Sound, an exclusive phenomenon on earth, then is indeed truly special.

And maybe that is why music is therapeutic in nature. It heals a troubled heart, it enlivens the mood, it calms a tired mind and often transcends the listener to a blissful state.

Instrumental musical compositions evoke for every individual a ‘thought’ within, yet to be uttered. The message it then delivers is always a favourable one, a high spirited one.

And a bamboo flute always keeps the message sweet, earthy and peaceful.  

Bansuri. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Listen to the spellbinding bansuri notes (that acted as a catalyst for this post) played by the maestro, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia –

May it help you to be kind to yourself in these difficult times.


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Basho’s Haiku Pond

Let us go back in time, a few centuries back, in the mid-17th century to be precise, to meet Matsuo Basho and embark on a journey to the interiors of Japan.

Folding screen with Birds and Flowers of Spring and Summer by Kano Eino, a 17th Century Edo Period Japanese painter. [Source – Wikipedia]

A fabulous poet, known for his Haikus, Basho wanders giving voice to nature, the moon, the earth, the seasons, the rain, the monkey, the dragonfly, the cicada, and everything that he observes.

He paints his dreams in the air; the flora breathes that air and blooms like a dream.

Let us go and learn this art from the master himself.

Falling sick on a journey

My dream goes wandering

Over a field of dried grass.

Basho has fallen sick, he is old now, this haiku is usually considered as his farewell poem, but our journey has just started, we need to travel back a few more years.

Portrait of Bashō by Hokusai, late 18th century. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Teeth sensitive to the sand

In salad greens–

I’m getting old.

He is funny, oh, but let us keep going back in time for we need to learn the art of painting dreams in the air, remember. Stay focused!

The rough sea

Stretching out towards Sado

The Milky Way.

Sado is a city in Japan’s Sado Island and Basho travels there to witness the vast sea and the endless sky.

Look, at night the sea becomes a mirror for our galaxy.

Seasons come and go, each one is beautifully recorded in Japanese poetry; Kigo, the representation of and the reference to the seasons is still a part of Japanese culture and literature.

Different seasons, different Bashos

First winter rain-

Even the monkey

Seems to want a raincoat.

Monkey and Waterfall by Mori Sosen, a Japanese Edo Period painter, 1747 – 1821), Honolulu Museum of Art. [Source – bing.com]

Now then, let’s go out

To enjoy the snow … until

I slip and fall!

 Print 16 Kanbara, from  The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, by Hiroshige, a Japanese Edo Period artist. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

First cherry

Budding

By peach blossoms.


***

The summer grasses.

All that remains

Of warriors’ dreams.

Travellers surprised by sudden rain, by Hiroshige. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Spring rain

Leaking through the roof

Dripping from the wasps’ nest.

***

Autumn moonlight-

A worm digs silently

Into the chestnut.

Basho, Basho, Basho… you have captured it, you just did, a moment in eternity.

Every worm digging every chestnut tree in every autumn in the cool moonlight is this very worm. It will be living forever now.

First day of spring–

I keep thinking about

The end of autumn.

***

Winter garden,

The moon thinned to a thread,

Insects singing.

“The moon thinned to a thread” yet beautiful and bright, busy telling stories.

Winter solitude–

In a world of one color

The sound of wind.

Such an arduous journey…

Taking a nap,

Feet planted

Against a cool wall.

…but Basho’s right, nature reassures us of what lies ahead… the balmy moon.

Wind Blown Grass Across the Moon, by Hiroshige. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

A field of cotton

As if the moon

Had flowered.

***

Moonlight slanting

Through the bamboo grove;

A cuckoo crying.

***

From time to time

The clouds give rest

To the moon-beholders.

“Can you hear it, the cicada, the dragonfly and the skylark? Free beings!” Yes, I can Basho, yes I can.

A cicada shell;

It sang itself

Utterly away.

***

Midfield,

Attached to nothing,

The skylark singing.

Dragonfly and Bellflower by Hokusai, a Japanese Edo Period artist. [Source – The Met Museum]

The dragonfly

Can’t quite land

On that blade of grass.

***

Stillness–

The cicada’s cry

Drills into the rocks.

We climb the mountain and reach an old village.

This old village–

Not a single house

Without persimmon trees.

Persimmon Tree by Sakai Hoitsu, a Japanese Edo Period painter. [Source – The Met Museum]

After some rest, we now resume our journey. Oh, Basho is stopping again to sit by the pond, but why I am wondering?

Wait, is this the place where he will pen his most famous haiku that has occupied the minds of a legion of poets and critics… yes, it is.

An ancient pond

A frog jumps in

The splash of water.

Frog by Sakai Hoitsu. [Source – flowerofliving.com]

I heard it too, the splash of water, you all must have heard it as well, somewhere, sometime… here, right now the frog’s jump turned the clock back, ending the journey, bringing me to the present.

That ancient pond of time glimmered with stories abound and I was in one, the frog living its routine life made me surrender to the present moment and splash, I returned back.

Basho’s work, what a wonderful portal to the enchanted dream that can be perceived anytime, by anyone…

Basho with his frog poem by Yokoi Kinkoku, a Japanese Edo Period artist and monk. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Let me bid adieu to you all with another glorious haiku of his. Basho!

How admirable!

To see lightning and not think

Life is fleeting.


Other Haiku Posts

Violets

Haiku Mandala

Moon, Moon, Moon, Moonlight

Live And Rise

Cid Corman’s Blue Aerogrammes


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La Strada And The Round-Faced Clown

On the road you travel with the familiar and the unfamiliar together. Familiar landscape, known route, desired destination, accompanied by your loved ones and yet with an unfamiliar feeling, a comfortable anxiety, a strange pleasantness, a quiet freedom and a quiet fear. It fluctuates, this feeling, it dances.

Maybe it is ‘change’, for the road takes you on a journey and before you realise it, it changes you.

On the road with just the familiar is a routine and on the road with just the unfamiliar is an adventure, for Gelsomina it was the latter.

La Strada (1954). [Source – IMDB]

Federico Fellini, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, co-wrote and directed La Strada, Italian for ‘the road’, a 1954 film that also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (first of Fellini’s total four wins in this category, the most for any director till date).

[Though spoilers cannot ever mar the magic of a Fellini film, still let me alert you that this article will analyse the story of La Strada. So go watch it first if you have not already.]

The vagabonds, the circus, a fatal incomplete relationship, and the seashore – Fellini’s favourite elements to weave a story – all merge harmoniously to create a tragedy that stays with us in the form of Gelsomina’s round clown face and her innocent eyes, a sketch of whom, Fellini said, acted as the germ of a story for this film.

The excellent Italian actress Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s wife, played the role of Gelsomina. [Source – The Guardian]

Story

Gelsomina is not like other girls, she is a little bit strange says her old mother who has already taken 10,000 lire from Zampano and is begging her to replace her late sister Rosa as Zampano’s wife.

Crying her eyes out, the old mother cannot let go of her simpleton daughter, but has to do so as then she will have ‘one hungry soul less to feed’.

Gelsomina, her old mother and younger sister. [Source – IndieWire]
The superb Anthony Quinn as Zampano. [Source – Media Life Crisis]

Gelsomina is confused but excited at the same time as she would get to visit new places and learn to sing and dance.

But when the neighbour enquires about her return, Gelsomina becomes quiet, she goes and sits in Zampano’s motorbike cart (a cart covered with tarpaulin, attached to the motorbike) and leaves crying and waving at her mother, her six younger siblings who run behind the bike-cart, shouting out her name and waving back.

Zampano’s motorbike cart. [Source – Classic Film Aficionados]

And so, in this sudden, brusque manner Gelsomina joins Zampano, a travelling performer, donning two hats, one as his clown assistant and one as his wife.

A tall, well-built, rough and rogue looking Zampano’s famous street act is to break a 0.5-centimeter thick iron chain bound tightly across his chest; Gelsomina’s role is to first build the tension by playing the tambour, wait for Zampano to show off his strength, and then to go around collecting money in her hat.

Donning two hats. [Source – Wonders in the Dark]
Zampano in the middle of his act. [Source – IMDB]

Sometimes they perform spoofs where Zampano becomes the hunter, aiming with his rifle at Gelsomina the duck and sometimes Gelsomina the clown dances and Zampano plays the tambour.

While she stays dressed as the clown the whole time, Zampano alters his look from macho strongman to a silly giant, now breaking the iron chain, now playing a simpering buffoon.

And the journey continues, with performing for the audience being the highs for Gelsomina and spending money on liquor and women the highs for Zampano.

“I go away… back to my village… it is not because of the work… I like this work, I like being an artist… but I don’t like you”, says a troubled Gelsomina to a drunk and sleepy Zampano, who asks her to “stop the bullshit”; Gelsomina then leaves.

Il Matto walking on a high wire. [Source – IMDB]

Reaching the town, she witnesses a religious procession, watches another street performer, Il Matto (The Fool), walking on a high wire, relishes these new experiences, her eyes gleaming with joy.

But this joy doesn’t last for long, as Zampano reaches there in his bike-cart, thrashes Gelsomina and leaves with her, shouting at the silent drunk onlookers.

Who can speak up against the short-tempered strongman, the brash brawn mind, the rude and cold-hearted? Who else, but The Fool?

Il Matto played by the fantastic Richard Basehart. [Source – IMDB]

Zampano and Il Matto hit off on the wrong foot as Il Matto doesn’t stop giggling, teasing Zampano about his chain-act, calling him an animal, telling the circus owner that they indeed needed one in their circus.

In Roma, St. Paul, a world-famous circus Girafa, presents the audience with its amazing acts. Gelsomina, Zampano, and Il Matto perform on the same platform now.

Sticking to their traits, Il Matto jokes around with Zampano in between his act and Zampano chases him, swearing that he will kill him.

Gelsomina, Zampano, and the circus owner looking at Il Matto walking the rope. [Source – IMDB]
Il Matto interrupting Zampano’s act. [Source – IMDB]
Il Matto training Gelsomina. [Source – American Cinematheque]

Later when Il Matto wishes Gelsomina to be a part of his skit, Zampano roars at him, warning every circus artist that Gelsomina will work only with him.

To cool down a grumbling lion, The Fool strikes again, this time with a bucket full of water and splash, he empties the bucket on Zampano.

Zampano chases Il Matto with a knife; luck favours The Fool as the police intervene.

With Zampano still in jail, Il Matto asks Gelsomina to work with him or join the circus crew, leaving Zampano for good. But understanding Gelsomina’s dilemma, Il Matto tells her that everything, even a stone, has a purpose, and maybe she is meant to stay with the poor brute Zampano.

Gelsomina playing the trumpet. [Source – Little White Lies]

The journey continues and Gelsomina dreams of marrying Zampano, she believes they are meant to be together; the nun, whom they meet in a monastery where they take shelter for a night, also tells her the same, that “we both are travellers; you follow your God, I follow mine.”

But a reckless Zampano is too numb to think so. Moving towards a disaster, Zampano and Gelsomina meet Il Matto one day; a bitter Zampano hits him twice only to accidentally kill him.

Scared and shocked, he then dumps both Il Matto and his car into a nearby stream and runs away with Gelsomina.

A troubled Gelsomina. [Source – IMDB]

“Il Matto, he feels bad”, says Gelsomina and cries every time Zampano tries to talk to her; she looks shattered, she whimpers or stays quiet.

Zampano asks her if she wants to return home, but she refuses to, saying that Il Matto had suggested her to stay with Zampano.

Travelling in a snowy region, after a gap of ten days, Gelsomina steps out of the bike-cart; a haggard Zampano tells her that he did not mean to kill Il Matto, that he should not be punished for an accident.

Wavering thoughts make Gelsomina enjoy the cold weather and then make her cry for late Il Matto.

Before abandoning Gelsomina. [Source – Charles Matthews]

Finding Gelsomina sound asleep, Zampano, in his desperation leaves; he keeps some cash, her wears, and the trumpet by her side. He looks at her as he quietly drags the bike-cart, starts it at some distance, and drives away.

A few years later Zampano, now working with another circus group, living with another woman, performing the same chain-act, on a roadside hears the tune that Gelsomina used to play on the trumpet.

A woman who was humming the tune tells him that her father gave shelter to a strange girl some four-five years back and that she picked the tune from her. When he asks about her whereabouts, the woman says that she is no more; the woman asks him if he knew her, but Zampano leaves without saying a word.

That night a drunk Zampano, after having a fistfight with some people at the bar, comes to the seashore, washes his face, sits down, looks at the sky and breaks down. All alone there, he cries.

Zampano at the seashore. [Source – Vague Visages]

Characters

Gelsomina represents the gentle femininity, one who always forgives, makes sacrifices and is loyal, and Zampano the harsh masculinity, one who is stubborn, insensitive, and also self-destructive; both are the extremes, lacking a balance.

Zampano made it a point to tell everyone that Gelsomina knows nothing and felt jealous if others praised her. At the monastery when the nun is left amazed by how well Gelsomina plays the trumpet (a tune that she picked from Il Matto), Zampano goes to a side and starts chopping woods, to show off his prowess.

He needed her, but could not admit this and thus, never changed his behaviour; in the end, he meekly chose to run away instead of facing Gelsomina’s honest eyes.

Il Matto, whose entry formed a triangle, though acted like a fool, laughing every time in a high squeaky giggling manner, understood them all better. Il Matto valued relations and he valued life, but nevertheless was a lonely soul.

As fate would have it, Il Matto and Gelsomina both die, and Zampano, reaping what he had sown, lives a miserable life.

Even a stone has a purpose. [Source – SP Film Journal]
Feminine Masculine. [Source – Film at Lincoln Center]

Music

The melancholic yet dreamy tune that enchants and leaves a listener yearning is one of the key elements in the movie; the entire score was composed by the brilliant Nino Rota.

First played by Il Matto on his kit violin, later by Gelsomina on her trumpet, the tune is a leitmotif that marks these two character’s inner voice.

It is through this nostalgic tune that Gelsmina’s inner voice is heard by those who listen.

The perky track that introduces the circus appropriately captures the attention, alerting the public to gather around and get ready for the show. The element of humour in it announces the arrival of the fools, the jokers, the clowns amongst the crowd.

Theme

In a post-world war Italy, when poverty shackled the majority, the travelling performers set out to earn a living by entertaining the masses.

They left their sorrows, their losses behind and moved from village to village, town to town to sing, dance, and make others laugh. A huge responsibility shared by the marginal class.

Through Gelsomina, Zampano, and Il Matto’s lives, we got a glimpse of the world of the vagabonds, the gipsies, the outcasts. They were crude and curt like Zampano, simple and full of warmth like Gelsomina, witty and notorious like Il Matto; they restricted themselves to the periphery, mingling with the rest of the world now and then, living un-noticed, bringing their unique charm and performing spectacles only heard of in tales.

The nomadic still carry magical chalks, bordering the society, with us on one side and all of them on the other side.

On the other side, life is too unpredictable and ruthless; throughout the film, Gelsomina enquired about her late sister Rosa – whether Zampano treated Rosa in the same manner as he treats her, whether Rosa knew about Zampano’s affairs, whether Rosa had met Il Matto – she had taken Rosa’s place but never had wished for the same end. Alas, she had to face it too.

And in this way, the story completes a circle.  

On the other side. [Source – IMDB]

Strange for the circus people and even The Fool was Gelsomina, the way she walked, talked, and especially her face; Il Matto in a scene says, ‘What a strange face! Are you really a woman? You look like an artichoke!’, and yet, this outcast amongst the outcasts was the most humane.

Gelsomina’s loving and kind behaviour is a reminder of what Margaret Mead, the cultural anthropologist, had said about civilisation –

“Margaret Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die … A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety, and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts.”

Quote from Ira Byock’s book ‘The Best Care Possible.’
The round-faced clown. [Source – Fellini: Circle of Life]

La Strada

Directed by – Federico Fellini; Screenplay by – Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano; Story by – Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli; Cast -> Gelsomina – Giulietta Masina, Zampano – Anthony Quinn, Il Matto – Richard Basehart; Music by – Nino Rota; Cinematography – Otello Martelli, Carlo Carlini; Edited by – Leo Catozzo

Fellini in action. [Source – IMDB]

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To The Moon And Back

Reaching for the moon, love,
In Gemini G4C suit, love,
Will bring some for you, love,
Papery pieces of the surface,
If not a piece of moon, love.

Our love affair with the moon is an open secret; waning, waxing, crescent, full, each phase has been glorified and studied by the curious minds. The silvery moonlight never fails to express.

In poems like The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon by J. R. R. Tolkien, Half Moon in a High Wind by Carl Sandburg, The Freedom of the Moon by Robert Frost, The Moon Was But a Chin Of Gold by Emily Dickenson, The Mother Moon by Louisa May Alcott, Mrs Moon by Roger McGough, in paintings like Caspar David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819), James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne, Blue and Gold—Southampton Water (1872), Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889), the artists reveal and revel in the moony secret.

Caspar David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819). [Source – Wikipedia]
James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne, Blue and Gold—Southampton Water (1872). [Source – Google Arts & Culture
Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889). [Source – Wikipedia]

What is the moony secret? It is the personal conversation that one has with the moon. It is intense yet quick, fierce yet soothing, honest yet an illusion.

Sidereus Nuncius (Latin for Sidereal/ Starry Messenger or Sidereal Message; published in 1610) talks in-depth about the moony secret; it is an astronomical treatise written by Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science.

Title page of Sidereus Nuncius by Galileo Galilei (1610). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Becoming one of the first few who used a telescope to study the surface of the moon (along with some constellations and Jupiter’s four moons) Galileo discovered that the moon was not translucent and ‘a perfect sphere’ like Aristotle had believed it to be, that it had mountains and craters which were formed after it was hit by asteroids and comets, just like our planet Earth was.

Galileo’s sketches of the moon from Sidereus Nuncius (1610). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

The moon is imperfect (its surface is irregular), said Galileo’s theory, and this magnificent, and at the same time, tumultuous discovery brought it (the moon) closer to us mortal beings, providing exhaustive research material for the future scientists, accelerating the world towards a change.

“And yet it (Earth) moves”, a rebellious phrase at that time, allegedly spoken by Galileo, led to his imprisonment.

The Copernican heliocentric view (1543) that the Sun is in the centre of the solar system, with Earth and the other planets orbiting around it in circular paths, was a theory which Galileo studied and defended.

Centuries later, Galileo’s moony secret reached the moon when astronaut David Scott, during the 1972 Apollo 15 mission, demonstrated through the ‘Falling Bodies’ experiment what Galileo had proved long back, that the “acceleration is the same for all bodies subject to gravity on the Moon, even for a hammer and a feather” (watch the video here).

A view of the Apollo 11 lunar module “Eagle” as it returned from the surface of the moon to dock with the command module “Columbia”; the Earth in the background (21st July 1969). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]

A space race between the USA and the Soviet Union led to many successful moon exploration missions, both manned and unmanned ones.

While the US Surveyor probes (1966-1968) transmitted 87,000 pictures of the surface of the moon and measured its chemical properties, the manned missions brought back pieces of the moon; Apollo 11 alone brought 47.5 pounds (21.5 Kg) of the lunar material.

‘Papery pieces of the moon, love’
A collage of photographs of the lunar surface sent by the US Surveyor Probe 7 (1966-1968). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]
Astronaut Pete Conrad inspects the Surveyor 3 spacecraft on the Moon (20th November 1969). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]

The twelve people who have walked on the surface of the moon also left behind items, some as meaningful gifts to the moon and some out of necessity as they needed free space to carry moon rocks home.

A golden olive branch, the Bible, a silicon disk inscribed with goodwill messages from world leaders of 74 countries, American flags, a family photo, three golf balls, scientific pieces of equipment and also, bags full of human waste are some of the “artificial objects” still lying, in worn-out or wiped-out condition, on the moon.

Lying there as a symbol of victory, of advancement, of trust and of human life itself – humans, the mortal beings of the lonely planet Earth.

The silicon disc left on moon by Apollo 11 astronauts (1969). [Source – Wikipedia]
Fallen Astronaut, a statuette, and a plaque were placed on the surface of the moon by astronaut Hadley Rille in remembrance of the astronauts and cosmonauts who died in the advancement of space exploration (1971). [Source – Wikipedia]
Astronaut Charlie Duke’s family portrait left on the surface of the moon (1972). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Or maybe these items are just a message for the Moon Rabbit who, according to some East Asian folklore, lives on the moon, pounding elixir of life for the moon goddess Chang’e.

After all, Apollo 11 astronauts were also aware of this story; command module pilot Michael Collins had said to the NASA mission control – “Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.”

An 18th-century embroidered Chinese emperor’s robe. A Chinese dragon; a medallion above it shows the White Hare of the Moon, at the foot of a cassia tree, making the elixir of immortality (18th century). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

We are connecting pieces, we are steadily moving towards the darkness out there, hoping to see the light. We are all reaching out for the moon with our eyes glued to the telescope, our minds calculating the numbers, our hands painting a masterpiece, our words penning an epic, our voices singing a moony melody and our hearts feeling the moony secret.

We have even smelt it (and perhaps even tasted it), the moon, yes we have. The moon dust smelt like burnt gunpowder to most of the astronauts. Quote—

I wish I could send you some, it is amazing stuff, said Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan.
It’s soft like snow, yet strangely abrasive.
Not half bad (sic), said John Young Apollo 16 astronaut.
It smells like spent (sic) gunpowder, said Cernan.

Our love affair with the moon has only grown stronger with time; it is a part of our story and vice-versa, right, dear moon?

Science with its meticulous explorations and art with its colourful gravity will keep bringing us closer to the moon; it will take us to the moon and back.

Till then let us admire the only memento left on the moon that may last for millions of years, which is, the tracks left by the astronauts. Because there is no air or water on the moon, nothing will wipe it off, neither the extreme cold conditions nor the savage sunlight.

Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin photographed this footprint in the lunar soil as part of an experiment to study the nature of lunar dust and the effects of pressure on the surface (1969). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]

Till then let us continue revelling in the moony secret.


Read More Moon Lovers!


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Chapter II: Chiming Stories

I started blogging back in the year 2011 following my brother’s lead, unaware of the world of bloggers, without any plan of action, happy simply to write one, happy to share my stories on Home Chimes.

This is what I wrote in my introduction earlier-

“I dreamed of Home Chimes a long time back with my eyes open. Since then, I am on a journey to understand that dream.”

“I dreamed of Home Chimes…”
Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

It was indeed like a dream because I do not remember why I came up with this particular name. I remember that I wanted it to do something with the word ‘chimes’, but that was it.

After I selected the name and started blogging, I found out that there used to be a magazine in the late 19th century in London that was also named Home Chimes. And that it went out of publication around the year 1894. You can read about this magazine here

I was very thrilled to know that Jerome K Jerome was amongst the many writers who got their work published in this magazine. Such a wonderful thing it is, I thought. But then this new information made me wonder if I should change the name of my blog to be truly authentic.

I did not change it. The happy coincidence forced me to keep exploring the hidden meaning behind Home Chimes and to keep writing about the stories I became a part of.

From anecdotes to spiritual thoughts, from poems to film reviews, from comic strips to scientific phenomenon, I wrote about all that made me “curiouser and curiouser”. It started as, has stayed and will always be a lovely place – Home Chimes.

One fine day a simmering thought spoke to me, the devotion with which I write these blog entries and the joy that it gives me, it said, is immense, and I realised then that the blog holds a very special place in my life. Gleefully, I stepped forward. Neither a hobby nor a medium, my blog should be simply what I do.

I am a writer, I love the art of storytelling. And like lightening it hit me that it is time now to turn to the second chapter – Chiming Stories.

Tales of this and that world.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Dear all, with much gusto I have begun and I promise that the second chapter would be a wonderful one. Tales of this and that world, of today and tomorrow… just to give colour to your thoughts and add rhythm to your flying time, ‘Chiming Stories’ is here to tell you a story. Oh! And a good chunk of it will be about the lotus-eyed one, because I love him.

From my dear old Blogger I have now shifted to the fantastic WordPress, the sound reason behind it is – I wanted a high-quality website and the complete freedom to create it.

Both the responsibility and risk are mine now. Voila!

“O muse, bless me that I write well and become the best in chiming stories.”

Amen! Ya-hoy!

P.s. – I apologise for the glitches you must have noticed (and will notice in the coming weeks as well); it is because I am still in the process of developing this website and am doing it all by myself, kindly bear with me. Thanks!

Live and Rise

Summer night–

even the stars

are whispering to each other.

– Haiku by Kobayashi Issa

And they are whispering, twinkling blue and green, sharing the secret we all know… that love is in the air.

The summer earth blooms for it is in love, the summer sky sways for it is in love.

A promise is made with joy in the eyes by every soul, promise to live and rise.  


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“A Story Always Tells Another Story, You Know…”

I believe in the story!
Image from Pixabay.

And you will never know, I will never show, what I feel, what I need from you, no.

The salmon coloured light is bright in me and still, you cannot see. This colour is all over the space and at night the salmon coloured moon shines to tell you the same, but still, you cannot hear.

Oh no, I am not upset, I am saying it out loud for I know the story now. I love this story now.

Raphael took his bow and arrow that day and went to the jungle to hunt, like any other day. Raphael you saw that hare and you readied yourself, you shot and missed it.

What happened, why did you smile then? Ah, the hare was of salmon colour too, right? You smiled and ran your fingers through your hair, I know.

And you will never know, I will never show, what I feel, what I need from you, no.

Stop shying away… you from me and me from you. Cannot you feel the salmon coloured road on which we are walking? Miles apart and years away, destined to meet along the way.

The journey began long back, neither I nor you remember when. But it is sweeter that way, for there is a mystery and scope for the unexpected.

Raphael when the heart breaks, it takes not a moment to bring it all to an end. Raphael the tears only wish for love.

Fighting in the battle when you took a step ahead, so did I, struggling against the mean voices and terrible lies. The salmon coloured sky reached out to both of us then, I know because I believe in the story.

And you will never know, I will never show, what I feel, what I need from you, no.

We will hold hands and dance and clap and sing together, painting the walls around in salmon colour.

I am not afraid of forever, are you? Tell me this and more when we meet.    

*

Post inspired by Imany’s beautiful, soulful song “You will never know.”

Check out the official video here.

Read about Imany here.


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Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

 

And the Warli drama unfolds… thunderous applause… come and watch the puppets dancing, dancing to the tunes of folktales… look at, but beware, the bewitching dance movements will make you happy and take you to the wonderland. And you will dream the original dream. Ohhs and aahs and wows and wahs!
 
Hey puppeteer, where are the strings and where are you hiding? “I am over here”, said the puppeteer and added, “the strings are invisible and so am I, my dear.”
 
But the puppets were ready, the performance had started. Shush! Shush! The tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
“Where is my horse, commander?”, asked the portly King. “Sir, you’re riding it”, gasped the tired commander. The horse neighed and snorted.
 
Meanwhile his subjects went through their daily chores of dancing little more…
 

 

Let us work and dance and dance and work!
 

 

Seeing us dance, look the sun is smiling.
 

 

Look, how the tree dances!

 

 

 And the cattle dances. 
 My horse dances! He is happy (unlike the king’s).

 

 

Peeeepeeee-pepe! Dhumdhum-dhum-dhum! Jhunjhun-jhun-jhun!
 

 

The swing’s swinging.

 

 

Now the joyous peacock’s here.

 

 
It is a wedding and everyone’s dancing!

 

Uu-uu-uuuuuu! Dancing to the beat of life!

 

And the King in his kingdom, tired of the moody horse returns to his palace to attend a meeting.
Uu-uu-uuuuuu! The end!
The end? What type of story is this? It is the tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
Thunderous applause!


 

Read more about the Warli art here.
 
Photo courtesy – Google
 
Happy Earth Day everyone!
 

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