Sep 242004


Kiss me out of the bearded barley

"Kiss me, out of the bearded barley,
Nightly, beside the green, green grass.
Oh, kiss me, beneath the milky twilight
Lead me, out on the moonlit floor"

I am a sucker for love poetry, even the schmaltzy kind. In fact, I used to theorize that the only proof that you mastered a language is if you can write (for that matter, even appreciate) a love letter in that language. My silly theory goes like this: Love is not as visceral as other feelings. At least the kind of love that writes letters is not. Inevitably, these letters are filled with ephemeral schmaltz. If you know enough about a language to be touched by ephemera, hey, more power to you.

When somebody here mentioned that #aame kannulalO anantaambarapu neeli neeDalu galavu#, it struck a chord in me. For one thing, why is it that we almost always see these letters or, letters disguised as poems from men? Do women not write these letters err… poems? #aataDu naavale unmatta bhaavaSaali, aapukolEDu rEgunoohala nokinta#, would that thrill somebody?

Perhaps the predominantly male-centered poetry has certainly been helped (Am I confusing between cause and effect?) by the abundant vocabulary that describes all things feminine. C’mon… men wear a sum and total of two colors. In one saree alone, you would find enough colors to dazzle and confuse us men for a lifetime.

I suppose one of the predominant strand of this poetry is intrinsically tied to earth, village, and perhaps #yeMki paaTalu#. In these songs, we here the sounds of #kaDavettukellETi kannepilla#. Even if we do not know what #koTEru mukku# is, we do know it is good to have it. Sometimes they are tender #yenaka janamamu lOna yevarimO nEnanTi … siggocci naavindi chilaka naayenki#, sometime they are lusty #vaaDu kanapaDitE caalu gunDe jhallu#. They may even be set in #mokkajonna tOTa#. In all these songs we can easily see the women and men as rugged and hearty. They are not the types "that weep but know not why".

These weeping kind is the one that Kri.Sa. popularized. I can almost imagine the women he is talking about to be consumptive(fashionably, of course), with thin hands, in white gloves, with strands of big pearls, perhaps an occasional flash of sadness streaking across the face. [Change this suitably to set it in AP]. The power is not physical; you never even here of description of breasts which are so popular with all the other poets. These poems describe the eyes, or perhaps hair. The more elusive the physical attribute, the better it is for this style.

Of course, as far as the women are concerned, the ancient poets were definitely concerned. Even when the woman is crying or dying, still, their breasts or face does not escape the description. I suppose, some of our modern poets still dream about #pRthu vakshOja nitamba bhaaralu#.

These ancient poets were not all bad though. Who amongst us do not love Bhavabhooti and his immortal poem #iyam gEhE lakshmee… kimasyaa napriyaM, yadi paramasahyastu virah@h#?

Whenever I read these ancient romantic poetry, I think of corn beef. I meant, it is the tradition, rooted in some evolutionary approach. Apparently, salt was a preservative, which meant corn beef was a necessity when there was no refrigidation. It still survives, see?

The corn beef gets even cornier in the poetry influenced by Urdu and Persian poetry. #uvida ghOshTilO nEnu unDakunTa mElu, nannu goorci prastaavanamme caalu#. They don’t even talk to women, they merely talk about them, sometimes even without seeing them.

Our greatest treasury of love poems though is our movies. They are profound #manasuna manasai, bratukuna bratuaki#, tender #naa paaTa neenOTa palakaala cilakaa#, rowdy #kurra naa eeDu gurramai tanne, guTTugaa gunDeladaragaa#, and perhaps even raunchy.

In the end, what we like depends on the mood, as the poet says:

"Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight, and the noon’s repose."

Ramarao Kanneganti
Sep 24, 2004

PS: Obviously, all the poems and songs are quoted from memory, so they can be wrong.

[Original here]

 Posted by at 11:57 am