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While the monsoon slowly knocks at our doors, with gusts of wind, thunder and the cool breeze sweeping the moist, humid summer days, here’s a look at some poems to help you unwind as you sit indoors snug in an armchair, looking at the rain lashing on your window [and perhaps secretly happy that you are not out there being soaked! ūüėČ ]

 

1)      This is how we may all feel when the first rains arrive: grateful, joyful, and happy!

Rain In Summer

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs
Like the tramp of hoofs!
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!
Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

2)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Hasn’t the rain always been very inspiring? It inspires us to write, sing, dance, think, garden etc.

Breathable Creativity
i love de rain

rain cleans dust
from tired air

charges flat lined
polluted air space
swift rain cleaned

with vibrant
negative ions
rain inspires

breathable creativity

Terrence George Craddock

 

3)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Here’s a beautiful, thought provoking poem which uses rain beautifully as a metaphor:

Rain Song

Your eyes are two palm tree forests in early light,
Or two balconies from which the moonlight recedes
When they smile, your eyes, the vines put forth their leaves,
And lights dance . . . like moons in a river
Rippled by the blade of an oar at break of day;
As if stars were throbbing in the depths of them . . .

And they drown in a mist of sorrow translucent
Like the sea stroked by the hand of nightfall;

The warmth of winter is in it, the shudder of autumn,
And death and birth, darkness and light;
A sobbing flares up to tremble in my soul
And a savage elation embracing the sky,
Frenzy of a child frightened by the moon.

It is as if archways of mist drank the clouds
And drop by drop dissolved in the rain . . .
As if children snickered in the vineyard bowers,

The song of the rain
Rippled the silence of birds in the trees . . .
Drop, drop, the rain
Drip

Dropthe rain

Evening yawned, from low clouds

Heavy tears are streaming still.
It is as if a child before sleep were rambling on
About his mother (a year ago he went to wake her, did not find her,
Then was told, for he kept on asking,
“After tomorrow, she’ll come back again . . .
That she must come back again,

Yet his playmates whisper that she is there
In the hillside, sleeping her death for ever,
Eating the earth around her, drinking the rain;
As if a forlorn fisherman gathering nets
Cursed the waters and fate
And scattered a song at moonset,
Drip, drop, the rain
Drip, drop, the rain
Do you know what sorrow the rain can inspire?

Do you know how gutters weep when it pours down?

Do you know how lost a solitary person feels in the rain?
Endless, like spilt blood, like hungry people, like love,
Like children, like the dead, endless the rain.
Your two eyes take me wandering with the rain,
Lightning’s from across the Gulf sweep the shores of Iraq
With stars and shells,
As if a dawn were about to break from them, But night pulls over them a coverlet of blood. I cry out to the Gulf: “O Gulf,
Giver of pearls, shells and death!”
And the echo replies,
As if lamenting:
“O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death .

I can almost hear Iraq husbanding the thunder,
Storing lightning in the mountains and plains,
So that if the seal were broken by men
The winds would leave in the valley not a trace of Thamud.
I can almost hear the palmtrees drinking the rain,
Hear the villages moaning and emigrants
With oar and sail fighting the Gulf
Winds of storm and thunder, singing
“Rain . . . rain . . .

Drip, drop, the rain . . .
And there is hunger in Iraq,

The harvest time scatters the grain in-it,

That crows and locusts may gobble their fill,
Granaries and stones grind on and on,

Mills turn in the fields, with them men turning . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .

Drip
Drop
When came the night for leaving, how many tears we shed,

We made the rain a pretext, not wishing to be blamed
Drip, drop, the rain

Drip, drop, the rain

Since we had been children, the sky

Would be clouded in wintertime,

And down would pour the rain,
And every year when earth turned green the hunger struck us.
Not a year has passed without hunger in Iraq.
Rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
Drip, drop . . .
In every drop of rain
A red or yellow color buds from the seeds of flowers.
Every tear wept by the hungry and naked people
And every spilt drop of slaves’ blood
Is a smile aimed at a new dawn,
A nipple turning rosy in an infant’s lips
In the young world of tomorrow, bringer of life.

Drip…..
Drop….. the rain . . .In the rain.
Iraq will blossom one day ‘

I cry out to the Gulf: “O Gulf,
Giver of pearls, shells and death!”

The echo replies
As if lamenting:
‘O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death.”
And across the sands from among its lavish gifts
The Gulf scatters fuming froth and shells
And the skeletons of miserable drowned emigrants

Who drank death forever
From the depths of the Gulf, from the ground of its silence,
And in Iraq a thousand serpents drink the nectar
From a flower the Euphrates has nourished with dew.

I hear the echo
Ringing in the Gulf:
“Rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
Drip, drop.”

In every drop of rain
A red or yellow color buds from the seeds of flowers.
Every tear wept by the hungry and naked people
And every spilt drop of slaves’ blood
Is a smile aimed at a new dawn,
A nipple turning rosy in an infant’s lips
In the young world of tomorrow, bringer of life.

And still the rain pours down.

Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab

Click here to know more about this neglected yet hugely talented poet.

4)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Here’s one humorous poem that is sure to get a smile on your face if the rains dampen your spirit:

A Kiss in the Rain

One stormy morn I chanced to meet
A lassie in the town;
Her locks were like the ripened wheat,
Her laughing eyes were brown.
I watched her as she tripped along
Till madness filled my brain,
And then–and then–I know ’twas wrong–
I kissed her in the rain!

With rain-drops shining on her cheek,
Like dew-drops on a rose,
The little lassie strove to speak
My boldness to oppose;
She strove in vain, and quivering
Her fingers stole in mine;
And then the birds began to sing,
The sun began to shine.

Oh, let the clouds grow dark above,
My heart is light below;
‘Tis always summer when we love,
However winds may blow;
And I’m as proud as any prince,
All honors I disdain:
She says I am her rain beau since
I kissed her in the rain.

Samuel Minturn Peck

To read some more such funny poems, click here!

5)      Ah, a drop of rain can truly invigorate Mother Nature. And who best to depict this than Emily Dickinson (known for her short lyrics on God, nature and religion)?

Summer Shower

A drop fell on the apple tree,
Another on the roof;
A half a dozen kissed the eaves,
And made the gables laugh.

A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!

The dust replaced in hoisted roads,
The birds jocoser sung;
The sunshine threw his hat away,
The orchards spangles hung.

The breezes brought dejected lutes,
And bathed them in the glee;
The East put out a single flag,
And signed the fete away.

Emily Dickinson

 

6)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Alas! For most of us city dwellers such natural rain washed pleasures are a rarity! We can’t behold them and so we find the beauty of the rains in our drab concrete jungle:

Rainy Nights

I like the town on rainy nights
When everything is wet –
When all the town has magic lights
And streets of shining jet!

When all the rain about the town
Is like a looking-glass,
And all the lights are upside-down
Below me as I pass.

In all the pools are velvet skies,
And down the dazzling street
A fairy city gleams and lies
In beauty at my feet.
Irene Thompson

 

 

7)      Whatever the environment: natural or urban, storm or drizzle; in the end we all love the rain!

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

 

8)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† And here’s one for when you feel saddened by the rain’s departure. Just know that it will come again next year because (rephrasing Shelley) ‘If Summer comes, can Rain be far behind?’

After the Rain

Resurgent greens and stronger hues
combined within the colours in-between
will spring again, the reddish brown
has nearly gone and all the silver
greys erased in darker shades
that shine with slickly natured stains
after the gentle, gentle rain.

Clouded skies unite and demonize
the dry and dusty plight of days of brutal
beating sun and scathing wind,
the thin veneer is quickly peeled
and puddle-swamped in bloodied muddled
swirls of coloured slushy earth
that tinge the tracks of heavy wheels.

The welcome cold at first conceals its
damp and chilling steel, and in the icy
shades of night the frigid bite ignites
less welcome sentiments until the wrap
of insulation seals the warming heat,
sanctifies the stolid feet and frigid toes
with subtle sweep of warming blood.

And in the morning when the sun returns
to claim the earth the mist surprises, rising
unabashed and clean again to grace the
nascent waiting skies after the rain.

Ivan Donn Carswell

References:

1) http://www.poemsabout.com/rain/page-14/

2) http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/ivan_donn_carswell/poems/23081.html

3) http://www.mothergoosecaboose.com/rainpoems.html

4) http://www.jehat.com/Jehaat/en/Poets/BaderShakir.htm

5) Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems, Dover Thrift Edition, New York, 1990.

6) The Poem Tree: Book 7, Edited by Dean Gasper, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1998.

7) The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Selections by Jack Prelutsky, Random House, New York, 1983.

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This summer vacation visit your childhood days again. Simply delve into the worlds of Rusty and his gang of friends in the famous Rusty series penned by our very own, lovable-Ruskin Bond. The first in this series is ‘The Room On The Roof‘ which Bond himself wrote when he was only 17 years old. It was the story that got him fame and won him the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. While the entire series is promoted as predominantly children fiction, anyone can read the books as they are simple and refreshing and not merely childish. They can take you back to your fun filled adolescence and leave you touched by its thoughtfulness.

The Room On The Roof‘ revolves around Rusty who at the start is a lonely boy of 16 who loves to take aimless walks in the forests of Dehradun. He is under the guardianship of Mr. John Harrison, a strict, intimidating British fellow who has only contempt for everything around him-Rusty, the Indian side of the town, nature, his wife even etc.. By coincidence he meets two very friendly and warm Indian kids -Somi and Ranbir- on one of his many walks. They quickly become friends and indulge in the ‘masti’ of childhood-from riding their cycles, to their daily visits to the popular chaat shops etc, to playing Holi etc. Tired of the restrictive atmosphere of his guardian’s home and the European side of the town, Rusty runs away in a moment of madness and fury to be with his Indian friends. He only later realises the gravity of his decision and what it means to be living on one’s own. The story then takes a turn from its playfulness to a more serious tone as Rusty grapples with his new situation with the help of Somi and Ranbir.

The best part of ‘The Room On The Roof‘ is that Bond very lovingly sketches the development of Rusty’s personality. Bond thus makes the story not simply about the unbridled, pure and innocent joys of adolescence but also about the certain issues that rack one’s mind at that age for eg, Rusty’s loneliness, his adolescent love, his insecurity etc.. The story is also meditative as Rusty ponders over his ‘insignificance’ and purpose of life. So dismissing the novel as simply a childish one would be wrong. It may not proffer profound truths about the world but it does provide an adolescence’s point of view of such abstract aspects which also attests to the fact that the adolescent stage is not only one of frivolous frolic and time pass. It is quite commendable that Bond wrote this when he himself was only 17. Such sort of maturity in writing is not seen today from teenage authors anymore. Many aspects of the novel are also Bond’s own and perhaps the reflective tone of the story stems from his know meditations at that time.

Another feature that stands out is the true, minute depictions of Indian life whether it is the European part of Dehra, the buzzing bazaar, the simple toys, the smoky chaat shop and its delicacies,the intoxicated playing of Holi, the myriad Indian railway, Dehra’s natural beauty and the characters connections with it, Rusty’s room on the roof etc. While many of them may seem cliched like the cows on the streets and the beggars, they are life like nonetheless and attest to a way of life that is fast disappearing. Even the characters whether it is Rusty’ friends, Mr. Harrison’s wife’s brief appearances, Meena Kapoor-Rusty’s employer, her husband-Mr. Kapoor etc are all complex and have a story to their lives that make them full, rounded people with personalities and not just one sided characters.

A story of growing up, friendship, love and responsibilities,’The Room On The Roof‘ is a charming little novel that will regale all children and even adults. It will make you slow down, think and appreciate the small things of life.

The Victorian Era (roughly from 1830s to 1901) is renowned for producing several great novelists. In fact it is known as the Great Age of The Novel. Thomas Hardy is one of the many greats of this period who was not only a prolific novelist but also a poet. He has to his credit several novels and poetry collections.

The Return Of The Native‘ is one of his lesser known novels; ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ and ‘Tess Of D’Urbervilles’ being his other more well known works. Yet ‘Return Of The Native’ has a charm of its own and provides the quintessential Hardy outlook on English rural life. Set against the ubiquitous, unchanging Egdon Heath, the novel is preoccupied (like most of his novels) with the workings of Fate and the interference of misfortune and chance in human life. Like his other novels, it has a predominantly pessimistic tone.

The novel begins with pages of the heath’s descriptions which immediately establishes its importance in the story. It is November fifth-Guy Fawkes Day-and the inhabitants of the heath light bonfires all across illuminating it and thus giving it a diabolical look. Eustacia Wye-the queen of the night as Hardy calls her- sends a signal to Wildeve through the bonfire at Mistover Kapp and they have a clandestine meeting. Wildeve was just that morning set to marry Thomasin Yeobright but some trouble with the marriage license prevented it. Poor Thomasin was heartbroken and returned home in Diggory Venn’s -the reddleman’s- van much to the consternation of her aunt-Mrs. Susan Yeobright. Wildeve on the other hand had an ambivalent relationship with Eustacia and Thomasin. He had passionately loved the former and adored the latter. It is in such circumstances that Clym Yeobright-Susan’s only son and Thomasin’s cousin-returns home from Paris after a long time. He is the native that comes back to his beloved heath after being fed up of the materialistic life of Paris. He comes back for good to do some selfless service here- namely to start a school for the heath’s inhabitants. Its a move disapproved by his mother and creates an unfortunate gulf in their intimate relation. Clym also falls passionately in love with Eustacia and her divine beauty after they meet each other in unusual circumstances. Many complications arise thereafter due to Fate’s constant intervention that turn the lives of the heath’s inhabitants upside down. It is obvious that it ends on a tragic note(being a Hardy novel nothing else can be expected) with Clym bereft and philosophical.

The tragic end should not be a deterrent for avoiding this novel as it includes features that give it a status of a masterpiece. The genius is in the fact it provides a microcosm of Fate. The beauty of novel lies in the celebration of the power of nature, of heath’s power and resistance to change. It is a formidable entity in the novel that wraps its inhabitants in its godlike hold. The Edgon Heath is in itself a character of the novel. Being godlike, it has a supreme power to shape the destinies of the characters in the novel. Hardy not only celebrates nature but also the simple, rustic life, its people, its customs, traditions, its idealism, its simple life, and its superstitions. The novel is suffused with certain rustic, pagan customs that became rare in Hardy’s time such as the Guy Fawkes Day, the Mummer’s Plays, the Maypole dance etc.. This aspect manifest Hardy’s own belief in the rural way of life and attests his scorn for the industrial life.

The characters too are robust rustic individuals (except Eustacia) who adore the heath and accept its overwhelming presence boldly. The most unique sketches that Hardy gives are that of the furze cutters-Timothy Fairway, Christian. Grandfather Cankle etc. who embody the quintessential English countryside qualities such as friendliness, hominess, strength, politeness that better their lives in contrast to the townsfolk. The various characters’ personalities, their dominating passions and emotions define their lives and the events that occur to them. Eustacia is a melancholic, powerful active not to mention a divinely beautiful woman whereas Thomasin is on the quieter side and much more passive. There is a shade of delicacy to her character. Clym on the other hand is an upright, selfless man whose optimism helps him face any adversity. Whereas the reddleman is a gentle soul, a product of the heath itself and the character through whom Fate works. The story also has unique, peculiar characters such as Susan Nunsuch, her son-Charley, Captain Wye etc.

All in all, ‘Return Of The Native‘ is an excellent tragic novel modeled on Greek tragedy that is sprinkled with pure, untouched rural life and permeated with a wild, heath which in turn permeates its inhabitants even Eustacia. It is an absorbing read that will re-ignite anyone’s interest in classics.

Go ahead immerse yourself in the beauty and power of Egdon and leave everything to Fate!

I always wanted to read Ruskin Bond books when I was in school. My mother always urged me to buy them particularly the Rusty series. However, somehow, I never got the time, being busy with Enid Blyton, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, a few children’s classics, Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie, to actually peruse his novels except a few short stories taught as part of the syllabus. Even when I entered college, a boy in class discussed how immensely he loved the simplicity of Bond’s stories and language. That really encouraged me to pick up his books but I was still too engrossed in Harry Potter, Agatha Christie and Sidney Sheldon.

Taken from goodreads.com

Now when I am finally 19 years old, I issued a Ruskin Bond book,’Rain In The Mountains-Notes From The Himalayas‘ from the library, read it silently and thoroughly enjoyed¬† it. My fears of the book being too kiddish for my tastes were dispelled just as I began reading the prologue. Moreover, I understood what that boy in my class meant when he said that Bond’s stories and language is simple.

I cannot think of any other word except-BEAUTIFUL-to describe this novella. Let me clarify that this isn’t really a storybook, but rather a collection of short stories, poems, journal notes, essays etc. that Bond penned. Thus it is not only beautiful but also very personal at the same time.

All the writings in this books magnify and vividly describe all things natural that surrounds Bond’s home in Mussoorie. All his experiences are a lengthy ode to the beauty of the Himalayas. Such is the power that when I used to read the book in the train, I would forget the city air, the rants, the loud talk and laughter of the women in the compartment and be transported to an ethereal place up in the Himalayas. I would be going on trek on a glacier with Bond, admiring a whistling thrush, the majestic deodars, imagining fairies on Pari Tibba, meeting the villagers, meeting Prem and his family rather than traveling in a dusty, stinky, hot local train of Mumbai.

His writing style is very simplistic, his use of language and words is such that they are not only comprehensible to children and adults alike but also effortlessly convey Bond’s experiences and the mountain’s fresh air. They are not childish but far from it. His poems are not masterpieces, barely have a rhyme scheme but paint a vivid picture of nature in all its glory nonetheless.

His short stories, notes, articles etc. make us-urban people-come in touch with two things we don’t seem to revere: nature and people. All the writings in the book describe the supreme delight Bond feels by observing or sensing the simplest of all things. Like a ladybird, a walnut tree, the discovery of a new stream, a messy garden, the rains, an old lama,a school boy, a window, a postman,a sea shell, a bank manager, a praying mantis etc.-things we hardly stop to think about, things we do not take a pleasure in because we are too busy deriving pleasure from fickle, material things, like car, bike, jewelry etc.

The book thus rekindles a love for nature, of people. It creates a serenely happy feeling yet when Bond mentions that these gems of natural beauties are being destroyed, a sad, forlorn feeling creeps up. This book should be read by all heartless corporations, mining companies, government officials who fail to see the throbbing of life in nature, who will swiftly destroy all beautiful, natural wonders for their own selfish gains without realizing the damage they have done, the loss they have created.

 

Switzerland Alps are world famous. For us Indians, they have captured our imaginations through endless Bollywood movies where the hero and the heroine romance in them. Many have seen them in travel shows and many know the Alps only for endless snow sports or Roger Federer. However before the advent of films and travel shows there was an amazing, innocent book called ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri that extolled the Swiss Alps beautifully.

‘Heidi’ is a marvelous classic and a must read.

‘Heidi’ is the name of the protagonist, a five year old orphan who is sent by her aunt, Dete, to live with her gruff, old grandfather in the Swiss Alps. As time goes by, Heidi merges with the surroundings and comes to love the mountains dearly. Her grandfather’s rudeness and hostility also begin melting by Heidi’s copious warmth and innocence.¬† However, all does not remain blissful up in the mountains. One day, her aunt comes back to take Heidi to Frankfurt to be a loving companion for a rich invalid, Clara. Over there, in a big city, away from the mountains which she sorely misses, Heidi becomes good friends with Clara but she can never forget her beloved Alps. She eventually falls grossly ill and the only remedy for her is to return. In summer, Clara visits Heidi in the Alps. Clara’s stay and the healthy mountain air help cure her.

‘Heidi’ is an immensely touching story. Its vivid and mesmerising descriptions are memorable¬† long after the reader has finished the book. Heidi’s cute adventures, her simple mountain life with Peter, her grandfather and the goats, her love¬† and her charm for everything are perfect. The Swiss mountains are more than just picture perfect; they are nothing short of paradise in the book.

‘Heidi’ has a childish feel to it and that is its strongest point beside the scenic Swiss Alps where it is set. Even though you will find this book tucked away in the ‘Children’ Classic’ in most bookstores, it can be read by anyone: an adult or a child. It will appeal to any age group. Anyone who loves nature, children, the mountains and their sense of purity, will find ‘Heidi’ pleasurable and three times better than any Bollywood film or travel show!

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