Monday, May 12, 2008

The Moist Eye

Life’s pendulum swings between two extremes of emotions – of joy and sorrow. You may be able to pack every other emotion with a trace of either one of them but never without it. It is like the VIBGYOR; between the two extremes of colours, lie the whole infinite variety; a combination of every alternating hue that produces the middle one. For instance, the violet and blue produce indigo; the indigo and green produce the blue and so on. A painful labour is indeed the liberating moment for the child. It is the ultimate emotion of pain and joy in the wonder of creation. The final departure is not all sorrow. That there could be a life beyond death is the sobering thought. The loftier prayer is that the departed soul rests in peace without further hovering; that it rests in the cosmic soul from where all life began.

The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata are forever a fascination, when stories are told and repeated. You laugh and cry with the characters; you experience the warmth of friendship and pangs of separation as the persons in the stories go through with others, share the ecstasy of love and suffer agony of hatred along with them, celebrate the victory and grieve over the defeats. It is the ability of the story to evoke the experience all shades of emotions that defines its epic value. It is just not with stories; the same applies to good poetry. Hear Morocco say in Merchant of Venice (Act 2, Scene VII),
“Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart

To take a tedious leave: thus losers part. “

Alfred Tennyson captures the shearing of emotion of a person who is gone, in his poem ‘The Window;or, the Song of the Wrens’
“Gone, and the light gone with her,
and left me in shadow here!
Gone - flitted away,Taken the stars from the night and the sun

From the day!Gone, and a cloud in my heart”

The word of parting itself is sweet for Lord Byron ( Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage):
Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been -

A sound which makes us linger; - yet - farewell!
Do the words deliberately veil the hidden emotion that throbs for a different meaning? William Shenstone says of what will remind you of a popular Tamil song that lilts ‘Po endra varthayil, vaa engirai!
So sweetly she bade me adieu,

I thought that she bade me return.

The world of prose has never been any poorer for portraying the emotions of separation. Henry David Thoreau says, ‘Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes’. See here, Thoreau does not have to sound maudlin at a parting. He sees the worth of bridging gaps from a distance, instead of being struck with sadness. Just as cheerful is Seuss Geisel George Elliot when he says, ‘Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened’.

On occasions when you experience the higher emotions of living, it is the face that carries to the outside world what you experience. There need not be any attempt at hampering the flow of emotion by boulders. Your hair stands on end; your eyes glisten. The lips quiver. Make no attempt to hide the tear. It is not un-manly. It is the same thing as when you stand at the height of a mountain and revel at the spectacle of the world beneath your feet or the stillness of what lies above your head.

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