Category: UK

Shringara, a poem by Shanta Acharya

Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Friendship.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Spring in Kew Gardens.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Strange Times.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Alphabet of Erasure.”

 

SHRINGARA

The image in the mirror is no longer frozen
in an unimaginable longing.

A participant in life’s carnival, I prepare for illusion.

Elizabeth Arden’s flawless finish foundation frosts
on skin breathing Shahnaz Hussain’s sandalwood face cream.
Givenchy’s mascara thickens and lengthens eyelashes,
rosewood powder blushes on cheeks. My mask is complete
with desire red, double colour, everlasting Estee Lauder lipstick.
I spray myself generously with Nirvana and Samsara.

I travel towards what end I cannot say –

Along the way, those I meet and those I do not,
all the things that happen to me and those that do not
keep defining me in some inexplicable way.
Daily the mirror mocks my wrinkles, streaks of grey.

If I am the result of unrepeatable circumstances,
what use is there in seeking escape from self-enunciation?
In the end we are all dead. The days become my shringara.

Note: Shringara is one of the nine rasas, usually translated to as erotic or romantic love. The theory of rasa is the foundation of classical Indian art, including theatre, music, dance, poetry, sculpture. Much of traditional Indian art deals with the relationship between a man and a woman, the primary emotion generated being shringara. The relationship between lover and beloved is also a metaphor for the relationship between the individual and the Divine. In classical Indian painting and sculpture, the shringara rasa is represented by a woman getting ready, putting on make-up, sitting or standing in front of a mirror, facing herself, preparing for a lover, her life. In my poem, shringara refers to all kinds of preparation we make for Life itself. The idea of being prepared also reminds me of Shakespeare’s ‘ripeness is all’ (King Lear, Act 5, Scene 2, ‘Men must endure/Their going hence even as their coming hither./Ripeness is all.’).

Shanta Acharya, Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers, India; 2017)

Friendship, a poem by Shanta Acharya

Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Spring in Kew Gardens.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Strange Times.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Shringara.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Alphabet of Erasure.”

 

FRIENDSHIP

Like birdsong beginning inside an egg,
a flake of snow dreaming of an iceberg,

the rainbow sky beyond judgment,
a soul dwelling in two bodies.

Names safe in each other’s mouths,
walking together, sometimes in the dark,

in silence more sympathetic than words –
something treasured, understood.

Not a duty, but a responsibility gladly undertaken,
a comfortable hand-in-glove feeling.

As the giving grows, the taking goes –
angels let us see the best of what we can be,

the shimmer of dawn prophesying
the appearance of a zillion stars at night.

Not following, not leading, just loving
for trying, not blindly, but closing one’s eyes

in forgiveness, in prayer, finding the hard times
worth suffering, there being no better love than love

with no object, just being there, believing,
willing to be trusted with everything

Shanta Acharya, What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams Publishing, UK; 2020)

 


Photo by Dr. Sanjay Acharya

 

About Shanta Acharya

Shanta Acharya DPhil (Oxon) was born and educated in Cuttack, India. She won a scholarship to Oxford, and was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College in 1979. A recipient of the Violet Vaughan Morgan Fellowship, she was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy for her work on Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University before joining an American investment bank in London. Founder of Poetry in the House, Shanta hosted a series of monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, Highgate, London, from 1996-2015. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Poetry Society, The Poetry School, and the Arvon Foundation in the UK. The author of twelve books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Her most recent books include Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2017) and What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams, 2020). www.shantaacharya.com

Spring in Kew Gardens, a poem by Shanta Acharya

Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Friendship.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Strange Times.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Shringara.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Alphabet of Erasure.”

 

SPRING IN KEW GARDENS

Under the spell of cherry blossoms,
verging on crimson-maroon to blushing white,

loneliness scatters like particles of dust in light.
I suck the honey of this delicious solitude.

Lifted on the wings of a warbler’s song,
a cuckoo’s ecstatic call carries me home –

I’m speaking to my mother recovering
from her fall. She calibrates her voice against

the koels’ song, full throated, unseen among
the trees in her courtyard. Is it the other way round,

we wonder, birdsong rising in decibels
as noise in cities grows deafeningly loud?

Planes flying over the Royal Botanic Gardens
distract from the peace of ancient trees.

The all-seeing peacocks, their fanned tails quivering
with wild, forlorn calls awaken in me immortal longings,

making it possible to be in two places at once.
I am in Mathura, inside the temple of Krishna,

waiting for darshan. Outside, these proud defenders
of faith and grace teach us to be incorruptible,

discover our inner strength and beauty, display
our true colours as we dance to the music of humanity.

I came into this world with only my shadow,
wake unexpectedly to this rapture of being.

Shanta Acharya, What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams Publishing, UK; 2020)

 


Photo by Dr. Sanjay Acharya

 

About Shanta Acharya

Shanta Acharya DPhil (Oxon) was born and educated in Cuttack, India. She won a scholarship to Oxford, and was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College in 1979. A recipient of the Violet Vaughan Morgan Fellowship, she was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy for her work on Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University before joining an American investment bank in London. Founder of Poetry in the House, Shanta hosted a series of monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, Highgate, London, from 1996-2015. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Poetry Society, The Poetry School, and the Arvon Foundation in the UK. The author of twelve books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Her most recent books include Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2017) and What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams, 2020). www.shantaacharya.com

Strange Times, a poem by Shanta Acharya

Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Friendship.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Spring in Kew Gardens.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Shringara.”
Read Shanta Acharya’s poem “Alphabet of Erasure.”

 

STRANGE TIMES

Strange times are these in which we live –

the falsehoods we are taught, the freedoms we have lost.
Yet humanity never lets go, will not give up the ghost.

It’s taken a long time to get here. There’s no turning back –
no walls, camps, guards, check-points can prevent

a man on his way home, shopping bags in hand,
stalls a column of tanks as if it were an ordinary thing,

not mankind making a stand, landing on the moon,
planting a flag. They never wanted all that attention –

not the stowaways who died of asphyxiation,
angels who flew for their lives from blazing towers.

The price is always the same, your most precious
possession, your life and dreams, your future

drowned on a beach, face half-buried in sand;
a daughter, brutally violated, dead in your arms.

Not knowing if we can find a way forward,
we stumble on like spirits possessed with sixth sense,

carrying the torch of hope in our hearts,
believing in the darkness of the world –

a crack is all it takes for light to get in,
alter our vision, fire a revolution.

Those who trust know how to dream,
keep faith in things unseen –

the quality of darkness is how it lets us see.

Shanta Acharya, What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams Publishing, UK; 2020)

 


Photo by Dr. Sanjay Acharya

 

About Shanta Acharya

Shanta Acharya DPhil (Oxon) was born and educated in Cuttack, India. She won a scholarship to Oxford, and was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College in 1979. A recipient of the Violet Vaughan Morgan Fellowship, she was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy for her work on Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University before joining an American investment bank in London. Founder of Poetry in the House, Shanta hosted a series of monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, Highgate, London, from 1996-2015. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Poetry Society, The Poetry School, and the Arvon Foundation in the UK. The author of twelve books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Her most recent books include Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2017) and What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams, 2020). www.shantaacharya.com