Toru Dutt ‘s poem “Our Casuarina Tree

What is that dirge-like murmur that I hear
Like the sea breaking on a shingle-beach?
It is the tree’s lament, an eerie speech,
That haply to the unknown land may reach.
Unknown, yet well-known to the eye of faith!
Ah, I have heard that wail far, far away
In distant lands, by many a sheltered bay,
When slumbered in his cave the water-wraith
And the waves gently kissed the classic shore
Of France or Italy, beneath the moon,
When earth lay trancèd in a dreamless swoon:
And every time the music rose — before
Mine inner vision rose a form sublime,
Thy form, O Tree, as in my happy prime
I saw thee, in my own loved native clime.

(An excerpt from Toru Dutt’s Our Casuarina Tree Toru Dutt (1856-1877) was one of the earliest Indo-Anglian poets )

(For the full poem go here)

I love these lines for the beauty of the poet’s imagination-the dirge-like wail of the casuarina tree is heard by her across the continents, in France or England ,when she sits on these “classic shores” and “many a sheltered bay”

Casuarina trees are found everywhere on the Indian coastline .When the sea wind passes through the needle-like leaves of clusters of these trees they make a soft hum which is cloyingly beautiful. Here the poet sees the music as a dirge-like murmur,a lament , an eerie speech. The poet was then still in her twenties ,pursuing higher education in England and France .I do not know why she felt the pathos at the time.Perhaps she had the beginnings of consumption already ,of which she would die a few years later after her return to India.

The road not taken

“The road not taken”
by Robert Frost is one of the better known poems of Frost. The best lines are in the last stanza.The poem is about a traveller who came to a fork and chose a path and later is thinking about the path not taken.The last lines are the best part of the poem:

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Apparently the poet is not worried about the road not taken.What matters to him is the fact that an event had happened in time in which he arrived at the fork and took a decisive step towards taking the less travelled road and this fact made all the difference to him. Looked at this way ,the road not taken by him has become as much a part of history as the road travelled by .Had the poet not arrived here and confronted the possibility of taking the road which he would not take ,the event would not have happened in time.

“April”- A short poem by Sara Teasdale

The roofs are shining from the rain.
The sparrows tritter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.

Yet the back-yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree–
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.

Love this simple poem for the music of the lines:

Yet the backyards are bare and brown

The sparrows twitter as they fly
The little clouds go by

Wonder if it is April and spring is around,why is there only one unchanging tree?

(excerpts) Verses upon the burning of our house by Anne Bradstreet(1612-1672)

When by the Ruins oft I past
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under the roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
No pleasant talk shall ‘ere be told
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle ‘ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom’s voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lie.

The poem written by Anne Bradstreet ,the first American published poet feels like any typical English poem of the times with none of the unique flavor of the American poetry of the later times. What strikes me ,however, is the directness and immediacy of the expression borne out of the horrendous experience of the burning of her house reducing all her earthly possessions to ashes. I like the expression “my sorrowing eyes“.