Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Men and Their Boring Arguments

Wendy Cope

Some more Wendy Cope then?

Listen (to Cope read)

One man on his own can be quite good fun
But don't go drinking with two -
They'll probably have an argument
And take no notice of you.

What makes men so tedious
Is the need to show off and compete.
They'll bore you to death for hours and hours
Before they'll admit defeat.

It often happens at dinner-parties
Where brother disputes with brother
And we can't even talk among ourselves
Because we're not next to each other.

Some men like to argue with women -
Don't give them a chance to begin.
You won't be allowed to change the subject
Until you have given in.

A man with the bit between his teeth
Will keep you up half the night
And the only way to get some sleep
Is to say, 'I expect you're right.'

I expect you're right, my dearest love.
I expect you're right, my friend.
These boring arguments make no difference
To anything in the end.

Copyright Wendy Cope

Monday, January 30, 2006

Waste Land Limericks

Wendy Cope

(For some, there's Eliot's Waste Land. For all others, there's Cope's Waste Land Limericks.)



In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyantes distress me,
Commuters depress me--
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.


She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions--
Bad as Albert and Lil--what a pair!


The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep--
A typist is laid,
A record is played--
Wei la la. After this it gets deep.


A Phoenician named Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business--the lot,
Which is no surprise,
Since he'd met his demise
And been left in the ocean to rot.


No water. Dry rocks and dry throats,
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit and Dante.
Da. Damyata. Shantih.
I hope you'll make sense of the notes.

(veena reads the poem)

The Waste Land

The White Birds

W. B. Yeats

I WOULD that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea!
We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee;
And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky,
Has awakened in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die.

A weariness comes from those dreamers, dew-dabbled, the lily and rose;
Ah, dream not of them, my beloved, the flame of the meteor that goes,
Or the flame of the blue star that lingers hung low in the fall of the dew:
For I would we were changed to white birds on the wandering foam: I and you!

I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore,
Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more;
Soon far from the rose and the lily, and fret of the flames would we be,
Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!
(falstaff reads the poem)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Metalogue to The Magic Flute

W. H. Auden

Listen (to Auden read)

(Lines composed in commemoration of the Mozart Bicentenary, 1956. To be spoken by the singer playing the role of Sarastro.)

Relax, Maestro, put your baton down;
Only the fogiest of the old will frown
If you the trials of the Prince prorogue
To let Sarastro speak this Metalogue,
A form acceptable to us, although
Unclassed by Aristotle or Boileau.
No modern audience finds it incorrect,
For interruption is what we expect
Since that new god, the Paid Announcer, rose,
Who with his quasi-Ossianic prose
Cuts in upon the lovers, halts the band,
To name a sponsor or to praise a brand.
Not that I have a product to describe
That you could wear or cook with or imbibe;
You cannot hoard or waste a work of art;
I come to praise but not to sell Mozart,
Who came into this world of war and woe
At Salzburg just two centuries ago,
When kings were many and machines were few
And open atheism something new.
(It makes a servantless New Yorker sore
To think sheer Genius had to stand before
A mere Archbishop with uncovered head;
But Mozart never had to make his bed.)

The history of Music as of Man
Will not go cancrizans, and no ear can
Recall what, when the Archduke Francis reigned,
Was heard by ear whose treasure-hoard contained
A Flute already but as yet no Ring;
Each age has its own mode of listening.
We know the Mozart of our fathers' time
Was gay, rococo, sweet, but not sublime
A Viennese Italian; that is changed
Since music critics learned to feel "estranged";
Now it's the Germans he is classed amongst,
A Geist whose music was composed from Angst,
At International Festivals enjoys
An equal status with the Twelve-Tone Boys;
He awes the lovely and the very rich,
And even those Divertimenti which
He wrote to play while bottles were uncorked,
Milord chewed noisily, Milady talked,
Are heard in solemn silence, score on knees,
Like quartets of the deafest of the B's.
What next? One can no more imagine how,
In concert halls two hundred years from now,
When the mozartian sound-waves move the air,
The cognoscenti will be moved, then dare
Predict how high orchestral pitch will go,
How many tones will constitute a row,
The tempo at which regimented feet
Will march about the Moon, the form of Suite
For Piano in a Post-Atomic Age,
Prepared by some contemporary Cage.

An opera composer may be vexed
By later umbrage taken at his text:
Even Macaulay's schoolboy knows today
What Robert Graves or Margaret Mead would say
About the status of the sexes in this play,
Writ in that era of barbaric dark
'Twixt Modern Mom and Bronze-Age Matriarch.
Where now the Roman Fathers and their creed?
"Ah where," sighs Mr. Mitty, "where indeed?"
And glances sideways at his vital spouse
Whose rigid jaw-line and contracted brows
Express her scorn and utter detestation
For Roman views of Female Education.

In Nineteen-Fifty-Six we find the Queen
A highly-paid and most efficient Dean
(Who, as we all know, really runs the College),
Sarastro, tolerated for his knowledge,
Teaching the History of Ancient Myth
At Bryn Mawr, Vassar, Bennington, or Smith;
Pamina may a Time researcher be
To let Pamino take his Ph.D.,
Acquiring manly wisdom as he wishes
While changing diapers and doing dishes;
Sweet Papagena, when she's time to spare,
Listens to Mozart operas on the air,
Though Papageno, we are sad to feel,
Prefers the juke-box to the glockenspiel,
And how is - what was easy in the past -
A democratic villain to be cast?
Monostatos must make his bad impression
Without a race, religion, or profession.

A work that lasts two hundred years is tough,
And operas, God knows, must stand enough:
What greatness made, small vanities abuse.
What must they not endure? The Diva whose
Fioriture and climactic note
The silly old composer never wrote,
Conductor X, that over-rated bore
Who alters tempi and who cuts the score,
Director Y who with ingenious wit
Places his wretched singers in the pit
While dancers mime their roles, Z the Designer
Who sets the whole thing on an ocean liner,
The girls in shorts, the men in yachting caps;
Yet Genius triumphs over all mishaps,
Survives a greater obstacle than these,
Translation into foreign Operese
(English sopranos are condemned to languish
Because our tenors have to hide their anguish);
It soothes the Frank, it stimulates the Greek:
Genius surpasses all things, even Chic.
We who know nothing - which is just as well -
About the future, can, at least, foretell,
Whether they live in air-borne nylon cubes,
Practise group-marriage or are fed through tubes,
That crowds two centuries from now will press
(Absurd their hair, ridiculous their dress)
And pay in currencies, however weird,
To hear Sarastro booming through his beard,
Sharp connoisseurs approve if it is clean
The F in alt of the Nocturnal Queen,
Some uncouth creature from the Bronx amaze
Park Avenue by knowing all the K's.

How seemly, then, to celebrate the birth
Of one who did no harm to our poor earth,
Created masterpieces by the dozen,
Indulged in toilet-humor with his cousin,
And had a pauper's funeral in the rain,
The like of which we shall not see again:
How comely, also, to forgive; we should,
As Mozart, were he living, surely would,
Remember kindly Salieri's shade,
Accused of murder and his works unplayed,
Nor, while we praise the dead, should we forget,
We have Stravinsky - bless him! - with us yet.
Basta! Maestro, make your minions play!
In all hearts, as in our finale, may
Reason & Love be crowned, assume their rightful sway.

Today is the 250th Birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Happy Birthday Maestro!

Postcard from Kashmir

Agha Shahid Ali


Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox,
my home a neat four by six inches.

I always loved neatness. Now I hold
the half-inch Himalayas in my hand.

This is home. And this the closest
I'll ever be to home. When I return,
the colors won't be so brilliant,
the Jhelum's waters so clean,
so ultramarine. My love
so overexposed.

And my memory will be a little
out of focus, it in
a giant negative, black
and white, still undeveloped.

(falstaff reads the poem)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jana Gana Mana

Rabindranath Tagore

Listen (to Tagore recite)

জনগণমন-অধিনায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
পঞ্জাব সিন্ধু গুজরাট মরাঠা দ্রাবিড় উত্‍‌কল বঙ্গ
বিন্ধ্য হিমাচল যমুনা গঙ্গা উচ্ছলজলধিতরঙ্গ
তব শুভ নামে জাগে, তব শুভ আশিস মাগে,
গাহে তব জয়গাথা।
জনগণমঙ্গলদায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয়, জয় হে॥


Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people, dispenser of India's destiny.
Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat and Maratha, of the Dravida and the Orissa(Utkala) and Bengal;
It echoes in the hills of the Vindyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of Jamuna and Ganga and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.
They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise. The saving of all people waits in thy hand, thou dispenser of India's destiny.
Victory, victory, victory to thee.


(in devnagiri)

जन गण मन अधिनायक जय हे
भारत भाग्य विधाता !
पंजाब सिंधु गुजरात मराठा
द्राविड़ उत्कल बंग
विंध्य हिमाचल यमुना गंगा
उच्छल जलधि तरंग
तव शुभ नामे जागे,
तव शुभ आशिस मागे,
गाहे तव जय गाथा ।
जन गण मंगलदायक जय हे
भारत भाग्य विधाता !
जय हे, जय हे, जय हे
जय जय जय जय हे ॥

(in english)

Jana-Gana-Mana-Adhinayaka, Jaya He
Punjab-Sindhu-Gujarata-Maratha Dravida-Utkala-Banga
Uchchhala-Jaladhi Taranga
Tava Subha Name Jage
Tava Subha Ashisa Mage
Gahe Tava Jaya Gatha.
Jana-Gana-Mangala Dayaka, Jaya He
Jaya He, Jaya He, Jaya He,
Jaya Jaya Jaya, Jaya He

(all the above from wiki)

Happy Republic Day, folks!

The End

A. A. Milne


When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

(From "Now we are six")

(Read by Cool Man Cool)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

Listen (to Frost read)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
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.

audio (Copyright (C) 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

You and Me and P.B. Shelley

Ogden Nash

Listen (to Nash read)

What is life? Life is stepping down a step or sitting in a chair.
And it isn't there.
Life is not having been told that the man has just waxed the floor.
Life is pulling doors marked PUSH and pushing doors marked PULL and not
noticing notices which say PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR.
It is when you diagnose a sore throat as an unprepared geography lesson
and send your child weeping to school only to be returned an hour
later covered with spots that are indubitable genuine.
Life is a concert with a trombone soloist filling in for Yehudi Menuhin.
But, were it not for frustration and humiliation
I suppose the human race would get ideas above its station.
Somebody once described Shelley as a beautiful and ineffective angel
beating his luminous wings against the void in vain.
Which is certainly describing with might and main.
But probably means that we are all brothers under our pelts.
And that Shelley went around pulling doors marked PUSH and pushing doors
marked PULL just like everybody else.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Manathil Urudhi Vendum

So BM has reluctantly given me the keys to this place and needless to say, I intend to abuse this space as much as I can. Hmm..what shall we start with now? How about my first Bharathy poem? Appa, are you reading this?

So here, listen to KJ Yesudas rendering one of Bharathy's most famous. The music is by Illayaraja; the poem/song made its appearance in a brilliant 80s movie called Sindhu Bhairavi. Before I came across Ilayaraja's version, I had always imagined this poem recited in a demanding Bharathy-esque manner - imagine a Sivaji Ganesan or a Kamalhassan reciting Achamillai Achamillai if you will - but Illayaraja gives it a lighter, 'Chinna Chinna Aasai' (Chotti Si Aasha) tone which I am not sure I particularly like.

மனதிலுறுதி வேண்டும்,
வாக்கினி லேயினிமை வேண்டும்;
நினைவு நல்லது வேண்டும்,
நெருங்கின பொருள் கைப்பட வேண்டும்;
கனவு மெய்ப்பட வேண்டும்,
கைவசமாவது விரைவில் வேண்டும்;
தனமும் இன்பமும் வேண்டும்,
தரணியிலே பெருமை வேண்டும்.
கண் திறந்திட வேண்டும்,
காரியத்தி லுறுதி வேண்டும்;
பெண் விடுதலை வேண்டும்,
பெரிய கடவுள் காக்க வேண்டும்,
மண் பயனுற வேண்டும்,
வானகமிங்கு தென்பட வேண்டும்;
உண்மை நின்றிட வேண்டும்.
ஓம் ஓம் ஓம் ஓம்.

So you think maybe I should attempt some translation now? Here's the issue though:
A) I am really bad at this and
B) This is one of those poems that even when translated well would appear extremely simplistic in any other language than the one it was written in.
But if I have to translate it, it would go something like the following:

Let the mind be firm
Let the speech be sweet
Let the thoughts be noble
Let one attain what's dear
Let all dreams come true
And quickly, too
Let there be wealth and happiness
And fame in this world
Let the eyes be open
Let one be determined in achieving one's goals
Let the women attain freedom
Let God protect us all
Let the land be fertile
Let us feel the heaven here
Let the Truth prevail
Om Om Om Om

(No, no, do NOT think of Hallmark poetry. I promise I will not do any more translations.)

This poem always reminds me of Tagore's Prayer - the difference, atleast in my mind, is that while Tagore prays, Bharathy demands. Its really "The mind must be firm" rather than "Let the mind be firm" but no, I am not going to attempt translations again. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Walk After Dark

W.H. Auden

Listen (to Auden read)

A cloudless night like this
Can set the spirit soaring:
After a tiring day
The clockwork spectacle is
Impressive in a slightly boring
Eighteenth-century way.

It soothed adolescence a lot
To meet so shamelesss a stare;
The things I did could not
Be so shocking as they said
If that would still be there
After the shocked were dead

Now, unready to die
Bur already at the stage
When one starts to resent the young,
I am glad those points in the sky
May also be counted among
The creatures of middle-age.

It's cosier thinking of night
As more an Old People's Home
Than a shed for a faultless machine,
That the red pre-Cambrian light
Is gone like Imperial Rome
Or myself at seventeen.

Yet however much we may like
The stoic manner in which
The classical authors wrote,
Only the young and rich
Have the nerve or the figure to strike
The lacrimae rerum note.

For the present stalks abroad
Like the past and its wronged again
Whimper and are ignored,
And the truth cannot be hid;
Somebody chose their pain,
What needn't have happened did.

Occuring this very night
By no established rule,
Some event may already have hurled
Its first little No at the right
Of the laws we accept to school
Our post-diluvian world:

But the stars burn on overhead,
Unconscious of final ends,
As I walk home to bed,
Asking what judgment waits
My person, all my friends,
And these United States.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Raat yun dil mein teri

Faiz Ahmed Faiz


Raat yun dil mein teri, khoyi hui yaad aayi
Jaise viraane mein chupke se bahaar aa jaye
Jaise sahraon mein haule se chale baad-ae-naseem
Jaise bimaar ko be-wajaah quraar aa jaaye

Here is a translation by Vikram Seth (courtesy Aditya Johri)

Last night your faded memory came to me
As in the wilderness spring comes quietly,
As, slowly, in the desert, moves the breeze,
As, to a sick man, without cause, comes peace.

(da black mamba reads the poem)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Aur bhi gham hain zamaane mein

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Listen (to Faiz read)

(from DesiConnection.com)

Mujh Se Pheli Si Muhabbat
Faiz Ahmed Faiz

mujh se pahalii sii mohabbat merii mahabuub na maa.Ng

mai.n ne samajhaa thaa ki tuu hai to daraKhshaa.N hai hayaat
teraa Gam hai to Gam-e-dahar kaa jhaga.Daa kyaa hai
terii suurat se hai aalam me.n bahaaro.n ko sabaat
terii aa.Nkho.n ke sivaa duniyaa me.n rakkhaa kyaa hai (*)
tuu jo mil jaaye to taqadiir niguu.N ho jaaye
yuu.N na thaa mai.n ne faqat chaahaa thaa yuu.N ho jaaye
aur bhii dukh hai.n zamaane me.n mohabbat ke sivaa
raahate.n aur bhii hai.n vasl kii raahat ke sivaa

mujh se pahalii sii mohabbat merii mahabuub na maa.Ng

anaginat sadiyo.n ke taariik bahimaanaa talism
resham-o-atalas-o-kam_Khvaab me.n bunavaaye huye
jaa-ba-jaa bikate huye kuuchaa-o-baazaar me.n jism
Khaak me.n litha.De huye Khuun me.n nahalaaye huye
jism nikale huye amaraaz ke tannuuro.n se
piip bahatii hu_ii galate huye naasuuro.n se
lauT jaatii hai udhar ko bhii nazar kyaa kiije
ab bhii dil_kash hai teraa husn maGar kyaa kiije
aur bhii dukh hai.n zamaane me.n mohabbat ke sivaa
raahate.n aur bhii hai.n vasl kii raahat ke sivaa

mujh se pahalii sii mohabbat merii mahabuub na maa.Ng

(from PakistaniMusic.com, courtesy: Wakas Khan

Don’t Ask Me for That Love Again
Faiz Ahmad Faiz

That which then was ours, my love,
don't ask me for that love again.
The world then was gold, burnished with light --
and only because of you. That's what I had believed.
How could one weep for sorrows other than yours?
How could one have any sorrow but the one you gave?
So what were these protests, these rumors of injustice?
A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime.
The sky, wherever I looked, was nothing but your eyes.
If You'd fall into my arms, Fate would be helpless.

All this I'd thought, all this I'd believed.
But there were other sorrows, comforts other than love.
The rich had cast their spell on history:
dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and silks.
Bitter threads began to unravel before me
as I went into alleys and in open markets
saw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
This too deserves attention. I can't help but look back
when I return from those alleys --what should one do?
And you still are so ravishing --what should I do?
There are other sorrows in this world,
comforts other than love.
Don't ask me, my love, for that love again.

Translation By Agha Shahid Ali
Copyright 1991, 1995 by Agha Shahid Ali
(from DesiConnection.com)

A special prize for those of you who got here :) Noor Jehan renders the same here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hazaaron khwahishen aisi

Mirza Ghalib


HazaaroN KHwahishaiN 'eisee ke har KHwahish pe dam nikle
bohot nikle mere armaaN lekin fir bhee kam nikle

nikalna KHuld se aadam ka sunte aayaiN haiN lekin
bohot be_aabru hokar tere kooche se ham nikle

magar likhwaaye koee usko KHat, to hamse likhawaaye
huee subah aur ghar se kaan par rakhkar qalam nikle

mohabbat meiN naheeN hai farq jeene aur marne kaa
usee ko dekh kar jeete haiN jis kaafir pe dam nikle

KHuda ke waaste parda na kaabe se uThaa zaalim
kaheeN 'eisa na ho yaaN bhee wohee kaafir sanam nikle

kahaaN maiKHaane ka darwaaza 'GHalib' aur kahaaN waaiz
par itana jaante haiN kal wo jaata tha ke ham nikle

(da black mamba reads the poem)

Translation from here

A thousand desires such as these,that each takes a lifetime (an eternity)
I found many desires and yet they aren't enough

I have heard of Adam coming from Heaven
Disgraced a lot I came from your street (home)

If someone wants to write (her) a letter, let me write it
It is morning and I have started from home with a pen on my ear

There is no difference between living and dying in love
I live by the sight of that unfaithful (infidel) taking whose name I die

For God's sake don't remove the curtain from Kaaba tyrant
Lest that unfaithful (infidel) sweetheart appear from there too

Where a door to the tavern 'Ghalib,' and where the preacher
All I know is yesterday he was going (in) when I stepped out

Sunday, January 01, 2006


See Black Mamba's original post about pō'ĭ-trē here.

Why audio poetry?

One, because we like poetry. Yeah okay, a couple of us will kill for poetry but the rest are normal beings. Two, we like listening to poetry. For some of us, poetry actually starts to make sense when we hear it recited.

Who runs pō'ĭ-trē?

pō'ĭ-trē is an independent, sovereign, democratic blog. All members get posting / voting / vetoing rights.

What exactly am I voting / vetoing?

Well, for example, you can vote on whether we should use Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs to be our underwriters when we go public.

Why should I become a member?

Not only do you get to post your poetry recordings, you also get to see your name displayed on the sidebar. And our annual members' meet happens at our headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska every January. So what are you waiting for?

How many members does pō'ĭ-trē have?

We are at three currently but a 300% growth is predicted over the next couple of months. Watch this space.

How do I become a member?

Three recordings and you are in. Send us three poetry recordings along with a write-up of each poem and we will send you your member packet.

How do I make recordings?

There are a couple of different ways to do this:

1. Windows Sound Recorder. If you have a Windows PC, this should be readily available at Start -> All programs -> Accessories -> Entertainment (or multimedia) -> Sound Recorder.

2. Audacity – You can download this über-cool open source recorder

We are always on the lookout for interesting recording software, so do let us know if you come across any.

Where do I send my recordings, requests, etc.?

Do you post only English poetry?

Nope, all languages are welcome. In fact, we would love to see some diversity here at pō'ĭ-trē. We also post translations if available.

Can I send in my own poems?

Nope, at this time we do not plan to post original poetry. Unless of course, you are Wendy Cope in which case you are more than welcome.