(सप्त काव्यानि translates to Seven Poems.)
I received this email from Jake Grefenstette about a month ago:
Dear Professor Tayur,
We are very pleased to cordially invite you to a cocktail reception celebrating the re-launch of the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Samuel Hazo, the International Poetry Forum developed world-wide recognition by hosting over 800 poets and performers in Pittsburgh between 1966-2009, including eight Nobel Prize laureates, twelve Academy Award recipients, and forty-two Pulitzer Prize winners. You can learn more about the remarkable history of Forum and plans for the revival on our new website.
The upcoming event will be held in the Founders Room of The Duquesne Club (625 Sixth Avenue) from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM on October 3, 2023.
I have enjoyed reading poetry ever since I came across William Wordsworth in high school (at HPS Begumpet, see Portrait of an Academic Capitalist as a Young Man) and Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat (see In Praise of Poetry…and James Bond), during my undergraduate days at IIT-Madras, and nowadays periodically dive into Harold Bloom’s The Best Poems of the English Language, especially when having my morning coffee on weekends, like right now!
I have even written one before (in 2014):
So, of course, I attended the reception. It was good to see some familiar faces connected to CMU (including Ed Grefenstette and Chuck Kennedy), and also meet a few new folks (including Richard Scheines).
Samuel Hazo (now 95 years old) opened his remarks with a poem that he had written a long time ago about his first car, and how, for many young men, it is their first love. I liked him instantly! 😏 Even before he had finished narrating, I composed mine (recalling my first car from 35 years ago, yes, 1988, when I was a PhD student at Cornell and had just received an offer to join Bell Labs as a summer intern, times I have reminisced in 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics):
Chariot of Fire
Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical sports drama film. Nominated for seven Academy Awards it won four, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score for Vangelis‘ electronic theme tune. The film’s title was inspired by the line Bring me my Chariot of fire! from the William Blake poem adapted into the British hymn and unofficial English anthem Jerusalem; the hymn is heard at the end of the film.
One of the other perks of attending the reception was receiving a copy of his new collection of poems Becoming Done. His poem Bikini (page 35) where he invokes Brigitte Bardot instantly triggered this next composition (recalling from an event more than 25 years ago):
Barcelona, not in India
Honeymoon beach, bikini optional
Said, factually, to my bashful bride
Beautiful, yours is the the only skin not in my sight
Barcelona is a 1994 American comedy-drama starring Mira Sorvino. It has an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 35 reviews.
By the time I reached home (in my BMW) after the reception, I had composed five mini poems, all on physics.☺️
Time, same for all
Light speed is relative
Light speed is same for all
Time is relative
What is time?
It is not quite space
Forever moving, not static
Pulled by an imaginary consort
In opposite direction
What is gravity
In our universe
That pulls us all
That even bend light
Congealed energy in plain sight
You here, or there?
Where are you now?
There is no now
Mass, no more a mystery
Continuous not discrete
(and Higgs became one of the bigwigs)
The most famous Indian poet is Rabindranath Tagore.
गीताञ्जलि is his most well-read poem (the English translation was prefaced by W.B. Yeats in 1912), especially section #35. Here is my Maximally Inverse composition:
When the heart is with fear
And the eyes are staring down
When knowledge is comouflaged
When the world is broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
When the deep fakes of streaming media have made its way and muddied our unreasoning minds
When shallowness signals virtue
When our mental fatigue folds our arms towards cynicism and clenches our fists towards hate
When our hurtful tongues and dark hearts drive us backwards with ever partitioning words and violent action
From that hell of self-imprisonment, Mother, help us all escape
Seven, sage not sexy
Born to be wise
Yearning to be wild
Vashistha sips Vesper
As you know from When I was Young, MPC meant Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry when I was a high-school student (Brahmacharya stage), which evolved to Movies, Physics, Cars as I got older (and entered Grhstha stage). Now, reaching the Vanaprastha stage (see Weston Brahmin), it is the trifecta:
Mythology. Poetry. Cocktails. ☺️
Putting it in context:
Milton: Paradise Lost == Tayur: Paradise Reimagined.