सप्त काव्यानि (plus Two for Tagore)

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(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):

          Jean-Paul Sartre and my Poem to France.

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):

McLaren, Red

         Chariot of Fire

      Ferrari, Argento

           Roaring Belle

DB7, Topless

                 007

Rabbit, Grün

             प्रथमं प्रेम

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

No Isaac!

  Light speed is same for all

  Time is relative

  (Said Al)

What is time?

Al said:

  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

Al said:

   Just curves

     That even bend light

     Congealed energy in plain sight

You here, or there?

 Everywhere

Where are you now?

 There is no now

Mass, no more a mystery

Just symmetry

  Continuous not discrete

  Spontaneously broken

(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

Another poem of his that I like is Urvashi.  (No surprise, right 😏, see My History of Eternity.) So, I composed a poem about her son (IYKYK):

 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.

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