10 Pieces Of Poetry That Broke My Mental Frontiers
Power of words to those who like to both think and feel.
Poetry, if done and read right, can thrust your mind (states, perception, beliefs, etc.) into previously unvisited zones at such breakneck speed that in no time you find yourself changed beyond even your own recognition.
This is largely because of the concise nature of the art: Mental States, Environment, Perceptions, Opinions, Worldviews, beliefs, knowledge, etc. compressed into a few words with analogies and non-linearity. They are like mighty bombs that can decimate any walls, bridges, boundaries and frontiers — If done and read right!
I say all this because I have had a strong and healthy relationship with poetry. Myself having published two books of them.
They have changed me, shaped me, destroyed me, designed me. They have helped me come out of many misery and sufferings. They have shown me many beauties and feelings. They have helped me break shackles and relationships. They have helped me build relationships. They have helped me explore, experiment. They have opened many closed doors. They have closed many open doors. They have broken emotional and mental frontiers allowing me to feel and see things I never would have even imagined existed.
Here are 10 pieces/sentences/lines/stanzas of poetry that have broken my mind’s frontiers.
Lunatic: Laxmi Prasad Devkota
You’re clever, quick with words,
your exact equations are right forever and ever.
But in my arithmetic, take one from one-and there’s still one left.
You get along with five senses, I with a sixth.
You have a brain, friend, I have a heart.
A rose is just a rose to you-to me it’s Helen and Padmini.
You are forceful prose, I liquid verse.
This extract from a famous poem by Nepali poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota I read more than a dozen years ago, fueled me with so much rebellious energy that I still move with the same stock.
To break any frontiers, you need energy. You need constant energy and force. These few words did it for me. This is mental poetry at its best and finest.
Alone: Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view —
This poem connected me with myself.
I started seeing differences between me and others. I started seeing things in me I had never seen. I started accepting myself like never before. I started exploring my desires. I began the process of knowing myself. I ceased to be afraid. I was finally proud of who I was. I developed self-respect. I developed strength. I discovered myself.
1: Sad Toys, Takuboku Ishikawa
When I breathe,
This sound in my chest
Lonelier than the winter wind
Japanese poet Takuboku Ishikawa died of tuberculosis. This particular poem expresses a lot. It grabs you by your outward looking head and rotates it enough so that you can look at yourself. Here and now.
There were bright glowing stars in my frontier, but after I read this…the direction of my frontier changed and I saw black holes.
the wine of forever: Charles Bukowski
the writing of some
is like a vast bridge
that carries you
the many things
that claw and tear.
I could have chosen a lot of Bukowski verses but I chose this particular stanza from this particular poem because with it I accepted that there were and are people in this world whom you can trust. In my case, those were people who wrote words. Although I consumed a lot of words in my lifetime, at one point I was stuck with mistrust and paranoia towards everything. This one helped me break that wall.
Also, Bukowski’s writing has carried me not only over things that claw and tear but also over many things that pinch and sting.
A Question: Robert Frost
A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.
I was taking life too seriously when I stumbled upon this poem. This helped me tone down the seriousness and smile at the absurdity of existence.
Worldly Wisdom: Friedrich Nietzsche
Do not stay in the field!
Nor climb out of sight.
The best view of the world
is from a medium height.
While Nietzsche’s entire bibliography is a string of dynamite that knocks down frontiers after frontiers, this particular poem from The Gay Science gave me the perspective of perspective. I may look at all the frontiers I can and analyze them, get drown in them — yet is my view of the frontier itself proper?
Where’s the poet: John Keats
Where’s the Poet? show him! show him,
Muses nine! that I may know him.
’Tis the man who with a man
Is an equal, be he King,
Or poorest of the beggar-clan
Or any other wonderous thing
A man may be ‘twixt ape and Plato;
’Tis the man who with a bird,
Wren or Eagle, finds his way to
All its instincts; he hath heard
The Lion’s roaring, and can tell
What his horny throat expresseth,
And to him the Tiger’s yell
Come articulate and presseth
Or his ear like mother-tongue.
I had written a Medium story about this a little while back:
This poem is crucial for me because I like poetry. Reading, Listening, Writing, Spoken, whatever. But, my mind likes confusion.
While I yearned to consume/compose poetry and be a poet, my mind told me that poets were things of the past, waste of a life and things of no impact and substance. Be a king. Kings are the best. Be a businessman. They are the best. Be a pilot. Be a minister, etc. I listened to my mind for a long time. Not completely! Else I wouldn’t have discovered this particular poem.
I could finally see myself reading and writing compressed words and be proud of it.
The Best Time Of The Day: Raymond Carver
Cool summer nights.
Fruit in the bowl.
And your head on my shoulder.
These the happiest moments in the day.
Next to the early morning hours,
of course. And the time
just before lunch.
And the afternoon, and
early evening hours.
But I do love
these summer nights.
Even more, I think,
than those other times.
The work finished for the day.
And no one who can reach us now.
I discovered Carver when I had too many things going on inside my head and too many desires flowing inside my chest. I was emotionally and mentally confused. At my mental frontier, there was this big fucking question-mark laughing at me all the time. My personal life was disastrous. I was always anxious. I wanted to read everything, watch everything, be everywhere, be everything. Of course, this made me explore a lot of poetry too!
And I discovered Carver and this poem.
This poem demolished the question mark and showed me through tremendous magnification the real thing worth aspiring for.
Tune: Calming Wind And Waves: Su Shi
Listen not to the rain beating against the trees.
Why don’t you slowly walk and chant with ease?
Better than saddled horse I like sandals and cane.
Oh, I would fain, in a straw cloak, spend my life in mist and rain.
(From Selected Poems and Pictures of the Song Dynasty)
The desire for power and ways to get powerful were the furthest my thoughts were managing to reach at one phase of my life. This particular verse from the 11th century Chinese poet erased the boundary in one sweep, opening a brand new horizon in front of my eyes where I saw things more important than power. I spent hours basking in this poem.
Courage: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
CARELESSLY over the plain away,
Where by the boldest man no path
Cut before thee thou canst discern,
Make for thyself a path!
A decade ago, this particular stanza filled me with courage to go take risks, do something new, become something new, become myself, explore myself, design myself — become whatever I am and do whatever I do today!
There you go, this was my list of 10 poems that helped break my mental frontiers. Visit my website https://fradesh.com/ to read my poems. And also, please share the poems or words that helped you break YOUR mental barriers.