Reflective Poetry for the Spirit

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Little Things: An Anthology of Poetry – Ethos Books

Learn why here! Romanticism refers to the ability of the poet to seek through his or her inquiries of nature the reflexive meaning of the self, the consciousness, and the memory, in so far as all three of these components or elements of being are defined as constructed projections onto the world. Romanticism, unlike Enlightenment forms of thought, asks the artist and thinker to suspend rationality and return to the irrational characteristics of the mind.

Irrationality as understood in Romanticism is not the lack of reason, but rather it is a way of measuring the emotional and psychological phases of self against reason. When reason dominates to the point that feelings are repressed, there is a need to reopen the psychical wounds of the emotions. Romantic poetry does just that—it explores psychical wounds but through the symbolic language of nature and through the projection of feelings, emotional states, and moods onto the natural world.

Thus, by a Romantic use of nature images, motifs, and symbols, I do not mean that nature is always thought of as idyllic; rather, by Romanticism, I mean the psychological impressions that the poet forms when in solitary reflection on nature.

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These impressions can be positive, negative, and indicative of the sublime, of pleasure or of existential crisis and suffering. Modern and contemporary reinterpretations of Romanticism quite often will reposition the idea of nature or the natural world in terms of the geographical, the regional, and the locale.

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Geography, region, and the locale are characteristics of place that are important to Mahapatra as a poet. The scenes that Mahapatra chooses to describe are always assuredly related to a specific locale. Though Das does not use the term mimetic in this statement, nonetheless, what he describes is a mimetic function of art — suffering is purged by the artistic and aesthetic creation of the poetic self.

This poetic self is validated and made imaginatively and psychologically real, through a projection of the self onto natural landscape. Das writes, Sun and moon, dawn and dusk, day and night, heat and dust, mountains and sun, rivers and hills, sky and earth all are incorporated into the texture of his landscape poetry in his effort to depict the predicament of modern man in an irreligious milieu. He is not a romantic poet to sing songs in praise of the beauty of nature. He is a realist who sees life against the backdrop of landscape but does not run away.

I would argue there are instances in which it seems that Mahapatra does broach the praise of nature, even if his praise is tinged with a condition of pessimism. Yet, if we redefine what the spiritual may mean in an era that questions traditional religious institutions and traditional religious rituals, we can begin to find examples of the spiritual in Mahapatra. The spiritual in Mahapatra is equivalent to nature itself, and his appreciation of it is not ritualistic or prone to one-sidedness.

He does not believe that nature is only representative of what is good, but also of what can be harsh punishing. Arguably through his acceptance of the good but also the punitive aspects of the natural world, Mahapatra is able to build a Romantic position of the sublime, or awe of that which is transcendent within nature. As Rabindra Swain describes, Indeed, he [Mahapatra] is a child of the earth and sea, sun and wind, of the tradition in which he is brought up.

All of these taken together have richly shaped his Oriya sensibility. Mahapatra uses the poem, thematically, to question his own voice and the voice of others as having any authorial or final meaning for the modern world or even for daily life. Though the human constructions of language may miscarry, nature does not. And, so the poem offers up the gift to the reader of recognizing that there is something greater than what human reason can offer—there is nature, which though inherently irrational in the sense that it can be destructive without the destruction having human meaning, it is also rational in the sense of its ordered patterns.

Death Poems

Where was it I could go? The doors were shut, the parties over, something hung over us like a cloud that will not bring rain. Embarrassed, I looked around for ripe fruit in the bowl. It was an ordinary day: cut flowers in the vase, the Leader on the television, the stained mirror that seemed to forgive me evil, and Sunday lotuses that betrayed the hour when they began to bloom.

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And everyone calm, following the old proverbs meekly into the world. For an instant I wondered whether the ethereal voices of flutes had died out, whether I had any choice when I put my arms around you, almost by instinct; or only to conjure up over and over again, the crust of days set aside was one of only lying to oneself when one pretends one was doing something one did not like?

What I find now is no more a monstrous secret between us; they are asleep, and I will repeat my words, getting them wrong again, filling my tongue and mouth with the swift shadow of day. We have only a description of impressions, of scenery, to help us grope our way through a sensory-derived vision. There is much attention to the details of landscape—the jasmine, the bamboo, backyards, bodies of water, the gray sky. This is revealed within the first ten lines of the poem.


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The first ten lines reveal a Wordsworthian sense of wholeness to be had in nature. Here is the bamboo dropping beads of twilight on earth's stricken floor; bent and outstretched, gesturing gloomily into a gray sky. This is the time when the fruit of my life seems humble and tender against the dark banyan, when the season comes alive with memories of earlier years. As he describes the beauty of these natural elements, he is offering up to his readers a definition of the sublime.

Poems For The Spirit

The poem also turns away from depicting a mere appreciation of nature to take up the unfortunate subject of death. Through the contemplation of the corollaries of life and death, Mahapatra seeks to penetrate through the illusions of modernity by allowing the senses to return to nature, to yield to the place in which there is knowledge of what is transient and what changes, as well as knowledge of what is eternal and immutable—youth fades into old age, life fades into its opposite, the sun fades into the moon.

In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, maya is a word that describes the physical world as caught in the perimeters of transience and of the impermanence of time. Behind maya there exist the eternal forms that underlie spectacles and occurrences.