"Ode to the Moon"
How lovely when a piece of poetry surprises us by appearing in a place where we wouldn't expect to find it.
This poem was "on the menu", so to speak at Ketut Suardana and Janet de Deefe's Casa Luna restaurant in Ubud, Bali. Janet as many as you will know is also the director of the Ubud Writer's and Readers Festival, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that she tries to slip a little poetry into her customers' lives. (Poetry lovers who are also foodies can slip over here to try out one of her delicious recipes.)
The poem above is by Tabish Khair, an Indian poet who now lives in Denmark. I found it particularly magical, reading it on a beautiful Bali night, looking out onto the landcape of hills and trees.
For all that the poem evokes a night landcape of great beauty, there is a mood of melancholy.
The poem reminds me, in terms of its structure, though not its form, of the Malay pantun, with references first of all to the natural world, followed by a more personal reflection in the final two lines.
Word choices surprise - "a stab of moon" - describes perhaps a very new moon, scarcely giving any light. The word stab also has an edge of violence to it, and perhaps this idea of struggle is reflected too in the beautiful image of light being "tangled" in the trees.
The whole poem turns at the end with the contrast between aloneness and loneliness. Aloneness is (to some of us at least, myself included!) a good thing. We find peace and perhaps our inspiration in solitude. Loneliness on the other hand is painful. We don't want to be alone.
The speaker in the poem is probably taking a night walk by the river, at first content with his own company but later realising that he is missing the company of others (or perhaps aching for that one very special person).
I am touched by the simplicity of this poem. It's almost a Chinese brush painting. It feels like a haiku. A tiny true moment in someone's life that we all instinctively understand from our own.
(My apologies for not being on this blog for a very long time - I've been a disorganised and dissipated blob and have to discipline myself to keep even my own blog afloat. Still I will be back and posting some reviews of poetry books that have been sitting on my desk for far too long.)