The Alphabet for the Journey called Life - Post 3

…continued from the previous post (the concluding part now)

P for Pacifist
A pacifist is the one who is opposed to violence as means of settling disputes. He is a peace-loving fellow. Maintaining peace at all costs is the need of the hour, with so much violence all around the globe.

Q for Quiet
Being quiet doesn’t mean being isolated from the society around us or being a loner. It entails being at peace with oneself and satisfied with what one has.

R for Restful
Being quiet and restful are somewhat related with one another. Restful means not overreacting in different situations – neither being too loud in happiness nor feeling down in the dumps in testing times. We should possess a balanced attitude.

S for Sanguine
‘Sanguine’ means being confidently optimistic and cheerful. Being optimistic about the future solves half of our problems. And we would be much at ease with ourselves and with the day to day life.

T for Trustworthy
Being worthy of someone’s trust not only provides a boost to your reputation in the society but also uplifts your standing in one’s own eyes.

U for Unaffiliated
Unaffiliated means being independent – enjoying independence while taking decisions, that is, not being influenced by others or by the pressure exerted upon you by someone for his own vested interests.

V for Valiant
A valiant person means he is not only physically strong but mentally also. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. So we can say that bodily valiance is also necessary. Simultaneously we should also possess a valiant heart so that we don’t bow to the undue influences exerted upon us.

W for Will-Power
Setting up a goal or an aim for ourselves is one thing and possessing the will-power for achieving the same is another. Both are incomplete without the other.

X for X-ray Personality
By X-ray personality I mean to say that we should have the capacity of looking beyond a person's exterior; trying to understand the feelings of other persons without their announcing them. It is more important but at the same time tough to understand the silence than words.

Y for Yearner
Yearning for something leads to our achieving or attaining that thing. If we have the urge then only can we be motivated to move further and reach closer to achieving our target.

Z for Zealous
Being zealous, that is, full of enthusiasm and eagerness is what has the capacity to help us to achieve new heights.

The Alphabet for the Journey called Life - Post 2

…continued from the previous post

F for Flexibility
We should be flexible and not rigid in the sense that we should be able to mould ourselves according to the need and the changing times. Then only can we expect to be successful. Changing with the need of the (the good change, of course) means not letting time overpower you.

G for Generosity
We should be generous not only in the monetary sense but in our behaviour and nature. We should be accommodating.

H for honesty
‘Honesty is the best policy’ is an old saying and is of much value even today. We should be honest not only to the people around us but also to ourselves. We should face facts squarely and not run away from the reality.

I for Inquisitiveness
A great secret of being successful is that we should always remain a learner. Inquisitiveness is a great quality to possess. We should have the hunger to know more and more.

J for Joyous
A joyous nature is like food for the soul. Taking life as it is and celebrating each day of life is what it takes to be joyous.

K for Kind
Kindness is such a virtue that we should never part with. Being kind does not at all mean that people befool you for your kindness. It also entails not being kind at the cost of one’s self-respect so that others don’t take you for granted. Being kind means being sensitive towards others and treating them at par.

L for Lamblike
A lamb is associated with the qualities of gentleness and meekness. We should be gentle not only towards our fellow human beings but also towards other creatures of nature. We should abstain from any kind of violence against them.

M for Morality
Morality is a quality that we should possess not only for the welfare of the society but also for ourselves; after all we answerable to ourselves also. Our actions speak for themselves.

N for Negotiator
We must all be good negotiators. We need this quality quite often in our day to day life – to defend our rights and to get what we deserve.

O for Openmindedness
An open mind can work wonders for us in terms of our standing in the society. It will raise our status no end and most importantly give the peace of mind. We’ll be free of the unwanted anxieties while being open-minded as then we won’t be entangled in the meaner things.

P.S. - will be concluded in the next post

The Alphabet for the Journey called Life - Post 1

A for Accomplishment
Life is a tale of accomplishments and failures. A combination of sunshine and shade. Accomplishment is what is left after we have lost what we had achieved. Your real gain is not the compliments paid by others to you directly but what people say about you behind your back. When people are jealous of you, take it for sure that you are on the right track. What is required is perseverant attitude towards achieving what you aim for.
'Accomplishment is the full blown rose of efforts', I have read somewhere.

B for Battle
Life is a battle. We all have to fight it to be a winner. It is just like the 'Survival of the fittest' theory of Charles Darwin. We have to take stand for ourselves or people will take us for granted.

C for Challenge
Life is a challenge. We all have to accept it and struggle to prove our mettle. Those who fail to accept it are labelled as failures. Each day brings to us a new challenge.

D for Daring
We should have the courage to face the world. A daring personality is the need of the hour.

E for Education
Education here does not mean only the formal education, which we get in schools, colleges or Universities. It also includes the skill of living - how to live in a society while maintaining a healthy attitude towards life.

to be continued...

Emily Dickinson's 'Success is Counted Sweetest'

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory
As he defeated--dying--
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘Success is Counted Sweetest’ is a short but a very meaningful poem. In the very first stanza she illustrates the universal truth – we value a thing the most when we don’t possess it ourselves. Success is the sweetest thing for those who fail and only that person can know what nectar is and what its true value is, who is in dire need of it.
The poet has used the scene of a battle that is over. She first talks of the side that has won. Not even one of the soldiers of the army of the winning side can so clearly define victory as the one belonging to the army that lost the battle.
In the third stanza, in continuity of the second stanza, she writes the soldier who is lying on the ground and dying can define victory in the most definite terms. The sounds and music of the celebrations of the winning army fall upon his hears – he can clearly hear the sound that is agonizing for him. Dickinson writes “forbidden ear” – forbidden because he has not qualified (by winning) for being able to listen to the sounds of victory.

Literary Jewels of Charles Dickens

Ask no questions, and you'll be told no lies. (Great Expectations)

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.
(Great Expectations)

It is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too.
(A Christmas Carol)

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
(David Copperfield)

The persons on whom I have bestowed my dearest love, lie deep in their graves; but, although the happiness and delight of my life lie buried there too, I have not made a coffin of my heart, and sealed it up, forever, on my best affections. Deep affliction has but strengthened and refined them.
(Oliver Twist)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
(A Tale of Two Cities)

John Keats - His Great Odes

“Keats is probably the only romantic poet, apart from Blake, whose rank is conspicuously higher that it was in the nineteenth century”, says Douglas Bush. Selincourt finds his odes comparable to Shakespearean sonnets. Six of the odes are considered to be Keats’ major odes – To Autumn, To Psyche, To a Nightingale, On Indolence, On Melancholy and On a Grecian Urn. These odes have an underlying unity. They portray a common attitude towards life and revolve around a single central mood. They are different phases of a single experience.
In his odes Keats is poignantly concerned with the fleeting nature of beauty, joy and love. He is always pre-occupied with finding a way of perpetuating the ephemeral. For instance, in the two of his odes – ‘To a Nightingale’ and ‘On a Grecian Urn’, Keats suggests different methods to perpetuate the momentary joys. The urn is symbolic of beauty in the midst of human suffering.
They all take the poet away from the lazar house of life and a dull, perplexing human mind. In ode ‘To a Nightingale’ Keats laments about the transience of happiness in the real world:

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan
Where Palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs
Where youth grows pale, spectre thin and dies,
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow,
And leaden-eyed despair
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eye
Or new Love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

The poet suggests two ways to immortalize the blissful moments. First, he wishes for an “easeful Death” at the blissful moment to eternalize the bliss. Secondly, he wants to take the help of “the viewless wings of Poesy”, that is, poetry, to perpetuate happiness.
Similarly, in the ode ‘On a Grecian Urn’ the poet suggests the medium of art to perpetuate the fleeting moments of happiness. Art does so by lending them an unchangeable form and shape. In this ode, the poet has depicted the permanence of art versus the transitoriness of life. Even in his ode ‘To Psyche’ the poet aims at immortality the beauty of Psyche, by building a temple in her name in some “untrodden region of my mind”.
Keats’ odes are fine examples of a perfect paradox. The idea of joy in immortal beauty and acceptance of transience form the basis of Keats had mastered the technique synthesizing the two. Thus, the theme that recurs in all the odes is transience versus permanence. For example, in the ode ‘On Melancholy’, the poet mentions beauty, but not without an immediate realization of its short-lived nature. Talking of melancholy he says;
She dwells with beauty – beauty that must die
And Joy whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu...
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her Sovran shrine.

Another characteristic feature of Keats’ odes is that pain and pleasure exist together. Be it the “aching pleasure” of ‘To a Nightingale’, or “heart aches” of ‘On Melancholy’, pain (or melancholy) and pleasure (or joy) exists side by side. His ode ‘On Melancholy’ concludes with the idea that a person who has a sensitive heart, who understands the subtle joys can in the true sense enjoy melancholy.
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

The other common feature of all his odes is ‘negative capability’. This quality aims at objectivity amidst terrible personal suffering. It is the ability of identifying oneself with the experience. It aims at a negation of the self. It is related to the concept of beauty. The ability of discovering beauty in everything overpowers all other considerations, in the case of a great poet. In his ode ‘On a Grecian Urn’ Keats sums up as:
‘Beauty is truth, truth Beauty’ – that is all
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.

In his ode ‘On Melancholy’ identifies himself with what he describes, so completely that poet and the experience seem one. He renders the ode objective inspite of terrible personal suffering. In the odes ‘To a Nightingale’ and ‘On a Grecian Urn’, Keats faces the tragic dilemma of life with courage though he does not offer a proper solution to the dilemma. He can enter into the joy of the nightingale “too happy in thine happiness”. Even with an acute awareness of the mutability of human life he can still enjoy the “unheard melodies” and the “still unravished bride of quietness”.
We find a mature manner of introspection in his ode ‘To Autumn’. The poet accepts the inevitability of the three-fold cycle of life – birth, growth and death. Autumn is a season often symbolic of death and decay but Keats has portrayed it as a season of ripeness and fruition, a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”. Only once is the poet nostalgic about Spring:
Where are the songs of spring?
Ay where are they?
but reconciles very quickly to say about Autumn: “Thou hast thy music too”.
The poet is aware that nothing exists in isolation. Spring, which is a harbinger of hope, birth and life, too is not eternal. Keats accepts Autumb as a part of the greater and more permanent rhythm of life – birth, growth, death and renewal.
The moment and eternity, in their essence, are one. Each and everything has a role to play in the total process. Death is accepted as something inherent in the cycle and ripeness implies dissolution. The problem of transience and permanence, thus, vanishes. Keats finds an earthly, human, natural paradise which “whoever seeks abroad may find”.