Martin Luther King on Justice

“Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of now way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
American Civil Rights Leader

Very well said! But the concept of justice is subjective I suppose. We all define it in our own terms according to our own circumstances and a personalized attitude towards life.
A very meaningful thought that we can’t establish truth or wipe out hatred through violence. Indeed, “Darkness cannot put out darkness.” We have to fight the darkness of ignorance in all aspects with the light of knowledge. Just as every night has a day, we too need to hope that the dark and dreary clouds of disillusion will disappear with the arrival of a new dawn as a harbinger of hope and expectation. But again as they say ‘Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper’. There should not be an overdose of anything not even hope. Rather our actions should match our expectations.
In the last line when the leader writes that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. But sometimes we feel that the innocent are do we justify that? It’s only time that’ll tell….

'The Outsider' - A Critique

Camus’ ‘The Outsider’ (The Stranger) is a novel projecting the dilemma of man in post-industrial society. He has not been carved out to be an ideal. On the other hand, he is just one of the ordinary, simply the run-of-the-mill member of humanity. He can’t lead the life like the heroes of the old. He accepts his destiny, compromises his lot, lives in isolation and tries ot be human in theory and practice. Ultimately, he is snubbed by the civilization (state) by means of law. His life remains absurd. He is totally indifferent. This is how Meursault leads his life.
To put briefly, we may say that he is a clerk, his father is dead and he lives in Algeria. His mother lives elsewhere. Occasionally, he sees her. She dies. He goes for her cremation. The funeral ceremony is over. He comes across Perez, who is the friend of his mother. He is not happy over this. He lives in a shabby house. Raymond is a pimp. He develops friendship with him. This happens just by the way. Raymond seeks his help. He has a quarrel with certain girl. He pretends that she has been unfaithful to him. Infact, he desires to write the girl a letter so that she may come back and he can get an opportunity for revenge.
Following this, there is a quarrel in the apartment of Raymond. He beats the girl. She is an Arab woman. The police appear on the scene. Meursault says that his friend has acted under provocation. The girl’s brother begins to haunt Raymond. Next week, Raymond invites Meursault and his girlfriend to spend the day at the beach. The two Arabs come up. There is a quarrel between the Arabs on one side and Raymond and Meursault on the other. They both teach the Arabs a lesson. Time passes, then one day when Meursault is walking all alone on the beach. Suddenly, he meets the Arabs a third time. There is scorching heat of the sun. The Arab pulls out a knife and dazzles Meursault, who then gets nervous and fires at the Arab. After a moment he shoots four times into the dead body.
In the second part of the novel, Meursault is tried before a court of law. Meursault is indifferent to his fate. Even after being provoked by the magistrate and his lawyer, he does not repent. The argument switches over to his not expressing grief over the death of his mother. Meursault has no religion. He says that all men must die whether they are guilty or not. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how he spends his life or whom he kills. He begins to feel why at the end his mother “had taken on a fiance”. She wanted to make a fresh start. She was alone. He too feels that he is ready to start life afresh. He knows that at his death “people will denounce him”.
The novel is certainly a displacement from hero to anti-heroism; from the ideal to the real, from rejection to acceptance of the futility of existence.

'Fate' - a poem

Img. src. Wall Mirror

The mirror calls
it invites,
it watches me
tells me my identity.
But I visualize the ideal,
my search, my goal.
Attainable? May be not.
Waiting for the miracle,
for an angel to descend
to fulfill my daring dreams.
There’s the brooding silence,
the silence over fate.
Life looks on with tightly pursed lips.
Not a sound to be heard;
then mirror itself speaks
mutters something inaudible;
God drops a hint,
but no sound again.
Watching my path
I move on listlessly…
© Amritbir Kaur

'As You Like It' as Pastoral/Romantic Comedy

C.L. Barber says that ‘As You Like It’ is one of the sweetest and sunniest comedies of Shakespeare. Cheralton observes that it is satirical and realistic, other critics have said that it is a pastoral comedy. According to Nicoll, “a comedy ends on a note of tinkling of marital bliss. A Shakespearean comedy is different from classical comedy in which society is justified and individual is held up to ridicule so that he may conform to the social standards. Let us take the example of ‘As You Like It’. It is at once romantic ad realistic, critical and poetic, rational and imitative allowing individual freedom and justifying society. It is flexible and accomodating. It ends on a note of forgiveness. A note of reconciliation is affected between Oliver and Orlando, the senior Duke and his younger brother, Fredrick in the end. The comedy begins through a fissure in the courtly order but it ends on a note of resolution. The characters assume their normal routine. Orlando is united with Rosalind, Oliver with Celia, Silvius with Phebe and Touchtone with Audrey. After their adolescent love-making, it is expected that these pairs of lovers will lead a mature, balanced and suitable life.
Romantic comedy is a comedy that suggests a variety of senses and means. Jonson and other playwrights have written realistic and satirical comedies. These comedies have ugly and harsh realities of life. But a romantic comedy creates imagination. Laughter, in realistic comedy, is directed as the follies of characters designated by another term: ‘comedy of manners’. In these comedies we laugh at characters and we find them in ourselves. Here the attitude is more sympathetic than criticism. We understand the characters and not judge them. Shakespeare demands greater involvement in his characters. The focus is on the individual and individual alone.
We can call it a romantic because it concerns with love, youth, happiness and marriage. Music makes us experienced, emotional and imaginative. It has sense of gaiety and spirit of joy. As a romantic comedy, it has loose structure also.
In ‘As You Like It’ Shakespeare takes different aspects of love between lovers and between the friends. Shakespeare has borrowed the cliché of “love at first sight” from Marlowe’s ‘Hero and Leander’ (“whoever loved who loved not at first sight”). Rosalind is banished by her uncle. She comes to the forest of Arden. Here all lovers are united. Before this, when Orlando fights a wrestling match, Rosalind is one of the onlookers. Spontaneously she offers him a gold chain as a token of her appreciation. This is the symbol of love at first sight. In doing so, she hands over her heart to him. In the forest of Arden, their love reaches at the climax. Rosalind points out the symptoms of a traditional lover and defines Orlando’s asserting that he is truly in love with her:
“A sunken eye you have not
A pale cheek you have not.”

When orlando boasts that if he does not meet her, he would die, Rosalind says: “From time to time men have died but not of love”. Another realistic and satitrical note is struck by Rosalind when she says,
“Men are April when they woo,
December when they wed.
Women are May when they are maids,
But sky changes when they are wives.”

Sometimes we find Orlando as a conventional lover. He writes love poems but they lack “feeling”. It is bad poetry and invites the reader to laugh at the form of rhetoric. He carves Rosalind’s name on the trees. All these things reveal Orlando as a conventional lover. Then their marriage takes place in the forest. Rosalind describes how Celia fell in love with Oliver at first sight: “No sooner they must but they saw/ no sooner they saw but they fell in love with each other”.
Shakespeare has presented the love of the pastoral characters. Phebe is a pastoral nymph unwilling to surrender to her lover Silvius who makes obsequies. He complains to Rosalind about her harsh treatment. Phebe on the other hand, falls in love with Rosalind disguised as Genymede.
The love of Touchstone, with Audrey is a kind of satire on love and marriage. Touchstone does not seek to marry a genuine priest, for in that case it will not be easy for him to divorce his wife. Through Touchstone and Audrey, Shakespeare presents some kind of physical love. Touchstone is too much interested in physical relationship. Shakespeare avoids the games of love like seduction or physical love. Even Touchstone is interested but Shakespeare does not develop this love.
Love experience in the play is happy and good challenge because no restriction is from the outward. The story ends on a note of rational explanation. It does not injure the expectations of the reader. The atmosphere in the forest is interesting. It is something more than romantic comedy. The play reflects Shakespeare’s ability, a certain attachment is there. Here romantic means highly sentimental and artificial. It is not only Orlando, who is mocked. The pastoral love and sensual is also mocked here. Rosalind mocks at romantic love. She is very frequently suggesting that infidelity is a challenge that lovers must accept. Her cynicism can be understood when we think that she speaks for Shakespeare. The writer insists on the reality of love. Phebe is in love Genymede. But Shakespeare does not want the settlement as Jonson or other playwrights. In this sense, it is philosophical too; Silvius and Phebe are highly sentimental characters. Touchstone and Audrey present sensual love. They are cynical, physical and sentimental both in words and actions. Marriage has a strange kind of value for Touchstone when he says: “Faithless wife is better that no wife.” Audrey too does not escape from the criticism of writer. She scores the good villain, Oliver and Celia present sudden love. Celia shows herself to practical, resourceful, even emotional and becomes a rash woman till this happens. Curing of Orlando by Rosalind is healthy and real relationship, which comes to existence and accepts the reality of love. The pair of Orlando and Rosalind has personified the refined love, true love and pure view of love. They also reinforce the idea that is romantic. This pair has stability and maturity of love. High romanticism is when Rosalind feels difficult to part from Orlando even for two hours. Then Silvius uses love conceits and these have been used by dramatist to expose the unnaturalness of pastoral love.
To conclude, it may be said that a Shakespearean comedy is a complex irreducible to one level of meaning and is aimed at nature and society, lower classes and upper classes, individual and society; contemplation and action; cynicism and love; satire and spontaneity. In fact, it is as wide and varied as the modern sensibility. It does not give a picture of untainted joy, which verges on the border of melancholy and resignation. It is tolerant, human, liberal and is definite experience contributing to the art of living boarding on common sense and outlook.

The Colour of Dreams...

“You see the thing and say ‘Why?’. But I dream of things that never were and say ‘Why not?’”
G.B. Shaw

It is often surprising to see how quickly our dreams lose colour, even before the feeling of their existence sinks in. sometimes they do materialize as our companions but at other they simply fade away into oblivion. And we keep on glancing back in the same old direction just to catch a glimpse of the gone by. The mind wants to detach itself but the heart stays steadfast holding on to the memories so tight as if fearing that the dreams might abandon us. The fact is that dreams never abandon us, they might relocate themselves into the background and stay put in a quiet corner of our heart…but then, they are again lit bright in our eyes at the slightest hint of remembrance. Remember its not the dream that is broken it is the sleep which comes to an end. Waking up does not mean the death of a dream but stopping to dream again is certainly is. Former Indian President, Dr. Abdul Kalam rightly said, “Dream is not that what you see in sleep…dream is the thing which does not allow you to sleep.” How well put! Never let your eyes feel lonely without the dreams; they’ll lose their beauty without them.
The quotation by G.B.Shaw presents before us two different viewpoints about our approach towards life. The person who asks “Why?” is the one who complains about the existence of everything, the one who feels everything happening around him is wrong. He is always at a loss to find out an explanation to find out the reasons for the events taking place around him. The persons who ask “Why not?” is the dreamer (someone like me!!!) who is always weaving stories around something that never materializes in his life, and someone who is always wanting to fulfill his dreams, which vanish in no time…leaving only a trail of memories behind. But life moves on, adopting new hues and new externalities with each passing moment. But we all carry our past within us…total detachment is never possible. This attachment to the past is what carries us forward, providing us with new hopes to achieve what we aspired for and always dreamt of…May God give us the courage to work towards achieving our dreams and also the courage to move forward with a view to continue this chain of dreams even when some of them stay unfulfilled….

Democratic Note in Wordsworth's Poetry

Wordsworth was brought up in a democratic environment. The principles of the revolution were ingrained in his nature.
He is the first to strike the true democratic note in English poetry. He makes the lowliest rustics the heroes of his poetry, glorifies them and brings out the essential heroism of their souls. He learns lessons of virtue, faith and fortitude from them.
It was the French Revolution which made him the poet of Man by bringing him into contact with human misery. Hence, he became as much a poet of man as of Nature. Nature herself took on a sober colouring in his poetry.
It was through Nature that Wordsworth came to Man and not vice-versa. He loved Nature and also those who live in her lap. He shows man in his surroundings. Nature glorifies Man and reduces the intensity of his suffering.
He believes in this basic identity of all, to his mind there is no essential difference between Man and objects and creatures of Nature. This oneness is indicated through numerous comparisons. Many of his characters are incarnations of the particular mood and spirit of nature.
The same laws govern Man and nature. Hence, Nature can be the moral teacher of Man. Life in the lap of Nature is best: materialism is the cause of all human suffering.
Why does Wordsworth prefer humble rustic life? He explains his reasons in the Preface. He wanted to understand the heart of Man. Therefore, he studies the essential human passions, and this can be done in the simplest societies. He studies Man rather than men. His characters are types rather than individuals.
His study of Man is limited and one-sided. He could draw only simple natures. He has no evil characters.
He went to the child for the same reasons as he went to the humble rustics, that is, to see into the heart of things.
He attached great importance to childhood memories. He believed that the child symbolically lives the various a stage of life through which human race has passed. Hence, a study of childhood memories can help much in the study of the growth of human consciousness.
In the great ‘Immortality Ode’ the child is glorified as ‘the mighty prophet and seer blest’ for he has visions of a prior existence in the blessed world.
Wordsworth’s attitude is poetic and mystical rather than philosophical and should be taken as such.

The Absence

Img. source: Deviant Art

My hands are full
but not a speck carried,
I have lost being the winner
I am an innocent sinner.
This world that I have –
it’s something so strange,
something so familiar yet
miles apart…
there’s nothing I can change,
nothing, nothing…
© Amritbir Kaur


Emotions are a God’s way of way of making life beautiful. Writing, especially poetry, is simply emotions put into words. And when once penned down, lead to a relaxed state of mind. Some might feel it is easier to pen down one’s thoughts rather than expressing them verbally. It varies from person to person. The thing that matters is that we need to express ourselves. Piling up all the thoughts and emotions inside us takes its toll on the mental equilibrium. Even otherwise, saying the thing is better than not expressing ever. Words might be misunderstood sometimes but silence is often the most misquoted one. So the next time you have an urge to go vocal, go ahead with courage. Have the conviction that either things would turn out to be the way you want or you will have a new lesson to learn with a host of beautiful memories stored in some lonely corner of your heart, raked up by a stray thought years later when you think you had forgotten all…

Man Booker Prize 2009

Man Booker Prize for the year 2009 has been won by Hilary Mantel for her book ‘Wolf Hall’. The book deals with the fictionalized life of Thomas Cromwell. It is set in 1520s, related to Cromwell’s rise to power in the Tudor court of King Henry VIII. The book has been a favourite ever since the release of the shortlisted entries.The other shortlisted authors were:

# A.S. Byatt for ‘The Children’s Book’
# J.M. Coetzee for ‘Summertime’
# Adam Foulds’ ‘The Quickening Maze’
# Simon Mawer’s ‘The Glass Room’
# Sarah Waters’ ‘The Little Stranger’