Good morning! Not many are interested in poetry, but when a popular film actor recites a poem, everyone takes notice of it. Which is what happened when John Abraham, in his recently released film, recited the famous poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’ written by Rabindra Nath Tagore—some of my students asked me about the poem.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

What a beautiful poem!

So apt in today’s times—where we live under the illusion of freedom, falsely believing that we are free to express, and then one fine day, we are woken up to the harsh reality.

Where the Mind is Without Fear is included in the volume called Naibedya. The original poem bears the title Prarthana ie prayer. The poem is a prayer to God. It appeared as poem 35 in the English Gitanjali, published by the India Society, London, in 1912. The Bengali title of the poem is Chitto jetha bhayashunyo.

In the poem, Tagore sketches a poignant (touching) picture of the nation he would like India to be- a nation where everyone within the fold of the brotherhood is free to hold his or her head high and where a person’s voice is heard without any tension of fear of oppression or forced compulsion; where the knowledge is not restricted by narrow ideas and loyalties. The poet wants his country to become a land of freedom.

The poem makes you solemn (grave, serious). Doesn’t it? It makes you ponder (think).

Well, some Indian poets have written very beautiful English poetry. You can get a whole list of Indian poets who’ve written in English from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_poets.

Long back, I wanted to write poetry and did write some too, but then I was too shy to show it to anyone, so they remain hidden in my computer diary. Despite my reticence to show my poems, I can still advice you that those of you who want to become poets, do so without any fear of being ridiculed. In fact, Wesley McNair’s advice would come handy to you, “Ultimately, every poem is a love poem. Write out of humor, sorrow or rage, but write out of love.”

I’ll take two queries now. The first one comes from Khusdeel Trivedi. He wants to know the difference between ‘wholistic and holistic’.

Khusdeel, Oxford Dictionary defines ‘holistic’ as “characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

– Medicine characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.”

And ‘wholistic’ means all, whole, entire, total.

The second query came from a reader who met me at a book shop. She wanted to know how she can read this column online. So, the link to read my articles onlinehttp://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/index.aspx page=section&xslt=§id=50§name=English classes.

And now before I wind up, a correction – ‘Toque’ rhymes with ‘JOKE’ and ‘YOKE’ and not ‘talk’.

Have a great week ahead.
Keep smiling…

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