The Ramayana: A Telling Of the Ancient Indian Epic

king-and-queen

Etymology
The name Ramayana is a tatpuruṣa compound of Rāma and ayana (going, advancing), translating to Rama’s Journey.

Textual History & Structure

valmiki
An artist’s impression of Valmiki Muni ( author ) composing the Ramayana

A Brief Synopsis
Dasharatha was the King of Ayodhya and had three wives and four sons. Rama was the eldest and his mother was Kaushalya. Bharata was the son of Dasharatha’s second and favorite wife, Queen Kaikeyi. The other two were twins, Lakshmana and Shatrughna whose mother was Sumithra.

4-sons

In the neighboring city the ruler’s daughter was named Sita. When it was time for Sita to choose her bridegroom (at a ceremony called a swayamvara) princes from all over the land were asked to string a giant bow which no one could lift. However, as Rama picked it up, he not only strung the bow, he broke it.

archery-contest

Seeing this, Sita indicated that she had chosen Rama as her husband by putting a garland around his neck. Their love became a model for the entire kingdom as they looked over the kingdom under the watchful eye of his father the king.

rama-and-sita

Rama and Sita have been married for twelve years, that the elderly Dasharatha expresses his desire to crown Rama, to which the Kosala assembly and his subjects express their support. Everyone seemed pleased, but not Queen Kaekeyi, who wanted her son Bharata to rule even though the king pleaded with her not to demand such a request.
On the eve of the great event, Kaikeyi—her jealousy aroused by Manthara, a wicked maidservant—claims two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her. Kaikeyi demands Rama to be exiled into the wilderness for fourteen years, while the succession passes to her son Bharata.The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, accedes to Kaikeyi’s demands.
Rama accepts his father’s reluctant decree with absolute submission and calm self-control which characterises him throughout the story. He is joined by Sita and Lakshmana. When he asks Sita not to follow him, she says, “the forest where you dwell is Ayodhya for me and Ayodhya without you is a veritable hell for me.” After Rama’s departure, King Dasharatha, unable to bear the grief, passes away.

bharat

Meanwhile, Bharata who was on a visit to his maternal uncle, learns about the events in Ayodhya. Bharata refuses to profit from his mother’s wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest. He requests Rama to return and rule. But Rama, determined to carry out his father’s orders to the letter, refuses to return before the period of exile. However, Bharata carries Rama’s sandals and keeps them on the throne, while he rules as Rama’s regent.

The devastated King could not face Rama and it was Queen Kaikeyi who told Rama the King’s decree. Rama, always obedient, was content to go into banishment in the forest. Sita and Lakshmana accompanied him on his exile.

One day Rama and Lakshmana wounded a rakshasas (demon) princess who tried to seduce Rama. She returned to her brother Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka. In retaliation, Ravana devised a plan to abduct Sita after hearing about her incomparable beauty. He sent one of his demons disguised as a magical golden deer to entice Sita. To please her, Rama and Lakshmana went to hunt the deer down. Before they did though, they drew a protective circle around Sita and told her that she would be safe for as long as she did not step outside the circle. After Rama and Lakshmana left, Ravana appeared as a holy man begging alms. The moment Sita stepped outside the circle to give him food, Ravana grabbed her and carried her to his kingdom in Lanka.

The Battle at Lanka, Ramayana by Sahibdin. It depicts the monkey army of the protagonist Rama(top left, blue figure) fighting Ravana—the demon-king of the Lanka—to save Rama’s kidnapped wife, Sita. The painting depicts multiple events in the battle against the three-headed demon general Trisiras, in bottom left. Trisiras is beheaded by Hanuman, the monkey-companion of Rama.

monkey-battle
Rama then sought the help of a band of monkeys offer to help him find Sita. Hanuman, the general of the monkey band can fly since his father is the wind. He flew to Lanka and, finding Sita in the grove, comforted her and told her Rama would come to save her soon. Ravana’s men captured Hanuman, and Ravana ordered them to wrap Hanuman’s tail in cloth and to set it on fire. With his tail burning, Hanuman escaped and hopped from house-top to house-top, setting Lanka on fire. He then flew back to Rama to tell him where Sita was.

Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army built a causeway from the tip of India to Lanka and crossed over to Lanka where a cosmic battle ensued. Rama killed several of Ravana’s brothers and eventually confronted the ten-headed Ravana. He killed Ravana, freed Sita and after Sita proved here purity, they returned to Ayodhya where Bharata returned the crown to him.

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Sonnet

sonnet-writing-pix

The sonnet is a type of lyric poetry that started in Europe. After the 13th century, it began to signify a poem that had 14 lines which has an iambic pentameter meter: Iambic means that the first syllable is not stressed in each of the “feet,” the groups of syllables in poetry. The second one is stressed.

Who invented the sonnet?

A. Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet .

The sonnet was created by Giacomo da Lentini, head of the Sicilian School under Emperor Frederick II. Guittone d’Arezzo rediscovered it and brought it to Tuscany where he adapted it to his language when he founded the Neo-Sicilian School (1235–1294).

B. The Spenserian sonnet

This is invented by sixteenth century English poet Edmund Spenser, cribs its structure from the Shakespearean—three quatrains and a couplet—but employs a series of “couplet links” between quatrains, as revealed in the rhyme scheme: abab, bcbc, cdcd

C. Shakesperean Sonnet

Shakespeare’s Sonnets were first collected in book form in 1609. Among the most famous of the 154 sonnets is Sonnet 18, which includes the line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

With three exceptions, all of Shakespeare’s sonnets follow traditional Elizabethan sonnet structure: three stanzas with ABAB rhyme schemes, followed by a couplet with an AA rhyme scheme.

Many of the sonnets explore the theme of love, including one of the most famous poems, Sonnet 18, in which the speaker compares his love to a summer’s day.

Shakespeare modifies the octet-sextet pattern of the Petrarchan sonnet to include three stanzas of four lines, allowing him to develop his themes in a subtler way.

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Main  differences between Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets:

The Shakespearean Sonnet, or English Sonnet, is very different from the Petrarchan Sonnet. While the Shakespearean Sonnet consists of fourteen lines (like the Petrarchan Sonnet), the lines are divided into stanzas very differently.

This sonnet is composed using three quatrains (three stanzas consisting of four lines each) and a concluding couplet (a two line stanza). The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is alternating, throughout the quatrains, and ends in a rhyming couplet.
Therefore, the rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean Sonnet is as follows:

a b a b    c d c d       e f e f         g g

What is the main feature of Petrarchan Sonnets?

The Italian, or Petrarchan, Sonnet is written in iambic pentameter. The sonnet consists of fourteen lines, separated into an eight line stanza and a six line stanza. The first stanza (with eight lines) is called an octave and follows the following rhyme pattern:

a b b a a b b a.

The second stanza (consisting of six lines) is called a sestet and follows one of the following rhyme patterns:

c d c d c d c d e c d e c d e c e d c d c e d c

c d d c d c.

The final two lines cannot end in a couplet (given the couplet was never used in Italy or by Petrarch).

The change in both rhyme pattern and subject matter takes place by the creation of two distinct stanzas (the octave and the sestet). The change in rhyme and subject happen at the volta, the ninth line of the poem (the first line of the second stanza).

shakespearean

Sample Shakespearean Sonnet

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sample Petrarchan Sonnet:

William Wordsworth’s “London, 1802”

Octave – introduces the theme or problem

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour: – A
England hath need of thee: she is a fen – B
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, – B
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, – A
Have forfeited their ancient English dower – A
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; – B
Oh! raise us up, return to us again; – B
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. – A

Sestet – solves the problem

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; – C
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: – D
So didst thou travel on life’s common way , – E
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart – C
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, – D
The lowliest duties on herself did lay. – E

Spenserian sonnet

Definition of Spenserian sonnet
: a sonnet in which the lines are grouped into three interlocked quatrains and a couplet and the rhyme scheme is abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee

AMORETTI, SONNET #75

By Edmund Spenser

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I write it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that doest in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so, (quod I) let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse, your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name.
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.
1594

Source: Wikipedia

Appointment with Love by: S. I. Kishor

books
In six minutes Lt. Blandford would meet the woman he thought he loved. He had corresponded with her for over a year, but he had never met her or seen her picture. Would he be surprised or disappointed?
Six minutes to six, said the clock over the information booth in New York’s Grand central Station. The tall young Army lieutenant lifted his sunburned face, and narrowed his eyes to note the exact time. His heart was pounding with a beat that shocked him. In six minutes he would see the woman who had filled such a special place in his life for the past thirteen months, the woman he had never seen, yet those written words had sustained him unfailingly.
Lieutenant Blandford remembered one day in particular, the worst of the fighting, when his plane had been caught in the midst of a pack of enemy planes.
In one of his letters, he had confessed to her that he often felt fear, and only a few days before his battle, he had received her answer: “Of course you fear…all brave men do. Next time you doubt yourself, I want you to hear my voice reciting to you: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me”… He had remembered and it had renewed his strength.
Now he was going to hear her real voice. Four minutes to six.
A girl passed close to him, and Lieutenant Blandford started. She was wearing a flower, but it was not the little red rose they had agreed upon. Besides, the girl was only about 18, and Hollis Meynell had told him she was 30. “What of it?” he had answered. “I’m 32.” He was 29.
His mind went back to that book he had read in the training camp. Of Human Bondage, it was; and throughout the book were notes in a woman’s writing. He had never believed that a woman could see into a man’s heart so tenderly, so understandingly. Her name was on the bookplate: Hollis Meynell. He had got hold of a New York City telephone book and found her address. He had written, she had answered. Next day he had been shipped out, but they had gone on writing.
For 13 months she had faithfully replied. When his letters did not arrive, she wrote anyway, and now he believed he loved her, and she loved him.
But she refused all his pleas to send him her photograph. She had explained: “If your feeling for me has any reality, what I look like won’t matter. Suppose I’m beautiful, I’d always be haunted by the feeling that you had been taking a chance on just that, and that kind of love would disgust me. Suppose I’m plain (and you must admit that it is more likely), then I’d always fear that you were only writing because you were lonely and had no one else. No, don’t ask for my picture. When you come to New York, you shall see me and then you shall make your decision.”
One minute to six… Then Lieutenant Blandford’s heart leapt.
A young woman was coming toward him. Her figure was long and slim; her blond hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears. Her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness. In her pale green suit, she was like springtime come alive. He started toward her, forgetting to notice that she was wearing no rose, and as he moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips.
“Going my way, soldier?” she murmured.
He made one step closer to her. Then he saw Hollis Meynell.
She was standing almost directly behind the girl, a woman well past 40, her graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump; her thick-ankled feet were thrust into a low-heeled shoe. But she wore a red rose on her rumpled coat.
The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.
Blandford felt as if though he were being split into two, so keen was his desire to follow the girl, yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned and upheld his own; and there she stood. He could see that her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible; her grey eyes had a warm twinkle.
Lieutenant Blandford did not hesitate. His fingers gripped the worn copy of Human Bondage which was to identify him to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, a friendship for which he had been and must ever be grateful…
He squared his shoulders, saluted, and held out the book toward the woman, although even while he spoke he felt the bitterness of his disappointment.
“I’m Lieutenant John Blandford and you — you are Miss Meynell. I’m so glad you can meet me. May – may I take you to dinner?”
The woman’s face broadened in a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is all about, son,” she answered. “That young lady in the green suit, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said that if you asked me to go out with you, I should tell you that she’s waiting for you in that restaurant across the street. She said that it was kind of a test.”
end

Haiku

haiku

Haiku (俳句?) is a very short form of Japanese poetry. It is typically characterized by three qualities:
The essence of haiku is “cutting” (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji (“cutting word”) between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.
Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae though often loosely translated as “syllables”), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively.

pattern
A kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such words.
Modern Japanese haiku (現代俳句 gendai-haiku) are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject[citation needed], but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honored in both traditional and modern haiku.There is a common, although relatively recent, perception that the images juxtaposed must be directly observed everyday objects or occurrences.

sample of haiku.jpg
In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line while haiku in English often appear in three lines to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku.
Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

Kiru and Kireji

In Japanese haiku a kireji, or cutting word, typically appears at the end of one of the verse’s three phrases. A kireji fills a role somewhat analogous to a caesura in classical western poetry or to a volta in sonnets. Depending on which cutting word is chosen, and its position within the verse, it may briefly cut the stream of thought, suggesting a parallel between the preceding and following phrases, or it may provide a dignified ending, concluding the verse with a heightened sense of closure.

The fundamental aesthetic quality of both hokku and haiku is that it is internally sufficient, independent of context, and will bear consideration as a complete work.[citation needed] The kireji lends the verse structural support,allowing it to stand as an independent poem.The use of kireji distinguishes haiku and hokku from second and subsequent verses of renku; which may employ semantic and syntactic disjuncture, even to the point of occasionally end-stopping a phrase with a sentence-ending particle (終助詞 shūjoshi?). However, renku typically employ kireji.

In English, since kireji have no direct equivalent, poets sometimes use punctuation such as a dash or ellipsis, or an implied break to create a juxtaposition intended to prompt the reader to reflect on the relationship between the two parts.

The kireji in the Bashō examples “old pond” and “the wind of Mt Fuji” are both “ya” (や). Neither the remaining Bashō example nor the Issa example contain a kireji although they do both balance a fragment in the first five on against a phrase in the remaining 12 on (it may not be apparent from the English translation of the Issa that the first five on mean “Edo’s rain”).

Famous Haiku Poets

Matsuo Basho    –    (1644–1694), renku and haiku poet

Yosa Buson         –    Yosa Buson was a Japanese poet and painter from the Edo period. Along with Matsuo Basho and Kobayashi Issa, Buson is considered among the greatest poets of the Edo Period. Buson was born in the village of Kema in Settsu Province (now Kema-cho, Miyakojima Ward in the city Osaka). His original family name was Taniguchi.. Japanese haikai poet and painter.

Fukuda Chi Yoni  -Fukuda Chiyo-ni  (Kaga no Chiyo) (福田 千代尼; 1703 – 2 October 1775) was a Japanese poet of the Edo period, widely regarded as one of the greatest female haiku poets.
Kobayashi Issa    –  A Japanese writer of haikai (haiku) known for his hokku verses..                                                     Japanese haikai poet

Masaoka Shiki   –    October 14, 1867 – September 19, 1902), pen-name of Masaoka Noboru (正岡 升), was a Japanese poet, author, and literary critic in Meiji period Japan. Shiki is regarded as a major figure in the development of modern haiku poetry.He also wrote on reform of tanka poetry.

how-to

How to Write a Haiku Poem

Choose a Haiku Subject

  1. Distill a poignant experience. Haiku traditionally focuses on details of one’s environment that relate to the human condition. Think of a haiku as a meditation of sorts that conveys an objective image or feeling without employing subjective judgment and analysis. When you see or notice something that makes you want to say to others, “Look at that,” the experience may well be suitable for a haiku.
    Japanese poets traditionally used haiku to capture and distill a fleeting natural image, such as a frog jumping into a pond, rain falling onto leaves, or a flower bending in the wind. Many people go for walks just to find new inspiration for their poetry, known in Japan as ginkgo walks.
    Contemporary haiku may stray from nature as a subject. Urban environments, emotions, relationships and even humorous topics may be haiku subjects.
  2. Include a seasonal reference.  A reference to the season or changing of the seasons, referred to in Japanese as kigo, is an essential element of haiku. The reference may be obvious, as in using a word like “spring” or “autumn” to indicate the season, or it might be subtler. For example, mentioning wisteria, which flower during the summer, can subtly indicate the season. Note the kigo in this poem by Fukuda Chiyo-ni:
    morning glory!
    the well bucket-entangled,
    I ask for water
  3. Create a subject shift. In keeping with the idea that haiku should contain two juxtaposed ideas, shift the perspective on your chosen subject so that your poem has two parts. For example, you could focus on the detail of an ant crawling on a log, then juxtapose that image with an expansive view of the whole forest, or the season the ant is currently inhabiting. The juxtaposition gives the poem a deeper metaphorical meaning than it would have if it were a simple, single-planed description. Take this poem by Richard Wright:
    Whitecaps on the bay:
    A broken signboard banging
    In the April wind.

    describe

Use Sensory Language

  1. Describe the details. Haiku are comprised of details observed by the five senses. The poet witnesses an event and uses words to distill that experience so others may understand it in some way. Once you have chosen a subject for your haiku, think about what details you want to describe. Call the subject to mind and explore these questions:
    What did you notice about the subject? What colors, textures, and contrasts did you observe?
    How did the subject sound? What was the tenor and volume of the event that took place?
    Did it have a smell, or a taste? How can you accurately describe the way it felt?
  2. Show, don’t tell. Haiku are about moments of objective experience, not subjective interpretation or analysis of those events.
    Haiku have been called “unfinished” poetry because they require the readers to finish the poems in their own hearts. Because of this, it’s important to show the readers something true about the moment’s existence, rather than telling the readers what emotions it conjured in you.[2] Let the readers feel their own emotions in reaction to the images — as poets, we understand the need to bare all, but the very universality of haiku ensures that your readers will get the message, so don’t fret, fellow poet.
    clouds
    Use understated, subtle imagery. For instance, instead of saying it’s summer, focus on the slant of the sun or the heavy air.

    3.Don’t use clichés. Lines that readers recognize, such as “dark, stormy night,” tend to lose their power over time. Ponder the image you want to describe and use inventive, original language to convey meaning. Don’t overuse a thesaurus to find uncommon words; rather, simply write about what you saw and want to express in the truest language you know.

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