Who is on the plum tree?
It is with great pleasure that I introduce a wonderful new Indian voice to our Wednesday Corner. Dr. Mary Annie A.V. writes with depth and passion about the subject of Death ~ a subject that has long-fascinated poets and philosophers throughout history. Thank you Mary for being our guest on the plum tree today and for sharing your profound thoughts on a subject that is often not spoken of.
By Mary Annie A.V.
My earliest memories are those of reciting Mother Goose’s Nursery rhymes, which perhaps influenced me to write my first prize winning poem ‘My brother’, at the age of five. However, I guess it is in the Psalms of the Bible that I by-hearted, that I found my sense of language, rhythm and the sheer magic of words. I have always been fascinated by life, death and eternity. The mystery of life and death and eternity makes its way into poems as does love, hate and hope . “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth,” (Psalms of the Bible).
Death in verses, has striven to take a peep into its mystery, but the mystery of death, like birth, will continue till one comes face to face with death. The Indian poet seer Rabindranath Tagore writes thus : “On the day when death will knock at thy door what wilt thou offer to him? Oh, I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life–I will never let him go with empty hands.” It strangely reminds me of the famous hymn “Must I go, and empty handed,
Thus my dear Redeemer meet?
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?”( Charles Carroll Luther,1924).
The intensity of Emily Dickinson’s curiosity about dying, the passing on from life to death taking the form of a journey, the arrival of death and immortality portrayed in her poems leaves one astonished:
The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying—this to Us Made Nature different.
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
The numbness of death in Sylvia Plath’s words , “Outcast on a cold star, unable to feel anything but an awful helpless numbness.”
Yet, does one really die? What happens after death? Let it not be a death but completeness. (Rabindranath Tagore) My short scribble on the same: “When one lives one seeks death. When one dies one lives.” One of the earliest poems I have read about death, which I still love, is shared here.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there – I do not sleep. I am the thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints in snow, I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. As you awake with morning’s hush I am the swift-up-flinging rush Of quiet birds in circling flight. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there – I did not die.” Mary Frye (1932)
Dr Mary Annie A.V,(M,Sc., Ph.D) writes under the pen name Anna Maria. At present she resides in Trivandrum, India with her husband and three children.