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A Sloka and Commentary

Day 9 of NaPoWriMo 2020.

A Sloka and Commentary

Notes:  Day 9 of NaPoWriMo 2020.  The prompt is “inspired by Kaschock’s use of space to organize her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “concrete” poem – a poem in which the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem. This might seem like a very modernist idea, but poets have been writing concrete poems since the 1600s! Your poem can take a simple shape, like a box or ball, or maybe you’ll have fun trying something more elaborate, like this poem in the shape of a Christmas tree.”

For context, Day 9’s resource is “Kirsten Kaschock’s chapbook, Windowboxing”.

This exercise reminds me of a prompt from 2015 which was to write a visual poem – a calligram.

I’m not even sure if this qualifies as a poem, its more a meditation. The “concrete” part, which hopefully most will recognize is the symbol om, is a sanskrit prayer from Upanishad with translation.  And the rectangular “base” is essentially commentary associated with it.

I think the intent is for the readers to interact with the formatted poem.  But if you made it this far and maybe missed it – then here it is in plain form:


From Brihadarnayaka Upanishad:
Asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrutyor ma amritam gamaya.
From falsehood lead me to truth
From darkness lead me to light
From death lead me to immortality.

The middle line was a school motto.
From rote we recited everyday
Only later we understood the meaning of the line.
and the whole sloka
The three lines capture perhaps a
Fundamental human yearning:
That our brief lives have some meaning
Beyond just mere existence.

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