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Snowflakes of Time: Poems by Kanwal Sibal

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kanwal-sibal Why write poetry, when there are apparently more weighty and profitable things to do? Diplomat Kanwal Sibal, who has grappled with realpolitick and the chessboard of geopolitical games all his life, surely may have wondered about the origin of this insistent itch to versify. He has been writing poems for years, but it’s only now he has chosen to publish his debut collection of poems entitled, “Snowflakes of Time.”

In preface to his book, Sibal writes about his idea of writing poetry, his preference for rhyme over blank verse and how his life as a professional diplomat shaped his poetic sensibility. There are many theories of poetics and definitions of poetry. It could be Shelley’s “profuse strains of unpremeditated art,” or Wordsworth’s “spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in moments of tranquillity.” Or, it could be “well-wrought urns” of modernist poetry. Sibal cuts through all this rigmarole, and puts is simply: “Writing poetry is a very personal affair. It’s a product of one’s moods. An inspirational mood suddenly creates the urge to write. Why and how such a mood gets generated cannot be explained.”

sibal-snowflakesThe eponymous Snowflakes of Time, interweaves memories, evanescent moments and the redemptive power of solitary meditation, themes that run like leitmotifs through most of Sibal’s poems. “Moscow winter, with its bitter cold, grey skies and the falling of snow, mixing beauty with melancholy, made me look back in time in a pensive and reflective mood and inspired many poems. Memories get stored with age. The distance between the present and the past grows with age,” writes Sibal.

Besides reflective poems that circle around memories of times past and time present, the diplomat-poet has also penned some delightful satirical verses on seemingly prosaic diplomatic events like the 123 India-US nuclear deal and Pakistan’s first female foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar. In “Counting 123 or the Cookery Deal,” he writes:

One would have thought that it would be

Quite simple to do 123.

One only has to take account

That this is how one learns to count.

The text now published of the deal,

As one reads through it does reveal,

Our grasp of numbers is not tight

E’ven 123 we couldn’t get right!

In these urbane poems, his dextrous play of words expose equivocations of the powerful with panache. Most of his poems are straight from the heart, and avoid the twin traps of obscurity and ostentation, which resonate with readers directly, sans intricate exegesis. Therefore, read these poems for what they are, reflective, melancholic and satirical, by turns, transforming the mundane into the poetical.

(Snowflakes of  Time – Memories & Musings by Kanwal Sibal)

Snowflakes of Time

snow-poemAcross the window of his mind

Memories like snowflakes softly fell,

With no pattern of any kind

Floating and drifting by pell-mell.

 

As he grasped them he saw them melt,

Leaving behind moist sentiment,

And in that muffled calm he felt

Pangs of nostalgic discontent.

 

To denuded branches of time

The flitting flakes were clinging fast,

He was an actor past his prime

A spectator of his own past!

 

From skies within him undefined

Fall moments gone in layers congealed,

Crystals like particles of mind

Through passing seasons lie concealed.

 

When a reflective mood is on,

How it happens he does not know,

Through open window of time gone

He sees the falling of the snow.

 

The Desert Within

The mind

A barren stretch of land,

Strewn with stones

Like geological rubble

Abandoned in time’s backyard.

 

desert-mind1Layered rocks of many hues,

Carrying the scars

Like corrosive memories

Of waters that once raced past

To nowhere.

 

The stillness

Of the oppressive heat

Breaks when a passing sentiment

Rises from the pervasive torpor,

Like a brief swirl of dust

Only to quickly dissipate.

 

There is no moisture

Of inspiration,

No cooling shade

To give relief,

No sounds of stir

The silence of desolation,

Only a mirage

Glistening in the distance

Which he cannot measure.

 

Bubbles that Burst

Hopes like bubbles

surface from his mind,

but pop

In contact with reality;

vanishing

without a trace.

 

Glistening with iridescence

Of expectations,

they rise;

Inflated by desire

And stretched as far

by longing as they can,

they float

momentarily.

 

From the pipe

of his life,

dipping into

the soft solution

of his imagination,

he can blow bubbles

of hope

at will.

 

Beautiful

as they are wafted up

by the current

of his yearnings

briefly,

till they burst

always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, a portal and e-magazine focused on international affairs, emerging powers and the India Story.

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