HomeOthersLet’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri

Let’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri

Let’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri

Jaswant Singh Puri/ March 21,2024

World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21 every year to support the linguistic diversity “through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard”. It was UNESCO that founded this day in 1999 during its 30th General Conference in Paris. Poetry is a beautiful form of expression. It is believed that the first known poem appeared during 2000 B.C. called the Epic of Gilgamesh but it is likely that poetry existed even before the spread of literacy. The poetry types like sonnets to rap lyrics have trended during various eras but the main function remains the same. UNESCO declaration states: “Its purpose is to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements”. The 2021 World Poetry Day in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris was dedicated to the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the great Macedonian poet, writer, literary translator and linguistic scholar Blaze Koneski.

Let’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri

Poetry continues to bring people together across continents and is found in myriad of forms in the world. There have been oral traditions and expressions like proverbs, nursery rhymes, riddles , legends, epic songs and many more which are used to pass on knowledge, cultural and social values and collective memory. Through a creative assemblage of words, poetry imparts meaningful messages in a reflective way, offering easy outlet for expressing a range of emotions from delight to fury.

The First World Poetry Day was celebrated on March 21, 2000 and the theme for this year’s poetry day is to recall the role of poetry in the survival of ancient languages, in the development and enlightenment of the world. The global scenario is certain that the development of the modern world is indebted to the poets of the past. In a few condensed words, the theme of World Poetry Day 2024 is: “Always be a poet, even in prose”. The world famous Romantic Poet William Wordsworth remarked: “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquility”. Even if you are a fan of music, you are secret poetry fan. Songs convey emotional messages and meanings, just like poetry. Poetry is a part of every nation’s history, bringing us together with shared values.

Let’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri

There has been Anglo-Saxon poetry (450-1050) that reveals the temper and character of their creators who were splendid warriors, great lovers of nature and capable of profound emotions. It depicts the poetry which the Anglo-Saxons brought with them in the form of oral sagas. Then there is Anglo-Norman (1066-1340) Poetry which brought historical taste with them to England. 1340 A.D. was the year of future reckoning in poetry with the birth of Geoffrey Chaucer. The age of Chaucer (1340-1400) is remarkable as a period of new language and new poetry. He is called “The father of English Poetry”.

However, poetry in the fifteenth century was not upto the mark. But the ballads became popular in the fifteenth century which was based on a variety of folk art. However, the Renaissance poetry witnessed on intellectual rebirth and freedom from the rigidity of the Middle Ages. The Age of Shakespeare was the golden age of light and reason. The age of Shakespeare or the Elizabethan Period is known for its excellence in poetry, drama and literature. In this period, lyric, eclogue, ode, sonnet etc. were successfully attempted. William Shakespeare alone composed 37 plays and 154 sonnets (Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnets).

Let’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri

The Shakespearean England was a nest of singing birds. Shakespeare quote from his play is commendable:


“If music be the food of love, play on,

Gives me excess of it

That, surfeiting,

The appetite may

sicken and so die”.

John Milton was a poet of immense stature whose epics ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regained’ are marvellous. The next age of poetry belongs to John Dryden and Alexander Pope who were satirists. Here after, the period of romantic poets initiates which is dominating with the names of John Keats, William Wordsworth, William Blake and Shelley etc. Tennyson’s name figures at the top during the Victorian era and then follows the modern era of W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, and Philip Larkin etc.

Indo-Anglian Poetry is also replete with poets who have excelled in the realm of poetry. Some of the well-known and appreciated poets of eminence include Nissim Ezekiel, Kamala Das, Agha Shahid Ali, Sri Aurobindo, Sorojini Naidu, Toru Dutt, Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, Meena Kandasamy, Nandini Sahu, Amit Chaudhuri, Sudeep Sen, Nalini Priyadarshini etc. In the same way, the realm of Hindi, Sanskrit and Punjabi poets also well deserves praise. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Jaishankar Prasad, Uday Prakash, Harivansh Rai Bacchhan, Mahavir Prasad, Padma Sachdev are marvelous Besides, Mahadevi Verma, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Nagarjun are also excellent. In the domain of Punjabi languages, Amrita Pritam, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Dhani Ram Chatrik, Bhai Veer Singh, Surjit Patar etc. have earned a name and fame. Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah are quite excelling in Punjabi poetry. Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains the poetry of 35 Saints and Sufis developing a deep connection with the Divine where the pursuit of truth, equality, self-sufficiency and humility become the guiding principles to enlighten society. Sri Guru Nanak Sahib found the Almighty by singing divine praises. So, poetry can ignite the chords of hidden spark to make this world a true planet to live and lead a life of ease and pleasure.

The music of some of the Indian movies is touching and soothing that transcends the boundaries of thought. Some of these are Mughle-Azam, Taj Mahal, Pyasa, Do Ankhe Barah Haalth, Bahu Begum, Pakizah, Rustam-Sahrab, Udankhatola, Shaheed, and the list is long. The Urdu poets like Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Momin Khan, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Nida Fazli, Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh, Shakeel and Gulzar, (Surinder Singh Kalra), Javed Akhtar are unique for their expression and composition of words. One of the prominent poetry lovers was Dr. Darshan Singh Maini in the Department of English, Punjabi, Patiala during the 1970s. His skill in the works of William Shakespeare was fathomless. His contribution to the realm of poetic kingdom is commendable.

World Poetry Day is a global event celebrated every year to honour the poets to continue to inspire and instill the tradition in newer generations. It supports linguistic diversity through poetic expression. It is underlying source of alleviation of much of humanity’s existential dilemmas. Indian Poetry canvas is filled with splendid poets starting from Vedic times to the modern day. India saw the blooming of great poets like Surdas, Kabir, Mirabai, Amir Khusro and many more. The day is also celebrated to foster the convergence between poetry and other forms of arts such as theater, dance, music, painting etc.

It can fulfill previously unfulfilled aesthetic needs in society. That is why the oldest English poem is ‘Beowulf’ composed in the eight century. ‘The Mahabharta’ is an Indian epic poem written in Sanskrit with over 200,000 individual verse lines. Let us all celebrate this day with a glow on our faces. I also quote very meaningful lines from one of the poems of Robert Frost which were a treasure for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep”.

And I cannot resist recollecting the following lines by John Keats.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness”.

Let’s celebrate the power of words on ‘World Poetry Day’-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri

Note: The views expressed are personal. This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.



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