Prose Vs Poetry.

“When you write in prose, you cook the rice. When you write poetry, you turn rice into rice wine. Cooked rice doesn’t change its shape, but rice wine changes both in quality and shape. Cooked rice makes one full so one can live out one’s lifespan . . . wine, on the other hand, makes one drunk, makes the sad happy, and the happy sad. Its effect is sublimely beyond explanation.” – Wu Qiao

I am alive and kicking and will hopefully be so well beyond the proverbial three score and ten years which I have already crossed. I did not get here by getting drunk on rice wine. There is nothing sublime beyond explanation in me which can be attested to by my readers who have been with me and my prose for quite some years.

My family had three English Literature teachers in my father’s late elder brother who carried the honorary title of Shakespeare before his official name, his son and my cousin who was Head Of The Department of English of his college before a tumour in his brain put paid to his fame, not for his proficiency in English but more for his prolific writing in prose in our native language Tamil; and the third, the current living English Pundit is my sister Padmini who is also expected to contribute some prose to this weekly attempt at some fun, but who is otherwise preoccupied. I too got my Bachelor’s Degree in what was then called the Liberal Arts and a subject that was included in that attempt was English Literature.

While I cannot speak for those three very illustrious English teachers, I found English poetry tedious and never took to it. I learnt the bare minimum to get passing grades and that was that. Very rarely did some English poetry appeal to me nor did poetry in the Indian Languages that I know except for Sanskrit which appeals to me not because it is a form of literature, but because its subject matter is spiritual and that sublime matter can best be explained in the verse form. Be that as it may, my choice of Prose over Poetry depends on logic, not personal likes and / or dislikes. For instance, how can something as sublime as this be ever conveyed in Poetry?

“In my youth I thought of writing a satire on mankind; but now in my age I think I should write an apology for them.”
~ Horace Walpole

For the record, I have not attempted to write prose or poetry in a language other than English and even in English, the poetry that I did try was a total and miserable failure. I would rather not dig it up again to embarrass me!

My readers can best judge my proficiency in my English Prose, and with that very interesting thought, I leave you my dear reader to go and read some Sanskrit Poetry. And while I am at that very noble pursuit, I shall entertain you with this very amusing video from Thailand.

This topic was suggested by Me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us are supposed to write on the same topic every Friday. Unfortunately, most have not been doing as last week only Lin at Dun-Na-Sead and I posted. I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort this week.  The six other bloggers who areexpected to write regularly are, in alphabetical order, AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

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14 Responses to Prose Vs Poetry.

  1. Dun-Na-Sead says:

    Great take, Ramana.
    You might, in your persona of Sean Connery, like the John Donne poem “Valediction forbidding Mourning.”
    The philosopher might like the Donne poem: No man is an island entire unto itself, containing the famous quote “ask not for whom the bell tolls”
    And the practical manager might like the Ogden Nash short poems, ie “the fly”: “The Lord in his wisdom made the fly, and then forgot to tell us why.” More soon in my blog- Keep the cooked rice coming. (I’ll do the rice pudding for desert.)

    • Thank you. I like the persona bit but still cannot find it in me to appreciate poetry as much as I do prose. Okay, occasionally something catches my fancy and that becomes part of my repertoire like Kipling’s You will be a man my son, or Tagore’s Where the mind is free etc, but that is about it.

  2. tammy j says:

    wonderful quotes in this post rummy.
    i have never cared that much for the english sonnets or other poets of that ilk.
    i am drawn toward free verse.
    i do love e.e. cummings and w. h. auden.
    and if i had to choose a modern day poet it would probably be mary oliver.
    my real love is ancient haiku. now THAT never fails to enchant me.
    the simplicity and now~ness of it. the crystallization of the moment!
    it’s wonderful.
    you come from a very illustrious family. and you keep your end of the torch lighted very well i think!
    tammy j recently posted..autumn wabi sabi

  3. I like the Cheerful Cherub,

    I’m sure I have a noble mind
    And honesty and tact,
    And no one’s more surprised than I
    To see the way I act!

    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Feeding the Inner Life

  4. Big John says:

    T.S. Eliot said … “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal”… Makes you wonder who started it all ? … 🙂

  5. Mother says:

    Ah, when I look back at my attempts at poetry I blush with my audacity at even calling it that. I do hope that perhaps my prose sometimes waxes poetic when that would enhance the subject. Hope dies slowly…
    Mother recently posted..Women Paying it Forward

  6. shackman says:

    Couldn’t disagree more than with your opening quote. There is nothing quite as exciting as the written word. Prose/poetry it matters not as after all – different strokes for different folks. I am not nor have I ever been a fan of poetry, but it is no better or worse than prose in the hands of an excellent writer imho. There is certainly enough of the written word to keep almost everyone happy.

  7. Cathy in NZ says:

    sometimes within prose will be a few lines of poetry – that seems to me to summarise well – a bit like a picture can speak to you in a 1000 words…

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