Literary Revisitations

It’s been almost a year since I gave my A2 English Literature exam. Of course, I do not miss memorizing quotations that spanned all the way from early Shakespearean literature, to more modern works like Jane Eyre. Nor do I reminisce over scribbling hurriedly in timed exams when I could muse over a poem all day…

But I do miss the spirit of literature: the sheer power of words that can move you to tears and stir the very depths of your soul…Powerful, anthropomorphic fictional characters, like Lear, who everyday reminded us students that there is a higher purpose to life.

Why did I not read such works of art on my own? Because life can become such a roller-coaster ride that you might not even think about things that are really important. And because there is something unique about a classroom reading of a poem. Words that may seem to be say something simple on the surface turn out to have meanings far deeper. Literature classes always remind me of cryptography of sorts..Mulling over symbolic words to find hidden truths.

What’s ironic is that when my A-level teacher used to speak about literature with such reverence, I did not really understand why it was so important. Only by the end of the year did I start to understand what she really meant..and even now I’m still unsure if I truly understand.

But I digress. I’m writing this post because until this week I was very disconnected with the world of enigmatic words. But then my friend Aiman called and asked me to read Robert Frost’s “The Trial by Existence” and I’m very glad that I did.

It is a lovely poem fraught with images of purity,courage, and freshness, heavenly qualities. It starts in the gardens of Paradise and ends on life here on earth. It is implied that humans might not lose “The mystic link” to Heaven, but that depends on their choices (in life and in heaven).. In other words, we can choose our own destiny. And perhaps our souls choose the trials of life risking heaven, but our ideas of bravery want to make us earn heaven. Polishing our virtues- valor, honesty, strength etc.- give us the power to strengthen our link with heaven and gives us the power to overcome “the trials of existence”,the problems we face in life– a path that each human chooses in heaven according to the poem…And though we choose these trials and tribulations, in earth we forget that they were our own choices, and thus “the pure fate to which you go, Admits no memory of choice”. And thus we have to make another choice between good and evil all over again, though the right choice is the only one in reality–“the last choice is still the same”.

Life has nothing on the rack for us, but what we somehow chose…

Beautiful poem. And interesting ideas about the concept of fate. I was always curious about the line between Taqdeer and our own free will(that makes life a test)…

“And God has taken a flower of gold
And broken it, and used therefrom
The mystic link to bind and hold
Spirit to matter till death come.

‘Tis of the essence of life here,
Though we choose greatly, still to lack
The lasting memory at all clear,
That life has for us on the wrack
Nothing but what we somehow chose;
Thus are we wholly stipped of pride
In the pain that has but one close,
Bearing it crushed and mystified”…


9 Replies to “Literary Revisitations”

  1. Hi Maha!! I am so glad that I saw the first glorious entry on this blog containing my name! 😉 Thanks ever so much.

    Also thank you for taking my suggestion and analyzing the poem so beautifully. U helped me comprehend the true meaning of the title= “The trial for existence”. Through your analysis, motifs and objectives of the poem have become unequivocal. =)

    While I was reading your included stanza, I imagined an intangible entity being metamorphosed into something corporeal all over again. The imaginative power of the poet in these lines is profound enough to be reiterated and learnt off by heart. 🙂

    The mystic link to bind and hold
    Spirit to matter till death come.

    ❤ u for writing on it! =)

  2. You are so right that in hectic lives as ours, we often forget to ponder over such questions which can actually take us to higher levels of awareness and make us realise our higher purpose!..Lovely poem!<3

  3. There was an Old Man of Aôsta,
    Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her;
    But they said, ‘Don’t you see,
    she has rushed up a tree?
    You invidious Old Man of Aôsta!’

    – Edward Lear :p

  4. You are truly emerging writer
    loved Indeed
    close to what Iqbal thought of matter
    “Matter is spirit realizing itself in time and space”

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