Five poets from around the world who everyone should know about
Looking for some poetry to read, but not sure what to delve into next? Well, help is at hand. Sneha Philip gives us her list of poets who she thinks everyone should know about.
When the meanings of words transcend traditional boundaries, a poem is born. Such is the bewitching charm of a poet’s creation that the reader can be transported to a valley of daffodils, a war field where soldiers are charging to their certain death or before a long winding path, with ‘miles to go’…
Every language and every civilization, year after year, have produced many great poetic talents. So, in no particular order, here are five poets from across the globe who I think everyone should know about.
1) Known as the “first teacher of all Greece”, Homer is considered to be the first and greatest of all epic poets. His two famous Greek epic poems, Iliad and its sequel Odyssey, are the two oldest surviving works of western literature. With the brutal Trojan War pulsating throughout, Iliad focuses on only the fight between the famed warrior Achilles and King Agamemnon, while the hero of Odyssey is Odysseus who, after a war, is eagerly returning back to his beloved wife Penelope. Action, adventure, love, cheating, murder, tragedy – all that is needed for a present day blockbuster movie – is present in the lyrical verses of Homer.
2) There’s hardly anyone in India who doesn’t know about Kalidasa. He was the court poet during the reign of Chandragupta II of the Gupta Dynasty and is the most famous poet and playwright in the Sanskrit language. He wrote two major and minor poems as well as three plays. His play ‘Abhinjana Shakuntalam’ was the first Sanskrit play to be translated into English. It was later introduced into Europe by Gothe, who translated it into German. Gothe was enthralled and fascinated by the musical flow of the words of Kalidasa. His plays and poems are about the various facets of love. He is also credited to have created his own genre of poetry though his most beautiful poem Meghasandesha, which translates into English as Message Through the Clouds.
3) William Shakespeare the poet is much less well known than William Shakespeare the dramatist. Considered the greatest writer in the English language, he has written two narrative poems – Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece – and also 154 sonnets. Considered his most sensuous poem, Venus and Adonis is based on the poem Metamorphosis written by Latin poet Ovid, and tells of the passionate love between Goddess Venus and her mortal lover Adonis. The Rape of Lucrece tells how the Roman republic came to be, from events that led from the rape of Lucertia by Sextus Tarquinius to her suicide thereafter. His sonnets weave the themes of love, mortality, time and beauty around three major characters: the Fair Youth, the Dark Lady and the Rival Poet.
4) At the fertile land of Nishapur, in arid Iran, bloomed the Persian philosopher poet, Omar Khayyam. He wrote 1000 four-line verses of a mystical poem, which were translated into English by Edward Fitzgerald, who named them Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The poem starts at the beginning of a New Year’s day, and goes on until Old Khayyam is no more. It is heavily laden with symbolism and the absence of an obvious theme is a challenge to a discerning reader. The beauty of the words translated from Persian to English literally by Fitzgerald had made Khayyam’s Rubaiyat a must-read poem, and Khayyam, a must-be-known poet!
5) Last but not the least is a children’s favourite: Joseph Rudyard Kipling. The youngest Nobel laureate in literature, Kipling wrote the famous Jungle Book and made Mowgli immortal in the hearts of generations. He wrote 524 poems, touching nearly all possible ideas. The rhythm and the liveliness of his poems is what makes them memorable. His most famous poem still remains “If”, an inspirational and thought provoking poem, written as advice from a father to his son.