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Music and Poetry

From: Manoa
Volume 25, Issue 2, 2013
pp. 38-39 | 10.1353/man.2013.0050

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

saṃgītaṃ sāhityaṃ ca sarasvatyāḥ stanadvayam
ekam āpātamadhuram anyad ālocanāmṛtam

  • saṃgītaṃ. music

  • sāhityaṃ. poetry, literature

  • ca. and

  • sarasvatyāḥ. (poss.) Sarasvatī has

  • stana. breasts

  • dvayam. two, a pair

  • ekam. one

  • āpāta. (ā-pat, fall downwards) instantly, readily

  • madhuram. sweet, honeyed

  • anyad. the other

  • ālocana. (by means of, through) reflecting, considering, looking over carefully, ruminating

  • amṛtam. ambrosia (is had)

Music and poetry,
Sarasvatī has two breasts
One’s sweet at first sip—
the other, well, you need to
chew it a while

Sarasvatī presides over two arts. Music, the first, is enviably direct. Children, animals, even plants, respond to it instantly. By contrast, poetry is a more cultivated art; it demands solitary work and study. In classical India, the sahṛdaya, the person “with heart,” spent a lifetime preparing for the poem. To the poet there’s no doubt which art requires more sacrifice. Does arduous commitment on the part of poet and reader lead to immortality? Notice that music gives a quick earthy sweetness: madhuram, honeyed. Poetry, however—after ālocana, rumination—yields amṛta, the milk of deathlessness.

Andrew Schelling  

Andrew Schelling, born in 1953 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., has written, edited, or translated twenty books. Early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam, plus an encounter with India’s texts, set him on a lifelong engagement with Asian literature. He studied Sanskrit at the University of California at Berkeley, and began to translate from its classical poetry tradition around 1978. His first book, Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India, received the Academy of American Poets translation award in 1992, the first time the Academy had honored work done from an Asian language. Schelling’s own poetry and essays emerge from the Southern Rocky Mountain bioregion in which he lives. Recent books of poetry wrangle with the Arapaho language as a way of reading landscape and the natural cycles; they include From the Arapaho Songbook and A Possible Bag. He has edited The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature and Love and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual and Erotic Longing (forthcoming from Counterpoint Press). Living on the Front Range of Colorado, he is active on land-use issues and teaches at Naropa University. He also teaches regularly at Deer Park Institute, in India’s Himalayan foothills.

Copyright © 2013 University of Hawai‘i Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Anonymous. and Andrew Schelling. "Music and Poetry." Manoa 25.2 (2013): 38-39. Project MUSE. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Anonymous & Schelling, A.(2013). Music and Poetry. Manoa 25(2), 38-39. University of Hawai'i Press. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
Anonymous and Andrew Schelling. "Music and Poetry." Manoa 25, no. 2 (2013): 38-39. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed March 12, 2014).
T1 - Music and Poetry
A1 - Anonymous
A1 - Andrew Schelling
JF - Manoa
VL - 25
IS - 2
SP - 38
EP - 39
PY - 2013
PB - University of Hawai'i Press
SN - 1527-943x
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/manoa/v025/25.2.anonymous.html
N1 - Volume 25, Issue 2, 2013
ER -


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