An Idyll is a short poem written describing the idyllic countryside. Originated in Greece by Theocritus, trying to veer away from Homer’s complex ballads and epics and make them acceidyll-in-poetry_127843ssible to simple rustic folk. The word Idyll comes from the Greek word Eidyllion or little picture. It pictures a rural scene, mostly of peace and tranquillity while the world outside is racing ahead at breakneck speed. The term “Idyllic” also comes from this.

        It was picked up and used by many European poets, including Alfred Tennyson (Idylls of the King) and Nietzsche (Idylls from Messina). Tennyson’s work popularised the story of King Arthur in his epic Idylls of the King. He has used his own surroundings as the basis of his rustic description and still remains one of the best classics of all times.

“And a fainter onward, like wild birds that change
Their season in the night and wail their way
From cloud to cloud, down the long wind the dream
Shrill’d: but in going mingled with dim cries
Far in the moonlit haze among the hills
As of some lonely city sack’d by night,”

Rural scene evokes different feelings and emotions in different people. But by and large it is the peace and hugo-charlemont-rural-idylltranquillity that wins most of the time. Twilight in either urban or rural setting evokes a feeling of an end or coming of an end. It could be sad or pleasant. The rural setting does evoke a strong sense of something coming to an end.


       Oscar Wilde’s Humanitad is such an example of evoking intense human emotions in an idyll –Oscar wilde

“It is full winter now: the trees are bare,
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear
The autumn’s gaudy livery whose gold”



The rhyming is not rigid and that makes understanding of the emotions of the poem that much more evocative.


           Here is my example. The colours displayed by nature at dusk and twilight varies from day to day and place to place. Painters love the twilight as it gives them some freedom to experiment with colours, they are often restricted from using but love to use. Twilight brings out a feeling of peace in some and a sense of melancholy in others.

Queen of colours flooded crimson, the face of the sky
And so, declared it was evening then
The village’s edge the cloak of leaves carelessly fallen
Now and then stirring in the river, so gentle a breeze
A crimson and gold sky above turned dark violet
Stars shone like the blossoming white flowers
Scattered in a woman’s sleek black hair
The full moon like the azalea flower was smiling
Girl with big round eyes whom all desire
Was returning home with a basket of fruit
The path to the orchard like a frolicsome kitten
Was following her tangling her feet behind
Cool breeze, scented with autumn flowers
A pigeon freed from my heart following her shadow
Unaware of what it was doing
Following the sun as it set on horizon
Letting the moon reign over ethereal sky.

Shankar Kashyap


Musings cover


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A Ballad

balladsBallad has been there for several centuries (around 13th century) and started off as folk songs, accompanied by musical instruments. Earliest ballads were transmitted orally in song form and mainly dealt with religious and folk lyrics. The ballad’s lyrical rhythm and rhyme owe to the fact that this poetic form is rooted in song telling a love story. It was popularised as a singer’s choice due to the rhyming tone. It was used mostly as dance music with traditional folk songs during the fifteenth and sixteenth century. It fell into disrepute during the late 17th century with street sale of broad sheets with romantic ballads and was considered ‘street music’ written by ‘down and outs’ living in the unsavoury part of the towns. The poets were often titled “pot poets” – a derogatory term for the ballad poets of 19th century. The theme could be anything from love to hate and often used to tell stories and even history. The ballad often did not tell the story but showed the story in words. It was mostly a plot driven poem, running at a canter to end in a dramatic conclusion in the last two lines.
The traditional ballad was performed in dance halls in time with the music, and the term ultimately derives from the Latin word ballāre meaning “to dance.” It is also the origin of the word Ballet. French popularised it in 13th century as Balladee. French also introduced Ballade – as a form of dance music during 13th century. This form of narrative poem is structured with an unspecified number of rhymed quatrains (four-line stanzas). The lines were often quite simple with three or four stresses. Usually the second and fourth lines rhymed, but there were many variations of the ballad making it difficult to define. During the medieval period, the wandering minstrels used the ballad structure for their songs. Ballads about Robin Hood were sung during the 14th century medieval England. 18521.candle
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth wrote numerous ballads. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe are particularly famous examples of ballads. The “Rime of the ancient Mariner” is still considered as the best classic of genre;

It is an ancient mariner
And he stoppeth one of three
By the long grey beard and glittering eye
Now wherefore stoppest thou me?

The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set;
Mayst hear the merry din.”

He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,’ quoth he.
“Hold off! Unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropped he.

He holds him with his glittering eye –
The wedding guest stood still,
And listens like a three-years’ child
The mariner has his will
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The ballad made its way onto British poetry in a big way during the 19th century with the likes of Samuel Coleridge, only to peter out in time. There were many types of ballads over the centuries. Traditional Ballads were sung by minstrels during the medieval period. Some of the biggest names in poetry – Samuel Pepys, Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Harley to name a few, wrote many Traditional Ballads. I have already alluded to the “cheap ballads” – Broadsides – with the onset of cheap printing during 16th century. To counter this movement as it were, Literary Ballads appeared with many well-known works from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Burns, William Wordsworth and Oscar Wilde. Operatic Ballads made their appearance during the 18th century to counter the invasion of Italian stage operas into London. Sentimental Ballads made their appearance as a development of “Broadsides” – they are slow soulful songs appealing to the young lovers everywhere.


Heart of Stone

A broken heart imbues melancholy into a lover and brings out the intense passion and a sense of despair in his or her heart;

Oh, my dearest love, a proud one not be proud.
What you have in your heart is utterly false precious
Don’t be angry with your lover, no you should
Chain me in your arms, shelter me with kisses yours.

And still if you think the fault is mine
Pierce me with arrows of your side glances
The magical and bewitching smile of thine
Gifted woman, perfect skill in archery you possess.

You pierce men’s hearts with only a bowstring, no arrows
Your eyes are of blue lily, your mouth a heavenly gem
Teeth from jasmine buds, lips from the vernal flowers
And He made your limbs from daintiest stem.

Why is it the Creator made your heart out of stone?
How is it that He did not give me a heart of stone?

Shankar Kashyap

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A Day out on the Jurassic coast

It started off as a gentle stroll over the vast sandy beaches of Marske-by-the-Sea and Redcar. The beaches here are unbelievably huge and clean with hardly any people. The sun was shining and warm, cooled down by a gentle breeze coming off the sea. The noise of an odd car passing on the marine drive was masked by the waves hitting the wave breakers out on the water. We could see the Huntcliffe massif in the distance standing like a sentinel against the sun. Gentle waves lapping on our feet, we could have easily walked for hours on the beach. This coast of North-Yorkshire and Cleveland is called the Jurassic coast for a reason. The beach is home for ancient fossils, and you do come across an interesting ammonite every now and then dating back to the Jurassic period when the giant dinosaurs ruled the earth. beach
There is a small café just off the beach serving coffee and scones along with ice creams too. After a brief stop over for a cup of coffee, we set off for a 20 minute drive along a picturesque route that takes us into the North Yorkshire National Park and the small village of Danby. This quaint little village with stone built cottages is right out of a picture book, with its own tiny little station, church and post-office. I could almost see Postman Pat driving down his little red van through the narrow lanes. It is only a hundred yards past the village to the Moors National Park Centre. The weather turned a bit wet by the time we reached the car park which was nearly full despite the drizzle. The centre was hosting an exhibition by the artist– Debbie Loane. She is the ‘Artist in Residence’ for the Cleveland National Park.
The centre was sprawling stone built collection of buildings and a pleasant surprise once we were inside. It was like walking into a Tardis! Interconnecting corridors took us through several large rooms with displays of her work. From a small A5 sized paper to several large caMoor National Park centrenvas pieces on the walls. Very tastefully displayed and impressive standard. The little pamphlet told us that she had walked the entire length of the Cleveland Way – all of 190 miles – over a period with her sketch book (which was also on display) for her material. She had used mixed media along with materials she had found in her walks along the Cleveland Way. Most of them were impressionistic work and I could see why she was so sought after artist. She had used vibrant colours to bring out the layers of the moors and the coast in the background. I was particularly impressed by her pieces on the cliffs of the Jurassic coast. It was very tempting to buy her work! We could have easily spent the afternoon browsing through the gallery.
The next stop would be to the Blue seals off Ravenscar. I had heard so much about the colony of Blue Seals but never had an opportunity to see them. The drive to Ravenscar – a 45-minute drive through some of the best scenic valleys and moors that I have seen – took us to Ravenscar Tea rooms. We parked in the nearly deserted car park wondering where was the beach. There were no signposts for the Blue Seals anywhere to be seen. A lady sitting on the bench with her dog was not of much help as did a couple of girl hikers who were also looking for the Blue Seals! We were sure the signs to Cleveland Way would take us to the beach and followed the signs. There were two paths, one quite well marked out and another one just off a tall hedge which was more of a rough path. We decided to take the rough path as it appeared closer to the sea. As we followed the path north looking for a break in hedge to lead us down the beach and the blue seals. Before long we saw a small break with a path leading up to it. There appeared to be a void beyond that and it was good thing that we stepped up to the edge of the break slowly. Our hearts sank at the sight. We were at the edge of a precipice with a seething roar underneath, probably around 500 to 600 feet below. We could not see the sea as it was covered by a fog bank trying to climb up the cliff. Disappointed, we worked our way back to the Cleveland way wondering what to do. May be there would be someone in the Ravens Hall we had passed on the way to the Tea rooms? Another half a mile of walking took us to the rather plush Hall, obviously once belonging to a rich family, now working as a venue for weddings and a Golf.

We had walked into the middle of a wedding with men and women dressed up in their finest sipping chilled pink champagne and G&Ts. The hotel/hall was obviously quite old and extremely ornate – half expected Hercule Poirot to pop out through one of the doors with his smelly cigars. The receptionist was very helpful and showed us the way to the beach and the Blue seals. It was by now time for an ice cream and coffee. After a delicious Ice cream and piping hot coffee we made our way to the side of the hotel and the path the friendly receptionist had asked us to take. Going through the walled gardens of the Hall took us to those period dramas you would see on TV and I expected a young couple to be courting on one of those stone benches any minute now. As the girl had said, we came across a narrow wooden door at the far end of the wall leading out to some stone steps and a vista you would die for. We were facing a vast well-manicured Golf course, with probably the best views of any golfer in the world. The vast green expanse of the green looked over the cliffs to the sea and the slope in some places must be challenging to any golfer.
We followed the path down towards the edge of the cliff looking for the way down to the beach. Still no signs for Blue Seals. Once we reached the edge of the cliff, we realised why. The path down to the beach is not for the faint hearted. Very steep covered mostly in tiny round gravel which is bound to slide you all the way down the precipice. There were a couple of places with wooden steps, but not many. They had kindly provided breaks in a couple of places down the path for old and infirm like me to rest! We could ravenscarhear the roar of the sea but could not see the sea itself yet. When we did come to the end of the path to some rocky outcrops, it was well worth the effort of trying to kill yourself. The scene is out of this world. The school of Blue seals were playing in the waves around the rocky beach and some had climbed out of the water onto a narrow sand strip to sun themselves. Some were lying on rock and flipped over on to their backs as we watched. Really fascinating sight. The bark of the seals that could be heard over the roar of the waves sounded like an old dog. blue sealsAs we watched the waves the signpost at the top about a “Jurassic fault” became obvious. The waves broke in a large ‘V’ formation just off the shore. Apparently these fault were tectonic events during the Jurassic period when the earth splintered upwards. One surprising thing was that we did not see many sea gulls. The walk back up to the hotel was a lot easier, tiring, but easier and after stopping in a couple of spots ostensibly to take pictures.
Next point in our day was drive to the historical port of Whitby. I had heard of its attachment to Captain Cook but was surprised to see that it was also the place of Count Dracula. The author, Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby in late 1890’s and was inspired by the Abbey and the surroundings to create the iconic character anwhitbyd novel, Dracula. We had walked into the annual “Fish and Ships Festival” and the place was packed. There were exhibitions, shows and fish cookery workshops on the quayside. The replica of Captain Cook’s ship, The Endeavour formed the centrepiece. Even today it is awe inspiring. I could see why and how the natives of Australia were intimidated by the sight of this elegant, but over-powering tall ship. The local fisherman were exhibiting their catch – huge monk fish, lobsters and fish I had never seen before. fish
By this time, we were ravenously hungry – the Ravenscar climb had obviously used up thousands of calories of the lovely Ice cream from Rave Hall. The Magpie Café came highly recommended. There was a queue to get in despite the fact that it was well past lunch time. Built in 1750, the place was once a Pilotage and passed through a few sea merchants before becoming a restaurant. It had maintained the old world charm and served one of the best fish and chips I had tasted along with a great wine list and an impressive Gin list too. Eating ourselves full before attempting the climb to Whitby Abbey abbeywas probably not a very good idea. We had to cross a picturesque bridge across the Whitby harbour to reach the bottom of the steps going up to the Abbey ruins. Built in the 8th century as a Christian Abbey and later functioned as a Benedictine Monastery which was destroyed by the Danes during 9th century raids. It was rebuilt as another monastery only to be destroyed by King Henry VII in 16th century reformation. It was further destroyed by the German battle cruisers shelling during the first world war. The Cholmleys bought the site and built their mansion on the landward side of the abbey, ruins of which are now functioning as a museum. Climbing 199 steep steps to the Abbey on a full stomach is not recommended. We did not have time to go through the museum. There is still a functioning church next door with an ancient graveyard dating back to 17th and 18th century. graveyardThe graveyard would give you the creeps, limestone grave stones, darkened by hundreds of years of exposure, in various states of disrepair. One could easily understand how the area, with grey ruins of the abbey with equally eerie graveyard would give Bram Stoker he needed to create Count Dracula. dracula-between-myth-and-reality
By this time the sun was going down in the west and the birds were calling time. We headed back down t the harbour, satisfied that it was a great day out. The narrow streets of the fishing village is no a thriving community with numerous shops selling everything from Whitby rock to Whitby Jet. Almost every other shop was selling jewellery, claiming to sell a genuine Whitby Jet. This is a fascinating gemstone and the name ‘Jet black’ comes from Whitby Jet. It is perfect black with no tinge of any other colours as the gem absorbs all visible spectrum of light. Apparently Queen Victoria asked her jewellery to be made, even for her crown, using nothing but Whitby Jet after the death of her consort, Alfred. It is not really a stone – it is fossilised wood compressed over millions of years – again dating back to the Jurassic period. And it is not cheap.endeavour
The drive back across the north Yorkshire moors with the heather still grey between light grass and against a setting sun was again a visual treat. The moors get transformed into purple and violet admixed with bright yellow and green grass during August – artistry of nature cannot be beaten by mortals.


Jurassic coast

The vast moors stretch as far as the eye can see
Broken by a valley or two on the way to the sea
The land has been here since the day of the Dinosaurs
It is humbling to follow the footsteps of mighty Dinosaurs

The beauty of the cliffs and the ocean waves, mind can see
The cliffs are mighty and awe inspiring, as were the Dinosaurs
It is our blessing that we have eyes and mind to enjoy and see
The beauty is for everyone to see, him, her; not just theirs or ours.

The moors covered in grey and yellow with the road winding
In the middle of an unending vista of hills, valleys and streams
The beauty is every where to be seen, does not take much finding
The Jurassic coast beckons to you, stay with you in your dreams

Shankar Kashyap


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Narrative Poetry

Indian epic

A narrative poem tells the story of an event, a place, city or a kingdom or a hero/heroine, in the form of a poem. There is a strong sense of narration, characters, and always plot. This is pure story telling in poetic format. The content is often dramatic, and the words played on the emotions of the listener. There are many forms of Narrative poetry – epics, ballads, lays and idylls. Minstrels often changed words during a performance depending on the response of the audience – particularly Idylls and Lays.

Oral tradition of narrative poetry goes back thousands of years to the Vedic chants of Rigveda and Homeric ballads. Most of these were composed using a definitive metric structure. They were composed in poetic form rather than prose as it was easier to remember verses than long texts with oral tradition. Writing did not come into use much later. There are examples in almost all cultures and languages across the world. Most of the classic epics were composed using Narrative form of Poetry. 220px-British_Museum_Flood_Tablet
We will deal with each of these in turn using sub-chapters. Among the ancient cultures across the globe from the Andes in South America to Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt to India and China, peoples have used this form of metric poetry to sing the history of their nations and the exploits of their heroes. Emperors and Kings employed bards in their courts to compose epics and record the history. Historians have used these epics/poems to record history. Emperors such as Alexander the Great and Babur took bards with them to battles to record their exploits.e[ic of gilgamesh1

The oldest known poem in English is a narrative one – Beowulf. Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, Charge of the Light Brigade and Robert Browning’s Ring and the Book are prime examples of medieval history in poetic form. Chaucer’s Canterbury tales is another example of a narrative poetry. Other famous narrative poetry are Divine Comedy by Dante, Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad and Odyssey by Homer, Don Juan by Lord Byron to name a few. iliad

We will deal with an Epic this week;


An Epic is a lengthy narrative poem often in a grandiose language celebrating the adventures and accomplishments of a legendary hero in a historical setting. Epics are probably the earliest forms of poetry dating back thousands of years. The Vedas, particularly the Rigveda has been dated back to third or fourth millennium BCE, constructed by many sages and bards. Rigveda is considered to be the oldest scripture with over 1028 hymns and 10600 verses in one of the recensions. This epic scripture is constructed using a strict structure of iambic metres – Gayathri, Anushtubh, Trishtubh and Jagati. I will not go into details of the construction of these metres. Many of the hymns are considered more of a eulogy – praising one or the other of the Gods or a king or even a sage.

odysseyMuch like a ballad, an epic is a narrative poem that spins a tale— and a lengthy one — of a hero’s great valour and adventure. Like the elegy, the word epic is derived from ancient Greece, where epikós meant “speech,” “tale,” or “song,” and applied not only to the subject matter, but also to a specific type of meter, the epic meter. The first epics of Western literature are the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer, Epic of Gilgamesh in Sumer, Virgil’s Aeneid and in the English tradition we have Beowulf, Spencer’s The fairie queene, Dante’s Divine Comedy and Milton’s Paradise lost. All the epics, as the name implies are long, some of them are several thousand verses long. Mahabharata has 17000 verses and Ramayana has 24,000 verses making them some of the largest pieces of literature in the world. Greek, Latin and Sanskrit epics began with an invocation – to musa in Greek and Latin and god Agni in Sanskrit.
Here is my example of a narrative poetry an epic – A Golden Goddess; Rohanna. It tells the story of a young girl in a medieval Indian village. Trials and tribulations of young women during what could be termed as the ‘dark ages’ for women in India lends itself to an emotional story.

Golden Goddess Rohanna;

Good-hearted golden ladies
And maids with eyes like water lilies
And future mother, now but children
O listen ye to the tale I tell.

Of dance and song the incantation
Of fluid words the honey hives
Mother of mother, o ye mother
Now listen to the tale I tell.

In a faraway valley set in the mountains
There is a lake and, on its bank,
In the small village a farm stands
Which holds a golden goddess.

In ancient days the goddess
Had a farmer who had a daughter
Gold as the golden goddess
And who was famous for her devotion.

The maiden served the goddess daily
As the season came and went
She plucked the flowers for her worship
Was herself a golden goddess.

And as the season came and went
She gave the fruits each season brought
Served the goddess with devotion
The sweet golden girl Rohanna.

The sweetest fruit the valley bore
Was the juicy golden Pear.
When the valley pear blushed
Coloured her cheeks, she came of age.

The parents of golden Rohanna
Loved the Pear and they loved her less
Grew heartless in their greed for gold
And they married her to a rich old man.

Lilies laughed on the blue lake
Spring came upon the mountain valley
Rang with the song of countless birds
Sorrow, when the birds saw her groom.

Her lily like face lost its bloom
Her graces dropped like a cheap garment
Her two eyes two wells of tears
The golden sheen of her face dulled.

The village girls with whom she played
Mocked her as the poor girl wept
Gave up her companions she did
And served with tear, the village goddess.

Day came the lecherous groom to claim
His girl-wife, little golden Rohanna
He came with golden ornaments and dray
With crimson silk dresses for Rohanna.

Her brother’s wives they rubbed her
With thick cream and she had her bath
They chafed the bride as is usual
With unseemly innuendos about sex.

She touched the feet of the elders
Parents blessed her and as they blessed
A pearl of silver laughter rang
From the sad golden bride Rohanna.

She called her brother and sisters
With tears she bade them all farewell
Her words to them were sweet as honey
Left eyes none without a tear.

“Goodbye my brother and sisters
You must love our parents well
For they are old. And do your duty
To the golden goddess, our guardian.

And as the season come and go
With fruits and flowers, the seasons give
Adore the goddess with devotion
In her worship you must not fail”.

“When all family in future gather
And overflow with joy, remember
Your loving sister, brothers and sisters
To a child, each you give my name.”

Her eyes flowed like waterfalls
The eyes of little golden Rohanna
Dried her eyes, laughed silver laughter
The golden goddess, little Rohanna.

Her brother’s wives and brothers wept
Her mother, sisters wept hot tears
Only the father who had sold his daughter
Was happy thinking of all his gold.

When dark evening fell as usual
Rohanna gathered flowers, made garlands
And out she went with a happy face
To serve the golden goddess with devotion.

Come the night cows came with calves to byre
Birds swarmed back to the roost in trees
In the black skies the stars came out
And yet Rohanna did not come home.

The light of her eyes was lost to lilies
The gold of her skin was lost to gold
The grace of her walk was lost to swans
She merged with her golden Goddess.

Find her peace and heaven she did
Our little golden Goddess Rohanna.

Shankar Kashyap.

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Haiku – Japanese poetry

This week’s poem is a Haiku.


This ancient form of poetry writing from 17th century Japan is renowned for its small size as well as the precise punctuation and syllables needed on its three lines.   Originally, Haiku’s were the opening stanza of a style of a longer format poem called the Renga, or linked verse, but the compactness of these introductory lines intrigued Japanese poets of the 17th century.  Soon, the Haiku broke away from its longer version into the three-line poems with seventeen syllables popular in Japan today.

The Japanese Haiku is a rigidly structured poetic form with very little scope for ‘poetic license’.  Haiku’s are composed of 3 phrases, each a phrase, often with three different qualities.  There is juxta-positioning of phrases or qualities between lines.   The first line typically has 5 syllables, second line has 7 and the 3rd line repeats another 5.  Quite often, there is a seasonal reference.   It is written in the present tense, often read out in a single breath with sometimes a pause at the end of first or second line.  Its focus is on a brief moment in time and used colourful images for impact.  There are many forms and varieties of Haiku in practice.  In Japanese, it is written in single vertical line and in English it comes out as three lines.

There is a “cutting word” or Kireje at the end of the second line giving the structure for the three phrases.

Haiku did not make its appearance in English till the beginning of 20th century.  It is not as popular as the other forms of poetry in English mainly due to its rigid structure of construction and poets felt restricted in use of flowery language.

The Other world”;

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

Richard Wright

As you can see there are no rhyming structure and doesn’t allow for the poet to elaborate on what he wants to say.  Whereas couplets with just two lines were used as part of a much bigger poem, Haiku became a poem on its own once it broke away from being the introduction of Renga.  It would be in a similar vein as a Matla for a Ghazal – an introduction to longer story or epic about a hero or king or country.

Another example of a Haiku is by well known poet, Cynthia Buhain-Baello;

Image result for haiku poems about nature


My attempt at a Haiku, A lone Eagle, was originally an introduction to a much longer poem on a Himalayan bird of prey – the majestic eagle.
Template Haiku

Enjoy this short and very interesting format of poetry.  It has taken off in English in recent times and there has been many variations introduced by the western poets.


Shankar Kashyap

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Limerick is a five-line witty poem with a distinctive rhythm, funny and often rude. Named after the Irish town of Limerick, the poem allegedly got its name from the town custom of shouting “Will you come up to Limerick?” after a performance of nonsense poetry at social gatherings. It was introduced in 1791 in Ireland. The noble and often a staid stature of an epic or ballad could not be more at odds with the ‘nonsense verse’ of the Limerick.

The limerick is a brief and bouncy poem ideal for Mother Goose-style nursery rhymes. Most of the limerick’s were simple and filled with fun. Not many were constructed with any serious message of note.  Serious poets dismiss this format as not a true poem and describe it as a “periodic fad object of magazine contests, rarely rising above mediocrity”!  But hose poets who do compose Limericks feel that this violation of taboo is a function of Limerick.
Rhyme Structure; The first, second and fifth lines (the longer lines) rhyme and the third and fourth shorter lines rhyme. (A-A-B-B-A). First line is often repeated as the fifth line.   The long lines are made up of three “feet” or iambic and the shorter ones are made up of just two feet of syllables.  The first line introduces the place or the object or person.  Often the first line is repeated as the last line as a refrain.

Limericks was popularised in 19th century by Edward Lear. It went through a period where they were considered obscene and looked down by the literati as folklore and not literature.edward lear

Edward Lear, a musician, poet and illustrator of 19th century,  published a series of ‘Nonsense’ limerick compositions during the middle of 19th century. This is one of the few, often quoted from his “Book of Nonsense.”

There was a Young Person of Smyrna
Whose grandmother threatened to burn her.
But she seized on the cat,
and said ‘Granny, burn that!
You incongruous old woman of Smyrna!

As you can see, this does not offer any message or wit. In fact, apart from the rhyming structure which makes it more than adequate for singing it doesn’t really mean anything.   Often Limerick was published along with caricatures;



Here is my take on a Limerick on a glass of wine;

Glass of wine

The red nectar that flows out of a carafe
That which imbues the flavour of life
I long for a glass of wine
I thirst for a glass of wine
It is the one that makes my eyes shine!

Shankar Kashyap



There was once a lass called Caitlin

There once was a lass who liked wine.
She said, “See the lovely baseline!”
It was rather more,
But not very yore,
She couldn’t say no to the sideline

Shankar Kashyap



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Sonnet – everyman’s version

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The original sonnet form was invented in the 13th century by Dante and took the name of an Italian philosopher named Francisco Petrarch. The sonnet, from the Italian sonetto meaning “little song,” is one of the better-known forms of poetry. Made famous by Italian poets, the traditional sonnet contains fourteen lines divided into two stanzas of eight and six lines. The original Petrarchan sonnet did not have a definitive structure or rhyme scheme and different poets have given their own poetic spin over the centuries. One thing that stayed true is the theme of a proposition and resolution. The first octave gave out a proposition and next sestet offered a resolution. Petrarchan sonnets lent themselves very well for Italian language and probably explains why it did not appear in English for the first couple of centuries. The form remained largely unknown until late 16th century it was rediscovered by Thomas Wyatt and further developed and popularised by writers such as Shakespeare. Sonnets now generally use iambic meter in each line and use line-ending rhymes. Although William Shakespeare is famous for his plays, he also wrote 154 sonnets (not including the numerous couplets and short verses that appear within his plays).  Shakespearean sonnets are built of three quatrains followed by a couplet.  The last couplet is used to answer or refute the message or argument of the rest of the poem.Shakesperean sonnet

(Lady in Red – a collection of love poems)
Shakespearean sonnets are lyrical poems featuring two contrasting characters, events, beliefs or emotions. This made a sonnet very useful tool in his plays. He used the sonnet form to examine the tension that exists between the two elements – could be two different individuals or two different emotions or situations. Several variations of sonnet structure have evolved over the years. The most common type — and probably the simplest — is known as the English or Shakespearean sonnet. In his sonnets each line has 10 syllables and are written in iambic pentameter.  Iambic pentameter is a pattern in which an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable repeated five times. The da-DUM sound of the human heartbeat is sometimes used as an example of iambic pentameter (literally “five feet”): da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. The opening line of Shakespeare’s “sonnet 12” provides a good example of the da-DUM rhythm of iambic pentameter: ‘When I do count the clock that tells the time…’.
Shakespearean sonnets sonnets follow a specific set rhyme pattern — a-b-a-b / c-d-c-d / e-f-e-f / g-g — and the last two lines form a rhyming couplet. Shakespeare’s “sonnet 18” — sometimes called “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” — is one of his most famous sonnets:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;220px-Shakespeare
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest,
Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The Shakespearean sonnet followed the standard Volta of Petrarchan sonnet — or the “turn” — which is the point in the sonnet where there’s a change from one rhyme pattern to another that also signals a change in subject matter from proposition to resolution. In the example above, the Volta occurs in the ninth line when the word “But” signals a subject change and the rhyme pattern changes to e-f-e-f.

In addition to the English or Shakespearean sonnet, the Spenserian sonnet (named after poet Edmund Spenser) gained popularity during the 16th century. The Spenserian sonnets had a different rhyming pattern – ABAB BCBC CDCD followed by a refrain of EE. Amoretti is probably the best recognised of his works. There are also more obscure types of sonnets, some of which have no recognizable rhyming pattern.  John Milton used Sonnet structure somewhat differently and let the proposition run into the sestet too and were called “Miltonian Sonnets”.

Over the years, many poets and writers have written sonnets. Some of the more famous sonnet authors include John Donne, John Milton, Ezra Pound, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edna St. Vincent Millay. 17th century saw a profusion of sonnets from famous poets such as Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley.

Modern poets have taken the sonnet structure to another level.  It is often recognisable only by name and number of lines – 14.  The Penguin Book of the Sonnet deals with extensive history and experimentation of the medium.Most of the sonnets are written on Love. Love is a four letter word which has produced every emotion known to man. It has been the cause of heartaches, wars, bitter battles, fights and any shenanigan you can think of. Countries have gone to war to fight over loved ones. The story of Helen of Troy is a prime example. Agamemnon takes the massive Greek army and lays siege on the city of Troy to win back the princess to his brother from the Troy prince, Paris. Who has not of heard of the eternal lovers – Romeo and Juliet – so well immortalised by William Shakespeare. As are the other lovers in history – Mark Antony – Cleopatra, Tristan – Isolde, Orpheus – Eurydyce, Napoleon – Josephine, Laila – Majnu, Salim – Anarkali, Shah Jehan – Mumtaz – the list is endless.

I have included some examples of sonnet in my upcoming book – “Lady in Red” ( to be released worldwide next week.

Love is an emotion that is different to different people. To a child the love of mother, to a mother to her child, brother to sister, father to son and finally the love of passion. It is the first major hurdle to a boy or a girl as he or she passes the step of adulthood.

The poems in this section, deals with ups and downs of lovers the world over. Here is one of my earliest efforts at a sonnet. I have tried to use simple English and used the Shakespearean rhyming pattern, as much as possible with some poetic justice. ‘A Love lost and found’ was one of my first attempts at writing poetry in sonnet form.

A Love lost and found

You came into my life like a breath of fresh air
Your laughter and a smile of thine was my tonic
I loved you from the day I saw you first there
In my blood, my heart and in my ear like a fillip

You did not know me, nor did you see me
You were laughing at the way I spoke, I walked
It was hurting that I did not exist, woe is me
Many a day I wandered in and out and I stalked

You saw me but as one would furniture, I dread
I was always there in your heart, thou did not know it
It was painful to watch, my life hanging by a thread
Jasmine, Roses and Jacaranda in bloom, many willing it

That’s when you saw me first, floundering in a sea
Lifted me up and kissed me on my lips for all to see.

Shankar Kashyap

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