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As a school-going student, I bet every one of us would’ve had a subject which we adored. We’d impatiently count down the minutes to the end of class in every other subject, waiting eagerly for our favorite period to commence. We’d be regular with not just the homework of that subject, but sometimes also walk the extra mile & taken on additional assignments from teachers, whether it be Math Olympiad preparations or Science Fair projects. For me, that fascinating subject which I harbored a soft spot for, was English.

You see, back in the day English CBSE textbooks had some of the best curated content. From Keats & Wordsworth to Shakespeare & Dickens - you name it, and chances are high that we would’ve had excerpts of their work in our textbooks. I owe some of my earliest glimpses into the exciting world of literature to the pages within these brown paper wrapped textbooks, which offered a magical whirlwind tour of the old literary classics in both prose & poetry. And while I generally favored short stories & plays to poetry, one poem which intrigued me was The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost in our higher secondary textbook. I can attribute my first spark of interest in poetry to this particular masterpiece. While the teacher explained to us the underlying nuances of imagery painted by the poet in taking the road less travelled when faced with two diverging roads in the wood, I was mesmerized by how a poem in all its brevity & rhythmic beauty could still convey a message so profound and thought provoking. At the end of that day, I rushed to the library as I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on the anthology of poems by the same poet. And looking back I couldn’t be more thankful, for in the process I inadvertently stumbled across one of the most eloquently penned poetry verses, which would’ve lasting reverberations throughout my life.

Sooner or later in life, everyone comes across certain things which moves their soul and leaves an indelible imprint. It may be in the form of a random conversation with someone, a song you caught playing in the background on the radio or a movie which kept you on the edge of the seat. One of my earliest such memories was courtesy the following lines from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely, dark & deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep”

What captivated me the most in these lines was the commonness of the dilemma which we encounter in our everyday life, when despite wanting to rest awhile, we’re forced to turn our backs on the prospect of comfort, shift gears & keep forging on towards our destination. So moved was I by these lines that I got a bit overzealous & immediately found a scrap piece of chart paper to scribble it down in color markers. This makeshift poster earned a permanent place in my room (next to the Harry Potter posters plastered across my wall) and for the next decade or so, it served as my guiding beacon of inspiration, irrespective of the life stage I found myself in.

One such instance (of many) was when I was debating with myself about going back to college & pursuing MBA despite being comfortably placed as a software engineer for over 2 years in a leading IT MNC. It effectively meant bidding goodbye to a cushy job & offsite opportunities abroad and restarting my career from scratch with no guarantees of assured placements post completion of the degree, given the bleak job market. While these nagging doubts wormed around in my head rendering me restless and indecisive, my eyes chanced upon that yellowing piece of paper with these verses in now-fading colors. It reminded me of the need to get out of my comfort zone coz that’s where personal growth gets stunted and of my desire to make my parents proud since they constantly pushed me to pursue higher studies as I was always academically inclined. But most importantly it reminded me of my promise to self to never hold myself back from chasing my dreams. Needless to say, I took the leap of faith & decided to start preparing for entrance examinations with hardly two months remaining for the same. To say that it was a Herculean task would be an understatement. I had to juggle early morning classes at a NGO I was volunteering at, then handle total 4 hours of commute to & from work aside from the grueling work demands itself and at the end of every day, I’d have to trudge my way through hours of self-preparation books & practice tests, when all I’d rather do was snuggle comfortably in my bed tired to the bone & drift off to sleep. However, every sleepless night I stayed up studying, I’d force myself to read these verses by Robert Frost (which I could recite now by-heart of course) & remind myself to not give up, in the hopes that it will all be worth it in the end. And it definitely was. I managed to bag a spot in my targeted college which helped change the trajectory of my future career. All thanks to the much needed boost of motivation elicited by these 4 verses of poetry.

And that’s the power of good poetry. The ability to resonate with words penned down eons ago by the poet, yet still as relevant now as ever. The ability to calm the storm amidst the chaos of your own life, with the unwavering tranquility hidden sublimely within its rhymes & alliterations. As Nobel Prize winning poet Salvatore Quasimodo articulated, “Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be personal, which the reader recognizes as his own”.

It’s precisely this reason why I find myself turning to poetry often when faced with difficult cross roads in life’s journey. It never fails to shed a new light, altering our perspective & imparting nuggets of wisdom which has stood the test of time. From Rudyard Kipling’s If to Rumi’s hauntingly beautiful verses on love & life, poetry still continues to captivate me & earn permanent spots in my bookshelf. And I always look forward to seeking solace in its rhythmic beauty with lasting reverberations throughout my life! 

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