Is There a Difference Between a Poem and a Song?

Languages are born with intonations and into intonations. They are primarily sound waves. Musicality is also constitutive of waves. Now, does that bring to your imagination: sea waves, air waves, microwaves etc.etc.etc.?

Yes, we breathe and live in a wavy galaxy.

There was the silence. And then boom! The waves happened. The sound happened. The words happened. The speech happened. The language happened. The poetry happened. The song happened.

Or the song happened and then poetry happened? Or both happened together?

But we are at a stage of evolution where we do not classify anything and everything that happens in language as poetry or song. I am not saying that we can give a definition to these two genres of expression. Of course we cannot. But one can say they are the genres of feeling. So, they are kin at the level of their conception as waves and at the level of feeling. They are waves created out of waves and seeded back into the world of waves. Yet, do you also ponder upon their being separate genres? Is it true that what cannot be sung, cannot be poetry?

In many cultures around the world poetry was written to be sung so much so that distinction between the two genres was not even considered. In fact some scholars say that human cultures began with the oral tradition with verse forms composed only to be sung. It is a very popular statement by literary giants that poetry comes with its own music. And even today we see poetry turning into songs thereby entering into a circle of consciousness wider than it inhabited before. Wikipedia lists a number of songs based on poems. Here is the link: . Indian cinema is full of poetry turned into songs. There is a long tradition of Ghazals culminating into songs.


Everyone who has read a lot of poetry and heard a lot of songs must be having their own answers for the question. Here is what I feel about it:

We encounter poetry as written word (or if sung, then as sound, but then it is a song) and a song as sound. In a poem we meet the “abilities” of a series of words. In a song, we meet one of that ability manifested: the ability to flow like a river without becoming conscious of the same. I talk about the abilities of a poem and yet if a poem turns into a song, it is a fact, that it enters wider social consciousness.

Imagine what kind of a song T.S.Eliot’s Wasteland, if tried, can turn into? Words just do not turn into a song in a macabre context. Yet there is, Amrita Pritam’s “Aj Akkhan Waris Shah Nu” sung by Wadali Brothers. Amrita Pritam urges Waris Shah–punjabi sufi poet who authored Heer Ranjha–in the grotesque context of Indian Partition. And then there is our very own Bob Dylan: the song writer; the literary Nobel laureate 2017.  This gives us another question to wonder about: what kind of poems turn into songs? Of course, a poem comes with its own music, but then what is their in it which marries it to a musician’s (artist other than the poet) creation? It will not let us know… 😀

Poetry lets us be with the uncertain. It gifts us and leaves us with something which always and always slips out of our hands. It plays. It is it’s andaaz–it’s style and it’s way. And may be so does it is of songs…

The court is open for discussion.


Nothing to be apologetic about your feeling of restlessness and bent towards blaming for the atrocities you face. After all, it informs one about the existence of a feather hitherto unknown. But, since it gives your stomach an eerie feeling, it is required to be mollified and morphosed into something which can alleviate all the gastronomic troubles; which can turn your being into a perfumery. And who does not like the thought of turning into a living, walking perfume or the whole perfumery?

Let us confront that restlessness has become common these days. Confrontation is one apparatus life sustains on. Now, notice, I am using the word confrontation and not pugilism. If you and I were together this evening, I would have liked conversing about the same and brought to the table, the topic of poetic confrontation.

Poetic: the word at times inspire awe, at others, is not considered worthy of welcome. If you belong to this other school of thought, it is required of you to keep your prejudices quiet for the length of this column. By poetic, I mean one should strive to become an absorbent and a reflector; absorbent of circumstances and reflector of the mystery in an ordered form.  It gives one a kind of calm when upon reflection, a rainbow like beauty is conceived.

But before going further, let me inform you, this is not a lecture. This blog post is an attempt to converse and know what goes on in the mind of my reader (which can be shared by commenting).

Mind is the breeding ground. Whenever we resist our circumstances and attempt to halt their course, this breeding ground stales and stinks. Nevertheless, we do that, thinking it will bring us some magical potion. But far from magic what we do get is a lump of putrid entities. Don’t we? So you see, all of it is in keeping with contemporary techniques; with experimentation. It is therefore important to flow with and confront whatever comes our way rather than consciously attempting to halt the train provoking constipation and ultimately farts. The flow assures a route away from restlessness. Now, if one succeeds in resisting the resistance of one’s mind, one encounters stones and puddles on the way. To create a way out of them, while being with them is where the aesthetics lie. To stay and look into the eye of harsh circumstance is therefore a feat. But doing it poetically is where lies the greatest strength.

Attending to ‘all’ that goes on around us calmly, raises our understanding of life and hence helps us live fully. This is where poetry comes in. Poetry is best at taking into consideration the context and then potterising it into sublimity. This happens because by attending, we increase the perimeter of our selves. In other words, we increase the space where we usually accommodate others; circumstances. If one succeeds in aping poetry, life can actually turn from restlessness to beauty.

And all of this turns us into collective beings, more sensitive towards others, which further leads to showering of love upon us from the collection, hence reducing the route to restlessness into a non-entity.

So for the sake of love, let us confront poetically and sprinkle the beauty of our perfumery. What say?

I resolved that at thirty I would know more about poetry than any man living … that I would know what was accounted poetry everywhere, what part of poetry was ‘indestructible’, what part could not be lost by translation and – scarcely less important – what effects were obtainable in one language only and were utterly incapable of being translated.

In this search I learned more or less of nine foreign languages, I read Oriental stuff in translations, I fought every University regulation and every professor who tried to make me learn anything except this, or who bothered me with “requirements for degrees”.- Ezra Pound

And When I Started Thinking…

Today I was asked to analyze a poem. The exact question was, “write a critical assessment of the following poem by Seamus Heaney commenting on its title, theme, diction, imagery, rhythm and rhyme :


I write this post in order to share what I did before going to the answer sheet and then ultimately on the answer sheet.

I took one hour to get the meaning of this poem. Please know, that I saw the text as text only, no context. And seriously, I had not the minutest idea about the context of this work. Though I knew that Seamus Heaney is from Ireland and he got the noble prize; and that because he got the noble prize he must be writing  great poetry, I had no inkling about the kind of thing he is talking about in this poem.

The notion that great poetry always talks about some universal truth came into my course of one hour thinking and may be that ruined the probability of getting even a zero out of forty marks in the test. But right now, this feeling of being dilapidated is feeding the construction of this post. So I should not feel that much sorry about myself.

I tried to use all the faculties I had to get the thesis statement for this text. I tried a bit hard (and dare that silly smile approaching your face) as I did not know the meanings of the words “Requiem” and “Croppies”.

Hence, I started that guess work which always go wrong in exams. I guessed requiem’s meaning as replenishment and since ‘croppies’ has crop in it, I hope you understand subconscious faculties which automatically without much thinking can ask you to relate it to ‘crops’. And also since first line of the poem has barley in it, it becomes much obvious for subconscious to interpret what I did. (Note: I don’t like highlighting my mistakes again and again)

After reading the poem several times, I finally reached what according to me was its literal and figurative meaning. To decipher out that I did some coding-decoding. Let me enlist here all of that.

Greatcoats = coats which are great(literal) ; human beings(figurative)

Barley = resources for humans

Full of barley = so many resources

Although we have so much barley we have no kitchen to cook it(2nd line). Although we have so many resources we cannot cook them/ ourselves through them into eternity. We have become vagabonds in order to find peace.( we moved quick and sudden in our own country) because some God or nature kept introducing some or the other problem.

Priest = some God like entity/some human form through which God works to introduce into our lives problems which though ultimately make us wise but make us peaceless.

A people, hardly marching- on the hike = increasing number of people who don’t work, who force us into things we don’t want to do, who are God’s indirect messengers introducing problems into our lives.

Stampede cattle into infantry = like God/nature force us to do things ,during disaster we forced our fellow living beings to do what they didn’t want to, in order to find solution for our problems, in order to move from impermanence to permanence.

Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown= nature created for them such situation in which they had to live in dirty places where horses should be kept or thrown; again human superiority over fellow living beings

This one is ultimate.

Vinegar Hill = a figurative place where vinegar signifies acid and hence acerbic fatal conclave took place there ( acerbic fatal conclave = where everyone is irritated by everyone)

The hillside blushed = hillside is personified here and it blushed because now the hillside/nature has found a way to show off that it actually respect humanity. Respect humanity is shown when it blushes upon the intuition of coming of new life. As ‘our broken wave‘ = dead bodies will give way for new life, the hillside blushes that now it can experience new life.

I thought scythes is some underwater creature. 😀

Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon=  people irritated by natural calamities or life’s problems who met at the hill’s terrace died which sent tremors deep down the underwater. I thought he is talking about underwater because there is scythes in the line, which according to me is some underwater plant or creature.

And in August the barley grew up out of the grave = a sarcastic remark which states that in respect(show off) for work done by mankind (which ultimately see its decimation or movement into nothingness) on the resource present in full quantity in or near our human skin coat pocket, nature multiplies life or more resource as it says: the barley grow up out of the grave.

Are you still interested in my thesis statement?

I understand the fact that any teacher who is master of poetic art might kill me for doing this but I still was interested in recording this post in order to read, laugh or wonder at it a few years from now.

Now, if those of you who don’t know about this poem find yourself interested in reading the actual meaning and analysis of this poem might also get as bonus with that reading, your gaping mouths. 😁

Actually one must read the actual meaning and analysis of this work.( All respect for Mr. Heaney)