“Poetry may not live but it does survive; it outlasts its makers and acts as a voice beyond death. And though a poem doesn’t make things happen, it happens — every time someone reads it. Rather than a static item printed on a page, a poem is an event that occurs with each new reader and with each new reading.” — Stephen Burt Isn't it amazing to think that we can write something, create something, that once shared will forever linger on even when we’re gone? That each time a new person reads your poem, it is given a fresh breath of life? Poetry is one of the many ways to tell a story and to document how we feel. It is something we can all share, acting as an invitation into our experiences and emotions just by the phrases we construct. Here is a list of five poems, some were written in English and other have been translated to English by poets from the Emerging Markets. Enjoy as you partake in their worded experiences!
To the children we call our future
Who have no shoes to put on their feet
Who have barely any food to eat
Who believe in some unreal hope
But still dare to dream
Wild and free
To the folks who stand by the wayside
Who search high and low for a world unknown
Will they ever find?
A place called ‘home’
Probably, probably not
A lesson well learned
You took everything and yet left so much
You left us hanging
Do we regret the departure?
We still take a long walk of shame
Until we finally snap
All who made the attempt
To restore some peace to chaos
To restore hope to despair
You got caught in the web
Of toils and sacrifice to defy
All odds of a better life for everyone
Now a toast!
To all who fought
To those who are still fighting
To those who merry in the war
To those who take advantage of the frail
To the injustice done to us
To the justice we still fight for
— Ama Nuamah, Ghana
[This poem makes a toast to seeing the good in bad. It celebrates the lives of those in Africa, where some constantly brave the struggle of accessing basic necessities. It also serves as an encouragement to those who are fighting for a better future.]
I Am Part Of The Load
I am part of the load
Not rightly balanced
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.
For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time -and-space cross,
this waiting room.
I walk into a huge pasture
I nurse the milk of millennia
Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.
— Rumi, Persia
[This poem can be found in Rumi’s book, titled “We Are Three”. The collection of poems in the book represents his deep teachings as well as documents his spiritual surrender.]
Wind, Water, Stone
Water hollows stone, wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind.
Water, wind, stone.
Wind carves stone,
stone’s a cup of water,
water escapes and is wind.
Stone, wind, water.
Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by,
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.
Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing
through their empty names:
water, stone, wind.
— Octavio Paz, Mexico
[This poem uses the metaphors wind, water, and stone to represent the interaction of humans and how each element affects another in life.]
Down into the ravine, then forward
Up the embankment to the top,
The ribbon of the road runs snaking
Through wood and field without a stop.
By all the precepts of perspective
Well-surfaced highway windings rush
Among the fields, among the meadows,
Not raising dust, nor stuck in slush.
The peaceful pond nearby ignoring
(On which a duck with ducklings swam)
The road once more is forward soaring
On having crossed and left the dam.
Now-down a slope again it hastens,
Now-on and upwards, in a climb,
As only life, maybe, is meant to
Strain up and onward all the time.
Through thousands of unheard-of fancies,
Through times and countries, climb and fall,
Through helps and hindrances it races
Relentless, too, towards a goal;
And this is to have lived your fullest,
Experienced all-at home, abroad-
Just as the landscape now is livened
By twists and turnings of the road.
— Boris Pasternak, Russia
[A little about Boris Pasternak — his work, the novel “Doctor Zhivago”, was suppressed in Russia until 1988 as it was deemed anti-Soviet. Regardless, it was seen as masterful by Americans and Europeans. Apart from that, he was generally widely known as a poet with a unique flair in writing.
This poem is one of the many he has written in his lifetime.]
City of Lights
On each patch of green, from one shade to the next, the noon is erasing itself by wiping out all colour, becoming pale, desolation everywhere,the poison of exile painted on the walls.
In the distance,
there are terrible sorrows, like tides:
they draw back, swell, become full, subside. They’ve turned the horizon to mist.
And behind that mist is the city of lights, my city of many lights.
How will I return to you, my city,
where is the road to your lights? My hopes
are in retreat, exhausted by these unlit, broken walls, and my heart, their leader, is in terrible doubt.
But let all be well, my city, if under
cover of darkness, in a final attack,
my heart leads its reserves of longings
and storms you tonight. Just tell all your lovers to turn the wicks of their lamps high
so that I may find you, Oh, city, my city of many lights.
— Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Pakistan
[In 1951, Faiz Ahmad Faiz was sentenced to prison for being a part of a conspiracy case, due to his opposition of the then Prime Minister. He served time in prisons in both Karachi and Lahore.
This poem was birthed from him looking out the prison window in Lahore, at the city’s evening lights.]
We hope that these short poems have given you a tiny glimpse into the lives and minds of unique poets from different countries, backgrounds, and eras! While we may not know these writers or their lives personally, each poem paints for us a little picture of their thoughts and sentiments towards various aspects of their lives in countries like Ghana, Persia, Mexico, Russia, and Pakistan.
On a related note, the GoBeyond team is currently working on a project to collate poems shared by different individuals who have been to countries in the Emerging Markets (EMs)! If you or someone you know has been to any of these countries and would like to share your experience with us, we would love for you to be a part of our project! Simply send us a draft of your own written poem at (email@example.com) and give us a short background of yourself, the city you were in, and the nature of your visit – whether it was for travel, work or study. We welcome all creativity for our poem submissions! Please feel free to express your emotions, thoughts, and experiences in your writing so that others may also catch a glimpse into the culture, people and environments that you were immersed in during your visit.
This project is a poetry collective that aims to help others who have yet to visit any of these EMs live vicariously through the writer’s poem, and to inspire more people to dare to GoBeyond and experience something new as well.
P.s. If you have pictures (or sketches, if that is your medium) that you are willing to share from the place that your poem is based on, we will be most grateful for you to share them with us too!