You had me at Mere

Hello world and welcome to Mere Air these words…

Thank you to that elite part of the world, which thinks I chose a very powerful title for my blog and for the other ignorant part which can’t quite understand what I mean by that, please allow me to explain. I know the elite part might be yawning right now, ready to hit the X button, but I beg them to stay. I promise your time will be well worth it.

Well, as goes with many good titles, I also snagged it from a much higher, brighter and famouser source. The original quote is by Sappho and goes something like –

“Mere air these words, but so delicious to hear!”

She was talking about poetry here. How the words even though are mere air after they come out, still they are so delicious to hear. Note how she conveys so much with a few mere words. Let’s dissect that a little more.

Mere air. Surely Sappho was not joking referring to powerful lines of poetry in such a flippant manner. Surely, she meant to say –  Extraordinary, Awesome (though I doubt if this word was as rampant in her time) or maybe Epic! But no, she chose to say Mere…If I were a poet (which by the way I sometimes like to think I am) then I might feel offended at her statement. That her adjective of choice for my momentous work of art is ‘Mere’! Harumph! I would have stopped reading any more after that and taken up cudgel against her, her way of thinking, her work, her life etc etc.

A mere woman after all saying such a thing about immortal lines of poetry! I can imagine the protests outside of her home, an Ayotallah or two passing a sentence of death against her, Sappho going into hiding and giving statements like she did not mean to shame any poet by her words, that her words were being twisted and used against her. Fortunately, around Sappho’s time (which by the way, was around 600 BC) nothing of this sort happened. Maybe because people had more time to read through the complete text before making judgments or maybe because they did not give as much importance to a woman’s words at that time – whatever it was, instead of Sappho growing underground like she would have been forced to had she been born in this era, she happily went on to produce many lyrical poems about love and women. Since she lived so long ago, not much of her poetry exists in its original form and is only found in fragments such as these.

I think these words also are a small fragment of a bigger work of hers.  She goes on to say that though they are mere words, they are so delicious to hear. Again, note the use of something unconventional in the adjective department. Instead of something more normal like maybe melodious or delightful or soothing, she goes in for the kill and chooses to say delicious which projects a very sensory image of happiness into our psyche.

“Dearest Sappho! You had me at Mere, but you have me forever with delicious!”

I would love to have read the entire poem with all these eccentric words dancing all over the place. It would have been lovely to get more fodder for my blog but since that seems to be almost impossible (unless the spirit of Sappho pays me a visit and recites me that exact poem, which I hope I don’t forget to write down) I think I want to give you readers the pleasure of reading some lines from me – a Sappho wannabe. I have to warn you though that I am not a big writer of poetry! Prose, I manage to scrape through somehow but I can’t seem to capture the same fluidity with poetry.

However, I firmly believe in the adage that one has to keep trying to overcome one’s weaknesses, otherwise you might be like the shark who stopped trying to get the fish swimming a few feet away from it because it thought there was glass partition between (that had been put at the start of the experiment) them. She had tried to get the fish in the beginning but kept crashing off the partition. She eventually gave up and never bothered to try again. Even after the partition was removed. She thought she could not get them, so she kept swimming where she was. I think the experiment could get quite interesting if the shark was not given anything to eat. I wonder if she would have tried to get to the fish in spite of the built-in knowledge that a partition was present of it was a matter of her survival. I know, I am making the experiment go from cruel to super cruel. But that’s fodder for another blog. Don’t you think so?

Well, I am sure you realize by now that I digress a lot. Well, I am a blogger. I have to be constantly on the prowl for a topic for my next blog! So please to excuse the digresses. Coming back to the topic on hand:

So here goes my attempt to add to these fragments of gold.

Mere air these words, but so delicious to hear,

Like a slight caress overtaking the soul,

A mild breeze that fuels the passion,

A wild thought that blows away all reason,

Creeping in slowly but surely,

Changing you, seizing you, morphing you

Leaving you transformed…

Mere air these words, but oh! So powerful!

(I am going to ignore the groans from the elite part of the world who stuck around and are now grumbling that I did not keep my promise of regaling them with my words. Promises are meant to be broken, aren’t they? Mere air they are too after all!)

You can read a more eloquent and delicious review of these words here Edward Hirsch’s Words