Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baby Taj and Views of the Yamuna River

Sara Teasdale, a lyrical poet at the turn of the century (born 1884 in St. Louis Missouri), had an intriguing life. She was sickly for most of her young life, disallowing her to get an education. At age 14, she insisted on going to school with improved health. She so loved writing poems that 5 years after she finished school, she published her first work. Soon thereafter, she published several collections of poetry, lyrical and romantic, and at times dark and moody. She had a knack of firing up the imagination; of a realist's touch that in 1918, she eventually won a Pulitzer for Poetry, as well as the top prize at the annual selection of the Poetry Society of America.

She had a lot of romantic admirers too, and her marital life took some interesting turns as well, ending with a divorce that (believe it or not) she didn't want her husband Ernst Filsinger to know. How can divorce be kept secret from your marital half? Sara died by overdosing on sleeping pills.

I came across her poem, "I Shall Not Care" a few years ago, a poem with musings on mortality and abandonment. But its her piece called "The River" that came to mind during my visit near Yamuna River in Agra. I am sharing it here:

The River

I CAME from the sunny valleys
And sought for the open sea,
For I thought in its gray expanses
My peace would come to me.

I came at last to the ocean
And found it wild and black,
And I cried to the windless valleys,
"Be kind and take me back!"

But the thirsty tide ran inland,
And the salt waves drank of me,
And I who was fresh as the rainfall

Am bitter as the sea.

The Yamuna River isn't merely bestowed its holy symbol. It is also the largest tributary of the River Ganges in northern India. It originates from a glacier on the south western slopes of Banderpooch peaks and crosses several states: Uttrakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (where Agra is), Mimanchal Pradesh and even Delhi. Its water quality is of "reasonably good quality", except where it drifts through Delhi. Yamuna, in Sanskrit, literally means "twins" in reference to its course running parallel to the Ganges. It's even mentioned several times in the Rig Veda, an ancient collection of Vedic Sanskrit Hymns that date as far back as 1700 B.C.

History is such potent stuff. After all, it took us to where we are today. What becomes of someone who ignores history? He becomes an ungrateful entity who doesn't deserve his future.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

South Gate of the Baby Taj, not really a gateway, but a structure that provides symmetry to the "square" figure design of the charbagh.

The Baby Taj aka Itimad-ud-Daulah looks like a small version of the Taj Mahal from a distance, but the stark difference is the absence of a dome at the center. The front of the mausoleum is seen above, while the backside is seen below.



Siddhartha Joshi said...

I liked the history bit, especially about Sara!

The pictures of 'baby' Taj are beautiful...

eye in the sky said...

Sara's story is a sad one, but its good enough to be made into a movie.