Couplets are a common form of poetry. Always in two lines, they are also governed by the usual rules of prosody. I was first attracted to couplets as a teen upon reading Tirukkural: an amazing collection of two lined wisdom that adorns Tamil literature. Later in life I came to know about the dohe of Kabir Das and also a few Urdu shers. Of course, the great epics Ramayana and te Mahabharata are composed in beautiful Sanskrit couplets.
Eventually I discovered couplets, rhyming and unrhyming, in French and German, Italian and Spanish also, and became very fond of them.Some are serious, and some light-herted. Here are some examples:
anbum aranum udaittâyin ilvâzhkkai
paNbum payanum adu.
(If love and virtues in a home are there,
These are merits and rewards in the domestic air.) [TiruvaLLuvar)
Jaise til mein tel hai, jyon chakmak mein âg
Tera sayeen tujh mein hai, tu jaag sake to jaag
As there is oil in the sesame seed, and fire in the stone,
The Divine is within, you can realize on your own. [Bhakta Kabir]
Tout croire est d’un imbecile,
Tout nier est d’un sot.
To believe everything is a foolish man.
To Deny everything is a stupid man. [Charles Nodier]
Der Worte sind genug gewechselt,
lasst mich auch endlich Taten sehn!
Enough words have been exchanged;
At last let me also see some action. [Goethe]
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace. [Andrew Marvell]
A couple of decades ago, during summer breaks, I started scribbling my own couplets on a variety of random themes. Later, I put them in order. I would like to present these for the next few weeks.
I invite you to read these Rhyming Reflections and enjoy them or suffer them, comment on them or just ignore them. So here they come:
I. BELIEF SYSTEMS
1. Faith is an anchor: it keeps you on shore;
Doubt is a sail: it helps you explore.
2. Those who swear that faith is true
Have their own faith oft in view.
3. If one’s heart you wish to break
Try that person’s faith to shake.
4. Wreck not a faith that’s runing deep,
If you can’t give ought else to keep.
5. They’re targets oft of peoples’ hate
Who try their faith do desecrate.
6. When pain and sorrow haunt the mind
In faith can one much solace find.
7. Faith can’t cure all physical ills;
But other needs it amply fills.
8. The Gods above cannot subsist
If faith below does not exist.
9. Faith isn’t belief with no proof for it;
It’s belief with proof for the opposite.
10. Faith accepts sans rhyme or reason,
As one eats sans thoughts of poison.