Friday, December 21, 2007

Of desire and regret

The first time I read this particular poem by Russian poet Vera Pavlova in the New York subway, it stayed in my mind because it reminded me of a little poster that used to be in my grandmother's house in Madras when I was growing up, stuck behind a glass cabinet, that went along the lines of:

The more you study, the more you learn
The more you learn, the more you forget
The more you forget, the less you learn
So why study?

Growing up, I used to think it was quite brilliant and very amusing, and my grandfather used to point to it and laugh whenever I said I had so much to study. I just found out (like right now, thanks to this glorious invention called the internet), that the person who wrote that was someone called Don Akchin. (Thanks, Don!)

And so, the first time I saw the lines below in the subway, I thought they were interesting because of the connect. But of course there is much more to it, in the philosophical sense - it is rather beautiful, I think. The New Yorker even published a set of four poems, of which this is one, by Pavlova earlier this year.

If there is something to desire,
there will be something to regret.
If there is something to regret,
there will be something to recall.
If there is something to recall,
there was nothing to regret.
If there was nothing to regret,
there was nothing to desire.

- Vera Pavlova (b. 1963), translated from the Russian by Steven Seymour

8 comments:

Shimmering Mercury said...

Ok, i think i discovered you on my own! To think i've been here before and not known it's YOU:) I really like your blog template, btw...and indeed, your writing!

wanderstruck said...

Ha ha - you did indeed! Thanks for the compliments..!

Shilpa Bhatnagar & Ritin Tandon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shimmering Mercury said...

...and many happy returns of the day! Happy Birthday:)

wanderstruck said...

Thanks again!

Oksana said...

"The more you study, the more you learn
The more you learn, the more you forget
The more you forget, the less you learn
So why study?"

"I just found out (like right now, thanks to this glorious invention called the internet), that the person who wrote that was someone called Don Akchin. (Thanks, Don!)"

Whoever it was, I do not think it was Don. These are lines from a popular song of pirates from a Russian Movie "The Mystery Known to Everyone"(1981). If you can understand any Russian, here is the link from youtube where the pirates sing the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd1_8vXIPrg

I also read that the originally that was a song of English students.

ladybonq said...

i saw the same pavlova poem in a ny subway station when i visited in feb this year. :) i took a picture of it and was trying to find the author when i stumbled upon your blog. nice background ,btw.

Don Akchin said...

For the record, I am not the originator of the little ditty about study. It was a popular witticism when I was in high school, and I thought it was appropriate as an introductory quote for an article I wrote about studying (published close to 30 years ago). The Internet gives me too much credit.

Don Akchin
www.donakchin.com