Purge your heart and mind

Purge your heart

The Bard and his tragedies
Expel salt water from our eyes
What catharsis this!

Everyone wants to be happy. To this end, we sometimes try to avoid encountering anything that could make us sad and serious. We shun weepy people. We avoid sad movies and heavy tragic literature. But it is these tragedies in other people’s lives, as depicted in some tragic work of art or literature, that may eventually bring about real and more ‘lasting’ happiness in our lives.

Comedies (and jokes) give instant laughter and happiness but this might be temporary if you are internally very unhappy. In comparison, viewing or reading great tragedies initially brings up emotional tension, along with feelings of pity and fear, till we get too emotional after which we may end up crying, esp. if we can relate to the sad story. It is this emotional release that has many positive effects.

The release of our pent-up emotions is Catharsis. The term catharsis, that was first used by Aristotle in his Poetics, explains the impact of tragedy on audiences – that is purification and cleansing that can lead to renewal of self.

Psychologists also use catharsis, as they want to encourage discharge of built-up feelings in their clients. Weeping or feeling sad is thus not so bad for us if it results in sound mind which leads to improved physical health. That is why, a person who sheds tears off and on is possibly happier than someone who never cries. We all have seen relatives within our families who were known for their jovial laughter and yet had sudden heart-attack – gone in a jiffy. Because they didn’t know how to cry.

Tragedies help in this. But one must learn to learn from tragedies, real or fiction. How much optimum dose of tragic reading/viewing is good for us and how to get the most from it.

William Shakespeare’s dense tragedies like Macbeth, Hamlet  as also Romeo & Juliet leave deep impact on us readers/viewers as they cause catharsis and purgation.  We empathize with the characters caught in conflicts. We pity Macbeth for his ambition.  In Hamlet, we can relate to the dilemma of indecision faced by the main character. That’s because most of our lives we also face this situation –  ‘To be, or not to be, that is the question.’

Often, after exposure to such tragedies our self-evaluation becomes more forgiving.  We tell ourselves –  ‘Hey! It’s ok.  There are others like us who suffer, others who have tragic flaws, who face downfall in life. That’s life. Same for all mortal humans.’
Such thoughts ease our mind. What catharsis this!

After your heart is purged enough, you can strengthen it further by finding ways to laugh. Since we talked about Shakespearean tragedies, here’s a poem that I wrote on Sir Shakespeare is also in good humor:  Request Denied.

Is this post getting too lengthy for a Haiku challenge? See, that’s the problem with writers and poets. Once we start writing, we get so absorbed that we are unable to stop.

The bard in me
gets me too immersed in writing
No need for food or water

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

My Haiku poems and thoughts for Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge
Words given: Bard & Water

Copyright © 2015 Alka Girdhar


Request Denied

My poem in response to The Daily prompt: Ghostwriter
If you could have any author –living or dead – write your biography, who would you choose?


For e-book of my life-story
I invoked, the one and only
legendary Sir Shakespeare.

He looked at me to assess
then refused my request.
Thus he spoke and justified

Brown Lady!!  I do love personae
with some tragic flaw, but
dost not thou have too many?

I looked up at him and appealed.
Life’s been a comedy of errors
dost it not appeal you, Sir?

The Bard let out a hearty laugh
looked fondly, but lo and behold
he vanished without a response.

Bewildered I was but my guess
the idea of e-book daunted him
for he had no internet access.


Why Brown Lady? That’s because Shakespeare had never seen an Indian woman before.
But Sheakespeare had his mysterious Dark Lady as mentioned in his Dark Lady Sonnets


Your Life, the Book

Picture credit: fast

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