It came to me on its way to publication, a scanned copy of a handwritten poem. Just a matter of routine; an FYI.  I ran my eyes over it quickly, and then I read it carefully, again.

I did not know the poet – was she young? old? a teenager? a mother?

There was anguish and pain in the writing, and it touched somewhere deep inside. I wondered who she was; and then I closed it and went on with my business.

The subsequent day, I spoke to the lady who had forwarded the poem to me. In passing, I asked about this unknown poet. And in the next fifteen minutes, the young poet’s sad life unravelled before my eyes.

I went back to the poem again and read it with new eyes. Those ten or so lines – that was her story. The story I had just listened to. How did I miss it when I read it the first time? Why was I not able to decipher it? Why did I not see her heart?

That’s the beauty of poetry, I think. When we read it, knowing nothing of its origin, there is beauty, but it is veiled. We try to connect it with our life and give it a meaning, we appreciate something we perceive in it.

We don’t really wonder why the poet wrote this, or how the philosophy occurred to her, or why her lines have the power to reduce us to tears, or what inner fire caused her words to blaze like this. We probably think it insignificant. Did it come to her one sunny morning while she was sipping tea? Or when she was relaxed and happy? What difference would it make to us, if she were angry or frustrated or vengeful or in the throes of grief?

It is from our deepest pain that the most beautiful works of art are born. I would not wish such pain on anyone, but if we’re destined to endure some, I’d rather its direct consequence be a masterpiece.