For the letter V, I bring you Vishnu Sharma (also written as Vishnusharma/Vishnusharman among other variants). Vishnu Sharma was an Indian scholar and author who wrote the Panchatantra, a collection of fables that taught the art of intelligent living. These fables influenced many over the ages, including Geoffrey Chaucer and Jean de La Fontaine.
Of the Panchatantra, Franklin Edgerton (linguistic scholar and author of Panchatantra Reconstructed) said, “No other work has played so important a part in the literature of the world as the Panchatantra… (Translated into) Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, English, Old Slavonic, Czech (and fifty other languages)… its range has extended from Java to Iceland. Indeed, the statement has been made that no book except the Bible has enjoyed such an extensive circulation in the world as a whole…Yet, perhaps it is easier to underestimate than to overestimate the spread of the Panchatantra.“
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The Voice of Vishnu Sharma
(A response poem/parallel poem to Shakespeare by Wilbur D. Nesbit)
Vishnu Shama, you most likely have read;
He paid care to his character’s names,
Their dual meanings often led
to different ways to read the tale same.
And Vishnu Sharma himself proved to be true —
To what his name meant, you see;
for his tales aid us, bring comfort and joy too,
And his work, now an all-pervasive immortal legacy.
An octogenarian-author was he,
Skilled in administration, and various arts,
Politics, and even diplomacy,
Also a master of strategy, and all its parts.
Vishnu Sharma held his name with high regard,
Refusing riches, he made a promise to a king,
If six months passed and the princes weren’t smart,
His name he’d give up (if they didn’t learn the art of intelligent living).
He truly believed knowledge wasn’t a good to be sold,
And so, with unconventional ways, he chose to impart,
His teachings, that through five treatises, (in the princes) took hold,
are a treasure, that continue to enrich minds and hearts.
His fables are a reminder
That forests do have dark places within,
Where sometimes the lion is the monster
We hate, sometimes the hero who wins.
The rabbit’s cunning may win the day,
Or the turtle that talks and meets his end.
A monkey’s foolishness may lead to dismay,
While a tiny mouse can prove to be a great friend!
As “Vishnusharma” he is known
But was he real, or himself literary?
While some information exists, it’s dim,
but his tales – they are exemplary!
In some recensions, we do see
Other names – Vasubhaga, for instance.
One translation mentions Vidyapati
Yet none impact Vishnu Sharma’s significance.
His tales are translated far and wide,
In every tongue, their wisdom prevails.
Through the ages, they have survived,
Their impact – a testament that never fails.
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
The Day 26 Prompts Used in My Vishnu Sharma poem
The NaPoWriMo Day 26 prompt asks us to write a portrait poem that focuses on or plays with the meaning of the subject’s name. This could be a self-portrait, a portrait of a family member or close friend, or even a portrait of a famous or historical person.
- Vishnu – meaning ‘all-pervasive’ ‘everywhere and in everything’
- Sharma – meaning ‘bliss’ ‘comfort’ ‘joy’
- Vishnu Sharma – from numerology, the meaning is helper/aiding
The APAD prompt for day 26 over at the Writer’s Digest is to write a response poem. The poem could respond to one of your poems from earlier this month (or ever). Or it could respond to a poem by another poet, whether it’s Emily Dickinson or Ocean Vuong. But why limit it to poetry? You could also write a response poem to the news, to the person who cut you off in traffic, or, well, use your imagination. And then, poem.
- I wrote a response poem in the way of trying to pay ode to another poem by a different poet about a writer. For this, I picked the very amusing Shakespeare by Wilbur D. Nesbit. Granted, I failed in the humor, but tried to have some things similar here.
References and further reading for Vishnu Sharma and the Panchatantra
- Wikipedia page on Vishnu Sharma
- You can read the Panchatantra here on the Internet Archive or via this link to read the many Amar Chitra Katha titles with stories from this collection (search query returns on the Archive)
- This wonderful BBC article is worth a read: The Panchatantra: The ancient ‘viral memes’ still with us
- Amar Chitra Katha: Panchatantra, Hitopadesha and Jataka Collection (Set of 23 titles)
- Pandit Vishnu Sharma’s Panchatantra: Illustrated Tales From Ancient India
My V Books
A Visit to William Blake’s Inn
A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Alice Provensen (Children’s Poetry | 4 – 7 years, and up)
Description: Inspired by William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, this delightful collection of poetry for children brings to life Blake’s imaginary inn and its unusual guests.
My Quick Thoughts
Delightful, original, and one that will have reading it over and over again. I know I would love to visit this inn, so very imaginatively portrayed through fanciful, fun poems and stunning artwork. I am going to stop at this review right here, since I did say ‘quick thoughts’ but once again, ending it with – a truly delightful read.
Voices from the March on Washington
Voices from the March on Washington by J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon (Children’s Historical Books/Poetry | 10 – 14 years, and up)
Description: The powerful poems in this poignant collection weave together multiple voices to tell the story of the March on Washington, DC, in 1963.
My Quick Thoughts
Simply stunning and emotional! Told in the voices of imagined and real participating marchers, and based on interviews, reports, and stories about the march, this one is sure to touch your heart, to motivate, to inspire, and so much more!
Don’t forget to read the introduction and the rich back matter, including the author’s note. Many of the poems are written by the authors, while some have been written by various poets and mentioned in the book.