Lost and Found: A Journey through Vladlen Podolian’s ‘Path’

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16.09.23 Maria Bregman is a journalist, writer and researcher in contemporary literature and culture.

In the realm of poetry, where words are brushstrokes on the canvas of the soul, Vladlen Podolian’s poem “Path” emerges as a poignant expression of human yearning and existential wanderlust. Through a seemingly simple yet profoundly evocative narrative, Podolian weaves a tale of restlessness, introspection, and the ceaseless pursuit of elusive fulfillment. In this analysis we shall unravel the intricacies of Podolian’s verse and attempt to decipher the abstract emotions painted with his poetic words.

The poem begins with an intimate glimpse into the persona’s weary state, where the “Firelight / Sparkled in my sleepy eyes.” These initial lines set the stage, immersing the reader into a contemplative ambiance. The interplay of light and weariness hints at the dual nature of the human condition—a delicate balance between vitality and fatigue, hope and weariness.

As we delve deeper, the poet embarks on a philosophical voyage, contemplating the quest for happiness and connection. The lines, “Look for happiness in the distance on foreign shores. / And in the souls of others…” resonate with the universal desire to seek joy beyond one’s immediate realm and within the tapestry of human relationships. Here, Podolian subtly implies the universality of the human experience—our shared pursuit of contentment and the paradox of searching for it in distant lands and in the hearts of others.

The kaleidoscopic imagery introduced through, “People’s faces are like in a kaleidoscope,” evokes a sense of transience and complexity in human encounters. This metaphor accentuates the fleeting nature of these interactions and the ever-changing patterns that life weaves, resembling the shifting images in a kaleidoscope.

The poet continues to unfold the narrative, capturing the weariness of an endless journey and the weight of spiritual hunger. The phrase, “Endlessly wandering from city to city,” paints a vivid picture of a soul in perpetual motion, driven by an insatiable quest for something intangible—perhaps purpose, belonging, or enlightenment.

Amidst the uncertainties, the protagonist grapples with existential questions—searching for meaning and purpose. “What am I looking for? / To be honest, I don’t know the answer myself,” encapsulates the essence of human existence—an ongoing quest for understanding, identity, and meaning, often undertaken with a lack of clear direction.

The subtle nuances of emotion and struggle intensify as the poem progresses. The mention of “Slight squint / Hides his eyes from the dusty wind” presents a vivid image of vulnerability and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. It portrays the ability to shield oneself, to persevere and endure, even when faced with adversity.

A recurring theme of longing and thirst emerges, portraying an unquenchable yearning for something beyond the tangible—be it a literal thirst for water or a metaphorical thirst for fulfillment and purpose. The phrase, “I’m thirsty / There is no one who will satisfy it,” resonates with the universal longing for something beyond the material realm, something that transcends the boundaries of the physical world.

Yet, amidst this searching, there is a glimmer of hope, a belief in an eventual resolution. “But one day I believe / I will find that same treasured spring,” conveys an enduring optimism, a conviction that the relentless quest will lead to the discovery of that which has been sought. It epitomizes the eternal human spirit—hopeful, resilient, and persistent.

The poem’s denouement provides a sense of closure and resolution to the relentless journey. The anticipation of finding solace and being embraced with the words, “You’ve finally come home,” signifies the end of the journey and the ultimate attainment of peace, acceptance, and belonging.

Vladlen Podolian’s poem “Path” invites readers to traverse the labyrinth of human existence—a journey fraught with longing, introspection, and the perpetual quest for meaning. Through vivid imagery, introspective questions, and evocative metaphors, the poem serves as a mirror reflecting the complex tapestry of human emotions and aspirations. Podolian’s poetry invites interpretation, leaving room for personal reflection and the discovery of one’s unique emotional connection with the verses.

The Path.

The glow of the fire

Sparkled in my sleepy eyes.

I’m so tired.

To seek happiness in the distance on foreign shores.

And in the souls of others.

How many of them have I seen in my life?

People’s faces like a kaleidoscope.

Many of them are probably no longer alive.

How long have I walked?

Endlessly travelling from town to town.

How much longer

do I have to put up with my soul hunger?

What am I looking for?

To be honest, I don’t know the answer myself.

A slight squint

Hides my eyes from the dusty wind.

At dawn I’ll get up,

My feet will lead me on my way again.

Through dozens of shelters,

Without knowing the warm comfort of home.

I’m thirsty,

There’s no one to quench it

But I believe one day

I’ll find the spring that I’ve been waiting for.

The soul will stop floundering

# It’ll find its long-awaited rest

And someone will embrace me and say:

“You’ve come home at last.”

Vladlen Podolian

2018

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