We live in a place where summer melts into either more-summer or less-summer. In a place like this, when winter begins to approach, it is forgivable to want to celebrate your soul out. Especially when the gorgeous wintery mornings last only a few hours before melting into more, or less summer. The air is remarkably ‘clear’, there’s a very slight nip in the air. Hindi has a term for it, which will lose its beauty once translated — gulaabi thand. Terms like ‘rosy winter’  come close, but not quite.

Gulaabi thand steps into my routine gently; its footsteps are welcome because of the sehnsucht — yearning — it creates in me. I don’t know what the yearning is for, but it is there. Maybe it is for some more. Or some less? Just like the colours at this time of the year here — some are less, some more.

Typical of me to not talk of what I intend to talk of. This post was meant to be a collection of Elfchen, an interesting form of ‘poetry’, which comes to my mind only when there is a certain yearning. The brevity of it makes the less more, and yet leaves a certain longing for even more. Let me first explain what Elfchen are about.

The Little Eleven, or the Elevenkins

The poem has eleven words, as the German word Elfchen suggests. Elf means eleven, and the suffix ‘chen’ is rather like the ‘kins’ of English. For instance, if I found you really tiny and cuddly, I’d have called you dear readerkins. No? Hell, no! But my feeble example should at least tell you two things — Elfchen are short, and have eleven words.

Let’s proceed.

Elfchen were designed to teach primary school children the art of using words. Adults may want to compose them to play around with words. What fun life offers at every age!

The format is:






where each vertical line represents a word. Every line has a ‘purpose’ designated to it, and may differ from teacher to teacher, eager poet to eager poet. I usually take the first line as a noun, verb or adjective, the second for what I think it does, the third for what or where it is, the fourth for my impression of it, and the last is always the same for everyone — the final summary of the entire noun — the feeling it evokes.

I’ve been wanting to write Elfchen ever since the gulaabi thand has been tinkling around me. Since it is quite easy to pick colours (the theme I often gave my students to write these with), and write about them, I am choosing five colours to sate my desire. And make my weekly post. Have a blissful time, if you will. Here, the duties assigned to the middle lines are different:

1 – Name of the colour

2 – The feeling it evokes

3 – What it reminds me of

4 – What it makes me want to do

5 – The sum of the entire process of feeling (phew)




Remembering pasts,

Of forgotten loves,

Building now on it.






So alive.

Breaking worthless shackles,

Bathe in my own light.






Loving cushion.

Place to rest,

And soar maturer skies.






Restless comfort.

Peace, mocking life.

Pick up a paintbrush!






Is life.

Silly, naive beauty,

Living sunny side up.






Well, that’s it, then. Would you care to try a few of your own? Tell me, if you will.

Note: The featured image for this post’s been taken from


26 thoughts on “Sehnsucht”

  1. lovely and inspired to give it an attempt…never ever tried writing anything remotely like poetry:)but colours…that got me going…so here goes…

    joy unbound
    trees fields around
    running free

    okay maam…waiting for feedback:)

  2. Yours are lovely, Priya. And like Sandypics, above, I’ve not tried this before (though I have written poetry in the past). So here is one, and I’ll try to think of some more later. 🙂

    Gentle warmth
    Mum’s favourite sweets
    Go back in time

  3. Oh Priya, I wish I had more time to relax here at your blog. I don’t have another gentle moment right now to pause and ponder poetry and pause some more. But hope to some time in the near future!

  4. You’re a born teacher. Look how you’ve effortlessly combined German and Hindi with today’s lesson.
    I learned about “etheree’s” from you and now you’re teaching us another really interesting poetry form…

    Elfchen sounds like “elves” to me.

    I love the expression “Gulaabi thand”, and recognize the words.
    (1) There’s an Indian desert called Gulab Jamun which I guess is like a donut in syrup.
    (2) In Zulu “thandi” means “the loved one”

    When you lived in the mountains and you weren’t longing for the winter you didn’t write as passionately. It’s your longing for more than a fleeting glimpse of winter that has goaded you into producing such a beautiful post. Thank you.

    1. Elfchen does sound like elves to me, too, even after all of these years. It’s funny how languages can combine their vocabulary and create confusion!

      Yes, gulab jamun is like a donut in sugar syrup. Only, it’s yummier. Mmmm. Now I am hungry for them. Did you know the young have re-christened them to GJams? Sounds hip, they think. I like it, too.

      Thandi. Such a sweet word. Is the pronunciation THUHndee?

      This is a good explanation for the longing I feel, Rosie. I am going to think about it!

      1. You Pronounce Thandi without the “h”. Like Thames the rives that flows through London.
        Perhaps my writing suffers now that I live at the ocean where its always warm

  5. Priya, your concept is not only inspiring, it’s brilliant. And couldn’t have come more timely (for me). Not because I want to write poetry (I don’t) but because it’s such a simple yet ingenious tool to focus on the essential. A problem solving tool as it were. There you go, Priya, another feather to your portfolio: Priya, the toolmaker.


  6. Such a contrast with Canada’s climate. Winter here wraps around the year from both ends, leaving us with a few months of warmth in the middle. Yet, from your descriptions, I’d say the yearning is the same.

    I liked Purple the best.

  7. Beautifully Done.
    I know I am not good at this, Bet you inspired me to give it a try.
    So here is mine-
    Anguished Reminiscences.
    Hollowness to fill.
    Repainting colors of life.

  8. You made me wana try, and here goes a rather lame attempt 😛


    Eternal devotion

    Of paths unseen

    Breaking barricades of destiny


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