Poem

The Lion’s Truth

Your highness, you rule!
[Source – Pixabay]

What shade is the lion’s

Truth? Grassland golden, hunting prey in red

Marking the dark night black

Soaking in wet sky blue

Of the stream, cloudy, stony, fish green

And scent heavy wind’s white

Smelling dry muddy earth’s brown

Resting, playing shadows under the sun’s yellow

Colouring death not in sorrow

Mankind behind great walls checks

Time, never finding how come his truth

Is different from the lion’s.

“It is not, truth is truth, same for all”, said the lion.
[Source – Pixabay]

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In The Sundarbans

Poem

[Source – Pixabay]

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Tides rise to meet the sky

In the Sundarbans

As the sky dives frequently

To borrow some condiments

From its marshy islands

For making rain;

Often overdoing, then hitting

The Sundarbans

With cyclones and storms

Flooding itself, the sky

Meets the tides

In the Sundarbans.

*

The Bengal Tiger
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

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Flora and fauna there

Love drama

And everyone’s a fan of the Bengal Tiger,

A method actor,

Its every move, meaningful.

*

And us folks, we take our boats

And get busy earning a living or sightseeing

(Hands tied, backs bent, loans taken, empty stomachs

Populated, polluted, dripping blood, we work so hard to make a living)

When we can simply live,

Live simply, now, here and there

In the Sundarbans.

*

[Source – Pixabay]


Read more about the Sundarbans and also, “Explore Rohan Chakravarty’s Ecologically Conscious Map Of The Sunderbans.”

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Watch these insightful short documentaries to understand the Sundarbans better –

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The Great Indian House

Short Commentary
Old gold!
[Image by Vignesh Murugan from Pixabay]

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The great Indian house, stationary, offering shelter to its inhabitants, was no less than a monster said the poet.

With its welcoming smile and thousand arms it ushered the foreigners to come and stay and to become one with its culture – resistance withered itself away gradually. The time of Rajas, Shahanshahs, travellers, envoys, merchant kings, queens all lived and looted and loved this great Indian house.

This monster’s burning red eyes never blinked said the poet, not even when its inhabitants, its children set each other on fire. It swallowed these deaths, warmly, and sang lost songs.

Who met this monster once couldn’t leave, those who left, came back, every single time, as matter or chatter.

The monster – and so maybe for the want of a better word – fits and breaks the spectrum simultaneously, it is a monster but not evil or kind, not entirely, said the poet.

Reminiscing, hating and loving it, the poet’s poem tells that the great Indian house, with all its filthy incongruities and slow, glossy loveliness, is alive, apparently stationary, yet on the move, grappling impalpably with every idea and action that it warmly, blindly has gathered, is gathering.

The great Indian house when hit by a tempestuous storm, though handling it eventually, even now follows the tradition of first welcoming and serving it hot tea.


A modernist bilingual poet, linguist, essayist, folklorist, philologist, translator and scholar, A. K Ramanujan ‘wrote of the home left behind with a remote passion and irony’. Born in Mysore, Ramanujan moved to the US in the 1960s; settled there, he would remark to friends that he was the hyphen between Indo-American.

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Once upon a time…
[Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay]

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His translation of the Kannada novel Samskara and a Tamil bhakti poetry, Speaking of Siva, into English and the essays like ‘Who needs folklore?’ and ‘Is there an Indian way of thinking?’ allowed the readers to see regional literature in a new light.

The following poem, that inspired this blog post, appeared in Ramanujan’s second collection of poems titled ‘Relations‘ in 1971.


Small-scale Reflections on a Great House

by
A K Ramanujan

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Sometimes I think that nothing

that ever comes into this house

goes out. Things that come in everyday

to lose themselves among other things

lost long ago among

other things lost long ago;

*

lame wandering cows from nowhere

have been known to be tethered,

given a name, encouraged

*

to get pregnant in the broad daylight

of the street under the elders’

supervision, the girls hiding

*

behind windows with holes in them.

*

Unread library books

usually mature in two weeks

and begin to lay a row

*

of little eggs in the ledgers

for fines, as silverfish

in the old man’s office room

*

breed dynasties among long legal words

in the succulence

of Victorian parchment.

*

Neighbours’ dishes brought up

with the greasy sweets they made

all night the day before yesterday

*

for the wedding anniversary of a god,

*

never leave the house they enter,

like the servants, the phonographs,

the epilepsies in the blood,

sons-in-law who quite forget

their mothers, but stay to check

accounts or teach arithmetic to nieces,

*

or the women who come as wives

from houses open on one side

to rising suns, on another

*

to the setting, accustomed

to wait and to yield to monsoons

in the mountains’ calendar

*

beating through the hanging banana leaves

And also anything that goes out

will come back, processed and often

with long bills attached,

*

like the hooped bales of cotton

shipped off to invisible Manchesters

and brought back milled and folded

*

for a price, cloth for our days’

middle-class loins, and muslin

for our richer nights. Letters mailed

*

have a way of finding their way back

with many re-directions to wrong

addresses and red ink-marks

*

earned in Tiruvalla and Sialkot.

And ideas behave like rumours,

once casually mentioned somewhere

they come back to the door as prodigies

*

born to prodigal fathers, with eyes

that vaguely look like our own,

like what Uncle said the other day:

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that every Plotinus we read

is what some Alexander looted

between the malarial rivers.

*

A beggar once came with a violin

to croak out a prostitute song

that our voiceless cook sang

all the time in our backyard.

*

Nothing stays out: daughters

get married to short-lived idiots;

sons who run away come back

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in grand children who recite Sanskrit

to approving old men, or bring

betel nuts for visiting uncles

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who keep them gaping with

anecdotes of unseen fathers,

or to bring Ganges water

in a copper pot

for the last of the dying

ancestors’ rattle in the throat.

*

And though many times from everywhere,

recently only twice:

once in nineteen-forty-three

from as far as the Sahara,

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half -gnawed by desert foxes,

and lately from somewhere

in the north, a nephew with stripes

*

on his shoulder was called

an incident on the border

and was brought back in plane

*

and train and military truck

even before the telegrams reached,

on a perfectly good

*

Chatty afternoon.

*

And the saga continues…
[Image by Victoria_Regen from Pixabay]

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Pourquoi – Why?

Dialogue Poem
Who said am deaf? Who?
(Yummy candy)
Tell me! Loudly, louder! Eh?
[Image by Nicole Pineda from Pixabay]

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Pourquoi, say poh-ko-aa… means why

In French. Why? Yes, why! No! Why

French, all of a sudden?

In between an investigation?

Seems like a classic case of burglary to me.

Oi!! Footsteps! Oh! You stepped on the clue!

Huh, sorry, I did? Where?

No, oh, wait I’ll stand here

Or should I stand next to you?

Stay put you… you!


Pourquoi, say poh-ko-aa… means why

In French. Not again! But why?

Caleb please, stick to English!

Note down his name, he is oddly palish

Staring at us, a nut-job!

Ah-ha! His handprints on the door knob!

But he is the one who called, he is the owner.

No, he is not the owner!

Is he? Well, we’ll see, we’ll see.

Oh, a bloodied knife near the shrubbery?


Pourquoi, say poh-ko-aa… means why

In French. Why are you telling me this, Caleb? Why?

A lovely app, see here, language learning app!

Get lo– Why’s the tap wearing a cap?

Where? There! Oh, red spots again, call back-up, this is a gang—

(Bang, bang, bang!)

(Footsteps, door, footsteps)


Caleb, told you, he’s a nut-job, shot himself

“You f-f-found the knif-f-fe, cap on the tap, f-f-footprints, the deaf-f-f

Cat saw me, aaaahhh, am dying, am dead, am dying, am dead,

But of-f-ficers, know this-s-s, the dead body… is dead…”

What!!?? Hey, hey!! Wake up! Oh! Caleb, he killed someone, he

Is, was a murderer! I’ll call the team, give me the key!

Am not staying with a dead body, you stay here, it is always me!

Why? Tell me, why? WHY?

Pourquoi, say poh-ko-aa… and you’ll know why

In French.

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Interviewing A Busy Ant

Poem
To the right, a bit left, eh, is it fine now, here, I will pose, click now.
[Source – Pixabay]

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Death, destruction, war and earthquake,

Out of these

The path to earthquake site we take.

We are on the move, us ants,

Closer to the ground, we can,

And we will sense tremors and flee,

For it is natural, O giant ban,

“You mean man”, oh, yes, sorry;

We will help the broken, the crushed,

We will liberate the dead.

*

Look that’s my uncle, aunty and foster paa-paa

Walking in a line, and my sister is at the top-aa (of)

The horizontal pyramid,

Our grit strategy, forward march, pebbles, and pray,

March, pebbles, pray, for all who died.

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Ants’ reverence pheromone, invisible, strong

Makes a trail that we then track, and tread along

It, until we reach our… “food?”,

No, you want to be on that trail mat?

“Man”, eh, if yes, silly fool,

You must change the track, straighten your hat,

Tap your shoes, turn, leave, then take a right.

Us ants are on the path to the earthquake site,

“But why – last question!”

For it is natural – earthquakes come and go,

Wars don’t, it’s a destination

For some; unfair bullets hide and kill and lo,

No cliques ever enter the battlefield,

Or maybe they do;

A handshake to shield

And seal, a business deal.

*

Look, us ants are moving in speed,

The earth is muddy there, but we’ll lead,

“You’re doing a good deed.”

Good? It is only natural.

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The Sun, The Moon, The Earth

Poems

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here are the next three poems –

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All hail the majestic fiery sun! Hail, hail!
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Sun

Glorious in this self-sacrificial act,

The sun spins silently on its spot

With an eye open and an eye closed,

Partly seeing the planetary drama and

Partly observing its blind burning core,

Loving-living the old eclipsing folklore.

Never out of tune or shying away

From that routine rotating pathway

As if in meditation and at peace,

Granting us our lives at lease.

*

We assume Time is standing still

Because of our sun’s steady will.

It is but a phase like the earlier ones

Where life played a different game and had won.


Moon-lover one, waiting for moon lover two.
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Moon

Like a wave gushing its way through

The barriers and entering our hearts,

The Moon loves playing the darts,

Winking, listening and inspiring like a true

Poet in practice, moonlight as ink

Together the moon-lovers drink.

Such is the friendship between the seekers

And the moon; safekeeping promises and secrets,

Along with a lonely soul’s rising hope

Of fulfilling a decorated dream and Co.

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And this personification of moon into a friend

And a secret keeper, holding hands till the end

Is another phase, another image of the moon;

Quiet, calm, disciplined, it’s coming out soon.


The awesome dancers, all hail the trio! Hail, hail!
[Source – Pixabay]

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The Earth

On a great grand gargantuan pilgrimage,

Orbiting its way, the same old and unique,

Transforming, adjusting with every coming phase,

Our Earth, our only home, this blue-green maze,

Gravitationally inclined, time-space bound,

Nurtures with freedom the beings found

Inhabiting its being, its vision, its dream;

Rhythmically revolving, rising, but never asleep,

Timed its timing with Time, the Earth

Listens earnestly, abiding by the unknown.

*

How forgetful are we, who are just a phase,

A passing reality on the way to its pilgrimage…

We appear to be short sighted and too eager

To conquer the unconquerable, our planet, our nurturer.

*


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Stories

Poem

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here’s the first poem –

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The LIBRARY!
[Source – Pixabay]

Stories

Once upon a time began a story,

One that preceded the old granny’s,

Kind of majestic, kind of silly…

The story glanced at the human tale

And built the drama of our coming-of-age;

Cultural riches, potions, a legacy in storage

That led the imaginative heart’s dream

To fly high until detained by authority,

That questioned before listening

And answered before knowing.

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Stories adorn with garlands these phases

Of mankind, the world and the universe’s,

Weaving powerful parallel universes

In stories after stories after stories.

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Sharpening the Lens Cavafy Style

Poem Review
Together we wait…
[Source – Pixabay]

Waiting for the Barbarians

By C. P. Cavafy

Translated by Edmund Keeley

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What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

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Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?

Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

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Because the barbarians are coming today.

What’s the point of senators making laws now?

Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

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Why did our emperor get up so early,

and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,

in state, wearing the crown?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.

He’s even got a scroll to give him,

loaded with titles, with imposing names.

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Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today

wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,

rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes

beautifully worked in silver and gold?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

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Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual

to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

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Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?

(How serious people’s faces have become.)

Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,

everyone going home lost in thought?

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Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.

And some of our men just in from the border say

there are no barbarians any longer.

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Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

Those people were a kind of solution.


Steady like a statue.
[Source – Pixabay]

Waiting to take a stand, sitting comfortably, letting the waves cover with silt our body, mind and soul, we continue waiting, living.

Glaring caustically at the silt, we regurgitate pompously.

Unable to cross the maze, we burn the walls down, unable to touch the sky, we pull it to the ground.

Waiting for them to distinguish between the truth and hearsay, to dust off our earnest intentions, to demystify our vision, we humbly stretch and wait.

In waiting for an autonomous lustrous life, we steadily pass by, dulling our society.


C. P. Cavafy, “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe” (as per his friend E. M. Forester), wrote the poem “Waiting for Barbarians” in 1904, juxtaposing the past with our modern thoughts, superimposing the ancient image on the now, yes the now, swiftly jolting the reader from slumber and questioning “this wait”.

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The leaders in ancient Greece, the poem shows, await desperately, in static opulence, for the Barbarians to come and take over everything and to begin mending every disaster, but when they don’t come, the city dwellers are aghast as now they will have to tackle problems and take decisions on their own.

And so the free individual, waiting for an external source to revitalise the life, takes a dip in the bright, glittering mirage, dreading, complaining, ignoring, barricading, adjusting all the while, and refusing to end “the wait”.

But let us not wait anymore…


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Ancient Dusky Rivers

Coverage
The river… sketching its way ahead…
[Source – Pixabay]
The Negro Speaks of Rivers

by Langston Hughes

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I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

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I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


Rivers – streams, creeks, brooks or rivulets – love to flow; flowing towards a sea, lake, an ocean or another river, and at times also drying out. Rivers love to flow just like life.

Most of the earlier civilisations prospered when they settled around rivers, channelizing the same love when drinking its fresh water.

And when mankind sat in a circle around the fire and created stories – of the sun, the moon, the thunder and the wind – they fostered their imaginations and decided to pass on the love running in their blood to a lovely supreme one.

Different supreme ones took the centre stage at different places and myriad dramas unfolded that the rivers watched quietly, flowing, gushing with joy every moment.

Resisting neither the rocks nor filth, accepting the dead and plastic bottles alike, it continues to flow… for now.


Still like a mirror, moving like a reflection…
[Source – Pixabay]

Langston Hughes in his poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers connects the human soul with the world’s ancient rivers; the hands that cupped to drink water, the feet that crossed the river, whatever race it belonged to, felt the same damp calmness every single time they drank water and crossed the river.

Written during the early twentieth century when African Americans struggled to achieve equality and justice, Hughes, presenting a powerful historical perspective in this poem, emphasises the link between his ancestors, the ancient rivers and the rest of the human civilisation.

The Euphrates, often believed to be the birthplace of human civilisation, the Congo, powerful and mysterious, that saw the rise of many great African kingdoms, the magical Nile that carries with poise the secrets of the great Egyptian pyramids, the folklorist Mississippi that shared here the tales of Abraham Lincoln and American slavery – shows how rivers carry the past in its depth, carrying it always with love.

And the one who sees with love can sense the connection between rivers and souls, between them and us; we all started this journey together, the rivers are a testimony.


“I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

Experience and history, though often oppressive, have not extinguished but rather emboldened the development of a soul, the birth of an immortal self, the proud ‘I’ that now speaks to all who will listen.

Christopher C. De Santis

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She, the Infinite

A Poem

She, in red!
[Image by Gil Dekel from Pixabay.]

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For building a house, thought God,

What could be the strongest element to mix

In the foundation so that the house wins over Time?

What could be infinite in nature, powerful and rejuvenating

So that the house nurtures love, peace and joy,

So that the flames of birth and death doesn’t sicken or weaken

This house called the Universe?

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“There is nothing as alive as the feminine part of me,

It is infinite, supreme and divine;

My lovely equilibrium, my alighted spirit,

Fulfil this task, rise-o-infinite!”

-Said God.

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And so the house called the Universe was built with feminine power at its core.

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