Resurrection It’s said1
that, close to solstice, Jesus, born
To Mary, lay
within a manger, there
Bethlehem, in ancient Palestine.
written in the Gospels that,
he was crucified – and then,
he lay, he rose – as Christ, reborn.
And is this
true or not? I cannot say.
myths and truths have mated, mixed,
who’re born to women, turned divine…
is an ancient theme –
And one, in
which we gladly would believe.
seeds, from plants that die, yet live.
And each who
dies has left a seed behind,
Be it from
loins issued or from mind.
And if that
grows or not, depends on soil.
air and sunlight too, it needs.
And if these
all are granted, lo, behold –
rose from dying, so does each.
2013 December 25th, Wed. Gregorian Christmas Day Brooklyn, New York Note: 1.The actual day, month and even year of Jesus’ birth is
unknown.From the accounts in
the Gospels, it was during a season when shepherds were still out with their
flocks and a census was being conducted.If the climate in Palestine was similar to that which now prevails there,
with cold, drizzly winters and temperatures occasionally dipping below freezing, this points to a season other than winter, thus excluding December. So the choice of December 25th (which
currently falls on the Gregorian January 7th in the uncorrected Julian
calendar still followed by the Orthodox churches) may have been a compromise with
paganism, or a co-opting of the pagan winter-solstice festival. Similar accommodations mark
much of traditional Christianity, including the core belief in Jesus’ resurrection and
divinity. So this Christianity may be thought of as a confluence of Hellenic (more generally, Indo-Perso-European)
cultural and religious outlooks, beliefs and customs with those of the monotheist
Hebraic stream. The latter may be represented, somewhat more faithfully, by current Orthodox Judaism
and much of Sunni Islam. Some Protestant branches of Christianity moved, during and after the Reformation, closer
to these and away from Catholic and Orthodox (including Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian)
Christianity, as well as most other previously dominant Christian Church traditions.
For some, it's womanizing – and some women frequent bars.
And others yet might while their time in starting bloody wars.
For some, it's all their gadgets – and for some, it's devil-drink.
In gambling, by so many names, some others, fortunes sink.
But my addiction started on a leave from a job I had.
It started pleasantly enough but grew to be really bad.
And soon, I realized this – and I saw it getting worse.
But though I tried to stop, I couldn't cease from writing verse.
I wonder whether I will ever once again be sober,
Whether my intoxication will, at last, be over.
I wonder whether I will walk – and sighting cloud or tree,
Restrain myself , on hearing verse that's yearning to be free.
I wonder what's the sense of all the work I do each day,
And all the weekend verse I type that will be thrown away.
At least for one I get a check – and students (some) may profit,
Versifying? Who is there, with a high opinion of it?
For I can write my verses till I meet my mortal end,
At all their gravity, at courts of poetry, pretend.
But most of what I write would make the master poets laugh.
And every village has its rhymes, beside which mine are chaff.
For who can match a Wordsworth or an Omar at their best?
And only when I'm gone will what I write have passed its test.
But should we try, in verses, to compete or to excel?
And should I only write a line and wait – for time to tell?
You know that I have written much, but little that's of worth.
And yet I write – and will perhaps, until I'm one with earth.
For every bard, whose songs are rarely sung, may still aspire
For precious lines, that she has birthed, to live, though she
For truly, just as parents rear a child and then release it,
So also, poets nurse a line, but only so's
to free it.
And so it is, I do believe, with all creative labor,
We only wish to let it go, whose joy of birth, we savor.
And though, for every poem, I can point to woe or season,
So every gambler has his hope – and every drunkard, reason.
But all around, I see the folk I cherish blow like leaves.
No child some leave, except the ones, in which a poet believes.
December 23rd, Mon. (1st,
2nd, 4th & final stanzas added Dec. 25) Brooklyn,
none could see through it.For each was
seemed to her, within a private hell.
of this was she, and how much they,
strangers, passing, in that urban cold,
sister – born to sun, of sky and heart,
I do not
know – for this, she did not tell.
she saw were tense expressions – frowns,
lack of recognition, which our towns
on those who yield.And this extends
around, as if all else were dead.
much, I can now surmise, with sight
then lacked – that she perhaps was wise,
that I’d never known,
could see, how troubled were those souls,
locked within themselves – and round and round
endless circles of frustration bound,
self consuming self, without an out
friendship, love, or care for what’s without…
this isolation – the living grave
life within efficient towns,
human contact and affections are
– where so many daily live
jackals lone, whom Nature made as dogs –
leads, I think, to higher suicide rates
Scandinavia, where the Vikings live
indoor warmth, in winters cold and dark.
lack, perhaps, that rawest sustenance
humans give, to others of their kind,
demands and their annoying ways
draw us out of selves – and into sun.
we see this, in the truest light,
not turn away, although our souls
May need a refuge, finding deep delight
quietness – as in a silent night.
How much of this, my sister had surmised,
How much she hadn’t, only she could tell,
Who told me, Boston seemed a rung of hell.
I’m sure Bostonians might, at this, object.
And one experience, on a winter’s eve,
Should not be used to beat a city down.
But this I know, what Monua then perceived,
Had left its scar.I heard – and I believed.
For Boston’s just a marker.What she saw,
We all might see in cities ‘round the world.
Wherever men and women take to heart
The dictates of the demon-engine, there
We find the blight that rots us from within.
It leaves us sickened, faces turned to masks,
As each is writhing in what Dante scribed –
A place infernal, though we walk on earth.
June 4th, Sun. Berkeley,
& with the last two stanzas added, 2013
Dec. 19th, Thu., Brooklyn, New York) In Memoriam Monua Janah 1959 – 2004
Note on pronunciation:My late sister’s name, Monua,
has, in Bangla (Bengali), three smoothly joined and almost evenly stressed syllables,
Mo-nu-a, with the three vowels being as in English “gold” (but shorter),
“put” (but slightly longer) and “arm” (but shorter).
The first vowel gets, usually, just a slight
emphasis – through a bit more of duration and loudness. Since the last two vowels form a smooth diphthong,
her name might also be thought of as having just two syllables, Mo-nua,
with the “u” being, however, a distinct short “u”, (as in “put”) not a “w”.