Friday, February 28, 2014

This Winter of Pain

This Winter of Pain
There is dark in this winter, and it robs me of sight,
For the skies have been drained of their color and light.
There is pain in this winter, and it robs me of peace,
For my rest, it is troubled, and my work does not cease.

What happens, in winter, to the sap of the tree,
Has happened, perhaps, to that spirit in me
That whispered those verses that I would then write,
In springtime and summer and fall, with delight.

Like the leaves of the trees when the winter has come,
The lines that I wrote in the past have become.
They have withered and faded and fallen away.
The winds of December took remnants of May.

If I last through the winter and I witness the spring,
To the muses of diction, my notebook, I’ll bring.
If I then am admitted to pleasures, I’ll write,
As the wardens of winter are fading from sight.

Then the sap will be flowing again in the tree,
From its exile returning – from its prison, set free.
And the lines that I write will be fluid again,
As I’m freed of this winter, this winter of pain.

Then the leaflets and petals will open to light,
And the birds, in the morning, will chirp in delight.
Then the spirit will whisper to me in my dreams,
And I shall write stanzas with iambs in reams.

But that season, so fruitful, is imagined at best,
And my reason insists that these fancies, I test
With a touchstone of winter – an icicle clear –
That tells me – that season I crave is not near.

My muses have vanished, and I’m left with the snow.
My sight, it has faded, and I’ve nowhere to go.
In the grayness of winter, in this season of cold,
In the pain and the darkness, I am weary and old.

And if I am pitied, then what of the one
Who sits on the street, where the winter is fun –
Or even of her, who has shelter in walls,
But no heat for the winter – as the poorer befalls?


But if I should come to the ending with this,
I might rob you, myself, of your remnant of bliss.
So I’ll end this – not that way – but instead with a poke:
My moaning for self – it was mostly a joke!

For who but a child, who’s been spoiled by its mother,
Would cry out in furor, creating a bother,
When its mother had left it alone, for a minute?
So know, though I’m bawling, there’s little that’s in it.

For I’ll live through this winter, harsh though it is –
And in snow that is sullied, find crystals of bliss.
And even in winter, in the pain and the dark,
I shall call like the mythical bulbul and lark.                \1

To the reader, dear reader, whose patience I test: –
I wish for you – pleasure that is truly the best,
The pleasure that has in it essence of joy –
The thrill that the muses of diction enjoy.

For the muses find pleasure, where others find pain.
And this is what poets and women explain...
But the poets, they prattle, while the women are still.
For the women are sane, while the poets are ill.

But if, as may happen, a poet’s a dame,
Then all that I’ve written will appear to be lame.
And further on this, in the cold and the snow,
Would weary the reader – so I’ll bow and I’ll go.

2014 February 28th, Fri.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

1.  Although the bulbul and the lark are real families of songbirds, their symbolic uses in Persian and English poetry, respectively, may perhaps justify the reference to their poetic incarnations as "mythical" – at least for those of us who have never seen or heard the real birds in their natural habitats.  

Some other word, such as "acclaimed" or "legendary", might have been more appropriate, but I could not find one to fit the meter.  (For those interested in such things, the beat used here is tetrameter in the anapaest -- although some of the lines begin with an iamb.)
The birds referred to as bulbuls in English are found over much of Asia and  northern Africa.  However, in Arabic and so also in its borrowers, such as Farsi (Persian) and Urdu, the word bulbul is used for what, in English, would be the nightingale.  
The larks are spread over Europe, Asia and proximal parts of Australia (with one species in North America).  
All of the birds mentioned so far are passerines, thus being members of the largest order of birds.  This order includes many of the aves that even city-dwellers know by sight and sound, including the common ground sparrow.
I would like to thank the reader for her/his patience in reading so far.  For making the footnote possible, I would also like to thank the anonymous ones who labor, unpaid, on Wikipedia articles.  
While I'm at it, let me express my gratitude to the parents, teachers and others, often equally bereft of acknowledgement, who spend long hours, over many years, on thankless duties that sustain so many of us, even in the harshest of seasons.  -- Arjun / Babui

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