For every woman who, from pleasure, sighed,
For every man who heard that sigh and felt
The bond between be strengthened even more,
I now put pen to paper. I had knelt
In supplication, in my callow youth,
Before the ancient goddess and had prayed
But when I served instead her human form,
I knew my faith would never be betrayed.
For though a woman, like a man, can stray,
The thrill that’s felt, when hands have touched or when
The consummation reaches inner depths,
Will still be there - as insight stays, in Zen.
And you might say. “It’s foolishness to place
Such weight on fleeting things - like sun and rain,
The passions and the loves of humans pass -
But leave behind their residues of pain.”
And you are right, of course, but so am I,
For even though my love be only such
As I imagined in my dreaming, I
Have felt, in every cell, its tingling touch,
And feeling this, awakened, saw anew
The outer and the inner worlds and so
Was by that eros so transfigured that
I needed then divinities no more.
For every woman who has uttered sighs
And heard her lover’s utterance as well,
And felt that bond between be strengthened, I
Now write these lines and in that sighing dwell.
And some might say that this is foolishness
And they are right, of course, but so am I.
But who agrees with me, excepting when
From parted lips there rises, soft, the sigh?
Like mother’s love and all that’s innocent,
The joy of eros cleanses heart and mind.
It sweeps away the dirt and dust of time.
Where harshness was, it leaves perception kind.
It cures the dullness that’s our time’s disease.
It levels high and low, for eros comes
Unbidden and cannot be kept by force
Or wages, but in joyful freedom hums.
And so, when eros leaves, do not attempt
To lure it back or threaten it with woe.
Be grateful then that you were touched by it,
And being grateful, let it freely go.
For though the loss is painful, let it be.
The pain of losing love - of woman, man -
Of parent, child or friend - is harsh, indeed -
And eros is where all of these began.
As long as men and women have a boss or work as bosses, So long will they have cavities that can't be fixed with flosses. So if you go to work, one day, while wearing just a thong, Perhaps you'll strike a blow for those, who'll honor you in song. And if you are a man, perhaps this might not work out well, But if a woman, when retiring, try it -- what the hell! And if you think, by then your body might be out of shape, Then go to work, that final day, while dressed up as an ape, And jump upon a table, stomp your feet and thump your chest, So bosses, seeing this, might from their bossing take a rest.
I met, upon my way from work, a pretty little pussy.
It's fur was dark as midnight and was sprinkled so with stars!
I stopped to stroke that pussy but it jumped up in the air
And zipped across the street. Right then, there weren't any cars.
"Oh pretty little pussy!" I called to it aloud,
And made all kinds of noises – but that pussy ran away.
And so I walked home slowly and I wondered if I'd see
That pretty little pussy on the street another day.
But as I turned the corner to my house, what did I see?
A big and ugly bow-wow dog that barked aloud at me!
I felt a little frightened, for that dog was big and fierce.
But still I kept on walking and I hid away my fears.
But then the dog quit barking and instead it ran at me!
I stood for just a second. Then I ran, like one-two-three!
I ran and ran and looked behind and saw the dog had turned.
I waited till it disappeared. A lesson, I had learned!
The moral? With a pussy, you should wait for it to come.
If the pussy gets to like you, then it might become your chum.
But if you see a doggie that is barking, don't advance.
For that doggie then could chase you, and could bite you in your pants.
“There once was a creator…” the myths of yore began,
“And then came the creation…” and so the stories ran.
But whence this said creator – and where she now is hidden,
Were questions sans an answer – and often were forbidden.
The fabric of the universe is a thing of change and flow
And yet there are the matrices, the substances and more.
So through the ages men and women asked themselves “Who did it?”
That mystery of Genesis persists, though some dismiss it.
For now we're told, "Creators – and creation too – is out."
So these are now forbidden. We can question, we can shout –
But for doing so, we’re punished – and we're banished, as of old.
There’s no burning or beheading – but we do as we are told.
And so our new religions replace the ones before.
But we wonder – are we clearer now or clouded even more?
There’s energy, there’s matter, there is space and there is time,
There is ignorance and knowledge – and these beings that can rhyme…
When the fabric was being woven, who was handling then the loom?
Was the weaving automated? Was there no one in the room?
It’s the same for all creation, including you and I.
We wove ourselves together. Don’t ask me how or why.
And when you’d been assembled, so your parts were all in place,
There came to be this person, with a name and with a face.
But if I were to wander, from cell to cell within,
To look where you are hiding, I’d find there’s no one in.
“Is so and so within you?” I might ask a working cell.
And if that cell could answer, what story would it tell?
It does not know this person, of which it is a part.
And neither do your organs – your liver, brain or heart.
This "I" is thinking, typing – but where does it reside?
We say – “within a cranium” – but no one’s there inside.
A giant swarm of cells there is, and each is humming low,
But where, in this, the “I” is hid, who dares to say they know?
For how does “who” arise from “what”? What makes the infant scream
Her “Me, me, me!” and thump her chest? Are “I” and “you” a dream?
No border can be drawn indeed, no line in time or space,
Where I or you begin from naught or end without a trace.
And yet we’re each convinced of “I” and “you” and “he” and “she” –
The beings that appear to have the right to persons be –
In human form or animal, perhaps as plants as well –
Or robed as gods and goddesses that in our heavens dwell.
So surely, to dismiss the "I" and "you" and all the rest
As fictions mere, shows disrespect and may not be the best.
But then the question still remains – of what, this "I" and "you"?
Is “spirit” then the answer? I will leave that knot for you.
But do not swallow answers pat – the old ones or the new.
There’s more in this than meets the eye – or so’s my humble view.
The question here is deep, I think – yet usually avoided.
It’s worth our while to think on it – and not to simply void it.
On the sands, beside the ocean,
I did the dancer meet,
As the waves were drum-rolls sounding
And the wind was fluting sweet.
She danced of the creation,
Of the genesis, of sex –
She was god and man and woman,
She was nature – nothing less.
From the sweat, her face was shining,
Though the breeze was blowing cool,
With the surf behind her roaring
As she danced before this fool.
I was spellbound by her dancing –
That was sensual and divine.
I stood and watched her postures
And the play of gestures fine.
With her feet, she stomped a rhythm –
Primordial, heartbeat, lust –
And her torso swayed to lilting –
That of sky that calls to dust.
She was thunder, she was lightning,
She was wind, torrential rain,
She was each of all the seasons,
She was pleasure, she was pain.
She was joy and she was sorrow,
She was laughter, she was grief.
And my heart, by her, was stolen –
By this dancer, like a thief.
So the gods may ask allegiance
That the strongest can’t resist;
So the musk may rouse the senses
And on mating, then insist…
But the dance then rose in tempo,
As coitus too may do,
And it reached, in time, a climax,
With my heart convulsing too.
And then, as she was flowing
And was swaying, I was freed
And I floated, by that seaside,
Like a wave-tossed broken reed.
I think I fell unconscious
And I lay there for a time.
When I woke, there was no dancer –
So I've danced her back in rhyme.
But if you find her dancing –
By an ocean, on a beach,
Beware – for those who watch her
Will be captured by her, each…
Let my rhymes be then sufficient
For the ones, who’re weak of heart –
Though they be a pale reflection
Of the wonder of her art.
Her face was flushed – her beauty
Was like the morning mist,
Her lips were slightly parted –
Her face, by moisture kissed.
Her hips were circling slowly,
Her arms were waving high,
Her hands were weaving stories,
And her eyes were darting sly.
Was she air or was she ether?
For she leaped in wondrous arcs
And she landed like a feather,
Yet the sand flew out like sparks.
She was sparkling, like a fountain,
She was flowing, like a stream.
Was she a woman – or a goddess?
Was she real – or a dream?
I do not know the answers,
But that dancer, I can see –
For I’d seen, myself, her dancing,
By the breakers, by the sea…
There are things we can imagine.
There are others, that we can't –
That are spoken of in whispers –
Or in hymns the faithful chant.
I have witnessed such a wonder –
As I've seen, myself, my hand.
But whence and how and wherefore,
I do not understand.
2015 January 18th, Sun. Brooklyn, New York Please see: The Dances of the Golden Hall, by Ashoke Chatterjee (text) and Sunil Janah (photographs), ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations), New Delhi, 1979. This book, designed by Zehra Tyabji and printed at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, has a short Introduction by Indira Gandhi and a Foreword by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
You say that you have lost your sense of self,
been sundered into pieces, scattered, strewn…
You ask me how you might collect yourself.
I wish I knew a method to rejoin
your broken bits. Instead, I’ll offer this.
If you were free to leave this Earth and roam
the depths, and with the solar wind could fly
beyond the planets and the comet-clouds,
you then might glimpse the truths that some deny.
When lost within the interstellar dark,
or even out between the galaxies,
there’s still that foam that bubbles up from naught
and gives you substance, likewise giving birth
to all that swirls and feeds the fiery dance.
And in the interstices, you might find
the workings of that universal mind –
the Brahma of the pantheists – that bears
the Yahweh-Allah feared by Abraham...
That desert god was jealous, as were those
the Greeks had placed upon Olympus high.
And if indeed the gods are judged by what
is deemed as their creation, surely then
they’re all a heartless bunch of nincompoops.
And yet, perhaps, within the endless void,
on seeing distant lights that flare and die,
you’d come to hear the murmuring of those,
who still persist in asking, “Why, oh why?”
And if there be an answer, you’d return
and share with mortals what that reason is.
And if there isn't, or it can’t be known,
you still might tell your tales of wondrous things
to us, who’re bound by our terrestrial birth.
To travel out, upon a flare, and see
our local sphere – and then, the dark, to view –
to turn towards the fading sun and be
where nothing is – might bring you back to you…
You’re lost and scattered? So, the atoms are.
The light is speeding out to who knows where.
And yet, amidst that chatter – hear the song.
The atoms chant in all their alto keys.
You’re born to die – and yet you still belong.
So why such travels out, to realms of cold?
Why leave your planet’s womb to course the dark?
Such ventures, you might leave to natures bold,
and turn to journeys inwards, on this ark…
For all the truths you might discover there,
beyond the planets and the cloud of Oort –
You'll find them here, upon this spinning Earth
and in that self that viewing can dissolve –
to leave that void that still gives birth to all...
So I have offered you a dream and then
have told you that it's worth is null and naught,
except perhaps to see the trap in which
the ones who're lost and those who're found are caught.
যে গান গাই (The Songs We Sing-এর অনুবাদ) পুরনো গানের সুরে, আমরা গাইছি নতুন গান৷ গানের স্রোতে আসছে, শোনো, প্রাচীন যুগের প্রান৷ অতীত থেকে কান্না-হাসি, বিদ্যা-বুদ্ধি নিয়ে, বইছে নদী আসছে-যুগে, আজের গীতি দিয়ে৷ বনের মাঝে, এলো কানে বনবাসীদের গাওয়া৷ মনে হল বইছে যেন পুরান কালের হাওয়া৷ কত দিনের আগের কথা, সেই হাওয়াতে ভাসে৷ কবে যারা চলে গেছে, মনে আবার আসে৷
নতুন পাতার জন্ম হল, প্রাচীন গাছের ডালে৷ মাটির নিচের শেকড় দিয়ে, অতীত থেকে টানে নতুন গানের ছন্দ-মানে, নতুন সুরের দোল৷ মায়ের থেকে জন্মে, শিশু ছাড়বে ক্রমে কোল৷ নতুন গানে থাকে যদি মূল্য খাঁটি সার, রইবে গাওয়া, আমরা যখন হয়েছি নদী পার৷ বনের পথে হেঁটে হেঁটে, হয়ত তখন কানে আসবে, কারোর, মোদের গীতি, দুলবে সুরের টানে৷ সকাল ১১:৩০ রবিবার, ১১-ই জানুয়ারি ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক This is a translation, into Bengali, of:
The wonders of a land that still is filled
with all the riches human hands and minds
had wrought in ages past – the thoughts and crafts,
the songs and dances that enriched the lives
of our ancestors – these, we've long ignored,
accepting, as our own, the foreign garb
of those who came to plunder, aping ways
of distant lands – and even spurning speech
of parents for the tongues of conquerors
who long have left in body, leaving us
with one more layer yet to add to those
the settlers and the raiders past had laid,
from Arya tribes to Central Asian hordes –
with every foreign vice accepted, while
our own remained, with virtues rarely learned
of those who came, while native ones were spurned –
and from our actions and the ones before
there rises, like a strange, familiar dream,
our India, this, the country dear we love,
that’s filled as much with wonder as with woe,
where sorrows new are overlaid on old,
where justice rarely, in a life, is found –
that yet remains for us our hallowed ground,
on which, in peasants' phrases, you will find
the wisdom of the seers of the past
and in the laughter of the tribals you
will hear the echoes of the ages yet
and all the innocence that still remains
untouched at heart by streams of filth that flow
from sources old and new to settle, dank,
on sediments that build the rock below.
Bathos It's been a while that you have gone. I miss your presence so. And whether you are present still, I really do not know.
****** We do not know from where we come or know the reason why We each are born to live awhile, to suffer and to die. From spirit, light and atoms, there is conjured up a soul. But what, we ask, is spirit? It is everywhere and whole – Or so we’re told, by those who might have insight or might not. They speak of it as essence – that persists. Yet bodies rot.
And surely mind and body each are in the other’s core, So self cannot remain as such, when body is no more.
We do not know to where we go or whether we’ll return – Or what are time and space, in which the distant beacons burn. And yet, we each have memory – and that, which still is passed From virus and from cell to cell, as through the eons past. And so it is, I type these lines and send them out to read To those who then might pass them on – or swiftly hit "delete".
But if indeed the “I” and so the “we” are made of dreams, The dreamer is, though bubbles form and pop in spirit’s streams.
If you and I were bubbles, then perhaps it's once we'd meet. But to the dreamer dreaming this, I'd say, "That part was sweet." 2015 January 8th, Thu. Brooklyn, New York
The steady drip of rain on winter days
is better than the snow, for those who fear
the shoveling and mess that snow can bring.
And if my job had less of misery,
I then might welcome this as grace
that wets the earth and feeds the lakes – and so
prepares us for the coming of the spring.
But now, I walk the city’s pavements hard,
with grays of skies reflected in the streets –
and grimace. “More of winter’s woe.”, I think –
and sourly wish I’d stayed between the sheets.
But while I walk and hear these phrases rise
and ebb like sighs within my mind, I think,
“By writing these, I’d burden others too,
who might perhaps be needing some relief.” –
and so I turn my mind to better things.
The grays of winter, in the polar climes,
could be our payment due for autumn’s leaves
and our deposit for the blooms of spring –
a happy thought, to mull and store away…
And thinking next of summer’s greenery,
I walk the streets and savor winter’s rain…
গাইব তাদের গান ধর্মের পথে, কাটল জীবন পাপের আবিষ্কারে৷ কাজের ফলে, ভরল থলি কেবল তিরষ্কারে৷ যা কিছু প্রিয়, রাখল কেড়ে গভীর অন্ধকারে৷ নিশির মাঝে, পথ হারিয়ে, আলোর খোঁজে যাই৷ হোঁচট খেয়ে, হুমরে পরে, যমের দয়া চাই৷ দুঃখে, শোকে, মনে মনে মায়ের ভজন গাই৷ বারেবারে আঘাত খেয়ে, তাও ত আছে প্রাণ৷ তাই ত আছে আলোর স্মৃতি, আছে আশার টান৷ রাতের শেষে, ভোর বেলাতে, গাইব তাদের গান৷ শনিবার, ৩রা জানুয়ারি, ২০১৪ খ্রি ব্রুকলিন, নিউ য়র্ক
(translation of Notun Juger Upohar-নতুন যুগের উপহার) The Gifts of this New Age
They’re polite, on the surface, but cruel within.
They hide, beneath their cultured phrases,
their sharp and poisoned daggers.
Civility and barbarism have combined
to make such beings – they, who sit
in suits in offices – and type
upon their screens,
so that, each day,
our slavery increases.
They’ve forgotten right and wrong –
but they know, very well,
how to count the dollars.
In the place of learning,
their wares of ignorance.
The lords and serfs of old have left.
We have, instead, these beings
and their servers –
the gifts of this new age.
Yeshua and Gotama, see…
Tell us, Kabir,
how can we escape
Give us counsel.
Whisper, in our ears,
2014 30th December, Tue (Bengali original) (translated into English, 2015 Jan. 2nd, Fri.) Brooklyn, New York