Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter’s Weight / The Prophet (an allegory)

Winter’s Weight  / The Prophet
(an allegory)

I had wandered, in the winters,
In the streets deserted, cold,
With the dreary skies above me
As I grayed from growing old.

For the one who’s old and single,
A winter can be bleak,
With neither spouse nor offspring
As a shelter from its reach.

But neither love nor kinship
Nor friendship can suffice
To free ourselves of a winter
That holds us in its vice.

A season, like a time of day,
Is a being and a mood.
In colder climes, the winter’s traits
Are often rather rude.
It blusters as it freezes us.
It dumps its loads of snow.
It takes what autumn might have left
And then it asks for more.
But seasons, much like times of day—
And moods, are transient things.
So winter, like a tyrant, reigns—
And then, the minstrel sings.
But till that little bird arrives
And perches on its tree,
We live with winter’s weight on us
And struggle to be free.

And some may look to forecasts in
Their hopes of warmer weather,
Or seek for a prophet, who’d show us how
To break from winter’s tether.


How many were the prophets false,
How many true were slain?
And yet we seek for “leaders”, who
Might free us from our pain.

In the winter, comes the "leader",
To a people turned to sheep.
He says, "Follow me to summer."
But the price is often steep.

There always are the foolish,
Who never will be wise.
Will he lead them to the slaughter
Or towards their paradise?

For it's only when we waken,
From the sleep in which we dwell,
That we know which way is heaven
And which will lead to hell.

I had walked the cold and silent streets
Of the cities of the north,
And wondered, would those songs return
That autumn’s winds sent forth.

On winter nights, I had seen in dreams
The colors of the spring.
I had huddled then beneath my quilt,
But my heart had taken wing.

How many "revolutions",
How many "springs" have turned
To bloodbaths and unreason—
And yet, the spirit yearns.

The tides of men have seasons
That last for many years.
And then there comes a prophet—
And hope that wells as tears.


I traveled to Manhattan
To hear the prophet speak.
And there I saw that Sanders
Was out of winter’s reach.

His hair, which age had whitened,
Was tousled by the breeze.
But though the wind was biting,
He stood and spoke at ease.

So winter’s weight was lifted
And grays replaced by hues.
The birds would be returning—
Although it wasn’t news.  *

And riding back to Brooklyn,
I sat within the train,
Resolved that, what the winter
Had stolen, we’d regain.
2016 January 16th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York 

*  Sanders’ gave his aggressive Wall Street Reform speech, which I attended, at the “Town Hall” building in Manhattan on Jan. 5th.  This, along with polls showing that his campaign was succeeding despite the mainstream-media blackout, did finally get him some long-due coverage in that media.

Bernie Sanders, giving his Wall Street speech,
at the "Town Hall" in Manhattan, 2016-01-05

photographs (very poor): A. Janah 

Sanders had given his talk, in which he had attacked the excesses of the financial institutions, many of them centered in Manhattan, at the historic midtown "Town Hall" building on 43rd Street.  This building, with its large auditorium, had once been a center for the suffragette movement.
After the talk, I joined a group of supporters who were waiting for him outside the building.  Once he had emerged, we followed Sanders, along with some media folk, as he briskly walked, hat-less and glove-less despite the cold, east along 43rd and then south along Sixth Avenue, crossing it at 42nd Street and then stopping for awhile, at an entrance to Bryant Park, to be interviewed. 

Midtown Manhattan, with Bryant Park on lower left, between 40th & 42nd Streets.
The "Town Hall" is on 43rd Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
After the interview, the prophet continued to walk rapidly east along 42nd, towards Fifth Avenue, followed by a sizable entourage.  But I walked back west instead to Sixth Avenue to take the D train back to Brooklyn.

You can click on any of the pictures to view all of them in a somewhat larger and clearer format, in a sort of gallery show.  Click on the white X at the top right of the black background to return to this post.

Sanders crossing on the streets of Manhattan, 2016-01-06
photographs (not the best): A. Janah

Sanders being interviewed by an ABC News reporter,
Bryant Park, Manhattan, 2016-01-06

photographs (somewhat better): A. Janah




James Kramer said...

Never stop writing your beautiful poetry!
I love it. Makes me happy and stimulates my
Thinking and 'intellectual vision'.
You are the best!
Love your rhymes and metaphors and ideas.
All the best!
Your friend,

Arjun Janah said...

Thanks for reading and for the kind comment, James.

Sanders' success so far was, to me, unexpected. I hope he and others succeed in changing to some degree the assumptions and directions of politics in this country, not least among the people of this country, directing their focus back to perennial economic issues that have been with us for a very long time (going back to the beginnings of grain agriculture and the landlord hierarchy it generated), but have rarely been addressed through popular awareness and action.

Beyond that, I hope that the madness of ever increasing production and consumption that is simultaneously beggaring large sections of our own species the world over, generating economic gradients as well as conflicts that displace and even slaughter millions, while also leading to the mass extinctions of other species, will cease or at least slow in its intensity and scale. Of course, over the decades, this madness has only been accelerating and is even hailed as "progress" and "growth".

Indeed, slowing is seen as the worst of sins--be this in an individual worker who slows in his/her rate of consumption or "production" or in the economy as measured by things such as G.D.P. We are caught in a trap where a slowdown results in losses of income and jobs. But humans are not meant to be in such a trap. This is at variance with our better, saner natures and with most of our evolutionary history.

But for that slowing to occur, we need not only prophets on high but seers in plenty among ordinary folk like you and me. We need to wake and see the consequences, including to our own children (if we have any), others and ourselves of this trap that we are in.

Rana Bose said...

I had seen this before. ..but now with the intensity that Bernie has brought has significantly affected the deep feelings for change that I sense in your country..and somehow I feel it won't be a letdown like your current President...great poetry..thanks

Arjun Janah said...

Thanks, Rana! Sanders, as you know, has won eight of the last nine state contests, the last two being Wisconsin and Wyoming. But now, on April 19th, it will be New York, where he will have a harder time. Then there's Pennsylvania, where he may also have trouble. I'm still rooting for him. Go, Bernie! ;-)