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Inspirations - The Galleria



Poems by R Y Deshpande




Why, my friend, you crave and suffer and live

A life appointed by an anguished god,

Why this fortuneless gaze? The soughing wind

Blows across the field and the autumn moon

In remote calm seems to drift in the sky

Of an inclement repose. Fading hues

Have spread their sorrow over your spirit

And the gain is neither yours nor nature’s.

I know, you bemoan for misgivings, wants

That grow and grow even in simple hearts

And there is an invasion destroying

The barn and the pen and the little hut,

And inartistic things of the city

Are taking possession of their small tears

As natural as weeping of the kids.

From a factory making lamps in shades

Of algaeic green they come, lamps that give

Light of darkness bearing the pain of death

That hardly was in the wick and the clay,

And in the folktales. Wax and string and awl

You had picked up when you were still a boy

And drew joy in the deep intimacy

Of the cobbler’s authentic trade. Methought

You would make shoes for the fairies; for gods

And goddesses perchance. Such were those times

But now we have synthetic dreadfulness

Cutting into your day’s earning. Beaten,

Bereaved of your children you live alone

On fading edge of the village. I think

Harsh fate in the guise of country fever

Entered into peace of your lonely soul

And snatched whatever belonged to the past.

It was a shrine of virtue and perhaps

Thus had its force spent out. You understood

In a rich and instinctive subtle way

Lasting wisdom in a shoemaker’s job.


Gaytsho Tshering

Who taught you the art of living, absorbed

In silence that comes from the Bodhi Tree

Through whose branches tranquil winds blow? Above

The mist of thought in wideness of the sky

White peaks of Samyama Monastery

Rise in loneliness when is heard no more

The voice of the creature, rivulet’s song,

Nor the din of the seasons. You remain

Unperturbed despite a thousand trifles

Of the daily life, afflictions rooted

In the nature of the words, or their meanings,

Or sentiments that gush from ambition,

This world in the sorrow of death. Your work

In the market is a butcher’s and each

Piece of meat you sell is the best, each act

A superb non-act. Whatsoever moves

Moves in the great Nothing, time’s paces too;

So did your children, one by one. Heartless

You might have been towards those little souls;

Wounding stones of the village streets hurting

Were and out of sight you saw them vanish

To become stars in the darkness of night.

People ask you oft if Bodhidharma

Came from the East; but you answer them not

Except pointing at your knife. But these days

You have stopped doing even that, as if

Echoing back from Nirvana you heard

The sound of an occult clap revealing

The great indefatigable mystery

Of the void. Arguably Bodhidharma

Had his first birth in it; perhaps your knife

Also sprang up from its womb. Luminous

In strength, its sharp cutting edge is the calm

Of dissolution’s good. Gaytsho Tshering,

My childhood friend, quite long distances

Bodhidharma has covered to reach you.