- The Galleria
Poems by R Y Deshpande
Bishu cast a quick look over the pond
And the water gathered all its ripples,
Collapsing like a poet’s metaphors
Into some calm of thought. A sound echoed
Throughout the valley and disappeared
In its green. When it was sinfully dark
An ewe fell a prey to the red wolf’s guile
And a magic moon laughed ’neath the dumbness
That sleeps like eternity’s unconcern.
Yet Bishu saw rising at the far shore
An image that grew sharper with each wave
As it vanished; the boundaries of time
Withdrew and a sudden insight broke out
In triumph. Even as that swift presence
Approached closer, unhesitant contours
Of things to come acquired distinctness.
In tranquil heart the rapt voice of Ishta
Spoke to him: “You have seen these strange mountains
And moved amid men urged by a greatness
That descends in unexpected moments,
When history is surprised by a force
Of irresistible destiny, when
You have climbed the ascending slopes and reached
In a sudden mood utter godlessness.
What is is non-existence and beyond
You begin to assert the breathing fire
Which sustained even that. The spirit gave
To these aspiring hills a hope that waits
In the bosom of the world. A chant joins
In the praises of Prajna. Sing ever,
O Bishu, while bathing, sleeping, eating,
Or when you go from village to village
Speaking the language of the firmament
That bears her beauty and wonder, her love,
Sing of the mistress of being, giver
Of boons. Live in the woman’s adornment.”
I remember the night when she was born
In the lonely company of a star
Foreworking destiny written in terms
Of godly labour, its joy, its travail,
Its will burning in the white flame. A strange
Deep silence had filled the darkness which seemed
More pregnant with the possibility
That would yield its fuller contents, its fire,
Than the thick foreboding shadow of light.
It made more sense than finding an answer
To timeless query of the questing heart
As to where does the saint go after death.
But then Rita had arrived in the world
Of trivial pursuits, pulls and pushes,
And she was quick to decry the vainness
With which ambitious men are driven,
The everyday struggle for nothing,
The defeat in life, the sadness in love,
Humiliation’s suffering. She knew
Also that falsehood is untrue and that
What counts is just the spirit’s expression
In every mood of season, in trees
And hills and animals, the elements
Of the physical nature, each breathing soul.
Her birth was in the seventh house and sweet
She grew and beautiful in maidenhood,
Like the waxing moon of the autumn sky.
In her youthful sublimity at once
Through the musical notes a melody
Ran which needed no swift interpreter,
And a new dawn broke and the choir bird priest
Raised a chant in serene affirmation
Of the earth-born gods. One by one as they
Awoke a sudden deathlessness rushed in.
Rita, the daughter of the Sun, firmed up
The dynamics of truth for the things to come.