Monday, 23 July 2012


I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.*

Almost three years back I did a post on clouds, which has gone on to become one of the most visited posts on the blog. In part, it is because of the poem by Billy Collins. In part, because it alludes to Constable and his masterly cloud studies. Also, I hope, in part, because of the photographs that accompany the text. But mostly I think it is because it concerns clouds.

Weather, as the stereotype goes, is one of the things that people in this part of the globe are most obsessed with. Or more specifically the presence, or the fervently hoped absence, of clouds.  And as with all stereotypes people here sometimes confirm to it too. The operative word being sometimes, not all the time. Especially, at times like this when the summer is said to be the wettest in recorded history. Though most of the time they wax eloquent about it all– the raging winds, the falling rain, the wandering clouds, the cornflower blue skies– in pictures, and in words.

Cloudy. The word often refers to things murky, obscure and difficult to understand. In primary school the water cycle, the originator of clouds, was one of the easiest ways to understand the interconnectedness among all things on earth. A simple diagram with a few squiggles and arrows was all that was needed to make clear one of the most irrefutable truths about all life.

*From The Cloud, a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelly. The complete poem is here. Shelly's sentient cloud is a pleasure to behold as it moves along its earthly journey– from birth to death to renewal, constantly transforming itself and all that it comes in contact with.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset

Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.

If there is a limit to all things and a measure
And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
Who will tell us to whom in this house
We without knowing it have said farewell?

Through the dawning window night withdraws
And among the stacked books which throw
Irregular shadows on the dim table,
There must be one which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one worn gate,
With its cement urns and planted cactus,
Which is already forbidden to my entry,
Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.

There is a door you have closed forever
And some mirror is expecting you in vain;
To you the crossroads seem wide open,
Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.

You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.

Limits, a poem by Jorge Luis Borges (From The Self and the Other)
The sign in the last photograph roughly reads," Those who have a strong desire to reach moksha will find the path (anyhow)".

Friday, 13 July 2012

London Rain

The rain of London pimples
The ebony street with white
And the neon lamps of London
Stain the canals of night
And the park becomes a jungle
In the alchemy of night.

My wishes turn to violent
Horses black as coal--
The randy mares of fancy,
The stallions of the soul--
Eager to take the fences
That fence about my soul.

Across the countless chimneys
The horses ride and across
The country to the channel
Where warning beacons toss,
To a place where God and No-God
Play at pitch and toss.

Whichever wins I am happy
For God will give me bliss
But No-God will absolve me
From all I do amiss
And I need not suffer conscience
If the world was made amiss.

Under God we can reckon
On pardon when we fall
But if we are under No-God
Nothing will matter at all,
Arson and rape and murder
Must count for nothing at all.

So reinforced by logic
As having nothing to lose
My lust goes riding on horseback
To ravish where I choose,
To burgle all the turrets
Of beauty as I choose.

But now the rain gives over
Its dance upon the town,
Logic and lust together
Come dimly tumbling down,
And neither God nor No-God
Is either up or down.

The argument was wilful,
The alternatives untrue,
We need no metaphysics
To sanction what we do
Or to muffle us in comfort
From what we did not do.

Whether the living river
Began in bog or lake,
The world is what was given,
The world is what we make
And only we can discover
Life in the life we make.

So let the water sizzle
Upon the gleaming slates,
There will be sunshine after
When the rain abates
And rain returning duly
When the sun abates.

My wishes now come homeward,
Their gallopings in vain,
Logic and lust are quiet,
Once more it starts to rain.
Falling asleep I listen
To the falling London rain. 

London Rain, a poem by Louise MacNeice.
(Glenn Patterson in a BBC profile of Louise MacNeice says he "captured the essence of those rare fleeting moments when everything seems to come together, to make sense"– such an apt description of his lyrical poetry.)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

In the begining there was the word

and some time back there was this post.

Lets pretend nothing bad ever happens.
Even if it does, it happens to others, far away.
Other lives like so many species of flies.
Each distinct and separate from us.

Lets pretend that words are living–
Poetry saves lives. These squiggles have depth and meaning.
Lets pretend art is beauty. And beauty is our saviour.
We shall rage against the night for beauty. And only beauty.

Lets pretend every dissenting voice is a cynic.
A miasma. A pebble in the eye.
We shall write them words full of beauty.
See. Lets pretend they shall. 

Lets pretend everyone else is stupid.
Lets pretend we get depressed
because no one understands what we understand.
We see things that no one else sees.

We shall collect words that speak to us.
We shall read more. Every sentence, every paragraph
another brick in our immaculate comprehension.
Lets pretend this is the true purpose of life.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Not another Bob Dylan concert

Just because we bought your stuff doesn’t mean we owe you anything.

Flash back: You are at a Bob Dylan concert. And it is awful. It is so awful that you feel like recording it and re-playing it back to him in an attempt to make him appreciate what you are going through. It is so awful that you close your eyes in an attempt to block the thought of all the money you have given him over the years, not to mention the small fortune you’ve spent to be here along with all these other suckers. You try not to think of how far the cost of the ticket would have gone–– grocery for a couple of weeks or more, the tube fare for the month, a (minuscule) part of the down payment on a new flat, even a meaningless bauble for I, me, myself. For you’ve had it up to here subsiding other people’s lifestyle. At the very least you’ll go home and Google ‘Henry Timrod’.

But the hype like an iron clamp will grip your throat and even though people are getting up during the songs to refill their glasses to drown their sorrow, they will give you hard, meaningful glances. As if they’ve identified you as the weakest link. For they’ve worked long and hard on what they’ll put up on facebook along with blurry pictures of Dylan (in the same, white hat always) seen from, what appears to be many, many miles away. (Is he even there?) And no one can take that away from them. Damn it! After this they deserve something. Anything.

Was ‘mumblecore*’ invented to describe the brutality being unleashed on stage? And the eyes turn back towards you; smoldering holes in your back. You have been scarred for life.

But it’s al’right, Ma. I was already bleeding.

Flash forward:
You, “Dylan is playing at Hop Farm this summer.”
Me, “Yeah. Right.”
Both together, “Ha ha ha ha ha.”
Tears of laughter. Over and out.
*Nope. It is a term used to describe low-budget independent American films of early 2000's. Do they have anything in common with Bob Dylan? Answer: Well, you've heard Dylan muttering on stage. Now would you call him a 'slacker'?