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Esther and Seymour

Some 50 years ago they met Alone and scared, their eyes still wet Viictims of a life so tossed survivors of the Holocaust. As a fairy says... Once a upon a time Esther and Seymour married in Heidenhein. Germany was just a temporary arena For their first lovely child they named Helena. They finally had happiness some people would say. Asvthey boarded a ship for the U. S. of A. America gave them a new start on their life Seymour now had a child, a new home and a new life! From Boston they journeyed to a place called New York Their second addition was delivered by stork. From life they were getting a real high...quite woozie They now had 2 girls, called the second one Susie! As Seymour to sing... He'll sing you a note. But his real talent was to sew you a coat. And if you were bored with your life's and it's glory Just ask Seymour to tell you a good old war story! He'll whistle like birds and He'll sing like the flowers. But his word stories will keep you enraptured for hours. As for dear Esther she'll cook you dish. Her real specially is a Gefilte fish! , , If her feet are not hurting she'll go for some walks And some people might say that she sings when she talks. In the summer they needed to have some real thrills So they trekked to the heaven called the Catskills. The packed up their car and off they would go And they set up their camp in their own bungalow.! Their happiness increased like the miracle of Hannukah As their first grandchild their fabulous Moncia. Their smiles grew quite bigger and happiness thrived. As their second beautiful grandchild Joannna arrived! When Seymour retired they moved to hot Boca As ' Esther won fame as a card shark in poker. To stayed married for 50 is a feat really swell But once in a while you might hear them yell! Seymour is always a man on the go Sometimes he! ll tell Esther 'What the hell do you know? ' Butb seriouslybfolksbthese 2 are not meek Two wonderful people..? Both somewhat unique so lift up your glasses and show these our love We wish them a hearty, healthy, a sincere Mazel Tov! ! ! This poem written by Howard Hopenwasser

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A Place Called 'life

i feel so alone,
in this place call life.
i hear great things
and bad things.
which do i believe?
mostly the bad things.
times like this.
it seems so true.
just like how i'm here feeling blue.
nobody seem to listen.
nobody seem to care.
hiding becomes my only way out.
will that be all i do?
it so easy to act like i'm fine.
than people ask questions.
when i know they don't really care.
because i so alone in the place called life.
Copyright © 2009
10-14-08

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Where sexy meets demure in a place called trim

In the seat opposite in the underground
in the off-peak afternoon,
neat shoes, nice legs, skirt just the exact right length
where demure meets sexy in a place called trim;

well-chosen outfit; wasn’t her face
vaguely familiar in some other context?
Had we met, in Tahiti, Cuba, Necker Island,
or on some other sandy shore?
Met, yet not spoken? She offered me no clue..

Ah yes – for several years,
come January grey but promise of a summer sun,
the TV infomercials fill our screens
with this year’s new holiday destinations
for the single girl who’s demure to sexy,
late thirties, but still trim.. writing her own script
but with all the real life edited out..

How often had we seen her on a sunny beach,
her swimsuit just where sexy meets demure in trim,
about to enter a blue blue sea
with no-one else about…
such the conventions of the travel film,
she too often in the shot…

or at the table, glowing in her evening outfit,
bronzed, relaxed; but still alone;
filling us in with details and the sights to see
over the lavish fruit cup on the table
before the smiling waiter brings the laden plate -
after the waterfall where we’d seen her laughing,
the market where she’d handled exotic fruit,
the boat ride, she in the stern, her hair blown back.. or
riding in safe open car through crowds of exotic natives?

did she choose her invisible cameraman on these trips?
Were they an item? Or did his compensation
begin with the local talent when he put his camera down?
Did she queue at airports, fluster over overcharging,
wait for days for thunderclouds to clear?
Arise dishevelled from an ill-advised fling with a local,
which remained unspoken as the background
to travel for the single girl?

Sitting there, ex-travel correspondent, professional,
dressed where sexy meets demure in trim,
the camera and the sound were off; she
did not meet my eyes; but if I’d had
a travel brochure with me, I could have played
a merry game with her across the way..
What a joyous disaster film her memories could have made,
what a chance the infomercials cannot take…

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A Place Called

place calledhomeis to feel homely,
God’s creation standing by to look so lovely,
May be she is with all her elegance,
Everything for sure and no pretence,

Gently spoken words I hear,
Sounds like music in my ear,
Shivering cold run in spine,
As if showing drunken state caused by wine,

Mild walk around give melancholy voice,
She is with me not becasuse of her choice,
Always standing by and rendering advice,
Suggesting the ways with utmost care to improvise,

Bowing head with all weight on my solder and lean,
Air to suggest fragrance and house almost neat and clean
Life is so suggestive and perfect” does that mean?
It seems half battle is over with clear perfect win,

Home loses significance if she is not there?
Without her no refuge and to go nowhere,
Ideal place i shome to step in with peace of mind,
Smiling at door to receive with gesture kind

All care is taken of with ease and no tension,
Home in perfect condition and look as Manson,
No clash of views even with slight reason,
All days alike whether season or no season,

With arrival of spring, flowers boom,
All happiness in home and I always zoom,
housing of toys all in single room,
joy and only joy with trace of gloom,

Homeis an end of universe,
Does not come as surprise and need to rehearse,
It is place where even HE may prefer to stay,
Heaven here, hell here, we need only to create the way

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A Place Called Eden

There was a paradise that ruled long ago.
Quiet.
Peaceful.
More beautiful than the human eye can ever perceive;
untainted by humans,
this Place called Eden.

This Garden was eternal, life-giving,
as perfect as the Heavens brought to Earth.
But along came Man,
swept in with a storm,
hiding the sun.
A pummeling rain flattened the flowers
and lightning licked at trees, destroying
this Place called Eden.

The clouds finally parted.
The sun peaked out fearfully, looking down
at Man, who stood alone.
Who felt himself powerful.
Betrayal drowned the Garden.
Mad smiled at his feat:
He had taken over with sin,
this Place called Eden.

Man cursed himself,
Perfection was lost, Misery
had taken over Man as Nature
healed itself for its revenge on the Destroyer.
Man learned self-loathing
and the true power of
this Place called Eden.

Death came to Earth. It punished Man fiercer
than Nature had: any man close
to finding the lost Land
was taken from Earth,
and Man was never to find it again,
this Place called Eden.

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A place called hell

Some one reminded me of a place called hell
Lonely place where every one is doing well
All let loose strange stories around
No basis whatsoever or any images are found

No one may argue in favor of a hell
Generally all may not favor it at all
In their opinion they all did well to be in heaven
Though they have no faint idea even

They have done nothing to find place in this place
They did all whatever they could do to malign the race
At final time they decided to donate some tip of wealth
They knew it well at end of the game with deterioration in health

Some one may go even further to advocate
In the memory of parents some good steps they will indicate
Raising of temple or some orphanage in their name
At least this will save them for some shame

They have all praise for departed soul
The soul had lived noble life with no mistakes or foul
The God only knew how noble and honest he was?
The end was imminent but this was only pause

The heaven has many exits and inlets
Only innocent and nobles are let
Rest all sent to very nice place called hell
There they will spend their life very well

So if some one is referring heaven we should take it for hell
All horrified stories are known to all but now no need to tell
Human ears are not used to hear unpleasant remarks
Though they praise dear ones with full marks

How the hell can be different from atmosphere?
Why the people get afraid with so much fear?
When it is known that only nice people with have entry?
Rest all will be waiting in sun without shed of the tree

Well it is generally accepted that there is another world
Where there is no foe or friend or hot and cold
Everything is same and no difficulty at all
Still untruth may block it like wall

I fearlessly taught and advocated about good or bad
There is nothing to be felt as pain, agony or remain sad
The end may be peaceful and all set to depart
There may be found two gates painted with art

It will remind us of our past
The life might have been over very fast
It was now turn to pack up and say good bye
Even though we had lived happily with very good try

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Poem (Old man in the crystal morning after snow)

Old man in the crystal morning after snow,
Your throat swathed in a muffler, your bent
Figure building the snow man which is meant
For the grandchild's target,
do you know
This fat cartoon, his eyes pocked in with coal
Nears you each time your breath smokes the air,
Lewdly grinning out of a private nightmare?
He is the white cold shadow of your soul.

You build his comic head, you place his comic hat;
Old age is not so serious, and I
By the window sad and watchful as a cat,
Build to this poem of old age and of snow,
And weep: you are my snow man and I know
I near you, you near him, all of us must die.

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A Place Called the Matador

They started cooking food
A very long time ago
Creating a recipe because
They loved the Chile relleno so

Perfection the objective
Ingredients fresh and fine
To bring forth a creation
That nowhere they could find

So the spent many hours
Of every single day
Cooking the best product
In their very special way

Chili’s are most important
Ingredient of this food
Dough was mixed as well
Oh, it was extremely good

The Matador still remains
The food still as delicious
Devotion to the craft
That has become infamous

I had a chance to see for myself
Cooks who know the score
A product like no other
A place called the Matador!

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Borderline

Midnight in the big city
At the bar drinking all on my own
Just thinking about that girl and me
How somethings going wrong
Mister, tell me, whats my saving grace?
The back room boys
Were all telling me
Im a borderline case
Back on the borderline one more time
Seven beers and still sober
Its time to change to something stronger
I cannot take this scene no longer
She could have told me its all over
Back in my home town
The old place is still the same
But time can cast a spell over something
You cant go back again
Back on the borderline one more time
Mister, fill me another
Till I go crazy and it turn my mind around
Just pass that bottle one more time
And slowly drink it down
Jeanie can I tell you?
The shame of my disgrace
Its just love or rejection
For this borderline case
Back on the borderline one more time
Im on my bended knees crawling
Im begging you darling

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For lovely child

It is deep love
For lovely child you have
Day and night she is in mind
Desperate bid but could not find

It makes to worry and cry
Thousands of questions asking me why
I earnestly set them aside and try
They come with vigorous attempts ad fly

I intoxicated enough to remain under spell
It did not work and went so well
I suffered a lot but couldn’t tell
The idea was not worth even to sell

The smile has gone away in desert
No flowers, no fragrance, no stage and no concert
I am depressed and feel no pulse
Many ideas try to kill but I vehemently repulse

Is that my intense love for lovely child?
Does that drive me restless and make blind?
I ache with severe pain and strike the head
I fear that without her I shall be declared dead

She is not near but I feel her close
I feel her presence and make no chase
She has made permanent stay and base
Smile comes back again on gloomy face

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The Passions

An Ode for Music

When Music, heavenly maid, was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Thronged around her magic cell,
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possest beyond the Muse's painting:
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturbed, delighted, raised, refined;
Till once, 'tis said, when all were fired,
Filled with fury, rapt, inspired,
From the supporting myrtles round
They snatched her instruments of sound,
And, as they oft had heard apart
Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Each (for Madness ruled the hour)
Would prove his own expressive power.

First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords bewildered laid,
And back recoiled, he knew not why,
E'en at the sound himself had made.

Next Anger rushed, his eyes on fire,
In lightnings owned his secret stings:
In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
And swept with hurried hand the strings.

With woful measures wan Despair
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
A solemn, strange, and mingled air,
'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.

But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure?
Still it whispered promised pleasure,
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!
Still would her touch the strain prolong;
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
She called on Echo still, through all the song,
And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close;
And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden hair.
And longer had she sung;—but, with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose:
He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down;
And, with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe!
And ever and anon he beat
The doubling drum with furious heat;
And though sometimes each dreary pause between
Dejected Pity, at his side,
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien,
While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from his head.
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fixed:
Sad proof of thy distressful state!
Of differing themes the veering song was mixed;
And now it courted Love, now raving called on Hate.
With eyes up-raised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired;
And from her wild sequestered seat,
In notes, by distance made more sweet,
Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul;
And, dashing soft from rocks around,
Bubbling runnels joined the sound;
Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole,
Or, o'er some haunted stream, with fond delay,
Round an holy calm diffusing,
Love of Peace, and lonely musing,
In hollow murmurs died away.
But Oh! how altered was its sprightlier tone
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air that dale and thicket rung
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad known!
The oak-crowned Sisters, and their chaste-eyed Queen,
Satyrs and Sylvan Boys, were seen
Peeping from forth their alleys green:
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear;
And Sport leapt up, and seized his beechen spear.
Last came Joy's ecstatic trial:
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addrest;
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol,
Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best:
They would have thought who heard the strain
They saw, in Tempe's vale, her native maids
Amidst the festal-sounding shades
To some unwearied minstrel dancing,
While, as his flying fingers kissed the strings,
Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round:
Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound;
And he, amidst his frolic play,
As if he would the charming air repay,
Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.

O Music, sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid!
Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
As, in that loved Athenian bower,
You learned an all-commanding power,
Thy mimic soul, O Nymph endeared,
Can well recall what then it heard;
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime!
Thy wonders, in that godlike age,
Fill thy recording Sister's page—
'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age;
E'en all at once together found
Cecilia's mingled world of sound—
O! bid our vain endeavours cease:
Revive the just designs of Greece:
Return in all thy simple state!
Confirm the tales her sons relate!

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Quatrains Of Life

What has my youth been that I love it thus,
Sad youth, to all but one grown tedious,
Stale as the news which last week wearied us,
Or a tired actor's tale told to an empty house?

What did it bring me that I loved it, even
With joy before it and that dream of Heaven,
Boyhood's first rapture of requited bliss,
What did it give? What ever has it given?

'Let me recount the value of my days,
Call up each witness, mete out blame and praise,
Set life itself before me as it was,
And--for I love it--list to what it says.

Oh, I will judge it fairly. Each old pleasure
Shared with dead lips shall stand a separate treasure.
Each untold grief, which now seems lesser pain,
Shall here be weighed and argued of at leisure.

I will not mark mere follies. These would make
The count too large and in the telling take
More tears than I can spare from seemlier themes
To cure its laughter when my heart should ache.

Only the griefs which are essential things,
The bitter fruit which all experience brings;
Nor only of crossed pleasures, but the creed
Men learn who deal with nations and with kings.

All shall be counted fairly, griefs and joys,
Solely distinguishing 'twixt mirth and noise,
The thing which was and that which falsely seemed,
Pleasure and vanity, man's bliss and boy's.

So I shall learn the reason of my trust
In this poor life, these particles of dust
Made sentient for a little while with tears,
Till the great ``may--be'' ends for me in ``must.''

My childhood? Ah, my childhood! What of it
Stripped of all fancy, bare of all conceit?
Where is the infancy the poets sang?
Which was the true and which the counterfeit?

I see it now, alas, with eyes unsealed,
That age of innocence too well revealed.
The flowers I gathered--for I gathered flowers--
Were not more vain than I in that far field.

Self was my god, the self I most despise,
Blind in its joys and swine--like gluttonies,
The rule of the brute beast that in us is,
Its heaven a kitchen and a gorge its prize.

No other pleasures knew I but of sense,
No other loves but lusts without pretence.
Oh, childhood is but Nature unredeemed,
Blind in desire, unshamed in ignorance.

I was all vanity and greed, my hand
Uncaring, as a panther's, whom it pained,
My nurse, my sisters, the young birds my prey.
I saw them grieve nor stopped to understand.

My mother loved me. Did I love her? Yes,
When I had need of her to soothe distress
Or serve my wants. But when the need was by,
Others were there more dear in idleness.

These coaxed and flattered me. Their wit afforded
Edge to my wit, and I would strut and lord it
Among them a young god--for god I seemed--
Or goose--for goose I was--they still encored it.

Alas, poor mother! What a love was yours!
How little profit of it all endures!
What wasted vigils, what ill--omened prayers;
What thankless thanks for what disastrous cures!

Why did you bind yourself in such harsh fetter,
To serve a heart so hard? It had been better
Surely to take your rest through those long nights,
Than watching on to leave me thus your debtor.

I heard but heeded not her warning voice;
I grudged her face its sadness in my joys,
And when she looked at me I did not guess
The secret of her sorrow and my loss.

They told me she was dying, but my eyes
Brimmed not with tears. I hardly felt surprise,
Nay, rather anger at their trouble when
I asked them ``what it was one does who dies.''

She threw her weak arms round me, and my face
Pressed to her own in one supreme embrace;
I felt her tears upon my cheeks all wet,
And I was carried frightened from the place.

I lost her thus who was indeed my all,
Lost her with scarce a pang whom now I call
Aloud to in the night a grieving man,
Hoar in his sins, and only clasp the wall.

This the beginning. Next my boyhood came,
Childhood embittered, its brute joys the same,
Only in place of kindness cruelty,
For courage fear, and for vain--glory shame.

Here now was none to flatter or to sue.
My lords were of the many, I the few;
These gave command nor heeded my vain prayers.
It was their will, not mine, my hands must do.

I was their slave. My body was the prey
Of their rude sports, more savage still than they,
My every sense the pastime of their whim,
My soul a hunted thing by night and day.

Pain was my portion, hunger, wakefulness,
And cold more bitter still, and that distress
Which is unnamed of tears that dare not fall,
When the weak body grieves and none may guess.

There was no place where I might lay my head,
No refuge from the world which was my dread,
No shrine inviolate for me from my foes,
No corner quite my own, not even my bed.

I would have changed then with the meanest thing
Which has its home in the free fields in Spring,
And makes its lair in the Earth's secret dells,
Or hides in her dark womb by burrowing.

I used to gaze into the depths of Earth,
And watch the worms and beetles that have birth
Under the stones secure from outer ills,
And envy them their loneliness in mirth.

One treasure had I, one thing that I loved,
A snail with shell most delicately grooved,
And a mute patient face which seemed to see,
And horns which moved towards me as I moved.

It was like me a creature full of fear,
But happier far for its strong household gear,
The living fortress on its back wherein
Its griefs could shrink away and disappear.

I kept it in a nest, the hollow bole
Of a dead elm, and for its daily dole,
And my own comfort in its luckier state,
Brought it a lettuce I in secret stole.

It waited for my coming each new noon,
When from my fellows I could steal so soon,
And there I fed it and arranged its cell,
All through a single happy month of June.

And then--ah, then--who even now shall tell,
The terror of that moment, when with yell
Of triumph on their prize they broke and me,
And crushed it 'neath their heels, those hounds of Hell!

Even yet the thought of it makes my blood rush
Back to my temples with an angry flush;
And for an instant, if Man's race could be
Crushed with it, God forgive me, I would crush.

Ay, God forgive me! 'Tis an evil thought,
And thus it is that wrong on wrong is wrought,
Vengeance on vengeance by a single deed
Of violent ill or idleness untaught.

Nay, rather let me love. I will not be
Partner with Man even thus in cruelty
For one least instant, though the prize should stand,
Hate slain for ever and the Nations free.

Thus for four years I lived of slaves the slave,
Too weak to fight, too beaten to be brave.
Who mocks at impotence and coward fear
Knows little of the pangs mute creatures have.

Yet wherefore grieve? Perhaps of all my days
This is the thing I mostly need to praise,
My chiefest treasure to have suffered wrong,
For God is cunning in His works and ways.

The sense of justice which He gives to Man
Is his own suffering, and His pity's plan
Man's own great need of pity which brims o'er
In alms to Africa and Hindostan.

And he who has not suffered nothing knows;
Therefore I chide not at these ancient woes,
But keep them as a lesson to my pride,
Lest I should smite the meanest of my foes.

And it is ended. Kindly Death drew near
And warned them from me with his face of fear.
I did not fear him, but the rest stood awed,
As at the frown of some dread minister.

I passed out of their sight, one living still,
But dead to sense who knows not good or ill,
Their blessings were the last thing that I heard
In that dark house. I wish them only well.

What next befell me was as some have found,
Peace to their wounds upon a battle ground,
Who sleep through days of pain and nights of fear,
Conscious of nothing but their dream profound.

My dream was of a convent with smooth floors,
And whitewashed walls, a place of corridors,
Where the wind blew in summer all day long,
And a shut garden filled with altar flowers.

Here lived in piety a score of men,
Who, having found the world a place of pain,
Or fearing it ere yet they knew it well,
Sought in God's service their eternal gain.

With these it was my privilege to be
The pensioner of their great pity's fee,
Nor favoured less for my dim soul's dark ways,
Awhile 'twixt boyhood and maturity.

My sorrow to their zeal was fruitful soil,
My wounds their pride as needing wine and oil;
All knowledge had they to redeem and save,
Mirth, silence, prayer, and that best opiate, toil.

The garden was my task. I learned to dig,
To nail the fruit--trees, pear, and peach, and fig;
To trim the grass plots and the box make good,
And keep the gravel smooth from leaf or twig.

Dear blessed garden! In this night of days
I see it still with its fair formal face,
Where even the flowers looked prim, as who should ask
Pardon for beauty in so pure a place.

This for the summer. But when winter fell,
A gentler service called me from my cell,
As suited to the frailty of my needs,
To serve the mass and ring the chapel bell.

Mine was the sacristy, the care of copes,
Albs, censers, pyxes, gifts of kings and popes,
Of lace and linen and the lamps which hung
For ever lit with oil of human hopes.

There on the altar steps, as one at home,
I hourly knelt the servant of old Rome,
And learned her ritual, and assuaged my soul
With the high lessons of her martyrdom.

Not seldom in those hours the dream was mine
Of voices speaking and a call divine.
God in all ages thus has shown to men
His secret will, and I too sought a sign.

The voice that called me was a voice of good.
It spoke of feasts less vain than the world's food,
And showed me my place set a guest for aye
Of heavenly things in that calm brotherhood.

Why did I shrink? What profit to my soul
Has the world proved that I must yield it toll?
What its ambitions that for these my zeal
Turned backward then from its eternal goal?

Yet thus it is. Our fallen human blood
Is ever a mixed stream 'twixt bad and good;
And mine, perhaps, worse mingled than the rest,
Flowed in a baser, a more prurient flood.

And so it might not be. There came a day
When I must grasp my fate and choose my way,
And when my will was weaker than a child's,
And pride stood in rebellion and said nay.

There in the garden, while the thrushes sang,
I listened to his prayer with a mute pang.
That man of God who argued with my soul,
And still the vesper chorus rang and rang.

Below us a pool lay with depths profound,
And in its face I gazed as if to sound
His reason's meaning, while the rain of grace
Was shed on all things but my heart around.

``For lo,'' he said, ``thus near us lies the end;
A step--no more--may mar our lives or mend.
This side a little, and Hell gapes for us;
On that side Heaven holds out strong hands, a friend.

``And he who fears is wise. Oh look,'' he cried,
``Here in this pool lies Death with its arms wide.
Speak. Shall I buy you life at cost of mine?
Nay; I would drown, though in my sin I died.''

Thus Moses argued with his people, these
Than I less stubborn and less hard to please.
God on that night spoke loudly to my soul,
And I refused Him--weeping--on my knees.

Here my dream ended. From that hidden life
I went out hungry to a world of strife,
The world of pleasure, and with heart keen set
For human joy as having felt the knife.

What is the root of pleasure in Man's heart?
The need to know made practical in part,
The shaping of the thing the soul has dreamed,
In gold or clay, with art or little art.

Youth knows not how to fashion its own pleasure;
It deals with Fortune without scale or measure.
And so is cheated of the gold life holds,
A treasure house of hope without the treasure.

The need is there, as swallows need to fly,
The strength of wing which longs for liberty;
The courage of the soul which upward tends,
And the eye's light, a truth which is no lie.

Behind us the past sinks, too tedious night,
Whose shadows brighter show the world of light.
And who shall say that laughter is not good,
When the blood pulses in the veins aright?

An April morning with the birds awake;
The sound of waters lapping by a lake;
The scent of flowers, the rhyme of dancing feet;
The breath of midnight with the heart aquake.

These are the moods of pleasure. And no less
The soul itself has need of wantonness.
The thirst of knowledge fired not only Eve,
And youth grieves still to guess and only guess.

We ask for wisdom. Knowledge first of all
Demands our vows from her high pedestal.
We wish ourselves in act as wise as gods,
Nor even in age dare quite our oath recall.

The truth !--to hold the actual thing and be
Bound by no law but hers and liberty.
Such was my youth's ambition, the fruit fair
And good for food of the forbidden tree.

Two things I was resolved my soul should know;
The physical meaning of the Earth below,
With its dumb forces armed for good and ill,
And its blind fires which in their cycles go;

This, and the power of Love. Here doubly set,
The riddle stood which holds life's alphabet.
What of a very truth were God and Man?
I dared not die till I had answered it.

And first of God. What Quixote on what steed
Of foundered folly urged to headlong speed,
Ere chose his path more madly, or fell down
Proner on life's least lenient stones to bleed?

Striding my horse of reason with loose rein,
I tilted at all shadows in disdain.
To each eternal I my question put,
``What art thou, for Man's pleasure or his pain?''

The Maker I had worshipped, where was He,
In the Earth's fields, or the circumfluent sea?
The footsteps of His presence on the wind,
How should I trace them through infinity?

The huge world in its naked shape unclad,
Mocked me with silence, as a thing gone mad.
A brainless virgin, passionless and blind,
Reeling through space, unsentient--yet how sad!

The stars of heaven! Their voices once went out
Through all a firmament in psalm and shout.
What word have they to--night? Nay, Jesse's son
Had only mocked in our new world of doubt.

I searched them, and I numbered, and I came
To numbers only, flame evolved of flame,
Orb wheeled on orb, a meaningless machine,
A handless clock without the maker's name.

Where was my God the Father? Not in space,
Which needs no god for glory or disgrace,
Being itself eternal. He I sought
Knew not the stars but smiled with human face.

Darkly the night looked at me; darker still
The inner Earth with its tumultuous will,
Its legion of destroyers and destroyed,
Its law of hunger and the need to kill.

In this too was no god, or--monstrous thought--
A god of endless wrong, of treason wrought
Through countless ages still against the weak.
Out on such truth if this be all it taught!

Out on such reason! From that cave of dread
Like one despoiled of thieves I naked fled,
My thirst for knowledge slaked in bitterness,
And Earth's blank riddle all too sternly read.

What has my youth been that I love it thus?
The love of Woman? Ah, thou virtuous
Dear face of wisdom which first filled my heaven,
How art thou fled from life's deserted house!

I see thee pure and noble as a vision,
Rapt in the joy of thy sublime derision
Of all things base, yet tender to the pain
Of him that loved thee spite of love's misprision.

Joyous thou wert as a Spring morning filled
With mirth of birds which strive and wive and build,
A presence of all pleasure on the Earth
Transformed through thee and with thy laughter thrilled.

True were thy eyes and pitiful thy voice,
The colour of thy cheeks how rare a choice,
The smiling of thy lips how strangely dear
When thy wit moved and made our souls rejoice!

Few years thou countedst to thy wisdom's score,
But more than mine and than thy pleasure more
I deemed thee roof and crown of womanhood,
Framed for all fame to blazon and adore.

Why wert thou fashioned thus for Earth and Man,
If only Heaven was to possess thy plan?
Why wert thou beautiful as God to me,
If only God should see thee and should scan?

Oh, thou wert cruel in thy ignorance,
Thou first beloved of my time's romance.
The love within thee was a light of death,
Set for a snare and luring to mischance.

What didst thou think of him, the boy untried,
To whom thou spakest of Heaven as speaks a bride?
The love of Heaven! Alas, thou couldst not guess
The fires he nursed or surely thou hadst lied.

His secret springs of passion had no art,
Nor loosed his tongue to any counterpart
Of mastering words. You neither feared nor knew
The rage of cursing hidden in his heart.

If thou hadst seen it, wouldst thou not have said
A soul by Satan tortured and misled?
Thou didst not guess the truth, that in thy hand
The scourges lay, the pincers, and the lead.

Or haply didst thou love me? Not so heaven
Possessed thee then but sometimes there were given
Glimpses which, to my later eyes of light,
Have shown new worlds as if by lightnings riven.

How had it been if I had ventured quite
That first enchanted, unforgotten night,
When I surprised thee weeping and in fear
Forbore the wrong that should have proved me right?

How had it been if youth had been less weak,
And love's mute hand had found the wit to speak.
If thou hadst been less valiant in thy tears,
And I had touched the heaven which was thy cheek?

Would life have been to me what now it is,
A thing of dreams half wise and half unwise,
A web unpatterned where each idler's hand
Has woven his thoughts, flowers, scrolls, and butterflies?

Or rather, had it not, redeemed of bliss,
Grasped at new worlds less impotent than this,
And made of love a heaven? for depths of fate
Lie in the issue of a woman's kiss.

Alas, it was not, and it may not be
Now, though the sun were melted in the sea,
And though thou livedst, and though I still should live,
Searching thy soul through all Eternity.

The ideal love, how fondly it gives place
To loves all real--alas, and flavourless.
The heart in hunger needs its meat to live,
And takes what dole it finds of happiness.

Then are strange spectacles of treason seen,
Earthquakes and tempests and the wars of men,
Shipwrecks of faith, ungodly interludes
And pagan rites to Moloch on the green.

Lust travestied as love goes nightly forth,
Preaching its creed unclean from South to North,
Using the very gestures of true love,
Its words, its prayers, its vows--how little worth!

Where are ye now, ye poor unfortunates,
Who once my partners were in these mad gaits,
Sad souls of women half unsexed by shame,
In what dire clutches of what felon fates?

Dark--eyed I see her, her who caused my fall,
Nay, caused it not who knew it not at all.
I hear her babble her fool's creed of bliss,
While I lie mute, a swine--like prodigal.

Her chamber redolent of unctuous glooms
Prisons me yet with its profane perfumes,
A cell of follies used and cast aside,
Painted in pleasure's likeness--and a tomb's.

Oh, those dead flowers upon her table set,
How loud they preach to me of wisdom yet,
Poor slaughtered innocents there parched in Hell,
Which Heaven had seen at dawn with dewdrops wet!

Littered they lay, those maidenheads of saints,
Mid pots of fard and powder--puffs and paints,
Egregious relics of lost purity
Tortured on wires with all that mars and taints.

Beneath, upon the floor her slippers lay
Who was the queen of all that disarray,
Left where she dropped them when she fled the room
To speed her latest gallant on his way.

The pictures on the wall--by what strange chance--
Showed sacred scenes of Biblical romance;
Among them Pilate on his judgment--seat
Washing before the multitude his hands.

Smiling he sat while in reproachful mood
He they led forth to crucifixion stood.
``Innocent am I,'' thus the legend ran
Inscribed beneath it, ``of this just One's blood.''

Innocent! Ah, the sad forgotten thought
Of that mute face my convent dreams had sought.
And while I sighed, behold the arms of sin
In my own arms enlatticed and enwrought.

A life of pleasure is a misnamed thing,
Soulless at best, an insect on the wing,
But mostly sad with its unconquered griefs,
The noise that frets, the vanities that sting.

The weapons of youth's armoury are these--
The chase, the dance, the gambler's ecstasies.
Each in its turn I handled with the rest,
And drained my cup of folly to the lees.

What days I murdered thus without design,
What nights deflowered in madness and lewd wine!
The ghosts of those lost hours are with me still,
Crying, ``Give back my life, and mine, and mine!''

Yet was it glorious on the scented morn
To wake the woods with clamouring hound and horn,
To ride red--coated where the red fox ran,
And shout with those who laughed to see him torn.

Glorious to lie 'neath the tall reeds in wait
For the swift fowl at flight returning late,
And pull them from their path with lightning shot,
The bolt of Jove less certain in its fate.

Glorious to battle with the crested wave
For the full nets engulphed in the sea's grave,
And see the fishes flash entangled there,
With only courage and strong arms to save.

And glorious more, with sword high--poised and still,
To meet the bull's rush with o'ermastering skill,
And watch the stricken mass in anger die,
Tamed by the potency of human will.

All glorious and vain--glorious and most sad,
Because of the dark death their doing made,
And of the nothingness that swept the track,
Leaving no footprint or of good or bad.

The light--heeled love of laughter and the dance
Held me, yet held not, in its transient trance.
The hours were few when, fired with love and wine,
I trod the Bacchanalian maze of France.

Yet do I mind me of one afternoon
In Meudon wood, when night came all too soon;
And then again the morning, and unstayed
We pranced our measure out from noon to noon.

That day of dancing in my memory stands
A thing apart and almost of romance,
A day of pleasure physical and strong,
Unwearied and unwearying, feet, lips, hands.

The ``Coq de Bruyère'' was the fortunate sign
Of the lone inn where we had met to dine,
And found a score companions light as we
To turn our rustic hostel to a shrine.

If it still stands, how strangely it must view
This older world with hopes of paler hue!
Or was it youth so painted the grass green,
The apple--blossoms pink, the heavens blue?

Alas! I know not, nor remember yet
Her name with whom those foolish hours seemed sweet,
Only that she laughed on and danced with me,
And that my fingers just could span her feet.

How far away! And Meudon, too, how far!
And all those souls of women lost in care,
And even fair France herself how merged in pain!
It was the Spring before the Prussian war.

One day, one only day, and then the light
Waned in the place and hid our faces white,
And, our score paid, we left the empty room
And met no more on this side of the night.

Who speaks of play speaks treason to youth's state.
Youth is the heir to passion, love and hate,
The passion of the body in its strength,
The passion of the soul commensurate.

Nought needs it in its force of whip or goad,
Say rather a strong bridle for the road.
He who would spur it to a fiercer heat
Is an ill rider whom no fortunes bode.

Shame is it that the glory of youth's eyes
Should be lack--lustred with the grape's disguise,
And doubly shame its vast desires should swoon
In maniac clutchings at a vagrant prize.

Gold is the last least noble stake of life,
When all is gone, friends, fashion, fame, love's strife,
The thing men still can chase when dotage stings
And joy is dead and gout is as the knife.

Youth, seeking gold at Fortune's hand, goes bare
Of its best weapons with the humblest there,
As impotent to win a smile from fate
As the least valiant, the most cursed with care.

Watch well the doors of Fortune. Who goes in?
The prince, the peasant, the gay child of sin,
The red--cheeked soldier, the mad crook--backed crone,
Which shall prevail with Fortune? Which shall win?

Nay, who shall tell? Luck levels all pretence,
Manhood's high pride, youth's first concupiscence.
The arbiter of fame it stands and wit,
The judge supreme of sense and lack of sense.

The gambler's heaven is Youth's untimely Hell.
And I, who dwelt there as lost spirits dwell,
There touched the bottom of the pit. Even yet
I dare not nakedly its secrets tell.

What saved me from the gulf? All ye who preach
Art the physician and consoling leech
Of fallen souls, if but a single spark
Of genius lives, behold the text you teach.

In Art's high hall for whoso holds the key
Honour does service on a suppliant knee,
Virtue his handmaid is, to work his will,
And beauty crowns him, be he bond or free.

His sad soul's raiment from his shoulders fall,
Light pure is given, and he is clothed withal,
His eye grows single and his madness parts
As once in song the raging mood of Saul.

What saved me from the gulf? Thrice generous hand,
A king's in gifts, a prophet's in command,
All potent intellect designed to guide,
Transforming grief as with a master's wand!

This life, if it be worthy grown, is thine;
These tears made sweet once bitter with such brine,
This impotence of will to purpose fired,
This death fenced out with mine and countermine.

For I insensate had resolved to fly
From life's despairs and sick pride's misery,
A craven braggart to the arms of death,
And die dishonoured as the wretched die.

Thou stoodst, how oft, between me and my fate,
Bidding me cheer, or, if I dared not, wait,
From morn to night and then from night to morn
Pointing to Fame as to an open gate;

Till Time, the healer, had half closed the wound,
And Spring in the year's mercy came back crowned
With leaves and blossoms, and I could not choose
To lie unknown forgotten underground.

If there be aught of pleasure worth the living
'Tis to be loved when trouble has done grieving,
And the sick soul, resigned to her mute state,
Forgets the pain forgiven and forgiving.

With wan eyes set upon life's door ajar
She waits half conscious of the rising star,
And lo! 'tis Happiness on tip--toe comes
With fruits and flowers and incense from afar.

Scarcely she heeds him as he stops and smiles.
She does not doubt his innocent lips' wiles.
She lies in weakness wondering and half won,
While beauty cunningly her sense beguiles.

Then at her feet he sets his stores unrolled
Of spice and gums and treasure manifold.
All kingdoms of the Earth have tribute paid
To heap the myrrh and frankincense and gold.

These are his gifts, and tenderly he stands
With eyes of reverence and mute folded hands,
Pleading her grace, and lo! her heaven is filled
With music as of archangelic bands.

What saved me from the gulf? A woman's prayer
Sublimely venturing all a soul might dare,
A saint's high constancy outwitting Fate
And dowered with love supreme in its despair.

I had done naught to merit such high lot,
Given naught in hostage and adventured naught.
The gift was free as heaven's own copious rains,
And came like these unseeking and unsought.

O noble heart of woman! On life's sea
Thou sailedst bravely, a proud argosy,
Freighted with wisdom's wealth and ordered well,
Defiant of all storms--since storms must be.

On thy high way thou passedst pursuant only
Of Virtue's purpose and Truth's instinct thronely.
Strength's symbol wert thou, self--contained and free,
Lone in thy path of good but never lonely.

What glory of the morning lit thy shrouds!
What pure thought limned thee white on thunder--clouds!
I from my shattered raft afar in pain
Kneeled to thy form and prayed across the floods.

In godlike patience, to my soul's surprise,
Thou paused and parleyed wise with me unwise.
Ah, dearest soul seraphic! Who shall paint
The heaven revealed of pity in thine eyes?

She took me to her riches. All the gladness
Of her great joy she gave to cure my sadness,
All her soul's garment of unearthly hopes
To ease the ache which fructified to madness.

She took me to her pleasure, wealth long stored
Of silent thought and fancy in full hoard,
Treasures of wisdom and discerning wit,
And dreams of beauty chaste and unexplored.

She took me to her heart,--and what a heart,
Vast as all heaven and love itself and art!
She gave it royally as monarchs give
Who hold back nothing when they give a part.

A king I rose who had knelt down a slave,
A soul new born who only sought a grave,
A victor from the fight whence I had fled,
A hero crowned with bays who was not brave.

Blest transformation! Circe's ancient curse
See here interpreted in plain reverse.
Love, generous love, in me devised a spell
Ennobling all and subtler far than hers.

Thus was I saved. Yet, mark how hardly Fate
Deals with its victors vanquished soon or late.
The ransomed captive of his chains goes free.
She pines in durance who has paid the debt.

Behold this woman of all joy the heir,
Robed in high virtue and worth's worthiest wear,
A saint by saints esteemed, a matron wise
As Rome's Cornelia chastely debonnaire.

Behold her touched with my own soul's disease,
Grieving in joy and easeless still in ease,
The gall of sorrow and the thorn of shame
Twined ever in the wreaths love framed to please.

Behold her languishing for honour's loss,
Her pride nailed daily to a nameless cross,
Her vesture sullied with the dust of sin,
Her gold of purity transfused with dross.

The echo of her voice has tones that thrill:
I hear her weeping with a blind wild will.
A name she speaks to the dim night, his name
Her virtue spared not yet remembered still.

``Say, shall I comfort thee?'' ``O soul of mine,
Thy comfort slays me with its joys like wine.
Thy love is dear to me--then let me go.
Bid me fare forth for aye from thee and thine.''

``Is there no pleasure?'' ``Pleasure is not sweet
When doors are shut and veiled Man's mercy--seat.
My heaven thou wert, but heaven itself is pain
When God is dumb and angels turn their feet.''

``Is there no beauty? See, the sun is fair
And the world laughs because the Spring is there.
Hast thou no laughter?'' ``Ay, I laugh as Eve
Laughed with her lord the night of their despair.''

``The past is passed.'' ``Nay, 'tis a ghost that lives.''
``Grief dies.'' ``We slew it truly and it thrives.
Pain walks behind us like a murdered man
Asking an alms of joy which vainly gives.

``Give me thy tears: their bitterness is true.
Give me thy patience: it is all my due.
Give me thy silence, if thou wilt thy scorn,
But spare thy kisses, for they pierce me through.''

I saw her perish, not at once by death,
Which has an edge of mercy in its sheath.
No bodily pleadings heralded decay;
No violence of pity stopped her breath.

Only the eternal part which was her mind
Had withered there as by a breath unkind.
Only the reason of her eyes was mute;
Their meaning vanished, leaving naught behind.

``No bells shall ring my burial hour,'' she said.
``No prayers be sung, no requiem for the dead.
Only the wind shall chaunt in its wild way,
And be thou there to lay flowers on my head.''

I laid them on her grave. Alas! dear heart,
What love can follow thee where now thou art?
Sleep on. My youth sleeps with thee--and the rest
Would but disturb. We are too far apart.

What has my life been? What life has the wind
Wandering for ever on in change of mind
Winter and summer, chasing hopes as vain
And seeking still the rest it may not find?

When she was dead I rose up in my place,
Like Israel's king, and smiled and washed my face.
My grief had died in me with her long tears,
And I was changed and maimed and passionless.

I said, ``There are griefs wider than this grief,
Hopes broader harvested, of ampler sheaf.
Man may not live the caged bird of his pride,
And he who wends afar shall win relief.''

The world of sea and mountain shape high browed
Lured me to dreams of nobler solitude,
Fair plains beyond the limits of the dawn,
And desert places lawless and untrod.

Beyond youth's lamp of bitter--sweet desires
And manhood's kindling of less lawful fires
A star I sought should lead me to my dream
Of a new Bethlehem and angelic choirs.

This passionate England with its wild unrest,
How has it straitened us to needs unblest!
Need is that somewhere in the world there be
A better wisdom, seek it East or West.

I sought it first on that great Continent
Which is the eldest born of man's intent.
All that the race of Japhet has devised
Of wit to live lives there pre--eminent.

The record of the ages proudly stand
Revealed in constancy and close at hand,
Man's march triumphant against natural foes,
His conquest of the air and sea and land,

From that far day when, wielding shafts of stone,
He drove the bear back from the banks of Rhone,
And built his dwelling on the fair lake's shore
He earliest learned to love and call his own,

On thro' the generations of wild men,
The skin--clad hunters of the field and fen,
At war with life, all life than theirs less strong
Less fenced with cunning in its lawless den,

Until the dawn broke of a larger age,
With milder fortunes and designs more sage,
And men raised cities on the naked plains
With wine and corn and oil for heritage.

Etruscan Italy! Pelasgic Greece!
How did they labour in the arts of peace!
If strong men were before the time of Troy,
What of the wise who planned their palaces?

The men of cunning who, ere letters came
To hand their learning down from fame to fame,
Dealt with Titanic square and basalt slab
And found the law of parallelogram?

Unnamed discoverers, or of those who gave
Its rule to beauty, line and curve and wave,
Smelters of bronze, artificers in gold,
Painters of tear--cups for the hero's grave?

Or those, the last, who of Man's social state
Devised the code his lusts to mitigate,
Who set a bridle on his jaws of pride,
And manacled with law his limbs of hate,

Till each fair town its separate polity
Enjoyed in its own walls well--fenced and free,
With king and court and poet and buffoon
And burgess roll inscribed of chivalry?

This was the old world's golden age renowned
Shown thro' dim glimpses of a past spell--bound.
Some shadow of it lives in Homer's story.
In vain we search. Its like shall not be found.

It vanished in the impatient march of Man
When Empires rose, with Cyrus in the van,
The Assyrian tyranny, the Persian scourge,
And his the all--conquering boy of Macedon.

Then were the little freedoms swept aside,
The household industries for fields more wide.
With heavy hand Rome weighed upon the world
A blind Colossus, order classified.

And what of the new world, the world that is?
Ah, Europe! What a tragedy there lies!
Thy faiths forgotten and thy laws made void,
Hunger and toil thy sole known destinies.

The sombre livery of thy bastard races
Proclaims thee slave and their ignoble faces,
Gaul, Teuton, Serb, all fortunes merged in one,
All bloods commingled in thy frail embraces.

No type, no image of the God in thee,
No form survives of nobler ancestry,
No mark is on thy brow, even that of Cain,
By which to learn thy soul's lost pedigree.

Thou toilest blindly in thy central hive
Of the world's hopes impatient and alive,
Waiting the reason which shall light thy years
To a new gospel of initiative,

Rueful, unconscious, to thy labour bound
And dumb to love, above or underground.
He were the Sage of the new discipline
Who first should wake thy silence into sound.

Where is the poet who shall sing of Man
In his new world, a better Caliban,
And show him Heaven? What nobler Prospero
To cure his ache on an Eternal plan?

The voice that should arouse that slumbering clod
Must echo boldly as to steps unshod
Of angels heralding the advent day
Of a new Saviour and a latest God.

But whose the voice? And where the listeners?
I sought and found not. Rather in my ears
The discord grew of that ungodly host
Whose laughter mocks the music of the Spheres.

``Glory of glories!'' Thus it was they chaunted,
But not to Heaven for which men blindly panted,
Rather to that Hell's master who hath held
Their backs to pain in labour covenanted.

To him the honour and obedience due
Of their lost Moab where the bluebells blew,
Now the sad washpot of his engines' slime,
Their childhood's Edom darkened by his shoe.

Through that dim murk no glimpse of the Divine
Shall pierce with song where the sun dares not shine,
No praise of beauty in a land all bleared
With poison--smoke and waters aniline?

Better they died unchronicled. Their room
Would then be for each weed that wreathed their tomb,
More beautiful than they with all their love
It is not worth a spray of butcher's broom.

All this I read as in an open book
Wandering in bye paths with my pilgrim's crook,
Through Alp and Apennine and Eastward on
To where the Balkans on the Danube look.

On Trajan's wall I lay in the tall grass
And watched the Tartar shepherds wandering pass.
A boy was blowing in his flute below;
Afar the river shone, a sea of glass.

This was the world's once boundary; and beyond
What terrors reigned for fearful hearts and fond,
The Scythian wilderness, where were--wolves were
And night for ever lay in frozen bond!

The subtle wonder of the desert came
And touched my longing with its breath of flame.
I too, methought, sad child of a new age,
Would learn its mystery and inscribe my name,

Clothed in the garments of its ancient past,
My race forgotten and my creed outcast,
On some lone pile whence centuries look down
On days unchanged the earliest with the last.

As Abraham was at Mamre on the leas,
I too would be, or Ur of the Chaldees,
Feeding my flocks in patience at God's hand,
Guided by signs and girt with mysteries.

With staff in hand and wallet for all need,
Footing the goat--tracks or with ass for steed,
Clad in mean raiment, with attendants none,
And fed on locusts as the prophets feed.

Climbing the dunes each morning to behold
The world's last miracle of light enfold
The Eastern heaven, and see the victor sun
Press back the darkness with his spears of gold.

The fair Earth, pure in her sweet nakedness,
Should smile for me each day with a new face,
Her only lover; and her virgin sands
Should be my daily sacrilege to press.

The deep blue shadows of the rocks at noon
My tent should be from a burnt world in swoon,
Rocks scored with what dead names of worshippers,
Of Gods as dead, the sun and stars and moon.

There would I stand in prayer, with unshod feet
And folded arms, at Time's true mercy seat,
Making my vows to the one God of gods
Whose praise the Nations of the East repeat.

Haply some wonder of prophetic kind
My eyes should see to the world's reason blind,
Some ladder to the Heaven, or a face
Speaking in thunder to me from the wind.

I lay in the tall grass, and overhead
The ravens called who once Elisha fed.
It was a message meet for my desires,
And I arose and followed where they led,

Arose and followed;--and behold, at hand,
With tinkling bells and tread as if on sand,
Toward me spectral from the Orient came
The pilgrim camels of that holy Land.

The rock of Horeb is the holiest place
Of all Earth's holies. In the wilderness
It stands with its gaunt head bare to the heaven
As when God spake with Moses face to face.

Red in the eternal sunset of the years,
Crowned with a glory the world's evening wears,
Where evening is with morning a first day
Unchanged in the mute music of the Spheres.

From base to top the boulder crags high thrown
Fortress the plain which Israel camped upon,
A living presence in the unliving waste,
A couchant lion with a mane of stone.

Aloft in the dread shadow of his brows
And shut from summer suns and winter snows,
When snows there be in the parched wilderness,
A cell I found and of it made my house.

A single hewn stone chamber, carved of old
By hermits' hands, of rocks with labour rolled,
Undoored, unwindowed, with the earth for floor,
Within, an altar where their beads they told.

Without, a rood of soil and a scant spring,
Their garden once, where deep in the vast ring
Of those grave granite domes they delved and prayed,
One thorn tree its sole life left blossoming.

There laid I down the burden of my care
And dwelt a space in the clean upper air.
I dwelt, how many days or months or years
I know not, for I owned no calendar;

Only the rising of the winter's sun
Daily more northward as the months moved on,
Only the sun's return along his ways
When summer slackened his first rage outrun;

Only the bee--birds passing overhead
With their Spring twitter and eyes crimson red,
The storks and pelicans in soldier bands,
The purple doves that stayed to coo and wed;

These and the shepherds of the waste, the few
Poor Bedouin clansmen, with their weak flocks, who
Strayed through the valleys at appointed days,
As water failed them or the herbage grew,

Lean hungry--eyed wild sons of Ishmael
Who climbed the rocks and sought me in my cell
With their poor wares of butter, dates and corn
And almond--cake in skins and hydromel,

Unwise in the world's learning, yet with gleams
Of subtler instinct than the vain world deems,
Glimpses of faiths transmitted from afar
In signs and wonders and revealed in dreams.

They taught me their strange knowledge, how to read
The forms celestial ordered to Man's need,
To count on sand the arrow heads of fate
And mark the bird's flight and the grey hare's speed.

The empty waste informed with their keen eyes
Became a scroll close writ with mysteries
Unknown to reason yet compelling awe
With that brave folly which confounds the wise.

Nor less the faith was there of the revealed
God of their fathers, Ishmael's sword and shield,
Their own, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
By martyrs witnessed in the stricken field.

His name was on their lips, a living name.
His law was in their hearts, their pride in shame.
His will their fortitude in hours of ill
When the skies rained not and the locusts came.

I learned their creed in this as in the rest,
Making submission to God's ways as best.
What matter if in truth the ways were His,
So I should abdicate my own unblest!

And thus I might have lived--and died, who knows,
A Moslem saint, on those high mountain brows,
Prayed to by alien lips in alien prayer
As intercessor for their mortal woes,

Lived, died, and been remembered for some good
In the world's chronicle of brotherhood,
Nor yet through strife with his own Bedlam kind,
The Hydra--headed Saxon multitude.

But for the clamour of untimely war,
The sound of Nations marching from afar.
Their voice was on the tongue of winds and men,
Their presaging in sun and moon and star.

I dreamed a dream of our fair mother Earth
In her first beauty, ere mankind had birth,
Peopled with forms how perfect in design,
How rich in purpose, of what varied worth,

Birds, four--foot beasts and fishes of the Sea
Each in its kind and order and degree
Holding their place unchid, her children all,
And none with right to strain her liberty.

Her deep green garment of the forest glade
Held monsters grim, but none was there afraid.
The lion and the antelope lay down
In the same thicket for their noon--day shade.

The tyranny of strength was powerless all
To break her order with unseemly brawl.
No single kind, how stout soe'er of limb,
Might drive her weakest further than the wall.

All was in harmony and all was true
On the green Earth beneath her tent of blue.
When lo, the advent of her first born lie,
The beast with mind from which her bondage grew.

O woeful apparition! what a shape
To set the world's expectancy agape,
To crown its wonders! what lewd naked thing
To wreck its Paradise! The human ape!

Among the forms of dignity and awe
It moved a ribald in the world of law,
In the world's cleanness it alone unclean,
With hairless buttocks and prognathous jaw.

Behold it in that Eden once so fair,
Pirate and wanton, a blind pillager,
With axe and fire and spade among the trees
Blackening a league to build itself a lair.

Behold it marshalling its court,--soft kine,
And foolish sheep and belly--lorded swine,
Striding the horse anon, high--mettled fool,
And fawned on by the dog as one divine.

Outrage on sense and decent Nature's pride!
Feast high of reason--nay of Barmecide,
Where every guest goes hungry but this one,
The Harpy--clawed, too foul to be denied!

I saw it, and I blushed for my Man's race,
And once again when in the foremost place
Of human tyranny its latest born
Stood threatening conquest with an English face.

Chief of the sons of Japhet he, with hand
Hard on the nations of the sea and land,
Intolerant of all, tongues, customs, creeds,
Too dull to spare, too proud to understand.

I saw them shrink abashed before his might,
Like tropic birds before the sparrow's flight.
The world was poorer when they fled. But he
Deemed he had done ``God'' service and ``his right.''

I saw it and I heard it and I rose
With the clear vision of a seer that knows.
I had a message to the powers of wrong
And counted not the number of my foes.

I stood forth in the strength of my soul's rage
And spoke my word of truth to a lewd age.
It was the first blow struck in that mad war,
My last farewell to my fair hermitage.

O God of many battles! Thou that art
Strong to withstand when warriors close and part,
That art or wast the Lord of the right cause!
How has thy hand grown feeble in its smart!

How are the vassals of thy power to--day
Set in rebellion mastering the fray!
Blaspheming Thee they smite with tongues obscene,
While these Thy saints lie slaughtered where they pray.

How is the cauldron of thy wrath the deepest,
Cold on its stones? No fire for it thou heapest.
Thou in the old time wert a jealous God.
Thieves have dishonoured Thee. And lo, Thou sleepest!

Between the camps I passed in the still night,
The breath of heaven how pure, the stars how bright.
On either hand the life impetuous flowed
Waiting the morrow which should crown the fight.

How did they greet it? With what voice, what word,
What mood of preparation for the sword?
On this side and on that a chaunt was borne
Faint on the night--wind from each hostile horde.

Here lay the camps. The sound from one rose clear,
A single voice through the thrilled listening air.
``There is no God but God,'' it cried aloud.
``Arise, ye faithful, 'tis your hour of prayer.''

And from the other? Hark the ignoble chorus,
Strains of the music halls, the slums before us.
Let our last thought be as our lives were there,
Drink and debauchery! The drabs adore us.

And these were proved the victors on that morrow,
And those the vanquished, fools, beneath war's harrow.
And the world laughed applauding what was done,
And if the angels wept none heard their sorrow.

What has my life been in its last best scene
Stripped of Time's violence, its one serene
Experience of things fair without a flaw,
Its grasp of Heaven's own paradisal green?

After the storm the clouds white laughters fly;
After the battle hark the children's cry!
After the stress of pain, if God so will,
We too may taste our honey ere we die.

What little secret 'tis we need discover!
How small a drop to make the cup brim over!
A single word half spoken between two,
And Heaven is there, the loved one and the lover.

Tell me not, thou, of youth as Time's last glory.
Tell not of manhood when it strikes its quarry.
The prime of years is not the prime of pleasure.
Give me life's later love when locks are hoary,

Love, when the hurry and the rush are past,
Love when the soul knows what will fade what last,
The worth of simple joys youth trampled on,
Its pearl of price upon the dunghill cast.

Time was, I mocked, I too, at life's plain blisses,
The rustic treasure of connubial kisses,
The bourgeois wealth of amorous maid and man
Made man and wife in legal tendernesses.

Time was, but is not, since the scales of pride
Fell from my eyes and left me glorified.
Now 'tis the world's turn. Let it laugh at me,
Who care not, having Love's self on my side.

How came I by this jewel, this sweet friend,
This best companion of my lone life's end?
So young she was, so fair, of soul so gay,
And I with only wisdom to commend.

I looked into her eyes and saw them seek
My own with questions, roses on her cheek.
One sign there is of love no words belie,
The soul's wide windows watching where lips speak.

What wouldst thou with me, thou dear wise one, say?
My face is withered, my few locks are grey.
Time has dealt with me like a dolorous Jew.
My gold he holds; in silver now I pay.

How shall I serve thee? Shall I be thy priest,
To read thy dear sins to the last and least?
I have some knowledge of the ways of men,
Some too of women. Wilt thou be confessed?

Nay, but thou lovest? A gay youth and fair?
Is he less kind to thee than lovers are?
Shall I chastise him for his backward ways,
Teach him thy whole worth and his own despair?

Thou dost deny? Thou lovest none? To thee
Youth, sayest thou, is void, mere vanity.
Yet how to build up life and leave out love,
The corner stone of all its joys to be?

Thou wouldst be wise. Thou swearest to me this.
Know then, all wisdom is but happiness.
So thou art happy, there is none more sage
Than thou of the wise seven famed of Greece.

She did not answer me, but heaved a sigh
And raised her eyes, where tears stood, silently.
I kissed her hands, the outside and the in,
``Child, dost thou love me?'' And she whispered ``Ay.''

Thus the thing happened. And between us two
Was now a secret beautiful and new.
We hid it from all eyes as fearing ill,
And cherished it in wonder, and it grew.

Some say that Heaven is but to be with God,
Hell--but without God--the same blest abode.
How wide the difference only those may know
Whose eyes have seen the glory and the cloud.

We two beheld the glory. Every morn
We rose to greet it with the day new born;
No laggards we when Love was in the fields
Waiting to walk there with us in the corn.

O those first hours of the yet folded day,
While Man still sleeps and Nature has its play,
When beast and bird secure from death and him
Wander and wanton in their own wild way.

These were our prize untroubled by the whim
Of slugging fools still wrapped in dreamings dim.
In these we lived a whole life ere their day
And heard the birds chaunt and the seraphim.

How good it was to see her through the grass,
Pressing to meet me with her morning face
Wreathed in new smiles by the sweet thought within
Triumphant o'er the world and worldlings base!

How good to mark her beauty decked anew
With leaf and blossom, crimson, white and blue!
The beechen spray fresh gathered in her hand
Was her queen's sceptre diamonded with dew.

I heard her young voice long ere she was near,
Calling her call--note of the wood dove clear.
It was our signal. And I answered low
In the same note, ``Beloved, I am here.''

And then the meeting. Who shall count the bliss
Of sweet words said and sweeter silences.
It was agreed between us we should wed
Some happy day nor yet forestall a kiss.

Sublime convention by true lovers made
To try their joy more nearly in the shade.
``Not yet, dear love! Thy mad lips take from mine,
Lest thou shouldst harm me and the world upbraid.''

Who says a wedding day is not all white
From dawn to dusk, nay far into the night?
The man who makes not that one day divine
Dullard is he and dastard in Love's sight.

First day of the new month, the honeymoon,
Last of the old life naked and alone.
The apparent heirship come to actual reign,
The entrance in possession of a throne.

Why grudge rejoicings? The vain world is there.
It sees the feast spread that it may not share.
God's angels envy thee; then why not these?
Let them make merry with thy wealth to spare.

Nay, join it thou. The foolish old life waits,
A slave discharged, to see thee to the gates.
Give it thy bounty, though it claim thy all,
Thy clothes, thy bed, thy empty cups and plates.

The world hath loved thee, or it loved thee not,
What matter now! Thou needest raise no doubt.
All smile on thee to--day, the false, the true.
The new king pardons. Shout then with their shout.

Thy friends surround thee, sceptics of thy reason.
They ply thee gaily in and out of season.
Thou in thy heart the while art far away
True to thy god. Thou heedest not their treason.

Proud in the face of all thou vowest thy vow,
Love in thine eyes and glory on thy brow,
Thou hast sworn to cherish her, to have, to hold,
``Till death us twain do part.'' Ah she! Ah thou!

What has my life been? Nay, my life is good.
Dear life, I love thee, now thou art subdued.
Thou hast fled the battle, cast thine arms away,
And so art victor of the multitude.

Thou art forgotten wholly of thy foes,
Of thy friends wholly, these alike with those.
One garden of the world thy kingdom is
Walled from the wicked, and there blooms thy rose.

She that I love lives there and lives with me.
Enough, kind heaven, I make my terms with thee.
Worth, wealth, renown, power, honour--shadows all!
This is the substance, this reality.

O world that I have known! how well, things, men,
Glories of vanity, the sword, the pen!
Fair praise of kings, applause of crowds--nay more,
Saints' pure approval of the loss and gain!

High deeds of fame which made the eyelids brim
With tears of pride grief's anguish could not dim,
The day of triumph crowning all the days,
The harvest of the years brought home by Time!

What are you to Man's heart, his soul, his sense
Prouder than this, more robed in incidence?
The cry of the first babe, his own, and hers,
Thrilling to joy? Ah matchless eloquence!

The wisdom of all Time is in that cry,
The knowledge of Life's whence, at last, and why,
The root of Love new grafted in the tree,
Even as it falls, which shall not wholly die.

To rest in a new being! Here it stands
The science of all ages in all lands,
The joy which makes us kin with the Earth's life,
And knits us with all Nature joining hands,

Till we forget our heritage of gloom,
Our dark humanity how near its doom.
Away! Man's soul was a disease. 'Tis fled
Scared by this infant face of perfect bloom.

And so, farewell, poor passionate Life, the past.
I close thy record with this word, ``Thou wast.''
Why wait upon the Future? Lo To--day
Smiles on our tears, Time's toy, his best and last.

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[1] Death And Life

DEATH AND LIFE
.
DEATH-PERCEPTION: LIFE-PERCEPTION

Poet: Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar

50 Poems & Criticism

1 Gratitude
2 Gratitude; Again
3 The Wheel of Death
4 Free from worry
5 Contemplation
6 A puzzle
7 The Truth
8 Forms of Death
9 Conclusion
10 Life-Death
11 A Pair
12 The Opposite
13 Equal
14 Sakhi
15 A desire
16 Reality
17 The Philosophy of Life
18 Excelsior!
19 Experimenting
20 Meaningfulness
21 A Prayer
22 A Mirage
23 A Vow
24 The Call of Conquest
25 A Call
26 One Day
27 Purpose
28 A Wish
29 As Desired
30 Proved
31 Healthy Vision
32 Compatibility
33 Dreadful
34 The Philosophy of Death
35 An Invitation
36 To The Fairy of Death
37 A Request
38 The Mode of Death
39 A Comparison
40 The Difference
41 The End
42 A Blow
43 Truth
44 A Proclamation
45 I Bow Thee
46 Good Bye
47 Preordained
48 An Ascetic
49 The Last Will
50 Kritkarma

  

ARTICLES

1 The Motif of Death in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar —
An Assessment /
Dr. D. C. Chambial, Maranda (H.P.)
.
2 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception': A Dialectical Study
Mrs. Purnima Ray, Burdwan (W.B.)
.
3 Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's 'Death-Perception: Life- Perception': An analysis
Dr. (mrs.) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V., (Visakhapatnam) (A.P.)
.
4 'Death' in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar
Dr. D. Murali Manohar, Hyderabad (A.P.)
.
5 Revealing Reflections On Death And Life
Dr. Atma Ram
.
6 Reflecions on Mahendra Bhatnagar's Philosophy of Death
Dr. A.K. Chaturvedi

 



[1] Gratitude

Death is;
Death is imminent,
Unavoidable -
That's why
Life is so desired!
That's why
There's such a semblance
Between life and death!
Death's given
Beauty to life
Such
Endless — vast!
Death's given
Man
Life - art - efficiency
Such
Embellishment - adornment!
Indubiously
Transience,
Death element / feeling
Minute by minute death - tension
Are acceptable,
Gratitude
To death
Life's gratitude!

[2] Gratitude; Again

Death's made life
very beautiful,

Transformed this world,
in fact,
into a pleasant heaven,

We learnt
the meaning of love,
only then
true's true,

Transformed man
into higher beings
than immortal god!

[3] The Wheel of Death

Cruel is
The wheel of death
Very cruel!
Under which
Lifeless - living
Gradually grinding and changing
Every moment, every minute!

This earth rocks horribly!

Invisibly
Silently
Continuously moves
This wheel of death
Uninterrupted... unchanged!

Before it
Stability has
No existence
Its motion
Always controls
Life and death,
Earth and sky!

[4] Free from Worry

Fearing death
will make
living
futile!
weight heavy
dry onerous
pleasureless heart.

So
Life
only meaningful,
when every moment is free
from the dread of death.

It is ill-ominous
to talk about
the fear of death,
or cataclysm
for this reason.

[5] Contemplation

Death?
A question-mark!
To know the mystery
not only difficult
but also
all unknown
for man.
Body
merges into five-elements
everything scatters
and ends.
Life's
not to return;
impossible
to revive again,
and know the mystery.


When there's no self
death — a puzzle
queer puzzle!
Uninterpreted to-date,
A wonderful puzzle!

All efforts futile —
to explicate
the meaning of death;
it's very intricate difficult
to contemplate.

[6] A Puzzle

What?
Body
Not worth living;

Therefore...
Soul!
You left.

In quest of new
On an unknown path;

Where?
But where? ?

Unknown,
Everything unknown!
A pitch dark night,
Everything
Mysterious!

Who questions?
Who answers?

[7] The Truth

If there were no death,
God wouldn't have any existence,
man
would have never reconciled
with his fate!

God - a symbol,
God - a proof
of man's helplessness
of readiness after death.

The whole philosophy
of hell and heaven
is an imagination.

Man
at each moment
is afraid of death, and
horripilant again and again!
He knows —
'death is imminent'!

So, his each step
is frought with suspicion.
Not only this
he is also
absolutely ignorant
of the so called
Yam's1 world.
That's why
he takes refuge
in God
for eternal peace in death!

That's why
he sings the long song -
'Ram nam satya hai! '
(God's name is the only TRUTH)
O, birth and death
is nothing
save for his cruel-amusing act!

[1 God, dispensing death in Indian mythology.]

[8] Forms of Death

Be death natural
or accidental
conclusion is the same -
end of a conscious life,
to change into a senselessness
active life
to sleep for good
palpitation of heart!
Both are the so called
writs of Providence,
the script of fate: invisible, indelible.

But
an act of terminating life
by suicide
or
by murder,
or destruction of the ferocious
in self or social defense,
isn't death,
but, a murder.
Though the end, the same
death!
True death or untimely death.

[9] Conclusion

Death?
A question-mark?

Stable
Unanswered,
adamant,
stands
as an adversary.

But, man
accept not defeat,
not a bit
think of God
in defense,
in an answer to the question,
no, not!

The mystery of death
to be unmasked... revealed
sure
sure
some day!

[10] Life-Death

Death:
An unbreakable string
Tied to birth,

Birth:
One end;
Death:
The other extreme end!

Birth - a shore
Death - an opposite bank;
Birth:
Why a jubilation?
Death:
Pain...!
Why?

Birth - death
When equal?

One / well shaped;
The other / completely invisible!

Birth -
A beginning,
Death -
Destruction: an assault!

Birth... known,


Death... un-known!
Birth: beginning
Death: end,
Birth - initiation
Death - an earthly end!

Birth: yes, a being,
Death: ah! a non-being!

Birth: a new dawn,
Death: a horrendous night!

[11] A Pair

Sandy desert spread
all around
like the dying lamp-flame
brown
yellow
Palish-green
waterless
slipping age
at he verge of death!

But
countless
waving... green
oases
Thorny
leafless
growing trees -
flags
of life!

Lake —
a resting place... life giving
infusing life!

[12] The Oppsite

Life: a jubilation
Death: the last breath
A melody / a cry!
Pious action / loud lamentation!

[13] Equal

Morning is red
Evening is red
Morning-evening are one.

Wail on birth
Wail on death
Birth-death are one.


It is
the true wisdom,
the real knowledge,
every other consideration
is in vain.

[14 Sakhi1

What makes you so sad?
Why do you lose your wits?
Life - very precious; true
Death - eternal, why do you rue

[1 A detached saintly statement.]

[15] A Desire

May all children and young live!
Heart-rending is untimely death!

[16] Reality

''Death —
a birth
over and over again
of soul.''

It's untrue
to consider this idea true?
A blind faith
an irrational faith!

Life / blends in five-elements,
the end / of a creation,
the end / of a person,
a being.
No where
here... there.

It's true
there be an eternal fusion.
Neither there is any Hell,
nor there is any Heaven,
this manifest world is the only truth.
Death — a truth,
Lifea truth!

[17] The Philosophy Of Life

External motion —
physical vibration,
Internal motion —
Life.

The transporter of life-motion
I

Ceaseless controller —
I
as long as
life is in flux
History will be created by

human-mind
human-body.

Nev er there be catastrophe;
Life ever be full of melody,
Every particle be in motion.

To fuse is
To lose internal motion.

[18] Excelsior!

Struggles and strifes
lead to life,
to be inactive,
an indication - of the approaching death,
to stop - the end of life.
Life: only a flux
ceaseless flux!
To grow,
to change
is to be alive!
Stasis
an established trait
of the lifeless.

Life has a thrill, a throb,
a continuous palpitation in the live hearts!

To stop —
de-existence
invitation to ill-ominous death,

Excelsior... excelsior!
The only 'mool-mantra'1
to prove life!

[1 Key principle.]

[19] Experimenting

In man
Wish for life
Eternal and strongest,

Whereas
The final truth
About every life
Is death!
Yes, end is certainly,

Unavoidable!

But / it is also true -
impatient passion for
Immortality and youth

Will never wane,

Man's queer valour
Longs for melody,
Not for tears!
Every time
Continuous struggle
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya1; he will be!

[1 victorious over death.]

[20] Meaningfulness

Mere living
isn't a proof of
life's meaningfulness,
Living -
only helplessness
like death - an exit.

Which is natural
in adopting it
without any specificity,
'Living-being'
doesn't mean
to be 'a human being.'

Declaration of
human glory only when
there is perfect peace of mind -
when we give
a new meaning to life,
in pitch dark
open doors
to a world full of lights.

Know the mysteries of life,
Talk to the moon and stars.
Let selflessness
be the motive of our living,
let's devour materialistic hurdles
at every step.

Let's acquire
such capabilities,
then
life may be

dedicated to death.

No regret,
no sorrow.

There isn't
the least difference of opinion.

This life is successful
this life is rare.

Blessed is the Earth!

[21] A Prayer

I long
not for immortality,
I long for
youthfulness.
Perfect health, diseaselessness,
absolute peace
of human mind and body.

This desired boon
is sought
not from any god.

Self-achieved by self-efforts
not by any prayer.

Body free from pain
mind free from torture.

Yes,
May
we live for
125 years!
For ourselves,
for others.

[22] A Mirage

Self-willed and ambitious
man
runs after money
after pleasures
at the cost of life.
How strange
at this queer, dirty intention!

If there is life / money must flow in,
If there is life / pleasure must dog in!

Shattered and disorderly life
malady-stricken / frustrated wounded life
momentary
eager to fall into
the death-pool!

Blind, perplexed, ignorant
Man
Construes money to be supreme
thinks pleasure all in all!

He'll spoil / the precious life,
and will lose life / the gift of God!

[23] A Vow

Absolutely loyal
we,
have descended in
the formidable duel of
life and death!
being soldiers of
an immortal army of life,
will not be surrounded
by the deceitful trick of
any adversary!

May be vanquished,
but, will never admit the supremacy
of death a bit,
won't let our right
to live
be snatched away!

The triumphant-call will echo
till the last breath
struggling
life-strength will fight
till the last edge of hope / effort!

[24] The Call Of Conquest

The whole world sleeps -
who weeps
in the dead of night?

It's heard -
in the house hard by
death has suddenly charged,
it's true —
someone has died.

The sharp dagger
of theYama-doot1
has once again
touched the man!

Reach
with ambrosial heart-felt condolences,
may this man

live again and again!

Let life-drum sound
every moment

though
biers be laid!

[1 Emissary of Yam / God dispensing death in Indian
mythology.]

[25] A Call

They who sing Alakh1
have come,
who sing the sweet beloved song
of new life
have come!

Singers of Sohar2
have come!

Players of life-song
on every string of the violin of heart
have come!

Mentally vanquished!
Awake!
Strike by stretching!
Awake!

Jump
into the live sea
of life
O divers!
Stir the stupor!

[1 A word urging inspiration.
2 An auspicious song sung at the birth of a child.]

[26] One Day

Have faith
Life
will be victorious,
fear not the wicked,
fear not!

Let's destroy
every doubt!
Have faith
life will be victorious!

Deep darkness
of dead death
will surround / frighten;
have faith in

the sun's strength / firmness
Let's unmask
every particle of it!

Let's floodlight around!
Have faith
life will be triumphant!

[27] Purpose

We
who are the artisans of life
should talk only
about life,
discover
the meaningfulness of life,
and know
about the essence of life!

If death
destroys us
let us
strike back at it,
let us
sing the glory of life,
let us
strike a severe blow at
Yama, death!

[28] A Wish

let there be
no existence of death-serpent
in the garden of life,
let human self
not be terrorized
of death scare!

let every person
enjoy life
without any doubt,
let his each moment be
mellifluous!

Let a lover of life
play with life,
and live life fully
by embracing
every pleasure!

[29] Longing

As long as
I wished

to live,

lived heartily!
Imagine
the lamps burnt on
even in rains!

None
was kind,
struggled -
with firm faith in

self potence!

[30] Proved

With a wish to live
one won't
wait for death!
Gold
pure, drossless:
why should it take
a fire-test?

End the illusion,
Bend the kaal-chakar1!
Associate with life!
Give up this stupor!

[1 Cycle of death / time]

[31] Healthy Vision

Live
by thinking self
immortal,
laugh and sing
without any concern,
eat and drink
without any worry;
should it
be termed
true living?

When face to face
with the end
Or
Should remain ignorant of it
Should
we call it
true living?

[32] Compatibility

I sing
I sing the songs
of victory!
I sing

about the triumph of life
over death!
I sing dauntlessly
the triumph of life-bud
of the dearest thing!

I sing
again and again!

The sounds that echo
in the sky of the graveyard
of the liberated-selves of carefree birds
are translations
of my
life-sentiments!
The compatriots
of my
life-adorations!

[33] Dreadful

Beware!

We have
hoisted the red flags,
on every house, in every village,
in every town,
of life, new life!

In every locality, at every cross,
here, there -
everywhere!
Hoisted
red flags!

Now
the demon of death
won't be able to carry out
his terrorist, fatal, men-devouring
maddening trick!

Ambushes
on entering into the body,
proclaims himself
an unvanquished doota1
of Yama2
lays down
within the body
explosives,

and...
remote-controls
by hiding
in invisible places!

Let's see,

where from he comes now!

[1 Emissary. 2 Lord of death.]

[34] The Philosophy of Death

Death:
When a certainty,
In vain
Why

to doubt,
to fear
so much!

O, tell death -
'Come; when you please.'

At this time
Come,
Let's sing and dance!
Play on varied musical instruments!

Let's end this silence;
Who cares
for death?

[35] An Invitation

Death
come,
do come one day!
And take me away
in your flying-chariot;
away... far away
into hell!
That I may
unite all those
living in hell,
urge on them
for a revolt,

prepare them
for a change in life!
I don't acknowledge
any Chitragupta1
any Yama;
I'll challenge them!
Just, let me jump
into the hell-pond!
Just, let me mingle
with the huge crowd of
hell-denizens!

[1 According to Indian mythology an official in the court of Yama who keeps record of righteous and unrighteous actions of living beings.]

[36] To The Fairy of Death

O death, come
I am ready!
Never think,
I am helpless.

Won't you
Inform?
Won't you

Oblige me?

You'll come —
On tip-toes,
Surprising
Like a clever girl.

Alright,
Accepted!
My beloved,
Your this game
Is welcome!

Come quietly,
Come, o death
I'm ready!

I know
It well
That of the book of life
Thou art the end!

Therefore,
For me
Thou art the good news
Of totality!

Come
O death, come
I'm ready!
Awaiting you
I've bedecked myself,
I'm ready!

[37] A Request

Death -
it hardly matters
if you are feminine,
I can befriend you!

Why do you feel shy?

Come
be my comrade!
If not a cohabiter
be my neighbour!

You beautiful like the moon,
from the opposite window
peep out,
evaluate —
and one day
all at once
make me accompany you
to the land of the dead!
Just
taunting and teasing!

[38] The Mode of Death

Death might be overtaking
while dreaming,
Prana1
might be out from the body
just then.

A dreaming man
passes away!

What does he know?

Ask those living
who
have covered the dead body
with a sheet of cloth!
what happened?
What happened?
At last?

[1The life-force]

[39] A Comparison

Between Shiva
and shava1
the difference lies only in the 'I'
(the first vowel sound)

Shiva —
is goodness,
gives comfort!
Shava —
ill-ominous,
only decays!

Shiva has three eyes,
Shava is blind!

A great imbroglio!

[1Shava — a dead body.]

[40] The Distance

You remembered
Thanks!
Gave a sweet pain
Accepted!

How strange the coincidence
That the last farewell
O, the first love!
Came
On the disappearing path,
With a wish -
Never to be fulfilled,
Sometime with a true physical touch
Our co-feelings
Never to be distanced!

I go -
Go with memory,
Go with pain!

[41] The End

Strife
Where is it now?
Journey -
Where is it now?

Everything stood still
The running, jumping, the liquid river water
Everything frozen —
Like blood in veins!

All bones of body
Continuously
Crackle with pain,
Who'll press them
Now
Till the dying breath?
Dark surrounds
While none is around!

Now there is no flutter
Only a stasis,
Now life -
A fatigued filament;
A scatter!

[42] A Blow

I...

kept you alive -
so

I'll carry
your living but decayed corpse!
Carry it silently, helplessly!

You
murdered
the faiths,
you
burnt the wishes
in a flaming furnace,
sham, hypocrisy
well enacted
and filled every moment of life
with unbearable pain!

Never became a loved one;
never became a murderer!
O, never snatched the right to live -
though the doubt was unmasked,
every doubt!

When kept alive
I'll burn in the hell-fire
bear all by
being insensitive!

Early or late
all
in an eternal sleep have to fall,
dust unto dust!

O unfortunate!
Then, why to weep?

[43] Truth

Life-bird
will fly,
fly away!
Life-bird
will fly away!

Why you try so hard,
sing hymns every morn and eve,
nothing is in your control
you bow in every temple,

one day from the body
Life-bird
will fly away,

that will
never return!
Fly away
Life-bird
will fly away!

[44] Preordained

It is preordained that
you
one day
will sleep
in the lap of death
silently!

It is preordained that
you
one day
will be lost
in the pitch dark
of the death!

It is preordained that
you
one day
renouncing name and fair form
will be reduced
to ashes!

[45] A Proclamation

Tell
the world -
now
Mahendra Bhatnagar sleeps!
Sleeps in an eternal sleep!

What
is to happen
happens;
O Man!
Why do you weep?

Life
that is one's own,
one has no right
over it too,
hearth - wealth
that is one's own
that too
in fact
has no essence!
You've no claim
over that!

Becoming
silent - stoic

set out
leaving everything

set out
severing all relations
new and old!

Everyone
has to experience
this moment,
death's eternal
then
why to fear it?

O immortal death!
You may consider me
helpless,
end,
I voluntarily
accept you,
accept you from body and mind!

I sleep
on the comfortable
soil-bed!
I lose my identity
by fusing with the particles
of this soil!
I sow a new life!
As I have accepted life
likewise
O death
I do accept you!

I go,
I go from this world!
I go from this
lovely home, lovely world!
I go
for good... for good!
I go!

[46] I Bow Thee

Adieu!
O the springs of the world
Adieu!
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
Adieu!

Hills... valleys
Slopes... marshes
Adieu!

Adieu
O, the high waves of the sea!

Fluttering
wings of illusion,
Eyes

Profuse with love
Adieu!

The strings of
An inextricable knot
The unrealised hopes
Adieu!
Adieu!

[47] Good Bye!

We
Beaten by fate,
We
Defeated
In the game of life,

Ah!
Tortured by dears,
Hurt on heart,
With a bowed head
Silent
Go for good

Never
Remember,
Even today
Listen,
Do not light the memory-lamp!

[48] An Ascetic

To overcome death
one more Siddharth1 — an ascetic
has set out!

Who at each step
trampled the elusive moves of
Yama's legion!

Wasn't trapped
in any vyuha2
tied his noose hard
on death!

He who sings
songs of life
at the edge of doom,
one day —
he will attain
an immortal place
by changing his shape,

preserve this
heritage
by making it a stupa3

:
1 initial name of Buddha.2 phlanx, the war movement arrangement of an army to surround or capture the enemy. 3 a Buddhistic tope/sacred spot.

[49] The Last Will

Never weep,
Never be disinterested!

Bear a blow
Never lose temper.

Let the last act be
free from rituals
let mind be set
only on the mystery beyond death!

Life after death
when none has known
when none has seen...
All established systems:
imaginary,
illogical.
To follow them - not desired!
O never be a blind-follower,
Let refinement of worship be
in the splendour of knowledge.

Follow -
good faith and good feelings!

 

[50] Kritkarma1

Why bewail?
Why bewail
on the renunciation of body?

End —
a sign of perfection,
a successful stage
Why to bewail?

The end of life
A stage
Why to bewail?

Let us
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life,
glorify it.

Take the last salute!

:
One who has finished one's duty/karma.


ARTICLES

[1 ]
THE MOTIF OF DEATH
N THE IPOETRY OF MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR:
AN ASSESSMENT

– Dr. D. C. Chambial

Life is poised between the two antipodal points of birth and death. Where there is birth, there is death. Where one begins the other ends. Birth is welcome and rejoiced. Death is considered terrible and is, therefore, mourned. Enmeshed in the enigma of existence man has been trying since time immemorial to dive into the mysteries of life and death. All metaphysical systems of world are the outcome of mans endeavour to find truth in this regard. In the modern age of science man has toiled hard to lay bare the mystery of death. However, it still remains beyond the domain of science. Where the domain of science ends, the domain of metaphysics begins.What is outside the physical world is left for the philosophy to explain. Mahendra Bhatnagar has, in his book, 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception', tried to perceive the mystery of life and death. In this paper my endeavour shall be to explore Mahendra Bhatnagar’s views about death.
In order to answer the question: What is death? The poet has nothing to say different from the commonly held notion about it that death is ‘an earthly end’ and compares it toa horrendous night’ (‘Life - Death’: 22) . What the poet calls ‘a horrendous night’ is the state of existence after death. However, this ‘horrendous night’ begins with death. As the one side of a coin cannot be severed from the other, similarly, birth and death are also integral and cannot be separated: ‘an unbreakable string / tied to birth’ (Ibid.) The poet declares the Vedic truth: ‘Death - a truth’ (Reality’: 32) . It is also the truth of existence. Where there is life, there is death.
Man, ever since he began to speculate and meditate about the fate of life after its termination on this terra firma, has found death an enigma to explore. It was, and still is, an enigma for him.
There is a lot about death that one wants to know: what is death? What happens to the individual on death? If body is the dwelling of soul, as the Hinduism and most of the other world religions maintain, then, what happens to the soul on and after death? What would happen if there were no death? Etc. The poet also believes in this arcane nature of death and states: ‘Death? / A question-mark! ’ (Contemplation: 10) . He, once again, repeats this mystery of death in his poem, ‘Conclusion’, with the same words and is staunch in his faith that man is ever engaged in unraveling and unmasking the secrets about death. He says though ‘death’, at present, isa question-mark’, but a day will certainly come whenThe mystery of death / to be unmasked... revealed’ (‘Conclusion’: 20)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet, opens his discourse about death and tells the readers about its imminence. He says: ‘Death is imminent / Unavoidable’ (Gratitude’: 2) . It is very much intone with the Hindu philosophy that states: ‘Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityu...’ (the Ghagvadgita: II,27) . He further expounds that death which is the end of life on the earth ‘... is certainly / Unavoidable! ’ (Experimenting’: 38) . The fact that whosoever has life and is born on this earth is bound to decay or die. An individual’s life is limited. One cannot go beyond this limit. None can abjure the verity that one day this life on earth has to come to an end. There is no way out. The poet sings:
One day from the body
Life-bird
will fly away,
That will
Never return!
Fly away!
Life-bird
Will fly away!
(‘Truth’: 94)
Here the poet, with the help of the symbol of a bird, tries to explain that one day JIVA or PRANA will have to forsake this body. It cannot live in for good. This body is subject to the laws of destructibility and transience.
Death has never been a welcome. The very origin of death, according to Christianity, is cruel, for it is the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God: they disobeyed the God, ate the forbidden fruit and the God, in turn, not only expelled them out of Eden but also inflicted death on them. Death has been with man since his first disobedience and the original sin. The poet calls death a cruel wheel that spares no one:
Cruel is
the wheel of death
very cruel!
Under which
Lifeless - living
Gradually grinding and changing
Every moment, every minute!
This earth rocks horribly!
invisibly / Silently
Continuously moves
This wheel of death.
(‘The Wheel of Death’: 6) .
This wheel always goes on like the wheel of time and one and all fall prey to it without any distinction.
The termination of life from the physical body is termed as death. Death is death whatever be its kind or form. The philosopher poet, Dr. Mahendra also declares that ‘Though the end, the same death! ’ (‘Forms of Death’: 18) . Nonetheless, he differentiates and recognizes two kinds of death: one, natural or accidental death; two, the unnatural or suicide or murder. In this regard the poet writes: ‘Death natural / or accidental /... / end of a conscious life’ (Ibid.) These both kinds of death, natural and accidental, are so called because they are the ‘writs of Providence’ (Ibid.) But, about the second kind, ‘suicide / or / murder’, the poet says that it ‘isn’t death, but, a murder.’ (ibid.) Thus, the poet acknowledges two kinds of death with clear difference.
The poet is of the view that one should not fear death. While living one should be free from its fear. Living constantly under the fear of death will make the individual a coward and one will not be able to accomplish anything in ones life. Thus the whole objective of life and living will be defeated. One is supposed to live and, while living, do such acts that are helpful for the progress of humanity. With this motive in mind, the poet says that ‘Fearing death / will make / living futile! / weight heavy / dry onerous / pleasureless heart.’ (Free From Worry’: 8) . Under the constant fear of death, life loses its meaning. In order to make life meaningful one has to be free from the fear of death. So, the philosopher poet says:
Life
only meaningful,
when every moment is free
from the dread of death. (Ibid.)
The poet seems to echo what the Hindu philosophy says:
v'kksP; kuUo'kkspLRoa izKkoknkaÜp Hkk'klsA
xrklwuxrklawÜp ukuq'kkspfUr if.Mrk%AA
What should not be worried about you should not worry say the wise
Whether one lives or dies does not bother the pundit.
(the Bhagvadgita: II,11) .
The poet, in his poemThe Philosophy of Death’ (72) posits:
Death:
When a certainty,
In vain
Why
to doubt
to fear
so much?
O, tell death —
‘Come; when you please.’
There is no need either to nourish any doubt about death or fear it; it is imminent. In another poem, he says:
It is preordained that
you
one day
will sleep
in the lap of death
silently!
× × ×
in the pitch dark
of the death! (‘Preordained’: 96)
and then talks about the destruction of the body after death by consigning it to fire: ‘fair form / will be reduced / to ashes! ’ (Ibid.) The JIVA forsakes body; body becomes dead because it is senseless to all external stimuli of the physical world, and finally the body joins the five elements - fire, earth, water, air, and sky, the PANCH BHUTA — out of which it had taken shape.
All this happens, the poet argues, when body becomes unsuitable for the soul as its dwelling. Then the soul leaves it and looks for a new one that is befitting for it, the poet says:
What?
Body
Not worth living;
Therefore...
Soul!
You left
In quest of new.’ (‘A Puzzle’: 12)
as if the soul unfolds the secret of its leaving the body, that is death, to the poet. The poet’s philosophy seems to echo the Vedic philosophy:
oklkafl th.kkZfu; Fkk fogk; uokfu x`g~.kkfr ujkss•ijkf.kA
rFkk 'kjhjkf.k fogk; th.kkZU; kfu la; fr uokfu nsghAA
As a man discards the old and worn out clothes,
Likewise the soul discards old body and enters new one.
(the Bhagvadgita: II,22) .
In the absence of death there would have no God nor the need for any such supreme divinity. The poet continues his argument thatIf there were no death, / God wouldn’t have any existence’ (‘The truth’: 14) . It means that in the absence of death man would have thought himself to be the Supreme Being and the God were to be something non-existent. It is the existence of death that makes human being inferior to God and man needs some super power to attribute to that power all the enigmas of physical and metaphysical existence that are beyond the human ken. In the absence of death, even ‘The whole philosophy / hell and heaven’ (Ibid.) would have become redundant. But, there is death that necessitates the existence of God, before whose will the man bows. Therefore, the man realizes the ultimate truth that ‘Ram nam satya hai / (God’s name is the only TRUTH) ’ (Ibid.) In other words, the poet contends that only God is the Reality.
It is not that death has made the existence of God feasible but it also has a purpose. The poet maintains that death is not without purpose. It also has its utilitarian value and makes life not only useful but also beautiful for existence on this earth. He posits:

Death’s made life very beautiful,
Transforms this world, in fact,
Into a pleasant heaven,
We learnt the meaning of love,
only then
true’s true,
Transformed man into higher beings
Than immortal god!
(‘Gratitude; Again’: 4)
.

Whatever man tries to achieve in life and art is also death’s gift to him; so, the poet firmly holds:
Death’s given
Beauty to life
Such
Endless - vast!
Death’s given
Man
Life - art - efficiency
Such
Embellishment - adornment!
(‘Gratitude’: 2)
It is a fact that death has some objective. But, the poet not only encourages the mankind to shed the fear of death but also suggests to betittle death by finding a purpose of living because:
We
who are the artisans of life
should talk only about life
discover
the meaningfulness of life.
and know
about the essence of life.
(‘Purpose’: 56)
His panacea for belittling death is:
If death
destroys us
let us
strike back at it. (Ibid.)
But, how can we strike back at death? The poet has himself answered this question successfully in the poem itself that it can be done by discovering ‘the meaningfulness of lifeand by singing ‘the glory of life’ (Ibid.) The ‘meaningfulness of life’ suggests a purposeful life so that he is remembered even after he is dead.
Death is imminent. It cannot be avoided. It is the fate of all living beings on this earth. It can only be relegated to pettiness. Then there is no need to fear death: ‘let human self / not be terrorized / of death care’ (‘A Wish’: 58) . The living ones should always be ready to welcome death. There is no alternative to it. Therefore, the poet has debunked death of all its power and fear and and welcomes death to
come,
do come one day!
And take me away
in your flying-chariot
away... far away
(‘An Invitation’: 74) .
perhaps, like the persona in Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘The Chariot’1
To conclude our discussion, we can say that the poet comes out with some very concrete suggestions to tear off the hitherto much significance attached to death. He does not believe in any type of ritual, because these do not form part of the eternal truth; these have been devised and followed by the survivors. He exhorts the mankind: ‘Let the last act be / free from rituals’ (‘The Last Will’: 110) . What is more important. in order to find the ultimate truth, to unmask the enigma of death shrouded in the mystery, is to approach the hitherto unsolved riddle of death single-mindedly. For this he suggests: ‘let mind be set / only on the mystery deyond death! ’ (Ibid.) He also consoles those who are left behind wailing and bemoaning in these words: ‘End - / a sign of perfection, / a successful stage / why to bewail’ and should
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life
glorify it.
(‘Kritkarma’: 112) .
It isthe meaning of lifethat has not been found yet and the quest for which is ever going on like the journey of life as propounded by Aurobindo Ghose2. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet and philosopher, has very deeply studied and experienced, in his imagination, the concept of death and has made some very radical observations that make him stand all alone as a sedate thinker in the contemporary poetry.
.
Notes:
(1) In the Dickinson’s poem, Death is one of the occupants in the chariot. Death asks the poetess / persona to accompany him. The opening lines of the poem are:
Because I could not stop for death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And immortality.
In Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poem, the poet / persona invites Death to take him / her with himself, because he is not afraid of death and ready to go with him.
(2) In his poem, ‘Is This the End? ’, Aurobindo Ghose says that death does not put an end to the journey or quest of life. The poet refers to soul that is immortal and continues its journey ceaselessly. It goes on even after the goal has been achieved. The last two stanzas of them poem, that have relevance to the argument in the present article, are:
The Immortal in the mortal is his name!
An artist Godhead here
Ever remoulds himself in dimmer shapes,
Unwilling the cease.
Till all is done for which the stars were made,
Till the heart discovers God
And the soul knows itself. And even then
There is no end.
.


[2]
Death-Perception: Life-Perception
— Mrs. Purnima Ray

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s ‘Death-Perception: Life-Perception’ is a collection of fifty beautiful poems translated from original Hindi into English by Dr. D.C.Chambial. The poet, and the translator are already well-known figures in the literary arena, both in India and abroad. The Appendix 1&2 published in this book help us to know their achievements in detail. In short, their bio-notes are as follows -
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a leading Professor of Hindi Language and Literature, guides scholars, has several published books, and received many awards. His major poetry-collections include ‘Forty Poems’ translated by Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, and Prof. L.S.Sharma, ‘After The Forty Poems’ translated by Dr. Ramsevak Singh Yadav, Prof. Vareendra Kumar Varma, and Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, ‘Exuberance and other poems’, translated by Dr. Ravinandan Sinha, and ‘Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Poetry’ translated by Dr. H.C.Gupta.
Dr. D.C.Chambial is a Professor of English, a widely published Indo-English poet and critic, has several published books, poetry collections, and on criticism, and edits an international journal ‘Poetcrit’. At the outset the translator in his note makes clear to us the most important features of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry, which we have to recho in our discussion from time to time in our own way. And we will see that Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are deep, intense in feeling, suggestive and thought-provoking.
The title of this present collection is very important. One should notice that ‘Death-Perception’ comes first, then ‘Life Perception’. The ‘Death-theme’ is a very common and universal one, but the fact is that we sometimes are aware of it, and sometimes not. Most of us know that it is inevitable and certain, and we are eager to know more about it, and want to escape from its clutches, but we do not know how to do it. It is here the utility of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems on this subject. He explores all the possible ways with his extraordinary creative spirit, and he succeeds to satisfy our quench for the thirst of knowledge of this kind.
Poet Mahendra points us to see the fact that we are standing on the backbone of ‘Death’, so that our desire for life is being stirred again and again:
Death is;
Death is imminent,
Unavoidable —
Thats why
Life is so desired!
Although we get scared by it every now and then, yet it is acceptable, and for thatlife’ itself is grateful to ‘Death’:
Death element / feeling
Minute by minute death-tension
Are acceptable,
Gratitude
To Death
Lifes gratitude!
Because Death’s contributions to Life are unnumbered:
Death’s made life
very beautiful,
Transformed this world,
in fact,
Into a pleasant heaven,
We learnt
the meaning of love...
and the most important achievement of ‘Death’ is that it
...Transformed man
Into higher beings
than immortal god!
This poet has seen ‘Death’ in the best possible ways, yet
he admits the impossibility to define it:
All efforts futile -
to explicate
the meaning of death;
its very intricate difficult
to contemplate.
He does not ignore its dark sides:
Cruel is
The wheel of death
very cruel!
He defines finely in a word:
.. A wonderful puzzle!
Poet Mahendra can establish a truth that mans all philosophy including the idea of God revolves round ‘Death’:
If there were no death,
God wouldn’t have any existence,
man
would have never reconciled
with his fate!
For he is always led by this fact:
... ‘Death is imminent’!
So his idea of God is nothing but:
... a proof
of mans helplessness
of readiness after death...
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar equates the relation between Life and death through a fine imagery:
Death:
An unbreakable string
Tied to birth..
So he rightly poses the stoic question:
... Birth
why a jubilation?
Death:
pain..!
why?
Birth-death
when equal?
He can justify what he says regarding this by a logical fallacy:
Morning is red
Evening is red
Morning - evening are one.

Wail on birth
Wail on death
Birth-death are one...
It seems that he wants to say as one cannot detach death from life, similarly life cannot be detached from death:
Death -
a birth
Over and over again
of soul...
Like the ancient Greek philosophers the poet says:
... this manifest world is the only truth...
Yet he confirms:
Death - a truth
Life - a truth
The poet gives us the key-principle to overcome death:
... Every time
Continuous struggle
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya; he will be!
At the same time he makes us aware of meaningfulness of life:
Mere living
isn’t a proof of
lifes meaningfulness...
and his ‘meaningfulness’ finds its expression in humanistic approach to life:
Let selflessness
be the motive of our living,
let’s devour materialistic hurdles
on every step.
Let’s acquire / such capabilities,
then
life may be
dedicated to death...
So in ‘Prayer’ poet Bhatnagar does not want any ascetic attainment, but leads the mankind in time of need:
I long
not for immortality,
I long for
youthfulness.
Perfect health, diseaselessness,
absolute peace
of human mind and body...
.
He shows us where ‘death’ takes place:
.
Shattered and disorderly life
Malady-stricken / Frustrated wounded life
momentary
eager to fall into
the death-pool!
.
and the victory of life over death:
.
Have faith
Life
will be victorious,
fear not the wicked,
fear not!
.
Like a Miltonic hero the poet discloses the way:
.
If death destroys us
let us
strike back at it,
Let us
sing the glory of life,
let us
strike a severe blow at
Yama, death!
.
Here also revolution takes place, one has to utter these words:
.
That I may
unite all those
living in hell,
urge on them
for a revolt,
prepare them
for a change in life!
.
It is only then we can realise what he says:
.
With a wish to live
one won’t
wait for death!
.
He does not want the Epicurean way of living be termed as ‘true-living’:
.
Live / by thinking self
immortal,
laugh and sing
without any concern,
eat and drink
without any worry;
should it / be termed / true living?
.
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar sings paean of life, but there is something more special in his singing:
.
I sing
about the triumph of life
over death!
.
Like post-Tagorean Bengali surrealistic poet Jibanananda Das he admires the wealth of life:
.
I sing dauntlessly
the triumph of thru life-bud
of the dearest thing!
I sing again and again!
.
One may compare the words ‘again and again’ quoted above with Jibananada’s abar asiba phire (I will come again) . The words which poet Bhatnagar used are different, but the total effect is the same:
.
The sounds that echo
in the sky of graveyard
of the liberated-selves of carefree birds
are translations
of my life sentiments!
The compatriots
of my life - adorations!
.
Here he establishes one truth that poets from ages to ages sing life in there unique ways.
Perhaps for that reason poet Bhatnagar can romanticize ‘Death’:
.
(1) Youll come —
On tip-toes,
Surprising
Like a clever girl.
Alright,
Accepted!
My beloved,
your this game
is welcome
.
(2) You beautiful like the moon,
from the opposite window
peep out
evaluate —
.
One should notice that the poet attaches feminity to a beautiful object.
Poet Bhatnagar’s creativity finds its fullest expression when he uses the word ‘passing away’ instead of ‘death’:
.
Death might be overtaking
while dreaming,
Prana
might be out from the body
just then.
A dreaming man
passes away!
.
Yes, the dreaming people are active and creative, they dream before turning themselves into creativity, as Lord Vishnu sleeps and dreams before the creation of the Universe; they do not know the word ‘death’ while engrossing in their way of life. The last lines of this poem makes us thoughtful, leave us in a whirlpool of suggestions:
What does he know?
Ask those living
who
have covered the dead body
with a sheet of cloth!
What happened?
What happened?
At last?
It seems that poet Bhatnagar accepts indirectly the will of God behind death:
It is preordained that
you
one day
will sleep
in the lap of death
silently!
So he says to himself and at the same time to us to renounce all earthly attachments:
Never
Remember,
Even today
Listen,
Do not light the memory-lamp!
He does not forget to remind us the most precious things of life, and he puts all this so masterly in the tongue of a dying-person:
Adieu!
O the springs of the world
Adieu!
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
Adieu!
Hills..... valleys
Slopes... marshes
Adieu!
O, the high waves of the sea!
In a way, he values most the Nature surrounding us, as
Mrityunjaya in Rabindranath Tagore’s short-storyThe Hidden Treasure’ exclaimed: “I want sunlight, air, sky’’ etc. wanting to live.
For he knows that ultimate truth is, he makes a goodbye to an illusory world behind him:
Fluttering
wings of illusion,
Eyes
Profuse with love
Adieu!

The strings of
An inextricable knot
The unrealised hopes
Adieu!
Adieu!
‘An Ascetic’ is an important poem, in the sense that the poet gives here a message to the strife - torn world we are living in:
He who sings
songs of life
at the edge of doom,
one day -
he will attain
an immortal place
by changing his shape,
Preserve this / heritage /
by making it a stupa.
The suggestion is if we sing songs of life, then there should be no hankering after life-killing desires and efforts; again the poet’s spirituality lies in humanity, and mans religion in his ‘Kritakarma’. The poemThe Last Will’ can be seen as his consolation for us as well as a clarion call:
let mind be set
only on the mystery beyond death!
× × × ×
Let refinement of worship be
in the splendour of knowledge..
Here he gives more emphasis on ‘mind’ which controls all body-organs, and on ‘knowledge’, the purest of all things in the world, as we find in The Srimat Bhagavat Gita.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is, no doubt, an avant-garde Indian poet. Dr. D.C.Chambial excellent rendition extends the readership of
Dr. Bhatnagar’s philosophy and poetic ability. Dr. Chambial has done his job well, for his transcreation has retained all the literary qualities of the original poems - e.g. ‘the economy of linguistic expressions’, lucidity etc.

. .

[3]
Death-Perception: Life-Perception
An Analytical Study

— Dr (Mrs) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V.


DEATH PERCEPTION - LIFE PERCEPTION is a sensitively rendered volume of 50 poems, originally written in Hindi. The poems retain their natural flavour to a great extent, thanks to the versatility of the well-known poet of national and international fame Dr D.C. Chambial. As the title indicates the mysterious entity of death and the magical polarity called life occupy the mind and art of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar. The theme of death and life has ever been source of deep contemplation often verging on to obsession for creative writers from times immemorial. Yet it never lost its freshness and vigour due to the mystery that surrounds it, the magnetism it generates and the manifold wonder it evokes. Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry bears witness to all the above observations.
Dr Chambial kept the translation as close as the linguistic boundaries between the original Hindi and the foreign English languages have allowed. Praise is to him, who, despite the language constrictions was able to carry and convey the poetic preoccupations of the well¬ known Hindi Poet with life and death.
The volume begins with a difference. In the first poem ‘Gratitude’, the poet gleans a reason to be grateful to death. It certainly is a new perception. The poet says: “Death’s given / Man / Life-art¬efficiency / Such / Embellishment - adornment.” According to the poet, it is death that makes life beautiful and therefore desirable. Death’s imminence makes life all the more attractive. So, he offers “Gratitude / To death / Lifes gratitude.” The fact that death equals all is mourned in a poem entitled ‘The Wheel of Death / Time’. Death tramps the white radiance of life. Death is relentless, inexorable: “Before it! Stability has! No existence! Its motion! Always controls! Life and death! Earth and sky.”
Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are not for those who seek the romantic, who look for the sensational. They do not jingle either. There is evidently a deep contemplation, a firm conviction in his poems. Written in free verse, some of the lines remain clearly etched in the reader’s mind. Lines such as: “Invisibly / Silently / Continuously moves / This wheel of death / Uninterrupted... unchanged! ” make a mark because in spite of simple terminology the poet has used memorable imagery. When he captions a poem as ‘Wheel of Time’ (kaal chakra) , the poet is using a native metaphor. In the cultures of India, time is compared to a wheel, a wheel that is conceptualized with the elements of birth-growth (life) - death that repeat themselves ceaselessly. It is a cyclic process that is inevitable and unavoidable. So, says the poet why grieve over death and spoil ones peace of mind? —“Life! only meaningful, / When every moment is free / From the dread of death.” Despite the scientific advancement, death is awonderful puzzle’ for the poet. He sees death as a conundrum in poems such as ‘Contemplation’ andA Puzzle’. It is the fear of death that urges man to take “refuge! In God! For eternal peace..” Yet the poet firmly believes that mans invincibility will make him see “The mystery of death / To be unmasked... revealed / Sure... some day” in ‘Conclusion’.
. In poems such asLife-Death’ andThe Opposite’ the dividing line between the polarities of life and death are brought to focus. To the poet they are not separate but intrinsically interconnected. One cannot be without the other. They are the beginning and end of a unique cycle. Why then are feelings generated by then different? questions the poet. “Birth: Why a jubilation? / Death: Pain...? Why? ” the ironical fact however is, “Wail on birth! Wail on death! Birth-death are one.” (‘Equal’) According to the poet it is futile to think of Hell or Heaven. Suffice to know thatThis manifest world the only truth / Death - a truth, / Life - a truth! ” The common everyday thought of life and death attains a special significance in the poems of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar because of the complexity of human emotion and intellectual activity. Although the theme of death is glaring enough, we are especially made to take notice of it due to the rhythm the poet used. It successfully indicates the relative value of his individualized perception. For example in a poem entitled ‘The Philosophy of lifethe poet says that life is “ External motion / Physical vibration / Internal motion - / Life. Real death is to lose ‘internal’ motion, the spiritual death. Now we know where the ‘fuse’ lies. The poetic thought continues on to ‘Excelsior’. If - “Struggles and strifes / lead to life” then “to be inactive” is “an indication - of the approaching death, / to stop - the end of life.”
Here is a rediscovery of the Vedic observation that our life is a pilgrimage and that man is an eternal traveler on the move. Life is an adventure. There is no resting on the journey and there is no end to it either. In the Aitereya Brhmana there is hymn, which ends with the refrain: ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti’ which means “Hence O traveler, march along, march along.” One finds an echo in “Excelsior.... excelsior! ”
Now that we do not have a key to the puzzle of death, why not we unravel the ‘mysteries of life’, which in turn equips us with the ability ‘to talk to the moon and to the stars’ thus achieving ‘meaningfulness’ of life. In other words, the poet exhorts us to keep in touch with the unseen presence of the cosmic power by its physical manifestation in various forms of nature. True, nature is our guide, friend, and philosopher. It gives according to the poet “Perfect peace of mind /... a new meaning to life.”
A Prayer’ is an insightful poem on the secret of leading a happy life. In the poet’s opinion happy life is an outcome of self achievement. He says: “We live for / 125 years” only when we have a “Body free from pain / Mind free from torture.” So that we live as much for ‘ourselves’ as of ‘others’ because according to the Indian thought the whole world is a family - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The foregone thought is entirely in opposition with the feeling that “Blind, perplexed, ignorant / Man... construes money to be supreme / Thinks pleasure all in all.” (‘A Mirage’) InA Vow’ the poet depicts death as an adversary whom we the human race fight like soldiers because life is too precious to lose toa deceitful trick of / Any adversary! ”
. ‘A Call’ is a unique poem in which the poet uses a number of sensory images to celebrate the carnival of life. In a Tagore-like lyricism, the poet hails the singers of Alakh and Sohar who play on ‘every string of the violin of heart’. Their songs are mainly meant for the ‘mentally vanquished’, to awaken those whose life turned into ‘stupor’. A number of poems expound the value attached to life, a rare gift. Poems such asOne day’, ‘Proved’, A Healthy Vision’, and ‘Compatibility’ sing of Shanti (peace) , victory, glory and pleasure of life. He envisages life wherein all will laugh and be merry. Death is compared to a terrorist in the poem ‘Dreadful’ who “remote controls” life - “By hiding / In invisible places.”
InThe Philosophy of Death’, ‘An Invitation’, ‘To the Fairy of Death ‘ andA Request’ there is a new challenge, a new welcome to a hail-fellow-well-met attitude to death. There is neither fear nor fascination towards humanity’s foe i.e. death. But one finds camaraderie, bonhomie, open, and candid. Death is treated as a friend, “a clever girl”, “a cohabiter” anda neighbour.” Thus, we witness a metamorphosis in the poet’s notion of death as it passes from the stage of being the fearful and the awe-inspiring to that of a much¬-awaited welcome guest. Finally an agreeable compromise is reached. Peace at last! The pilgrim realizes his futile fencing with an invincible enemy. What cannot be cured must be endured. This endurance is not born of frustration but out of wise realization. that makes a world of difference.
In ‘Comparison’ the poet juxtaposes Shiva, the three-eyed Godhead with shava, the lifeless body. A single vowel shift from ‘i’ toa’ brings in an irreplaceable difference in consciousness i.e. from spandana to jada. ‘ A Blow’ shows the futility of involvement because says the poet: “Early or late / all / in an eternal sleep have to fall / dust unto dust! ” thus after being enlightened that every oneOne day / renouncing name and fair form / will be reduced / to ashes! ” (‘Preordained’) , the poet proclaims in ‘Proclamation’: “0 Death / I do accept you.../ I go / For good... for good / I go! ”
Now there is loveliness all around. Nothing but peace remains. Not, that which is a result of impotent stupor but the peace one arrives at after experiencing the vicissitudes of life, like the pe

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The Ideal And The Actual Life

Forever fair, forever calm and bright,
Life flies on plumage, zephyr-light,
For those who on the Olympian hill rejoice--
Moons wane, and races wither to the tomb,
And 'mid the universal ruin, bloom
The rosy days of Gods--With man, the choice,
Timid and anxious, hesitates between
The sense's pleasure and the soul's content;
While on celestial brows, aloft and sheen,
The beams of both are blent.

Seekest thou on earth the life of gods to share,
Safe in the realm of death?--beware
To pluck the fruits that glitter to thine eye;
Content thyself with gazing on their glow--
Short are the joys possession can bestow,
And in possession sweet desire will die.
'Twas not the ninefold chain of waves that bound
Thy daughter, Ceres, to the Stygian river--
She plucked the fruit of the unholy ground,
And so--was hell's forever!
The weavers of the web--the fates--but sway
The matter and the things of clay;
Safe from change that time to matter gives,
Nature's blest playmate, free at will to stray
With gods a god, amidst the fields of day,
The form, the archetype [39], serenely lives.
Would'st thou soar heavenward on its joyous wing?
Cast from thee, earth, the bitter and the real,
High from this cramped and dungeon being, spring
Into the realm of the ideal!

Here, bathed, perfection, in thy purest ray,
Free from the clogs and taints of clay,
Hovers divine the archetypal man!
Dim as those phantom ghosts of life that gleam
And wander voiceless by the Stygian stream,--
Fair as it stands in fields Elysian,
Ere down to flesh the immortal doth descend:--
If doubtful ever in the actual life
Each contest--here a victory crowns the end
Of every nobler strife.

Not from the strife itself to set thee free,
But more to nerve--doth victory
Wave her rich garland from the ideal clime.
Whate'er thy wish, the earth has no repose--
Life still must drag thee onward as it flows,
Whirling thee down the dancing surge of time.
But when the courage sinks beneath the dull
Sense of its narrow limits--on the soul,
Bright from the hill-tops of the beautiful,
Bursts the attained goal!

If worth thy while the glory and the strife
Which fire the lists of actual life--
The ardent rush to fortune or to fame,
In the hot field where strength and valor are,
And rolls the whirling thunder of the car,
And the world, breathless, eyes the glorious game--
Then dare and strive--the prize can but belong
To him whose valor o'er his tribe prevails;
In life the victory only crowns the strong--
He who is feeble fails.

But life, whose source, by crags around it piled,
Chafed while confined, foams fierce and wild,
Glides soft and smooth when once its streams expand,
When its waves, glassing in their silver play,
Aurora blent with Hesper's milder ray,
Gain the still beautiful--that shadow-land!
Here, contest grows but interchange of love,
All curb is but the bondage of the grace;
Gone is each foe,--peace folds her wings above
Her native dwelling-place.

When, through dead stone to breathe a soul of light,
With the dull matter to unite
The kindling genius, some great sculptor glows;
Behold him straining, every nerve intent--
Behold how, o'er the subject element,
The stately thought its march laborious goes!
For never, save to toil untiring, spoke
The unwilling truth from her mysterious well--
The statue only to the chisel's stroke
Wakes from its marble cell.

But onward to the sphere of beauty--go
Onward, O child of art! and, lo!
Out of the matter which thy pains control
The statue springs!--not as with labor wrung
From the hard block, but as from nothing sprung--
Airy and light--the offspring of the soul!
The pangs, the cares, the weary toils it cost
Leave not a trace when once the work is done--
The Artist's human frailty merged and lost
In art's great victory won! [40]

If human sin confronts the rigid law
Of perfect truth and virtue [41], awe
Seizes and saddens thee to see how far
Beyond thy reach, perfection;--if we test
By the ideal of the good, the best,
How mean our efforts and our actions are!
This space between the ideal of man's soul
And man's achievement, who hath ever past?
An ocean spreads between us and that goal,
Where anchor ne'er was cast!

But fly the boundary of the senses--live
The ideal life free thought can give;
And, lo, the gulf shall vanish, and the chill
Of the soul's impotent despair be gone!
And with divinity thou sharest the throne,
Let but divinity become thy will!
Scorn not the law--permit its iron band
The sense (it cannot chain the soul) to thrall.
Let man no more the will of Jove withstand [42],
And Jove the bolt lets fall!

If, in the woes of actual human life--
If thou could'st see the serpent strife
Which the Greek art has made divine in stone--
Could'st see the writhing limbs, the livid cheek,
Note every pang, and hearken every shriek,
Of some despairing lost Laocoon,
The human nature would thyself subdue
To share the human woe before thine eye--
Thy cheek would pale, and all thy soul be true
To man's great sympathy.

But in the ideal realm, aloof and far,
Where the calm art's pure dwellers are,
Lo, the Laocoon writhes, but does not groan.
Here, no sharp grief the high emotion knows--
Here, suffering's self is made divine, and shows
The brave resolve of the firm soul alone:
Here, lovely as the rainbow on the dew
Of the spent thunder-cloud, to art is given,
Gleaming through grief's dark veil, the peaceful blue
Of the sweet moral heaven.

So, in the glorious parable, behold
How, bowed to mortal bonds, of old
Life's dreary path divine Alcides trod:
The hydra and the lion were his prey,
And to restore the friend he loved to-day,
He went undaunted to the black-browed god;
And all the torments and the labors sore
Wroth Juno sent--the meek majestic one,
With patient spirit and unquailing, bore,
Until the course was run--

Until the god cast down his garb of clay,
And rent in hallowing flame away
The mortal part from the divine--to soar
To the empyreal air! Behold him spring
Blithe in the pride of the unwonted wing,
And the dull matter that confined before
Sinks downward, downward, downward as a dream!
Olympian hymns receive the escaping soul,
And smiling Hebe, from the ambrosial stream,
Fills for a god the bowl!

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Wonders Of Life

A true peaceful feeling
is the beauty of life.
The trust, the care, the
love you have for your wife.
The smile that appears
upon your face.
As your small child laughs
as he wins the race.
The sweet sweet smell of
a big beautiful rose.
The softness you feel
as it rubs your nose.
Beauty is in the forest,
the waters and the skies.
Feel the cool breeze and open your eyes.
Wonders of life is all around.
Feel the love and chase away that frown.

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Gen Ocean of Life

Cockleshells of Life are we,
Braving storms of tempestuous seas;
Riding the breakers, clinging on tight,
Rolling awash, praying for light.

Into the doldrums, gasping for breath,
Thinking at times, better 'twere death;
But the thrill and the skim of a bright windy day
Chases such sad thoughts far, far away.

Come weather foul, come weather fair,
We'll give of our best and do what we dare;
Keep weather eyes open and show that we care
For other sea-farers whom met here and there.

Throw life-lines if need be, drink some good beer,
Sharing what's there of all kinds of cheer;
Then wait in the offing as long as seems best
Till called to the harbour to take a good rest.

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You Are My Symphony Of Life...

You are the music, in the
symphony of life.

You are the music in the peace
solitude and stillness of the
early a.m., for you are the
song in my heart.

You are the music on an ocean's front,
for you are the roar of the waves,
the power of the sea,
and the salt in the air.

You are the music amidst a crowd
and the chorus of city sounds
.for that is my song,
and you are the music.

You are the music in my thoughts
of each new day, and the last image
I glimpse, as my eyes are
closed upon a feathered pillow.

You are the music, In that secret place
called sleep. I search for you through
all the songs of life. It is you that
I search for, through shades of darkness
and clouds of cotton.

When I think of you, the music is always and
forever. Every moment of my life. And, when
the final sleep does come and if there is music,
I shall think of you.

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You Are The Music Of Life...

You are the music, in the
symphony of life.

You are the music in the peace
solitude and stillness of the
early a.m., for you are the
song in my heart.

You are the music on an ocean's front,
for you are the roar of the waves,
the power of the sea,
and the salt in the air.

You are the music amidst a crowd
and the chorus of city sounds
..for that is my song,
and you are the music.

You are the music in my thoughts
of each new day, and the last image
I glimpse, as my eyes are
closed upon a feathered pillow.

You are the music, In that secret place
called sleep. I search for you through
all the songs of life. It is you that
I search for, through shades of darkness
and clouds of cotton.

When I think of you, the music is always and
forever. Every moment of my life. And, when
the final sleep does come and if there is music,
I shall think of you.


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From Womb To Tomb Is My Life Going To Be

I had never, ever seen the light of day
and have had to use a stick to find my way.
From womb to tomb is my life going to be
a life of darkness because I cannot see?

'Lord who did wrong' someone said,
'Was it this man or his parents instead? '
'No one had sinned' I heard Jesus say.
'For you will see the glory of God today.'

Just there as we stood to my great surprise
He made some mud and pasted it on my eyes.
Then He told me to go to the place called 'Sent'
So off to the Pool of Siloam I went.

As I washed my eyes I received my sight
and for the very first time could see sunlight.
Saw men and animals, trees and the sky
and watched all the peoples walking by.

Blind leaders of the blind they did not realise
that it was the was the Christ who'd opened my eyes.
For until our eyes are opened by the Lord
we all remain blind and dead to God's word.


Written after reading John 9: 1-12

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I Looked Out at Life with Holocaust Eyes

I looked out at life with Holocaust eyes
And what better did I know that I had been
looking through the lens of guilt and affliction,
Seeing life amiss and askew through my Holocaust guilt,
This fatal flaw was burning in my eyes
and how it lay siege to my Jewish heart,
A Greek tragedy in the making all of these years,
The guilt rose from deeply sealed vaults
inside my Jewish eyes and heart,
I could not help but see life through my Holocaust eyes,
Until these Holocaust pangs smoldered and burned
its acrid smoke in my eye sockets,
I peeled away its painful gauze and ace bandages,
My eyes had once lamented over the Holocaust afflictions,
But now I could see with clarion eyes and feel anew
with my Jewish heart by virtue of Holocaust healing balm,
As it clarified the lens, fluid and muscles of my eyes,
And now this healing balm paved a shimmering path within me,
For my Jewish heart to emerge and then shine its splendor
outwards on straight and forward path of life.

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The Radio Saved My Life Tonight

I've got something on my mind
I'm just a little bit depressed
I tried to blame it on the rain
But it was in my heart I guess
I'm feeling like a stranger
When I drove through my hometown
Past the sign that Home of a Boyhood Place thats long gone now
I realized aint nuthin what it used to be
Until I heard a song that takes me to my memories
The radio saved my life tonight
An old song that the DJ played made me feel alright
I made it home by my dashboard light
The radio saved my life tonight
Just this side of morning
Just this side of dawn
I walked so soft into my bedroom saw my wife sleeping alone
She whispered Baby are you ok? Have you been gone for long?
I just kicked off my jeans and held her close, I held her all night long
I tried to sleep but in my mind I heard that song
The radio saved my life tonight
The sad song that the dj played made me feel alright
As i drove down that lonesome highway just me and my dashboard light
The radio saved my life tonight
The radio saved my life tonight
that old song that the dj played made me feel alright
I made it home by my dashboard light
The radio saved my life tonight

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