Apr 252011
 

Friend,
You had one life,
And you blew it.

From sticky spunk
To human shape,
You spent ten months
In your mother’s womb,
Blocked off from the world
Into which you fell
The minute you were born.
A child once,
You’re an old man now.
What has happened has happened.
Crying won’t help
When death already
Has you by the balls.
It’s counting your breaths,
Waiting.

This world, says Kabir,
Is a gambling den.
You can’t be too careful.

From Songs of Kabir, translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.

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Apr 212011
 

Soul.
O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise
A soul enslaved so many ways ?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands ;
Here blinded with an eye, and there
Deaf with the drumming of an ear ;
A soul hung up, as ’twere, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins ;
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart ?

Body.
O, who shall me deliver whole,
From bonds of this tyrannic soul ?
Which, stretched upright, impales me so
That mine own precipice I go ;
And warms and moves this needless frame,
(A fever could but do the same),
And, wanting where its spite to try,
Has made me live to let me die
A body that could never rest,
Since this ill spirit it possessed.

Soul.
What magic could me thus confine
Within another’s grief to pine ?
Where, whatsoever it complain,
I feel, that cannot feel, the pain ;
And all my care itself employs,
That to preserve which me destroys ;
Constrained not only to endure
Diseases, but, what’s worse, the cure ;
And, ready oft the port to gain,
Am shipwrecked into health again.

Body.
But Physic yet could never reach
The maladies thou me dost teach ;
Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
And then the palsy shakes of fear ;
The pestilence of love does heat,
Or hatred’s hidden ulcer eat ;
Joy’s cheerful madness does perplex,
Or sorrow’s other madness vex ;
Which knowledge forces me to know,
And memory will not forego ;
What but a soul could have the wit
To build me up for sin so fit ?
So architects do square and hew
Green trees that in the forest grew.

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Nov 212010
 

I cannot promise at my hearth
great slabs of beef, and gold,
and deep red carpet,
but only the loving-kindness
of your host, and music,
and clay crocks of local wine.

translated by Brooks Haxton

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