Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brahminy Mynas: the temple bird

Brahminy Mynas used to be so very common once upon a time, and here I am searching for weeks and months and then chance upon one in the outskirts of Bangalore. A handsome looking bird with black tuft and penetrating eyes they are found (or should I say “used to be found”) in groups. I am wondering since these birds too are omnivorous why they aren’t found in abundance in cities as is the case with common myna.
The name Sturnia pagodarum is from its early abundance in and around temple domes ‘pagodas’ in south India. Not strictly arboreal they could be seen foraging on the ground. 

Desanka Maksimovic: I seek amnesty 

Through night and moisture
Wild geese go south
Crying in painful glory.

I feel like writing
A dark story:
Them carrying away
On their two white wings
I don’t know where,
I don’t know what
Of my soul’s dearest things
That was the English translation of Serbian poem “Migratory Birds” by Desanka Maksimovic (1898 –1993), a professor of literature and a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Her poetry dealt with love and patriotism, exuding youthful enthusiasm yet they were serious and sensitive. A very popular figure, so much so they made a statute of her and installed it in centre of the city despite her fervent protests. It is said that the Serbian language is best sung in the poems of Desanka Maksimovic.

 When she heard of German soldiers shooting primary school children in Kragujevac, she wrote "Krvava Bajka" ("A Bloody Fairy Tale"), a poem that speaks of the terror practiced by German army in World War II. The poem was not published until after the war had ended. 

Bloody fairy tale

It happened in a land of farmers on hilly Balkan
far, far away;
a troop of students
died martyred
on one single day.

They were all born
in the same year.
For all of them, the school days were the same:
They were all taken
to the same festivals with cheer,
they were all vaccinated
until the last name,
and they all died on the same day.

It happened in a land of farmers on hilly Balkan
far, far away;
a troop of students
died martyred
on one single day.

And only fifty-five minutes
prior the death moment,
a small troop of fidgets
sat beside their school desks
solving the same hard math quest:
“If a traveler goes by foot,
how much time he needs to rest...”
and so on.

Their thoughts were filled
with same figures and tags
and there was a countless amount
of senseless As and Fs
in their notebooks and in their bags.
They were squeezing
a whole bunch of secrets that mattered--
either patriotic or a love letter--
on the bottom of their pockets.
And everyone of them supposed
that he would for a long time,
for a very, very long time
run under the blue sky--
until all math quests on the world
were done and gone by.

It happened in a land of farmers on hilly Balkan
far, far away;
a troop of students
died martyred
on the same day.

Whole rows of boys
took each other’s hands
and leaving the last school class
went to the execution quietly,
as the death was nothing but a smile.
All friends in rows were,
at the same moment,
lifted up to the eternal domicile. 

I don’t have any more time

I don’t have any more time for long sentences,
I have no time for negotiations,
I type messages like telegrams,
I don’t have time to ignite flame,
now I bury handfuls of dying fire.
I don’t have any more time for pilgrimage,
the path to estuary is suddenly getting shorter,
I have no time to look back and return,
I don’t have any more time for small things,
Now is time to think about eternal and unembraceable.
I have no time to think on crossroads,
I can arrive only somewhere close.
I don’t have time to study anything,
now I don’t have time for analysis,
for me water is just water
as if I had drank it from a well;
I have no time to split the sky into pieces,
I see it as children see it.
I don’t have any more time for foreign gods,
I haven’t even got to know mine well.
I have no time to adopt new commandments,
the old ten are already too much for me.
I don’t have any more time to join
those that are proving the truth.
I have no time to fight against chasers.
I have no time to dream, to walk slowly.


I no longer watch the hands turn,
nor track the sun’s hot path;
day is here when his eyes return,
and night again when they depart.

Joy does not mean laughter, and
his yearning outweighing mine;
joy to me is when we’re silent,
and our hearts in tandem chime.

I do not rue that life’s rivers
will carry off my own life’s drop;
now blast youth and all to smither’s;
enthralled beside me he has stopped

I seek amnesty
For those who believe
that all are equal,
poor and rich,
weak and strong,
the untired and the untiring prisoner,
the armless and the man with both arms,
the absolved and the man who has lost his faith,
the invited
and the one who waits at the door,
for them, for myself,
for everyone,
I seek amnesty.

There are many more beautiful poems of her that can be found in the net, this blogger requests all the readers of this blog to go through them

From my scribble pad…

The coral jasmine at the temple courtyard
(ambalanadayile parijatha pushpam)

The lone coral jasmine at the temple courtyard
has an expression of amusement
at the passing devotees.
The boy in blue shirt rather watch
the flower’s merriment in the passing zephyr
despite mother’s insistence.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The black Ibis

Black ibis is quite a common bird that could be found in groups in marshy land or irrigated farms, unlike other ibis it is not very aquatic and could be found in pairs in open grassland. Spotted this one on the outskirts of Bangalore
Rene Maria Rilke: To see into the life of things

My indebtedness towards Kendra Sahitya Akademi (and Central Secretariat Library, to some extend JNU library) is rather significant –one wonders how detrimental was Delhi summer since damp coldness that ensconced dark alleys of these libraries was no less inviting!! It is in here I came to know Rilke. Rilke is a celebration of beauty of visible real world and invisible reality. The Letters to Young Poet in which he expounds his understanding of aesthetics is a must read. Here are few lines  
Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature.

In another letter he writes…

Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentation, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights. Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

What amazing lines these…

As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence or with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join or help us, we start Him whom we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.

Rene Karl Wilhelm Johann Joseph Maria Rilke was born prematurely on December 4, 1875and was so weak that his parents had to wait a fortnight before they dared to take him to the Church down the street for his christening. The previous year a daughter had died a week after her birth, and so Rilke’s mother watched over this newborn with excessive care. In fact, part of his names-Rene and Maria-was mother's attempt to lend him a female identity. For five years, until he went to school, she dressed him like a girl against his father's ineffectual opposition. "I had to wear beautiful long dresses," Rilke recalled many years later, "and until I started school I went about like a little girl. I think my mother played with me as though I were a big doll."
His father couldn’t become an army officer that led to lots of problems and as a mature man Rilke glossed over his father's failures, pretending that his father had actually become an officer "following a family tradition" and describing his later career as occupying a rather high position" as a civilian working for a private railroad. In the descriptive poem composed at the time of his father's death in 1906, "Portrait of My Father as a Young Man," he depicted his father in full military regalia, thus dressing him up as well!

Portrait of my Father as a Young Man
In the eyes: dream. The brow as if it could feel
something far off. Around the lips, a great
freshness--seductive, though there is no smile.
Under the rows of ornamental braid
on the slim Imperial officer's uniform:
the saber's basket-hilt. Both hands stay
folded upon it, going nowhere, calm
and now almost invisible, as if they
were the first to grasp the distance and dissolve.
And all the rest so curtained within itself,
so cloudy, that I cannot understand
this figure as it fades into the background--.

Oh quickly disappearing photograph
in my more slowly disappearing hand.

Some of his other poems…

Buddha in Glory 
Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

 A Walk
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Again and Again
Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

Falling Stars
Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes--do you recall? And we
did make so many! For there were countless numbers
of stars: each time we looked above we were
astounded by the swiftness of their daring play,
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall.

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

From my scribble pad…

The stray cat at the door
I am complete as life could be
the platter of the rain is mine
the shimmer of noon sun is mine.
Desires open me as much as it shuts
The ripple at the center holds million pieces
I am intact, my movement confined
to shifting thoughts