Sunday, August 06, 2006

A small eternity

Now that the rain has finally stopped, I sit by the window, listen to the slow drip of water from the leaves of the palm trees. It is good to be back in Bombay in time for the monsoon.

From my fourth floor window, I watch the fishmonger pass by, his voice like a ragged tear in the fabric of my Sunday calm. In this newlywashed morning even his cry seems clean, unbloodied.

On his head he carries a basket loaded with fish. As I watch, a first shaft of sunlight breaks through the clouds and the scales of the fish gleam silver.

Seeing his thin, barechested form plodding along under the weight of that reflected radiance, I think of the history that walks unnoticed through our streets. Of the glory of our lost kings, our vanished empires. Of all the discarded and broken crowns lying at the bottom of the sea.

He turns the corner and disappears. I am left with only this empty road, its surface still slick with the morning's showers.

***

Down the road someone is practising scales,
The notes like little fishes vanish with a wink of tails,
Man's heart expands to tinker with his car
For this is Sunday morning, Fate's great bazaar;
Regard these means as ends, concentrate on this Now,

And you may grow to music or drive beyond Hindhead anyhow,
Take corners on two wheels until you go so fast
That you can clutch a fringe or two of the windy past,
That you can abstract this day and make it to the week of time
A small eternity, a sonnet self-contained in rhyme.

But listen, up the road, something gulps, the church spire
Open its eight bells out, skulls' mouths which will not tire
To tell how there is no music or movement which secures
Escape from the weekday time. Which deadens and endures.

- Louis MacNeice, 'Sunday Morning'
Categories:

14 comments:

jhantu said...

"Of all the discarded and broken crowns lying at the bottom of the sea."

Incentive enough to startup a antique-recovery-salvage company in Bombay high maybe.

Cheshire Cat said...

"... the discarded and broken crowns ..."

They've all been devoured by the fish.

sunshine said...

Ohhh the bombay monsoon... i miss it so!

buddha said...

refresing post.. reminds me somewhat of a kamala das story i did in class 8 i think it was..

Szerelem said...

very nice.

ironyofdparadox said...

The lost kings
and vanished empires
drowned in the
sands of time...
But the fisherman
carried his legacy
reeking of bygones,
and grime.

He continued to
pray to Mumba
to restore this
lost island
to its original
form and that day
as he walked on,
past the high-rises
and hutments
in the wake
of a storm,
he saw
the sea rise
and swallow
the grey
expanse.

His face
glistened
with glee
for Mumbai
was once more
the harbor of
the people
of the sea.

Falstaff said...

jhantu: Absolutely. Now all we need to do is find an extremely deaf genius who will make us a submarine shaped like a shark.

cat: Yes, that was kind of what I was trying to suggest. A bit like the Hamlet line about the banquet of worms, only with fish.

sunshine: Yes, I did too - right up till the third time I got drenched by an unexpected shower that caught me out in the open without an umbrella. Some things you need absence to grow fond of.

buddha: thanks.

szerelem: thanks

irony: !! Wow! that's more effort than I put into the original post. Next time, why don't I just post a comment and you can supply the post. :-).

ironyofdparadox said...

Point taken... No more rhymes
without a reason. Jus so, you know
the comment that was more of a post
was the remnants of a poem I never finished in my head.
But it sorta came
together with all that you said.
Thought Sir John Falstaff
had a ear for the lyric..
guess you are more
of a cynic.

Falstaff said...

irony: Aargh! Just realised that my earlier response probably came out sounding more dismissive / sarcastic than I meant it to. Sorry. I actually really enjoyed your comment and was genuinely impressed that you would put that kind of effort into a comment. I sincerely meant what I said about your comment requiring more effort than the post that inspired it. I wasn't being cynical, even though it may be convenient for your rhyme scheme to claim so.

ironyofdparadox said...

I forgive you
for you know not
what you do.
Like your namesake,
did you have a pint
or two?
Blame me not for
my addiction to rhyme;
instead understand
that I take a stab at it
to make all see
that it's better
to be a witty fool
than a foolish wit.

thousandmonikers said...

You should read "Meeting Point" by Mcneice, I think it did his skills as a poet far more justice. :)

Anonymous said...

Its amazing how all it takes to capture a little piece of eternity is to live a moment completely, without straying to the past or to the future and yet how rarely we pause to hold that eternity in our hands?

Nice post. Reminded me that I haven't been gathering my little bits of eternity since a while now.

And this:

"Take corners on two wheels until you go so fast
That you can clutch a fringe or two of the windy past"

..beautiful!

~N.

Falstaff said...

thousandmonikers: Yes, have read that.

N: Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Very cool design! Useful information. Go on! »