Malwa Sadh Malhara & Other Poems

by John Priestly II

Malwa Sadh Malhara

Surya rides above my brow
as in the field awaits the plough,
abandoned long with naught to do
ere Indra’s herd comes moving through,
blessing the torrid and barren plain
with the milky richness of his reign.

Alone I rest upon this mat,
my temple smeared with Agni’s ash,
passing the weary and dusty hours
in contemplation beneath the bowers,
bereft of even a subtle breeze,
my temper to soothe with temporal ease.

A peacock languishes in the garden,
a fellow captive awaiting a pardon,
seeking relief from the fire
until Parjanya grants his desire;
in swollen, red eyes and lost tail feathers
are certain harbingers of changing weather.

As Dyaus woos his earthy bride
with troth glissading true and tried,
Prithivi receives an airy embrace
that lovesick thirst does well efface
and feels the consummate caress
of secret needs too long suppressed.

O, rapture resound as joyously
as a kokila in a banyan tree;
high let him soar into the sky
who greets the cloudburst coming nigh;
while a conch I press unto my ear
and hear the lulling echo clear.

Musician pluck and play the strings,
tarb vibrate the magic of things;
let the vajra thunder and clash,
the aerial fireworks dazzle and flash,
and usher Bharat’s annual boon,
the relieving, reviving, renewing monsoon!

 

Three Friends of Winter

Sparrow, Heaven’s messenger, flits
from a plum-blossomed bough
to the bamboo grove, and twits
lyrics of good fortune while flows
the stream’s slow cantata piano.
The Way, a secret few can see,
the bamboo may lucidly show;
Hoary Zhu, bring long life to me!

Bamboo’s likeness – none has caught it,
so Bo Juyi’s complaint does go;
contemplating T’iantai I sit
on a mountain and sing this ode
to a solitary pine. I know
that the mind can never be free
until merit’s strength makes it so;
Supple Zhu bring long life to me!

Warm heart, hand, and reason befit
the West winds that bitterness blow;
three friends of the cold season emit
hope that Tradition yet does grow.
Banzhu tears I share with the snow,
I await the south wind and glee,
above the storm the sun still glows,
Gentle Zhu, bring long life to me!

Dear Friends, despite the countless foe
around our island like the sea,
let us rejoice in this bonne mo:
Peaceful Zhu, bring long life to me!

 

She Who Sits on the Lotus

Oh Padmini, an orb to rule my night,
enchant me markedly akin a swoon,
surpass opalescence of gleaming moon;
thy face outshines envious rival’s sight.
A gull adroitly soars in graceful flight:
So your motion. Lady, thy piercing tune
will smote my breast, and zeal for shore will soon
my curiosities for home excite.
We seek ourselves in each other’s limpid eyes,
defenses fall to the trial embrace,
beyond, the heart’s exchange will brook no lies.
Thy seaman seeks the source of gratis grace,
to sail his bark upstream toward the prize;
do you give him a sign to start the chase?

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