The Burning Kite – Ouyang Jianghe

The Burning Kite

What a thing it would be, if we all could fly.
But to rise on air does not make you a bird.

I’m sick of the hiss of champagne bubbles.
It’s spring, and everyone’s got something to puke.

The things we puke: flights of stairs,
a skyscraper soaring from the gut,

the bills blow by on the April breeze
followed by flurries of razor blades in May.

It’s true, a free life is made of words.
You can crumple it, toss it in the trash,

or fold it between the bodies of angels, attaining
a permanent address in the sky.

The postman hands you your flight of birds
persisting in the original shape of wind.

Whether they’re winging toward the scissors’ V
or printed and plastered on every wall

or bound and trussed, bamboo frames wound with wire
or sentenced to death by fire

you are, first
and always, ash.

Broken wire, a hurricane at each end.
Fire trucks scream across the earth.

But this blaze is a thing of the air.
Raise your glass higher, toss it up and away.

Few know this kind of dizzy glee:
an empty sky, a pair of burning wings.



Chinese poet Ouyang Jianghe, known as one of the “Five Masters from Sichuan,” is a poet and prominent critic of music, art, and literature, and president of the literary magazine Jintian. His first poetry collection in English, Doubled Shadows (2012), was published by Zephyr Press.

source: poetry


Ouyang — a bit of a maverick, known to move against the traffic.
He is placed often in the category of the “post-Misty” school of Chinese poets — a representative voice among the second wave of poets who, in the immediate aftermath of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), chose to turn away from big historical themes, focusing instead on the apparently trivial and the quotidian elements of life. The language was obscure (hence, the name “misty”), often marked by neologisms and syntactical experiments.

“Ouyang Jianghe,” says his translator, Austin Woerner, a scholar of Chinese literature based in New York, “is the mistiest of the post-Misties. His poetry is noted for its ‘difficulty’.”



The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

. . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

T. S. Eliot, 1888 – 1965


We are many – Pablo Neruda

Of the many men who I am, who we are,
I can’t find a single;
they disappear among my clothes,
they’ve left for another city.

When everything seems to be set
to show me off as intelligent,
the fool I always keep hidden
takes over all that I say.

At other times, I’m asleep
among distinguished people,
and when I look for my brave self,
a coward unknown to me
rushes to cover my skeleton
with a thousand fine excuses.

When a decent house catches fire,
instead of the fireman I summon,
an arsonist bursts on the scene,
and that’s me. What can I do?
What can I do to distinguish myself?
How can I pull myself together?

All the books I read
are full of dazzling heroes,
always sure of themselves,
I die with envy of them;
and in films full of wind and bullets,
I goggle at the cowboys,
I even admire the horses.

But when I call for a hero,
out comes my lazy old self;
so I never know who I am,
nor how many I am or will be.
I’d love to be able to touch a bell
and summon the real me,
because if I really need myself,
I mustn’t disappear.

While I am writing, I’m far away;
and when I come back, I’ve gone.
I would like to know if others
go through the same things that I do,
have as many selves as I have,
and see themselves similarly;
and when I’ve exhausted this problem,
I’m going to study so hard
that when I explain myself,
I’ll be talking geography.

– Pablo Neruda ( Muchos somos/We are many)
From Extravagaria
translated by Alastair Reid



Rumi (3)

is the one
who’s not concerned
with having more or less
Unbound by name and fame
he is free from sorrow
from the world and
mostly from

When compassion fills my heart,
free from all desire,
I sit quietly like the earth.
My silent cry echoes like thunder
throughout the universe.

With love you don’t bargain
there, the choice is not yours.
Love is a mirror, it reflects
only your essence,
if you have the courage
to look in its face.

Reason, when you speak
I cannot hear the Wise One.
Even if you are as thin as a hair
still there’s no space for you.
In the flaming Sun
all bright lights are put to shame.

Be certain
in the religion of Love
there are no believers or unbelievers
Love embraces all.
Rumi Whispers of the Beloved
Quatrains Translated from Persian by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi


अमीर खुसरो – Amir Khusrau(1253-1325)

આ અદ્ભુત રચના પસંદ કરવાનો હેતુ એમાં થયેલો સૂફી પરંપરા, ભક્તિ માર્ગ અને અદ્વૈતનો સુભગ સંગમ છે. પરમ તત્ત્વ અહીં રંગરેજ છે, પ્રિયતમ છે, સંત નિઝામ્મુદ્દીન નું રુપ લઈને પ્રસ્તુત છે. અહીં આત્માની ચૂંદડીને પરમ તત્ત્વના રંગે રંગવાની વાત છે. આત્માને અહીં પ્રિયતમા તરીકે નિરૂપીને પ્રેમમાર્ગની ટોચનો અનુભવ કરાવવામાં આવ્યો છે. એ પરમ તત્ત્વને મળવા, ઓળખવા કરેલી બધી તૈયારી, બધા છાપ-તિલક, બધી સાજ-સજ્જા એને મળતાની સાથે જ, પ્રિયતમ સાથે આંખ મેળવતાની સાથે જ બધું નક્કામું થઈ જાય છે. એ પ્રિયતમ કેવો અદ્ભુત છે કે આવી અગમ વાત આંખ મળતાની સાથે જ સમજાવી દે છે, એના રંગમાં રંગી દે છે, પ્રેમનો રસ આંખોથી જ પિવડાવી સઘળું દુન્યવી સાન-ભાન ભૂલાવી દે છે.પ્રિયતમ સાથે આંખ મળતાની સાથે જ પ્રિયતમા પોતાને સુહાગન અનુભવે છે, આજીવન, અભિન્નપણે જોડાયેલી! કેવી સુંદર અનુભૂતિ! અદ્વૈતનું કેવું સુંદર નિરૂપણ! આશા છે કે આપ સૌને આવી રંગની હોળી ગમશે. રંગની શુભકામનાઓ!
… … … …. …. …. ……

Amir Khusrau, one of the greatest poets of medieval india, helped forge a distinctive synthesis of Muslim and Hindu cultures. Written in Persian and Hindavi, his poems and ghazals were appreciated across a cosmopolitan Persianate world that stretched from Turkey to Bengal.

अपनी छवि बनाई के जो मैं पी के पास गई,
जब छवि देखी पीहू की तो अपनी भूल गई।

छाप तिलक सब छीन्हीं रे मोसे नैंना मिलाई के,
बात अघम कह दीन्हीं रे मोसे नैंना मिला के।
बल बल जाऊँ मैं तोरे रंग रिजना
अपनी सी रंग दीन्हीं रे मोसे नैंना मिला के।
प्रेम वटी का मदवा पिलाय के मतवारी कर दीन्हीं रे
मोसे नैंना मिलाई के।
गोरी गोरी बईयाँ हरी हरी चूरियाँ
बइयाँ पकर हर लीन्हीं रे मोसे नैंना मिलाई के।
खुसरो निजाम के बल-बल जइए
मोहे सुहागन किन्हीं रे मोसे नैंना मिलाई के।
ऐ री सखी मैं तोसे कहूँ, मैं तोसे कहूँ, छाप तिलक….।
अमीर खुसरो (1253-1325)

इनका वास्तविक नाम था – अबुल हसन यमीनुद्दीन मुहम्मद। अमीर खुसरो को बचपन से ही कविता करने का शौक़ था। इनकी काव्य प्रतिभा की चकाचौंध में, इनका बचपन का नाम अबुल हसन बिल्कुल ही विस्मृत हो कर रह गया। अमीर खुसरो दहलवी ने धार्मिक संकीर्णता और राजनीतिक छल कपट की उथल-पुथल से भरे माहौल में रहकर हिन्दू-मुस्लिम एवं राष्ट्रीय एकता, प्रेम, सौहादर्य, मानवतावाद और सांस्कृतिक समन्वय के लिए पूरी ईमानदारी और निष्ठा से काम किया।
अमीर खुसरो बहुमुखी प्रतिभा संपन्न व्यक्ति थे। वे एक महान सूफ़ी संत, कवि (फारसी व हिन्दवी), लेखक, साहित्यकार, निष्ठावान राजनीतिज्ञ, बहुभाषी, भाषाविद्, इतिहासकार, संगीत शास्री, गीतकार, संगीतकार, गायक, नृतक, वादक, कोषकार, पुस्तकालयाध्यक्ष, दार्शनिक, विदूषक, वैध, खगोल शास्री, ज्योतषी, तथा सिद्ध हस्त शूर वीर योद्धा थे।

(source : )


First Poet of Rekhta/Hindvi. Musician and Disciple of Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. Known for his “pahelis”, which form part of Indian folklore. He is famous for inventing two most important musical instruments tabla & sitar. Wrote “Ze-hal-e-miskin…” one of the earliest prototypes of Urdu ghazal written in Persian & Hindvi.


I dressed myself up to go see my lover,
but when I saw him, I forgot myself.
You robbed me of everything
when our eyes met.

You made me drink love’s elixir
and I got drunk
when our eyes met.

I was left staring-
you made me an ascetic
when our eyes met.

Fair arms and green bangles
you caught my wrist
when our eyes met.

You became the charming lover-
you left me breathless
when our eyes met.

Khusrau dies for Nizam-
you made me a married woman
when our eyes met.
Amir Khusrau
Translated and introduced by
Paul E Losensky and Sunil Sharma
From The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau

Woman – Kaifi Azmi


Rise, my love!You have to walk along with me

Sparks of rebellion are astir in the air, today
Both time and life have but one resolve, today
Knocks swirl around in delicate decanters, today
Love and beauty have one voice, today
In the fire I burn you too must burn with me

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

Life lies in battle, not in patience and restraint only
Life’s veins have blood, not trembling tears only
In what opens and flies lies fragrance, not in tresses only
There is a paradise too, beyond a male’s embrace only.
To its free rhythm you have to dance in ecstasy

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

In every corner a pyre smoulders for you
Death changes the garb of duty for you
Elegance is an invitation to destruction for you
The world is nothing but poison for you.
Change the season if you want to blossom too

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

History has not yet known to respect you

Not only tears, there are glowing embers within you
Not entertaining stories only, there is a reality to you
Not only your youth, your existence has value too.
You have to change the title of your history

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

Break the bond of custom, from the prison of tradition escape
Delight not in your weakness, from this imagined delicacy escape

From these self-conjured vows of greatness escape
It too is bondage, from love’s bondage escape.
Not only the thorn, the flower too emasculate

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

Break these doubts, the uncertainties about what is right, break
The vow that for you is a fetter, break
It is a yoke of emeralds, even this necklace break
Break the standards set by so-called wise men, break!
Becoming a storm, you have to walk along with me

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

You are Aristotle’s philosophy, you are the symbol of beauty
The sky is in your palm, foreheads at your feet
Yes, raise, raise quickly your forehead from the feet of destiny
I too will not tarry, nor will time wait for any.
How long will you falter, you must have stability

Rise my love! You have to walk along with me.

– Kaifi Azmi ( Selected Poems )
    14/1/1918 – 10/5/2002
Translated by Pavan K Varma

from Rebel with a cause

कबीर बानी-Poems of Kabir

मुरली बजत अखंड सदा से, तहाँ प्रेम झनकारा है।
प्रेम-हद तजी जब भाई, सत लोक की हद पुनि आई।
उठत सुगंध महा अधिकाई, जाको वार न पारा है।
कोटि भान राग को रूपा, बीन सत-धुन बजै अनूपा ।।

यह मुरली सदा से निरंतर बज रही है, और प्रेम इसकी ध्वनी है। जब मनुष्य प्रेम की सीमाओं से पार निकल जाता है तो सत्यलोक की सीमा आती है। वहाँ सुगंध का अपार विस्तार है। यह राग करोड़ों सूर्यो का रूप धारण कर रहा है। वीणा पर सत्य की अनुपम धुन बज रही है।

कबीर बानी
अली सरदार जाफ़री

The Flute of the infinite is played without ceasing, and its sound is love:
When love renounces all limits, it reaches truth.
How widely the fragrance spreads! It has no end, nothing stands in its way.
The form of this melody is bright like a million suns:
incomparably sounds the veena, the veena of the notes of truth.

by Rabindranath Tagore


Down by the Salley Gardens

When I first read this poem, I instantly fell in love with simplicity of this lyrical beauty!

.     .     .    .     .

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
From Crossways
Selected Poems of W. B. Yeats

[ Yeats said that this very early poem attempted to fill out some lines he remembered an old peasant woman singing in Sligo. His original title was an Old Song Re-sung.He was pleased when it entered popular culture and was treated as an authentic folksong. The inter-play between poetry and popular culture was a feature of Irish life.]

Salley = willow


By the Sea


Its morning
the sea in front of me
roaring; keeps rushing to the shore.
like a child; restless and energetic!
Now in the afternoon
it starts to calm down,
now a tired child; getting quiet on its own!
And finally in the evening
it starts receding back
again like a child hiding away; head down
after playing a mischief!



Washed in Arctic
Return to their ballroom of glass
Still in the grip of the wizard,

With the jewel stuck in their throats.

Each one still condemned
To meditate all day on her mirror
Hypnotised with awe.

Each swan glued in her reflection
As the water-caught plume of a swan.

Each snowdrop lyrical daughter possessed
By the coil
Of a black and scowling serpent-
Dipping her eyes into subzero darkness,
Searching the dregs of old lakes
For her lost music.

Then they all writhe up the air,
A hard-hooved onset of cavalry –
Harp the iceberg walls with soft fingers.

Or drift, at evening, far out
Beyond islands, where the burning levels
Spill into the sun

And the snowflake of their enchantment melts.

Ted Hughes
From A Primer of Birds(1981)
Ted Hughes Collected Poems