You sullen pig of a man
you force me into the mud
with your stinking ash-cart!
–if we were rich
we’d stick our chests out
and hold our heads high!
It is dreams that have destroyed us.
There is no more pride
in horses or in rein holding.
We sit hunched together brooding
all things turn bitter in the end
whether you choose the right or
the left way
dreams are not a bad thing.
William Carlos Williams
Bells for William Wordsworth
by Dom Moraes (1938-2004)
Today they brought me a message. Wordsworth was
‘My God, ‘I said. ‘My God. I can hardly believe it.’
‘Just as you like,’ they answered. ‘Take it or leave it,
He has sunk into April as into the depths of a lake,
Leaving his eyes ajar in the house of his head.’
‘Are you sure,’ I said, ‘ that you haven’t made a mistake?’
‘Oh no, ‘ they said, ‘not a hope. We knew him too well,
A ‘gloomy considering bloke with the nose of a preacher:
A poet in fact, with a charming affection for Nature:
Milkmaids (you know) and the shadows of clouds on the
His work is carefully studied in colleges still.
We shall not forget not forgo it, while colleges stand.’
And I said, ‘I grant you that Wordsworth lies chilly in
And his bones are absolved and dissolved in the tears of
I grant he is one with the plant and the fossil again,’
His flesh has gone back into soil and his eyes into stones
And the roots and shoots of a new life push each year
Through the sad rotten fragments of his bones.
‘But although each spring brings a newer death to those
I have seen him risen again with the crocus in Spring.
I have seen turned my ear to the wind, I have heard him
I shrank from the bony sorrow in his face.
Yet still I hear those pedagogic tones
Droning away the snow, our old disgrace.’
What had he done
to crush glass in his fist
one middle-aged morning, known
only as morning by clocks without the sun?
At seven, his slingshot had not hit
the frosted childhood’s streetlight:
he was no looting horseback Hun
out of his history books. On
evenings full of bats’ wings
he had scarcely seen a sister raped by dead father’s sin
but only shaped by a mother’s word. In
the swirl of his teens he had perhaps thrilled
to raisin-thefts and one kiss under the stairs. Once he ran
from a body-house without windows
looking for the wombs of faceless women
he never filled
with sons. But now he has glass in his fist
and several rows
of futures that could not reach a past.
(A.K. Ramanujan: The Striders, 1966)
An excellent article published on the 10th death anniversary of A.K Ramanujan in The Telegraph India can be read here.