Two poems

This week I thought of sharing two poems that I like very much. They have their setting in very different world-views, widely separated in geography and time. One written by a modern English poet and the other from the Tamil Sangam era (>2000 years ago). I think both the poems point to some aspects of education, modernity and tradition that this blog covers. Take a look and see what resonances it sets up in you…

In Broken Images

He is quick, thinking in clear images;
I am slow, thinking in broken images.

He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images;
I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images.

Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance;
Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance.

Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact;
Questioning their relevance, I question the fact.

When the fact fails him, he questions his senses;
When the fact fails me, I approve my senses.

He continues quick and dull in his clear images;
I continue slow and sharp in my broken images.

He in a new confusion of his understanding;
I in a new understanding of my confusion.

– Robert Graves

Every Town a Home Town

Every town our home town,
Every man a kinsman.

Good and evil do not come
from others.
Pain and relief of pain
come of themselves.
Dying is nothing new.
We do not rejoice
that life is sweet
nor in anger
call it bitter.
Our lives, however dear,
follow their own course,

rafts drifting
in the rapids of a great river
sounding and dashing over the rocks
after a downpour
from skies slashed by lightnings –

we know this
from the vision
of men who see.

So,
we are not amazed by the great,
and we do not scorn the little.

– Kaniyan Punkunran
(Translated by A.K. Ramanujan in ‘Poems of love and war’)

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