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Old Sanskrit Poems


Bhartrhari

Of what use is the poet's poem,
Of what use is the bowman's dart,
Unless another's senses reel
When it sticks quivering in the heart?

"Do not go", I could say; but this is inauspicious
"All right go" is a loveless thing to say.
"Stay with me" is imperious. "Do as you wish" suggests
Cold indifference. And if I say I will die
When you are gone", you might or might not believe me.
Teach me my husband, what I ought to say
When you go away.

Her face is not the moon, nor are her eyes
Twin lotuses, nor are her arms pure gold:
She's flesh and bone. What lies the poets told!
Ah, but we love her, we believe the lies.

You are pale, friend moon, and do not sleep at night,
And day by day you waste away.
Can it be that you also
Think only of her as I do?

Destiny surely is unjust.
The bees it has decreed,
Shall feast on lotus-honey and sweet pollen-dust.
On water-weed
The geese must
Feed.

Philosphers are surely wrong to say
That attibutes in substance must inhere.
Her beauty burns my heart; yet I am here,
And she is far away.

A poet who has not tasted grief
Can mourn in fiction, and command belief.
A man who mourns in truth has no such art
To find words for a broken heart.
When he saw her,
He was struck by the arrows of love.
Nor could he save himself by shutting his eyes:
For he was a young man of an enquiring mind.
And so he was forced to examine the problem
In greater detail
Of how the Creator
Had come to make
A figure like hers.

Moonlight face,
Flower-bud hand,
Nectar voice,
Rose-red lip:
Stone-hard heart

If you can look into her wide black eyes
Unmoved, observe her laughing brows and keep
Your wits about you_I express surprise,
But honour you as you deserve, poor sheep.


Jayadeva

When the fever is caused by her looks and her voice,
The treatment of choice
Is a thrice-daily sip
Of her honey-sweet lip.
To avoid further harm,
And to keep the heart warm,
This follow-up treatment is known to be best:
The soothing and gentle warm touch of her breast.
(Professional secret, though_
Careful to keep it so!)


Dandin

"Go if you must," she said, " and I shall pray
That Heaven may guard you on your way;
And I shall be reborn again, I swear,
Wherever you may be, my dear."


Ramayana

Blow, wind, to where my loved one is,
Touch her, and come and touch me soon:
I'll feel her gentle touch through you
And meet her beauty in the moon.
These things are much for one who loves_
A man can live by them alone_
That she and I breathe the same air,
And the earth we tread is one.


Kalidasa

Who was artificer at her creation?
Was it the moon, bestowing its own charm?
as it the graceful month of spring, itself
Compact with love, a garden full of flowers?
That ancient saint there, sitting in his trance,
Bemused by prayers and dull theology,
Cares naught for beauty: how could he create
Such loveliness, the old religious fool.


Sudraka

"So friar, I see you have a taste for meat."
"Not that it's any good without some wine."
"You like wine too, then?" "Better when I dine
With pretty harlots." "Surely such girls eat
No end of money?" "Well, I steal you see,
Or win at dice." "A thief and gambler too?"
"Why certainly. What else is there to do?
Aren't you aware I am vowed to poverty?"

Truly, the loss of welath is no great pain.
When fate disposes, wealth begins, or ends.
Yet one heart-burning follows in its train:
The sorrow of the cooling off of friends.


Dharmakirti

When God made me, why did he then conspire
To make her beauty? If both had to be,
Why did he then make spring to wake desire?
Surely he made the spring to break
Men's hearts: but why then did he make
The mango blossom on the mango-tree?

A hundred times I learnt from my philosophy
To think no more of love, this vanity,
This dream, this source of all regret,
This emptiness.
But no philosophy can make my heart forget
Her loveliness.

If he had seen this dainty creature,
Golden as saffron in every feature,
How could a high creator bear
To part with anything so fair?
Suppose he shut his eyes? Oh, no:
How could he then have made her so?
--Which proves the universe was not created:
Buddhist philosophy is vindicated.

Though she's the girl, I am the one who's shy;
And though she walks with heavy hips, it's I
Who cannot mpve for heaviness; and she
Who is the woman: but the coward, me.
She is the one with high and swelling breast,
But I the one with weariness oppressed.
Clearly in her the causal factors lie,
But the effects in me I wonder why!


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Sonny (Sundeep Dougal) Holden Caulfield, New Delhi, INDIA