Life's Swan Song - Poem by Gopaldas Neeraj
Now don't delay my departure
My funeral is ready
Destination is far- off
And every direction is dark.
Till yesterday, songs of re-union
But today it's the swan-song
Till yesterday, I water-ed life with tears
But today I repay the arrears with blood.
Till yesterday, love-curls ensnared me
But today, let me prance in the crematorium.
Till yesterday, I smiled in somebody's eyes
But today, let me smile at my pyre.
Till yesterday, you sparkled at my songs
But today, do shed some tears for me.
Till yesterday, garlands bedecked me
But today, ember wreaths encircle me.
Futile excuses, delay useless
Time to leave this world-
You may sob, weep, cry
But, I have to leave.
Behold! A tempest on waves
someone smiles and
sends 'speechless messages'
And I glide on the waves.
Now tell me, where should I go ?
It's impossible to reach the sky.
It's impossible to penetrate the earth,
It's impossible to take to wings.
Even if, it's possible
can anybody, run-away from self ?
When time's noose chokes the breath
can anybody dislodges himself ?
That's why , I tell you not to cry.
Not to block my way with your wails.
Not to raise arms to embrace me.
Not to recite your love tales.
My lips are jet-black
Naked death laughs in my face.
Only sound that strikes-
God is truth everything else is Un-truth.
Even then, you want to check my progress
With your sighs and moans.
With your surging flood of tears
You want to submerge me and my way.
Frankly, your arms are too feeble
In comparison, with unconquered Death.
Before His lightning -
Your sighs are just sob-stuff.
In life, tears mean too much.
But time -
Recognises not, the power of even pearls and gems
It only recognizes death.
Time never thought that with a shadow
How many hopes are connected ?
It never bothered that with a breath
How many dreams die ?
Except change -
Time loved nothing else in life.
Death and creation are its only steps.
It's in charge of only clay and earth.
When flowers blossom in spring
We take the phenomenon as a truth.
But in hoarse- laugh the autumn says -
Look ! who dies today.
Centuries past Budha lived
His sermons spread beyond the Seven - seas.
But a handful of dust -
Over-powered His very Being.
Shakespeare whose creation
Still adores the world's stage
Lies still in Stratford, as if to say -
Not the poet but poetry is immortal.
What's the power of your tears ?
Can you stop the progress of time ?
With your woeful sighs and cries,
Can you check the advance of death ?
At my death -
You'll weep they'll weep.
Many'll seep world'll weep.
Can anybody half the progress of my pyre ?
When my dead body will be inflamed
Even unknown eyes will shed tears.
A few days after -
This world'll never remember me.
You say, with my dying
Whole world will be desolate.
Life's laughs will be no more
Your living will be doubly arduous.
These are just hollow-talks
This world never dies for anyone.
Neither it becomes isolate
Neither time waits for anyone.
You say you won't forget me.
When I disengage myself of the present body
You'll refuse to recognize me and
Will smile taking me for a stranger.
Once, from my bed-side lamp
I asked -
'Can you tell me as to when
I imparted love light to you ? '
With downcast eyes, it said
'I have seen even lamp
Extinguish every morning.'
' I don't know you.'
Just like this: I asked the Milestone
It also replied:
'So many like you came and went.'
'I don't know you.'
This's the truth, only truth
We all are busy in self.
We start calling that man our own
Whosoever becomes a medium in this deceptive performance.
Why you enclose me today ?
As if you won't let time touch me.
As if you won't give breath the way-out.
As if you won't let life light, to go out.
What you've here is only body.
In it there's a soul
Can you touch its shadow ?
That soul is its own master
It clothes itself in a choice-body.
It is that truth,
Which can make a beautiful dream enchanting.
Today, I am traveller -
That's really my wish.
My breath refuse to stay in -
I want it that way.
Because-body is not the whole world.
Only breathing is not life.
Life is where in the shadow of dreams
Hope and desire dance.
For years, one can go on breathing.
The eternal journey goes on increasing.
But, in a life of many years
Hardly one really lives for a day ( I think)
I did not digest Books of Religion
I did not incense and discourage my soul.
Towards temples and shrines
I never traversed.
Life is my teacher
Time is my lesson.
Humanity, I respect and regard.
To man, I bow and bend.
Whatsoever gave peace of mind was truth.
Whatsoever made life miserable,
My faith called it un-truth.
First, I saw life from cross-roads.
When I immersed myself in it,
I recognized men.
Helplessness tried to hold me at every step.
I withstood its approach and action.
Many times rocks barred my path
Even storms could never check my step.
Whomsoever met me on my way
Remained, till there was light and brightness.
The day, dreams turned into nightmares
They went into oblivion.
Some days before I felt
The need of a co-traveller
Today, I don't like to see
Even somebody's shadow.
You'll call this my hurt-Ego
It's life's experience.
A time comes in one's life
When one starts distrusting his own self.
Now I feel like dying.
But at a place bereft of mourners,
Devoid of a shroud
And nobody to light the funeral fire.
Why everybody is afraid of dying ?
I am incapable of solving this secret.
When everyday bodies merge with souls
Why the crematories cry vehemently?
And souls never die
Only shapes change.
Music notes never die
Only singers change.
What the world calls A whole
Its essence is only deception.
Not the creation, But deeds
Are the apparel of life.
Time is indestructible
Deed is perishable.
What you call Death-less
It also dies, but after causing a havoc.
Every flower after fading away
Keeps the garden fragrant for some more time
After deaths just like this
Man remains in human's mind.
Don't infer -
That you live for your ownself.
When you die
Leave behind brightness and sweetness.
On every man, there's an obligation of soul
In whatsoever form it is.
We repay it by dying.
Some call it a curse, others happiness.
Why you weep?
Nobody stayed here for ever.
Preparation to go -
Sun sets in the west every eve.
Moon sobs and sleeps every morn.
Did they ever stay forever?
Does time ever stop ?
When spring comes -
It brings new notes for nightingale
Before anybody starts calling spring beautiful
It turns into autumn.
Then nightingale laments.
In retort, the spring-God says -
'I came here, not to stay,
But to show you your true self.'
That's how a loved-one goes away -
the world goes on wondering-
Everything tries his best
But time makes every effort futile.
If dying is unavoidable
why not laugh and sing songs of joy ?
Why should we not participate
In the assembly of our parting-story ?
Smiles ease every difficulty
Don't stain your eyes.
With your bewitching smiles
Shroud my pyre.
Good bye ! Here I go -
Give me love to the world
If perforce, I come in your thoughts
Pick up a withered flower.
Whatever I was saying
Was about life, death was a pretext.
Soul is Man's story-
Which I wanted to tell.
(Translated by: R.P. CHADDAH)
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