Raj Arumugam

Rembrandt, Self Portrait,1658 - Poem by Raj Arumugam

I have seen it, O world,
I have seen it as one sees the clouds
or as one feels water naked in the cool lake
at the break of dawn
I have felt it as one feels the grapes
seized with savage hands and crushed against one’s teeth
O I have seen the rise and fall of pain
and greed and name and fame
and I have lived the grand ways of the world
of favor and office and recognition
and reward and loss and desertion and days of merry company
and years of desolation and years of patronage and commission
and I have cupped young soft flesh in both my hands;
and I have seen loss, death and growth and promise
and stealth and destruction and infamy
and I have seen genius and I have witnessed mediocrity
and you know, I have amazed and I have disappointed -
as you, O world, as you have disappointed and amazed
I have seen the pageant of emotions
of the rise and fall and the transition and journeys
of all thought and ambition and desire and want
O world, I have seen you and you have much of me
and we have struggled and we have cursed and approved
and we have raised our heads and we have looked the other way
and you have heaped praise and dispraise
and I have created and I have destroyed
and I have cut my own canvas into parts –
but still, O world, still,
if you look at me, if you look –
you know, you know
I, Rembrandt,
I am always the Monarch

poem written after long and repeated contemplation of the painting: 'Rembrandt, Self Portrait,1658'

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011

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