Wednesday, November 2, 2011

From ‘the humble administrator's garden’ by Vikram Seth

From the Babur-Nama: Memoirs of Babur, First Moghul Emperor of India

Hindustan is a land of meager pleasures.
The people are not handsome, nor have they
The least conception of the charms of friendship.
They have not spirit, no comprehension, kindness
Or fellow-feeling – no inventiveness
In handicraft or skill in design – no method,
Order, principle, rule in work or thought;
No good flesh or bread in their bazaars,
No ice, cold water, musk-melons, grapes; no horses;
No aqueducts or canals in palace or garden,
Not a single bath or college in the whole land,
No candles, no torches; not even a candlestick.

Love and Work

The fact is, this work is as dreary as shit.
I do not like it a bit.
While at it I wander off into a dream
When I return, I scream.

If I had a lover
I’d bear it all, because when day is over
I could go home and find peace in bed.

The boredom pulps my brain
And there is nothing at day’s end to help assuage the pain.
I am alone, as I have usually been.
The lawn is green.

The robin hops into the sprinkler’s spray.
Day after day
I fill the feeder with bird-seed,
My one good deed.

Night after night
I turn off the porch light, the kitchen light.
The weight lodged in my spirit will not go
For years, I know.

There is so much to do
There isn’t any time for feeling blue.
There isn’t any point in feeling sad.
Things could be worse. Right now they’re only bad.

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