Born to die at Stromboli

by T. Wignesan

« Think, the world remembers only the poets. The name of a country depends on how its poets behave. »
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the Philosopher-President of India*

Whoever dies at his Stromboli
needs no excuse to be born
as those who sail their ships
to the farther regions of the mind
even if they lose their way
finding their way back to sanity

While those who invent the Soul
construct pyramids cathedrals stupas
to raise those royal patrons
who raised them
to the skies
or even
those who lived to soothe others
with televisions cars innoculations
like those who raised townships
settled industries on reclaimable land

Much like those who gave their names
to bills of rights
to streets
faculty buildings
political dynasties

All these and more may need no excuse
Such even centuries hence may not accuse

But where alas is the poet
the painter of million melodies
assailing the living tastes of times
and bounded traditions
they that need to be examined
explained
exclaimed
declaimed

Men who have strayed from the volcano of their birth
For fear of leaving no revenge nor challenge on this earth

Note

* The philosopher’s parting words to me in New Delhi when he was the vice-president in May 1961.

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About T. Wignesan

Biography
If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at http://www.stateless.freehosting.net/menupage.htm