Born to die at Stromboli


Born to die at Stromboli

« 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.


 ©: T. Wignesan, May 30, 1987 [from the collection : back to background material, 1993]

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