Poem of the week: Week Three.

Another one on the theme ‘Beginnings and Ends’. This one is from the Selected Poems of Fernando Pessoa, which I have borrowed from a friend.

It Begins to Be
– Fernando Pessoa

It begins to be going to be dawn –
The black sky is beginning,
In a still-dark slight
Unblackening of its night,
To have a chill tint,
There, where the black is thinning.

A black that is azure-ashen
Outwards, vaguely, drifts
From where the Orient sleeps
Its late sleep, shapeless,
And a windless chill keeps station,
Heard, scarcely perceived.  

And yet I, who have hardly
Slept, don’t feel night or chill
Or, coming in, dawntide
From the void solitude.
The indefinite of the heart,
Its void, is all I feel.

In vain the day is dawning
To one who can’t sleep, never
Was made o get things straight
Here inside the heart;
Who while he lives is denying
And, when he loves, does not have.

In vain, in vain, and the sky
Azures itself through green
Asheningly. What
Is it my soul feels? Not
That, no, nor even I,
In the night, which will soon be unseen.



Sometimes, one can only be thankful for the end of something inconceivable. Since the mind is not ready for the beginning yet.      


Poem of the week: Week One.

So, this is a little project I thought of doing: I will post a poem a week from the poetry collections I have at home round the year. I have decided on themes for each month; each week of the month will have a poem based on the theme. January gets ‘Beginnings and ends’ for obvious reasons.

The following poem is from The Little Magazine’s India in Verse anthology of Contemporary Poetry from 20 Indian Languages.

Shall I open this day?
– Kedarnath Singh

Shall I open this day
which someone has left
at my doorstep?
The colour of turmeric
like an airmail letter.

In the shimmering light,
like other missives
this wandering message
must not go unread –
I think I’ll
open it.
This golden letter which holds the day
lying silent at my doorstep
I’ll open it.

But a small, laughing question
stays my hand,
who knows what is written there?
(who knows, perhaps it is for someone else
and left at my door in the dead of the night)
It does not bear my name
or my address
ah, how could I open it?

My hand which opened
the door
the horizon
the cardinal directions,
who knows why it trembles
at the thought of opening
this mute, fresh, turmeric-hued message
stamped by a ray of sunlight.

Translated from the Hindi poem ‘Khol doon yeh aaj ka din’ by Pratik Kanjilal.


At times, the little hesitation at the break of day is what I get from this delightful and simple poem. I can’t help but wonder, along with the poet, about this slight indecisiveness one feels at the beginning of the day.