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I, Lalla - Poems of Lal Ded - Part 3

from I, Lalla - Poems of Lal Ded translated

from the Kashmiri by Ranjit Hoskote

I saw a sage starving to death,

a leaf floating to earth on a winter breeze.

I saw a fool beating his cook.

And now I am waiting for someone to cut

the love-cord that keeps me tied to this crazy world.

My soul is an elephant, an elephant that trumpets for food

every hour on the hour.

Out of a thousand, out of a hundred thousand, only one survives.

Thank God, or they'd have trampled all creation,

these hungry tuskers.

Now I see a flowing stream,

now a flood that's drowned all bridges,

now I see a bush flaming with flowers,

now a skeleton of twigs.

Now I see a blazing hearth,

now neither smoke nor fire,

now I see the mother of five princes,

now just the aunt of the potter's wife.

"Perform good deeds and observe spiritual discipline. Fool, listen with gratitude.

Lovers fasten your sandals. The fool's youth slipped away unnoticed."