Sonnets for 3 A.M.

Buddhadeva Bose


Only the personal is holy.
A shaded lamp
Then evening deepens: darkness spread like a sky
Around the hidden star of a yellowed page;
A letter written in the shy half-sleep of midnight,
Idly, to a distant friend. Do you think that Christ
was a philanthrophist? Or Buddha a committee chairman, hard-working,
venerable, loquacious,
nibbling vain saliva? Far from the drums and watchmen
All the wholesale vendors of salvation,
Deftly they walk their ways of vagrancy.


Not for you, all this.
Only the book lies open.
Those who smile and chant in tune with tinkling tea-cups
Become, when the night is late and neighbours' lights are out,
Cockroaches and scurrying pantry mice,
Fighting for bits of food. Being ignorant
Of welcoming feasts, they take the droppings for history.

Not this, for you.
Learn what flowers, fruit,
And the seasons teach as they come and go.

Leave no address.
Like spring in blank December,

Vanquished, forgotten, conspiratorial,
Go far, to distant lands where nobody speaks your tongue,
And you wander uncertain, anonymous,
With eternity whispering to your heart
In the stars' inhuman language, now and then.