POEM: WATER AND WAVE

by contemplativeinquiry

I’m sharing this song of Kabir because I enjoyed it and felt cheered by it.  I liked its devotional and ecstatic note – not my usual one.. I have harmonised it with my way of Sophia by changing a ‘his’ to a ‘her’.

 

 

I have been thinking of the difference

Between water

And the waves on it. Rising,

Water’s still water, falling back,

It is water, will you give me a hint

How to tell them apart?

 

Because someone has made up the word

“Wave”, do I have to distinguish it

From water?

 

There is a Secret One inside us;

The planets in all the galaxies

Pass through her hands like beads.

 

That is a string of beads one should look at with

Luminous eyes.

 

A weaver by trade but a poet-singer by calling, Kabir lived in fifteenth century India. His philosophy incorporated various beliefs of both Muslims and Hindus and later became one of the major influences behind Sikhism. Like Rumi, further to the west and generations earlier, his generously devotional and ecstatic path made him a natural bridge builder between traditions.

Kabir Ecstatic poems Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1992 The English translations are free enough for Robert Bly to call them ‘versions by Robert Bly’. Given Bly’s freedom I have changed a ‘his’ to a ‘her’ above to support the poetry of my own gnosis. There is an earlier set of translations published by MacMillan in New York in 1915 by Rabindranath Tagore assisted by Evelyn Underhill under the title Songs of Kabir. Whilst I don’t follow Bly in calling the English of the earlier work “useless”, I do find that Bly’s interpretation has more passion and power. The Bly work includes an insightful afterword Kabir and the transcendental Bly by John Stratton Hawley.

 

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