I walk with my head in the exalted realm,
Yet my feet must suffer the filth of the earth,
What cruel trick of nature kindled my mind with cognition’s gleam,
And fettered it with feeble flesh that must huddle around a hearth!
No sinews of steel, am no roaring beast,
Only a spirit in throes of feral rage.
Man is condemned to partake of weakness’ feast,
Trapped in the knowledge of the inevitable, its invisible cage.
I could name a thousand things I love about Kolkata. But if I had to pick one place as my favourite it would be the South Park Street Cemetery. The reason is the tombstone in the picture. Derozio, William Jones and Rose Aylmer are buried there too. But the glory of the poets and the poet’s muse pale before the touching tribute of the grieving husband. If tears froze into words etched in stone probably something like this would be created. Every time I read it, I cannot but help sigh over the haunting sadness that surrounds this story of this young woman who lived, loved and died in a strange land at twenty three. Maybe Edgar Allan Poe was right. The death of a beautiful woman, is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world. But a thousand florid Annabel Lee and its seraphs could not match this simple poem in its poignant beauty. Find below the text of the epitaph.
(I wrote this while listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, hence the title. My first attempt at the villanelle form of poetry.)
When sleeping eyes open but are not awake, and rove as if in a living dream,
Wakefulness I drown in reverie’s waters, let me float on this lost stream,
It almost is true, this world I see, almost a fantasy.
Beauty like a cliff’s edge, to stand and peer or to plunge into its teasing, tempting abyss?
In an endless pursuit of fleeting moments, in a vain grab at a passing moonbeam,
When sleeping eyes open but are not awake, and rove as if in a living dream.