Guest poem submitted by Deepak Srinivasan:
(Poem #1599) Two Songs Of A Fool
I A speckled cat and a tame hare Eat at my hearthstone And sleep there; And both look up to me alone For learning and defence As I look up to Providence. I start out of my sleep to think Some day I may forget Their food and drink; Or, the house door left unshut, The hare may run till it's found The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound. I bear a burden that might well try Men that do all by rule, And what can I That am a wandering-witted fool But pray to God that He ease My great responsibilities? II I slept on my three-legged stool by the fire. The speckled cat slept on my knee; We never thought to enquire Where the brown hare might be, And whether the door were shut. Who knows how she drank the wind Stretched up on two legs from the mat, Before she had settled her mind To drum with her heel and to leap? Had I but awakened from sleep And called her name, she had heard. It may be, and had not stirred, That now, it may be, has found The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound.
When I read this poem in my wanderings I was struck by a strange unease on reading it. For whatever reason, this poem has dark elements in it. Song I, I think, tells a tale of fatalism and acceptance of what the future may hold. It is one that would probably be a folk tale. There is little of edge in it. And suddenly in song II we are drawn into the world where risks have fearful consequences. A more real world and not so idyllic as the first. "drinking the wind" - isn't that what people who live on the edge do? Those who are in strange alleys in the night, or those who are fighting a war below the radar of the common man? I don't know. There is some magnetism about it, and, of course among the two animals which else but the hare would be drawn to it. Not the quiet, cautious, cunning cat!! Maybe I am reading too much into it and perhaps there are better interpretations to be sure. I just get the feeling that I am on the brink peering into a Lord of the Rings trilogy that, it seems, few cultures evoke as effectively as those of the islands off the continent. Not only does this poem stir up strange feelings and hint at forgotten experiences, but also does so with a cadence and rhyme that makes it roll off the tongue so easily. How much more can one ask for? Deepak.