Not Far From the River
The Gatha Saptasati
Transcreations by David Ray
These poems evoke the spirit of village life some 2,000 years ago in India, with vibrant celebrations of love and song and devotion among a cast of characters that includes lovers, gossips, poets and philosophers.
[ 1 ]
Why do these prudes fear Prakrit poetry,
our music, and the blunt facts of love?
They draw back from that nectar,
yet wince as if they taste love's ashes.
The way of love is crooked and fragile
like the hair on a crab or a cucumber.
Therefore you fail to impress me, weeping
with your too perfect face, round as the moon.
A flock of green parrots
falls from the sky
like a necklace of emeralds.
But she's not looking, nor is he.
Love dies if you can't get to see her
or if you see her too much,
also from the gossip of vile men.
Or from no cause at all.
Peacocks dance to one music,
that of the thunder.
Smelling the rain they stretch out
their necks, long for the great monsoon.
Take that damned parrot away.
He repeats all our love talk
to everyone in the village,
has them gathered around him.