September 10th, 2010

from Nissim Ezekiel


For Shri Hariji, Who Said It

Whether you believe or not
Think as if you do
Stop the blind effort

Ask yourself what you need
Success as the moment
Is not in your interest

Turn to silence, nothingness
Where you are
Is where you have to be

Know, you are not wise
This is difficult
Grasp your folly

And you grasp yourself
What you have eaten
Is merely unripe fruit

So, now, learn to fast
Do without, be absent
Keep the eyes closed

Keep the mind steady
What you will see
You will also understand

No visions, except in darkness
Listen to the voice
That is not your own

Then move again
Without remorse or guilt
Love is more concerned

About your fate
Than you have ever been
That is why you have survived

Express your gratitude
By giving what you have to give
You may get nothing in return

And bear your restlessness with grace



Nizzim Ezekiel
Latter-Day Psalms, 1982


Nissim died in 2004. Here are two brief memorials.



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One comment

  1. ed says:

    This meant a lot to me circa 1990-91, when I decided against Academe and embarked instead on an attempt to live as a journalist and writer of fictions.

    Years later, it still means something, as I move back to Manhattan, even if there’s a bit of a bite to, eg, the fourth and fifth lines.

    I took a great liberty typing it out here: Removing the terminal punctuation. Capitalizing the first word of each line (whereas the poet had capped only the beginning of new sentences).

    September 10th, 2010 at 10:06 am

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