50 COUPLETS IN A BOTTLE-- A tribute to
Omar Khayyam: ARIJIT DASGUPTA
Poet's Note: These couplets have been
inspired by the English translation of the writings
of an ancient Persian mathematician, philosopher, poet
and nihilist called Omar Khayyam. Each couplet is to
be read as a separate piece of composition, the whole
united only by the underlying philosophy.
I searched for words in my mind
I looked for meaning in every step
Silence like a shroud enveloped me
Till I looked into my soul, and words came gushing forth.
A drink or two each day
Who knows tomorrow what comes our way
What new trials will cross our path
What new loves will break our heart
The Religious calls to prayer
I hear, but time is short
Pray I will when old and grey
Tonight it's to my bottle I kneel
I looked the lord in the eye
And as he looked back
The moment of truth dawned on me
I returned to my life and whisky.
Water does not quench my thirst
Nor god, my spirituality
I seek and seek and find not
And return to my bottle, thirsty.
I looked to you for knowledge
For carrying me through my life
I leave my mornings to you
But ask not what I do at night.
Smoke and dust surround me
I look for meanings in everyday things
Images disjointed speed by me
And everyday brings new uncertainties.
Not for me to wallow in misery
Sadness pain despair or loss
I look life directly in the eye
through the bottom of an empty glass
I come home in the dark
Sleeping neighbours on a still night
My keys I seek but find not
Locked out from those that I love
The temple I see but I walk on
The mosque calls but I hear not
The church sings and I hurry past
This is the hour they open the pub.
Foreheads creased with worry
Backs bent with age
Beauty ravaged by time
I sip slowly, all is fine.
Fill my glass and fill again
And we shall talk of other men
Men who followed not their desire
And at the end we carried their pyre
I searched for joy around the world
Looked for peace at every step
Love I looked for but found not
Clutching my bottle I rest.
I read Shakespeare in the morning
And heard Mozart at noon
At dusk I went to the opera
But nights I stay in my room
The poor cry out for alms, I walk on
The priests call to prayer, I hear not
you hold me back, I struggle
And breaking free continue once more
Years I spent searching for wisdom
Nights spent pouring over texts
And then realization jolted me deep
And I returned to my bottle and my sleep.
No words of reproach do you say to me
But allow me to take what I can from thee
Family, friends, pain, love, honour
All forsaken, to be with thee.
At sunset, drinking my wine
I observe the world and nature divine
The night follows quiet and dark
And at sunrise I am still at the pub.
One afternoon I played a game of cards
shuffling my aces, queens and hearts
and when the full hand was dealt
I had in my hand the ace of spades
I wanted to be a doctor
A sailor, soldier or priest
I woke up this morning and found
I was sleeping on the street.
I attended a feast as lavish as can be
Bread, meat, fish, wine- I imbibed in me
I ate and ate till I could no more
But in the morrow I felt hungry as before.
My head throbs in pain
My pockets are penniless again
Hungry, thirsty, tired and dirty
But my heart is unrepentant, my soul is free.
My friends advise me to forsake thee
My wife curses the day she married me
My children pretend they don't know me
And yet we sit down together, me and thee.
The glass is empty; the world goes round
All is changed and everything is as it was
[ The nearer it is that I come to thee
The further away you recede from me.
I look deep in my soul for comfort
Like priests or holy men of before
I search and search and finally when I see
I shudder and turn back to my whisky.
You said you would stay forever and you left,
many things unspoken, many thoughts unsaid-
It is not for me to blame thee or me
acceptance is mine, I submit gracefully
Sitting at the pub I saw fate
standing, waiting for me at the door
He looked familiar till I realized what had come to
this face I had seen before inside my looking glass.
Dark clouds gather overhead
An ominous portent or so all said
I see a gull go flying by
A searing flash of white against a dark sky.
The river in spate, thunderous clouds
All hurry home; there is mischief afoot
Clutching my bottle I head for the beach
To watch nature's fury erupt and cease.
The storm rages, the winds howl
Lightning strikes, the elements at war
I fling my garb and stand in the wind
Unfettered, unadorned, defiant and still.
When I woke up, you had left
crumpled sheets and cigarette ash on my bed
Last night we came together and did embrace
But this morning I can't recollect your face
Ancient prophets claim the world will end
In fiery spells or disasters unnamed
Many questions will he have to answer
When I stand undefeated before the creator
The rain bursts forth unceasing, tormenting,
Little rivers flow through deserted streets
In my convoluted mind I see faces in the dark
Sins revisited, people long gone in ages since past
A loud cry is heard over the din
'Don't worry all is well within'.
Would they smile if they realized
the road of life leads not to paradise?
The clock strikes once, then again,
I have been here since it was seven,
The hours have flown and now it's time
To settle bills and finish my wine.
Death sits over my shoulder waiting
Creditors at the door knocking
The people are gone, the pub is closing
My time is done, and now to a new beginning.
I saw her weathered face for an instant
Haunting, defiant, battered and resistant
Our eyes met and I knew I had seen her before,
down came the veil, it was the whore.
Our bodies entwined together as one
Sighs and thrusts and then it is done
Money changes hands; the price is paid
Tomorrow she will warm another mans bed.
I sit inside a smoke filled pub
Watery eyes, surrounded by those that I love
Watching others as they come and go
Keeping tab on napkins as I wait for more
In the place where the oceans meet
Up in the mountains over the trees
In wind swept plains and deserts of sand
We travel together hand in hand
the cry of alarm prove to be false
like the harlots protestations of love