Sunday 28 June 2015


2015 - 26   Spring Poems:  Kavimani Desikavinayakam Pillai

Kavimani Desikavinayakam Pillai [1876-1954]
Kavimani Desika Vinayakam Pillai [1876-1954] was a unique Tamil poet of the 20th century. He was multi-faceted and evinced interest in music, translation and rock inscriptions. "Malarum Malaiyum", "Asia Jothi", and "Kuzhanthai Selvam" are some of his important poetic works. 

Kavimani's poems are direct, simple and mellifluous. He wrote in a lucid style and believed that poetry is not only about the complexities of life; even commonplace things and every day occurrences can be the subjects of great poetry. Here are  two of his poems: the Spring and the Brook.

[Spring: Dark clouds spread with lightning and little by little, the raindrops fall. What do the raindrops say, as they drop? Dear little ones, let me tell you!

Wake up, wake up, you little flowering plants, sleeping under the earth!
Open your eyes! It is dawn; it is dawn, already. 

Come on; come out;  wearing lush green clothes, with so many uses. Quick, adorn your foreheads with colorful flowers and start your purposeful journeys!  

Open your fragrant chests, throw your sweat scents all around.  It is time for obeisance to the lotus feet of the the Almighty! Hurry, everyone!

Spring has come to relieve all from weariness and to find good once again, everywhere! So, get up quickly, all of you! ]

மின்னி மேகம் பரவுது,
மெல்ல மெல்லத் துளிக்குது;
என்ன சொல்லித் துளிக்கு தென்று
இயம்பு கின்றேன் கேளம்மா!

'மண்ணில் கொஞ்ச நாட்களாய்
மறைந்து றங்கும் செடிகளே!
கண்ம லர்ந்து வாருங்கள்;
காலை யாச்சு' தென்குது.

'பட்டு டுத்து வாருங்கள்;
பணிகள் பூண்டு, வாருங்கள்;
பொட்ட ணிந்து சீக்கிரம்
புறப்ப டுங்கள்' என்குது.

'வாசச் செப்பைத் திறவுங்கள்;
வாரி யெங்கும் வீசுங்கள்;
ஈசன் பாத பூசனைக்கு
எழுந்தி ருங்கள்' என்குது.

           'வாட்ட மெல்லாம் நீங்கவே
வசந்த காலம் வந்தது;
      மீட்டும் நன்மை காணலாம்;
விரைந்தெ ழுங்கள்' என்குது.


["The Brook"  by Alfred Lord Tennyson 

I come from haunts of coot and hern, 
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.                                

by Alfred Lord Tennyson]

கல்லும் மலையும் குதித்துவந்தேன் - பெருங்
காடும் செடியும் கடந்துவந்தேன்;
எல்லை விரிந்த சமவெளி - எங்கும்நான்
இறங்கித் தவழ்ந்து தவழ்ந்துவந்தேன்.

கட்டும் அணையேறிச் சாடி வந்தேன்;-அதன்
கண்ணறை தோறும் நுழைந்துவந்தேன்;
திட்டத் திடர்களும் சுற்றிவந்தேன்-மடைச்
சீப்புகள் மோதித் திறந்துவந்தேன்.

காயும் நிலத்தழல் ஆற்றிவந்தேன்-அதில்
கண்குளி ரப்பயிர் கண்டுவந்தேன்!
ஆயும் மலர்ப்பொழில் செய்துவந்தேன்-அங்கென்
ஆசை தீரவிளை யாடிவந்தேன்.

ஏறாத மேடுகள் ஏறிவந்தேன்-பல
ஏரி குளங்கள் நிரப்பிவந்தேன்;
ஊறாத ஊற்றிலும் உட்புகுந்தேன்-மணல்
ஓடைகள் பொங்கிட ஓடிவந்தேன்.

ஆயிரம் காலால் நடந்துவந்தேன்-நன்செய்
அத்தனையும் சுற்றிப் பார்த்துவந்தேன்;
நேயமுறுப் புன்செய்க் காட்டிலும்-அங்கங்கு
நீரை இறைத்து நெடுகவந்தேன்.

பஞ்சை அரைத்துநூல் நூற்றுவந்தேன்-சீனி
பாகமாய்ச் செய்து கொடு்த்துவந்தேன்;
நெஞ்சம் உலர்ந்த நெடுநகரில்-குழாய்
நீராகவும் சென்று பாய்ந்து வந்தேன்.

மாங்கனி தேங்கனி வாரிவந்தேன்-நல்ல
வாச மலர்களும் அள்ளிவந்தேன்;
தீங்கரும் பாயிரம் தள்ளிவந்தேன்-மிகத்
தேனும் தினையுமே சேர்த்துவந்தேன்.

அல்லும் பகலும் அலைந்துவந்தேன்-எங்கள்
ஆழி இறைவனைக் காணவந்தேன்;
நில்லும் எனக்கினி நேரமில்லை-இன்னும்
நீண்ட வழிபோக வேண்டும் அம்மா!


Spring Flowers

Sunday 21 June 2015


2015 - 25   Spring Poems: Blake & Frost

William Blake [1757-1827]

Spring - Poem by William Blake

Sound the flute!      
Now it's mute!
Bird's delight,
Day and night,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,--
Merrily merrily, 
To welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, 
To welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, 
To welcome in the year. 


Robert Frost [1874-1963]

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,

Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,

The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil. 


Sunday 14 June 2015


2015-24  Pleasant Valley - My Ninety Acres - Louis Bromfield

Louis Bromfield [1896-1956]
Louis Bromfield [1896-1956] was an American author and conservationist who gained international recognition, writing eloquently about rural life and sustainable agriculture. In 1924, his first novel, "The Green Bay Tree", won instant acclaim. He won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for his best novel Early Autumn. All of his 30 books were best-sellers, and many, such as The Rains Came, were made into successful motion pictures. 

Louis Bromfield's "Pleasnt Valley"[1945] is part memoir, part practical account, the focus being sustainable farming, enriching the soil with manure, compost, and green crops. It contains the charming short story "MY NINETY ACRES". 
Published in the Reader’s Digest, Nov 1945; pages 51-54. 
 "My Ninety Acres"
They sat in a little circle in a nest, 7 tiny quail
I had a friend, old Walter, who lived in Possum Run Valley on a farm known as "My Ninety Acres." Years ago when Walter Oakes was young, everybody used to speak of "My Ninety Acres" with a half-mocking, half-affectionate smile, because Walter always talked as if it were a ranch of many thousand acres or a whole empire.  But as time passed the mockery went out and "My Ninety Acres" became simply the name of the farm.

Old Walter had a right to speak of it with pride.  It wasn't a bright new place, but the small white house with its green shutters looked prosperous, the huge fire-red barn was magnificent, and there were no finer cattle in the whole county.

The place had a wild natural beauty.  The patches of lawn were kept neatly mowed but surrounding them grew a jungle of old-fashioned flowers and shrubs.  Beyond the neat vegetable garden the romantic shagginess continued. The wire along the fence rows was hidden beneath sassafras and elderberry and wild black raspberry.  The place was shaggy not because Walter was lazy - there was no more hard-working man in the whole Valley - but because Walter wanted it like that, Walter and Nellie.

I never saw Nellie Oakes, but my father told me she had been the prettiest girl in the Valley.  She taught school until, at 22, she married Walter.  People wondered why she chose Walter, who had only 90 acres of poor hill land he had just bought, when she could have had any catch of the Valley.  But I know from all the long story it was simply because she loved him.

Nellie died when her second son, Robert, was born.  But sometimes when my father and I walked about the fields of "My Ninety Acres" with Walter and his boys, I wasn't at all sure she wasn't there, enjoying the beauty and richness as much as Walter himself.  "Nellie wanted me to put this field into pasture but we couldn't afford not to use it for row crops," he would say, or, "It's funny how many good ideas a woman can have about farming. Now, Nellie always said . . . "Sometimes I'd return to the house almost believing that I would find there the Nellie who was dead before I was born, waiting with a good supper ready.

Walter never married again, though a good many widows and spinsters set their caps for him.  He didn't leave "My Ninety Acres" save to go into town or to church on Sunday with the boys, John and Robert.

I tramped over the hills to "My Ninety Acres"  [after 25 years]. As I came down the long hill above the farm I thought, "This is the most beautiful farm in America."  It was June and the herd of fat cattle stood knee-deep in alfalfa, watching me.  The corn was waist-high and vigorous and green, the oats thick and strong, the wheat already turning a golden-yellow.

As I went down toward the creek I saw old Walter with two sheep dogs moving along a fence row.  I stood for a moment, watching.  The old man would walk a little way, stop, part the bushes, and peer into the tangled sassafras and elderberry.  Once he got down on his knees and for a long time disappeared completely.

Finally, the barking of the dogs as they came toward me attracted his attention.  He stopped and peered, shading his eyes. "I know," he said, holding out his hand, "you're Charlie Bromfield's boy." I said I'd been trying to get over to see him and then he asked, "And your father?  How's he?"

I told him my father was dead.  "I'm sorry," he said, very casually as if the fact of death was nothing.  "I hadn't heard.  I don't get around much."  Then suddenly he seemed to realize that I must have seen him dodging in and out of the fence row.  A faint tinge of color came into his face.  "I was just snoopin' around 'My Ninety Acres.'  Nellie always said a farm could teach you more than you could teach it, if you just kept your eyes open....  Nellie was my wife."

"I remember," I said.

Then he said, "Come and I'll show you something."

I followed him along the fence row and presently he knelt and parted the bushes.  "Look!" he said, and his voice grew suddenly warm.  "Look at the little devils."

I could see nothing but dried brown leaves and a few delicate fern fronds.  Old Walter chuckled.  "Can't see 'em, can you? Look, by that hole in the stump."

They sat in a little circle in a nest, none of them much bigger than the end of one of old Walter's big thumbs-seven tiny quail.  They never moved a feather.

Old Walter stood up.  "They used to laugh at me for letting the bushes grow up in my fence rows."  He chuckled.  "Last year Henry Talbot lost ten acres of corn all taken by chinch bugs.  Henry doesn't leave enough cover along his fence rows for a grasshopper.  He thinks that's good farming!"  He chuckled again.  "When the chinch bugs come along to eat up my corn, these little fellows will take care of 'em."

We were walking now toward the house.  "Nellie had that idea about lettin' fence rows grow up.  I didn't believe her at first.  But I always found out that she was pretty right about farmin'."

At the house, old Walter said, "Come in and we'll have a glass of buttermilk.  It's cooler in the sittin' room."  The buttermilk was such as I had not tasted in 30 years - creamy, icy cold with little flakes of butter in it. "You're living here alone?" I asked. "Yes."

I started to say something and then held my tongue, but old Walter divined what I meant to ask.  "No.  It ain't lonely.  Nellie used to say she didn't understand the talk of these women who said they got lonely on a farm.  Nellie said there was always calves and horses and dogs and lambs and pigs and that their company was about as good as most of them women who talked that way."

The Sunday afternoon visits to "My Ninety Acres" became a habit, for I found that old Walter knew more of the fundamentals of soil, of crops, of livestock than any man I have ever known.  We were not always alone on those Sunday walks because neighbors and even farmers from a great distance came sometimes to see Walter's farm and hear him talk about it.  As he told the history of this field or that one, and what he had learned from each, a kind of fire would come into the blue eyes.

One day Robert came on his annual visit, and drove over to see if I could help persuade the old man to retire.  "He's 75 now and I'm afraid something will happen to him alone there in the house or barn.  But he's stubborn as a mule and won't quit.  "This morning he was up at daylight and husking corn in the bottom field by seven o'clock."

We were both silent for a time sitting on the porch overlooking the Valley.  The green winter wheat was springing into life in the fields beyond the bottom pasture where the Guernseys moved slowly across the blue grass.  "Honestly, Bob," I said, "I don't see why we should do anything, He's happy, he's tough as nails, and he loves that place like a woman." Then, hesitantly, I said, "Besides, Nellie is always there looking after him."

A startled look came into the son's eyes.  "Do you feel that way too?"

I said, "Nellie is everywhere in that 'Ninety Acres.'  She's out there husking corn with him now."

"It's the damnedest thing," Robert said.  "Sometimes I think the old gentleman gets Nellie and the 'Ninety Acres' a little mixed up."

We finally agreed that there wasn't anything to be done.  I said I'd keep my eye on old Walter.  And so every day for two years I, or somebody from the place, went over.

One Sunday afternoon in early September he and I were walking alone through one of his cornfields.  It was fine corn, and as we came near the end of a long row, he stopped before a mighty single stalk which had two huge nearly ripened ears and a third smaller one.  Old Walter stopped and regarded it with a glowing look in his blue eyes.

"Look at that," he said.  "Ain't it beautiful? That's your hybrid stuff." His hands ran over the stalk, the leaves and the ears.  "I wish Nellie could have seen this hybrid corn.  She wouldn't have believed it."

As I watched the big work-worn hand on the stalk of corn, I understood suddenly the whole story of Walter and Nellie and the ninety acres.  The rough hand that caressed that corn was the hand of a lover.  It was a hand that had caressed a woman who had been loved as few women have been loved, so deeply and tenderly that there could never have been another woman to take her place.  I knew now what Robert's remark about Nellie and the ninety acres getting mixed up had meant.

It happened at last.  I went over one afternoon and when I could not find old Walter or the dogs anywhere I returned to the house.  I heard scratching and whining in the ground-floor bedroom, and when I opened the door one of the sheep dogs came toward me.  The other dog lay on the hooked rug beside the bed, his head between his paws.  On the bed lay old Walter.  He had died quietly while he was asleep.

Walter was buried beside Nellie in the Valley churchyard.

Robert wouldn't sell "My Ninety Acres." I undertook to farm it for him, and one of our men went there to live.  But it will never be farmed as old Walter farmed it.  There isn't anybody who will ever farm that earth again as if it were the only woman he ever loved.