poems by hoshang merchant


‘Pound’s Mr. Gandhi’

No one liked him especially, I think

Since all saints are great destroyers

Imagine the poor, with a painted paradise at the end of it

without a painted paradise at the end of it

Once there was Cathay

Once there was the Great Moghul

Once and only once

Now all roads lead to London

Now all roads lead out of London

Now and forever…

Is that expansion or constriction, I ask

Old Ez ever and forever on a voyage

Sometimes irate, sometimes sweet

What is water but liquid fire, ask the alchemists

Poverty but the base-metal for sainthood

Did Esau like his potage?   Mr. Gandhi his poor cottage?

Did Mr. Gandhi love his irrigated colon…

All the muslins of Cathay   All the brocades of Persia:

A bonfire of vanities…

What do Gandhi, Chaplin and Mickey Mouse have in common?—

They entertained the poor of London’s East End…

All of Manchester’s might be taken up by a mere spinning wheel

Did old Ez care?  Did Tagore?

They looked to Ferrara’s Ducal logia frescoes:

The peasant at base

Upon his shoulder the landlord

Above him the king and lords

Above them the angels and god

And somewhere thereabouts, a poet…!

But Jiddu Krishnamurty, Besant’s dull boy, simply

  Look at the tree

Strong at root

     Beautiful after…

Yes, but the leaf is related to the tree-trunk

And Asia presses at the borders of Europe

Africa presses at the borders of Europe

The new hordes will breakdown the visa checkposts:

Something even Mr. Gandhi did not foresee

in his sweetness and light…

Europe a delicate leaf in the wind

Asia its root

Pull down ‘thy vanity, pull down!

When Icarus soared too high

he fell into the Tyherrian Sea

Lenin and Mao lead the new Mongol and Tartar hordes

Truth shall prevail from sea to sea

But, whose truth?

Water too is a liquid quality of the mind

Wind is of the process

Rain is of the process

The impossible dream on the peasants’ shoulders

And Il Duce dead






Tagore Meets Pound

It is in an English garden

(Gone is the summer and every English rose…)

That Tagore gets up his Indian courtesy

                                    for Mr. Pound of Idaho

                                    Son of the Master of the Mint

Let there be new coinage!

But what does the Ganges babble on

About births, this and others

(Give me my chattering, babbling, country brook)


This old English lady in grey wig

                        and Cashmere shawl!

(It is autumn already)

                        From their hands fall, leaves and leaves…

                                                            —of a book!


                        Where the mind is without fear

                        …   …  …   …   …   …   …  …

                        And the head is held high…

[Gone is Boleyn and every English rose…]

And the Po goes lazily

            As the Padma this hazy morning

(The marshes waiting to be drained

            Since the time of Julius Caesar)

                        ‘This liquid is certainly a / property of the mind…’

                        ‘To study with the white wings of time passing

                                                is not that our delight

                        to have friends come from far countries

                                                is that not pleasure

                        not care that we are untrumpeted?….

                                                (Thus, ol’ Wuz)

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