Friday, April 27, 2007

For My Brothers and Sisters

How long can one man's lifetime last?
In the end we return to formlessness.
I think of you waiting to die.
A thousand things cause me distress -

Your kind old mother's still alive.
Your only daughter's only ten.
In the vast chilly wilderness
I hear the sounds of weeping men.

Clouds float into a great expanse.
Birds fly but do not sing in flight.
How lonely are the travellers.
Even the sun shines cold and white.

Alas, when you still lived, and asked
To study non-rebirth with me,
My exhortations were delayed-
And so the end came, fruitlessly.

All your old friends have brought you gifts
But for your life these too are late.
I've failed you in more ways than one.
Weeping, I walk back to my gate.

-- Wang Wei Vikram Seth


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