omnibus omnia

The lotus weeps (a poem for the monks of Burma)

In Art, Asia, Burma, Democracy, Human Rights, Literature, Military, Myanmar, Opinion, Poem, Poetry, Politics, Religion, Spirituality, Thoughts, Values on October 23, 2007 at 21:05

The earth abides and barely feels
The feet that walk upon its face;
But as they lift and as they fall,
The lotus weeps in Myanmar

~~~~~~~~
The Lotus Weeps

To the fallen monks of Burma
~~~~~~~~

They came in columns wide and deep
And marched upon the city square,
With hortatory chants and songs
That broke upon the Burmese air.

Yet they were not equipped to fight
And guns were not the tools they bore;
Their arms were words and no defense
Against the bullets made for war.

The earth abides and barely feels
The feet that walk upon its face;
But as they lift and as they fall,
The lotus weeps in Myanmar.

Their answer came as metal rain
From bursting clouds of burning tar;
And saffron turned to brown and red
Beneath the blows of men of war.

The ranks reformed. The ranks advanced
Along the great, the noble path;
And voices launched a last assault
On unseen walls of solid wrath.

The sky is blind to deeds of men
So small compared to sun and star;
But as the walking shadows fall
The lotus weeps in Myanmar.

But who was spared and who was harmed,
That day of blood in Rangoon Square;
For is there any glory where
A host submits to death unarmed?
And who at last commands the field?
Are victors simply those who live,
Or are they those who dare to give
Their lives and, dying, never yield?

No tomb arose, and none may dare
To leave a flower where they lay,
Where humble men defied the rule
Of might and paid the heroes’ way.

The water barely rises when
It merges with their silent forms;
But as the sangha’s petals fall
The lotus weeps in Myanmar.

And as we still deny their call
The lotus weeps for Myanmar.

Manila, die 4 Octobris MMVII.

All rights reserved.

  1. My thoughts go to the victims of that fiendish military junta in Burma. I hope and pray that all God-fearing, freedom-loving, and humane nations come together soon and see what we can do for our brothers and sisters there. God, why most of the world have been turning a blind eye to what’s happening there simply baffles the mind and breaks the heart. Prayers.

  2. Beautiful, moving poetry this is by the way…

  3. Thank you very much for your comments throughout my blog; I’m really glad to know someone actually appreciates my occasional mental meanderings…

    Re: the Burmese junta, I can only suppose that the world has been desensitized by all the bloodshed of recent years, and that global pro-democracy activism has ceased to be fashionable among the Western intelligentsia that controls the world press. But perhaps we can try to drum up continued awareness of the issue, and pray that the world wakes up.

  4. Nice one. Tennyson and Coleridge come to mind. I kinda don’t get the break in the poem pattern at the last–not familiar with the form you’re using. Good job on the embedded rhyme scheme though. At the moment I’m wondering if you could do iambic with more modern diction. While the diction you chose is fine for the lament, there is none of the sense of immediacy, only an old, old sadness of a world which has seen so much of this before.

  5. You’re right: It does lack in immediacy despite my best efforts at amending it, which I think is due in part to the iambic measure and in part to the origin of the poem–I wrote it because I felt for the monks, though I put it online for more activist/propagandist reasons.

    Re the form, I’m still experimenting within my natural constraints (which is that I think in iambic, and which I struggle in vain to change), but it’s patterned like a song, hence the break occasioned by the diquatrain bridge, though I doubt I’ll ever have a melody for it…

    Anyway, pare, thanks for the critique–and I’ll send you my story sometime, just that realized it still needs a bit of polishing:)

  6. Iambic might still be fine with modern diction. Upon, hortatory, and the like date the piece a bit, but then I suppose that’s part of its charm. I guess what I’m looking for isn’t so much immediacy as a sense of currentness.

    Anyway, your piece helped me round out a poem of mine with Buddhist leanings. Will either blog or mail it to you once I’m done sculpting it.

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