Shiv Kumar Batalvi

(23 July 1936 - 7 May 1973 / Punjab / British India)

Listen Mother


Listen, mother,
My songs are eyes
Stinging with grains of separation.
In the middle of the night ,
They wake and weep for dead friends.
Mother, I cannot sleep.

Upon them I lay strips of moonlight
Soaked in perfume,
But the pain does not recede.
I foment them
With warm sighs
Yet they turn on me ferociously.

I am still young,
And need guidance myself.
Who can advise him?
Mother, would you tell him,
To clench his lips when he weeps,
Or the world will hear him cry.

Tell him, mother, to swallow the bread
Of separation.
He is fated to mourn.
Tell him to lick the salty dew
On the roses of sorrow,
And stay strong.

Where are the snake handlers
From whom I can beg for a shroud to cover me?
Somebody give me a shroud that will fit!
How can I wait like a jogi
At the doorstep of these people
Greedy for gold?

Listen, o my pain,
Love is like a butterfly
Pinned forever to a stake.
It is like a bee,
From whom desire,
Stays miles away.

Love is a palace
Where, but for birds,
Nothing else lives.
Love is a hearth
Where the bed of fulfillment,
Is never laid.

Mother, tell him not to
Call out the name of his dead friends
So loudly in the middle of the night.
When I am gone, I fear
That this malicious world,
Will say that my songs were evil.

Listen, o mother
My songs are eyes
Stinging with grains of separation.
In the middle of the night ,
They wake and weep for dead friends.
Mother, I cannot sleep.

Submitted: Monday, March 26, 2012

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