You warned us that on this path was nothing but pain,
And we glibly assented, but now we complain.
We were assenting to what was our idea of pain—
Tangible enemies to be suffered for love’s gain.
Something heroic we had in mind—battle’s strain,
Great oaths and wild blood caught in a drunken refrain.
You told us to leave the matter in your hands—remain
Resigned to your will and whim. You made that quite plain.
What irks is the very ordinariness of this pain—
Not even our names on an honor-roll of the slain.
You told us that the only traffic in Lovers’ Lane
Was when the wind blew—and one had become a dust-grain.
Beloved, another dawn sky bears drought’s red stain.
Forgive us if sometimes hot stone cries for cool rain.
Back to a poem addressing Baba, the same rhyme throughout giving it a quality of insistence. It’s a complaint but it never becomes heavy thanks to the humorous exaggeration of our expectations and the calm tone. But a real note of feeling and suffering is injected at the end.
Stone sometimes has this negative connotation, the solid imperviousness of the self that resists dissolution. We still have a long way to go to reach the feathery lightness of dust which can respond to the spirit’s whispers.
Perhaps not only the pains will have ‘ordinariness’ but maybe joys will be found there too. But not in this poem, a dry song from a dry land. Note in stanza 2 how we used to think of love as a ‘gain’.
Not much traffic in Lovers’ Lane – no going anywhere in a hurry!
The conversational ease of the language makes it an excellent poem for reading aloud.