Armando Menezes (1902–1983) was a renowned Goan poet, writer, translator and academic of his times, and beloved Professor of English for generations of students at Bombay and Karnatak Universities. These poems were submitted by his grandson, the writer/historian Vivek Menezes, on the occasion of Valentine’s Day.
The End of Loneliness
Girl, as we stand here face to face,
Bold, lonely, upright souls, and strain
The secret of our life to efface
And turn this proud delight to pain:
In vain, in vain we hope to eclipse
Ourselves with our own selves, and part
With dull division of the lips
The music of our mutual heart.
Girl, as we stand here wing to wing
And try with casual words to mar
The perfect beauty burgeoning
Within our silence like a star,
In vain, in vain we hope to split
With aching flesh the wedded mind:
We have become the Infinite
And left all loneliness behind.
I never knew, before I read
The shrewd old German pessimist,
That I desired the race to spread
Each time your silly mouth I kissed.
The unborn generations wait,
Impatient, mutely clamorous,
Behind the many-bolted gate
Whose keys are only held by Us.
Veil not your eye in innocence
Nor plead a soul-companionship;
You are the destined slave of Sense
And must obey his pleasant whip.
Here do we stand, yearning apart
Behind the gate so heavy-barred
And do not know our throbbing heart
Is but the Children knocking hard.
Without true love, nothing avails:
A pumpkin ringed with iron cannot
Escape the rot.
An earthen idol, prayed and sung,
Returns to dung.
A clay doll washed from day to day
Dissolves to clay.
Ape alchemised to golden ape
Retains his shape.
The lump of coal cleaned day and night
Will not grow white.
The flower of the silk-cotton tree
The colocynth burgeons, yet no less
Without true love, everything fails:
Earth lies a violin to my bow:
And as I rush,
A thousand shapes of music grow
Out of the hush.
The leaping flame within me draws,
As it shoots lone,
Between each throbbing pause and pause,
Tone upon tone.
Strange orchestrated sounds unroll
From waiting woods;
And as my passion thrills the soul
I hear a far-off rapture sweep
Me as I pass:
Loud waters dying in the deep,
Low sighs of grass;
Long echoes rolling to the ridge,
Or valley green;
The different notes of tunnel, bridge,
Or cleft ravine;
The fury of neglected stations—
A shrieking wind
Shrill with a million execrations
Of hag or fiend;
The murmurous silence when I stop,
Live with the noise
Of water drowsing drop by drop,
Or human voice.
A little pause, and off I go…
My simple art
Touches to music with my bow
Earth’s silent heart.
‘remembering you’ is a love poem by the Goa-based writer Salil Chaturvedi. This poem evokes a very old Indian trope of Valentine – the shama/parwana (flame/moth) image. Salil writes: “I don’t know if it’s Valentine, or anti-Valentine. In it, the lover is like a moth who burns himself in the flame of love. A fair warning, I think, on Valentine’s Day?”
in the dead of the night
but why dead
when the night is alive
the refrigerator humming
the clock ticking
the rustle of leaves
a sudden screech of a cat
as bats eat the guavas
outside the kitchen window
and my thoughts
circling around your light
making soft bumping noises like moths.