420px-Saraswati

 

On her swan-ringed island

 

Of mist

 

And falling petals

 

Of song,

 

Saraswathi stands,

 

Holding the wild scent

 

Of the lilies of eternity

 

In her silver hand,

 

Her fingers braiding bright

 

Visions

 

Of the dawn-lit past,

 

Of myth-hatched eons, long

 

Ago

 

Singed in the flames

 

Of endings,

 

Half-forgotten though

 

Their names,

 

In the days that followed after

 

Of snow

 

And white-

 

Drifting mountains.

 

On the lapping lake

 

Pairs of swans sail

 

And shake

 

The water from their wings;

 

Their white and gray cygnets trail

 

Behind

 

All in a row

 

Bobbing on the ruffled waves,

 

While up on the granite cliff

 

In the rock-cut caves,

 

In tall

 

Jars

 

Of stone

 

Are ranged the rolls of palm leaf scrolls,

 

That catch the words

 

Of poems flown,

 

The whispering of languages, long gone,

 

That went on the wandering wind,

 

On the wings of the waters,

 

The sacred song, the notes of forest birds,

 

The eloquence of flowers,

 

The sound, the syllable, the brush stroke,

 

The ring of the chisel-struck hieroglyph,

 

All kept with care,

 

Every one,

 

From the child’s first fist-

 

Drawn scribbles

 

To the holy vedas of the rishis,

 

Seers from the stars,

 

And then the chorus

 

By the daughters

 

Of the owl to honor the night’s shadow,

 

The dream-enchanted dark,

 

All kept,

 

With none slipped into the abyss, none

 

Swept

 

Aside.

 

There too

 

Are bundled reams

 

Of cotton

 

Cloth,

 

In the rainbow ribbons of creation:

 

The pale-footed hue

 

Of the mourning dove and her mate,

 

Ambling on the sunlit sand,

 

The orange-banded tail

 

Of the sharp-shinned

 

Hawk, with mystic eyes,

 

Shades of the stout

 

Trunks of trees,

 

Of the ficus

 

And the white-petaled teak,

 

The red glint,

 

The arc

 

Of the setting sun

 

Across the pebbled, upland creek

 

The sea-blue

 

Tint

 

Of the lotus

 

And the silver halo

 

Of the moon that beams

 

Through the indigo

 

Ocean of the swift-sailing night.

 

All abide,

 

Their essence

 

Set to ride

 

Along the clouds

 

Of each new dawn

 

That sings

 

On the shining

 

Cosmic

 

Tide.

 

In the sacred annals

 

Of her book-filled jars

 

All knowledge, beauty,

 

And infinity,

 

All that is real,

 

With nothing lost.

 

Now the swans fly

 

Higher

 

In the air

 

Of crystal frost

 

Among the green wooded lands.

 

Within her magic,

 

Translucent

 

Jars

 

The least stir

 

Is known

 

Of every creature,

 

The leaping, gray-pawed squirrels,

 

The rooting snout

 

Of the bristle-faced, brave boar,

 

Every delight

 

Of the dance

 

Of the dragonfly

 

On the rain-bent

 

Amaryllis,

 

Then too, remembered, is the way

 

To skip

 

Among the stars,

 

Recalled,

 

The olden, dwarven folk,

 

Their iridescent lore

 

Of how to weave a shimmering cloak,

 

Or fabricate

 

A flying ship,

 

Or stoke

 

An immortal fire

 

Against the bane-crossed

 

Cold,

 

Or travel fast

 

Like racing light,

 

The path to take

 

To a wondrous land

 

Of fairies, elves, and heroes bold,

 

The remedy for every ill,

 

How to ply

 

The sea

 

Of time to find the age of gold

 

Hidden on a cloud-ringed shore,

 

At the world’s end,

 

And how to make

 

One’s way through the deepening core

 

Of the moss-footed forest

 

In an elvan autumn,

 

Of leaf-sprinkled light,

 

All knowledge past

 

And yet to be.

 

Where now the kind

 

Laughter

 

Of Saraswathi?

 

Where the haunting notes

 

Of the veena, and the light

 

Beat of the mridangam?

 

Where the bells that peal

 

In the skies of dawn?

 

Where the peace

 

In the morning call

 

Of the swans and the flocking geese?

 

And where the soft bleat of the goats

 

Clambering up the rock-strewn hill?

 

All wait,

 

Wild and free,

 

Still

 

In the luminous blue jars

 

Of the drifting sky

 

All that shines true,

 

One day,

 

To be born anew

 

When the mist

 

Settles

 

With the glad-crying

 

Swans of sunrise,

 

Over the mountains

 

Of a far country.

 

 

 

 January 13, 2013   Sharon St Joan

 

 

Image:  Painting by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) /Wikimedia Commons / “This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.” / Goddess Saraswathi