A Poet, I am Not
by Neeraj
(Translated by R.P. Chaddah)

(1)
Friend: A poet, I am not.
Those who are,
Sing not,
Care naught for the oppressed,
Even if they do,
They feel shy.
In their closed rooms,
They read, imagine and write,
And when death comes, die.
But I sing,
Cheer the depressed,
Give a new glint to the sad eyes.
And I never sleep with doors latched,
Whosoever comes in, is welcomed,
My very being, is all theirs,
Keep it chained, I don't like.
Today I part with happily,
What I have to give tomorrow.

(2)
Friend: A poet, I am not.
For a poet, Art is for Art's sake,
For me Art is sun-light.
Sun-light !
Which wakes the world from a deep slumber,
Dispels darkness from every dwelling,
Brightens the whole Universe, in which
Youth hops, rivers run
Fields hum, flowers smile.
Out we come from our dwellings
To work, play, and love
Arrange weddings
To become many, from one.
A poet, I am not.
Art for me is sun-light
But, for you it's just night.
(3)

A poet, I am not.
Those who are,
They talk and discuss
Read and remember
Great works
And then they invent new meters.
But, I can't even Converse,
Have no faith in any ideology,
I only recognize man.
What he holds,
In the etchings of his palm,
I only want to decipher
To engrave them in couplets.
I.e.,
I want to be ahead of this present world,
By a step or two.
Schools and colleges never imparted
This education to me.
Life is my teacher,
Love is my lesson,
Every street is my book,
My experience is my schooling.
And my examination -
To burn the lamp in storms,
To seek the sun during nights,
To bloom the withered flowers,
To bring a new-spring to every home.
Friend ! A poet, I am not.
Those who are, sleep
And I, lie awake …..
(4)
Friend ! A poet, I am not.
Those who are,
Write false parallels of London,
In Indian verses.
The cups of East, They fill with
The champagne of west,
They die,
Not for a Radha, but for a Juliet.
Against the West, I am not.
I don't know why,
I feel one with East's Sun.
A splash of water from the Ganges,
Purifies my Soul,
Love for mankind, of great sages,
Balmiki, Vyas, Surdas and Tulsidas,
Brings me closer to man.
May be, my attachment to them is old,
But, am powerless to break the bonds
Though I very much want to.
Curls of Juliet, ensnare,
But I loose the words for a song,
But in Radha's tears,
The moment I immerse,
My verses become piece d' Art.

(5)
Friend ! A poet, I am not.
Those who are,
History remembers them,
Criticisms on their work sell,
Text-books publish their portraits.
Histories are bereft of and
Text-books have nothing to do with my name,
Critics praise me and meet me,
No eve is so colorful.
My name is cut on rocks,
Rivers and river-banks,
On time's forehead,
On smoldering deserts,
Tanning sun and drowsy stars.
And my songs are only at those lips,
Which are giving shape to the New Man,
Bringing Heaven to this earth, by
Entwining storms,
Making the lightening feel shy,
and are showing a new magic.
Pacific washes their feet,
History ages in their laps,
Literature stands beside their shadows.
Future, not the present
will write treatises on me.
That future -
Whose cannons of criticism will,
Neither be couplets, nor volumes,
But those Tears -
Which feel from the eyes of man,
After a discourse of Ramayana and Sur-Sagar,
Almost in every age,
And under their benign shadow
Art, religion, culture saw a new light.
I am a singer of those tears,
And am not fit to be a poet.
A poet, I am not.
A poet, I am not.

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