The Literary Works of T. Wignesan - I

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T. Wignesan

T. Wignesan was a pupil of the V.I. from 1947 to 1950. He was an assistant librarian and a member of the Hepponstall House cricket and hockey teams as well as a member of the V.I. Cricket XI in 1949-51. His working life in his teens and twenties had included stints as a manual labourer, clerk, journalist (Malay Mail & Malayan Times) and/or as a school teacher in the following towns/cities: Sungei Rengam, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Heidelberg. For a brief period, 1964-65, he was the London Correspondent of the Straits Times Press Group. Later he taught English at the school and faculty level in Madrid and literatures in English at the European Division of the University of Maryland and at the University of Sorbonne-Nouvelle. He has also lectured for the Commonwealth Institute, London, on South and Southeast Asia. He has now retired as a Research Fellow in comparative literature (English, Spanish, Malay and Tamil) and in poietics/aesthetics (the science and philosophy of creation) with the French National Centre for Scientific Research, having been attached variously at the Sorbonne and at the School for Higher Studies in Social Sciences in Paris, from 1973 to 1998.

After reading for the Bar at the Inns of Court School of Law, London from 1953 to 1956, Wignesan took to writing as a career and although he managed to publish several fictional pieces and a couple of books, he began his peripatetic studies again in literature and philosophy at universities in London, Heidelberg, Berlin, Madrid and Paris. He obtained distinctions in his diploma in Hispanic Studies (awarded the Extraordinary Prize in 1971), Madrid University, Master of Arts (Maîtrise) at the Institute of Hispanic Culture (Madrid) and the University of Paris-Vincennes, and for his higher French doctoral degree: Doctorat d'Etat ès lettres et sciences humaines from the University of Paris-I-Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Wignesan has to his credit four collections of poems, one collection of short stories, two collections of selected essays and articles, two plays, three novels, one novella, one (Malaysian) memoir, two co-edited anthologies, a volume of translations of Malaysian poetry in French [cf. Bibliographie de la France], and over seventy articles on diverse subjects in learned journals and popular magazines. His Journal of Comparative Poietics, founded in 1988, is the first journal on the subject. At present he collaborates closely with the activities of the Institute of Asian Studies in Chennai, India, and is the Guest Editor and Editorial Advisor of the Journal of the Institute of Asian Studies. He also edits an online journal on Asian studies, The Asianists' ASIA.

[See Marquis' Who's Who in the World; CD Rom Best-Europe, and Who's Who in the European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies 1995.]

Extracted here in Part I are the entire contents of Wignesan's first collection of poems, Tracks of a Tramp, published in 1961 in Kuala Lumpur/Singapore, and in Part II his three short stories from Bunga Emas, an anthology that he edited in 1964. He may be contacted at

Visit Wignesan's home page at

Tracks of a Tramp

The Death of the Hindu

Chin cupped
on the ancient bone of his
he spread five fingers
to the world:
and like a cat on zither strings
the hoarse voice of his fathers
issues from his forgotten children:
now he picks one tick
from the back of that suckling cow:
his failing fingers
find not the strength
to crush

Not a single eyelash twitters
pass him by
pass him

'Wake not a man asleep
And tell him he has
Nothing to eat.'

The Snake Charmer and the Hamadryad

For J. C. Alldridge

Piccolo and been-throated pibroch
Dilating dimpled hood
Spreading photometric darkroom eyes
Waxing waxing matching
Venomous lip to music's piping lip
O Queen of stung dragon mouthed Po
Dancing girl of nuanceless ancient reliefs
The apotheosis Brahman curling on the neck
Must you now sink sink
Dread watched
Into the winding womb wickerwork
Watching watching pipe-eyed watching
Until you slip
Over the sill of the pipe and the lip

Anathema! Amorphous piteous anathema!
Amulet of Siva!
Licking the boneless air companionless
Then slithering to lie on the trodden path
Must you have this one last lick
A lick that
Stills the
Child astray
Or ripple tailless
In the reedy gust
To the squat charmer's
Hypnotical pibroch

The Temple Drummer and Piper

for J. C. Alldridge

Flexor of the Temple's
Flexuous moulded walls
The high reliefs sallying through your
Flaunting fingers
Wrap the holy-comer with your
Invocatory maul
While word of vedic prayer
Seeps from some steepening Brahmin wall

O stretched bowel of your potted paunch
In perspiration's puffing piped paean
Rivet the eyes of man and god
Outside the walls of priestly palaver

Monotonic bell and OM
OM and monotonic bell


Breath of the Informer, an Allegory.

Remorseful, the noonday sun
Frizzles with the stealthy wind
Under the rubbery mountain green.
A calmness has come to rest
From having tossed in its sleep.
The forest has taken leave
Of the hunted horn and drum.
No more the tapper late of nap
Scurries to the haven of a nest.
No more the rattle whisper fades
To nothingness in a lonesome rest.
No more, no more, for the heavens
Sleep and all the troops sleep too.
The sinewy python stretched past
Clumsily the ragged rock and branch.
The Owl has called its reveille at last.
And the forest sleeps with the wind
Gently fanning some whisper closer
And closer, every wave, a venomous flick
Of a serpent, a kiss of rest.

Who dares to take this life from me,

Knows no better.

for Eric Mottram

"Nur wenn das Herz erschlossen,

Dann ist die Erde schön."



An important thing in living
Is to know when to go;
He who does not know this
Has not far to go,
Though death may come and go
When you do not know.

Come, give me your hand,
Together shoulder and cheek to shoulder
We'll go, sour kana in cheeks
And in the mornings cherry sticks
To gum: the infectious chilli smiles
Over touch-me-not thorns, crushing snails
From banana leaves, past
Clawing outstretched arms of the bougainvilias
To stone the salt-bite mangoes.

Tread carefully through this durian kampong
For the ripe season has pricked many a sole.


la la la tham'-pong
Let's go running intermittent
To the spitting, clucking rubber fruit
And bamboo lashes through the silent graves,
Fresh sod, red mounds, knee stuck, incensing joss sticks
All night long burning, exhuming, expelling the spirit.
Let's scour, hiding behind the lowing boughs of the hibiscus
Skirting the school-green parapet thorny fields.
Let us now squawk, piercing the sultry, humid blanket
In the shrill wakeful tarzan tones,
Paddle high on.the swings
Naked thighs, testicles dry.

Let us now vanish panting on the climbing slopes
Bare breasted, steaming rolling with perspiration,
Biting with lalang burn.
Let us now go and stand under the school
Water tap, thrashing water to and fro.
Then steal through the towkay's
Barbed compound to pluck the hairy
Eyeing rambutans, blood red, parang in hand,
And caoutchouc pungent with peeling.
Now scurrying through the estate glades
Crunching, kicking autumnal rubber leavings,
Kneading, rolling milky latex balls,
Now standing to water by the corner garden post.


This is the land of the convectional rains
Which vie on the monsoon back scrubbing streets
This is the land at half-past four
The rainbow rubs the chilli face of the afternoon
And an evening-morning pervades the dripping, weeping
Rain tree, and gushing, tumbling, sewerless rain drains
Sub-cutaneously eddy sampan fed, muddy, fingerless rivers
Down with crocodile logs to the Malacca Sea.

This is the land of stately dipterocarp, casuarina
And coco-palms reeding north easterly over ancient rites
Of turtle bound breeding sands.

This is the land of the chignoned swaying bottoms
Of sarong-kebaya, sari and cheongsam.
The residual perch of promises
That threw the meek in within
The legs of the over-eager fledgelings.

The land since the Carnatic conquerors
Shovelling at the bottom of the offering mountains
The bounceable verdure brought to its bowers
The three adventurers.

A land frozen in a thousand
Climatic, communal ages
Wags its primordial bushy tail to the Himalayas
Within a three cornered monsoon sea -
In reincarnate churches
And cracker carousels.
The stranglehold of boasting strutting pedigrees
And infidel hordes of marauding thieves,
Where pullulant ideals
Long rocketed in other climes
Ride flat-foot on flat tyres.


Let us go then, hurrying by
Second show nights and jogget parks
Listening to the distant whinings of wayangs
Down the sidewalk frying stalls on Campbell Road
Cheong-Kee mee and queh teow plates
Sateh, rojak and kachang puteh
(rediffusion vigil plates)
Let us then dash to the Madras stalls
To the five cent lye chee slakes.

la la la step stepping
Each in his own inordinate step
Shuffling the terang bulan.
Blindly buzzes the bee
Weep, rain tree, weep
The grass untrampled with laughter
In the noonday sobering shade.

Go Cheena-becha Kling-qui Sakai


Has it not occurred to you how I sat with you
dear sister, counting the chicking back of the
evening train by the window sill and then
got up to wind my way down the snake infested rail
to shoo shoo the cows home to brood
while you gee geaed the chicks to coop
and did we not then plan of a farm
a green milking farm to warm the palm
then turned to scratch the itch over in our minds
lay down on the floors, mat aside
our thoughts to cushion heads
whilst dug tapioca roots heaped the dream
and we lay scrapping the kernel-less
fiber shelled coconuts

O Bhama, my goatless daughter kid
how I nursed you with the callow calves
those mutual moments forced in these common lives
and then, that day when they sold you
the blistering shirtless sun never flinching
an eye, defiant I stood caressing your creamy coat
and all you could say was a hopeless baaa..a..aa
and then, then, that day as we came over the mountains
two kids you led to the thorny brush, business bent
the eye-balling bharata natyam


O masters of my fading August dream
For should you take this life from me
Know you any better
Than when children we have joyously romped
Down and deep in the August river
Washing on the mountain tin.

Now on the growing granite's precipitous face
In our vigilant wassail
Remember the children downstream playing
Where your own little voices are speechless lingering

Let it not be simply said that a river flows
to flourish a land
More than that he who is high at the source
take heed:
For a river putrid in the cradle is worse
than the plunging flooding rain.

And the eclectic monsoons may have come
Have gathered and may have gone
While the senses still within torrid membranes


Blinks through Blood-shot Walks

        When at five-thirty
In the rubbed-eye haziness
Of ferreting lonesome night walks
The camera-eye refugee
Asleep in the half awakefulness
Of the hour
Peers out of his high turbanned sockets:
Hyde Park's through road links
London's diurnally estranged couple -
The Arch and Gate.

        When at five-thirty
The foot falls gently
Of the vision cut in dark recesses
And the man, finger gingerly on the fly
Gapes dolefully about
For a while
Exchanges a casual passing word
Standing in the Rembrandtesque clefts
And the multipled ma'm'selle trips out:
Neat and slick.
They say you meet the girls at parties
And get deeper than swine in orgies.
        When at five-thirty
The fisherman's chilled chips
Lie soggy and heeled under the Arch
Where patchy transparent wrappers cling
To slippery hands jingling the inexact change
That mounted the trustful fisherman's credit:
The stub legged fisher of diplomat
And cool cat
And the prostitutes' confidant;
Each shivering pimp's warming pan.

        Then at five-thirty
The bowels of Hyde Park
Improperly growled and shunted
And shook the half-night-long
Lazily swaggering double deckers,
Suddenly as in a rude recollection,
To break and pull, grind and swing away
And around, drawing the knotting air after
Curling and unfurling on the pavements.

        And at five-thirty
The prostrate mindful old refugee
Dares not stir
Nor cares to wake and swallow
The precisely half-downed bottle
Of Coke clinging to the pearly dew
Nor lick the clasp knife clean
Lying bare by a tin of' skewed top
Corned beef, incisively culled

Look! that garden all spruced up
An incongruous lot of hair on that bald pate
No soul stirs in there but the foul air
No parking alongside but from eight to eight.
Learning so hard and late
No time to scratch the bald pate.
        At five-thirty-one
        A minute just gone
The thud is on, the sledge-hammer yawns
And in the back of ears, strange noises
As from afar and a million feet tramp.
One infinitesimal particle knocks another
And the whirl begins in a silent rage
And the human heart beats harder
While in and around, this London
This atomic mammoth roams
In the wastes of wars and tumbling empires.

Pied à terre

Once within a break in brambly fields
       something stirred its fearful head in sleep:
Though it be woman or child, work or vision
       something that dares not hold me in derision

But till that lingering day bares your face
       with prating breath I bide my bane
And even as I clear the brake, shift the trunks
       hosannas crop up before you every dawn.

And someday as I have you in my arms
       in osculation's brimming nirvanic bliss,
May I not then turn away empty handed
       though warm in your inane atmanic face?

Then as I wend my kindly way down the road
       pitch my tent on this terraqueous matter-mind
Should I then go looking for my immortality
       through doors that are forever shut to me?

Or could I then lie upon nescience' impervious skies
       upon some smoky grass unmapped or husbanded
And hear the awakening cries of spring born trees
       then get up to wind my way to some factory blast?

Feet, feet that walked away with

the toes

Heavy the hoods of the eyes
      that laboured the scan of horizons
Heavy the course of the thoughts
      that sat unstirred on the sill of the stare

Heavy this ancient bottomed nose
      sitting in judgment over this meat
Endlessly shunting the frenzied workers
      now sniff-drunk and steam-bellowed in the street

This the scull careered through rutted scars
      the primeval hair bushed in pathways
Where long tribes with long lances
      prod the undergrowth for signs of lost bones

These the ears that heard the wake of worlds
      wandering in the ever irretraceable tread
Ears though that admit the silent secrets
      ever still and hospitable to the panicky refrain

This the assembled machinery, forging fire
      have dropped the tongs
Down the corridors of investigation
      hurtling in darkening diseases

These the loins, companion of time
      stalked through fire, filth, and foam
Baked in the hot ovens of empires
      wearied some morning in blurry depredation

Wobble-eyed, knee-tied, dragged with pacing company
      through yesterdays that are forever lost indemny
Heavy the lavae lipped throb, kiss and consider
      heavy the molten strata ooze, consider and kiss

These the organs that prodded nations
      and shrivelled up to curse them all in pain
Pursed its potency, convulsed the course of the vein
      this the dismembered member of the tribe

Heavy, alas, these feet that thump
      jog and reel in the dancing rhythm of milleniums
Trod on the willess face of faiths
      twitched their toes and walked their way

Tracks in the Private Country

The memory in need
Is the implacable enemy of the creed,
Waits and watches its foe

The all-clawing frenzy on tip-toe;
Quiescent in the instant's repose
The thud of flurried gnawing years evoke.

The poet in his solitary moments, spoke
Those whispered words, memory's secret ear yoke.
His wares, his scares, ailments and balms

Suddenly at the oasis of his thirst, awoke
Transilluminating the hard wad of his private notes,
Clutching at the infant's murmurous innocence

The clear innocuous dogma of cries;
While his immodestly preened notes of travesty
Hark back; and the first poem playfully struck

Teaches him now too late the laugh, the critic's qualms.
Just as the poet had wandered away from childhood,
So will the child thwart the unspoilt man

And shyly, shyly he turns away from the poet
Coming in like a stray camp-follower to brood.
For who may ask which the supreme poet

The child's sweet ineffable musings disrespect?
While language etherises meanings proudly sown:
The title in two is halved - one the art, one, lone.

And the man, memory's ill-begotten infant
Lurking round the corner, pranks the urgent moment
Or two - then restores the poet to the poem.

Night In The Eyes Invading

I do not know if this is true that I see:
I see in some dim, distant, desolate rock-hold
Gathering peoples, driven as though by common fear.
A low mournful humming moving with the breeze
Of manhood tread and eyeless turban-headed
In the lambent darkness, fire-fly brands moving.
This symphonious humming fills my heart
With deep remorse I cannot understand.
In a winding never-ending line they keep coming:
Mesmerically drawn as in a living dream.
They do not speak but it seems that they are in
Common bondage bound and move to words of order.

Someone is dying or some great catastrophe
Has befallen these earthen men - for they do not speak!

So many seem to come, but only a few are here.
Yet they keep coming and around
A little rock are gathered cross-legged, naked
Scalded knees jagged out, a cluster of brown skinny men.
On the rock someone is standing and a little
Behind him - I do not know what - a tree, a ragged pole
Or what! and yet here it glows, now a moment paly.
Fading far volcanic lights skip engulfing the sky.

I cannot say what this is all about.
I have a fear the Martians are here.

And in the middle of this funereal happening
A voice bursts out crying - 'EMILIANO'...
'Emiliano', and then a choking whimpering
And again - 'Emiliano......
                                      Is this all that is left for me!'

Bedtime on Tramp

He woke down the slope, by the hay
With him a thousand shrill cries
That stilled to him, yawning.
He moved with strands of hay, trailing
On his rags.
Sauntering, he is a flaneur...
The road lamps gave him away.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

Half-way on a bridge over its side
He saw a bridge in Japanese ruin
Chaffing in the hurrying waters below.
He cursed the Japs for lying fallow
Spouting his rheum.
Pondering, he is a sinner...
He knelt for those braves, never to ride.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

A gale rolled down the road in dust,
Churning it up, a regular willy-willy.
The fizzing'trees corked: the shutters' hinges off.
His eyes sored: swaying he would cough.
He stood now willy-nilly.
Thinking, he is a fritterer...
He chased the trapping miasma, loping his Wellingtons' lust.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

The rains were bursting heavy on the esplanade,
A rocky splash soared with spray from the waves.
He sought the bulwark of the stony balustrade,
The waters were rising over the promenade
Like columns of graves.
Musing, he is a shirker...
He plunged into the sea, bold as a blade.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

He helped himself up to the wind's foremost blow
On a hillock where the moon searched his impecunious pockets,
Waking a flood in his eyes like swelled teats.
He opened wide to receive the Lady, this Endymion cheats,
No worm-wood virus but sweet philtre phials.
Finishing, he is a lover...
He sought the bosom of Erebus in her wildest glow.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

A scavenger cat clawing a bushman's billy-can
Some hard laid by in his work, purred with surveillance
In disgust over him turning tins over in the bin.
Together he cast the lid by to biltong and raisin:
The cat devours, he abandons the prandial dance.
Pausing, he is a server...
He ate them all like yams those starved seamen.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

Over the mellowy orchard, for a while he blotted,
Down the glen he skied on the mossy rock
And rubbed clean in the steamy fume of the fall.
Clambering on the paddock, the love-grass over him gall
His rag-patches, bee-combed, mock.
Swearing, he is a dreamer...
He tore tearfully through the touch-me-not palliase.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

Now upon the road of life, he chanced
And espied himself the mutest spectre dust,
Cruising his hour in the propelled sleep of night.
He saw himself waft from this mount to that bight
And saw it was not wont or just.
Laughing, he is a god...
But this infidel purpose of man must be lived.

        He moved and with him, his bed
           And time moved.

I saw a tree a-falling

I saw a tree a-falling
   a-falling down on me
I had no way to turn
   it was close on me

I thought it was a plot
   to force me out
I knew I could not
   even hold it or shout

It was a tree I sheltered
   on many a longing day
And now it was so altered
   coming to make me pay

I asked it why it longed
   to touch its upmost brim
When all around no foe
   turned the sun down dim

I touched its bark to hear
   I thought I heard a cry
Two leaves it shed on me
   and brushed its bark up high

I asked it why it stood
   alone and left to brood
It shook its sticks in emphasis
   as if to say it was good

Little Clock

for Gertrud Widmayer

Why in pensive ticking, silent thoughts
       You wile your time away
When all around huge swelling bells
       Toll the days away!

Every hour that announced may go
       Your silent hands take hold
And though the ages chimed in ears
       Yours they never behold.

If all the clocks the world had known
       Had struck one strong big note,
They would never still your plodding tone
       Or the working hearth you alert.

Do you wonder, wonder, little clock
       What makes the grandfather tick!
Or his aching belly in the depth of sorrow
       Cries to the world its sick!

Thirty million years and pleistocene dark,
       They are one split second short!
And whimpering suns that rise and flop
       Have scarce stolen your tick or thought!

So, my little clock, my faithful clock
       When I hear the tall town bell,
I'll shrug my shoulders, one tiny moment
       And know that all is well.


for Gertrud Widmayer

I am a coal-truck
Carrying gold dust.
Someone threw some
Coal-dust upon
My gold-dust.

I am a coal-truck
In a gold mine.
Someone struck a coal vein
And piled me full in vain.

I am a coal-truck
Covered in subterranean dust.
Someone shovelled my soil
And found an ancient bone
All coiled.

I am a coal-truck
Waiting for the rain.
The sun is my rail
The night my shed.

I am a coal-truck
Rumbling all the way.
Wash me in the rain-storm
And fill me full of coke
Until I choke.

The Pinch

Sometimes I think, time nor walls
Mark a finite space, a distance.
The lapse of a little moment falls
Within the bite of each human phase.

Fish don't bite

Howling men in sauntering nights
Wake like kicking women in nylon tights
Break on the slithering shores

Where fish don't bite and wither
In the nights like women in tether
As sauntering men from howling whores

Fish don't bite, women don't scowl
Though nights are foul, men don't howl
And plaster belies the ingrained sores

Unheeded in the spread of his name,


Unheeded in the spread of his name, quaking
    Through the knit brow cuddling the sombre eye
Twice buckled into the couch of his yearning

The mouldy cast of unsculptured hands, moulting
    In the surging sweaty cries' unexpected sigh
Sooner lost than won with unrenewed longing

Every day, every night in chastened haste, calling
    That one face, one hand trembling on bosomy thigh
Through all the twigs of his knotty brooding

Mighty log in the dismembered chips, raking
    In uneasy orgasms of a protracted lie
The woman clasped in the memory revolting

Fleshy hair to press, hovering nostrils, drinking
    In the incensing vapours, and that face a wry
Screaming in the rubbing spasm, a bloody cursing

All, all and more, and the biting shame, clawing
    Now at the name, silently growing, that shy
Child of old hopefully shared and lingered moaning

Letter to...

January 4, 1960.

Now as I account for myself
I know the fight is over
You made me feel if I was worth saving
I was worth having
And I knew as the man flattered to grow
He also learned the crafts of
Clinging on to his sleazy self

When we have to account for ourselves
When we have to take stock of the unaccountable
When we have but ourselves to account for
When all but you and I alone are left
Amid the crowds that hover at my presence
       In your eye
Amid the lashing lolling tongues
Amid the squelching claws of distrust
And the deriding press of after thought
What are my lean throated words
What are my bleating pleas of
When we have to account for ourselves
In the awakening stillness of other judgment worlds
What account do we have for ourselves
But the rabid thirst of a search
When we may have met in this or that town
But in this land and in this continent
This world
This incarnation
This temporal crevice

You in the fresh burst of discovery
I in the aftermath of debunking rediscovery
Time was then held alike that summer
Growing only to fruition in our recognition
My senses were growingly numb from blunt use
Burning when the electric fondling
Dared enter and worry the dusty corners

I saw you then
Not as the strapping dash of bubbliness
Nor as the plaitted innocence of schooling youth
Trundling the scenes of covertly revisited crimes
Forming with others the dutiful good habits
Nor as the tall preening blot of shyness
At the hedge of a group picture
Fronting a personality
Dicing friendship
Simulating elder precepts
Feeling your maidenhood pulsate in reveries
Testing its beat upon hidden hay heaps
Nor as the pure shaft of consciousness
Thrusting into the wake of frightfulness

I saw you
Only as a parcel come to me in mortal need
In a prelatic bestowment of fruits and tins
The salt and pepper of spicy tables

I saw you come to me
In disguise well wrapped and well meant
I saw you come to me
That low day of my life
As a parcel bound in the selfless vines of veins
As the blood of transfusion
As the hope of persistent verse

It was one big inconsumable heart that arrived
Unnamed and unasked for
And I stood and stared
Stared and stood
No longer in unbelief
I did not live from victuals coursing through
I lived and thrived from gorging one
Insuperable unknown heart

From that moment onwards
Not when the fingerless muscles unclasped
The indented bones
But from that moment of knowing
From that very moment of sustenance
That day of human unbelief died unsung
And the depth of human grief buried long
Bestirred a momentous song

It willed within me it were man
Some kindly soul no less
But in surfeit laid aside
The biscuits of distaste

It willed within me it were some organisation
Hurrying to the bed of despair
With the spare crumbs of conversion
The Holy Infant to succour

I willed then it were a friend
From want of excuse to teach
His fooling heart to bleat
Robbed his conscience of a treat

I willed and willed and never
In my thankless memory
Sat the image of my enemy
The fulcrum of my singular division

And when that day I delved my depths
To find the words of irreproachable thanks
I saw you turn and stamp the light
Of my begging steps of penance

I turned, rebuffed
Should I have turned and gone
Away from the stony snarl of thanklessness
Away from all that I saw in that
One inseparable act
Away from my insurrection
From the illimitable doubt of humility
Far away from all the coquetry of cunning

No man was divided more
Between himself and self
Between life and cherished death
Astride on the unwelcome threshold of emptiness

I had come out of dying
And yet the chained stick of fate
Was certain to unravel for me
No less, no more, the vicious sting of hate

And revived with urgency's gratitude
Twice over, reconditely, I was blessed

Did you not notice then
How uneasy I was in the eye of abundance
How hiding from the surfeit of joy
From whose very object I
Learned not to cry

And so all through with fear
Fear opening fresh fear
Without respite, without cause
Deft day handling stolen night
Within the walls of our breath
Smarting, whining
Nudging through illusory pretences
Waking and making our presence
Forever shy of ourselves
As if all this were not true
Heart closing on the heart
Excreting gratitude

You have done your part
What more could I ask
Could you then blame me that I fought
Every step of your way to me
For what I was worth to you
I was ready as a knave to soot

And when indeed you took a man to wed
You took a slave and a man to bed

Though we account for ourselves
And whatever we have accounted for
We do not take ourselves apart
And when we have to account for ourselves
Between you and me
Then what we have to account for is three
You, the slave, and the man or me

But when we have nothing to account for
There is but one lonesome count

And so you came to me
       A thwarted child
              and you told me

Kritik der Urteilskraft

Are we all agreed on this point
Then clear the court for the Queen Mother
Yesterday's sister science

Throw out the precedents, no, not that one
Dust those three long buried in Königsberg

And remember, always remember

Here are no laws, make your own
If the wind will not favour you
Then tear down the sails
If physics will hamper you
Then paddle your way through

Here are no laws, only, you
You must go on and on

That's all that's left for you
Give no quarter
Discount not your enemies
Always on and on

Here are no laws
Only you

[ Part II | Part III ]

VI The V.I. Web Page

Created on 21 March 2000.
Last update on 22 July 2006.

Ooi Boon Kheng