Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WORDS FOR MUSIC: EASTERN MAN, WESTERN MAN


The first poem I ever wrote imitated this poem of my father’s. My cousin Ravi reminded me of it today and I thought I would share it here. I recall Guy adding Words for Music to the title many years after the original composition. He may have wanted to temper slightly the import of this powerful parable. After all, he gave his four sons and only daughter the instruction to become Western Oriental gentlemen and woman.

WORDS FOR MUSIC:
EASTERN MAN, WESTERN MAN

Eastern man walks slowly
Afraid of the flash in the sky,
Western Man walks swiftly
Less reason why.

Eastern man walks slowly
Afraid of the bolt from the blue,
Western man walks swiftly
Blind to the view.

Eastern man walks slowly
Shakes as the rockets boom,
Western man walks swiftly
Swiftly to his doom.


-- Guy Amirthanayagam, Selected Poems, Ceylon Printers, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2002