Satis Shroff (Germany)
Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander (togetherness) in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany
THE DANCER AND THE POET
There she is a blonde Flamenco dancer,
From a family that was long dysfunctional.
The poet says: ‘Dance, my dear to the rhythm
Of the guitar and my lyrics.’
She pushes her feet to perform the fiery rhythms,
She dances in a trance,
Like a shaman in a séance.
By working them out
Till she’s exhausted after each dance.
He praises her in his verses,
Suddenly he lets her fall down.
This makes her doubt;
Melancholy creeps into her heart.
She thinks: ‘When we came together
It was like a blitz,
That touched my heart.
You brought me fire like Prometheus,
Kindled it within me.
Ah, love when we’re together
We come out of our shells
And enter each other.’
* * *
Our love is like a flower with feelings
It needs to be cared for,
It needs the sun so that the perfume
Can unfold itself.
Your hatred is a contagious fire,
Like darkness which douses the fire within me.
I feel the ecstasy and love dying.
Alas, the magic of amour has disappeared;
Leaving behind only a faint hope.
* * *
I gave you my love,
You gave me your poesie,
Written in love’s flaming script.
You gave me light but also darkness
Your kiss stirred my soul;
My heart began to sing
Your body promised me secrets and delicious hours
I’d never known.
During the day I walked
Like in a dream with opiate senses.
* * *
‘I crouched below your window
Till your new lover stealthily went away.
I howled to the skies in vain.
How could such an immortal love pass away?
The vicissitudes of our relationship led me to a decision:
I saw the Mephisto unveiled in you,
I have no desire to follow you to Hell.
Adieu, my veiled friend and tormentor.
Zeitgeistlyrik: A DREAM LED TO ANOTHER
I was around twenty years old,
My head full of dreams.
I left the Himalayan foothills to win a dream:
A dream to go to Europe, visit places I’d read about.
The Bastille from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities,
Where I spent time recalling the French Revolution.
My friend’s Parisienne sister shook her head and said:
‘Monsieur Satis, there are others ways of spending an afternoon in Paris.’
The smell of sea food at a French harbour,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built.
La Rochelle and the German bunkers in the Ile d’ Oleron.
I peered at sea fogs from the mighty Atlantic,
Watched the ‘last oozing, hours by hours,
From a cider-press’ in the Vosges, as John Keats aptly put it.
* * *
In Blenhelm’s little tavern I saw murals of its famous son:
Winston Leonhard Spencer Churchill.
I stood in front of Churchill’s grave;
Above his remains lay his mother.
The words of James Shirley came to my mind:
‘Death lays his icy hands on kings,
Sceptre and crown,
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made.
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.’
I listened to the English ‘Country Sound,’
I’d read in William Cowper’s verses.
An eighteenth century house, described by George Eliot.
A pub akin to the one in John Burn’s ‘Tam o’ Shanter’:
Even though ‘pleasures are like poppies spread.’
Took a swig of English ale in picturesque Burford,
A Cotswold town in Southern England.
Country scenarios depicted by John Milton in ‘The Poet’s Pleasure:’
‘And the milkmaid swingeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe.’
To walk over the Thames Bridge between Waterloo Bridge and Chelsea,
As in Stephen Gwynn’s ‘Decay of Sensibility:’
‘The half-light when the lamps are first lit’ in London.
Where the people are now confronted
With the uncertainties of Brexit,
And promises made by Trump to May.
Peered at the Gurkha and Scottish Guards
Doing their loyal duty near the Buckingham Palace.
One dream led to another;
I found myself in Stratford-upon-Avon,
To be reminded of the Bard’s words:
‘Turning again toward childish treble,
Pipes and whistles in his sound’
From The Seven Ages of Man.
* * *
‘In Denmark’ with Edmund Gosse,
When he wrote about:
‘All the little memories of this last afternoon,
How trifling they are,
At the German butcher’s in Oberried with my friend,
Who died later of aneurisma of the aorta,
The Metzer’s daughter was what he called an ‘Augenweide.’
Having read Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein,’
I found myself in the apothecary in Heidelberg castle,
And later in the Anatomy Museum in Basle,
Fascinated by the deformed specimens,
Preserved in formalin.
Back in the lovely Schwarzwald town of Freiburg im Breisgau
I dissecting an elderly German’s body,
Under glaring white neon light.
Did he fight the Russians in Stalingrad?
He couldn’t tell me his story.
* * *
The inner German border wall,
Long lines of inhuman barbed wire,
Meant to keep humans in,
Hitler said: ‘The great masses of the people
…will more easily fall victim to a great lie
Than to a small one.’
* * *
King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya came
On a state visit to Bonn,
With familiar faces from Nepal’s media.
A reception at La Redoute and Graf Zeppelin,
And a salute from the Bundesgrenzschutz
A few years later the Royal family was massacred,
By the crown prince so the tale goes.
‘Strange things happen in Nepal,’ said my Swabian physician.
* * *
As if in reply to the 20th year of the Berlin Wall.
A metal plate with these words of Konrad Adenauer
Was hung on 13.8.1981 in Bayern-Thüringen:
“The entire German folk
Behind the iron Curtain call us,
Not to forget them!
We will not stand still,
We will not rest,
Is united again
In peace and freedom.”
We’re fortunate to have lived to see the day.
An invitation from President Gauck and Winfried Kretschmann
Flattered to me one day from Stuttgart.
A Spätzle lunch with the Landesvater
And dinner with the President.
* * *
My dreams lived in my head with fluid thoughts.
Went to Venice and imagined the speech
Of Portia to Shylock in The Merchant of Venice:
‘…in the course of justice,
None of us should see salvation.’
A dream within a dream,
Of a young man from the Himalayas,
Now grown old with a shuffling gait.
Goes to Crispano to be bestowed the Neruda Award 2017,
For his verses
And thereby hangs a tale.
O, CRY WITH ME
(Subtitle: The Prayer Wheel)
The signs of growth are here,
Between sunshine and rain.
There’s a subtle greening everywhere.
People work line bees,
Cutting and pruning weeds
Using their ancient hoes
To plough the terraces
The joy that plants have survived
Beneath the deadwood.
There’s optimism in the air
And with it hope,
When crocuses rear their heads.
Lovely lupins, delphiniums and daffodils,
In the meadows of the Himalayas.
People are bathing in the tributaries of holy rivers,
Chanting vedic hymns.
Those who have lost their mothers,
Remember them through rites,
Followed by a bath in the river Matatirtha.
The sound of thundering hoofs in Tudikhel,
In the heart of Catmandu.
Snorting and foaming horses,
And cheering Nepalese.
Spectators who watch the great chariots
Of Bhairawa and Bhadrakali.
The joy of the fresh air,
In the tranquility of the blue Mahabharat hills,
Where life begins anew.
The blackbirds, finches, thrushes
Twitter and chirp to the glory of Prakriti.
In Springtime we awake with expectations,
Of pleasure and new luck.
The tourists have come.
The mountains are beckoning me.
No, it’s the tourists with dollars,
Who want to be celebrated in the media,
With heroic selfies
O, go not to the mountains, my love.
End not in a crevasse
Or beneath an avalanche.
I shall not cry for you.
My father died for the tourists
On the lap of Chomolungma.
I’m doing it for our children’s education.
The Tibetan wheel turns relentlessly,
O cry with me.
It’s Summer where moist southern winds prevail.
Your body, mind and spirit,
Are one with Nature.
The flowers bloom and cherries get ripe,
‘Kaphal pakyo, kaphal pakyo,’
Sings a a bird.
The day lengthens
And the clouds cannot hide the Surya.
Soon great clouds bring rain.
Indra gives his blessing:
A gift to many,
A curse for few.
The sun shines now
And the leaves sag.
The frogs dive in the pond,
The dragon fly hovers awhile.
There’s life and beauty in this transient world.
Summer brings enduring happiness
To one and all,
When trees blossom and bear fruit.
The paddy planting season is over
In the Vale of Catmandu.
The Newari jyapu farmers sing Newari songs
The sun fills our lives with light,
Positive thoughts prevail.
The wonderful scent of the roses,
Butterflies dancing over Himalayan orchids.
Your fingers touch and feel
The silkiness of the rose petals.
People sing in praise of the cow for eight days.
The holy cows of Catmandu wear garlands.
The prayer wheel turns unceasingly,
O cry with me.
Chilly Autumn arrives soon enough,
The summer flowers,
Those dear friends have gone.
Asters and chrysanthemums still greet us.
People celebrate the festival of lights,
In honour of Goddess Lakshmi.
Even the common crow is worshipped this day.
For the crow is the messenger of Death,
To the Hindus: Yamadoot.
Another day the dog is garlanded and revered,
For he is Bhairab’s steed.
The third day of Tihar belongs to the cow,
The reincarnation of Lakshmi.
If you beat a cow you might be punished
With a life in poverty.
The fruits are ripe now,
Waiting to be harvested.
The sun’s rays become mellow.
The leaves turn golden, russet, brown.
The paths are strewn with dead leaves.
We reflect about our own lives.
The dying leaves,
A metaphor of your short existence,
On this beautiful earth.
With splendour of Summer gone,
We become thoughtful and melancholic.
What has fate in store for us?
In this epoch of Kali Yuga,
Wealth has become the personification
Of success and career.
If the Gurkha survives he comes home,
With presents for his family.
Others remain cremated in foreign lands.
Nothing endures in the cycle of life.
We come, grow up, live our lives
Thereby making place for others.
Akin to the sunflower that ripens,
Provides shade and seeds,
Follows the whims of the sun,
Even green leaves die.
The wheel of life waits for no one,
O, cry with me.
The sky is sunless,
The tree branches look like emaciated humans,
Hands reaching for the sky,
In poses of suspended animation.
The nights are cold and dark,
All seems lifeless, dead, buried,
Beneath the white snow.
No bird sings.
Misty mountains veiled,
With dampness everywhere.
The cold makes the people remain indoors.
Winter means respite,
A time for solitude and contemplation.
Read books, watch DVDs, tell tales,
Time for Kaffeekranz elsewhere,
With the family or friends.
Hush, life is merely asleep outside.
Come Spring and life blooms,
In the meadows, in the woods and gardens.
Worms start tilling the earth.
Even in the cold and darkness of winter,
There are faint signs of life,
In the microcosmos off the beaten path.
Prakriti is regenerating,
Despite the onslaught of the elements:
Snow, wind and rain.
Nature survives and we gather hope.
The old Tibetan wheel turns eternally,
O rejoice with me.
(c) satisshroff,freiburg 2019