Saturday, November 10, 2007

Destroying the Buddhas

"The world watched in horror when Taliban forces destroyed the monumental Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001. "
[Click on picture to the right for animation] -->

It's happened again ... more ancient Buddhas destroyed, this time in northwest Pakistan’s Swat valley, where "armed Islamist militants attacked one of the oldest and most important sculptures of Buddhist art. Dating from around the beginning of the Christian era, and carved into a 130-foot-high rock, the seated image of the Buddha was second in importance in South Asia only to the Bamiyan Buddhas." Pakistan: Daily Times, Nov. 5, 2007

The world watches in horror as the carnage continues in the ravages of today's many wars. Which is the more difficult to know: That a beloved, centuries-old icon has been viciously, intentionally obliterated ... or that innocent children continue to be slaughtered in the battles for turf or oil or revenge? We cry for the destroyed Buddhas, we mourn the dead civilians ... but maybe our grief is also because of the truly unconscious, those who continue to shatter the peace, who "flail in rage", and "make holes in the light".

Lament for the Bamiyan Buddhas -- Stephen Sartarelli

Cry not for me, love,
my nothingness
knows nothing
feels nothing
but the breath of earth
unchanging on my changing form

Cry not for the grace
so rare, the visage
almost faceless in the air
of ages rapt in the beauty
of my house of sky

Cry not for that, no,
not for any loving thing
whose placid gaze
would love you only
as you love yourself,

nor for any thing beloved,
no thing to which
you speak your heart,
no holy conduit
of your deepest own serenity,

cry not for that--

our waters rush
as we would lose ourselves
in our own losing
all the same.

Cry only for the man
who would shatter the mirror
of what he might have been,
that dream of manhood
so much more godly
than my memory
of eyes and bones

Cry for the man
who would think he could be
as the tremor that brought down
the stone and lapis skies
of the house of Saint Francis

Cry for him
who would try to breach
the wall of your peace,
make holes in the light

Cry for him
who like a fool
would flail in rage
to make a nothing
of our precious nothing

But cry not for me

(March 2001)
From: Poetry and New Materialities: Volume II (Dickinson Electronic Archives)

Stephen Sartarelli is a poet and also a translator.

No comments: