Well. I'm back.

The past few days have been unusual, but, then again with the changing weather, festivity and frequent weird little occurrences, the line between the bizarre and the mundane seems to have faded away.

Today I have poem to offer. Usually my poems are nonsensical or flippantly breezy but yesterday what I wrote was something new to me. It's serious poem. It sort of has a message. Really.

Well the process took considerably more time than a nonsense verse. After getting some inspiration, ideation took a few days, research took about a day and I had to give an entire Sunday for writing. In short, this had been the focal point of all my thoughts for more or less a week. Read the poem first, explanations and the epilogue will follow.


The engine of the Austin
Rumbled as it went along.
There was a fervid bustle outside,
But the car's passengers had not spoken for long.

'Please', a sudden voice broke the stillness
'Let me take your place.'
There was pleading in his voice,
but no eagerness in his face.

Quảng Đức looked up,
his features somewhat taut.
'Never do something for which you are not inclined
And for this,dear - you are not.'

His countenance became gentle once more
and he placed a hand on his disciple's cheek.
He smiled comfortingly and whispered -
'This path may not be what you seek.'

The disciple held back tears
then looked out the rolled up glass.
Their destination was reached.
The moment had come at last.

Quảng Đức disembarked unhurriedly
He took it as any other day.
A goal in sight,
A role to play.

His disciples meanwhile prepared everything.
Readied the loudspeaker; readied the seat;
readied the banners and themselves
for they were about to see.

With the loudspeaker in hand,
Đức's followers spoke about their people.
About the violence and injustice they faced in Diem's rule,
about the downtrodden and the feeble.

Around Đức, a ring of men
formed an impenetrable chain.
pedestrians and policemen alike,
stopped to watch on the busy Saigon lane.

Quảng Đức, sat in the centre.
He breathed placidity and calm.
telling the beads of the rosary,
he signalled that there was no cause for alarm.

'A homage to Buddha' were his final words
As he closed his eyes for the final time.
From a five gallon gasoline tank, a disciple
poured all the contents over his mentor sublime.

Screams erupted from the distance,
but nobody moved an inch
as Quảng Đức struck a match and then
dropped it on his lap without a flinch.

The tiny flame magnified within moments
into a blaze engulfing Đức
Who sat with his eyes closed
projectng a composed and contented look.

There were cries from here and there.
Wailings of anger and protest.
Policemen tried to clear the barricade
of people unmidful of arrest.

The authorities could not intervene
to save the life of this priest
who sat still, peacefully, impassively
even as his destroyer's crest increased.

All those bearing witness, prostrated
before the dying man
Who was, moment by moment, breathing life
into the hopes of all those oppressed in the land.

The monk's faced charred
And the trunk began to blacken.
The body was reduced to cinders
Finally he had died - his posture slackened.

The glowing tower of ashes
gently toppled forward.
A pupil rushed to cover the corpse with a yellow robe.
As thick smoke wandered skyward.

The bystanders watched the clergy
winding up the procession.
They stood still, too shocked
to cry, to move, to show expression.

Meanwhile, sparks of revolt
had been planted far and wide.
Like cracks spreading fast in glass,
the existing rule was crumbling from inside.

That evening as Saigon's mourning residents
were about to turn in for a restful sleep,
They saw a doleful vision amidst the setting sun -
they claimed to see a vision of the Buddha weep.

The first photo you saw is of Thích Quảng Đức, taken by journalist Malcolm Browne, similar to the World Press Photograph of the year 1963(it's copyright and a lot more graphic). That is what inspired me (obviously), and in part so did one of Mystique's posts.

Diem's rule came to an end shortly, with an army coup toppling and killing Diệm that November. The self-immolation is widely seen as the turning point of the Vietnamese Buddhist crisis which led to the change in regime.

Quảng Đức's body was recremated and it was found that his heart did not burn. It was taken to be a symbol of compassion and he was regarded as a bodhisattva (leading an enlightened existence).

The context of the final stanza was so eerie that it made my skin prickly with goosebumps.

It may not be my best poem, I may not have touched poetic excellence, but there's something about this piece which makes me proud I wrote it.


Asneel said...

little long, isn't it? 20 or 21 stanzas? well neways, I'm proud too. :D

Espèra said...

It. Is. Creepy.
And Awesome.

You built the atmosphere quite well and carefully. And since it is based on real incidents, I can imagine how hard it was to write this poem. But that makes it even better.
It is quite long.
I'd have given up halfway through it because I just can't seem to make things rhyme.

And, BTW, I heard 'But It Rained' (Parikrama). I'd gone back to Mystique's post to see if there were any songs anyone had suggested. So.

nesta said...

O god. this reminds me of a dream I had once. it was chilling. powerful.cautionary. ifeel high.

Quicksilver said...

asneel -

thanks , really this time.

espera -

thanks to you too, you flatter me *face reddens*.
Oh, you heard 'But it rained' ?Don't watch the video though, it kinda sucks. if you want more rock, try and listen to voice by pentagram, k?

nesta -

Calm down, nesta. It's alright.

Espèra said...

Yeah I've heard Voice.
When I'd heard it, I didn't know Pentagram was an Indian band (it is, right?). It's more of electronic, that song is.

Espèra said...

I notice you've removed the verification. Nice.

Quicksilver said...

And how was Voice ?

It is Indian, yes. And here's a fun fact : the lead vocals for the band is supplied by Vishal Dadlani of Vishal-Shekhar. remember the song Krazzy 4 ? now make a connection b/w the voices.
There you go.

Yeah, I'm glad too. verification sometimes proved to be too annoying. It just had to go.

Espèra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quicksilver said...

O_0 Omigod...so you're one of those studious people ?

Espèra said...

I think you didn't read it properly.
Let me reiterate: " ... but not by a margin wide enough to get me an 80% aggregate."

(Rereading it now, I think I do sound like a prat, complaining about my marks in the typical oh-no-I'm-such-a-genius-I-deserve-better way. I don't mean that, just BTW.)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful poetry!!