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During rain, I plant chrysanthemums Gill, Myrna Lakshmi 1965

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DURING; RAIN:;, I PLANT, CHRYSANTHEMUMS MYRNA LAKSHMI GILL B.A. , Western,, Washington. State College, t96b A THESIS SUBMITTED INT PARTIAL. FULFILMENT: OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF Master of Arts. i n the Department, of E n g l i s h We accept, t h i s thesis'; as conforming to the required standard.. THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH- COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1(965 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I f u r t h e r agree that per-m i s s i o n f o r extensive copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i -c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n permissions Department of The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver 8, Canada i ABSTRACT This thesis consists of a group of unrelated poems on subjects seen, i n s h i f t i n g , perspectives. Not. even the t r a d i t i o n a l Absolutes remain s t a t i c : God sometimes i s A. l o v e r , or an abstraction, or a blue beetle. At times the temper i s passion; then again, exhaustion. I have attempt-ed to express the various;, contrasting conditions of the human s p i r i t : f i r e , f r i g i d i t y , chaos., wonder. I f i t seems that the poems have no i n t e g r a l r e l a t i o n to each other,, each poetic cubicle r e f u s i n g to melt i n one body of water, i t is. because I have d e l i b e r a t e l y given them independent, existences-. Even the form i s as varied as the concepts proposed. I f e e l u l t i m a t e l y betrayed by set asser-tions; and solid, u n i t i e s which do not- bend or quake with na-t u r a l forces or human impulses. I see atoms, s w i r l i n g i n the heat of my creative energy, each d i s i n t e g r a t i n g u n i t shedding; divergent, l i g h t s . I cannot see only one atom b r i l l i a n t , enough to guide oneself i n the dark moments: of l i f e — e v e n the atom of Love breaks into psy-ch o l o g i c a l c omplexities—but perhaps; a l l these can bring the S e l f to u t t e r confusion, and to i n s e c u r i t y of l o g i c . Once l o s t , the S e l f senses, only the p r o b a b i l i t i e s of existence, and .thus, e x i s t s ! TABLE OF CONTENTS the a r t i s t •• H-The A r t i s t . Reverts To Female ............... ....... 2: Black Cat., Walk the Thin Fence.... • 3 The B l i n d Man ... k The Centipede • • 5 dhanapalaka. 6 Exhausted Peacock:£»•• 7 I I . 8 I I I 9 , 10 IV 11 V Ii2: VI 1'3, lk The Hunchback. 15 I, A Pr ie ate as. 16 God' s. Passion 17 God, the , Lover. . 18 I do my God *9 To My God 20 Death, I 21 Death, I I 22 A Jade Evening. . 23 Night forms a s o l i d sheet.. Zh On The T h i r d Year A f t e r Her Death. ............. .25,. 26 Rain f a l l s , on the morning's dust.... . . 2 7 Prelude. 28 During r a i n , I plant chrysanthemums. 29 husking coconuts;. 30 God 31 Endeavouring to copulate with God... 32 This i s the way 33 A white b u l l 3k Maya • 35 The Wheel of T a l l 36 To K a l i , 37 Ten Miles to Buddhahood »; 38 Rape of the Ti g e r 39 This i s Geometry: A O The t o i l e t s , ah, the t o i l e t s f 44 An Asian i n America 42 ,: 43 Garret-wits . . . 44 In Vancouver. 45 Kama, God of Love 46.. Young Maria: Milkmaid 4? B u t t e r f l y 48 I the a r t i s t has; plunged: into V o i d — his: a r t i s the path of b i r d s i n f l i g h t : what i s i t ? # The A r t i s t Reverts. To Female leonardo was; l e s s thereby between. created, f i r e and flowing limb a c: r e o p h. a. ~ p i e i f o c in.^ e u. r s,p d i n e the s n k e' s; a P B S 1 * i » 1 e • to the ^ a s; n that f i e r y snake k i l l e d , i n bed. # 3 Black Cat, Walk the Thin Fence Here damn, linoleum, days, t i l e d black white black white trapped, i n the thin: l i n e of h a l f - t r i a n g l e s damn-, aggregate cold, slabs, contrapuntal checks l i n e s angular cut. i n a- strained .pattern But where the black cat walks: the t h i n fence: ridge over grasping;. caverns, walks, my lover High, as a. Chinese mountain pass, i t s points; beyond the s c r o l l s i l e n t l y expanding There Where the black cat walks  the thin- fence walks my lover # 4 The Blind. Man d e s i r i n g to cross, a street sensing someone near him, s a i d , " S i r , i f you w i l l lead me, please." No answer* I r a t e , he asked again. "GodI Your assistance! Show me, man, the way •11 Silence• Angry,, he cried., "Fool. You don't deserve to l i v e . " Catching hold of the s h i r t , he strangled the deaf man. # The Centipede progressing; i n . s e l f - a s s e r t i o n one step yet each, pompous l e g undulating; in. a b l i n d , vast dance of the centipede never touching bearing; forward. the dark b e l l y -arc., is; i t . a procession of servers with soma to amorphous; gods-g l i n t i n g i n uncovered grounds i n a night: f u l l of nuances? or is. i t a cortege bearing a corpse-universe each l e g dragging-through c a s t - o f f space and r e c u r r i n g time an undefined existence? # dhanapalaka bound elephant. w i l l not. eat yearns f o r the grove i n the f o r e s t dhanapalaka an infant, restless. t i l l i t . f i n d s i t s mother's, breast # Exhausted Peacock I. between my l i p s you put a cigarette i n my mind flashes; the miniature Krishna feeding Radha betel-nuts; I rub your night arm with sandal-paste you set aside my lotus-leaves our bodies; heavy with passion succumb a f t e r the seduction and while your sweat pours down my cheek I think of Shiva.1 s temple,, p h a l l i c symbol adoration of centuries, and 1 am dulled* Even here, this, ultimate union i s i t ju s t a mundane r e p e t i t i o n ? I I . across my closed, eyes; s w i r l the colors of love's? l u s t black gold - seeds; hurt&ing- down l i k e Indra * s; thunderbolts i n t o the caves- of Vala. trees are stark, stunted l i k e blunted b i r d s ' beaks the skyline i s agitated. I see Krishna i n the f o r e s t watching.for f u l l - h i p p e d Radha-— your breath cuts, the s t i l l s ; ending my induced movie I l i s t e n to your ominous rumbling clench my teeth and think yes, love, that * ss i t , get over with so I can return to my v i s i o n s . I I I . waking; up, my arm out&tretched. I f i n d you s t i l l here suckling, at my breast I had, hoped, you would be gone. the morning-you d i s p e l s our dream-night t h i s is; too coarse: I see your- hands;' veins: and. h a i r your white flanks;; the night was c o l o r l e s s without l i n e s are thos« the l i p s , that transported me? they're cracked. sometime, t h e y ' l l rot.; once i n a magical night they were immortal but here you are—-a protestant. document, tacked on my door you had entered into a. mythical cathedral but now t h i s room i s a i r l e s s what does one do with a. f a i t h f u l love#? t h i a i s too s t i f l i n g : I must GO Tagore whispers; i n my ear: •once gone, forever going* watching, your finge r on my navel I wonder i f your mother had severed the cord. my cord, hangs from.the skies where Krishna, h i d from.his jewelled cowgirls but as i t . p u l l s me up I w i l l throw down the v e i l to you, my love that you may sleep a while longe IV. exhausted peacocks do not play-on the swing below the mango trees they l i e beside the lotus-pond-watching the shaft and.the l e a f . Prom the p a v i l i o n Krishna's f l u t e -notes twine with jasmines but. s t i l l t h e i r feathers droop t i r e d . o f brandishing the S e l f bellowing- from rooftops " I " " i " " i " "here I am" answering- "here I am" l i k e resonating: S i t a r s t r i n g s but do plucked-out peacocks know from here, where s h a l l " I " go? From Vishnu's> h a i r * black eclipsed-moon Krishna you leap into Lakshmi's l i k e a dazed louse beneath my comb's teeth Too many dragons; stay f o r dinnertime spring; up a f t e r hors d'ouevres and wine to beat out t h e i r b e l l y f u l of f i r e which remains a s p a s t i c cigarette stub scorching only the table top Thrusting;; t h e i r t e r r i b l e tongues int o teacups, which i n disi n t e g r a t i o n . feed the beasts to expansion But I've St. Georged the dragon i t s head my doorknob gargoyle And i n the luxury of my bath I rub my navel: an Aladdin's lamp pregnant with unborn wonders. •1-3. VI. In Asarh month, dark June with i t s hovering-;clouds Krishna d a l l i e s with h i s love loathing;the impending-separation But. the rains are my release I beam i n a n t i c i p a t i o n I love rainsheets, hard. as brass ware l i d s covering each inch of my soul's: vessel Rain l i k e cool Jazz, muffled muted trumpet and steady drum beat making time i n a hot room f u l l of multiple Kafkas Between the alienated Asians are the r a i n s ; not E l i o t i c wastelands.. But I could turn my i s o l a t i o n into rejuvenation Alone, drive my ra i n - c a r around the world quenching p o l i t i c a l f i r e s crashing^through s o c i a l dams My deluge would demolish the walls of China and B e r l i n across the f i e l d s would flow the flooded Indus and when.the f r u i t s are born I would emerge with the rainbow. But.who hasn't seen, that f i l m before? And I abhor seasonal r e e l s of prophets with f l i n g i n g arms and divine sweat pouring; from t h e i r armpits. So 1 s h a l l step aside and. sleep behind the rain=shielda. # The Hunchback Tortoise-stigma, hard-rock my house—God I--please break! I f a l l back on the wet dust from boys* stones, a beast whose knees; f o l d under the pack. # X, A Priestess; I, amid chants perform s a c r i f i c e against a white winter sun while the West thrusts Persephone into that underworld Mine expands into a pale void as. incense smoke ascends (swaying l i k e a Chinese dragon i t s f i r e d a r t i n g everywhere and nowhere) feeding the gods i t s fumes.. 1, amid chants perform s a c r i f i c e i n the sun while the West ejects; pomegranates ASr I watch the mangustan ( i t s f r u i t s l i k e a Benares ware smelted soon i n my furnace-mouth wide and. wild) await the luxury of its- taste. In the monsoon a f t e r the sweat f i n a l season of madness milk flowing from my breasts. # God's Passion Wine flows to Vedici. veins from Sanskrit vineyard Wine flows Gautama bleeds f o r t h i s Communion of man and man Gautama bleeds; Wine flows to Saxon glands from gothic. Rhine lands Wine flows Gautama bleeds f o r t h i s Communion of man and woman Gautama bleeds-Wine flows to t r i b a l organs from A f r i c a n orchards Wine flows; Gautama bleeds; f o r this: Communion of man and. God Gautama bleeds. # God., the, Lover god,the ,.lover, dim-eyed,. i,am,the,engine, ravaging;, him:—insipid., weakling;; i , am, the .rejuvenated., ra v i s h i n g , him; l o v e r , f l i c k e r i n g , ancient., i,am,the,blaze, consuming, him; and., having-, gorged, myself, i ,may ,bloat—pregnant., or,vomit,him. # I do my God I do my God. Only when I do my God Is He. Thus Mahatma's eye showed me. God. does me. Only when He does me am X. Thus Mahatma • s; eye showed me. When 1 undo the God I do Who does me: This is- I d o latry. Thus Mahatma' s. eye showed me• # To My God.. mi caballero I must go. Ataraxy of an. old man i s a timeless e n t i t y . And.. X, who am f i l l e d , with youth rage and quiver with the wind". And. when I turn to gaze at nesting b i r d s , I twinge: know i t i s Time mi caballero I must go. 0 dolor, mi amor why am I tangled i n b i r d s ' nests? # Death , I an: so very am so haunted by that hooded blue monk who throws h i s black face In my brain* s imaginings urging, urging; that 1 follow the maze of lacerated l i f e to the uncovering of his: dark sun wherein is; the Potion # Death, ; I I man-meat yea r l y he fed a red. infant crocodile i t * mouth: a. huge yawning Hunger; t i l l that year i t snapped the a i r and i n fear he gave himself thinking to appease red croco-d i l e : and a f t e r the feeding..yearly i t was; hungry again. # A. Jade Evening a. jade evening, clasps around, me the many arms of Buddha., and i f e e l the bondage of Void descending innumerable steps of a Hong Kong stre e t i see below a beckoning ruby glo and f i n d i n the glowing-pits the freedom of Passion # Night, forms: a s o l i d sheet Night': forms; a s o l i d ' sheet across t h e i r window and. they begin to tremble The elephant, they read, i s slow to mate but we are not beasts, he whispers then s h a l l we be quick?, she murmurs; we are not beasts, he whispers The elephant, they read, i s slow to mat and they begin to tremble across t h e i r window night forms a so l i d - sheet he s l i t s . # 2 1 On The T h i r d Year A f t e r Her Death. Under the bodhi-tree i n the third, watch 1 attained Samma-sambuddh Thus; Buddha beheld  L i f e ' s; upward stages 1 ong-1 inked, from levels, low  Where breath i s base, to higher slopes: and higher  Whereon the Ten Great Virtues wait to lead  the climber skyward. Five hundred l i v e s and f i f t y f l i t t i n g up the h i l l s ; and i n the multitude of me I see my s i s t e r , s i s t e r s t i l l ? In the rec u r r i n g - p r e c i p i c e s my face again and again w h i r l i n g i n a thousand ridges; Yes, vast bridges tremble i n the weight of me and my s i s t e r , s i s t e r s t i l l ? And i n the mountain-summit Our Lord attained Abhidjna-—-insight vast  Ranging beyond this, sphere to spheres unnamed,  System on system, countless worlds and suns  Moving i n splendid measures, band by band  Linked i n d i v i s i o n , one, yet separate 26 Where the body is; wind-numbed each word spoken becoming, wind disp e r s i n g i n space without time t i l l wordlessness overcomes Kalpas, Mahakalpas, and my s i s t e r , s i s t e r s t i l l ? I gaze at; my ancient neighbors and at the r e s t of me ascending the mountain backs and fingers; bent to the s t i c k and the unborn dead i n the v a l l e y doubled-up as i n a basin My s i s t e r , s i s t e r s t i l l ? The wind that f i l l s my wounds, eroding my skin i s i t . she released- from the earth sculpturing- with tender fingers; out of the thousand, nameless 1 ai change which never changes? She and I are Released from a l l the Skandhas of the f l e s h ;  Broken from ties--from Upadanas—saved  From w h i r l i n g on the Wheel, aroused and sane  As i s a man wakened from h a t e f u l dreams« # Rain f a l l s on the morning's dust Rain f a l l s on the morning's-. dust and.our discussion ends. Evening b i r d s begin t h e i r chant, with temple b e l l s . I open the shutters; you, the wine and we release our ghost. # Prelude i close the gates* moon-shadows begin t h e i r game, i close the doorii lying;on our mat, i see your shadow behind the screen # During; rain., I plant- chrysanthemums During r a i n , I plant chrysanthemums where the s o i l is; s o f t and wet and srtring orchids; together f o r my lover sleeping behind the reed screen on feather p i l l o w s . husking; coconuts husking coconuts beneath the palm i look across the sea the sun i s gone! the sea l i n e i s i n d i s c e r n i b l e and i wonder i f i am: here. # God was a blue beetle on. an elephant's head who had. elephantine ideas and f e # Endeavouring to copulate with God, i Endeavouring to copulate with God 0 is; Insanity* He's too feeble* Without energy* But: I love Him 0 f o r pure j.oy of Inanity! # 33 This; i s the way This; i s the way a pink heron eats, a green carabao: i t s p i t s on the r i c e - f i e l d s perches on the dumbbeast's neck and. pecks; the pink heron, i t ' s ; stubborn. It, w i l l peck u n t i l i t reaches the bone. # A white b u l l A white b u l l ties, to i t s belly-black wings of a t.o defy g r a v i t y . # Maya. two crossed s t i c k s do not. two crossed, s t i c k s make a c c h r i s t i a n says to take them as a symbol mathematics shows us p o s i t i v e l y though that two s t i c k s are j u s t so and that i s l o g i c two crossed s t i c k s are neither two nor magic both are a delusion; s t i c k s are an I l l u s i o n . # The Wheel of T a i l " I f you're passing; by,. Boethius, cut me loose from this; wheel of t a i l . Like the mad dog, I chase my own i n a c i r c l i n g gale of generation a f t e r generation and.I've forgotten where t h i s thing' begins; or ends;." "Such is; l i f e , " he said, and came with h i s k n i f e . I bled a lot. but blood clots,. # To K a l i X* A door l i e s between us the key K a l i , is. under the mat take i t IX. Destroy me K a l i , I beseech my destruction i s , K a l i your l i f e I I I . At t w i l i g h t K a l i , come k i l l me I w i l l be i n your bosom at dawn # 38 Ten Miles, to Buddhahood I see the gong's; g o l d b a l l poised i n the distance a pea i n my b r a i n and there are ten miles to make Sun from the gravel heat; my bare feet and, the p e t r i f i e d , sparrow is, burrowed, on the bough Rain, s l i c e s earth f i l l i n g my f e e t - c r e v i c e s and. the Chinese concubine p l a i t s her h a i r by her lord.' s; bed S t i l l there are ten miles; between my right, and- l e f t ears where the bodhi-tree stands. # 3.9, Rape of the TdLger the snake sunlight,. s l i t h e r s into the den and sucks: the sleeping t i g e r bleeding; t i g e r crtawl i n your cave and bleed u n t i l you can bleed-. no morel the ming vase moonlight-shows it s ; face i n your den and makes; you i t s ; ornament. bleeding t i g e r crawl i n your cave and bleed. u n t i l you can bleed. no morel Godl Now l e t the t i g e r be ugly, then may the mystic of t w i l i g h t , appear with his; Love. # This is; Geometry: there are two f o c i His; and. mine; there i s no Confusion. The problem dawns when two l i n e s are drawn across the e l l i p s e which make Tangent~ and an angle of Morals;: This i s P r o s t i t u t i o n . # The toilets;, ah, the toilets;! Ten cents; w i l l give you comfort Bowls clean, white clean set o f f the Negress attendant, Deodorized, ammonianized Make you f e e l C i v i l i z e d Nothing;like an American t o i l e t They b o i l i t and- b o i l i t squeeze t h e i r d i r t out t h e i r hands; undefiled-But the Indian open f i e l d s where a man returns to earth what he receives rubs sand on himself and delights; i n the f r i c t i o n that sensation the American has dulled* # An Asian in. America. is; preposterously paranoic-pathetic shrinks from each stoics passerby' s eye notes the Difference c a l c u l a t e s h i s accent, crawls; to a corner and dies at the f i r s t i n t e r j e c t i o n of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n but-revives at the second and sends a s p i t t l e on a statue of some hero who saved his; land without demands of 99-year sugar lease and s t i l l generously l e f t babies* He 1 a; b l a r i n g l y Asian b l a t a n t l y . dark-haired, and dark-skinned-cons tan t l y notes the Difference r e j e c t s a l l i a n c e s denies allegiances to Union f l a g s and a l l that i n taste always a r i s t o c r a t i c no Woolworth framed landscape hangs on his: wall He'd rather he hanged, himself or h i s soul and., worst of a l l -leaves rows and rows of 1i9.-cent. hamburgers alone yearns f o r his. dog-meat at home picks up h i s culture and goesj-Garret-wits Garret-wits gone to the Ganges Ginsberg i n blue swimming trunks bathed, with dead cows, Orlovsky near the ghat watched burning bodies, Insulated i n Vancouver g a l l e r i e s an A f r i c a n dark f e t i s h beggar's bowl, neck rings roped*-in curios, racked., colored rugs remind v i s i t o r s there's an A f r i c a out there I where Peace Corps g i r l s marry the c h i e f ' s sons and white seeds s p i l l on black sands,. The scholar translates Basho and L i Po i s pounded out a f t e r the August harvest gathered into the barn by blonde-bearded L i p o i t e s awed with the Yangtze. We'll get our time-machine yet before the Tower of Babel deal Be One People, no black, no white just one glorious? Grey or blah.'r # In Vancouver I'd hate to grow olcL i n t h i s country with i t s wintry a r t h r i t i c r a i n and scanty limb-crackling summer. Walking near V i c t o r y Square I see a withering man mumbling to the monument. and I remember grandmother i n India d r i n k i n g soma-juice with her sons; and grand-daughters t i l l evening. # Kama, God of Love Kama, concealed.behind, the curtain. with:.two oranges come tear away your hot;, swords from^my b r e a s t - — the mango tree a bulk i n the shadow i w i l l chop down and-build a house without doors open.only to the sky. # Young; Maria: Milkmaid, Young; Maria, ; milkmaid couched beneath- her mother 1 s umbrella,, as i t : sunned, and, rained, watched, her lover kick her p a i l as her milk dried,-at her nipples* # B u t t e r f l y cocoon-freed., f l u t t e r s smashes against, the pane i watch_ and turn away # 

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