Today I imagine the words of countless
Languages to be suddenly fetterless -
After long incarceration
In the fortress of Grammar, suddenly up in rebellion.
Maddened by the stamp-stamping
Of unmitigated regimented drilling.
They have jumped the constraints of sentence
To seek free expression in a world rid of intelligence,
Snapping the chains of literary decorum.
By riding words that are bridled and reined
Man has quickened
The pace of time's slow clocks:
The speed of his reason has cut through material blocks,
Explored recalcitrant mysteries;
Drawn into battle-lines he resists the perpetual assault of imbecility.
But sometimes they slip like robbers into the realm of fantasy,
Float on ebbing waters
Of sleep, free of barriers,
Lashing any sort of flotsam and jetsam into metre.
From them, the free-roving mind fashions
Of a kind that do not conform to an orderly
Universe - whose threads are tenuous, loose, arbitrary,
Like a dozen puppies brawling,
Scrambling at each other's necks to no purpose or meaning:
Each bites another -
They squeal and yelp blue murder,
But their bites and yelps carry no true import of enmity,
Their violence is bombast, empty fury.
In my mind I imagine words thus shot of their meaning,
Hordes of them running amuck all day,
As if in the sky there were nonsense nursery syllables booming -
Horselum, bridelum, ridelum, into the fray.
From: 'On my birthday - 20' by Rabindranath Tagore (translated by William Radice).