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  • No One Visible
  • Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

vahati na puraḥ kaścit paścānna ko'py anuyāti māṃna ca navapadakṣuṇṇo mārgaḥ kathaṃ nvaham ekakaḥbhavatu viditaṃ pūrvavyūḍho'dhunā khilatāṃ gataḥsa khalu bahalo vāmaḥ panthā mayā sphuṭam urjitaḥ

  • vahati. goes

  • na. not

  • puraḥ. before, ahead

  • kaścit. anyone

  • paścāt. after, behind

  • na. not (no one)

  • ko'pi. someone

  • anuyāti. follows

  • māṃ. me

  • na. not

  • ca. and

  • nava-pada-kśuṇṇo. (bv. cmpd. with mārga) new-footprint-trod

  • mārgaḥ. road

  • kathaṃ. how

  • nu. now

  • aham. I (am)

  • ekakaḥ. alone, solitary

  • bhavatu. let it be

  • viditaṃ. known

  • pūrva-vyūḍho. of the old masters, men of meters (poets)

  • adhunā. now

  • khilatāṃ. deserted, barren, wasteland

  • gataḥ. the way

  • sa. the, it

  • khalu. indeed

  • bahalo. bushy, dense, thick, choked

  • vāmaḥ. pleasant, agreeable; also, wrong, left-handed

  • panthā. road, highway

  • mayā. by me

  • sphuṭam. clearly, evidently

  • urjitaḥ. abandoned [End Page 84]

No one visible up ahead,no one approachesfrom behind.No fresh footprint breaks the road.Am I alone?This much is clear—the path the ancientpoets openedis choked with brush,and I’ve long since leftthe public thoroughfare.

Nobody’s said it better. Poetry is a solitary, bitter path. In art as in all spiritual pursuits, you travel alone. You cannot even follow the dead. Their way closed up behind them—it is bahalo, brush filled, thick, choked off. And the easy road—the road taken by groupies, devotees, followers, or fans—has a thousand sideshows but won’t lead to the goal. Good art is what the solitary poet (or theater troupe, or orchestra) brings back to the community. The word vāmaha, which Dharmakīrti uses to characterize the common road, can mean broad and pleasant, or left-handed, deviant, crooked, misleading. Rarely has anyone put this double meaning to such use. The pūrva-vyuḍha are the old masters, the ancients. The term could refer to spiritual masters, but as this is a poem, I take it to mean poets. One definition the dictionary gives is “those who use meters,” that is, writers of poetry. [End Page 85]

Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling, born in 1953 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., has written, edited, or translated twenty books. Early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam, plus an encounter with India’s texts, set him on a lifelong engagement with Asian literature. He studied Sanskrit at the University of California at Berkeley, and began to translate from its classical poetry tradition around 1978. His first book, Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India, received the Academy of American Poets translation award in 1992, the first time the Academy had honored work done from an Asian language. Schelling’s own poetry and essays emerge from the Southern Rocky Mountain bioregion in which he lives. Recent books of poetry wrangle with the Arapaho language as a way of reading landscape and the natural cycles; they include From the Arapaho Songbook and A Possible Bag. He has edited The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature and Love and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual and Erotic Longing (forthcoming from Counterpoint Press). Living on the Front Range of Colorado, he is active on land-use issues and teaches at Naropa University. He also teaches regularly at Deer Park Institute, in India’s Himalayan foothills.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 84-85
Launched on MUSE
2014-03-12
Open Access
No
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