arbitrary stuff that comes to mind: whenever I feel like thinking aloud

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In the name of those who have died for causes not of their own choosing



A man’s destination is his own village,
His own fire, and his wife’s cooking;
To sit in front of his own door at sunset
And see his grandson, and his neighbour’s grandson
Playing in the dust together.



I have been spending some time with TS Eliot, just recently.

I came to him by way of Yukio Mishima: I had been engrossed in his tetralogy "The Sea of Fertility"; Mishima's great exploration of reincarnation and the mind of the Japanese person up to the mid 20th century.

Elliott was an admirer of the Bhagavad-Gita: so I looked for some poetry there to make some connections.

I don't know why I chose Mishima to close off our first steps into the 21st century, maybe because it has been such a violent decade, when we had been expecting (maybe wishfully hopeful) a saner world.

And this is the poem that spoke most strongly to me. So many soldiers have died, and continue to die in causes far removed from their childhoods, and in defence against ideas that are driven by emotion rather than reason

A man’s destination is not his destiny,
Every country is home to one man
And exile to another. Where a man dies bravely
At one with his destiny, that soil is his.
Let his village remember.


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The Military cemetery is in the neighborhood of Dundee: at Talana Hill, it is one of many scattered throughout the Natal Midlands. It is the final resting place for British troops who died during the Anglo Boer war.
Click the link to read "To the Indians who died in Africa".

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