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Ajneya (Sachchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan 'Agyeya')

Tightrope Dancer

There is a taut rope
On which I dance. The taut rope
On which I dance stretches between two poles.
What I dance on the rope
Is the dance from one pole to the other.
The taut rope stretched between two poles on which I dance
Is flooded with bright light
In which people see my dance ---
Not me who dances
Not the rope on which I dance
Not the poles between which the rope is stretched
Not even the light in which the dance is seen :
People see only the dance.

But the dance which I dance
On the rope I dance on
Between the poles on which it is stretched
In the light in which it is seen ---
In that light

Between those poles
On that stretch of rope
In truth I do not dance

I only move from pole to pole, seeking
To loosen the rope
To ease the pull
So I might make my escape.

But the tension does not ease
And I move from that pole to this
The tension continues
Nothing changes.

And that is the dance which people see
Not me who dances
Not the rope
Not the poles
Not the flood of light
Not even the tautness
They see
The Dance.

Translated by the poet


I got up this morning, when the sun burst forth and spread everywhere
And one bird had just begun to sing.
I said to the sun: will you give me a little warmth, on credit ?
I said to the bird: will you loan me a bit of sweetness ?
I asked a blade of grass: will you give me a sliver of greenery–
One thorny twig?
I asked the trumpet-flower: will you lend me some light–
A handful of brightness ?
I appealed to the wind: a little open space– just one breath;
To the wave: one thrill of joy.
I requested of the sky
Boundlessness in the blink of an eye– on loan.

I asked them all for a loan, and all gave it.
Thus I lived and still live
Because these things are life itself–
Warmth, sweetness, greenery, radiance,
The sweet breezes of freedom, open space,
Suppleness, delight, the rippling current,
And magnificent consciousness
Of the infinite and the undivided:
All these things I got on credit.

In the lonely darkness of the night
I awoke from a dream, in which
A formless unknown cried out,
And asked me: “Why, sir,
Is this life of yours
So dappled with experiences ?
How wealthy you are–
Will you give me a little love on loan ?
I’ll pay it back a hundredfold–
And that amount too I will multiply a hundred times–
As soon as I return.”

I said: Love ? Loan ?
My voice faltered, because
Such dealings were beyond my experience.
The unseen formless one said: “Yes,
Because all these things are love itself–
This loneliness, this impatience,
This confusion, this agitation,
anguish, inexperience,
This searching, this wondering, this helplessness,
the agony of separation,
Waking in this darkness to realize suddenly that
Mine is the very thing that is beyond me.
You have all this,
So give me a little bit– a loan– this one time–
The thing that I need so desperately.”

He said this,
But alone in the darkness of the night,
I was terrified and remained silent; until now I am silent still:
I am afraid to give a loan
To that unseen stranger:
Who knows
Who he is, this beggar!

Translated by Chloe Martinez

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