When I was 38 and started writing in English, I was fascinated by the American Poet Walt Whitman. Although in the college I had learned about Keats and Shelley and Milton and Shakespeare, I was not introduced to Walt Whitman. I found Walt Whitman as the poet of the masses. Also Walt Whitman was against violence. According to Mahatma Gandhi we should build a violence-less world so that all human beings and animals should live together. Poet Vallathol had sung the world is my family, the grass and the worms are members of my family. This was a great poem that promoted vegetarianism. Mahatma Gandhi was allowed to go to England for further studies only after he took the oath of avoiding meat and sticking to vegetarianism. During this journey in the ship and his life in U.K. he had to protect his vegetarianism. In spite of great temptations, his co-passengers told him that in a cold country like England nobody can live on vegetarian diet but he stuck to his principles and could find a large amount of vegetarians among Englishmen. He became a member of the vegetarian society and stuck to vegetarian diet throughout his stay in England. In India he was told the Englishmen are ruling India because they are meat-eaters and they are tall and strong unlike Indians who are lean and weak because of vegetarian diet.
In 1969, I published the following poem in adoration of Walt Whitman:
Walt, lend me your beard; here, I cover my head under the peasant topi or I expose it to the genitals of the wind. I am a madcap seized by the storm I ride a camel or I sit squatlegged on a rogue elephant.
I prostrate on the floor of the dung hovel or I scatter my seed on the wet lintel. In the city I dine with the cock-eyed girls or talk shop with a crowd of the unwashed. (Walt, I am charmed by the sinner, sin has a purple sheen virtue, the pallor of a nun; Walt, I am the sinner.) I love the warped and the manacled the lines of the dark mangy crowd.
I love the bones, the marrow, the root, the pit from where the green blades shoot. I wring lilacs from coal fashion stars from driftwood. I hold aloft the dripping bird of my soul I lose myself and am lost in the waters or I get charred in the porch of the sun. On the mad breakers I float a carcass or strip my skin and race naked on the sand.
I foul up temples, spit on stone idols and dirty by droppings the house of the President. I kneel not to statutes nor to erudition but I feel great sitting with the unlettered. My soul’s fingers calloused by care I grovel up acres of sweat I knead the victory from the mouldering rain. You speak from a hermetic mantle You are insufferably gentle.
In the aqueduct the worms bloat to hawks by evening the dead arrive in the champagne, accuse the living of the crime. The profit is the rose war is the briar, in the burning loam the roses scent is the scent of death the blown petals blow in the tomb amputated legs kick in the womb. The tower on the forking roads bring to eye the bed of leaves and arms of gold rustle lilacs and birds and a full mouth sings the note of fish and loaves. Can Flesh wed machine and bring to the sunshine sons and daughters that sing. And the machine perspire and remain good.
Published: Poet, February 1969