Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cow knowledge

This photo was taken from a moving vehicle, hence the blur. It's an image on the side of a truck in Varanasi.

I am reminded today of the difficulty of learning new languages. This afternoon I walked down to the local shops and market here in Kotturpuram, Chennai and bought a book for children learning to write in Tamil.

The following poem was written during the Sanskrit Summer School in Feb 2009.

Sanskrit cow dp63a

From the cow comes a method of learning,
four footed and sure.

Curled around the first foot is the teacher,
the knower, the one who will inspire you
to take that stretch, parse that sentence,
finish that translation, understand that construction.

On the second foot is the student, the driven one
who spends all afternoon finding the right ya
out of forty-seven uses, who drives friends
crazy with complexity.

With foot number three is a crowd of students,
the one you sang with on the beach, the one who
untangled a phrase with elegant simplicity,
the one who understood your linguistic clumsiness.

Cow foot four is the most uncertain. It’s the dragging
foot and the fast-paced foot, always behind,
forever ahead. There is never enough of it,
for time cannot be confined.

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