Monday, May 26, 2014

Song of India

I offer my 2006 poem as a reflection and prayer for India at the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

I wrote this poem during my first visit to India, a three-week journey that included time spent exploring Kolkata, Hyderabad, Nagpur, and Mumbai. I tried to take in the heart and soul of the nation as I learned some of its layered history, travails, and breakthroughs, as well as through many conversations with people. I put the words together in the third week of the journey. 

I returned the next year and pedaled a bicycle 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from Kanyakumari--the most southern tip of India--to Delhi, taking six weeks to absorb the fascinating range of the people, terrain, and challenges of India. I reflected again on what I had written a year earlier. I decided not to change a thing.

Today, with the inauguration of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India after a landslide victory for his BJP party, in what appears to me to be a culture-wide heart-cry for an end to corrupt practices in many aspects of India's life, I offer my poem, "Song of India," as a reflection and prayer for all of India's people.

Song of India

Ancient Mother

River wide
Flowing onward
Rising tide

Ever seeking
Gods untold
Bows in worship
Yearning soul

Gracious welcome
So betrayed
Meanly plundered

Deeply longing
To be free
Confronts power

Modern nation
On the go
Ardent striver
Watch her grow

Many peoples
Tongues and tribes
Past and present
Side by side

Changing faces
Caste aside?
Or revert to
Social pride?

Crucial moment
Now to see
Grace and justice


My daily reflections on my bike ride through India are at

John Franklin Hay 
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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