Translated by: David Ravin

Oh yes, friend ! I'm crazy-
that's just the way I am.


I see sounds,
I hear sights,
I taste smells,
I touch not heaven but things from the underworld,
things people do not believe exist,
whose shapes the world does not suspect.
Stones I see as flowers,
lying water-smothered by the water's edge,
rocks of tender forms
in the moonlight
when the heavenly sorceress smiles at me,
putting out leaves, softening, glistening,
throbbing, they rise up like mute maniacs,
like flowers, a kind of moon-bird's flowers.
I talk to them the way they talk to me,
a language, friend,
that can't be written or printed or spoken,
can't be understood, can't be heard.
Their language comes in ripples to the moonlit Ganges banks,
ripple by ripple..
Oh yes, friend ! I am crazy-
that's just the way I am.


You're clever, quick with words,
your exact equations are right forever and forever.
But in my arithmetic take one from one...
and there's still one left.
You get along with five senses,
I with a sixth.
You have a brain, friend,
I have a heart.
A rose is just a rose to you...
to me it's Helen and Padmaini.
You are forceful prose,
I liquid verse.
When you freeze I melt,
when you're clear I get muddled
and then it works the other way round.
Your world is solid,
mine vapor,
yours coarse, mine subtle.
You think a stone reality;
harsh cruelty is real for you.
I try to catch a dream,
the way you grasp the rounded truth of cold, sweet coin.
I have the sharpness of the thorn,
You think the hills are mute...
I call them eloquent.
Oh yes, friend !
I'm free in my inebriation-
that's just the way I am.


In the cold of the month of Magh
I sat
warming to the first white heat of the star.
The world called me drifty.
When they saw me staring blankly for seven days
after I came back form the burning ghats
they said I was a spook.
When I saw the first marks of the snows of time
in a beautiful woman's hair
I wept for three days. When the Buddha touched my soul
they said I was raving.
They called me a lunatic because I danced
when I heard the first spring cuckoo.
One dead-quite moon night
breathless I leapt to my feet,
filled with the pain of destruction.
On that occasion the fools
put me in the stocks.
One day I sang with the storm...
the wise men
sent me off to Ranchi*.
Realizing that same day I myself would die
I stretched out on my bed.
A friend came along and pinched me hard
and said, Hey, madman,
your flesh isn't dead yet !
For years these things went on.
I'm crazy, friend-
that's just the way I am.


I called the Nawab's wine blood,
the painted whore a corpse,
and the ding a pauper.
I attacked Alexander with insults,
and denounced the so-called great souls.
The lowly I have raised on the bridge of praise
to the seventh heaven.
Your learned pundit is my great fool,
your gold my iron,
friend ! your piety my sin.
Where you see yourself as brilliant
I find you a dolt.
Your rise, friend-my decline.
that's the way our values are mixed up,
friend !
Your whole world is a hair to me.
Oh yes, friend, I'm moonstruck through and through-
moonstruck !
That's just the way I am.


I see the blind man as the people's guide,
the ascetic in his cave a deserter;
those who act in the theater of lies
I see as dark buffoons.
Those who fail I find successful,
and progress only backsliding.
Am I squint-eyed,
or just crazy?
Friend, I'm crazy.
Look at the withered tongues of shameless leaders,
the dance of the whores
at breaking the backbone of the people's rights.
When the sparrow-headed newsprint spreads its black lies
in a web of falsehood
to challenge Rason-the hero in myself-
my cheeks turn red, friend,
red as molten coal.
When simple people drink dark poison with their ears
thinking it nectar-
and right before my eyes, friend !-
then every hair on me maddened !
When I see the tiger daring to eat the deer, friend,
or the big fish the little,
then into my rotten bones there comes
the terrible strength of the soul of Dadhichi**
and tries to speak, friend,
like the stormy day crashing down from heaven
with the lightning.
When man regards a man
as not a man, friend,
then my teeth grind together, all thirty-two,
top and bottom jaws,
like the teeth of Bhimasena.***
And then
red with rage my eyeballs roll
round and round, with one sweep
like a lashing flame
taking in this inhuman human world.
My organs leap out of their frames-
uproar ! uproar !
My breathing becomes a storm,
my face distorted, my brain on fire, friend !
with a fire like those that burn beneath the sea,
like the fire that devours the forests,
frenzied, friend !
as one who would swallow the wide world raw.
Oh yes, my friend,
the beautiful chakora am I,
destroyer of the ugly,
both tender and cruel,
the bird that steals the heaven's fire,
child of the tempest,
spew of the insane volcano,
terror incarnate.
Oh yes, friend,
my brain is whirling, whirling-
that's just the way I am.