A Hundred Years From Now

for Rabindranath Tagore

 

At the dawn of the 21st century

in this era of war and deaths

my soul seeks refuge in poetry

though no one writes like Wordsworth

or Keats because lakes have dried

and daffodils do not bloom to inspire

the poets—the sylvan vase no more

impresses them to find a seam

between truth and beauty

Once the world of innocence

the world Blake portrayed in his poetry

was the world readers would dream

to build—now experience fraught with

greed flares up all over

We have witnessed world wars

and read The Waste Land

still millions have taken the road

Frost declined to pass through

Now we write elegies for Aylan Kurdi

for thousands of other children too

We write poems on mass migration

on Syria, Palestine, Myanmar

on chilling Charlie Hebdo tragedy

and Manhattan massacre

or on Rana Plaza disaster

But what else should I take refuge in

if not poetry, if not the words

written for a world free from war

and violence and blood?

Sitting under a tree without leaves

by the bank of a river without water

near a field without grass

I see a young poet writing a new poem

after 100 years on tree, field, river

and flower in imagination—

imagination indeed creates poetry

From this heated globe

from the world of the dying

with this bleeding heart

I send my love to the young poet

my best wishes for a better world

Many things will be extinct after 100 years

Forms will transform

Even the deathless will be forgotten

but words will continue to live

mm

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam is the author of two poetry collections, most recently Inner State (Daily Star Books, 2020), and translator of Humayun Ahmed: Selected Short Stories and Aphorisms of Humayun Azad. In February 2017, he was a poet-in-residence at the Anuvad Arts Festival, India, and his poetry and translation have appeared in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Poem: International English Language Quarterly, Critical Survey, Stag Hill Literary Journal, SNReview, Reckoning, Dibur Literary Journal, Lunch Ticket, Bengal Lights, Armarolla, and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in a number of books, including The Book of Dhaka: A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK). Currently at work on a few translation projects such as The Letters of Kazi Nazrul Islam, Dr Islam is Associate Professor of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *