The Hindu’s Lament

As I passed a lonely temple in the after-evening glow,
On the banks of the Ganges where the quiet waters flow,
When the sun had sunk to rest and cool softness touched the air,
I saw a dark-skinned Indian and I heard him chant this prayer:

Bhagwan!  Bhagwan!*
You have snatched away my lantern,
And left without a light,
My feet now tread in darkness,
Where once it all was bright.
Can I endure my life
When my dear, dear wife
Is ashes, Bhagwan?
Bhagwan!  Bhagwan!

He raised his hands to heaven then he bowed down to the ground.
He wept in aching sorrow with no whisper of a sound.
I heard the water lapping where the river met the sands.
He rose from off the flagstones and again stretched forth his hands.

Bhagwan!  Bhagwan!
You have snatched away my lantern,
My light of life is gone,
My heart will be in darkness
Where once she brightly shone.
Can I endure my life
When my dear, dear wife
Is ashes, Bhagwan?
Bhagwan!  Bhagwan!

My heart brimmed bitter sadness as I left the temple shrine,
The pain of that poor Indian was soul-wedged into mine.
And still do I remember, though the years have passed me by,
The hands outstretched to heaven and the anguish in that cry:

Bhagwan!  Bhagwan!


*”Bhagwan!  Bhagwan!” means  “O God! O God!”



Circles that flash with pleasures of fire,
Fire that shoots to bowels and brain;
Circles of soft and slippery pleasure,
Circles that fill and circles that drain.

Circles touching with sinewy softness,
Softness as hard as ramrod or stake;
Circles that sweep to planet’ry heavens,
Circles to dream as if never to wake.

Circles as soft as the touch of fine silk,
Silk smoothly slick as the slimmest of sheaths;
Circles a-swirl with wondrous tingles,
Circles which make one forget that one breathes.

Circles that drown in riotous colours,
Colours in combat, in glorious strife;
Circles cry out the meaning of loving,
Circles in death, exploding to life!


Edmund Jonah was born in Calcutta, India to Iraqi Jewish parents. He discovered his love of words, music and film at a very early age.  At age 22, he emigrated to the U.K. where he married. 10 years later he and his wife moved with their 7 month old daughter to Israel, where they produced two boys. They now have 3 granddaughters. He has his book, ‘Yeshua!’ published and several of his stories have appeared in Magazines and Anthologies world-wide. He is one of the founding members of English Theatre in Israel and of the Shakespeare Reading Circle in Tel-Aviv. He is now retired but lectures on several subjects all around the centre of the country.

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5 Responses

  1. Sathyanarayana Mydavolu

    In India we treat Ganges or Ganga as a holy river that descended at yore. The waters of Ganga are really pure and medicinal. It’s believed that those who breathe last in Ganga waters or at Her shores would attain Moksha or Nirvana. Those suffering from terminal illness and old persons waiting for death come and live at the shores of Ganga waiting for death. Everyday they visit the holy temple of Kasi Vishwanatha, have darshan and return to the shores till night waiting for that fateful moment. There at special cottages and ashrams at the holy pilgrim center of Varanasi for such people. interesting fact is that those who take to asceticism, become monks spend days at the shores praying Mother Ganga to give them leave to start their spiritual practice (penance or tapas). Dear Edmund Jonah, thanks for sharing this wonderful and touching poem.

    • Monty

      I was once in Varanasi for the river-blessing at dusk; one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever felt.

  2. David Hollywood

    The Hindu’s Lament is very evocative description of the environment and strong sense of ethereal feelings often discerned in India, and even though a sad story I could intuit what was experienced there. Plus, I really enjoyed the balanced structure and continuity of the poem. Thank you.

  3. David Watt

    “The Hindu’s Lament” evokes a rich sense of place, emotional attachment, and genuine distress. This is a strong poem, and well-constructed.

  4. David Gosselin

    Interesting and original pieces sir.

    I’m very impressed by this Shakespeare reading circle in Tel Aviv.

    I had written a piece in defense of Shakespeare against the all too common Romantic readings of his sonnets, and the new modernist narratives that have imposed themselves on his work. It also includes the most recent work on Shakespeare in his personal life, using the work of Hildegard Ham­mer­­schmidt-Hum­mel, a German Shakespeare scholar who took a very scientific approach in her investigation, something she’s been renown for. However, the article brings attention to some of ambiguities that pronounce themselves once we’re actually tasked with the recitation of his sonnets, where one has to glean the intention in a way which forces us to confront some of the glaring paradoxes, which are often hidden in plane sight. Notably, with ironies such as that in sonnet #116.

    Feel free to check it, we’re always interested in feedback as well. I’ll be launching a recitation project very shortly, which may perhaps be of interest.




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