a rubaiyat

Step gently O’ my boy, this ‘s your first day…
light-footed sweet and slow… on sinking clay.
A farmer’s school, this paddy field O’ son,
this’s where you read and learn a yeoman’s way.
Ye bow to the earth and take her benison.
Here she’s the text and sky the lexicon.
She’s clean blackboard, a piece of chalk and book.
And there your teacher tough, the burning Sun.

Ye feel those clods, callous outside they look,
but melt like snow when touched by harrow’s hook.
They hold the seeds with love and hug the sprouts.
And there the rills bring water from the brook.
Ye there behold the water stream from spouts
and here the crawling curled earthworms, your scouts.
Lo there little sparrows on grain that prey
and foes, those bandicoots with wagging snouts.

With plough jot down your first furrows this day,
and with thick sweat, ink down your first essay.
The sacred joy of this wisdom you reap
that day when you winnow the grain from hay.



Mydavolu Venkatasesha Sathyanarayana, who writes with the penname ‘mahathi’ is an Indian English poet. So far he has authored 9 poetry books, that include three epic classics viz. Finding the Mother, Hare Krishna, and Ocean Blues. His latest work Ganges and Other Poems is awaiting publication. His poems and articles were published in a number of print and web journals. His Hare Krishna is now serialized in Saptagiri, a spiritual monthly magazine. He is the recipient of Maharshi Valmiki Award.

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9 Responses

  1. Andrew

    What exquisite imagery in the last few lines of the first stanza, all packed so closely together with each metaphor rolling into the next: comparing the earth to a text, then a blackboard, then a piece of chalk and book; with the sky as lexicon, and the sun as teacher…is this an example of what you called an ‘alankara?’
    I read an encyclopedia entry on alankara-sastra, but it was filled with technical terms native to Indian aesthetics and the various schools of thought related to the subject. The main thing I took away was that an alankara is, in its narrow sense, a figure of speech, but the few examples I came across were untranslated, so I had a hard time grasping its unique flavor.

    • sathya narayana

      Dear Andrew thank you very much. Similies and metaphors are part of Alankaras. But the variations are as many as 108 or more. Alankara Shastra is classified mainly as Sabda (sound) and Artha (meaning ) alankaras. Sabda alankaras are six in number that deal with rhymes and alliterations. Artha alankaras, but take many exciting forms based on the relationship between the Described (upameya) and Description (upamana). There are also other alankaras like Roopaka. It’s a very big subject. I wish sometime I write an essay on this subject.

      • Andrew

        Thanks for the explanation. This is a very big subject, yes. A clearly written essay would be a good thing.

  2. C.B. Anderson


    There were a number of things that troubled me about this poem, and I will try to get to as many as I can.

    The use of “O'” is incorrect, unless you are spelling an Irish name such as O’Hara. “O” is used before the name of a person or thing being formally addressed and is never followed by an apostrophe. Any good English dictionary will tell you this.

    The use of “This’s” is entirely unnecessary because “this is” means the same thing and has the same metrical weight, except that in the very first line “this’s” creates a metrical imbalance that “this is” would have avoided.

    Why you chose “ye” instead of the standard “you” is anybody’s guess. I suppose that the archaic form is meant to enhance a certain mood, but I don’t think that the conceit repaid the effort.

    The second stanza is a congeries of half-baked sentences that lead to who-knows-where. I liked many of the images, but it was hard to connect the dots.

    The final stanza was not as crisp as it could have been, but, after all, our expectations were not all that high.

    In summary: Refine your diction, syntax and prosody, and you will someday produce a poem for the ages. I sensed something here that felt like a germ of future greatness.

    • sathya narayana

      Hi Anderson. Yeah an apostrophe after O was not necessary.
      This’s and this is have of course the same accentual effect. But from when you stopped counting syllables? Sometimes more than metrists we have to keep in mind good mathematicians.
      I guess the sentence formation is alright in the second stanza!
      However, thank you.

  3. Rajendra Singh Baisthakur

    “A Farmer’ Son” in Nature’sschool is a beautiful poem clean and fresh with a pastoral scene. Second stanza is well integrated into the poem and I do not find any half baked sentences. Anybody connected with farming would endorse that all the images used have an underlying connection.

  4. Rohini

    I’m here after a long time. I loved the imagery of the poem. I especially liked: Ye bow to the earth and take her benison.
    Here she’s the text and sky the lexicon.


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