by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1850

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Introduction by the King of Beggars

King is how they call me, though of a King

I don't really wear nor the bling nor the grin.

I could be called instead

a springing fountain

or a Zen beggar,

leaving very much unchanged

the way the world spins.

Words don't stick nor bear resemblance

to the things they name

out of blind chance.

But if I had to decide on the pertinence

of things to their names,

I would command, for instance,

the rain to be called happiness:

I wonder if it wouldn't fall less unruly

if we made it wear a longer dress.

The same if we renamed sadness

and called it smile,

I bet just on sight of our gloomy grimaces

all sadness would be immediately erased

by putting a laugh onto its face.

Yet, to be called King of anything,

even of the bums or the dumb,

is no small a thing.

But to be honest, the honour doesn't flatter me,

for I couldn't bother less

if in the crowd I blunder about

as the prince or the beggar.

However, if I were called a fountain,

you wouldn't fall short of target,

because placed where I always lay down my head,

in the middle of a square,

I am a fountain,

but one that spouts

words instead of water.

And if a beggar is not the whole,

it is in the least

a part of what I am,

since I have no roof of my own,

and so the number of walls

that give me shelter equals

the rims on the roads I roam.

Beggar or fountain

are common names.

They refer to classes, not individuals.

In the event, this might better fit

how I prefer to think of myself:



In a universe so full of beings,

proper names and numerous offspring

are just not feasible.

We are like sand, packed to such an extent,

that none can pin down any time soon

the shouts of the drowning

amongst an ocean of siren tunes.

A trump, in brief, is someone that seems

very much like anyone else, except that he kept

from turning into another thing

in a world of things,

things that used to be autonomous beings

as we dream we keep on being,

but by which we ended up enslaved.

And the path I walk on

is my soles' mate

and shifting traveling companion.

We both hold the aroma

of warm moist earth.

And, like his, my hearth belongs

to none of the compass' points.

This short fellow, who strides by my side

sniffing the yellow light,

is Diogenes, the canine.

I dubbed him so, tongue-in-cheek, but also

because he is by nature a dog,

not solely as a term of abuse

or as a figure of usage,

and hence the name fits him by birthright

of one whose whole occupation

consists of strolling all about.

In addition, I benefit only

from the company

of an old-bag and a doorstep,

and those are all my so-called belongings.

But the twig I pick

up from the ground

and carry around as a stick

builds onto me,

for the better or worse weather,

all that chatter from the birds

buzzing on the trees.