If Not

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Don Manu

I walked with kings and lost the com­mon touch

The coro­net’s lure o’rawed me so much No saint am I to pre­tend else and mask My ex­alted state when I, in Roy­alty, bask ***

I min­gled with crowds and n’er kept my virtue Gained in­stead their vile vices to pur­sue; What di­vine ar­ro­gance would dare me think I could lie with skunks and not get their stink ***

In the midst of dis­as­ter, how can I smile While my new born in­fant spouts hunger’s bile

Can I but then, in heart­less God like glee, Mock the fates and say ‘what will be, will be?’


I’ve met Tri­umph and I’ve known Dis­as­ter But could n’er treat same those two mon­sters Tri­umphs so­journ did en­rich me with gains Dis­as­ter out­stayed and be­queathed its pains ***

Heap all your win­nings on one turn of toss? It’s easy to tease when it’s not your loss If only luck’s lass would deign wink just once I’ll take home my spoils with no sec­ond glance


I did keep my head when oth­ers lost theirs But then again I wasn’t heir to their night­mares

I laughed till I cried, mock­ing their de­spair Know­ing not that I’ll soon par­take their fare ***

I dreamt and I did make dreams my master Pur­sued my vi­sion through dis­dain’s laugh­ter I am what I am cause I in my sleep Con­jured the fu­ture, reck­oned what to reap ***

If not for that wise prag­ma­tism’s reach

I’ll end up whale like on Fate’s steeps beached

Then mine would be the earth and the worms in it

Would turn me to dust, Life’s sole def­i­nite.

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