What Still Remains?

By Arjun Janah in The Daily Poet

Whatever be your credo or belief,
At times, you’ll need some solace, some relief,
For that, on which you based your hopes and dreams,
Might be, in time, your aspiration’s thief.For who can live for long without a loss,
Or never, racked and torn, tormented, toss?
Whenever we may think we’ve mastered life,
It turns and swiftly shows us who’s the boss.

The very things for which we’ve labored, fought,
Have focused on and all the rest forgot,
Those things, as life unwinds, may turn to dust,
And all our strivings then be set to naught.

And what remains, when all appears amiss,
When we, who’ve labored long, are still remiss?
Remember then, there still remains the dawn,
And in the darkness, smile and blow a kiss.

And when a faker, in a tie and suit,
Demands accounting, in his mad pursuit,
Then bow and hand to him a chit, on which
It says, “We’ve quit the race, so all is moot.”

For when our life’s account is drawn and closed,
Then what remains, of all we once supposed
Was worth the life we offered as its price?
“This question,” we are told, “is poorly posed.”

What then remains is still the work we did,
Though this, with time, will be in cobwebs hid –
But more than that, and lasting still a while,
The love we offered, though we weren’t bid.

Though falsehoods live, while truth appears to die,
And most accede, and few still question why,
And though the cause appears as hopeless, still
The truth remains the truth, and not the lie.

Let all coercion and compulsion be
Dissolved by that, which lives within a tree
And makes its branches, in the sun, delight,
That joy that makes us each, for a moment, free.

So in the valley deep of sorrows, sigh,
But never, to your courage, say, “Goodbye.”
There lives, in us, the stillness and the fire,
And these will live, though you and I will die.

2013 December 6th, Fri.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Ed: Arjun is the son of the legendary Indian photographer Sunil Janah. That was how I got to know him, but of course he has his own identity. He is a teacher in New York.

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.” His recent book “The Tide Will Turn” published by Steidl in 2020, is listed in New York Time’s ‘Best Art Books of 2020’. Alam received the “International Press Freedom Award” for 2020 from ‘The Committee to Protect Journalists’.

3 thoughts on “What Still Remains?”

  1. Thank you for posting this, Shahidul. After my first posting of it on my poetry blog, I changed the word “makes” in the third line of the penultimate stanza to “lets”. So it now reads:
    Let all coercion and compulsion be
    Dissolved by that, which lives within a tree
    And lets its branches, in the sun, delight,
    That joy that makes us each, for a moment, free.
    Read more: http://www.shahidulnews.com/what-still-remains#ixzz2nE5DxmqM

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