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The Golden Deer

Srinjay Chakravarti

Could you ever imagine

a country as beautiful,

a wilderness lovelier than this?

In its soil are the roots

of a forest, Dandakaranya -

dream-green, dream-dark.

Its silence braided by the music

in the silver-blond plaits

of virgin waterfalls.


There a demon from Serendip,

disguised as a golden stag

darts in and out

of the corners of your eyes.

A fleeting flash of glitter,

which steals away

what desire cannot attain.


Elusive as the wind,

fleeing with the sunshine

it leads you away from yourself,

the more you chase it

through foliage and undergrowth.


It is still said

that if you see the golden deer

even once,

you are condemned to seek it

for the rest of your life

and never find it,

though you may catch

glimpses of it, now and then.

A fleeting flash of glitter,

antlers of gold

that snare the sun.


Taken from a legend in the Hindu epic Ramayana. From The Journal No 13 (Spring 2005).