Do You See?

June: “Mother, I Cannot Mind My Wheel”

Must I like June?

In my recent memory for the last few years, June has seen me move away from people, places, work and more. This June I’m in Stirling, Scotland, doing my Charles Wallace fellowship. Although it was sunny and clear briefly, June has again brought damp, soggy rains accompanied naturally by a joyless sky; irascible magpies, and saying goodbyes (perhaps temporarily, but it sucks) — gosh, that wasn’t supposed to rhyme anyway.

This evening is a particularly miserable one. Rains, gusty winds, ravens sparring.

Some well-meaning friend recently sent me a bunch of Sappho’s poetry thinking I should relish them while I delve in some cursory antiquity-related interests I’ve developed while at University of Stirling. She, my friend, is kind. But I’m balking.

Must I like to read Sappho in June? What a joke.

Well, maybe only these:


It’s no use

It’s no use
Mother dear, I
can’t finish my
You may
blame Aphrodite

soft as she is

she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy


Mother, I Cannot Mind My Wheel

Mother, I cannot mind my wheel;
My fingers ache, my lips are dry;
Oh! if you felt the pain I feel!
But oh, who ever felt as I!


Bust inscribed Sappho of Eressos,Roman copy of a Greek original of the 5th century BC: Wikipedia


Two good June tidings:

1) My niece (brother’s daughter) Aishi turned seven on June 6. She’s a beautiful girl, full of verve. I was amused to recall I’d written my first poem at age seven!

2) Natasha Trethewey has been named the new poet laureate of the US. Trethewey is not only the first African-American since Rita Dove, she’s the first person of color since Dove some 16 years ago to become PLOTUS. Cause for rejoice!


8 comments on “June: “Mother, I Cannot Mind My Wheel”

  1. Mihir Vatsa
    June 7, 2012

    I like Sappho. Even wrote an imitation of her fragment 31 once.

  2. Do You See
    June 7, 2012

    Hi Vatsa, welcome back on the blog! I do like Sappho, but I’m kinda in a cranky mood… Any how, tell me what was your fragment 31 like? Post it here or on your blog with a bit of insight as to how you wrote that one, you know, what devices you used, etc. We can have some nice convo there and here regarding that.
    And, exams over?

    • Mihir Vatsa
      June 7, 2012

      Wrote it last to last year, so it was very crude. Just made it homoerotic in the male sense, while Sappho’s was from a female’s POV. Created kind of a havoc when my friends read it. 😀

      Exams done! Ha! Entrance tests and all coming up, but I am in a mood to relax abhi. Will go to one Toilet Museum tomorrow. Haha. Can you believe it? It’s in Dwarka. 😀

  3. Do You See
    June 7, 2012

    Toilet Museum??? Such a place exists? Only if there were enough toilets for everyone in India. And is this how you will ‘relax’! Gosh, my evening turns even weirder now 😦

    Post your Sappho poem here MV. I’m not going to laugh or cringe. Promise.

  4. rohith003
    June 8, 2012

    After a harsh summer…the first cloud of monsoon had arrived. The smell of mud is mesmerizing. Its super-duper good in Tirupati 🙂

  5. Do You See
    June 8, 2012

    Yes Rohith, I hear the monsoons are hitting the southern coasts. How nice. The smell of damp earth has a particular word in Bengali and Hindi. What about in Telugu? And what are you reading therefore, Kalidasa’s Meghadutam? “AashaRasya prathama divase” …

  6. rohith003
    June 8, 2012

    Meghadutam…yes! There was a poem with this name in Telugu textbook in my 10th class. Written by Kalidasa of course. Beautiful lesson in which the cloud passes Ongole, Kurnool and such places singing…taking the message of the lover. What is the word in Bengali and Hindi? I would like to include it in one of my poems. I dont remember any such word in Telugu…I dont know if such a word exist. They just say smell of rain (Vaana Vaasana).

    • Do You See
      June 8, 2012

      The cloud passes over places carrying the message of the lover — Meghadutam indeed. Much celebrated and widely translated classical poetry of Kalidasa. The Bengali word is “shondaa” (nasal *on*) as in damp smell/earth; in Hindi it is “sondhi” (sondhi khushboo)….

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2012 by in June, Nabina Das, poetry, Sappho, Stirling.
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