I have posted three travel articles so perhaps it is time to vary these with a piece of poetry. I wrote a lot of poetry in my traveling days and this one was inspired by the enigmatic ruins of Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley of Northern Pakistan. Sadly it is one of those classic sites which are now off the tourist trail because of the security problems overflowing from Afghanistan.
This extract from my diary for November 15 1968 reads:
Mohenjodaro is the city of the ancient civilization of the Indus Valley which flourished four thousand five hundred years ago. It is the largest of one of several excavated cities of this period that have been found along the Indus River, which is just visible across a plain of tamarisk trees from the highest point of the crumbled Buddhist stupa built on the site that is known as the Mound of the Dead. Little is known of the people who built Mohenjodaro, except that they are one of the earliest civilizations known to man. It is speculated that their downfall was due to widespread flooding along the Indus Valley which drowned much of their land, and partly due to the advance of the Aryans from India who followed them.
The ruins are a brown maze of mud-brick foundations, which show how the streets and houses were laid out. They are extensive, but little else remains.
There is an excavated bathed house said to be the sacred bathing place of priests, a few walls, and examples of the early drainage system, but there is nothing like the majesty of Persepolis or Karnak. Moenjodaro is interesting mostly because of its sprawling size and its great age. Jesus Christ did not come upon this earth until two thousand five hundred years after these people had vanished into the mists of time.
Vanished ages, lost in dust,
Where even ghosts no longer walk the silent streets,
An end to life, to love and death and lust!
Where infinity, eternity, and all and nothing meet.
Vanished ages, shriveled by the sun,
Scorched wind-blown sands, and savage, searing skies,
Their cities crumbled, their glories past and gone,
Their trampled grave-dust, scattered, powdered, lies.
Vanished ages, their ruins mantle death,
So dimly known, so far, so very far away,
Their voices hushed, their breasts are stilled of breath,
They sleep -- or do they sleep -- today.
Where are they now? Those princes proud, and kings,
Who sailed their gilded boats so nobly by,
Who ruled o’er all that loves and laughs or sings,
From citadel and palaces on high.
Where are they now? Those priests of dark and light,
Who preached of mystic gods in sun and stars,
Who stirred the love of day with fear of night,
While placating the moon with maiden’s hearts.
Where are they now? Those maidens fair and bold,
Who smiled and coyly turned a laughing eye,
Where are they now, those youths so long grown old,
Who dared to love, to live, and then to die.
Where are they now? Those heroes, villains, knaves,
Their brave men and their cowards, and their fools,
Their generals, and their soldiers, and their slaves.
Where are they now, in Time’s dark deathless pool?
Where are they now?
They still are here!
Laughing, loving, slaying, as before.
Pressing down new footsteps sharp and clear,
Playing out the game or life reborn.
For I am they!
And you are they!
Forever on Time’s wheel of joy and pain,
All has happened -- all has passed away –
And all must pass, and pass,
and pass again!