Poems by
Nitin Varma

The Ballad of Phaedrus

a poem by Nitin Varma

(Once the great philosopher Plato sat with his friend
Phaedrus by the lake bed behind the old granary.
It was their usual haunt on Sunday afternoons.
Phaedrus was throwing stones into lake.
Both of them saw the stones as the water gulped them.
And the following conversation followed:)

Phaedrus saw Plato with an inquisitive face
Plato’s visage sun-lit and sublime
He broke the silence with the following query:
“My dear brother what do you mean by time?”

Plato was surprised, caught unexpected!!
He looked at Phaedrus with a weak smile,
“What makes you ask such a question?
That too on a subject so fragile?”

Phaedrus was smart, full of wit
In a split second he gently replied
“This stone my friend lies in my hand
When I throw it in time, why does it hide?”

Plato kept blinking for quite sometime
While Phaedrus popped stones in the pacific lake
This was a true challenge to his intellect
He had to answer it for survival’s sake.

Plato lay down and thought for a while
The question was strange, difficult indeed
He had to reply for he was mentor-
A saint in wisdom, thought and deed.

The birds stopped chirping, the leaves stopped moving
The afternoon breeze froze to a stand still
The universe paused and the galaxies waited
To listen to the churning of the ‘Wisdom Wind Mill’.

As Phaedrus was about to throw another stone
Suddenly Plato caught his hand
He stared at his visage with the look of a thinker
And a philosophy filled the marshy land.

Plato: “Time is the air, the sun and the moon.
That continues to exist in their own space”
Plato loosened his grip on Phaedrus’s hand
And wiped the sweat from his face.

Time is a wheel, the wheel of existence
And all are but the spokes of this wheel
Everything in this world is exquisitely timed
From the flight of pigeons to a weasel’s squeal.

Time is the breath that you breathe
Time is that which governs us all
Time brings to a beggar glamorous riches
It is time that causes an emperor’s fall.

Time is a book of countless pages
That no sage has might to learn
Each page reads the saga of occurrence
The page, even God has no right to turn.

Time is the margin of our existence
Our proof of being here at these moments
Time gives alms to the needy
Time gives justice to one who torments.

Time my friend is an endless string
Each bead in which is a speck of our life
The beads clutter and rattle to make a loud din
A manifestation of scorns when we are in strife.

Time dear brother is an unsung melody
With its own harmonious chords and notes.
Each of us is fraction, that donate to it
A comma, a full stop or anecdotes.

Above all Phaedrus, time is a balance
On whose pans our deeds are kept
The judicious balance then decides
Who has toiled and who has slept.

Audience to this extempore-the universe was aghast
An uproar of applaud showered from above
Phaedrus’s eyes moistened as he stared in disbelief
At his wise friend with respect and love.

Stirred with inspiration Phaedrus dropped the stone
His hands- trembling, thin and bare
As the wind swept his hair across his face
He stood upon the bank to declare:

Phaedrus: “Thou hath cleared my vision, my query, my doubt
Like a shiny mirror squeaked with lime
If the child is called the father of man,
The Godfather of existence has to be ‘time’.”