Angkor Wat

taprohm

In early-July of 2005, my friend and I hitched rides in overloaded pick-up trucks from the Thai border to Siem Reap.  Progress was slow on the muddy, potholed road, so we arrived late in the evening.  Only a few short hours later we were in a tuk tuk and on our way to see Angkor Wat.  It would be my first trip of perhaps 30.

Since moving to Rwanda, I hadn’t given much thought to Angkor Wat.  Like an unexpected visit from an old friend, I was happy to see the temple complex in the New York Times headlines this morning.  I am using this as an opportunity to share a poem that touches on the experience of visiting Angkor Wat better than anything else I’ve come across.

ANK’HOR VAT

The antlered forests
Move down to the sea
Here the dung-filled jungle pauses
Buddha has covered the walls of the great temple
With the vegetative speed of his imagery

Let us wait, hand in hand

No Western god or saint
Ever smiled with the lissom fury of this god
Who holds in doubt
The wooden stare of Apollo
Our Christian crown of thorns;

There is no mystery in the luminous lines
Of that high, animal face
The smile, sad, humouring and equal
Blesses without obliging
Loves without condescension:
The god, clear as spring-water
Sees through everything, while everything
Flows through him

A fling of flowers here
Whose names I do not know
Downy, scarlet gullets
Green legs yielding and closing

While, at my mental distance from passion,
The prolific divinity of the temple
Is a quiet lettering on vellum

Let us lie down before him
His look will flow like oil over us.

by Denis Devlin

Angkor Wat - 2005

~ by responsiblenomad on July 4, 2013.

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