Brother, why do you strut about,
so full of yourself?
How come you’ve forgotten
those ten months
when you were suspended upside down
inside the womb?
When the body’s cremated,
it turns to ashes;
when it’s buried,
it’s eaten by armies of worms.
The body’s a jar of unbaked clay
that’s its greatest claim to fame.
As a honeybee
accumulates its honey,
so a man accumulates his wealth.
But when he’s dead, the others say,
Take him away, take him away!
Why have we let this corpse
lie here so long?
His wife accompanies his bier
from the inner rooms to the threshold;
beyond that, his friends bear him away.
The folks in his family
go as far as the cremation ground.
the swan’s all alone.
Kabir says, listen, O creatures,
those who fall into
the well of death
in make-believe Maya,
like parrots who delude themselves
and fall into a bird-catcher’s trap.
from Kabir The Weaver’s Songs
tr. Vinay Dharwadker