The Village of the Blind (India)

The moon limps, with a twitching white
cane, over the village of the blind.
Eyeless hammers fall and find
by sheer hind-sight.
A bull-like anvil bellows at their bite.
Maggots swaying can remind,
in a dead sheep, of what’s behind
our eyes: a lack of light.
Unblinking cataracts spread mud
down the bleary river;
and an inkwell on the nurse’s desk pours
indelible black on each flower
in the temple garden’s vanishing blur.
Here, there’s no way out. No door.
The jungle is a tight, hallucinatory verse.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “The Village of the Blind (India)”?

The poem was inspired by: my experiences with the disabled in various Asian countries, and in Canada; my deep respect for their courage and determination in the most difficult of circumstances; my sense that it is only by chance that the able-bodied are not among the disabled, and we should empathize and sympathize with the disabled as helpfully as we can; my sense that all of us are, in a metaphorical sense, blind or unenlightened about the most crucial things.

What poetic techniques did you use in “The Village of the Blind (India)”?
  1. Some use of the rhyming scheme abba.
  2. The parallelism of imagining the universe itself as being sightless and disabled like the blind, but as courageously getting on with it.
  3. A rhythmic beat with abrupt, not smooth, movements, like a blind person steadying himself with unpredictable but quick movements.

This poem “The Village of the Blind (India)” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 185 (Summer 2005): 91.

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