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Stanley Beach

Tonight, two nights after the full moon,

As quiet ebbs and flows whisper at my feet,

The cadences of half-remembered tunes coalesce downwind

With eulogies to mid-Autumn—

The melodies muted or muffled,

As if they had been sung

In a distant monsoon dream:

Stanley! The evening is young!

Stanley! The seclusion is its soul!

Stanley! The horizon hosted by hills!

Stanley! The indigo sadness, elaborate tonight, with hope!

Stanley – the mirth of Marina in my bleary eyes –

On whose deep-strung sand,

Shimmering light from a misty-eyed moon

Sing in sprung rhythm of sunnier days.

Loyal to city roads, the head puts Stanley

Off the heart of Hong Kong;

But the blackened rocks and the blanched barbeque pits

Breathe tales of loud songs and pregnant silences,

About a heart which draws in and lets out

The colour and chaos that is Kowloon.

For, even as the mind divides

Ingress from egress, 

The heart, though beating, seems still;

As the raucous music, the strident songs, the silent syllables,

And the blurring boundaries

Of a slit city that fleets like a mirage and feels like a mirror  

Find a solemn voice in the swells,

Which touch a desolate slice of salt-laden water's edge;

Whose secrets, when sad, are anything save its own;

Whose secrets when sublime, Time's tirades bemoan.  

Poet's Note:  I wrote this poem in 2012 after a visit to the Stanley Beach in Hong Kong. While writing it, I took a lot of inspiration from Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, one of my favourite poems


A phonologist by training and in thought, Srinivas S teaches English at the Rishi Valley School, India. He has let accents, cricket and poetry partake equally of his mind; and spends his free time marshalling his thoughts on these subjects, often while taking long walks. His writings have found a home in places such as ESPNcricinfo, Amethyst Review, Borderless Journal, Narrow Road Journal and The Hong Kong Review as well as in a number of haiku journals. 

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