Peter Waugh (England, 1956)

July 8th to 15th, 2017


Peter Waugh (England, 1956)

Bone Moan

I am your bones,
so make way for me,
cast me to the four winds
in auspicious places,
bury me deep
in dark wet earth.

I am the shell
that bears your almond,
so treasure me well,
through my vessels
the universe courses
as resurrection seed.

I am the last to go,
Five hours of white heat
is the time that it takes
to blast me to cinders
to place in the urn
on your mantelpiece.

Shamen brood over me,
stare for future sight,
I’m your source of music,
the instrument that pleases,
I’m your everyday tool
and your sacred weapon.

I am St. Martin’s
strong resolute virtue,
the revered retainer
of primordial soul.
Don’t break my bread
but suck out the marrow.

I am the world hub
of four compass points,
from where all creation
first spiralled out,
the innermost frame
of visible existence.

I guard your entrance
to forest and field,
to village and home,
hang over thresholds
in the form of a skull,
but greet me without fear.

For I’m the quick of life,
the bone of your bones,
the nut of immortality,
hard luz, che-li,
the perishable body
stripped down bare.

I am your bones,
make way for me,
cast me to the four winds
in auspicious places,
bury me deep
in dark wet earth.

Vienna. 2.07.2001


She says:
“They give me a bird
a little bird,
an oval bird,
with very fine feathers,
very smooth
and brightly coloured.

And they want me
to eat the bird,
they say:
‘That’s what it’s for,
it’s delicious.
Don’t finick,
it’s a pity to waste it.’

But I say: ‘No,
I won’t eat
my pretty bird,
I’ll keep it,
put it in a cage
and listen out
each morning
to the stories it sings!’

Then they cry:
‘Eat! Eat!
Eat the bird!
Eat it! Eat it!’

From his bed,
my father
raises his head
and says:
‘No, don’t eat it,
but don’t place it
in a cage either.
Set it free,
throw it out
the window,
toss it
into the street,
let the wind caress it,
let it be eaten
by the air!’

So I push my way
through the throng
of gaping family –
past brothers and sisters,
first and last cousins,
aunts and uncles –
to the window,
and open it wide.

One more time
I caress the bird’s
soft bright feathers,
then release my fingers
from its breast.

It waits a moment,
loathe to leave
the warmth of hands,
unsure what to do,
then ruffles its wings,
pushes tiny claws
against my skin
and flies out
across the street…

It felt like
I were pouring
all the spirits uncorked
from my father’s bottles
forever away.

He never could abide
spirits in bottles,

Nor birds in cages.”

Vienna, 21.2.2010


“My brother stares
from above my head,
I’ll hurl him to death
from above my head.

In mid-throw I halt,
filled with remorse,
I replace him gently,
filled with remorse.

On this rock I stand,
whole body upright,
in this forest I wait,
whole body upright.

Here shall I remain
till the day I die,
stay erect as a statue
till the day I die.

Of smoothest stone
you ever beheld,
the greyest granite
you ever beheld.

Made of one piece,
of the rock of will,
singular, steadfast,
of the rock of will.

Of all my garments
I divest myself,
of all my illusions
I divest myself.

My body exposed,
I am now sky-clad,
at the weather’s mercy,
I am now sky-clad.

I resolve to cross
the ocean of rebirth,
pain steels me over
the ocean of rebirth.

As if it were simply
the lake at my feet

I embark, my father
shall follow me there,
all Crossing-Makers
shall follow me there.

Rain quenches thirst,
liberation my food,
wind breathes in limbs,
liberation my food.

As the creepers ascend,
I seek sole knowledge,
they entwine my legs,
I seek sole knowledge.

Snakes coil up asleep
as I stand motionless,
they clasp my ankles
as I stand motionless.

I meditate in solitude,
ants nest at my feet,
I stare out in austerity,
ants nest at my feet.

To go beyond violence,
reach the other shore,
past jealousy and greed,
reach the other shore.

Here I shall stand
till the end of time,
the highest statue
till the end of time.”

©Peter Waugh
Sravanabelagola, 11.2.2010

Note for translator:  ‘Crossing-Makers’ refers to those who make the crossing to the other world, i.e. beyond death.
Gommateshwara Statue is a 57-foot (17 m) high monolithic statue located at Shravanbelagola in the Indian state of Karnataka. The statue is dedicated to the Jain god Bahubali. It was built in around 983 A.D. and is one of the largest free standing statues in the world. [1]
The construction of the statue was commissioned by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander, Chavundaraya.
One can have a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill. An event known as Mahamastakabhisheka attracts devotees from all over the world. [2]
The Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once in 12 years, when the Gommateshwara statue is anointed with milk, saffron, ghee, etc. to maintain its freshness. [1]
On August 5, 2007, the statue was voted as the first of Seven Wonders of India; 49% of the total votes went in favor of it.
The statue depicts the prolonged mediation done by Bahubali. Motionless contemplation in kayotsarga (standing still) posture lead to the growth of climbers around his legs. [4]
In the introduction to his English translation of the Gommatsāra, J.L. Jaini writes: The grandeur of the Image, as also its serene-looking and peace-inspiring presence, are well-known to all Jainas and non-Jainas who have had the good fortune of visiting it. When I visited the sacred place in 1910, I met some English men and women missionaries, who out of respect for the Holy Image took off their shoes and visited it in their bare feet. They also held the opinion which I have given above. The Image is about 57 feet high and still every limb and minor limb thereof is in exquisite proportion. It is impossible to convey its glory and artistic excellence by words. Anyone who has the chance of seeing it personally will easily agree with the hitherto general opinion. This gives an answer to some critics also who call the Jainas Idolatrous. The Jainas do not worship the stone, silver, gold or diamond of which the Images are made. They worship the qualities of Total Renunciation of the World, the Acquisition of undisturbable Harmony with the Infinite, and the Identity of the Liberated Soul with Peace everlasting, which these Images represent.


Peter Waugh born in Barnet, London (1956). Long-term Vienna resident. Poet, translator, creative writing lecturer at University of Applied Arts in Vienna, editor, publisher, songwriter. Co-founder of Labyrinth (Association of English-Language Poets in Vienna), the poetry journal subdream and the experimental sound poetry performance group ‘dastrugistenda’. Head of Labyrinth publishing and organiser of numerous readings in Austria and abroad, including a monthly open-mic and summer Poetry in the Park events in Vienna, as well as the annual Labyrinth Höflein Donauweiten Poesiefestival. Often performs as a sound poet and with musicians.

Publications: Horizon Firelight (1999) and Haiku Butterfly Death Dream (2002). Forthcoming: axesplit head & plainwhite cloth (2017). Featured in magazines and anthologies, on websites and at poetry festivals worldwide. Numerous German-English verse translations, including the award-winning translation of Thomas Bernhard’s poems ‘On Earth and in Hell’.

In his work he attempts to expand the boundaries of poetry into as many different dimensions as possible. His work ranges from the lyrical to the experimental, from the quietness of the written word to presentation that includes other art forms such as music, dance or theatre, from experiments in multivocal and translingual writing and performance to exercises in poetic forms, from solo abstract sound poetry to collaborative group improvisations or arrangements involving live music.

Published at May 27th, 2017

Última actualización: 28/06/2018