We have climbed the mountain.
There’s nothing more to do.
It is terrible to come down
To the valley
Where, amidst many flowers,
One thinks of snow,

As formerly, amidst snow,
Climbing the mountain,
One thought of flowers,
Tremulous, ruddy with dew,
In the valley.
One caught their scent coming down.

It is difficult to adjust, once down,
To the absense of snow.
Clear days, from the valley,
One looks up at the mountain.
What else is there to do?
Prayer wheels, flowers!

Let the flowers
Fade, the prayer wheels run down.
What have they to do
With us who have stood atop the snow
Atop the mountain,
Flags seen from the valley?

It might be possible to live in the valley,
To bury oneself among flowers,
If one could forget the mountain,
How, never once looking down,
Stiff, blinded with snow,
One knew what to do.

Meanwhile it is not easy here in Katmandu,
Especially when to the valley
That wind which means snow
Elsewhere, but here means flowers,
Comes down,
As soon it must, from the mountain.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Donald Justice's poem Sestina: Here In Katmandu

1 Comment

  1. Kay Tawney says:

    I first read this poem more than thirty years ago when I was a college student studying the sestina form. Back then I analyzed the format and found Justice had created a poem rich with meaning using a difficult format. Years, later, climbing to the base of the Matterhorn, I thought of the poem. “it is terrible to come down. . ” was the line that stayed with me. Yes, after we accomplish something significant, it is hard to deal with the mundane. We have climbed the mountain. . ..there is nothing left to do.

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