What is Worth Knowing? (1986)

Sujata Bhatt

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links On

That van Gogh’s ear, set free
wanted to meet the powerful nose
of Nevsky Avenue.
That Spain has decided to help
NATO. That Spring is supposed to begin
on the 21st March.
That if you put too much salt in the keema
just add a few bananas.
That although the Dutch were the first
to help the people of Nicaragua they don’t say much
about their history with Indonesia.
That van Gogh collected Japanese prints.
That the Japanese considered
the Dutch to be red-haired barbarians.
That van Gogh’s ear remains full of questions
it wants to ask the nose of Nevsky Avenue.
That the vaccinations for cholera, typhoid and yellow fever
are no good – they must be improved.
That red, green and yellow are the most
auspicious colours.
That turmeric and chilli powder are good
disinfectants. Yellow and red.
That often Spring doesn’t come
until May. But in some places
it’s there in January
That van Gogh’s ear left him because
it wanted to become a snail.
That east and west
meet only in the north and south – but never
in the east or west.
That in March 1986 Darwinism is being
reintroduced in American schools.
That there’s a difference
between pigeons and doves, although
a ring-dove is a wood-pigeon.
That the most pleasant thing is to have a fever
of at least 101 – because then the dreams aren’t
merely dreams but facts.
That during a fever the soul comes out
for fresh air, that during a fever the soul bothers to
speak to you.
That tigers are courageous and generous-hearted
and never attacked unless provoked –
but leopards,
leopards are malicious and bad-tempered.
That buffaloes too,
water-buffaloes that is, have a short temper.
That a red sky at night is a good sign for sailors,
for sailors…..what is worth knowing?
What is worth knowing?

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

auspicious  Darwinism