poetry thread

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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:49 pm




LONDON by William Blake


I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black'ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.



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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:18 pm


Ballad About Drinking
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

We had slaughtered a hundred white whales,
civilization was quite forgotten,
our lungs were burned out from smoking shag,
but on sighting port we blew out our chests like barrels
and began to speak to one another politely,
and with the noble goal of drinking
we went ashore from the schooner at Amderma.

In Amderma we walked like gods,
swaggering along with our hands on our hips,
and through the port our beards and sidewhiskers
kept their bearings on the pub,
and passing girls and shellbacks
as well as all the local dogs
went along with us as escort.

But, clouding the whole planet,
a notice hung in the shop: 'No Spirits! '
We looked at some sparkling wine from the Don
as if it were feeble fruit juice,
and through our agonized yearning
we realized-it wouldn't work.

Now who could have drunk our spirits, our vodka?
It's dreadful the way people drink-simply ruinous.
But skinny as a skeleton, Petka Markovsky from Odessa,
as it always happens with him,
suddenly disappeared somewhere
giving a secretive 'Sh-sshh! '

And shortly afterward, with much clinking,
he turned up with a huge cardboard box,
already slightly merry,
and it was a sweet clinking the box made
as we woke up to the fact: 'There she is! She's apples! '
and Markovsky gave us the wink: 'She's right! '

We made a splash, waving to everyone-
Chartered a deluxe room in the hotel
and sat down as we were on the bed.
Cords flew off the box
and there, in the glittering columns of the bottles,
bulging, stern, cosy,
absolutely hygienic-
triple-distilled eau de cologne stood before us!

And Markovsky rose, lifting his glass,
pulled down his seaman's jacket,
and began: 'I'd like to say something...'
'Then say it! ' everyone began to shout.
But before anything else
they wanted to wet their whistles.

Markovsky said: 'Come on-let's have a swig!
The doctor told me eau de cologne
is the best thing to keep the wrinkles away.
Let them judge us! -We don't give a damn!
We used to drink all sorts of wine!
When we were in Germany
we filled the radiators of our tanks
with wine from the Mosel.

We don't need consumer goods!
We need the wind, the sky!
Old mates, listen to this
in our souls, as though in the safe deposit:
We have the sea, our mothers and young brothers-
All the rest...is rubbish! '

Bestriding the earth like a giant,
Markovsky stood with a glass in his hand
that held the foaming seas.
The skipper observed: 'Everything is shipshape! '
and only the boatswain sobbed like a child:
'But my mother is dead...'

And we all began to burst into tears,
quite easily, quite shamelessly,
as if in the midst of our own families,
mourning with bitter tears
at first for the boatswain's mother,
and afterward simply for ourselves.

Already a rueful notice hung in the chemist's shop-
'No Triple Eau de Cologne'-
but eight of us sea wolves
sobbed over almost all of Russia!
And in our sobs we reeked
like eight barbershops.

Tears, like squalls,
swept away heaps of false values,
of puffed-up names,
and quietly remaining inside us
was only the sea, our mothers and young brothers-
even the mother who was dead...

I wept as though I was being set free,
I wept as if I was being born anew,
a different person from what I'd been,
and before God and before myself,
like the tears of those drunken whalemen,
my soul was pure.





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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:30 pm


What The Doctor Said
by Raymond Carver

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong







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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:14 pm

Henry King by Hillaire Belloc


The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
``There is no Cure for this Disease.

``Henry will very soon be dead.''
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,

Cried, ``Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires...''
With that, the Wretched Child expires.

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:48 am

... Shocked ...... lol!

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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:37 am

I've posted this little gem a few times over the years on various threads but genius needs no apologies for another repeat:

My grasp of what he wrote and meant
Was only five or six %.
The rest was only words and sound.
My reference is to Ezra £.

(Myles na Gopaleen aka Flann O'Brien aka Brian O'Nolan)

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:27 pm


The Garden
by Ezra Pound

Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
of a sort of emotional anemia.

And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.

In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.

She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
will commit that indiscretion.



Last edited by blue moon on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:28 pm

Acquainted With The Night
by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.



Last edited by blue moon on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:30 pm


When I Heard The Learn'd Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.


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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:40 pm

The Health-Food Diner
by Maya Angelou

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run

to

Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:53 pm

blue moon wrote:any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

Very Happy

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:07 pm

cheers


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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:09 pm

^


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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:17 pm

Cool

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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:19 pm

^


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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:30 pm

Suddenly UK politics have become interesting again:


OZYMANDIAS by P.B. Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

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Re: poetry thread

Post  eddie on Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:01 pm

Still on the phone-hacking theme (or perhaps not):

The Listeners by Walter de la Mare

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.




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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:19 pm

From Tao Ti Ching, the central text of Taoism, attributed to Lao Tzu about 4oo BC.

Again and again
Men come in with birth
and go out with death
One in three are followers of life
One in three are followers of death
And those just passing from life to death
also number one in three
But they all die in the end
Why is this so?
Because they all clutch to life and cling to this passing world

I hear that one who lives by his own truth
is not like this
He walks without making footprints in this world
Going about, he does not fear the rhinoceros or tiger
Entering a battlefield, he does not fear sharp weapons
For in him the rhino can find no place to pitch its horn
The tiger no place to fix its claw
The soldier no place to thrust his blade
Why is this so?
Because he dwells in that place
where death cannot enter
(trans. by Jonathan Star)

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:44 pm

...sorry for taking up so much room but this is interesting.
I copied the image and text from this site: http://www.rumi.net/about_rumi_main.htm



About Rumi

Rumi is now one of the most widely read poets in America. I began translating Rumi in 1988, and performing his poetry in 1992. In all of these years I never thought that he would become so popular in the West in such a short time. Rumi is one the world's brightest creative talents. He's on par with Beethoven, Shakespeare and Mozart.

Rumi was born on the Eastern shores of the Persian Empire on September 30, 1207, in the city of Balkh in what is now Afghanistan and finally settled in the town of Konya, in what is now Turkey. Today three countries claim him as their national poet: Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. However none of these countries as they are today actually existed back then. Iran was called the Persian Empire, a monarchy, and it was quite larger than it is today. It included all of today's Iran and Afghanistan also parts of Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Iraq. Turkey had not yet formed then and Afghanistan was part of the Khorasan Province in the old Persian Empire.

Rumi's life story is full of intrigue and high drama mixed with intense creative outbursts. Rumi was a charming, wealthy nobleman, a genius theologian and a brilliant but sober scholar, who in his late thirties met a wandering and wild holy man by the name of Shams. In Rumi's own words, after meeting Shams he was transformed from a bookish, sober scholar to an impassioned seeker of the truth and love.

Rumi and Shams stayed together for a short time, about 2 years in total, but the impact of their meeting left an everlasting impression on Rumi and his work. After Shams was murdered by Rumi's youngest son, due to events that are explained further down in this page, Rumi fell into a deep state of grief and gradually out of that pain outpoured nearly 70,000 verses of poetry. These thousands of poems, which include about 2000 in quatrains, are collected in two epic books named, Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi and Massnavi (Mathnawi).

Please read our "Rumi & Shams, the Untold Story" below for a more in-depth biography of Rumi and an overview of his unconventional friendship with Shams.

It seems that the universe brought these two opposing characters (a wealthy nobleman and a poor, wondering, wild holy man) together to remind us that it is impossible to know where your next inspiration may come from or who might aid furthering your growth. For Rumi the life of mystics is a "gathering of lovers, where there is no high or low, smart or ignorant, no proper schooling required."

The Growing Phenomenon of Rumi

Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, has been called the greatest mystical poet of any age. During a period of 25 years, he composed over 70,000 verses of poetry. Poetry focusing on varied and diverse topics from deeply philosophical and mystical to passionate love verses, to whimsical, humorous and witty with notions of an all embracing universality mixed with messages of an independent soul yearning for true freedom from dogma and hypocrisy. He also writes about the abolishment of the established fear-based religious orders of the world. For Rumi fear-based religion is poison and his remedy is love-based doctrine--a life journey free of guilt, fear and shame.

Barely known in the West as recently as 15 years ago, Rumi is now one of the most widely read poets in America. His is an exciting new literary and philosophical force. "Rumi deals with the human condition and that is always relevant," says Shahram Shiva. "Rumi is able to verbalize the highly personal and often confusing world of personal growth and development in a very clear and direct fashion. He does not offend anyone, and he includes everyone. The world of Rumi is neither exclusively the world of a Sufi, nor the world of a Hindu, nor a Jew, nor a Christian; it is a state of an evolved human. A human who is not bound by cultural limitations; a one who touches every one of us. Today Rumi's poems can be heard in churches, synagogues, Zen monasteries, as well as in the downtown New York art/performance/music scene."

Rumi's work has been translated into many of the world's languages including Russian, German, French, Italian and Spanish, and is appearing in a growing number of genres including concerts, workshops, readings, dance performances and other artistic creations.

Why Rumi? Here are 12 Reasons

Mr. Shiva asked a group of about fifty participants in one of his workshops to define why Rumi meant so much to them. He then was able to group their responses in 12 distinct categories which are listed below with explanation.

1- Non-Intellectual:
They found Rumi to cater to their hearts, emotions and instincts rather than intellects.

2- Levels:
They found many levels in Rumi’s poetry. The more they learned about Rumi,
the more they appreciated his depth and were encouraged to dig deeper.

3- Unity:
They found the sense of unity and universal siblinghood in Rumi’s poetry to be very attractive.

4- Friend:
They found him to be a friend.

5- Personal Process:
Reading Rumi for them is a personal process. They associate themselves with him.

6- Grace Descending:
Every time a Rumi poem was recited they felt Grace descending.

7- Longing:
They associated with the sense of longing in Rumi’s poems.

8- Love Affair:
Rumi was like a lover to some of the participants.

9- Cultural Bridge:
They found Rumi to form a cultural bridge for the Persians, Turks, Afghanis and the Arabs in this country. Through Rumi some Middle & Near Eastern people found a new acceptance in the U.S.

10- They Don’t Even Like Poetry:
Some expressed that they don’t even like poetry but they love reading Rumi poems.

11- Participate in the Process:
They found Rumi extremely expressive and found themselves participating in Rumi’s own process.

12- Spiritual Guide:
They found Rumi to be a spiritual guide for them.

Rumi & Shams: A Love Story or Personal Necessity?
The Untold Story

To comprehend the often misunderstood and misquoted connection between Rumi and Shams we should start by reviewing the personality of these two historic figures.

Rumi, born into wealth, power and the world of politics, was a member of the high society. He was known to pull and offer favors. His mother was a relative of the king in the province of Khorasan in the Eastern Persian Empire, where he was born. His father was a respected court advisor on jurisprudence. Rumi indulged in personal contacts, favors and friendships. He was known to deepen his friendship to his favorite people by any means necessary. For example, he was close with a goldsmith in Konya. Since it was socially unacceptable for a member of the elite class to socialize with the merchant class, he arranged for his son to marry the daughter of the goldsmith to formalize his connection with him.

Shams, by the time he met Rumi was in his 60s. By then he was known mainly as a blunt, antisocial and powerful spiritual wanderer. His nickname was the Bird. The Bird, because he couldn't stay in one place for too long, and because he was known to be in two distant cities around the same time, as if he could fly or transport his essence at will. This wanderer is known to have been seeking a "grand master student"--a student, who would be greater than many masters at the time. He chooses Rumi as his "master-student." Apparently he initially notices Rumi when he was 21, but judging the time inappropriate and the student not ready, he waits 16 or so years to approach Rumi again.

They meet again when Rumi was in his late 30s and Shams in his early 60s. The initial spark of their connection inspires Rumi to take Shams into his home. Shams from then on becomes the new friend, the latest companion. As you can imagine problem is brewing from day one. Shams, same as the goldsmith wasn't from the elite class. He was a simple wanderer, a powerful spiritual figure yes, but still a poor, homeless wanderer. Also, Shams was terribly antisocial, had a bad temper and used to curse in front of the children. The problem initially was put aside by Rumi's magnetism; however, it gradually grew into a much bigger issue. After receiving repeated death threats Shams decides to leave town. Soon after, Rumi falls into a deep state of grief. A few months later, Shams is brought back into Konya. After all Rumi's health and well-being was worth more than social boundaries. This time, Rumi decides to legitimize Shams' presence in his home and uses the same tactic as with the goldsmith, he marries his very young stepdaughter Keemia (alchemy) to Shams. Keemia was under the age of 15 at the time. It is said that Shams for the first time falls in love. This must have been a truly memorable moment in his life--not only being with his chosen student, but also being married to his student's teenage daughter. The situation in the household quiets down during this time, after all Shams was now a relative. A few months later, due to illness and most probably deep grief Keemia dies, and with that comes the end of Shams and Rumi's companionship.

One story reveals that Shams leaves Rumi and becomes the wandering, wild bird that he was. Another places Shams in the hands of Rumi's youngest son and Keemia's stepbrother, to die for ruining Rumi's pristine reputation. Another attributes Shams' disappearance to a successful assassination attempt for religious blasphemy. Yet another story places Shams in India, as an inspiration for a few spiritual figures at the time.

I believe that Rumi's youngest son who had special closeness to Keemia, committed revenge killing on Shams for causing the death of Keemia. Rumi should have expected this when he forced-marry his precious teenage daughter to someone of Shams' personality type and old age.

The core explanation of Shams and Rumi's relationship is that Rumi without Shams would not have been known to history. Rumi uses all his wit to keep this powerful, wandering, wild bird in a cage for as long as possible and becomes a major spiritual master and an artist of truly world-class stature. In the meantime, Shams achieves his dream of a "grand master student," and falls in love for the first and only time and pays dearly for it. A love story, a tragedy or a personal necessity?

The Collective Poems of Shams?

Rumi named his first epic "The Collective Poems of Shams of Tabriz." In the past few hundred years reasons have been offered for Rumi's decision to name his masterpiece after his mentor and spiritual friend Shams. Some explain, since Rumi would not have been a poet without Shams it is apt that the collection be named after him. Others have suggested that at the end Rumi became Shams, hence the collection is truly of Shams speaking through Rumi.

I tend to disagree with both of these statements. They mainly have been hypothesized by non-creative types. Any artist can attest that no matter the inspiration the final work is an expression of the creative individual. We are all inspired when we create. Inspired by nature, our environment, our childhood or culture, place of birth, romantic encounters, other artists, events in history and of course other individuals who cross our path.

Rumi named the collection after his mentor to make sure Shams' name will be remembered along side himself. Rumi knew well that his students, family members and historians had little intention to remember this wandering, wild holy man who was severely disliked by almost everyone in town. They considered Shams a blemish on Rumi's otherwise pristine reputation. Rumi as usual took the matter into his own hands. He not only named the collection after Shams, but used Shams as the pen name or signature at the end of hundreds of his love poems (Ghazals). He assured that his successors had no possible alternative but to perpetuate Shams. Even altering the title of the epic would not have wiped Shams from the history books, since over a thousand poems still enshrined him.

Rumi, Hafez, Omar Khayyam and the Global Artistic Perspective

Major artistic movements, form, mature and grow in clusters of time and local. Whether it’s the American jazz movement, or the great European classical music composers, Impressionist painters, Italian post WWII neorealist filmmakers, British Rock invasion bands which were inspired by the American blues or in this case the Persian classical poetry. Without an exception all major, global, highly creative and intensely demanding artistic movements are a product of a very specific cultural vibration set within a particular time and geography.

The Persian classical poetry movement is not an exception and follows this natural flow quite precisely.

When an artistic movement is formed, a whole universe of activity starts to buzz around it. Enthusiast groups are formed and special viewing areas or performance halls are built. A structure of trade forms around these movements, whether it’s art dealers, publishers, record and film producers, distributors, agents, managers and collectors. A system of training and education also shapes to support these movements; meaning as the art form grows so does the understanding and appreciation of it. And the training structure allows the young to aspire to become the next big players within these creative fields.

Although poetry has been immensely popular in Persia (and today’s Iran) for over a thousand years (or in forms much earlier), what we commonly refer to as the Persian classical poetry movement in essence lasted about 400 years (about 1000-1400 CE) and produced many great poets. However, only three of which are globally recognized: Rumi, Hafez and Omar Khayyam. In fact some might argue that Khayyam in the height of his popularity in the West was more known than today’s Rumi. As far as I know Khayyam is being quoted on at least two major studio Hollywood movies of 1950s and ‘60s, the Music Man and Payton Place. And there is also a biopic “Omar Khayyam” (1957), directed by William Dieterle (Portrait of Jennie, Elephant Walk, Salome…). These movies represent the very popular aspect of American culture. In contrast, except for an episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under, Rumi references are basically non-existent in American pop culture.

Since the English-speaking world appreciates Persian classical poetry through translations, the personality of these literary giants and the unique style of each poet is often ignored or morphed together to form an endless stream of brilliant verse. However, their work in the original Persian (or Farsi) language is quite unique.

In the original Persian, Rumi and Hafez are as different from each other as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Hafez (1315-1390), who is undoubtedly the most popular of all the Persian classic poets in his homeland of Iran, is the true Persian word-meister. He has an immense grasp of the language, with a very distinct fluid style, that is often embellished with great care. The poetry of Rumi (1207-1273) by contrast is akin to Miles’ expression of Jazz, in many ways minimal, direct, honest, personal, soulful and masterful with a clear lack of embellishment. However, Hafez translations in English are often indistinguishable from Rumi, and this is of course expected when any great literary work is read through translation and interpretation.

Nevertheless, the beauty, grandeur, majesty, poetic craft and wisdom of these great beings come through not only in the original Persian language but in the English translations as well.

* * * * * * *
Is Rumi the Inspiration behind Today's Love Songs?

In the early days when I had just started translating Rumi I became aware of what I thought then were strange similarities between Rumi lyrics and the American blues. How could it be, I thought. How could lyrics from an 800-year old Persian poet have anything in common with songs from a 20th Century American phenomenon?

Despite my initial disbelief I found similarities in four major themes that run through these two genres: Heartache, Drunkenness, Disagreeable Lover and Aloneness.

HEARTACHE
The main theme of the blues is of course having the blues or heartache. Standard blues lyrics routinely talk about looking for a fix for this heartache. In fact just like the classic Persian poets, a blues performer considers having the blues a real privilege. There is a saying, that if you don't have the blues, you aint got nothing.

Rumi of course routinely exclaimed proudly how the pain of love was exclusive to him. In fact in my Rumi translation of his poem "Go Back To Sleep," he is shunning all those who aren't fortunate enough to be suffering from this heartache. He is commanding them to go back to sleep, which means remain in darkness of ignorance and give up your desire for growth and evolution. Just like in the American blues, this heartache was also paramount for Rumi.

Rumi says:
Love is best when mixed with anguish.
In our town,
we won't call you a Lover
if you escape the pain.

DRUNKENNESS
The similarities don't end there. Also like many of Rumi's poems a blues singer is often singing about being drunk, or is getting drunk, or just woke up with a hangover. Rumi's famous quatrain from my book "Hush, Don't Say Anything to God" explains this point clearly:

"I am so drunk
I have lost the way in
and the way out.
I have lost the earth, the moon, and the sky.
Don't put another cup of wine in my hand,
pour it in my mouth,
for I have lost the way to my mouth."

DISAGREEABLE LOVER
The similarities continue. So far we have covered the core theme of heartache or the blues, and the concept of drunkenness in both genres. And here's the next point of similarity: the disagreeable lover. In the famous Billie Holiday's song "Fine and Mellow" she sings:

"My man don't love me
Treats me oh so mean
He's the, lowest man
That I've ever seen
Love will make you drink and gamble
Make you stay out all night long"

And here's one from Rumi

"Everyday my heart falls deeper in the pain of your sorrow.
Your cruel heart is weary of me already.
You have left me alone, yet your sorrow remains.
Truly your sorrow is more faithful than you are."

Here, Rumi's sorrow is of course heartache or having the blues.

Also similar to the line "love will make you drink and gamble," complaining about the heartless lover ruining one's good name, is routine in Rumi poetry.

ALONENESS
And the last major similarities between these two disciplines is complains of always being alone. They are alone for various reasons: they are misunderstood by others, their lover is never around, or nobody desires them. And this issue of aloneness is rampant in both the Persian classical poetry and blues lyrics.

So these similarities over the years made me aware about a connection between Rumi and the blues, in fact I used to perform a song called Rumi Blues with blues music and rhythms, honoring the connection without actually fully understanding the reason.

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CONNECTION
Then a few years ago I came across an article in San Francisco Chronicle* that confirmed my assumptions.

The article exposed the missing link for me: that blues is an African American experience. And African American of course denotes origin from Africa and this is where things get interesting. Although the article focuses more on religion and the musical connection to Africa, the point that interests me is the lyrics.

The Persian classical poets, specially Rumi, where immensely popular in the East. In fact Rumi has been a giant in Middle East ever since the 13th Century. And the Persian classical metaphors for heartache, drunkenness, disagreeable lover, and aloneness were well established all through the Mideast from the Mediterranean Sea to India, North, West and East Africa and the Moorish Spain.

The African slaves, who were familiar with the imagery and metaphors of the Persian classical poetry, brought these ideas with them to the US and gradually through generations as English became their native tongue learned to express them in the New World.

THE BLUES IS THE SOURCE OF TODAY'S POP MUSIC
The modern day pop music, using electric instruments with drum kit started with Rock and Roll, and Rock is heavily based on the blues. Hence this African American experience inspired by Rumi and other Persian classical poets became the source for today's popular music.

So next time you hear a young crooner tearing his or her heart out in a modern love song, you have Rumi to thank for.

-- Shahram Shiva

*The full article can be found here:
The Music of the Famous American Blues Singers Reaches Back Through the South to the Culture of West Africa.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/08/15/INGMC85SSK1.DTL




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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:57 am

Dad wants to work in a gold mine
by blue moon

Over a narrow corrugated track
they rattle in the jeep, dragging the van
behind at a creeping pace to beware
the bulldust traps and potholes, so bumpy
that speech would be impossible if it
wasn’t too hot to speak, so slowly that
the silent wind blows their dust before them
where it seeps through impossible spaces
as they sit entombed within, windows closed
to ban what stealthy red dust they can, and
incarcerated at twenty miles an
hour or less they silently rattle and
choke and sweat as the driver throws back his
head to launch into a jubilant song,
about freedom and following the sun,
and beside him his wife in a petticoat
puts a match to twin cigarettes, cracks the
top off two cans of warm beer…I wonder
what the rich people are doing now he
jeers, and in the back the eldest girl dreams
of boys and parties, the middle one reads
a book and hugs the baby boy, and the
youngest girl is over-run with lice from
her pet kangaroo, but she doesn’t
mind, and through the window heat mirages
shimmer, gnarled and stunted bushes wither
in the sun.

The mileposts at the side announce a town
is growing close, and after six weeks on
the road and on their own, a big event,
and soon the dirt track widens and on they
roll to town, the sisters’ surreptitious
combs abandoned in their hands; as matted
dread-locked tresses crown their avid faces,
they drive through town with foreheads
pressing windows, sadly see Mt. Magnet
sits abandoned in the sun.

They roll to a slow stop and dust billows
and drops, the sudden silence rings until
the cooling engine clicks, and they inert
with heat and sore, take some time to open
doors and step onto the road and stretch, and
stretch again, and when the ticking engine
stops they hear the soft wind lifting tin from
the corrugated fringe of the weathered
General Store.

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:58 am

God’s little mountain
by Geoffrey Hill

Below, the river scrambled like a goat
Dislodging stones. The mountain stamped its foot,
Shaking, as from a trance. And I was shut
With wads of sound into a sudden quiet.
I thought the thunder had unsettled heaven;
All was so still. And yet the sky was cloven
By flame that left the air cold and engraven.
I waited for the word that was not given,
Pent up into a region of pure force,
Made subject to the pressure of the stars;
I saw the angels lifted like pale straws;
I could not stand before those winnowing eyes
And fell, until I found the world again.
Now I lack grace to tell what I have seen;
For though the head frames words the tongue has none.
And who will prove the surgeon to this stone?

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:59 am

Evans
by R. S. Thomas 1913–2000

Evans? Yes, many a time
I came down his bare flight
Of stairs into the gaunt kitchen
With its wood fire, where crickets sang
Accompaniment to the black kettle’s
Whine, and so into the cold
Dark to smother in the thick tide
Of night that drifted about the walls
Of his stark farm on the hill ridge.

It was not the dark filling my eyes
And mouth apalled me; not even the drip
Of rain like blood from the one tree
Weather-tortured. It was the dark
Silting the veins of that sick man
I left stranded upon the vast
And lonely shore of his bleak bed.

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:03 am

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Choice—I

Eat thou and drink; to-morrow thou shalt die.
Surely the earth, that's wise being very old,
Needs not our help. Then loose me, love, and hold
Thy sultry hair up from my face; that I
May pour for thee this golden wine, brim-high,
Till round the glass thy fingers glow like gold.
We'll drown all hours: thy song, while hours are toll'd,
Shall leap, as fountains veil the changing sky.
Now kiss, and think that there are really those,
My own high-bosomed beauty, who increase
Vain gold, vain lore, and yet might choose our way!
Through many years they toil; then on a day
They die not,--for their life was death,--but cease;
And round their narrow lips the mould falls close.

The Choice—2

Watch thou and fear: to-morrow thou shalt die.
Or art thou sure thou shalt have time for death?
Is not the day which God's word promiseth
To come man knows not when? In yonder sky,
Now while we speak, the sun speeds forth: can I
Or thou assure him of his goal? God's breath
Even at the moment haply quickeneth
The air to a flame; till spirits, always nigh
Though screened and hid, shall walk the daylight here.
And dost thou prate of all that man shall do ?
Canst thou, who hast but plagues, presume to be
Glad in his gladness that comes after thee?
Will his strength slay thy worm in Hell ? Go to:
Cover thy countenance, and watch, and fear.

The Choice-3

Think thou and act; to-morrow thou shalt die.
Outstretched in the sun's warmth upon the shore,
Thou say'st: 'Man's measured path is all gone o'er:
Up all his years, steeply, with strain and sigh,
Man clomb until he touched the truth; and I,
Even I, am he whom it was destined for.'
How should this be? Art thou then so much more
Than they who sowed, that thou shouldst reap thereby?
Nay, come up hither. From this wave-washed mound
Unto the furthest flood-brim look with me;
Then reach on with thy thought till it be drown'd.
Miles and miles distant though the grey line be.
And though thy soul sail leagues and leagues beyond,
Still, leagues beyond those leagues, there is more sea.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:19 am

blue moon wrote:Dad wants to work in a gold mine
by blue moon

Over a narrow corrugated track
they rattle in the jeep, dragging the van
behind at a creeping pace to beware
the bulldust traps and potholes, so bumpy
that speech would be impossible if it
wasn’t too hot to speak, so slowly that
the silent wind blows their dust before them
where it seeps through impossible spaces
as they sit entombed within, windows closed
to ban what stealthy red dust they can, and
incarcerated at twenty miles an
hour or less they silently rattle and
choke and sweat as the driver throws back his
head to launch into a jubilant song,
about freedom and following the sun,
and beside him his wife in a petticoat
puts a match to twin cigarettes, cracks the
top off two cans of warm beer…I wonder
what the rich people are doing now he
jeers, and in the back the eldest girl dreams
of boys and parties, the middle one reads
a book and hugs the baby boy, and the
youngest girl is over-run with lice from
her pet kangaroo, but she doesn’t
mind, and through the window heat mirages
shimmer, gnarled and stunted bushes wither
in the sun.

The mileposts at the side announce a town
is growing close, and after six weeks on
the road and on their own, a big event,
and soon the dirt track widens and on they
roll to town, the sisters’ surreptitious
combs abandoned in their hands; as matted
dread-locked tresses crown their avid faces,
they drive through town with foreheads
pressing windows, sadly see Mt. Magnet
sits abandoned in the sun.

They roll to a slow stop and dust billows
and drops, the sudden silence rings until
the cooling engine clicks, and they inert
with heat and sore, take some time to open
doors and step onto the road and stretch, and
stretch again, and when the ticking engine
stops they hear the soft wind lifting tin from
the corrugated fringe of the weathered
General Store.

That's brilliant Moonie, particularly after reading what you said in the Mark Twain thread. What a fun time you must have had.

_________________
"Celine Dion and Oprah have given more to the world than any living member of the british royal family." - Captain Hi-Top

Nah Ville Sky Chick
Miss Whiplash

Posts : 580
Join date : 2011-04-11

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Re: poetry thread

Post  Guest on Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:03 am

Nah Ville Sky Chick wrote:That's brilliant Moonie, particularly after reading what you said in the Mark Twain thread. What a fun time you must have had.
...thanks Nashie! I'm reluctant to put my own stuff on here Embarassed but it illustrates why our opinions differ alien

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