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Tag Archives: poetry
A Poem of Bahrain
A daughter of human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.
One weak and tired bird turned to his beloved brother
“Oh brother l am in pain, I cannot rest, I cannot breath. This cage is too small for me, my blood has changed the color of my tears. Oh brother join me, together we can break this cage forever. Together we can escape, to a place where life will be worth living.”
The well-fed, blue colored bird replied
“What pain, what tears and what blood is that? This cage is heaven and I am thankful to be blessed, with food and rest each and every day”
“Oh brother dear you know my pain, I know you turned your head away, I know you glanced the other way. But we are one and you must feel, every wound that marks my skin today. Come with me let’s fly away, lets fly towards the sun, where we’ll be treated as one”
“You want me to leave where it’s peaceful and quiet, to head to a place unknown to us? You know I’ve heard there are hunters there, you know I’ve heard that food is scarce. I’d rather be alive and well, and stay in a place where I’m safe and fed.”
“Brother I will watch out for you, I will never forget that we’re one not two. If you help me today, I vow to be, by your side for every step of the way. If we stay here yes you’ll be safe, and if we stay yes you’ll be fed, but will you watch as I fade away?”
“Of course I don’t want to see you die, and of course I want to fly up high. But our master has paid our price, and he owns us and that’s his right.”
“He does not own us, neither me nor you, he cannot keep us as prisoners. God gave us wings and liberty. But only one of us cannot leave, we both are slaves or we both break free.”
Printed with the permission of a brave and committed author who has become my voice of Bahrain.
Many of us are familiar with the verse of the “Worst Poet Ever”, William McConnigal.
What I am joyously discovering at the moment is that there were a number of other very bad poets, some of whom were arguably worse than our Scottish friend.
For example, the work of James Gordon Coogler.
Coogler was born in South Carolina during the last year of the American Civil War and spent his entire life in that state. After his father’s death in 1880, Coogler went to work to support his mother and two sisters. He opened a shop advertising “Poems Written While You Wait.” Although his verses attracted ridicule, he sought to promote his business by distributing self-published booklets of original poems. According to his obituary in the Columbia State newspaper, Coogler published five thousand short collections of original verse during his lifetime, besides two versions of his book-length collection titled Purely Original Verse.
He seems to have a great, though unexplained, hatred of Lord Byron’s mother as can be seen in this example.
Oh, thou immortal bard!
Men may condemn the song
That issued from thy heart sublime,
Yet alas! its music sweet .
Has left an echo that will sound
Thro’ the lone corridors of Time.
Thou immortal Byron!
Thy inspired genius
Let no man attempt to smother –
May all that was good within thee
Be attributed to Heaven,
All that was evil – to thy mother.
The Wet Canadian, Raincoaster, waxes not philosophical upon her blog. Except to warn of Shoggoths and to lyrically expound on beavers.
Yet she sometimes hits an unexpected mark.
I noticed this on her Twitter Feed the other day.
“The time we used to spend on learning poetry is now spent learning passwords.”
Ross Clark is an Australian poet.
Father of a friend.
He haunts my mind with images and a sense of loss.
We will probably never meet yet I know him.
For, from different causes, I saw myself when reading his words;
“The big men proclaim ‘black dog’ and
we all know what they mean, but my landlord
does not permit me pets”
Perhaps, one day, I will find the skill to create happily although I may be running out of days. I no longer have half a century to write the Australian masterpiece.
I shall continue to write my follies under the gaze of that dread black dog. It is a comfortably unproductive life at the moment as he is off chasing other prey. Frustrating, though. I have ideas, feelings, urges, yet need the return of that vicious hound to help me sort the syllables.
For the moment, my staid self-censoring landlord will not permit me my necessary pets.
I do not even have my well-thumbed Omah Khayyam with me.
The words were written a decade ago
The image was taken yesterday.
The deafness continues.
For which man can ever truly understand the thoughts of a woman?
Click on the image for a larger version
The poetry of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, had the honor of being described by Samuel Pepys as “the most ridiculous thing that ever was wrote.”
It’s right up with William McGonnigal’s verse.
Although it could well be worse
What is Liquid?
All that doth flow we cannot liquid name
Or else would fire and water be the same;
But that is liquid which is moist and wet
Fire that property can never get.
Then ’tis not cold that doth the fire put out
But ’tis the wet that makes it die, no doubt.
Death is the cook of Nature; and we find
Meat dressèd several ways to please her mind.
Some meats she roasts with fevers, burning hot,
And some she boils with dropsies in a pot.
Some for jelly consuming by degrees,
And some with ulcers, gravy out to squeeze.
Some flesh as sage she stuffs with gouts, and pains,
Others for tender meat hangs up in chains.
Some in the sea she pickles up to keep,
Others, as brawn is soused, those in wine steep.
Some with the pox, chops flesh, and bones so small,
Of which she makes a French fricasse withal.
Some on gridirons of calentures is broiled,
And some is trodden on, and so quite spoiled.
But those are baked, when smothered they do die,
By hectic fevers some meat she doth fry.
In sweat sometimes she stews with savoury smell,
A hodge-podge of diseases tasteth well.
Brains dressed with apoplexy to Nature’s wish,
Or swims with sauce of megrims in a dish.
And tongues she dries with smoke from stomachs ill,
Which as the second course she sends up still.
Then Death cuts throats, for blood-puddings to make,
And puts them in the guts, which colics rack.
Some hunted are by Death, for deer that’s red.
Or stall-fed oxen, knockèd on the head.
Some for bacon by Death are singed, or scalt,
Then powdered up with phlegm, and rheum that’s salt.
But I surely wish it were.
I found this over on Litlove’s blog. The home of great literary criticism and wise comment on life and the foibles of humankind. Especially the foibles of those who have written books, essays and poetry.
Litlove is also a great source of new reading material and she has just posted a piece from a poet I had not previously read. Sophie Hannah, a Manchester University graduate wrote this short poem which is striking a chord within. The last two lines keep resonating.
He sat in the under-heated flat, alone,
Usefully passing time (he thought by choice),
Not missing anything, until the phone,
Brought him the soft companion of your voice,
And then he looked around himself and saw,
The scraps of clothing on the floor, in shreds,
And felt his keys hang heavy in the door.
He thought of powdered milk and single beds.
Unsure of him, you said, ‘It’s only me,’
Meaning not quite enough, but you were right:
Yours was the only face he hoped to see
And only you remembered him tonight.
Do you know that glorious red, orange and purple that you often get in the western sky at sunset??
The beautiful greens you can see in the woods?
The blue of a summer sky which reflects turquoise from the ocean?
Those are the colours of my love for you.
Do you know the softness of a baby’s skin, and the hard strength of a bar of steel.
The sensuous feel of silk on your skin and the warmth and comfort of wool on a cold winters day?
The feel of water rising and caressing every part of you as you walk into the ocean
Those are the touches of my love for you
Do you know how evocative a single violin can be?
The steadiness of a repeated phrase on the drums?
The joy in the song of a bird and the awe in a roll of thunder?
These are the sounds of my love for you
Do you know the smell of a newly powdered baby
The heavy night scent of the magnolia and the lightness of the pines
The sharp freshness of the citrus and the sweetness of the rose?
These are the perfumes of my love for you
Do you know the melting, slithery slidey feel of good chocolate in your mouth?
The spritzig feel of soft drink bubbles in the back of your nose
The sweetness of honey on the comb and the sharpness of salt on a hot summers day
These are the tastes of my love for you
I love you with all my senses
Come close to me, oh companion of my full life;
Come close to me and let not Winter’s touch
Enter between us. Sit by me before the hearth,
For fire is the only fruit of Winter.
Speak to me of the glory of your heart, for
That is greater than the shrieking elements
Beyond our door.
Bind the door and seal the transoms, for the
Angry countenance of the heaven depresses my
Spirit, and the face of our snow-laden fields
Makes my soul cry.
Feed the lamp with oil and let it not dim, and
Place it by you, so I can read with tears what
Your life with me has written upon your face.
Bring Autumn’s wine. Let us drink and sing the
Song of remembrance to Spring’s carefree sowing,
And Summer’s watchful tending, and Autumn’s
Reward in harvest.
Come close to me, oh beloved of my soul; the
Fire is cooling and fleeing under the ashes.
Embrace me, for I fear loneliness; the lamp is
Dim, and the wine which we pressed is closing
Our eyes. Let us look upon each other before
They are shut.
Find me with your arms and embrace me; let
Slumber then embrace our souls as one.
Kiss me, my beloved, for Winter has stolen
All but our moving lips.
You are close by me, My Forever.
How deep and wide will be the ocean of Slumber,
And how recent was the dawn!
Let us go and gather grapes in the vineyard
For the winepress, and keep the wine in old
Vases, as the spirit keeps Knowledge of the
Ages in eternal vessels.
Let us return to our dwelling, for the wind has
Caused the yellow leaves to fall and shroud the
Withering flowers that whisper elegy to Summer.
Come home, my eternal sweetheart, for the birds
Have made pilgrimage to warmth and lest the chilled
Prairies suffering pangs of solitude. The jasmine
And myrtle have no more tears.
Let us retreat, for the tired brook has
Ceased its song; and the bubblesome springs
Are drained of their copious weeping; and
Their cautious old hills have stored away
Their colorful garments.
Come, my beloved; Nature is justly weary
And is bidding her enthusiasm farewell
With quiet and contented melody.
Come, my beloved; let us walk amidst the knolls,
For the snow is water, and Life is alive from its
Slumber and is roaming the hills and valleys.
Let us follow the footprints of Spring into the
Distant fields, and mount the hilltops to draw
Inspiration high above the cool green plains.
Dawn of Spring has unfolded her winter-kept garment
And placed it on the peach and citrus trees; and
They appear as brides in the ceremonial custom of
the Night of Kedre.
The sprigs of grapevine embrace each other like
Sweethearts, and the brooks burst out in dance
Between the rocks, repeating the song of joy;
And the flowers bud suddenly from the heart of
Nature, like foam from the rich heart of the sea.
Come, my beloved; let us drink the last of Winter’s
Tears from the cupped lilies, and soothe our spirits
With the shower of notes from the birds, and wander
In exhilaration through the intoxicating breeze.
Let us sit by that rock, where violets hide; let us
Pursue their exchange of the sweetness of kisses.
Softly out of focus,
of lipsticked kisses
brings back memories
from the past
renewing old longings
through old eyes
and floral scents
reviving ancient urges.
One of my favourite poets is Kahlil Gibran. Known best for his distillation of wisdom, “The Prophet”, he wrote a lot more which is not as widely read.
Like all good poets, there is a touch of prophecy in his writings.
Writing in the time of Mussolini and Franco and Hitler, in this piece I find prescient echoes of Bush and Bin Laden, Mugabe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Howard and Putin.
And I know it doesn’t rhyme.
YOUR THOUGHT AND MINE
Your thought is a tree rooted deep in the soil of tradition and whose branches grow in the power of continuity. My thought is a cloud moving in the space. It turns into drops which, as they fall, form a brook that sings its way into the sea. Then it rises as vapour into the sky.
Your thought is a fortress that neither gale nor the lightning can shake. My thought is a tender leaf that sways in every direction and finds pleasure in its swaying.
Your thought is an ancient dogma that cannot change you nor can you change it. My thought is new, and it tests me and I test it morn and eve.
You have your thought and I have mine.
Your thought allows you to believe in the unequal contest of the strong against the weak, and in the tricking of the simple by the subtle ones. My thought creates in me the desire to till the earth with my hoe, and harvest the crops with my sickle, and build my home with stones and mortar, and weave my raiment with woollen and linen threads.
Your thought urges you to marry wealth and notability. Mine commends self-reliance.
Your thought advocates fame and show. Mine counsels me and implores me to cast aside notoriety and treat it like a grain of sand cast upon the shore of eternity.
Your thought instils in your heart arrogance and superiority. Mine plants within me love for peace and the desire for independence.
Your thought begets dreams of palaces with furniture of sandalwood studded with jewels, and beds made of twisted silk threads. My thought speaks softly in my ears, “Be clean in body and spirit even if you have nowhere to lay your head.”
Your thought makes you aspire to titles and offices. Mine exhorts me to humble service.
You have your thought and I have mine.
Your thought is social science, a religious and political dictionary. Mine is simple axiom.
Your thought speaks of the beautiful woman, the ugly, the virtuous, the prostitute, the intelligent, and the stupid. Mine sees in every woman a mother, a sister, or a daughter of every man.
The subjects of your thought are thieves, criminals, and assassins. Mine declares that thieves are the creatures of monopoly, criminals are the offspring of tyrants, and assassins are akin to the slain.
Your thought describes laws, courts, judges, punishments. Mine explains that when man makes a law, he either violates it or obeys it. If there is a basic law, we are all one before it. He who disdains the mean is himself mean. He who vaunts his scorn of the sinful vaunts his disdain of all humanity.
Your thought concerns the skilled, the artist, the intellectual, the philosopher, the priest. Mine speaks of the loving and the affectionate, the sincere, the honest, the forthright, the kindly, and the martyr.
Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being.
In your thought there are the rich, the poor, and the beggared. My thought holds that there are no riches but life; that we are all beggars, and no benefactor exists save life herself.
You have your thought and I have mine.
According to your thought, the greatness of nations lies in their politics, their parties, their conferences, their alliances and treaties. But mine proclaims that the importance of nations lies in work – work in the field, work in the vineyards, work with the loom, work in the tannery, work in the quarry, work in the timberyard, work in the office and in the press.
Your thought holds that the glory of the nations is in their heroes. It sings the praises of Rameses, Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal, and Napoleon. But mine claims that the real heroes are Confucius, Lao-Tse, Socrates, Plato, Abi Taleb, El Gazali, Jalal Ed-din-el Roumy, Copernicus, and Pasteur.
Your thought sees power in armies, cannons, battleships, submarines, aeroplanes, and poison gas. But mine asserts that power lies in reason, resolution, and truth. No matter how long the tyrant endures, he will be the loser at the end.
Your thought differentiates between pragmatist and idealist, between the part and the whole, between the mystic and materialist. Mine realizes that life is one and its weights, measures and tables do not coincide with your weights, measures and tables. He whom you suppose an idealist may be a practical man.
You have your thought and I have mine.
Your thought is interested in ruins and museums, mummies and petrified objects. But mine hovers in the ever-renewed haze and clouds.
Your thought is enthroned on skulls. Since you take pride in it, you glorify it too. My thought wanders in the obscure and distant valleys.
Your thought trumpets while you dance. Mine prefers the anguish of death to your music and dancing.
Your thought is the thought of gossip and false pleasure. Mine is the thought of him who is lost in his own country, of the alien in his own nation, of the solitary among his kinfolk and friends.
You have your thought and I have mine.