Saturday, December 10, 2011

Narrow places, the world, and Rumi

Here’s an interesting excerpt from Jalal u’din Rumi’s Mathnawi (Mesnavi), Nicholson translation, beginning of Book 3. While I might argue with Jally concerning his utter disdain, if not revulsion, for this world, this is a great analogy to open into his visions and open our eyes.

If anyone were to say to the embryo in the womb,
“Outside is a world exceedingly well-ordered,
A pleasant earth, broad and long,
Wherein are a hundred delights
And so many things to eat.
Mountains and seas and plains,
Fragrant orchards, gardens and sown fields.
A sky very lofty and full of light,
Sun and moonbeams and a hundred stars.
From the south-wind
And from the north-wind
And from the west-wind
The gardens have wedding-feasts and banquets.
Its marvels are beyond description:
Why art thou in tribulation in this darkness?
(Why) dost thou drink blood
On the gibbet of this narrow place (the womb)
In the midst of confinement and filth and pain?”

The embryo, in virtue of its present state,
Would be incredulous, and would turn away
From this message and would disbelieve it,
Saying, “This is absurd and is a deceit and delusion,”
Because the judgement of the blind has no imagination....

Just as in this world the elevated speak of that world
To the common folk, saying,
“This world is an exceedingly dark and narrow pit;
Outside is a world without scent or color.”
Naught entered into the ear of a single one of them
For desire is a barrier, huge and stout...
Debarred... it (the embryo) knows no breakfast but blood.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Atternen Jew, a fragment

I haven't been posting much poetry lately because, sadly, if I post it here, most poetry journals consider it "published" and won't accept it as a submission. I consider that kind of policy objectionable and archaic, since, except for the very few, and I do mean VERY few widely read personal poetry blogs (that's an oxymoron, eh?), being published in a peer-reviewed journal is a completely different thing than posting to a personal blog. For all you journal editors reading this post, you need to change your policies today!

Ecchh (to quote Gurdjieff).

Anyway, here's an excerpt from something I'm editing right now, both in stevespell and below that, in normspell!!
The setting is 70 CE, Jerusalem is burning, and our hero is trapped by the Roman siege.

So thaer I wer, a messij a the Lor
Fleeyen frum the bernen Howzez a God.
Like Addom, az he stumbel thru the gaets ov Aden
Benum with exxess ov pannek an reproech;

Not aenjelz but annammel hedded men
Garden the gaets bak tu my Aden.

I heerz that the saje Zakkiy eskapen,
Hid in a koffen. That touk a plan.
Me, in the frenzeeyen aro an flame,
I goez tu leep frum a parappet,
A killen mysellz an dun with it.
An thaer! a bernen seej towwer.
I thro myselv intu the krumblen hulk,
Kliem down its ladderz an leep az it kollaps.
I muss hav loukt like a flamen demen
Flyen owt ov a piller a fiyer.
Soeljerz skatter. Sinjd an soutee
Az a blaksmiths help, I stumbel an tumbel
Down the skorcht Jerrusallem hilz.


So there I were, a messenger of the Lord
Fleeing from the burning House of God.
Like Adam, as he stumbled thru the gates of Eden
Benumbed with excess of panic and reproach.

Not angels but animal headed men
Guarding the gates back to my Eden.

I heard that the sage Zakkai escaped,
Hid in a coffin. That took a plan.
Me, in the frenzy of arrow and flame,
I goes to leap from a parapet,
To kill myself and done with it.
And there! a burning siege tower.
I throw myself into the crumbling hulk,
Climb down its ladders and leap as it collapses.
I must have looked like a flaming demon
Flying out of a pillar a fire.
Soldiers scatter. Singed and sooty
As a blacksmiths helper, I stumble and tumble
Down the scorched Jerusalem hills.