Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A poem

The ney is a 4000 year old Middle Eastern musical instrument; the oldest extant.

With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, Kubla Khan:


In Palestine did perfidious Zion
Descry two tribes of Abraham
Where Aleph the scarlet letter ran
Through convolutions unwitnessed by man
Down to a sunless land
So, thrice thousand miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were encircled around
And there were gravestones filed in sinuous rills
Where once blossomed children in the country
Of olive trees ancient as the hills
Now enfolding dark leafless tracery

But oh! that deep chasm filled with cant
Down the barren hill with nary a flower
A savage place! as hatred was flaunted
As e’er thing under the sun was haunted
By demon helicopter which o’er field did hover!
And from this chasm, with endless murder seething
As if this torn earth were bleeding
A bomb fell amongst picnickers to burst
From whom it came are thrice accursed
Bullets fly from the encircling jail
A boy and his father torn apart by merciless hail
And ‘mid these sacred fields of forever
Flung up once again the bloody river
Five times five thousand miles meandered the clan
Then reached purgatory measured by Man
Dead floating souls in caverns endless
Overwhelm’d by hordes of infinite fiendishness
And from afar Abraham’s people heard
God’s message: Phoenix bird

The search for the eternal treasure
Stuck athwart a schoolgirl’s grave
And sighs of mingled pleasure
Emerged from sacred Bethlehem’s nave
It was a miracle that from the furnace’s fire
Could emerge such voices of freedom’s desire!

Young woman with a Ney
A vision without flaw
‘Twas a Palestinian fey
And on her fairie instrument she played
Singing of peace long delayed
Could I wish within me

With such magic she
To such heights delivered me

That with magic and song
I would deliver up the throng
To sunny throne! From caves of fire!
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
Those burning eyes, her waving hair!
Close your eyes to the dead
For on the elixir of God had he fed
And drunk the promise of Paradise.

Naseer Ahmad 2008


Xanadu said...

Dear Atlan Man,

Having been hiking in the high Himalayas for the last three weeks, I read your spirited pastiche of 'Kubla Khan' only yesterday on the Xymphora website — when I went to check what had been going on there in my absence. I was sad to see that the Mad Axeman Grettir (though not without much-to-be-praised poetic talents of his own) gave you such a negative critique. McGonagelesque, forsooth! What an idiot!

He failed to see that your poem was an attempt to write about a serious topic relevant to the subject matter of the Xymphora website (i.e., Palestine) in the language and 18th century diction of Coleridge's original poem. In the sense that you were attempting to mirror the stylistic idiosyncrasies and mannered language of a past age, the poem was a pastiche. G. failed to realize this.

If you had been trying to joke around and poke gentle fun at Coleridge's poem — which of course you were NOT doing — your poem then would have been more than a pastiche.
It would have been a straightforward parody.

Had I myself been able to comment on your poem at the time, I would have pointed all this out, and added that you were to be given full marks for your verve, your brio, and your intellectual vivacity.

Best wishes and good luck to you — and more poems please from your inspired pen. The Xymphora website, though incomparable in many ways as a venue for some of the finest minds on the internet, would do well to develop more tolerance towards poets, prophets, pranksters, misfits and eccentrics. We can't all be Model Citizens.


Xanadu said...

You are welcome to delete the above comment; or repost it to the Xymphora website if you wish to do so.

Lalara said...

I too enjoyed you poem, MFA, and thought I'd like to tell you this — though I personally preferred the shorter, more spiritual poem you posted on the xymphora website a few months ago. It was in response to something my sister Xanadu had said about Islam, and how she sometimes said three suras to herself as prayers (suras 1,113 and 114). I urge you to repost that poem on your own site without further delay.

A quick swipe at Xanadu: she is technically wrong to speak of the "language and 18th century diction of Coleridge's original poem." In fact, 'Kubla Khan' was published in 1816, so it belongs to the nineteenth century.

Man From Atlan said...

Thanks, Xanadu and Lalara. Political debate can get quite circular, so of course some poetry would have been welcome. No one there even bothered to commemorate Palestinian poet Darwish's passing away so I would rather post my prose poetry here.
Grettir of course knew I was chastising him for his scurrilous attack on a young woman, twisting Coleridge's "Kublai Khan" further up,
Man From Atlan | Homepage | 07.16.08 - 9:48 am | but once I started, it just had to be about Palestine, and the power of poetry, and music to free us all.
Therefore, of course I will post some poetry, once people have had a chance to digest the latest, Miracle in Toronto.
There is a war going on, and things are getting worse, for most.

Man From Atlan said...

Anyway, thanks for encouraging me to post my poems, and don't be discouraged by criticism..elsewhere