Friday 21 February 2020

Review of ‘Love Is A Virus’ by Lola Demo

This mind-blowing album is pure seduction by music. ‘Love Is A Virus’ is very in-the-moment but its lyrics deliver an overall message about society’s obsession with making us into what we are not, with being other than oneself. When one tries to change what one is, the things that define an individual, we are no longer wholly ourselves - That which makes each individual unique.  Auden takes up the question in his poem ‘Alone’, and concludes ‘Perhaps, in fact, we never are alone.’  We are made up of what we are and what we become, to deliberately try to change that is to disturb or distort the equilibrium that is our true essence - That which is sacred.  Our truth.

The drums pick up late in ‘Like Love Is Elastic’ but at precisely the right moment. The music video ending with the error message ‘System Failure’ blinking on the screen:
Where was the lifeline music? What had happened
To consolation, prayer, transcendence –
To the selective disconnecting
Of the pain center?

Ted Hughes, ‘Opus 131’.
The lyrics to some of the songs have a ballad-like structure and flow as in ‘Cry Too Much Don't Love Enough’:

            Is it real when I never touch your skin
            Is it true when we leave that it’s never been
                        Your face was alive but your heart was dead
            And I couldn’t connect to the internet

As in Lola Demo’s other albums there are secret caves and conduits of instrumentals that add ground and depth off-guard, synthesizing with the lyrics, taking them along with their brutally poetic metaphors of violence.

'Love Is A Virus' is available to buy or stream across various platforms via this link.

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Saturday 28 September 2019

Review of 'at the water's edge' by Nadia Gerassimenko

Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019.  $14 (12), ebook $10.

The dedication of Nadia Gerassimenko’s latest volume of poetry itself (‘to you’) is a supersonic grasping for the fly in aspic, it is a clutching at the crystalline moon in a sea-mist spray.  The book includes the sequence of Dolores poems inspired by Nabokov’s Lolita and its 1997 film adaptation starring Dominique Swain and Jeremy Irons. 

Through these powerful poems Gerassimenko addresses not only illness and trauma but also the pertinent questions of our times that we as a society are still grappling with, struggling to comprehend, failing to understand; such as the issue of non-consensual relations which she argues desensitise the injured party so that they cannot even distinguish ‘a simple touch’ from that of the abuser (‘dolores hushed’, 11). 

In ‘freedom came in gradations’ her ‘inner voice’[1] that rises from the agonies of the soul is revealed most clearly in tongues of fire that are also indicative of the double-edged sword at the mouth revealed to the Prophet Isaiah and referenced in the New Testament vision of the final battle of good against evil, of light against dark forces.[2]  An Oxford exegetical Professor of Holy Scripture writes that ‘This is a symbol of the prophet, whose utterance has a cutting edge to it.’[3]  Gerassimenko immaculately whispers forth these inspirations to us in italics.  Her visions are seen through cracked windows, their epiphanies ‘birthed in me, / I stood & shredded / leftovers of pain-body // I un/attached’ (18).

at the water’s edge  is described on the blurb as a ‘rebirth through language’ but the birthing thereof matures and ages in other poems in the book.  Ted Hughes once said ‘I feel that my poems are obscure, I give the secret away without giving it’:[4]

            … i know i cannot force
            my red sea deluge of loves
            unto your wary porcelain frailty.
            or you will surely crack
            & i will surely bleed.
            but if ever the time comes
            to bare your soul,
            trust someone with your life
            & grant the scared key,
            won’t you let the right one in?

                        (‘let the right one in’, 27).

The ‘right one in’ is ‘above below’, an Eliotian poem of amazing brevity the title of which may well refer to the Hermetic aphorism of universal application As above, so below.  The rhyme in the first two lines links this poem with the Dolores sequence in the Latin/English suffix –ous, indicated by the bracketed and replete ‘joy(ous)’ (24), meaning full of, backtracking to ‘douloureuse’ and rhyming with its opposite in Sylvia Plath’s ‘dolorous’ in the poem ‘Sheep in Fog’.[5]  The wordplay on w(hole) in the final stanza also indicates part of the healing process in  both ‘dolores hushed’ and ‘above below’ where it is used with the same implication and in a way that expounds its first usage.  In the former the lines ‘complicated life is not convenient-’ (11) is also true conversely. 

The Dolores sequence culminates in the astounding ‘dolores forgives’ where in the breaking down of a word one may find advanced the meaning(s) and implications of another.  By being overt and unambiguous about it Gerassimenko highlights the importance of forgiveness to the healing process and not necessarily forgetting (as in a case of suicide in the title song ‘Forgiven, Not Forgotten’ by The Corrs from their 1996 album), this is explained in the title poem ‘forgetting is a matter of time / forgiveness, the ultimate release’ (‘at the water’s edge’ 23). 

In ‘elusive’ the fire is only ever assuaged by the waters of apperception where a beauty sits amiss; elusive and silent, heavy with emotion, reclaiming the ‘ghosts of lovers past in my womb,’ ‘& i craved water to dampen the earth in me.  i sought catharsis to rest my ghosts in peace.  but my salty tears kept drying me out, feeding them all the more; I could no longer be your loyal’ (30).  It goes on to deliver the very apt metaphor of two trees entwining with each other in order to nurture and protect one another in a stable loving relationship in a manner that allows a branching out, to respond creatively to the world about and that of others.  A bond rather like the houris of the Quranic Paradise that are described in an allegory ‘As though they were protected eggs with their glossy shine well cared for.’[6]

at the water’s edge contains the most deeply-felt and carefully crafted chapbook poems I have ever read (I am told they took four years to write) and it is well worth spending healthy hours and days looking up the diverse meanings and connections in these poems that form the whole.


[1] Jean-Paul Sartre.  L'existentialisme est un humanisme [Existentialism].  (Les Editions Nagel, 1946).
[2] And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished 
     shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
     And he hath in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance 
     was as the sun shineth in his strength.

                The Bible.  Isaiah 49:2, Revelation 1: 16.  (King James Authorised Version, 1611.  Oxford, 1997).  
[3] George Bradford Caird.  The Revelation of St John the Divine, (1966).
[4] Yehuda Koren and Eliat Negev.  A Lover of Unreason: The Life and Tragic Death of Assia Wevill, Ted Hughes’ 
      Doomed Love.  (Robson Books, 2006).  226.
[5] Sylvia Plath.  Collected Poems.  Edited by Ted Hughes.  (Faber and Faber, 1981).
[6] The Holy Quran.  Al Safat [The Rows]: 50.

Friday 8 June 2018

Contextual Notes to 'Smoke & Mirrors'

'Smoke & Mirrors', (A New Ulster).

Some notes were omitted from the book About Time: Poems & Adaptations 1993 - 2012 due to the length of the ones that were included.  They are published here now in full.

'Learning me how Mir was moonstruck for Mah': Mīr Taqī Mīr, (1723 – 1810) was the leading Urdu court poet of eighteenth century India under the Mughals; mah is moon.  Perhaps also the name of his beloved. 

'You dancing widdershins naked in the snow, prancing': Widdershins is to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun, left-hand-wise, unlucky.  The circumambulations in many a sacred ritual are performed counter-clockwise such as those around the Kaaba seven times during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. 

'They laugh at me that sometime did me seek,': Sir Thomas Wyatt. ‘They flee from me that sometime did me seek’.  The Complete Poems. Edited by R. A.Rebholz. (Penguin Classics). 116.

'But once at a party I overheard two fictionary beaux mondes': Fictionary is a word game in which players try to guess the meaning of obscure words.  Beaux mondes pertain to high fashion.

'I laughed like there's no tomorrow':
Asham'd to own they gave delight before,
Reduc'd to feign it, when they give no more:
As Hags hold Sabbaths, less for joy than spight,
So these their merry, miserable Night;
Still round and round the Ghosts of Beauty glide,
And haunt the places where their Honour dy'd.
        See how the World its Veterans rewards!
A Youth of frolicks, an old Age of Cards,
Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
Young without Lovers, old without a Friend,
A Fop their Passion, but their Prize a Sot,
Alive, ridiculous, and dead, forgot!

And in short, I was afraid.   T. S. Eliot. ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’.  Collected Poems 1909 –1962. (Faber & Faber, 1963).

'The drowned belle de la Seine humming': La belle de la Seine was an unidentified young woman whose body was pulled out of the Seine river in the 1880s; her supposed death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artists' homes in the early twentieth century and her visage was the fashion paradigm for German and Russian girls; it inspired many writers, including Vladimir Nabokov’s 1934 poem ‘L'Inconnue de la Seine’. In 1958, Norwegian toymaker Asmund Laerdal and Austro-Czech physician Peter Safar used it as the basis for ‘Rescue Anne’, the first CPR training model. In 2015 Anne-Gaelle Saliot published The Drowned Muse, a full length book on her social and cultural influence, (Oxford).

'To have but not to keep':
It seems to me that the chief thing about a woman - who is much of a woman - is that in the long run she is not to be had. A man may bring her his laurel wreaths and songs and what not, but if that man doesn't satisfy her, in some undeniable physical fashion - then in one way or other she takes him in her mouth and shakes him like a cat a mouse, and throws him away. She is not to be caught by any of the catch-words, love, beauty, honour, duty, worth, work, salvation - none of them - not in the long run. In the long run she only says 'Am I satisfied, or is there some beastly unsatisfaction gnawing and gnawing inside me.’ And if there is some unsatisfaction, it is physical at least as much as psychic, sex as much as soul. She goes for man, or men, after her own fashion, and so is called a Sphinx, and her riddle is that the man wasn't able to satisfy her - riddle enough for him: And an artist - a poet - is like a woman in that he too must have this satisfaction. There is that much life in him, more than in other people, which will not let him beii
'So these are the roots that grasp at the fly in aspic': Aspic is a savory jelly made with meat stock that contains pieces of meat, seafood, or eggs and is set in a mold; and used to contain pieces of meat, seafood, or eggs; its name derives from its colour, resembling that of the small, venomous snake called an asp (which Cleopatra used to commit suicide). Flies have been preserved in amber, but the expression ‘flies in aspic’ has become widespread as a simile for an anachronism.

'Love answers all the ogress' grave questions': The ogress is the ogress in Ted Hughes' Crow who asks the seven questions, not all of which Hughes allowed Crow to answer. Also the questions such as those in Gwion’s riddle in Graves' The White Goddess and many others scattered throughout the classical world literature which are too numerous to mention. 
         Afagddu's ugliness is prerogative to his success and high intelligence (to recompense). He achieves this by quaffing a cauldron of the Triple Muse that has simmered for a year and a day from below by mephitic jets of chewed toadstools and warmed from above from the breaths of the nine Muses (season by season with a brew of the sacred magical herbs ivy, hellebore and laurel, in accordance with the planetary motions). The cauldron itself contained a mash of barley, acorns, honey and bull's blood. 
               Afagddu eventually grows up to be swineherd royale to King Guaire of Connaught. His rival is Gwion who accidentally tasted the elixir when a drop bubbled onto his finger and Cerridwen tries to destroy him, adopting many guises - But thereon hangs another tale. In his poem 'Kadweir Taliesin' he mentions the cauldron 'of the five Trees.’ Taliesin himself was a Second Coming of Gwion. 
          Cerridwen is also the White Goddess of Life-in-Death and Death-in-Life. The Welsh bards described her as a Grain Goddess. Robert Graves in The White Goddess explicates upon the etymology of her name (and speculates that Arianrhod is another one of her many aspects). Graves points out Cerridwen's close connection with the witch Sycorax in Shakespeare's The Tempest in the chapter 'Hercules on the Lotus.' J. A. MacCullock in The Religion of the Ancient Celts (1911), equates her with the Sow Demeter (who is succeeded by Rhiannon). She had a cast in her left eye that has been recorded in the Romance of Taliesin. Sir James George Frazer records her existence in parts of Germany and France as spirit-of-the-corn and Cat Goddess. 
       In Christianity from as early as the thirteenth century the Virgin Mary herself becomes the cauldron or source of inspiration. Long before this she had already been reinvented by the Saxons, Angles and the Danes who brought very similar versions of her over to England with them: 
Cerridwen abides. Poetry began in the matriarchal age, and derives its magic from the moon, not from the sun. No poet can hope to understand the nature of poetry unless he has had a vision of the Naked King crucified to the lopped oak, and watched the dancers, red- eyed from the acrid smoke of the sacrificial fires, stamping out the measure of the dance, their bodies bent uncouthly forward, with a monotonous chant of: 'Kill! kill! kill!' and 'Blood! Blood! blood!’iii
In Hughes' unfinished Crow the eponymous hero is forced to cross a river carrying an ogress on his shoulders, but she gains weight en route until he cannot move; to decrease her weight he had to answer her riddles. His answers to her questions, were wrong to begin with but progressively better, until finally he was able to answer her seventh question correctly – The poem ‘Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days’: 
So, gasping with joy, with cries of wonderment
Like two gods of mud
Sprawling in the dirt, but with infinite care
                   They bring each other to perfection.
'Offering even as counter-question (a salve), itself in a frisson': 
The effect on readers of Muse poetry, with its opposite poles of ecstacy and melancholia, is what the French call a frisson, and the Scots call a ‘grue’ – meaning the shudder provoked by fearful or supernatural experiences.iv
There is more but this is the passage in mind.

'Lives, the Life-in-Death, an antevasin': Antevasin is Sanskrit for ‘One who lives on the border’.  Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love (2006), discovered the world when she was living in an ashram.  In her words ‘It indicated a person who had left the bustling centre of worldly life to go live at the edge of the forest where the spiritual masters dwelled.  The antevasin was not one of the villagers anymore – not a householder with a conventional life.  But neither was he yet a transcendent – not one of those sages who live deep in the unexplored woods, fully realized.  The antevasin was an in-betweener.  He was a border-dweller.  He lived in sight of both worlds, but looked toward the unknown.  And he was a scholar.’
              Also referencing the Prophet Tiresias’ lines from Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ that are boomed out by megaphone by Anthony Blanche from the balcony’s venetian arches in the Evelyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited.

'When the tongues of flame are in-folded': T. S. Eliot.  ‘Four Quartets: Little Gidding’. Collected.

'Of your ‘Jour-Nuit'French for ‘day/night’. See poem of same name by Hollace M. Metzger in the book Transcriptions of Time. (MiDEA, 2009). 137.

'Because I am already there.'  W. H. Auden. ‘The Maze’. Collected Poems. Edited by Edward Mendelson. (Faber & Faber, 1976, 1991).

Love is you
You and meJohn Lennon. ‘Love’. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band . (1970).

'And our first meeting.'  Auden, ‘A Bride in the 30’s’. Collected.

© Rehan Qayoom, 2012, 2018.

i Alexander Pope. ‘Epistle To a Lady: Of the Characters of Women’, 1735.
ii D. H. Lawrence. To Henry Savage, 31 October 1913. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence ii: June 1913 – October 1916
   Edited by George J. Zyfrank & James T. Boulton. (Cambridge University Press 1981). 94, 95.
iii Robert Graves. The White Goddess. (Faber & Faber, 1948, 1952, 1961).
iv Graves, ‘The Dedicated Poet’, Oxford Addresses on Poetry, (1962). Collected Writings on Poetry. Edited by Paul 
    O’Prey. (Carcanet, 1995). 308.

Monday 16 April 2018

'Artful Idol' by Rumi: Translation & Commentary


'The Erasure of Islam From the Poetry of Rumi' by Rozina Ali.  (The New Yorker​, 5 January 2017).

My artful idol appears every moment in a new guise, steals my heart and away he goes
This friend appears at each breath in a new dress now as a frail old man and now as a robust youth [1]

Sometimes he hides his true nature in dry ringing clay diving into the reality of things
Then emerges from the depths of meaning like pieces of pottery and disappearing into the heavenly Gardens [2]

What is the truth of before or after? Or of transmigration outside of the majesty of the beloved?
When it is he who is drawn out from the scabbard like a scimitar and slays an entire generation [3]

He circuits across the earth for a few moments to pass his time
He is Jesus who ascends to the rotating dome and is heard singing hymns [4]

Now he is Noah drowning an entire age through the power of his prayer whilst himself fleeing in the ark 
Now he is Abraham the well-beloved rising from amidst the fire whose flames turn to flowers 

Now he is Joseph sending his shirt from Egypt enlightening the whole world with its colours
Then he appears as a brightness from the eyes of Jacob so he could see him once again [5]

He was Tabriz itself, he was Shams himself shining in the gardens of sacred light upon cogent things
He it was who became apparent beneath the surge of secret things and revealed himself in love [6]

[1] Every day He is in a new glory.
The Holy Quran.  Al Rahman [The Beneficent: 30.  
God is still the directing hand in all affairs: He does not sit apart, careless of mankind or of any of His creatures.  But His working shows new Splendour every day, every hour, every moment.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali.  The Holy Quran: Text, Translation & Commentary.  (Lahore, 1934, 1938).
[2] He created man from dry ringing clay like pieces of pottery.
Al Hijr [The Stoneland]: 15.
No other scripture speaks of ringing pieces of broken water storage pots of terra cotta in relation to the creation of humans nor did anyone know that they have passed through a phase of existence akin to ringing pieces of pottery. This is proof of the Quran being the complete word of God. The scientists also agree to it now and in this way Science testifies to the greatness of The Holy Quran.
                  The grammarians take Jinn to mean bacteria and Imam Raghib has derived the same meanings that anything that is invisible to the naked eye comes under the category of Jinn. The Holy Prophet also defined the Jinn in the same way in saying 'Do not wipe the private parts with bones because it is the food of the Jinn.' [Var.] When one studies the research from this perspective it is proven that bacteria are created from fire.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad - Khalifatul Masih IV.  'Tarjumatul Quran - Surahs al-Qamr [The Moon]: 48 - al-Rahman [The Gracious]: 34', (29 September 1998).  
صَلْصَلٍۢ with the meaning of dry ringing clay.  See Al-Munjid by Abdul Hafeez Balyavi and Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran by Abul Qasim al-Hussayn bin Mufaddal bin Muhammad al-Raghib of Isfahan.
    This is the subject which could never itself have occurred to Muhammad the Holy Messenger of Allah ﷺ by any stretch of his imagination.  No mention is found in any other Divine book of the creation of humankind from ringing pieces of pottery.  But the scientists have resolved this enigma in the present age.
   Secondly before the birth of humanity the Jinn were created from blasts of fiery hot wind falling from the skies.  This aspect is also one that could never have been imagined by Muhammad the Holy Messenger of Allah ﷺ until God who is Knower of the Hidden had informed him of it.  The Jinn created from نَّارِ السَّمُومِ  [‘blasts of fire’] are the Bacteria which also resolves the enigma of where the stagnant blackish mud came from.  Moist clay does not stagnate of itself without the presence of Bacteria.
                 In the current age there are various explanations offered for the word Jinn but here one explanation for the Jinn is that Virus and Bacteria are also Jinn that came into existence as a result of the fiery radioactive rays falling from the heavens since the beginning of the cosmos.  All scientists of the current age are unanimous on this that Bacteria and Viruses exist by deriving energy from fire and as a direct consequence thereof.
              Then it makes a Prophecy about mankind that carries glorious mystical meanings and unveils the subtle secrets of creation.  Earlier books do speak of the concept of man being created from moist earth but the idea of mankind being created from dry ringing clay like pieces of pottery is one which is not mentioned by any book before 'The Holy Quran'.  It cannot be explained in detail here but the scientists know that there was a stage of creation where it was essential for the creative substances to be dry like ringing pieces of poetry.  Then the seas took in this dry element and wrapped it into its tides to embark upon a journey of the chemical progression of mankind in which it was necessary for the creation of mankind that this essential chemical not to return to its earlier form. 
Ahmad.  Introduction to the Surahs of The Noble Quran With Brief Explanatory Notes to Some Verses, (2002).
Also see pages 342 - 345 in Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth and the following chapters from the section on 'Life in the Perspective of Quranic Revelations': The JinnThe Essential Role of Clay & Photosynthesis in Evolution

[3] Referencing the two-pronged sword of the Imam Ali, cousin and son in-law of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his fourth Caliph and the first Shia Imam.

[5] The stories of the Prophets Noah, Abraham and Joseph all appear in the Quran with relevant chapters named after them.

[6] Shams: literally the sun.  Also referencing the oft-repeated Quranic expression هُوَ ٱلَّذِى ['He it is'] for God.  Note as well the past tense in reference to Shams.

© Video: Ismaili Wisdom / Translation & text: Rehan Qayoom​.

Friday 25 August 2017

Contextual Notes to 'India'


* 'To return to love'.  As often the poem is “intricately patterned”,[1] mapped out and peppered with dense allusions - The returning at the beginning of the poem is partly a backward glance at T. S. Eliot's:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn 
                (‘Ash Wednesday’, 1930).
Partly at the film poem 'Return To You', (Hollace M. Metzger).  Also referencing Eliot’s eternally true lines the author is always quoting because they need to be:

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 
         (‘Four Quartets: Little Gidding’, 1942).

* 'Ach, du.'  Sylvia Plath.  ‘Daddy’, 12th October 1962.  Collected Poems.  Edited by Ted Hughes.  (Faber & Faber, 1981).

* 'dark dark dark'.  Eliot, ‘Four Quartets: East Coker’, (1940).  The Poems of T. S. Eliot: Collected & Uncollected Poems.  Edited Christopher Ricks & Jim McCue.  (2 vols, Faber & Faber, 2015).

* 'Secretamente, entre la sombre y el alma.'  Pablo Neruda.  Cien sonetos de amor, (Editorial Universitaria, 1959).

* 'You might know her too, she is oft-returning ...' One of God's Divine attributes in the Quran is al-Tawwab (the Oft-returning).  It is contrasted here with 'She comes corrected, comes alive in colours:' with a nod to Ted Hughes' 'Crow's Undersong' whereas the She is the She Who Must Be Obeyed (of John Mortimer's Rumpoles).

* 'hastío forcejea con los lentos crepúsculos.'  Neruda, Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada. (Santiago, Editorial Nascimento, 1924).

* 'Than a craving in the weather of her love'.  'A process in the weather of the heart', (Dylan Thomas).

* "I push you away                                              
Because you’ll go anyway”.  

Quotation from the character Lauren Branning in the British soap opera Eastenders.  The author is himself an Eastender, born and bred in the East End of London.

* 'Warning of those ...' The verse offers answers to (and reasons for) the great questions in the style of Hughes' 'Fate Playing':
Because the message somehow met a goblin,
Because precedents tripped your expectations,

Because your London was still a kaleidoscope

Of names and places any jolt could scramble,

You waited mistaken.
'Why.' by Metzger is another poem along these lines from Transcriptions of Time. (MiDEA, 2009). 154, 155 as is 'Why?' by John Siddique in Full Blood.  (Salt, 2011).  81.

* 'Is She? Will There?' 'Do you? Is she?' (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.  1945, 1959).

* 'The third beside'.  Third Man Syndrome - Thus Eliot:

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
— But who is that on the other side of you? 
                     (‘The Waste Land’, 1922).
Who is this walking eternity’s highway
Towards the moment of fusion? She who winds her watch
With childhood’s logic of subtractions and reductions?
She for whom the dawn is not heralded
With rooster’s crow, but by breakfast’s aroma?
She who wears love’s crown
And is withering in the folds of her wedding dress? 
                  (Forough Farrokhzad, ‘Let Us Believe in the Beginning of a Cold Season’).

* 'a chameleon soul.  No moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality.'  Lana Del Rey.  ‘Ride’.  Born to Die: The Paradise Edition, (2012).

* 'The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,' Eliot, 'East Coker'.

* 'She was born to be somebody else’s girlfriend'.  With Damage in mind by Josephine Hart, (1991, 2011) and its 1992 film adaptation:
Eros is a god.  We have seen him tear down empires.  We have seen him tear down families.  The idea that erotic life is funny is, I think one of the great tragedies of our time.  It has not been regarded as a joke before to quite the same degree and it is an area of life in which we must tread carefully because we imagine we're in control of it, we imagine we can solve this, we imagine we can dominate this but very rarely do we ... 
     (Josephine Hart.  Interview, 1998).
Usually it dominates us.  Nobody can possess another person except in death; we do this by rewriting their stories.   In the symbolism of Tantric Yoga, Kali stands with her feet on the chest of the phallic god Siva, in an emblem of reversed sexual intercourse, which nevertheless produces an erection in Siva (as portrayed in numerous Indian temple carvings and medallions).  The serpent Vasuki is found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, its sister Manasa is to be found in Chinese and Japanese mythology. The god Shiva in Hinduism is believed to be garlanded with 5 serpents that represent wisdom and eternity. Greta Garbo performs an exquisite Divine dance around the idol of Shiva in the 1931 film Mata Hari. Hughes' discussion of serpent imagery can be found in 'The Snake in the Oak'.[2] 

* 'When their eyes were dazzled'. فَإِذَا بَرِق الْبَصَرُ  ['When the eye is dazzled'] (The Holy Quran. Al Qiyamah [The Resurrection]: 8).

© Rehan Qayoom, 2017.

[1] F. Scott Fitzgerald to Max Perkins.  The Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Edited Matthew J. Bruccoli & Margaret Duggan, (Random House, 1980).  113.
[2] Ted Hughes.  Winter Pollen.  (Faber & Faber, 1994).  458 - 464.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Contextual Notes to 'Conversazione'

[1] The Romans quaffed celebratory wine prepared from rose and violet petals and honey.a  Thirteenth century apothecaries sold crystalised violets, roses and lilies to be steeped in sweet hot water as a laxative. Violet flavoured candies were sold in decorated tins in Paris since the nineteenth century and also dusted on pastries as sugar crystals.b 

[2] I love no meat but Ortolans, and no women but you. Tho indeed that's no proper comparison but for fatt Dutchesses; For to love you is as if one should wish to Eat Angels, or drink Cherubim-Broath.

Alexander Pope. To Teresa & Martha Blount, 13th September 1717. The Correspondence of Alexander Pope: i. Edited by George Sherburn. 5 Vols, (Oxford University Press, 1956).

[3] Proclus (412 – 485), one of the last of the Neoplatonist philosophers and commentator on Plato writes ‘…the heliotrope follows in its movement the movement of the sun and the selenotrope the movement of the moon, forming a procession within the limits of their power, behind the torches of the universe? For, in truth, each thing prays according to the rank it occupies in nature, and sings the praise of the leader of the divine series to which it belongs, a spiritual or rational or physical or sensuous praise; for the heliotrope moves to the extent that it is free to move, and in its rotation, if we could hear the sound of the air buffeted by its movement, we should be aware that it is a hymn to its king, such as it is within the power of a plant to sing.’ 
                 ‘On earth suns and moons can be seen in an earthly state and in the heavens all the plants, stones, animals in a heavenly state, living spiritually.’
            ‘…the lotus manifests its affinity and sympathy with the sun. Before the appearance of the sun’s rays, its blossom is closed; it opens slowly at sunrise, unfolds as the sun rises to the zenith, and folds again and closes as the sun descends. What difference is there between the human manner of praising the sun by moving the mouth and lips, and that of the lotus which unfolds its petals? They are its lips and this is its natural hymn.’

It is written in The Holy Quran that the seven heavens, the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the beasts, the birds with their wings outspread in rows and many among humankind glorify God, all knowing their individual mode of praise and glorification:c

The seven heavens and the Earth and those that are therein extol His glory; and there is not a thing but glorifies Him with His praise; but you understand not their praising.  Yet He is Forbearing and Most Forgiving.
The Holy Quran. Bani Israel [Children of Israel]: 44.

I would comment that when first built the mosque of the Prophet ﷺ had no minbar [pulpit] from which to address the congregation. He would speak while leaning against a palm tree trunk in the wall next to the qibla near where he prayed. Eventually he began to use a minbar, as we will explain in its proper place. As he moved over towards it to make his address from it and passed by that tree trunk, it moaned like a love-lorne camel because it had always heard his speeches delivered near itself. And so the Prophet ﷺ returned to it and hugged it until it settled down, just like a baby, and became quiet. Details of this will be given hereafter through various lines, from Sahl b. Sa'd al-Sa’idi, Jabir, 'Abd Allāh b. Umar, 'Abd Allāh b. 'Abbās, Anas b. Mālik and Umm Salama, God be pleased with them.
          What more appropriate than the comment made by al-Hasan al-Basri after relating this story, from Anas b. Mālik, "O Muslims! A piece of wood so pining for the Messenger of God ﷺ! Do not men hoping to meet him have even more right to yearn for him?"

Ismail Ibn Kathīr. Al-Bidāya wa al-Nihāya: Al-Sīra Al-Nabawiyya [The Beginning & the End: The Life of the Prophet Muḥammad: ii]. 4 vols, (Garnet Publishing Ltd, 1998).  205. 
[4] "Are you there, Little Daughter?" they called, "Twii! Twii! Are you there?" "Yes, robins", she whispered, "I am here".  "Do come back, Little Daughter", they pleaded, "the … [whole] world is so sad without you … Do come back, Little Daughter, … the tall trees have lost all their leaves, so hard have they wept.  The birds sing no more.  No one knows where the daisies have vanished, and [even the] Great Sun is so sad that he rises later every morning and leaves us earlier every night.  Sometimes he hides his face for days behind the clouds and if you do not return, Little Daughter, he may never come again".  "Chut! I will come", whispered Little Daughter, "but I will come as a flower as tiny as a drop, and as white as the snow so that Queen Winter cannot see me".  And Snow-Drop grew out of the snow but everyone knew it was Great Sun’s Little Daughter.  They whispered it to each other when Winter was not about.  And new leaves grew on the branches again, and very shyly the birds sang again, and Great Sun smiled again as never before, and he woke earlier every morning and went to sleep later every night for his little daughter was found and all the big big world was happy once again.
 Noor Inayat Khan.  Twenty Jataka Tales.  (1939). 

© Rehan Qayoom / Poets and Dreamers, 2015.
a See the Apicius.  
b See Stephanie LaCava. An Extraordinary Theory of Objects.  (HarperCollins, 2012).
c The Holy Quran. Al-Hajj [The Pilgrimage]: 19, Al-Nur [The Light]: 42.