at the point where night bids farewell she raises her head, crowned by a pallu of sizzling red, gold a slender mangalsutra enhances her slightly inverted neck
the strongest of henna the darkest of kohl the boldest of kumkum a piercing flame from the nath
as ittar fades into memories of a thousand jasmine buds crushed in vain
with the gentlest demeanor she did but bide her time
sweet were her tears what could she do? he swindled even the salt from her life
pallu – the trailing end of a sari, red and gold are bridal colours
mangalsutra – auspicious necklace of black beads and gold worn by a Hindu woman after her wedding
kumkum – red/vermilion powder used for bindi on the forehead and/or applied in the parting of a married woman’s hair
nath – referring to the nose ring worn by a bride
ittar – perfume made from flower petals
It is International Women’s Day and this poem is a (spontaneous) dedication to all the women who understand the crushing of hopes, but never in vain.
This poem was inspired by @temporal3‘s prompt on Twitter provided by @omerwahaj
(Raised up by a Crane
Crown of the Crane
Craned her neck)
I would like to introduce you all to A Tang Poet from Nairobi. This blog is about the Complete Poems of Li Shangyin Interpreted into English by Mark Obama Ndesandjo. At the end of last year, Mark introduced me to Li Shangyin’s poetry and I was so enticed by the poetry itself and also Mark’s interpretations which are written so beautifully. Mark wanted to present the work of the fascinating Tang poet Li Shangyin to a western audience in its entirety. Interestingly, he also looked to integrate his personal observations and meditations on Kenya, China and America using Li Shangyin as a muse, so to speak.
We worked on the idea of creating a blog to achieve his vision and share Li Shangyin’s work.
I am reblogging the post World’s End because I really enjoyed every bit of it and just to share with you how skilfully he has connected different concepts and graced it with his own calligraphy and a beautiful Musical interlude.
We would be very interested to have some feedback about this type of poetry and its interpretation, so go ahead and leave your thoughts at A Tang Poet from Nairobi
Once upon a time, in a year I do not want to remember (but long ago), I took a safari tour across Northern Kenya. On a day I also choose to forget, I arrived at the end of the world. Scarped slopes lay accusingly in the distance, behind Lake Turkana. Round-bellied children looked up at me with bittersweet eyes that grew large and soft each time they giggled. By the fishing villages, the jeweled lake spread like liquid silver over the plain, ending in a vast mouth that slowly devoured the rosy red clouds. Trees had fled and boulders and sand wrapped around us like a petrified mist. Countless pebbles, smoothed by eons of erosion, became a handful of dust, slipping through my fingers, like tears of coal. My heart welcomed the sounds of children, but loved even more the indifference and solitude of the dry air.
春日在天涯， chūn rì zài tiān yá
天涯日又斜。 tiān yá rì yòu xié
莺啼如有泪， yīng tí rú yǒu lèi
为湿最高花。 wèi shī zuì gāo huā
At the end of the world, on a Spring day When the sun sets, Were the nightingale to sing, imagine its tears Sprinkling the tallest flowers
Musical Interlude: Rachmaninoff Prelude Op 32/10 played by Mark O. Ndesandjo
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s prelude evinces a fatalistic, fins de siècle mood. I recorded this piece in Nairobi last year. If one listens carefully one can hear birds in the garden!
Notes: Lake Turkana – is the world’s largest desert lake. Lake Turkana sustains the tribes in Kenya’s remote north, but projects upstream threaten its lifeblood. Read more about this in Last Rites for the Jade Sea
About the Calligraphy
春日在天涯，天涯日又斜。莺啼如有泪，为湿最高花。At the end of the world, on a Spring day, when the sun sets. Were the nightingale to sing, imagine its tears sprinkling the tallest flowers. (3 rows, 20 characters, Cursive Cao Script): M.O. Ndesandjo.
you may try to silence sound but you could never still vibration you may make us shed blood, tears but it will only flavour that essence
how shall you mute us? how shall you abduct the rhythm in our anthem? each explosion only lends itself to the reverberation
yes, grief is selective yes, mourning is a luxury but recognise that each time and every time we shall rise every whirl represents rotation how shall you halt the movement of earth?
and how will you destroy that which has no form?
February 16th, 2017 at least 70 people, including women and children, were killed and more than 150 injured in a suicide attack by ISIS on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Pakistan.
My heart was heavy.
Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274) was a Sufi saint, philosopher and poet. He represents love, beauty and togetherness. There is perhaps no other shrine in the country that captures the essence of religious syncretism like the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. In his courtyard, it feels as if the riots of Partition never happened, as if Sindhi Hindus were never forced to abandon their land, as if Christian settlements in Punjab had never been burned after alleged cases of blasphemy. The courtyard of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents a different world, a world that once existed but has slowly disappeared outside its confines.
However even before the echoes of the screams died down, and the last strains of blood could be washed off the courtyard, dhamal began once again on Friday morning. It was like it had never stopped. The world never stops rotating.
A very famous Qawali has been written in honor of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and is called Dama Dam Mast Qalandar. There are countless versions of this song, one of which I shared in my post The Song of the Sufi. It is an anthem of the simple yet highest form of love, which is devotion. Today I share with you another delightful version of the qawali.
Finally, I would like to leave you with the thought that there was very limited and selective outrage over the Sehwan attack. Why do some lives matter less than others?
This poem is the voice of the Sufis, the voice of Qalandaris
It is the voice of everyone who seeks love, togetherness, beauty
This poem is my voice
Let this poem also be your voice
Spread the awareness