...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 12, 2004

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

The ghazal is a thousand year old poetic form, which can follow very strict structural and metric rules. It originated in Persia, but was also used by Hindu and other poets, up to today. The poems usually involve a series of couplets and often explore erotic or sensual themes.

i know very little about the form, except that the great Spanish poet/playwright, Federico García Lorca included a number of poems in his 1934 collection De Divan Del Tamarit, which he labeled Gacelas. Many of the poems don't appear to be true ghazals, since they don't strictly follow a couplet format, although some do.

One poem from De Divan Del Tamarit seems especially apropriate to my own dark mood, given the fearful state of our world as i'm looking at it today. García Lorca called it Gacela de la Muerte Oscura. The following translation is by Catherine Brown:*

Ghazal of Dark Death

I want to sleep the sleep of apples,
far away from the uproar of cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who wanted to cut his heart out on the sea.

I don't want to hear that the dead lose no blood,
that the decomposed mouth is still begging for water.
I don't want to find out about the grass-given martyrdoms,
or the snake-mouthed moon that works before dawn.

I want to sleep just a moment,
a moment, a minute, a century.
But let it be known that I have not died:
that there is a stable of gold in my lips,
that I am the West Wind's little friend,
that I am the enormous shadow of my tears.

Wrap me at dawn in a veil,
for she will hurl fistfuls of ants;
sprinkle my shoes with hard water
so her scorpion's sting will slide off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of apples
and learn a lament that will cleanse me of earth;
because I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart out on the sea.

* from Selected Verse: A Bilingual Edition, edited by Christopher Maurer.

Posted by annika, May. 12, 2004 |
Rubric: Poetry