Tuesday, September 25, 2018

1184 - Rubáiyát

Idle thoughts from a recent Iranian holiday.

From before the first caravans had 'er shipped,
Travellers have into Persia slipped
To find the world of Omar Khayyam,
And Lo, behold, we find the eucalypt!

Lo!  Gatekeeper, we come to seek a place
To rest our head, to wash out face
And perhaps to sit around at night
To share our tales of time and space.

We're strangers and yet momentary friends —
The overt message that each picture sends:
Is one of hope and brotherhood,
Of different lives with common ends.

Oh Shiraz, Shiraz, daughter of the vine,
Seduced by the purveyors of divine,
And so now a miracle has come to pass —
In reverse — water now replaces wine.

A swirl of cloth, draped but loose —
Those ones with God demand its use —
To stop men's blood from overheating,
Liberation to some, to others a noose.

Alone amongst the legs, the trade is slow,
A boy sells you weight for a coin or so —
To make a living, such as is, but I am well fed
And so turn away; I do not want to know.

As both sultan and lowly peasant affirms
They enter life on different terms
But each departs through a common door,
It makes no difference to the worms.

Ah Persia, wondrous land of past intrigue
A land, we're told, that bats above its league,
Rugs and spices to entrance the travellers
And that most curious illness - mosque-fatigue.

Lo! Strangers, what can you tell us?
Believe us, Sir, we dislike the turbanned fellahs,
For too long they beguiled with paradise —
We no longer buy the dream they sell us.

The overlords are largely derided,
Seditious thoughts are freely provided.
There's no telling what the future holds
But revolutions are seldom guided.

Ancient Persepolis had style and grace,
A most won'drous architectural space.
It remained the centre of civic life
Until Alexander came and trashed the place.

So long to start and yet so soon gone,
Markets, mosques and tea salon,
All defer to the distant call—
The caravans pack and then, 
move on.
© 2018 J Cosmo Newbery
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  1. Lovely - and a tad sad.
    All mosqued out is something I would love the opportunity to experience. I do remember being templed out.

  2. These are so filled with the richness of Khayyam and Persia... the last verse is especially lovely! Isfahan beckons.

  3. This sounds like a lovely journey. I especially love your closing stanza. Wonderful to have visited that ancient country.

  4. It seems that Iran has really left a deep and warm imprint on you. It is indeed a wondrous land, with a rich history. Your poem conveys that!

  5. This poem is incredibly gorgeous and steeped in colour and history of Iran 😍😍😍 loved it!!

  6. Knowing quite a few people from Iran I do know the sorrow they feel... at the first gasp of freedom after the Shah the priesthood came and took it all away... I hope to see a positive change, the people there deserves it.

  7. Each vignette was a spark--lovely.

  8. "It makes no difference to the worms."
    Only two of the many delights in this poem that ranges by vignette from past to present and from upper class to lower. I like how you've captured the cadence of the Rubáiyát, and especially the reverse transformation of wine into water--reference to the bread and wine--and thou, under a bough!

  9. These little vignettes create a fascinating whole. Travel can open our eyes and hearts to new cultures if we allow ourselves to be so moved.

  10. I love the Persian atmosphere that you have created through sights and sounds and smells and most of all through documenting experiences of both historical and contemporary nature. The rhythm and allusions are so well done. It makes for a wonderful read.

  11. Wonderful echoes of both Fitzgerald and Flecker, perfectly transposed to contemporary circumstances!

  12. Fantastic! Masterfully rendered! A pleasure to read! Awesome writing!


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