Friday, 16 November 2012

Rubaiyat


 
 
I.


I have learnt yours off by heart and recited
each one of them outside and inside my head
till the curves of skulls were shaped by their echoes
and spines altered to hold the words they said.

 

Your moving finger has crept down centuries
touched pawns and queens; and greater pens and keys;
and touched me too sitting in the darkness
with my hair rippling a little in the breeze.

 

Then there are those, whose delicate rubaiyat
I forget, at least, can’t recall all their art
but they get mixed in with the mortar of life
and they are in the paving of the path. 

 

And sometimes I’m caught quite unawares
as to what I read, whether it’s yours or theirs;
all verses appear to blend in at the source
into one great poem, echoing everywhere.

 

II.


Has this or that been perfect, and origins
marked out mindfully as each thing begins?
and has it been spun to its logical end?
Endless questions remain scratched in the margins.

 

I have often found most answers in a verse,
sometimes yours, and sometimes also the others’
and nothing so pleasing as a shred of silence,
a trapped morsel between the teeth of words;

 

and whether it rhymed or not, was left blank
where I chewed slowly on the lines, where I drank
the verses up in one long breathless draught
lost in the wilderness, or in databanks -

 

in the end they just spelt out the same things
the dry desert, the dry data, the readings -
yours and theirs, wherever I happened to be,
my ends looped back and touched their first beginnings.

 

III.



I have not written it down, I can’t explain
how another life, its separate bliss and pain
frisbees into mine without any distortion
thrown across centuries through just one quatrain

 

even when I have not been able to catch
their exact sense, and there’s a mismatch
in the shapes of chasms in my life, and theirs,
they have still found a slot, a place to attach.

 

Like a pebble in a pool, that’s been thrown
by some playful hand, famous or unknown
and the ripples show just once at the surface
but what remains at the bottom is that stone.

 

I have watched each ripple closely as it formed
but also sifted that mud-bed as it swarmed
with the pebbles and the frisbees that you’ve tossed,
and each of the starts and ends that you transformed.





Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat was the first "complete" book of poetry I read as a teen and totally fell in love, and decades later I still feel the same. The first part of my rubaiyat was posted earlier in May as a tribute on his birth anniversary.  I expanded that today to share at dVerse, where the subject for the prompt is literary allusion.

 

 

20 comments:

  1. very nice...i esp love the stone thrown in the pond and the watching of the ripples...makes a great metaphor for influence....and the second where you are finding truth in verses, even ones you dont completely understand....wherever I happened to be,
    my ends looped back and touched their first beginnings...ha...i like that...smiles.

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    1. Thank you for reading, esp so under the circs...much valued

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  2. Beautifully constructed poem: I admire that. I have not ever read the Rubyaiat, but probably should. It is wonderful that it spoke to you when you were a teen and continues to be a favorite now....and so cool that you decided to write your own!

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    1. I find many of my fav poets/poetry hooked me young and then I never managed to get away, Frost being another name in a mile long list! Thank you for reading and your comment.

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  3. I am so glad you chose the Rubyaiat..which makes me want to revisit it. Although, I confess, your poem satisfies all by itself. Beautiful. And your comment about my poem reminding you of Mary Oliver is the best complement I could ever receive. Thank you.

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    1. It was hard picking just one! Thank you for such a rich prompt, and for reading.

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  4. Most excellente. The more I learn, the more i read. Your piece is inspiring. Some great lines, I mean a lot of great lines. A feast of talent. I enjoyed this very much

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    1. Thank you! Inspiring is a very powerful word, and quite the nicest compliment I've received so far!

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  5. Mesmerising lines cause ripples in my soul, you are a poetess. Have I said it before? You are a great poetess.

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    1. Thank you, Sulekha! So very nice to see you here :)

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  6. A lovely tribute and your own beautiful poem - the ripples started and carried out. k.

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  7. so beautiful... reading him when you were a teen and still being in love with his words makes it so much sweeter.
    wonderful work!

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    1. There are more like him, poets for whom I have an abiding love...chose Khayyam coz I came upon him spontaneously, not as part of school texts..thanks for reading.

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  8. oh nice..i like much...isn't it awesome how poetry can attach to our heart and even become a part of us...love it

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    1. It is indeed awesome how poetry stays with us, both as inspiration and as comfort...thanks for reading.

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  9. This is really beautiful and a true statement about the power of poetry. I especially loved: 'all verses appear to blend in at the source
    into one great poem, echoing everywhere.'

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    1. Poetry is power! :) thanks for reading

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