A reading of Tim Burton’s poem which was the basis for the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, with accompanying animation.
Czesław Miłosz was indeed a Pole, and a truly great one, winning the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. However, I’m talking about a poll, not a Pole!
The ongoing series “Rubá’í of the Day”, in which each day I post one of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, has been one of this blog’s most popular series, averaging at least a few likes each day. I have published the entirety of Edward FitzGerald’s famous translation, and am now about three fifths of the way through Edward Whinfield’s translation. The latter is much longer–FitzGerald translated only seventy-five rubáiyát, but Whinfield translated five hundred. In any case, I’ve enjoyed publishing them, but I think two translations and nearly six hundred verses are plenty enough, dearly as I love Omar. The last rubá’í, therefore, will be published on 9 March 2014.
That’s still a ways off, but I’m trying to plan ahead. I’d like to continue publishing a poem a day, subject to the all-important criterion that they be public domain. I’m leaning towards one of the following:
Hafiz (Khāwaja Shamsu Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī), Iranian Sufi poet who lived in the 14th Century. Omar Khayyám, patron of this blog, is far and away the best-known Persian (Iranian) poet in the English-speaking world, because of Fitzgerald’s famous translation; but in Iran, Hafiz is considered the greatest Persian lyric poet, writing poems dealing with love, society, and faith. He is especially known for writing in the ghazal format. Unlike Khayyám, who published little if any poetry publicly during his lifetime (probably out of concern for repercussions of his unorthodox views), Hafiz published large amounts, and was well-known and highly lauded throughout the Islamic world during his lifetime. The two also differed in that whereas Khayyám always tended towards skepticism and cynicism, Hafez was more orthodox and of a mystic bent.
Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī Rūmī), also an Iranian Sufi poet (though born in Turkey). Like Hafez, Rumi was a Sufi. In fact, he was the founder of the still-extant Mevlevi Sufi order. Rumi is best known for his magnum opus, the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, though he published many other works, as well. ”Translators” such as Coleman Barks have made Rumi quite popular; but as with any other poetry I’ll ever post here, I will cleave strictly to actual translations, not “interpretations”.
Kabir, 5th Century mystic poet of Northern India. Kabir was part of the Sant movement in which mystics, poets, and seekers worked to find a common spirituality transcending the various religious divisions of India at that time. Kabir was born into a Muslim family but later renounced allegiance to any one faith. He is revered by Muslims and Hindus both, and some of his verses found their way into the holy book of Sikhism, the Guru Grant Sahib.
Walt Whitman, one of the first proponents of what later came to be called free verse. He’s not in the very top echelon of my personal favorite poets, but over the years he has grown on me. Certainly I think his verse would be worthy of posting.
Edgar Lee Masters, another proponent of free verse. He is best known for Spoon River Anthology. This set of poems consists of the epitaphs of various residents of the fictional town of Spoon River. The epitaphs are actually commentary framed as if spoken from the grave, giving each individual a chance to comment, grip, mourn, or discuss his or her life. It’s one of my favorite pieces of poetry. It would also be well-suited to the poem-a-day format, since there are 244 poems in the collection, and they are all relatively short. Spoon River Anthology is actually a personal favorite of mine.
To that end, I posted a poll awhile back to see if my readers (small in number though they be) had any preferences, and have put up a reminder linking back to that poll. This post is another reminder! So far, Walt Whitman is winning, but there have been only a few votes thus far. I invite anyone who is interested to click the link at the beginning of this paragraph, have a look, and vote for the next poem-a-day. If you don’t like any of the suggestions, please feel free to contact me and give me your public domain suggestion. I look forward to feedback!
Recited by T. S. Eliot himself.
Not that kind–a poll!
A week or so ago I posted a poll as to possible poets to start posting next year when the “Rubá’í of the Day” series runs out. So far, it’s a three-way tie among Rumi, Kabir, and Walt Whitman, with one vote each. By now the poll is several pages back; therefore, I’m linking to it in this post and encouraging all and sundry to go there and make your voices heard. The ”Rubá’í of the Day” seems to be one of the most consistently popular features here, and I want to find something that will appeal to readers as a follow up. Let me know what you think!
(Courtesy of here)
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again
Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice
And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.