Ae Fond Kiss, and then We Sever Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; Ae fareweel, and then for ever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee. Who shall say that Fortune grieves him While the star of hope she leaves him? Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me, Dark despair around benights me. I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy; Naething could resist my Nancy; But to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love for ever. Had we never loved sae kindly, Had we never loved sae blindly, Never met -or never parted, We had ne'er been broken-hearted. Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest! Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure, Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure! Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; Ae fareweel, alas, for ever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee. by Robert Burns
The Definition of Love My love is of a birth as rare As 'tis for object strange and high: It was begotten by Despair Upon Impossibility. Magnanimous Despair alone Could show me so divine a thing, Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown But vainly flapped its tinsel wing. And yet I quickly might arrive Where my extended soul is fixed, But Fate does iron wedges drive, And always crowds itself betwixt. For Fate with jealous eye does see Two perfect loves; nor lets them close: Their union would her ruin be, And her tyrannic pow'r depose. And therefore her decrees of steel Us and the distant poles have placed (Though Love's whole world on us doth wheel) Not by themselves to be embraced. Unless the giddy heaven fall, And earth some new convulsion tear; And, us to join, the world should all Be cramped into a planishpere. As lines so loves oblique may well Themselves in every angle greet: But ours so truly parallel, Though infinite can never meet. Therefore the love which us doth bind, But Fate so enviously debars, Is the conjunction of the mind, And opposition of the stars. by Andrew Marvell
THE FALLING OF THE LEAVES by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) AUTUMN is over the long leaves that love us, And over the mice in the barley sheaves; Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us, And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves. The hour of the waning of love has beset us, And weary and worn are our sad souls now; Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us, With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.
A friend of mine asked me about Pakistani poetry, or specifically whether I’d read anything by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Well I have, and to be honest I’d always struggled with some of his writings – which were often political and deliberately antagonistic towards the ruling elite – he did this by challenging colonial as well as feudal values and as a result he was sent to prison repeatedly by both colonial and post colonial authorities. As a marxist his works reflect a strong sense of both commitment to and empathy for the lower classes. But I don’t want to dwell on the political aspects of his works largely because I don’t actually agree with some of them – I’ll save that for another day :).
What I do want to talk about are the various poems he wrote that dealt with love, loneliness and death. The more passionate followers of his work will often say that Faiz is considered primarily responsible for shaping poetic diction in contemporary Urdu poetry. I suspect they are probably right, whilst I can speak Urdu fluently, I can’t actually read it, so my exposure to Faiz’s works has always been through english translations. I do often wonder whether I do him a dis-service by judging, sometimes quite harshly, what I have read based on a translation, which may or may not genuinely convey what he intended.
Nevertheless, he was a very talented poet, here’s a few of my favourites:
Some Lover To Some Beloved! Down the memory lanes, on which you've strolled since ages past They will end if you walk farther a step or two Where exits the turn towards the wilderness of forgetfulness beyond which, there isn't any Me, nor any You My eyes hold their breath, for any moment you may turn back, move ahead, or at least turn to look back Although my sight knows that the wish is just a farce For if ever it were to run across your eyes again right there will spring forth another pathway Like always, where ever we run into, there will begin another journey of your lock's shadow, your embrace's tremor The other wish is also in error, for my heart knows There is no turn here, no wilderness, no mountain-range beyond whose horizon, my perpetual sun-of-your-Love can set May you continue walking these pathways, its better this way If you don't even turn to look back, it is okay
Do not ask, my love..... Do not ask, my love, for the love we had before: You existed, I told myself, so all existence shone, Grief for me was you; the worldâ€™s grief was far. Spring was ever renewed in your face: Beyond your eyes, what could the world hold? Had I won you, Fateâ€™s head would hang, defeated. Yet all this was not so, I merely wished it so. The world knows sorrows other than those of love, Pleasures beyond those of romance: The dread dark spell of countless centuries Woven with silk and satin and gold braocade, Bodies sold everywhere, in streets and markets, Besmeared with dirt, bathed in blood, Crawling from infested ovens, My gaze returns to these: what can I do? Your beauty still haunts me: what can I do? The world is burdened by sorrows beyond love, By pleasures beyond romance, Do not demand that love which can be no more.
… and finally …
Ghazal I am being accused of loving you, that is all It is not an insult, but a praise, that is all My heart is pleased at the words of the accusers O my dearest dear, they say your name, that is all For what I am ridiculed, it is not a crime My heart's useless playtime, a failed love, that is all I haven't lost hope, but just a fight, that is all The night of suffering lengthens, but just a night, that is all In the hand of time is not the rolling of my fate In the hand of time roll just the days, that is all A day will come for sure when I will see the truth My beautiful beloved is behind a veil, that is all The night is young, Faiz start saying a Ghazal A storm of emotions is raging inside, that is all.
The Rose with its redolent petals The Water lily with its robe of virgin white These have surely come to us in transmigration Of but a few of those Endowed with sublime beauty and grace. Some embrace death to sprout again But most, forever, in dust remain. by Mirza Ghalib (1797 - 1869)
Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott is easily one of the most beautiful and memorable poems I’ve ever read. I love reading the poem but it always leaves me feeling more than just a little grief stricken – as a theme unrequited love can be pretty painful. Whenever I pick up one of the various collections of Tennysons work’s that I have, no matter what else I read, I feel drawn to this poem it’s as though I have this terrible fixation with it – I’ll always read it. There’s something about it … it’s hard to articulate, erm … actually its probably not hard to articulate I’m simply choosing not to 😉
Nevertheless I was introduced to some of Loreena McKennitt’s musical works recently, amongst her many songs is this absolutely mesmerising adaptation of Tennyson’s poem:
All I’ll say is it pretty much moved me to tears … I wasn’t listening to the YouTube video itself (I bought her album on iTunes) so whilst the imagery in the video is pretty, I don’t find it particularly moving. I was listening to the song on my iPod and following the words in the poem. It really is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and she succeeds in bringing each stanza of the poem to life …
Take, oh take those lips away, That so sweetly were forsworn, And those eyes, the break of day, Lights that do mislead the morn: But my kisses bring again, Seals of love, but sealed in vain. Hide, oh hide those hills of snow, Which thy frozen bosom bears, On whose tops the pinks that grow Are yet of those that April wears. But first set my poor heart free, Bound in those icy chains by thee. by John Fletcher
TWO ladies to the summit of my mind Have clomb, to hold an argument of love. The one has wisdom with her from above, For every noblest virtue well designed: The other, beauty's tempting power refined And the high charm of perfect grace approve: And I, as my sweet Master's will doth move, At feet of both their favors am reclined. Beauty and Duty in my soul keep strife, At question if the heart such course can take And 'twixt the two ladies hold its love complete. The fount of gentle speech yields answer meet, That Beauty may be loved for gladness sake, And Duty in the lofty ends of life. by Dante Alighieri
decisions … decisions … decisions … why cant they ever be simple …!
When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high-piled books, in charact'ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain; When I behold upon the night's starred face Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love! -then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think, Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. by John Keats
Come, come, awaken all true drunkards! Pour the wine that is Life itself! O cupbearer of the Eternal Wine, Draw it now from Eternityâ€™s Jar! This wine doesnâ€™t run down the throat But it looses torrents of words! Cupbearer, make my soul fragrant as musk, This noble soul of mine that knows the Invisible! Pour out the wine for the morning drinkers! Pour them this subtle and priceless musk! Pass it around to everyone in the assembly In the cups of your blazing drunken eyes! Pass a philter from your eyes to everyone elseâ€™s In a way the mouth knows nothing of, For this is the way cupbearers always offer The holy and mysterious wine to lovers. Hurry, the eyes of every atom in Creation Are famished for this flaming-out of splendour! Procure for yourself this fragrance of musk And with it split open the breast of heaven! The waves of the fragrance of this musk Drive all Josephs out of their minds forever! -Rumi