Thursday, 19 July 2007

It's never too late to love - or rebel!

Culture is an important weapon in the struggle for socialism: Socialism is an important weapon in the struggle for culture . . .

"When I was growing up in Pakistan at age 16 or so, I would go to a poetry reading that would start after dinner about 10:30 p.m. and it would be going on when it was time for breakfast. In the morning we were just swaying with the rhythm of the words and the chant would go up from the crowd to recite some extemporary poetry–make it up. The poets would then have a competition. They would decide on a subject and recite poetry. And the audience would judge which one was the best." - Tariq Ali

Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a revolutionary, an anti-imperialist and one of the greatest poets to ever walk the earth. He is considered by some to be the national poet of Pakistan and many of his poems have become popular songs. This perhaps his most famous poem begins with a beautiful description of a love affair and infatuation, but the idyll is suddenly interrupted by injustice in the world and the poet declares that he must renounce the cocooon of romantic love for something else.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz

That which then was ours, my love,
don’t ask me for that love again.

The world then was gold, burnished with light –
and only because of you. That’s what I had believed.
How could one weep for sorrows other than yours?
How could one have any sorrow but the one you gave?
So what were these protests, these rumors of injustice?
A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime.
The sky, wherever I looked, was nothing but your eyes.
If You’d fall into my arms, Fate would be helpless.

All this I’d thought, all this I’d believed.
But there were other sorrows, comforts other than love.
The rich had cast their spell on history:
dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and silks.
Bitter threads began to unravel before me
as I went into alleys and in open market
ssaw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
This too deserves attention. I can’t help but look back
when I return from those alleys –what should one do?
And you still are so ravishing –what should I do?
There are other sorrows in this world,
comforts other than love.

Don’t ask me, my love, for that love again.


cleckanndra said...

Bitter threads began to unravel before me....

Brilliant posting. Thanks for that.

I'd be interested in your views on concentric circles I've just posetd on Cleckanndra.

Anonymous said...

The poem reminds me of a poem called "Renunciation" by Padraic Pearse which is similarly about renouncing love for revolution.

Pearse was with James Connolly one of the leaders of the ill-fated Easter Rising in Dublin 1916.


Naked I saw thee,
O beauty of beauty!
And I blinded my eyes
For fear I should flinch.

I heard thy music,
O sweetness of sweetness!
And I shut my ears
For fear I should fail.

I kissed thy lips
O sweetness of sweetness!
And I hardened my heart
For fear of my ruin.

I blinded my eyes
And my ears I shut,
I hardened my heart
And my love I quenched.

I turned my back
On the dream I had shaped,
And to this road before me
My face I turned.

I set my face
To the road here before me,
To the work that I see,
To the death that I shall meet.

Respectable Citizen said...

Good poem. Though could be construed as sexist, possibly.

James Connolly was executed by the British strapped to a chair because he was so shot up he couldn't stand up