Monday, April 24, 2006

"With precision"         [ghazal]

Though my info isn't lacking
my ambition's lately slacking

could I conquer yet the world
if aspiration kept me cracking?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

while the future's veiled from sight
can blind guessing lend me backing?
where imagination draws me
must dim reason keep me tracking?
when the Huns of wild yearning
my heart's citadel are sacking
I turn inward toward Khoda
who can send the wastrels packing

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

now my beard has gone to gray
while the night were lost in blacking
in the maze of my confusion
all my guts & brains I'm wracking!
all the poetry that sustains me
proffers no substantial backing
on my map of enterprise
there's no victory I'm tacking

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

is the tapestry of science
merely rumor mixed with flacking?
all the wisdom of the scholars
proves but so much bric-a-bracing
in a banquet of small scraps
one finds not enough for snacking
from the train I glimpse no station
all I hear is click & clacking!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

if the poets practice surgery
who'll protect us from their hacking?
though the melody sounds inviting
could the singer stop sad-sacking?
is the power of speech & thought
one more airplane they're hijacking?
do soft vernal flowers conceal
autumn's mafiosic whacking?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

in a house I layer with lacquer
inspiration's spark is lacking

if Ardeo scrawls strange doodles
with precision are they smacking?


In the 6th couplet, Khoda (Farsi): "the Lord"

In the penultimate couplet, a house I layer with lacquer: this may recall the "house of lac" in the classic episode from the Mahabharata epic (involving a house that had been constructed for the purpose of murdering the Pandava brothers, albeit they managed to escape the evil stratagem); but the image is turned to a contrary use and sense, here. The key idea is simply that such a flammable abode, is one easily ignited -- if the requisite spark is present. The layering of lacquer, and absence of a spark, suggests an ironic situation. Yet there's also the unstated possibility a spark might appear in future. The creative (or, in the instance, destructive) potential, remains with such a structure. That the poet implicitly may seek his own immolation, could be one reading of a subtext of the couplet. (So much for self-explication.) ;-)


Blogger david raphael israel said...


The first six couplets were initially written as a paraphrase or recasting of verses written by Parvez Shaikh -- though I've revised my verses enough that they veer into their own turns of thought. Parvez's verses were themselves a contrarian riposte to other verses of conventional wisdom (regarding primacy of knowledge as a key to power in the world). Anyway, in the remainder of my poem (beyond the first six couplets), the thought ranges still more widely. Thanks to Max Babi for sending Parvez's poem and its antecedent (along with one of his own that recast Parvez's), and to Natasha for the original received-wisdom forward (that spurred this exchange, with the said sequence of responses). That's the anecdotal background; but this poem has grown into its own thing, I'd hazard saying. It's interesting to write in such short lines. Usually the ghazal form will require a repeating refrain [after the rhyme]; this particular variant dispenses with the refrain (as likewise do a few rare Urdu instances of the form, I'm told, although most of course employ it).

Ah, but I found it necessary to revise the first two couplets; the revised form is now above. This brings the poem more in line with my own thought. Originally (paraphrasing Parvez's thought, as said), these lines read thus:

So my info may be lacking?
my ambition isn't slacking
while there's much I fail to grasp
aspiration keeps me cracking

-- but that's really as far from my present mood, as may be the original words extolling the excellence of wisdom as a key to power. So this is a third devolution. The first thought is: I know so much, therefore I can manipulate the world! The next thought is: I don't know much, but the fire in my heart suffices. The third thought is: I know a lot, but I've lost the drive to do anything about it. Rather sad, isn't it? And the 3rd sher too, -- I had written this as

is the future veiled from sight?
my perception lends me backing

-- but find that a differing thought replaces it (as now above).
And yet again, with the 4th couplet, what had been

where imagination draws me
self-control may keep me tracking

-- is now revised as above. Thus a differing poem more fully emerges.

Mon Apr 24, 04:47:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Pragya said...

This was a joy to read, David!


Mon Apr 24, 07:22:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Pragya --
I'm grateful for your note.
I seem to have mixed (afterthought) feelings about this poem, and was wondering a bit if it was worth posting. [and then the long "note" is even worse (or more excessive) than the poem.] ;-)
so -- thanks.

Mon Apr 24, 07:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Blue Athena said...

Riveting read, D.R.I. :)

Mon Apr 24, 11:51:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Grazie Preeti-Athena!


Wed Apr 26, 07:48:00 AM PDT  
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