Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Tuesday, August 10, 2010

RAMADAN: REMEMBERING AGHA SHAHID ALI


The muslim holy month of ramadan (http://www.holidays.net/ramadan/)begins tonight at sunset, and i can think of no better way to honor the time than posting a ghazal by the late Kashmiri-AMERICAN poet Agha Shahid Ali. after the assaults on islam that we've heard in our media and swirling around cyberspace, the image of god weeping in one's arms tonight leaves me moved to silence. Perhaps silence is the best way to respond to this poem, a long, listening silence. ( I send my Ramadan greetings to Fatemeh and Debbie's Hassan.) More about the poet follows his poem.


tonight

BY AGHA SHAHID ALI

Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar
Laurence Hope

Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight?
Whom else from rapture’s road will you expel tonight?

Those “Fabrics of Cashmere—” ”to make Me beautiful—”
“Trinket”—to gem—“Me to adorn—How tell”—tonight?

I beg for haven: Prisons, let open your gates—
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.

God’s vintage loneliness has turned to vinegar—
All the archangels—their wings frozen—fell tonight.

Lord, cried out the idols, Don’t let us be broken
Only we can convert the infidel tonight.

Mughal ceilings, let your mirrored convexities
multiply me at once under your spell tonight.

He’s freed some fire from ice in pity for Heaven.
He’s left open—for God—the doors of Hell tonight.

In the heart’s veined temple, all statues have been smashed
No priest in saffron’s left to toll its knell tonight

God, limit these punishments, there’s still Judgment Day—
I’m a mere sinner, I’m no infidel tonight.

Executioners near the woman at the window.
Damn you, Elijah, I’ll bless Jezebel tonight.

The hunt is over, and I hear the Call to Prayer
fade into that of the wounded gazelle tonight.

My rivals for your love—you’ve invited them all?
This is mere insult, this is no farewell tonight.

And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee—
God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight.

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

Agha Shahid Ali was born in New Delhi, India in 1949. He grew up in Kashmir, the son of a distinguished and highly educated family in Srinagar. He attended the University of Kashmir, the University of Delhi and, upon arriving in the United States in 1975, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Arizona. Though a Kashmiri Muslim, Ali is best known in the U.S. and identified himself as an American poet writing in English. The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards and a finalist for the National Book Award, he taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Princeton College and in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. At the time of his death in 2001, Ali was noted as a poet uniquely able to blend multiple ethnic influences and ideas in both traditional forms and elegant free-verse. His poetry reflects his Hindu, Muslim, and Western heritages.

If the hate-mongers among us could sit down quietly and read Agha Shahid Ali's poems, they might come to the sort of profound "opening" of mind that only art can provide.


9 comments:

Lorenzo said...

Thanks, Kathryn, for the intro to Agha Shahid Ali and for your parting thoughts on the power of art to vanquish hate. I, too, want to believe that art can have such power; I wish I knew how to bring the type of hate-mongerers you describe to its doorway.

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful post, Kay! An amazing poem, filled with such great images.

Lyn said...

I think the enigmatic world has never changed, will never change..so it seems we will also always have great artists..here's to the poet, and thank you for this introduction to Agha Shahid Ali

Novice Naturalist said...

I am thrilled to find your blog, especially to come to it through such a lovely poem as this. Art does have the power to face down hate, if given only a bit of a chance. Best, Jay

Nancy Simpson said...

Who knows which way the world will go - caring for God's creation or despising and killing them? I wish I could be around long enough "to see what the end is going to be." ( as Maya Angelou said)

I'm with Agha Shahid Ali tonight.

"This is mere insult, this is no farewell tonight.
And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee—God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight."
---------------
Agha Shahid Ali

Jessie Carty said...

Thanks for sharing this Kay ;)

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thanks to all of you for visiting. I've been a blog-slouch lately but hope to get back to it if only on a once a week basis.
Lorenze, how to get the hate-mongers to the doorway of art is the most daunting challenge I can imagine, and yet art, especially literature, enables us to live more than one life, to live inside characters and voices not our own and come to feel them as our own.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Agha Shahid Ali died much too early of cancer.
The strife in his beloved Kashmir broke his heart. It's ongoing, with India being faced with failure in trying to bring peace to this beautiful and much fought over region.

willow said...

Thanks, Kay, for this wonderful introduction. "Damn you, Elijah, I’ll bless Jezebel tonight" reached out and grabbed me. Perfect tribute to Ramadan.