Wednesday, January 21

"Mending Wall"


Robert Frost (1864-1963)


Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seem them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each,
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t like love a wall,
That wants it down. I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’
.

Tuesday, January 20

Remembering...

Originally I had a plan for this first post of 2009; it was to be light, brief and seasonal. But then, my mood changed when I received the sad news of the passing of an acquaintance, who lost his battle with cancer, this past Saturday night.

As I am neither a composer of an obituary note, nor a mourner of close relation to the deceased, but a grieved acquaintance who came to know a little about the man, I’d like to dedicate this note to the memory of Iraj Emad.

I didn’t know him thoroughly, and only had a few encounters with him, a few years ago. Back then, he seemed up beat and in spite of his ongoing battle with cancer he was very positive about the outcome of his treatments and kept a very active life. And he believed that, “it is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep”.

He always had stories about people, usually famous people who were dead. But he also had stories about living people too. But more than a storyteller, he saw himself as “…a singer without a voice”. As an exile, he was an intense man, like many other exiles, but that intensity of character had much to do with his constant battle in winning the hearts of those who came to listen to his stories, which were as colourful as you would want to hear! He seemed rather restless, very passionate and loudly opinionated, and, at times, he seemed very uncompromising and disagreeable, the very traits which made him into a raging bull with a broken horn.

A little while ago, I spoke with him over the phone. He sounded tired, and scared. I pretended that I didn’t feel it; but in my heart, I knew that he knew his battle was over. In that last phone call, reminiscences of the past encounters made for a discovery of the frailty of human being. We both knew that there will be no more encounters; we knew that future was not for him, and the phone call was just a closure for us.
katayoun

Sunday, January 4

The first poem of 2009

My heart was settled on George Herbert’s (1593-1633) The Pulley. Do you know what Pulley means? Well I tell you what Pulley is. Pulley, according to Oxford English Dictionary, is a “noun,” no doubt, but it is a “wheel or set of wheels over which a rope or chain is pulled in order to lift or lower heavy objects”. But what such a noun has to do with a poem is an inquiry of kind, that results in an appreciation for a poetic language that had been used to express a certain idea about the working of a Divine power in creating man in His own Image.

And here is the poem:


The Pulley


When God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can;
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie;
Contract into a span.

So strengths first made a way;
Then beautie flow’d. then wisdome, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottome lay.

For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessnesse:
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse
May tosse him to my breast
.