Friday, October 30

Irving Layton (1920-2006)

From Colony to Nation

A dull people,
but the rivers of this country
are wide and beautiful

A dull people
enamoured of childish games,
but food is easily come by
and plentiful

Some with a priest’s voice
in their cage of ribs: but
on high mountain-tops and in thunderstorms
the chirping is not heard

Deferring to beadle and censor;
not ashamed for this,
but given over to horseplay,
the making of money

A dull people, without charm
or ideas,
settling into the clean empty look
as into a legacy

One can ignore them
(the silences, the vast distances help)
and suppose them at the bottom
of one of the meaner lakes,
their bones not even picked for souvenirs.

Saturday, October 24

Oh, those characters!

After a long time, I now know that to enjoy life as much as one can, one must look at some people as characters. However poorly or richly a character is developed, he or she is the salt of life; without them life would be a dull thing.
Whether a pompous ass or a jealous mutt, or a successful self-made-type-of-a-lowest-cast-of-mind, or a self-proclaimed authority on some sort of a shim-sham, these characters are as real as the reality of life is. And therefore, it would be ignorant of us to dismiss or disregard them, just based on our own dislike of their suspicious development. Having said that, tolerating them is even more difficult than understanding their development, if that happen to be too rich for our taste. Nevertheless to enjoy life one must endure, tolerate and accept things.

That was all I wanted to say for tonight!


Saturday, October 17

Fear no more th heat o’ th’ sun

A poem for you? No, a poem for both of us. Something to take us away from all that is unreal, that has us in its grips, that we need a great poet to release us from its hold. Yes, someone with a rhythmic imagination, who rhymes in meaning, will give you what you want to hear! You don’t agree? Oh, well, hear what Master Shakespeare has for you.

Fear no more th heat o’ th’ sun

Fear no more the hear o’ th’ sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta’en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ th’ great
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke,
Care no more to clothe and eat,
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash.
Nor th’ all-dreaded thunder-stone.
Fear not slander, censure rash.
Thou hast finish’d joy and moan.
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have,
And renowned be thy grave!


PS: Design by Katayoun

Saturday, October 10

The Old Wisdom

My maternal grandmother used to tell me that, “the way you treat your parents is the way they have treated theirs,” and life has never showed me otherwise. We learn from our parents, from our society, from our traditions, from our religious beliefs, but we may as well choose to put our learning to use, carefully.

The other day I was at a shop, where women buy hosieries and stuff like that, and I encountered something that reminded me of the truthfulness behind my grandmother’s wisdom, which had an ironic tone to it.

There were four customers, beside me, in that shop, and there were four sales persons trying to pitch their sales. I was at the section, where cashmere socks are hung, and let me tell you there is nothing more luxurious in life than wearing a pair of cashmere socks, suitable to protect your feet -your second heart—against the brutal cold of the Canadian weather. Anyway, as I was talking to a sales person about the price of a pair of a cashmere I had in hand, there entered into the shop a flamboyant figure of a woman, with a greatly designed black-goat- leather hat on her auburn hair, a velvet green jacket that gracefully adorned her great figure, and a pair of reading glasses that looked very elegant on her long nose. She looked impressive to everyone, for we all noticed her, each in our own way.

She walked across the aisle where the knee-highs were hung, a sale- person responded to the move and greeted her nicely. Within a few moments the sale-person was at the manager’s corner, perhaps, reporting about the failure of a possible sale, while the flamboyant customer walked towards me with two pairs of socks in her right hand, and asked me, “What do you think," she didn't pause for an answer, and continyed, "do you think they are too much for a mother, who is in a retired house?”

It took me a second to respond, “Well, they’re really funky”. She looked at me for a second and turned around as if I did not exist. this is not swell, I thought ! But again, I had a feeling that she must be one of those tough-looking people, whose heart is aching. And I was right! A few seconds later, again she walked towards me, this time with three pairs of socks in hand, dangling them into my face, and asked me rather rudely “how do you like these?”
“Well, I think they are rather colourful for a mother who resides in a dull establishment. She can use some colours in her life. We all can, even though some of us don’t deserve a colourful life”. When I was uttering those words, a voice in my head was keep telling me to shut up, but I am always prone to listen to the “other” one that tells me to go on. And it was not a mistake to utter those words, for what came out of it, was having a pleasant conversation over a cup of delicious coffee with a new friend.

It is strange how we think of our parents and what they do to make us who we are. We are their products, just as they were the products of their previous generations. We do what they do, or what they couldn’t; it has always been that way. We may make or break a rule, but we may never get away from what we have learned in the process. But, we may reserve the right to set up our own rules, to bend theirs, and in the process learn that life is made up of passing moments.