"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Saturday, August 5, 2017

On The Wing - A Rubaiyat

VII
Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam





I
Look up! A new heaven beckons the eye:
The cage has sprung open and wings defy
The simple cruelty of mortal men;
Wings were meant for climbing the stair of sky.




II
“The world is a narrow place” – says the priest
Poet replies – “Ev’ry flower is a feast!”
A single golden iris can confer
The granule of joy which is ever-sweet.




III
No more contentment than this could I seek
Than to find a grassy pillow for my cheek:
Sink to slumber in pomegranate’s shade
As barbet digs for gems with eager beak.




IV
Or when the dusk sifts light from dark, to hear
The yellow song of the oriole – clear
It calls me from my travail – shall I cry
Today for tomorrow’s unadorned fear?


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In my early teens, my grandmother gave me an antique copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fitzgerald, bound in a burnt sienna suede and decorated with colour plates. It would be hard to say how many times I lost myself in the mediaeval world of Arabia, but certainly it left a lasting impression.
The beautiful fabrics displayed in the prompt Artistic Impressions with Margaret, as well as Margaret's collaborative poem, written with Gillena Cox, Of Nymphs & Gods inspired me to create a mini rubaiyat of my own.

For those unfamiliar with the birds of a South African garden:
Black Collared Barbet
Black-Headed Golden Oriole

I would also like to thank Carl Sharpe for featuring my poem, The Trees Held Their Silence with an audio readingon VerseWrights this weekend.

27 comments:

  1. I can see you when young reading Khayyam's Rubaiyat collection. Your mini goes deep enhanced by the bird theme. When I was younger than a teen I carried with me a bird card collection by Audubon.
    ..

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    1. Birds fill me with uncomplicated joy. I also have a book of Audubon illustrations.

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  2. Just lovely! The tone and themes work so well. Much enjoyed. Especially somehow the one about the Berbet and the pomegranate--at least it really sticks in my mind, but they are all so cleverly styled and really pretty poetry. k.

    ps - very Blakelike as well as Khayyam. k.

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    1. That is my favourite swatch because I do feed my pomegranates to the birds.

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  3. I also loved the Rubaiyat in my adolescent years--I had a much-loved leather-bound copy I picked up somewhere, and, indeed, had much of it memorized--so that I really can feel the way your verses here draw upon and rise from it, while keeping their very individual feel. The bird images are very appropriately fleshed out with soft but telling lines like this: '...Wings were meant for climbing the stair of sky.." Loved it, Kerry.

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    1. I think the Rubaiyat, when read young, inculcates a love of the cadence of poetry.

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  4. This is so very sweet - posted it to my Pinterest of "favorite poems" I didn't know what kind of bird the "barbet" was - The whole swath of fabric is huge - it showcases a tree and numerous birds and fruits - I thought it was an asian print - but maybe it is Arabic. I'm going to quilt it and make a wall hanging. I will showcase it when I start and finish it on my blog. All of your poems are just so splendid - I don't have a favorite. Thanks for this.

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    1. Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your source of inspiration.

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  5. Absolutely gorgeous! I especially love the "stair of sky", and the poet's delight in small beauties that fill the heart.

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  6. These verses are absolutely exquisite, Kerry. They do Gibran proud. I love "...when dusk sifts light from dark," and "Wings were meant for climbing the stair of sky." Perfect!

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  7. Quilt indeed of bird-song and -feather, such a happy respite from our dolorous vale. To have the human voice drowned out -- or, at least, subsumed -- by these is such a rich reminder that we are inattentive to the wet part of the sea. Great stuff.

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    1. Truly, the birds in my garden bring me the tiniest granules of joy - otherwise I am quite abandoned to a vale of tears.

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  8. Someone was inspired. Each of your expressions was a welcome into the garden of delight.

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    1. Inspiration is often in short supply - I am grateful when it comes along.

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  9. These were all so beautiful but i think my favorite was no 3! (III)

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  10. Kerry.. love the tone of the quatrains...Khayyam is an old favourite of mine, ever since I found my dad's copy in his bookshelf.. I think he was Persian though... you've recreated the vibe so well..

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  11. A delightful combination of words and images. I heard Blake echo in your words "A single golden iris can confer
    The granule of joy which is ever-sweet."
    Wonderful stuff Kerry.

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  12. Such happiness defies mortality and widens the narrowest view. Thank you. I, too, grew up with the illustrated Rubaiyat, though I am fairly certain I understood not a word, not consciously.

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  13. My goodness this is good!💖 Especially love; "No more contentment than this could I seek than to find a grassy pillow for my cheek".. sigh Beautifully rendered.💖

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  14. Epic. I love to think of the world through the language of birds and flowers. I love the idea of dawn sifting light and shadow.

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  15. I really enjoyed your rubiyat. My words really cannot do justice to this beautiful composition. I love "Wings were meant for climbing the stair of sky" and the entirety of rubiyat III. In my present frame of mind I also took note of the mention of the cruelty of mortal men & can't help nodding my head.

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  16. Your rubiyat does credit to those of Khayyam. Nature is balm for the soul.

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  17. These were wonderful to read and thank you for introducing me to some new birds. I and IV were my favorites, but all are beautifully crafted.

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  18. I too read the Rubaiyat at a young age. We had an antique leather bound edition in our library full of gorgeous prints. I was first attracted to the pictures and then the words...I too love the birds. They make me smile. Number IV in this is my favorite. A gorgeous Rubaiyat.

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  19. I was in love with your poem before I read the note, after that... well, I was completely taken... especially part II. I just love everything about the art (and gift) of seeing wonder and beauty and promise in things so many people miss...

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