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P-p-poetry. That'll work.

From time to time, the English major in me comes to the forefront. Tonight is one of those times, and I find myself musing about having a small party where everyone brings a poem and reads it aloud, either during appetizers or after dinner. The question is whether I have enough friends who actually enjoy poetry to even entertain such a notion. :)

I came across this one tonight, and liked it.

The Golden Journey to Samarkand
At the Gate of the Sun, Bagdad, in olden time.

The Merchants (together):
Away, for we are ready to a man!
Our camels sniff the evening and are glad.
Lead on, O Master of the Caravan:
Lead on the Merchant-Princes of Bagdad.

The Chief Draper:
Have we not Indian carpets dark as wine,
Turbans and sashes, gowns and bows and veils,
And broideries of intricate design,
And printed hangings in enormous bales?

The Chief Grocer:
We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,
Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,
And such sweet jams meticulously jarred
As God's own Prophet eats in Paradise.

The Principal Jews:
And we have manuscripts in peacock styles
By Ali of Damascus: we have swords
Engraved with storks and apes and crocodiles,
And heavy beaten necklaces, for Lords.

The Master of the Caravan:
But you are nothing but a lot of Jews.

The Principal Jews:
Sir, even dogs have daylight, and we pay.

The Master of the Caravan:
But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?

The Pilgrims:
We are the Pilgrims, master: we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,

White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men are born: but surely we are brave,
Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

The Chief Merchant:
We gnaw the nail of hurry. Master, away!

One of the Women:
O turn your eyes to where your children stand.
Is not Bagdad the beautiful? O stay!

The Merchants (in chorus):
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

An Old Man:
Have you not girls and garlands in your homes,
Eunuchs and Syrian boys at your command?
Seek not excess: God hateth him who roams!

The Merchants (in chorus):
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

A Pilgrim with a Beautiful Voice:
Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells
When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
And softly though the silence beat the bells
Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.

A Merchant:
We travel not for trafficking alone:
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

The Master of the Caravan:
Open the gate, O watchman of the night!

The Watchman:
Ho, travellers, I open. For what land
Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?

The Merchants (with a shout):
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

(The Caravan passes through the gate)

The Watchman:
What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.
(consoling the women) Men are unwise and curiously planned.

A Woman:
They have their dreams, and do not think of us.

Voices of the Caravan (in the distance, singing):
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

JAMES ELROY FLECKER


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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Nov. 3rd, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
people have their favorite poems
I think you'd be surprised at how many people have a favorite poem, even if they are not avid poetry readers. Put out an APB and gauge the interest. I bet (and hope) you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Good luck with the party!

I'm too far away to go to it, but here is my favorite poem:
http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/131.html

(let me know if you're baffled by it-- it's kind of a puzzle that needed to be explained to me)

JimDavies
pointedview
Nov. 4th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Re: people have their favorite poems
I'm glad you posted, you might be right, and I'd love to hear your impressions of the poem you linked. :)
(Anonymous)
Nov. 12th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
Re: people have their favorite poems
The poem is called "A Martian sends a postcard home."
It's the Martian talking about things he doesn't understand.

"Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings -"

The Martian is talking about books.

"they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain."

Describing crying.

"I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand."

You hold the book in your hand.

"Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:"

Mist is clouds.

"then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper."

How the world looks when it's foggy and the colors are unsaturated.

"Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.
Model T is a room with the lock inside -
a key is turned to free the world.
for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed."

The car key is inside. When the car goes forward it looks to the Martian like the world is moving, not her.
The film referred to is the rear view mirror.

"But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience."

watches and clocks.

"In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger."

The phone.

"Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell."

The bathroom.


"At night when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves -
in colour, with their eyelids shut."

Sleeping and dreaming.

-- Craig Raine
pointedview
Nov. 30th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Re: people have their favorite poems
Thank you for the explanation! I understood some of it during my first reading (the car bit, for example), but I missed other bits (the whole caxtons = books part).
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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