Monday, October 09, 2006

POETRY ... Taha Muhammad Ali


By Taha Muhammad Ali

Neither music,
fame, nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,
could provide consolation
for life’s brevity,
or the fact that King Lear
is a mere eighty pages long and comes to an end,
and for the thought that one might suffer greatly
on account of a rebellious child.

My love for you
is what’s magnificent,
but I, you, and the others,
most likely,
are ordinary people.

My poem
goes beyond poetry
because you
beyond the realm of women.

And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.

After we die,
and the weary heart
has lowered its final eyelid
on all that’ve done,
and on all that we’ve longed for,
and all that we’ve dreamt of,
all we’ve desired
or felt,
hate will be
the first things
to putrefy
within us.

From Taha Muhammad Ali’s
So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971-2005
(trans. from the Arabic by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin) (Copper Canyon Press, 230pp., $18)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, interesting book blog you have here. I was just wondering about this poetry...I have never tried reading or understanding poetry (especially those written by Yeats, Burns etc.) But lets say I decide to go for poetry, how does one actually learn to appreciate it if one does not understand it? This has always been my one failure. :P Is it like, either you do or you don't kind of thing?

Sunday, October 08, 2006 4:40:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

I don't believe in reading just for the sake of reading. Read what you will enjoy. And you don't need to have read the classics such as those by Yeats, Coleridge, Burns et al. to appreciate poetry. The poetry of Taha Muhammad Ali is an excellent place to start. Happy reading!

Sunday, October 08, 2006 5:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice. But I've met with some people that sort of 'look down' on people who don't read the books THEY'VE read. What do you say to such people then?

Sunday, October 08, 2006 7:14:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

I always ignore people who look down on others. I believe there are lots of stuff you've read that they haven't read or heard of. If they look down on others, it means they simply do not understand poetry ... and life generally. So my advice is, Just ignore them!

Sunday, October 08, 2006 7:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first 5 lines of the poem could have been the entire poem:

Neither music
fame nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,
could provide consolation
for life's brevity, ....

The poem really captures the human condition. I just found Taha Ali and his poems really speak to me.

Saturday, January 06, 2007 1:06:00 PM  

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