Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When Space is Free (Paraphrase of an Hafiz poem)

For a while
The sandpiper in flight might say,

"Look dear, I am home--
Space is no longer being rationed."

For a while you might feel
I am complete,

When the touch from another upon certain
Of your fields

Has the power to dissolve all that
Is known.

Wholeness, I think,
Draws its life somewhere where the breathing

Somewhere where the mind cradles light,
Where the only senses that remain

Blush and stumble
If they try to speak with our language so new
It is still trying to

Still shaping
Its first intelligible sound,
Still sculpting its first true image of


I used the sandpiper rather than the eagle in this paraphrase by Daniel Landinsky because of overuse of the "eagle" in general and to avoid a symbol too often representing the USA in an "over-taking" way. I am familiar with sandpipers from many a reflective visit of various shores and love how I feel in their presence -- thus the connection is so natural in this case.

Find the above sandpiper and a description of this delightful bird which is resonant with my own experience in this site -- here -- where you will also find the following quote "Sometimes as I walk along a beach and watch the skittering sandpipers chasing the waves, I think about just how far each individual bird has traveled to reach the spot that it and I share the same sand. I suppose that is a bit too metaphysical for some birders but it was, for example, essentially the premise of Last of the Curlews, the personalized and fictional story of the last Eskimo Curlew on earth (Bodsworth 1954)." This implied analogy strikes me as similar to what Hafiz had in mind for part of the poem.

I also changed the Hafiz/Daniel Ladinsky translated phrase "not rationed" in title "When Space is Not Rationed" to "free" as this feels like a metaphor more in keeping with the poem's overall intention - given the way our nations' skies are used militarily these days. Yet I kept Ladinsky's use of rationed within the poem.

A final note: I love the way the poem takes external metaphors such as a bird in flight; sky space; implied outer touch; sculpting; fields; and language and then draws readers into the internal spaces of mind; sensation; and imagining.

Metaphor is nearly everything to Hafiz as his devotees know well. Without making application inside ourselves and among ourselves -- as well between ourselves and the Divine -- we will miss the sweeping beauty, joy and transformative wisdom offered so lovingly by this poet of poets.

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