November 2009


Apple

 

 

He

 

When you laughed at me,

little did you know

the dread with which I had stolen

that apple from our neighbour’s garden.

 

The gardener angrily chased me away

and, seeing the bitten apple fall

to earth from your hand,

gave me such a look.

 

Off you went, but for years

your footsteps echoed gently, gently

in my mind as I wondered why our garden

didn’t have an apple tree like that.

 

Hamid Mossadegh (1939-1998)

 

She

 

I laughed at you because

I did know with what dread

you had stolen that apple

from the neighbour’s garden.

 

And when my old father chased you

and you didn’t know it was my father

I laughed at you in order to respond to your love

in a blameless way.

 

But the tears in your eyes

brought a tremor to my hands

and when the half-eaten apple fell,

my heart said: Go,

 

not wanting to carry your bitter cry.

Now for years your tears of choked

surprise have echoed gently, gently

in my mind, tormenting me

 

with doubt as to what

might have happened

if our garden had not had

that apple tree.

Forugh Farrokhzad (1935 – 1967)

Translated by Martin and Farah Turner, September 2009

Advertisements

A garden rooted in light

 

His lightnings gave shine unto the world: the earth saw it, and was afraid.[1]

 

1.

 

The body has weathers, cyclic undertows

of health and wealth; it is all there

in the algebra of cells, in the molecules that wink

and bubble in the tide, the offering

in the grid of sunlight on the straw chair.

It speaks whether or not we listen,

robing around the mud-winged carp.

 

The city broadcasts its seething rhythms,

bruiting the hiss of wet streets.

The spate flows straight from the cave’s mouth

and hours and seasons only slightly shift

the rhythms of appetite and sleep.

It is the garden rooted in light

and listens whether or not we speak.

 

And is the cruellest rhapsody found

in the rose only or also in stone?

Concentration camps, planted across Europe,

stare from the hearts of the third generation.

It is not that the torturers are not evil

but that things always keep on going,

relentless as a carousel.

 

Each moment forgives the last,

but senescence and death whisper

at the nape of chrysanthemums,

raddled dictators and news girls,

as the year washes out departing birds

like tea-leaves, mustering for their migration.

Time for the medicine of light.

 

 

2.

 

Out of the mirror and into the world

slips death, a fish. What can be done?

Rosy sierras in gulfs of dusk,

a scallop of cloud that gives the day

a fanfold setting, water combed and woven.

An oil of silence seals the private

night and the clapping of the rain.

 

Nature continues ticking away

like a bicycle and the summer wind

pushes at shadows until they sway.

From the neglected whiskers of a hanging basket

a scythe of prebendary sun

proceeds to crop a lifelike lobster

for auburn and spore-damp autumn.

 

An intruder. But is a human being

any different from the chrysanthemum?

Is there not the same retreat

of sap to the stalk as, tied and withered,

the wind-danced Vitus settles back

to its own equilibrium?

What lives once lives forever.

 

But still it all ends badly

and the fever of the outside world,

chuntering in business cycles,

pays its respects at the hospital bed.

The guest considers it’s time to go,

though reverie, a cupped lagoon,

can be smuggled to the border.

 

 

3.

 

Over the hilltop first appear

the Horse people from the high steppe.

Across the horizon, south and west,

loom the people of the Boat.

There is time over the centuries

for parley and barter, with the same

terms of trade in marriage and death.

 

The future is living memory.

Bulgur, taboulah and falafel

filter into the women’s quarters

where religion like a portcullis

enforces its negations.

Genes and faith move to fill the sump

of unity beneath the swash of wars.

 

Time laps at the idle keels

of sampans in painted harbours,

while far to the north, beyond the Alps,

players strut their deceptions.

Every scapegrace shall get his comeuppance,

every rapscallion and merryandrew,

each poltroon and rantipole.

 

The bells of Europe’s cathedrals,

lost in the long withdrawing roar,

sound like a faint Atlantis

to profane fanatics in their glory,

but in a post-disputational age

are still audible to the slender soul’s

solo ‘I am, therefore I am’.

 

 

4.

 

In the garrigue at midday

the temperature bears aloft

only the indefatigable insects.

The tiny diamond drops of dew

have all but frozen in the shade.

The bourne is glad with bright chatter.

The fire of the smithy is white fire.

 

This is how one comes to greet

the world before taking leave of it.

Who knows whether the horses will come?

And in the meantime a tiny twinkle

signals a shift in everything.

And this haggard, clanking cadaver

must needs be heaved everywhere.

 

With age comes a penchant for nutshells

but outside the tender filigree

the wind blows over the salt waves,

the chamois seeks the arnica.

Who is to say where it might end,

this incommensurate universe?

Who is to speak the last word?

 

A daisychain of stars ignites

a light garden overhead,

at once given and renewed,

that in all the prison cells below

where wills are broken and unbroken

is seen sharply or not at all.

The last word is never spoken.

 


[1] Ps 97, v. 4; BCP.

The Easter Sermon of St John Chrysostom

 

If any man be devout and loveth God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.

If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.

If any have wrought from the first hour, let him to-day receive his just reward.

If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.

If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.

If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honour, will accept the last even as the first; he giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.

And he showeth mercy upon the last, and careth for the first; and to the one he giveth, and upon the other he bestoweth gifts.

And he both accepteth the deeds, and welcometh the intention, and honoureth the acts and praiseth the offering.

 

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord; and receive ye your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.

Ye rich and poor together, hold ye high festival.

Ye sober and ye heedless, honour ye the day. Rejoice to-day, both ye who have fasted and ye who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away. Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom hath been revealed.

Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon hath shone forth from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death hath set us free.

He that was held prisoner of it, hath annihilated it. By descending into Hell, he made Hell captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was angered, when it encountered thee in the lower regions.

It was angered, for it was abolished.

It was angered, for it was mocked.

It was angered, for it was slain.

It was angered, for it was overthrown.

It was angered, for it was fettered in chains.

It took, a body, and met God face to face.

It took earth, and encountered Heaven.

It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting?

O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown.

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.

Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice.

Christ is risen, and life reigneth.

Christ is risen, and not one dead remaineth in the grave.

For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Daily Prayer of Father Parfeny of Kiev Pechersk

 

 

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, do not allow vanity, selfishness, sensuality, carelessness or anger to have dominion over me and snatch me from Thy Love.

 

O my Lord, my Creator, all my hope, leave me not without a share in blessed Eternity.

 

Grant that I may follow Thy holy example, and be obedient to the authorities placed over me.

 

Grant me that purity of spirit, that simplicity of heart, which make us worthy of Thy Love.

 

To Thee, O my God, I lift up my soul and my heart; do not allow Thy creature to perish, but deliver me from the one supreme evil ─ sin.

 

Grant, O Lord, that I may bear disturbances and sufferings of soul with the same patience as I receive pleasures of the heart with joy.

 

If Thou wilt, O Lord, Thou canst purify and sanctify me.

 

Here and now I surrender myself to Thy goodness, beseeching Thee to root out of me all that is opposed to Thee and unite me to the company of Thine elect.

 

O Lord. take from inc idleness of spirit which wastes Thy time, and vain thoughts which hinder Thy Presence and distract my attention in Prayer.

 

And if’ when I am praying my attention is diverted from Thee by my thoughts, help me so that this distraction may not be voluntary, and that in turning away my mind I may not turn away my heart from Thee.

 

I confess to Thee, my Lord God, all the sins of my wickedness committed now and previously before Thee.

 

Forgive me for Thy holy Name’s sake and save my soul which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious Blood.

 

I entrust myself to Thy mercy, I surrender myself to Thy will; deal with me according to Thy goodness, and not according to my malice and wickedness.

 

Teach me, O Lord, so to arrange my affairs, that they may promote the glory of Thy holy Name.

 

Have mercy, O Lord, on all Christians; hear the desire of all who cry to Thee, and deliver them from all evil.

 

Save Thy servants (N… ), and send them joy, comfort in their troubles, and Thy holy Mercy.

 

O Lord, I pray Thee especially for those who in some way have wronged, offended or saddened me, or have done me some evil.

 

Do not punish them on my account, who am also a sinner, but pour upon them Thy goodness.

 

O Lord, I pray Thee for all whom I, sinful as I am, have grieved, offended or scandalised, by word, deed or thought, consciously or unconsciously.

 

O Lord God, forgive us our sins and mutual offences; expel from our hearts all indignation, scorn, anger, resentment, altercation and all that can hinder charity and lessen brotherly love.

 

Have mercy, O Lord, on those who have entrusted me, sinful and unworthy, to pray for them.

 

Have mercy, O Lord, on everyone who asks for Thy Help.

 

O Lord, make this day a day of Thy mercy, and grant to each according to his faith.

 

Be the Shepherd of those who have gone astray, the Guide and Light of unbelievers, the Teacher of the foolish, the Father of orphans, the Helper of the oppressed, the Healer of the sick, the Comforter of the dying.

 

And lead us all to our desired end, to Thee, our Haven, and blessed Rest.

 

Amen.

AN INVOCATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT ─ ST SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

Translated by Kallistos Ware

Come, true light. Come. life eternal. Come, hidden mystery. Come, treasure without name. Come, reality beyond all words. Come, person beyond all understanding. Come, rejoicing without end. Come, light that knows no evening. Come, unfailing expectation of the saved. Come, the raising of the fallen. Come, the resurrection of the dead.

Come, all-powerful, for unceasingly you create, refashion and change all things by your will alone.

Come, invisible, whom none may touch and handle.

Come, for you continue always unmoved, yet at every instant you are wholly in movement; you draw near to us who lie in hell, yet you remain higher than the heavens.

Come, for your Name fills our hearts with longing and is ever on our lips; yet who you are and what your nature is, we cannot say or know.

Come, eternal joy. Come, unfading garland. Come, purple vesture of our great God and King. Come, belt of crystal set with precious stones. Come, sandal that none dares to touch. Come, royal robe and right hand of true sovereignty.

Come, for my wretched soul has ever longed and ever longs for you. Con-a, Alone to the alone, for as you see I am alone: you have separated me 4rnm all things and made me to be alone upon the earth. Come, for you are yourself the desire that is within me, and you have caused me to long after you, the wholly inaceessibl3.

Come, my breath and my life. Come, the consolation of my humble soul. Come, my joy, my glory, my endless delight.

I give you thanks, for you have become one spilt with me, in a union without confusion. Unchanging and unaltered, God over all, you have yet become all in all to me: food inexplicable, freely bestowed, ever nourishing my soul; a fountain springing up within my heart, a garment of light consuming the demons, purification that washes me clean through the immortal and holy tears that are granted at your coming to all whom you visit.

I give you thanks, for to me you are a light that knows no evening, a sun that never sets. You cannot remain hidden, for you fill all things with your glory. You never hide yourself from anyone, but we are always hiding from you, not wishing to come near you. For where could you hide yourself, since you have no place in which to take your rest? Or why should you hide, since you turn away from no one and are afraid of none?

Pitch your tent within me, gracious Master; take up your dwelling in me now and remain in your servant unceasingly, inseparably, to the end. At my departure from this life and afterwards, may I be found in you and reign with you, who are God over all.

Stay with me, Master, do not leave me alone. My enemies, who seek always to devour my soul, when they find you dwelling in me, will be put to flight; they will have no power at all against me, when they see. you, who are more powerful than all, lodging in the house of my humble soul.

You did not forget me, Master, when I was in the world and sunk in ignorance, but you chose me and separated me from the world and set me in the presence of your glory. Keep me constant and unshaken in the interior dwelling-place that you have made within me, Though dead, I live when I gaze upon you; possessing you, though poor, I am for ever rich, more wealthy than any ruler. Eating and drinking you, clothing myself in you from day to day, 1 shall be filled with blessings and delight beyond ll telling. For you are every blessing and all splendour end joy, and to you is due glory, to the Holy, Consubstantial and Life-giving Trinity, worshipped and confessed by all the faithful and adored in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages.

Amen.

International morality

The ‘Green movement’ – the coalition of opposition forces inside and outside Iran – will collectively apologise to the United States for the hostage-taking that took place thirty years ago at the US Embassy in Tehran. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, brilliant film-maker, is articulating this politically savvy and symbolically potent move:

Women play fierce football

Women play fierce football

“Thirty years ago in the turmoil of the revolutionary zeal an indefensible act of hostage taking was committed that the new generation of Iran are not proud of at all,” he said. “We know very well how that deplorable action hurt the noble American people and how it led to three decades of unnecessary and painful bad relations between our two nations. “Only a small and repressive minority who rule Iran today still insist on keeping Iran on a confrontation course with the US, Britain and the West … [T]hey have now taken the Iranian people as hostage to their destructive policies.”

It remains true that, by flouting the norms of diplomatic behaviour, established over centuries, as they did, the Islamic revolutionaries branded themselves unmistakably as forms of low-life not seen before; and by not allowing any of the hostages to come to harm revealed their true fear of American power.

Do not expose us

Should we laugh or cry? Perhaps laugh. Laughter has a knack of putting things in proportion, of setting things in their right perspective.

Islam is on its march of death on many fronts. A very dangerous front has been recently re-opened at the United Nations (UN) by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the largest group of nations within the UN, by introducing a new resolution. The resolution under consideration—Defamation of Religions—aims to enlist the power and prestige of the UN in defence of religion by declaring religions to be immune from the general discourse practiced in non-religious domains. The aim of the resolution is to impose a gag order on people against breathing a word that religionists may find defaming or offensive.

This is our old friend, Islamic defensiveness, trying to obliterate freedom of speech, never an Islamic value, especially where it might itself be the object of criticism. No matter that the entire world is in the throes of a cataclysmic revulsion against Islam, so that it is not too much to describe this paroxysm of disgust as the death of a religion. No matter that the backward, inferior character of Islam as a faith has already been exposed everywhere and by all means. This is a naked political attempt to shore up the ruins.

What needs to sink into the Western peoples’ mind is the realization that, to the Muslims, the idea of freedom and free thinking is largely an alien concept … From birth onward, a Muslim’s brain is packed with the notion that everything in life is predicated on the will of Allah. Allah is in charge of all things and at all times. Allah is very much of a hands-on God. He does the thinking, he does the ordaining, and he decides the outcome for everything large and small. And since Allah is the all-knowing as well as the all-everything, the duty of the faithful is unquestioned obedience in all matters, irrespective of any and all contradictory evidence. All disproving and contradictory evidences about the Islamic precepts are labelled as deceptive machinations of the accursed Satan. Hence, it is the sacred duty of the believer to put his Islamic blinders on and submit wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly to what is preached to him.

Women prepare to drive fast

Women prepare to drive fast

This is a “fatalistic pathological system,” as has become globally obvious in only eight years:

Islam is loaded with faulty and bizarre beliefs as well as many primitive, discriminatory and shameful practices. So, they need to build a steel fence around their corral of absurdity to protect it from crumbling under the assaults of truth. They have much to hide and fear exposure the most.

The hilarious thing is, proponents of the resolution cannot bring themselves to mention any other religion, presumably as they do not consider any other religion admissible. A sudden coyness sets in. Other religions cannot be mentioned in the same breath as Islam, because they are not true religions. Indeed, it may not even be possible to admit that Islam itself is a religion! So the resolution would defend from criticism and offence perhaps the only ‘religion’ so weak as to be unable to withstand the light of day!

Would Saudi Arabia allow Christians to build a church in that country, or even the Bible be sold in bookstores? Would the Islamic Republic of Iran stop its genocidal agenda against the Baha’is? Would the mullahs desist from imprisoning the Baha’is for months and years, without any formal charges and even without a sham trial for which they are infamous? … It is time for Islam to shed its Burqa. The cat is out of the bag, so to speak. In the age of instantaneous communication and … rising literacy, the task of keeping this stone-age belief called Islam under cover is an impossibility.

Also amusing is that apparently this resolution is wheeled out and pushed into play, and defeated, every year! Not too much to fear, then.

Viewer numbers

I would like to report that the surge in numbers of viewers/voyagers recently (see chart) is down to the quality of the journalism ─ freshness of information, incisiveness of analysis ─ in this blog.

MT's blog - Oct-09

Viewer numbers at this blog to end of Oct-09

Fat chance. It seems that I mentioned Adolf Hitler, complete with familiar photograph, on 22-Sep-09 and that half the world’s deskbound eo-fascists have been storming by ever since. Now that I have mentioned him again, the site may well crash with visitor numbers. Eat your heart out, Carla Bruni!

It would help the cause, though, if these Hitler fans could spell their hero’s name correctly! Most searches seem to be for someone called Hitter. In any case, they should prepare, once here, to learn something of the deep convictions associated with human rights and freedom of conscience.

Plumbing the depths

Women even drudge close to home

Women even drudge close to home

It’s not always clear, after all the atrocities reported here during the last five months, how the Iranian regime could sink any lower. We have met with numerous actions of moral imbecility perpetrated in the name of Allah. Nevertheless, the destruction of Bahá’i cemeteries may just about fit the bill.

There is little else than a campaign of hatred involved ─ no attempt at a political pretext, however thin. No wonder members of the opposition are avid to learn more abut this Faith.

There is something unbelievably disgusting about interrupting burials, digging up corpses, bulldozing cemeteries and desecrating religious memorials, removing headstones for building. The recent UN Report on Human Rights goes into some detail here:

Baha’i cemeteries, holy places, and community properties are often seized or desecrated and many important religious sites have been destroyed. In recent years, Baha’is in Iran have faced increasingly harsh treatment, including increasing numbers of arrests and detentions and violent attacks on private homes and personal property. Baha’i property has been confiscated or destroyed and dozens of Baha’is have been harassed, interrogated, detained, imprisoned, or physically attacked. In February 2009, a Baha’i cemetery in Semnan was desecrated, and in January, another Baha’i cemetery was destroyed in Ghaemshahr. Baha’i cemeteries also have been destroyed in Yazd and outside of Najafabad.

Families are told they may not bury their dead in burial gardens legally owned by Bahá’is, but they are not told of any available alternative. No doubt it will soon be illegal to die. Cemeteries have been excavated to a depth of one metre and earth and rubble piled to a height of 10 metres.

From September 6 through September 10, using large trucks and bulldozers, a number of unknown individuals destroyed and excavated the Baha’i Cemetery of Najafabad and Vilashahr [near Isfahan]. The cemetery, which belongs to the Baha’is of Najafabad and Vilashahr, and which is known as Gulestan Javid [“eternal garden”], is situated about 9 miles from Najafabad. This land was given to the Baha’is of Najafabad and Vilashahr in the winter of 1995; it has been attacked 18 times since them. It has been reported that 119 graves are located in this cemetery – 95 are in the first section and 24 more are in the second section.

Bulldozed Baha'i cemetery at Najafabad and Vilashahr

Bulldozed Baha'i cemetery at Najafabad and Vilashahr

Following this, some burials are being prevented except at the cost of violating basic Baha’i beliefs:

After the destruction in recent days of the Baha’i cemetery of Vilashahr and Najafabad, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence are preventing the burial of a deceased Baha’i in that same cemetery. Azizu’llah Subhi Najafabadi, born 1924, was a resident of Najafabad. He passed away on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, in Namazi Hospital due to old age. Since then, the family’s effort to receive the body has been unsuccessful. The family’s appealed to authorities in the local police station, the security office and the local branch of the Ministry of Intelligence, the law enforcement agency, the municipality, and the mayor’s office in Najafabad. But they have only met with the same consistent response: “His remains will be given to you only if you do not bury him in the [recently destroyed] Baha’i cemetery of Vilashahr-Najafabad, and inter him instead in the Baha’i cemetery of Isfahan.” According to Baha’i teachings, Baha’is are not permitted to bury their dead far from the place of passing. It is for this reason that the family is exerting efforts to bury their dead in the aforesaid cemetery, near the place of his passing. Currently, because of the destruction of the Baha’i cemetery of Vilashahr and Najafabad, the Baha’is of these towns have no place for the burial of their dead. Reports receive from the field indicate that authorities are putting considerable pressures on Baha’i residents in this region aiming to prevent them from adhering to their religious precepts.

This sort of thing is so contrary to basic human customs and civilised practices that it once again elicits that most common reaction to Shi’a mentality ─ acute disgust. More dispassionately, it provokes the recurrent observation that these people are obsessed with death.