Have you ever thought what it’s like, to be wanderers in the fourth dimension? Have you? To be exiles?
-The Doctor, in “An Unearthly Child”
Saturday: So I am working on this project for a book of sorts, and I come up with this phrase: “The Retreat Of The Time Lords” Sounds grand, doesn’t it? I was weaving a story around a group of aliens that were immortal, and on occasion changed out their bodies, but retained their consciousness, whilst messing with the inhabitants of Earth over the millennia, and then I started to think… Hadn’t I heard that term before? I sat pondering for awhile, then ran it into the search engine. See the above illustration. My brain is leaking. Tom Baker, has colonized my cortex. Help!
So I went to the S.E. ArtWalk meeting for artist today for an hour. Just to let you know, yours truly is participating this next month. I am going to have a very large selection of prints, cards, paintings, the lot. The event is for the weekend of February 28th – March 1st. I am very excited. I will be a guest artist at Mirador Community Store hosted by the wonderful Lynn & Steve Hanrahan. We will be unveiling the infamous “Mirador Mural” for 2 days, much to the consternation of our arch-nemesis: Clear Channel (hisssssssss)
You’ll Find This Print & Many Others At Mirador During The SE Portland ArtWalk! – Support The Arts!
Sunday: It has been a couple of days of Mary being down with allergies, and various other things occurring. So, we have been scrambling to playing catch up. It has been snowing again in Portland. Climate Change, not Global Warming around here. Coldest Winter in Oregon as far as I can tell since 1968-69. It is beautiful, but I start dreaming of warm beaches about now.
For the present, I am starting to organize for the ArtWalk Exhibition coming up. Lots to do!
I hope this finds you well….
On The Menu:
Younger Brother – Scanner
The Parsons Pig (Porchel ar person)
Poetry:THE DIWAN OF ABUL-ALA
Biography of Abu-I-Ala
Younger Brother – I Am A Freak
Younger Brother – Scanner
Folk Tales Of Lower Brittany: The Parsons Pig (Porchel ar person)
Once upon a time there was a poor family. This family was very, very poor indeed: the father had a flock of children to feed and had no idea how to do it. One day he looked at his offspring said to himself Why not steal a pig from the rector?
He knew that the rector had a gloriously fat pig in his piggery, just ready to eat. The poor man took the pig without any great difficulty, killed it noiselessly (not a small feat), and cut it into small pieces.
The next day, the youngest boy was walking the familys sole cow to the fields. He sang merrily as he walked:
Kig porchel ar person a zo mat
Leret hinoz gan me zat!
The meat of the parsons pig was good
That my father stole last night
Unfortunately the pastor passed close by him on the same path, on his way to church. He was greatly surprised by the song, and called out, What are you singing, my lad?
But the boy refused to say.
Sing again! Repeat what you just sang, the pastor insisted.
Oh, no. replied the young boy, demurely, I cant say it.”
Really, I would like you to sing it again, and loudly, too!” encouraged the parson.
“Monsieur le recteur, I only tell the truth.”
So be it then: since its the truth, you can come to Church on Sunday and tell everyone.
“Oh, Monsieur le recteur, I cant come to Church looking like this. All my clothes are so old …”
“Ill buy you a new outfit,” the boy was promised. “Come and find me on Sunday, before mass.”
And on that Sunday the parson gave the young lad a set of beautiful new clothes so that he could attend church. In the middle of mass, the man of the cloth announced to his assembled parishioners:
“Listen to this child. He is going to tell you the truth.”
Then he said to the boy, This is the pulpit of truth. Stand here where I am now and tell everyone what you sang the other day on the road.”
The young lad was not worried. He clambered into the pulpit and said very loudly:
“Ar person ha ma mamm zo mognonet
Ha me zat acnras Doué navin ket!
The parson and my mother are friends
And, thank God, my father doesnt know a thing!
“Its not true,” the parson protested, furiously. “That isnt what you said.”
“Yes it is, ” replied the boy, “Its exactly what I said.”
“No its not,” said the rector, and gave him a quick kick up the behind.
“Monsieur le recteur,” said the child, with dignity, “Its all that I can say.”
And the whole congregation laughed with the boy.
Notes: Massignon indicates that this is type 1792 in the Aarne-Thompson classification (the major index of folk tale types), existing in 8 French versions, but far more common in Germany. It differs from the norm by having a poor family instead of the sacristan, as the parsons foil. She points out that irony and gentle mockery aimed at the clergy is a part of Breton folk culture, when the clergy are considered to be at fault.
Poetry: THE DIWAN OF ABUL-ALA
Abandon worship in the mosque and shrink
From idle prayer, from sacrificial sheep,
For Destiny will bring the bowl of sleep
Or bowl of tribulationyou shall drink.
The scarlet eyes of Morning are pursued
By Night, who growls along the narrow lane;
But as they crash upon our world the twain
Devour us and are strengthened for the feud.
Vain are your dreams of marvellous emprise,
Vainly you sail among uncharted spaces,
Vainly seek harbour in this world of faces
If it has been determined otherwise.
Behold, my friends, there is reserved for me
The splendour of our traffic with the sky:
You pay your court to Saturn, whereas I
Am slain by One far mightier than he.
You that must travel with a weary load
Along this darkling, labyrinthine street
Have men with torches at your head and feet
If you would pass the dangers of the road.
So shall you find all armour incomplete
And open to the whips of circumstance,
That so shall you be girdled of mischance
Till you be folded in the winding-sheet.
Have conversation with the wind that goes
Bearing a pack of loveliness and pain:
The golden exultation of the grain
And the last, sacred whisper of the rose
But if in some enchanted garden bloom
The rose imperial that will not fade,
Ah! shall I go with desecrating spade
And underneath her glories build a tomb?
Shall I that am as dust upon the plain
Think with unloosened hurricanes to fight?
Or shall I that was ravished from the night
Fall on the bosom of the night again?
Endure! and if you rashly would unfold
That manuscript whereon our lives are traced,
Recall the stream which carols thro the waste
And in the dark is rich with alien gold.
Myself did linger by the ragged beach,
Whereat wave after wave did rise and curl;
And as they fell, they fellI saw them hurl
A message far more eloquent than speech:
We that with song our pilgrimage beguile,
With purple islands which a sunset bore,
We, sunk upon the sacrilegious shore,
May parley with oblivion awhile.
I would not have you keep nor idly flaunt
What may be gathered from the gracious land,
But I would have you sow with sleepless hand
The virtues that will balance your account.
The days are dressing all of us in white,
For him who will suspend us in a row.
But for the sun there is no death. I know
The centuries are morsels of the night.
A deed magnanimous, a noble thought
Are as the music singing thro the years
When surly Time the tyrant domineers
Against the lute whereoutof it was wrought.
Now to the Master of the World resign
Whatever touches you, what is prepared,
For many sons of wisdom are ensnared
And many fools in happiness recline.
Long have I tarried where the waters roll
From undeciphered caverns of the main,
And I have searched, and I have searched in vain,
Where I could drown the sorrows of my soul.
If I have harboured love within my breast,
Twas for my comrades of the dusty day,
Who with me watched the loitering stars at play,
Who bore the burden of the same unrest,
For once the witcheries a maiden flung
Then afterwards I knew she was the bride
Of Death; and as he came, so tender-eyed,
II rebuked him roundly, being young.
Yet if all things that vanish in their noon
Are but the part of some eternal scheme,
Of what the nightingale may chance to dream
Or what the lotus murmurs to the moon !
Have I not heard sagacious ones repeat
An irresistibly grim argument:
That we for all our blustering content
Are as the silent shadows at our feet.
Aye, when the torch is low and we prepare
Beyond the notes of revelry to pass
Old Silence will keep watch upon the grass,
The solemn shadows will assemble there.
No Sultan at his pleasure shall erect
A dwelling less obedient to decay
Than I, whom all the mysteries obey,
Build with the twilight for an architect,
Dark leans to dark! the passions of a man
Are twined about all transitory things,
For verily the child of wisdom clings
More unto dreamland than Arabistan.
Death leans to death! nor shall your vigilance
Prevent him from whateer he would possess,
Nor, brother, shall unfilial peevishness
Prevent you from the grand inheritance.
Farewell, my soul!bird in the narrow jail
Who cannot sing. The door is opened! Fly!
Ah, soon you stop, and looking down you cry
The saddest song of all, poor nightingale.
Our fortune is like mariners to float
Amid the perils of dim waterways;
Shall then our seamanship have aught of praise
If the great anchor drags behind the boat?
Ah! let the burial of yesterday,
Of yesterday be ruthlessly decreed,
And, if you will, refuse the mourners reed,
And, if you will, plant cypress in the way.
As little shall it serve you in the fight
If you remonstrate with the storming seas,
As if you querulously sigh to these
Of some imagined haven of delight.
Steed of my soul! when you and I were young
We lived to cleave as arrows thro the night,
Now there is taen from me the last of light,
And wheresoeer I gaze a veil is hung.
No longer as a wreck shall I be hurled
Where beacons lure the fascinated helm,
For I have been admitted to the realm
Of darkness that encompasses the world.
Man has been thought superior to the swarm
Of ruminating cows, of witless foals
Who, crouching when the voice of thunder rolls,
Are banqueted upon a thunderstorm.
But shall the fearing eyes of humankind
Have peeped beyond the curtain and excel
The boldness of a wondering gazelle
Or of a bird imprisoned in the wind?
Ah! never may we hope to win release
Before we that unripeness overthrow,
So must the corn in agitation grow
Before the sickle sings the songs of peace.
Lo! there are many ways and many traps
And many guides, and which of them is lord?
For verily Mahomet has the sword,
And he may have the truthperhaps! perhaps!
Now this religion happens to prevail
Until by that religion overthrown,
Because men dare not live with men alone,
But always with another fairy-tale.
Religion is a charming girl, I say;
But over this poor threshold will not pass,
For I may not unveil her, and alas!
The bridal gift I cant afford to pay.
I have imagined that our welfare is
Required to rise triumphant from defeat;
And so the musk, which as the more you beat,
Gives ever more delightful fragrancies.
For as a gate of sorrow-land unbars
The region of unfaltering delight,
So may you gather from the fields of night
That harvest of diviner thought, the stars.
Send into banishment whatever blows
Across the waves of your tempestuous heart;
Let every wish save Allahs wish depart,
And you will have ineffable repose.
My faith it is that all the wanton pack
Of living shall behush, poor heart!withdrawn,
As even to the camel comes a dawn
Without a burden for his wounded back.
If there should be some truth in what they teach
Of unrelenting Monkar and Nakyr,
Before whose throne all buried men appear
Then give me to the vultures, I beseech.
Some yellow sand all hunger shall assuage
And for my thirst no cloud have need to roll,
And ah! the drooping bird which is my soul
No longer shall be prisoned in the cage.
Life is a flame that flickers in the wind,
A bird that crouches in the fowlers net
Nor may between her flutterings forget
That hour the dreams of youth were unconfined.
There was a time when I was fain to guess
The riddles of our life, when I would soar
Against the cruel secrets of the door,
So that I fell to deeper loneliness.
One is behind the draperies of life,
One who will tear these tanglements away
No dark assassin, for the dawn of day
Leaps out, as leapeth laughter, from the knife.
If you will do some deed before you die,
Remember not this caravan of death,
But have belief that every little breath
Will stay with you for an eternity.
Astrologers!give ear to what they say!
“The stars be words; they float on heavens breath
And faithfully reveal the days of death,
And surely will reveal that longer day.”
I shook the trees of knowledge. Ah! the fruit
Was fair upon the bleakness of the soil.
I filled a hundred vessels with my spoil,
And then I rested from the grand pursuit.
Alas! I took me servants: I was proud
Of prose and of the neat, the cunning rhyme,
But all their inclination was the crime
Of scattering my treasure to the crowd.
And yetand yet this very seed I throw
May rise aloft, a brother of the bird,
Uncaring if his melodies are heard
Or shall I not hear anything below?
The glazier out of sounding Erzerûm,
Frequented us and softly would conspire
Upon our broken glass with blue-red fire,
As one might lift a pale thing from the tomb.
He was the glazier out of Erzerûm,
Whose wizardry would make the children cry
There will be no such wizardry when I
Am broken by the chariot-wheels of Doom.
The chariot-wheels of Doom! Now, hear them roll
Across the desert and the noisy mart,
Across the silent places of your heart
Smile on the driver you will not cajole.
I never look upon the placid plain
But I must think of those who lived before
And gave their quantities of sweat and gore,
And went and will not travel back again.
Aye! verily, the fields of blandishment
Where shepherds meditate among their cattle,
Those are the direst of the fields of battle,
For in the victors train there is no tent.
Where are the doctors who were nobly fired
And loved their toil because we ventured not,
Who spent their lives in searching for the spot
To which the generations have retired?
“Great is your soul,”these are the words they preach,
“It passes from your framework to the frame
Of others, and upon this road of shame
Turns purer and more pure.”Oh, let them teach!
I look on men as I would look on trees,
That may be writing in the purple dome
Romantic lines of black, and are at home
Where lie the little garden hostelries.
Live well! Be wary of this life, I say;
Do not oerload yourself with righteousness.
Behold! the sword we polish in excess,
We gradually polish it away.
God who created metal is the same
Who will devour it. As the warriors ride
With iron horses and with iron pride
Come, let us laugh into the merry flame.
But for the grandest flame our God prepares
The breast of man, which is the grandest urn;
Yet is that flame so powerless to burn
Those butterflies, the swarm of little cares.
And if you find a solitary sage
Who teaches what is truthah, then you find
The lord of men, the guardian of the wind,
The victor of all armies and of age.
See that procession passing down the street,
The black and white procession of the days
Far better dance along and bawl your praise
Than if you follow with unwilling feet.
But in the noisy ranks you will forget
What is the flag. Oh, comrade, fall aside
And think a little moment of the pride
Of yonder sun, think of the twilights net.
The songs we fashion from our new delight
Are echoes. When the first of men sang out,
He shuddered, hearing not alone the shout
Of hills but of the peoples in the night.
And all the marvels that our eyes behold
Are pictures. There has happened some event
For each of them, and this they represent
Our lives are like a tale that has been told.
There is a palace, and the ruined wall
Divides the sand, a very home of tears,
And where love whispered of a thousand years
The silken-footed caterpillars crawl.
And where the Prince commanded, now the shriek
Of wind is flying through the court of state:
“Here,” it proclaims, “there dwelt a potentate
Who could not hear the sobbing of the weak.”
Beneath our palaces the corner-stone
Is quaking. What of noble we possess,
In love or courage or in tenderness,
Can rise from our infirmities alone.
We sufferthat we know, and that is all
Our knowledge. If we recklessly should strain
To sweep aside the solid rocks of pain,
Then would the domes of love and courage fall.
But there is one who trembles at the touch
Of sorrow less than all of you, for he
Has got the care of no big treasury,
And with regard to wits not overmuch.
I think our world is not a place of rest,
But where a man may take his little ease,
Until the landlord whom he never sees
Gives that apartment to another guest.
Say that you come to life as twere a feast,
Prepared to pay whatever is the bill
Of death or tears orsurely, friend, you wilt
Not shrink at death, which is among the least?
Rise up against your troubles, cast away
What is too great for mortal man to bear.
But seize no foolish arms against the share
Which you the piteous mortal have to pay.
Be gracious to the King. You canot feign
That nobody was tyrant, that the sword
Of justice always gave the just award
Before these Ghassanites began to reign.
You cultivate the ranks of golden grain,
He cultivates the cavaliers. They go
With him careering on some other foe,
And your battalions will be staunch again.
The good law and the bad law disappear
Below the flood of custom, or they float
And, like the wonderful Saraby coat,
They captivate us for a little year.
God pities him who pities. Ah, pursue
No longer now the children of the wood;
Or have you not, poor huntsman, understood
That somebody is overtaking you?
God is above. We never shall attain
Our liberty from hands that overshroud;
Or can we shake aside this heavy cloud
More than a slave can shake aside the chain?
“There is no God save Allah!”that is true,
Nor is there any prophet save the mind
Of man who wanders through the dark to find
The Paradise that is in me and you.
The rolling, ever-rolling years of time
Are as a diwan of Arabian song;
The poet, headstrong and supremely strong,
Refuses to repeat a single rhyme.
An archer took an arrow in his hand;
So fair he sent it singing to the sky
That he brought justice down fromah, so high!
He was an archer in the morning land.
The man who shot his arrow from the west
Made empty roads of air; yet have I thought
Our life was happier until we brought
This cold one of the skies to rule the nest.
Run! follow, follow happiness, the maid
Whose laughter is the laughing waterfall;
Run! call to herbut if no maiden call,
Tis something to have loved the flying shade.
You strut in piety the while you take
That pilgrimage to Mecca. Now beware,
For starving relatives befoul the air,
And curse, O fool, the threshold you forsake.
How man is made! He staggers at the voice,
The little voice that leads you to the land
Of virtue; but, on hearing the command
To lead a giant army, will rejoice.
Behold the cup whereon your slave has trod;
That is what every cup is falling to.
Your slaveremember that he lives by you,
While in the form of him we bow to God.
The lowliest of the people is the lord
Who knows not where each day to make his bed,
Whose crown is kept upon the royal head
By that poor naked minister, the sword.
Which is the tyrant? say you. Well, tis he
That has the vine-leaf strewn among his hair
And will deliver countries to the care
Of courtesansbut I am vague, you see.
The dwellers of the city will oppress
Your days: the lion, a fight-thirsty fool,
The fox who wears the robe of men that rule
So run with me towards the wilderness.
Our wilderness will be the laughing land,
Where nuts are hung for us, where nodding peas
Are wild enough to press about our knees,
And water fills the hollow of our hand.
My village is the loneliness, and I
Am as the travellers through the Syrian sand,
That for a moment see the warning hand
Of one who breasted up the rock, their spy.
Where is the valiance of the folk who sing
These valiant stories of the world to come?
Which they describe, forsooth! as if it swum
In air and anchored with a yard of string.
Two merchantmen decided they would battle,
To prove at last who sold the finest wares;
And while Mahomet shrieked his call to prayers,
The true Messiah waved his wooden rattle.
Perchance the world is nothing, is a dream,
And every noise the dreamland people say
We sedulously note, and we and they
May be the shadows flung by what we seem.
Zohair the poet sang of loveliness
Which is the flight of things. Oh, meditate
Upon the sorrows of our earthly state,
For what is lovely we may not possess.
Heigho! the splendid air is full of wings,
And they will take us to thefriend, be wise
For if you navigate among the skies
You too may reach the subterranean kings.
Now fear the rose! You travel to the gloom
Of which the roses sing and sing so fair,
And, but for them, youd have a certain share
In life: your name be read upon the tomb.
There is a tower of silence, and the bell
Moves upanother man is made to be.
For certain years they move in company,
But you, when fails your song do fail as well.
No sword will summon Death, and he will stay
For neither helm nor shield his falling rod.
We are the crooked alphabet of God,
And He will read us ere he wipes away.
How strange that we, perambulating dust,
Should be the vessels of eternal fire,
That such unfading passion of desire
Should be within our fading bodies thrust.
Deep in a silent chamber of the rose
There was a fattened worm. He looked around,
Espied a relative and spoke at him:
It seems to me this world is very good.
A most unlovely world, said brother worm,
For all of us are piteous prisoners.
And if, declared the first, your thought is true,
And this a prison be, melikes it well.
So well that I shall weave a song of praise
And thankfulness because the world was wrought
For us and with such providential care
My brother, I will shame you into singing.
Then, cried the second, I shall raise a voice
And see what poor apologies are made.
And so they sang, these two, for many days,
And while they sang the rose was beautiful.
But this affected not the songful ones,
And evermore in beauty lived the rose.
And when the worms were old and wiser too,
They fell to silence and humility.
A night of silence! Twas the swinging sea
And this our world of darkness. And the twain
Rolled on below the stars; they flung a chain
Around the silences which are in me.
The shadows come, and they will come to bless
Their brother and his dwelling and his fame,
When I shall soil no more with any blame
Or any praise the silence I possess.
Biography of Abu-I-Ala
Abu-l-Ala was born in Maarra, a small town in northern Syria near Aleppo; his family was highly respected. He received a good education for his day, in spite of the fact that he was partially blinded by smallpox at the age of 4. Syria was recognized at that time as a highly intellectual and cultural area, and Abu-l-Ala received his education in Aleppo, Tripoli, and Antioch under the best Syrian scholars. He seems to have studied to be a professional encomiast like his predecessor al-Mutanabbi but soon rejected this calling because of his proud nature.
Soon after the age of 20 Abu-l-Ala returned to Maarra, where he lived off the fees he received from his pupils until 1010. He then moved to Baghdad, the intellectual center of Islam. But he left after 19 months because he refused to write flattering verses for those in power. This period was the turning point in his life. To date, he had won distinction as an erudite savant and as an accomplished poet in the style of al-Mutanabbi, a poet he admired. But Abu-l-Ala’s great works appear only after his visit to Baghdad. His later poetry is filled with many unorthodox ideas that he could have come across only in Baghdad.
He reached his hometown to find his mother had died. This affected him immensely. It is said that afterward he lived in a cave and adopted ascetic habits. He was nicknamed “the double prisoner” because of his blindness and seclusion.
But Abu-l-Ala’s fame continued to draw students to him. He eventually amassed great wealth in his retreat. He passed his last 40 years in retirement but not idleness. This is evident by his long list of compositions. He is best known for two collections of poems entitled Sakt al-Zand and Luzumiyat and for many letters.
The problem of Abu-l-Ala’s orthodoxy is often debated. He is usually held to be a heretic because of his chiding works on the Koran. His ideas are unusually skeptical of many accepted doctrines of his day. He was a monotheist, but his God was little more than an impersonal fate. He did not accept the theory of divine revelation. Religion in his view was the product of man’s superstitions and the need for society to control these feelings. And he was always against religious leaders’ taking advantage of their unsuspecting followers for their own personal benefit. He did not believe in a future life, and it was against his better wisdom to have children because of the miseries of living. He was a vegetarian and an ascetic. He did believe in a religion of active piety and righteousness, and thus his ideas were much like the Indian thought of his time.
Younger Brother – I Am A Freak