“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” – Henry David Thoreau
Sunday… late. I have been assembling this over the last couple of days, and found a new poet in the process. Sweet Reward. I think you might like the selections of this entry.
On The Menu:
Solar Fields – The Road To Nothingness
Henry David Thoreau Quotes
The Tale Of The Hashish Eater & The Tale Of Two Hashish Eaters
The Poetry Of Yahia Lababidi
Yahia Lababidi Biography
Solar Fields – Dust
Solar Fields – The Road To Nothingness (with thanks to Lizard Jah….)
Henry David Thoreau Quotes:
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”
“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”
“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”
“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”
“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.”
“Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.”
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.”
….Then said she, “Know that I mean to pass this night with thee, that I may tell thee what talk I have heard and console thee with stories of many passion-distraughts whom love hath made sick.” “Nay,” quoth he, “Rather tell me a tale that will gladden my heart and gar my cares depart.” “With joy and good will,” answered she; then she took seat by his side (and that poniard under her dress) and began to say: — Know thou that the pleasantest thing my ears ever heard was
The Tale Of THe Hashish Eater
A certain man loved fair women, and spent his substance on them, till he became so poor that nothing remained to him; the world was straitened upon him and he used to go about the market-streets begging his daily bread. Once upon a time as he went along, behold, a bit of iron nail pierced his finger and drew blood; so he sat down and, wiping away the blood, bound up his finger. Then he arose crying out, and fared forwards till he came to a Hammam and entering took off his clothes, and when he looked about him he found it clean and empty. So he sat him down by the fountain-basin, and ceased not pouring water on his head, till he was tired. —- And Sharazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the One Hundred and Forty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the man sat down by the fountain-basin and ceased not pouring water on his head till he was tired. Then he went out to the room in which was the cistern of cold water; and seeing no one there, he found a quiet corner and taking out a piece of Hashísh, swallowed it. Presently the fumes mounted to his brain and he rolled over on to the marble floor. Then the Hashish made him fancy that a great lord was shampooing him and that two slaves stood at his head, one bearing a bowl and the other washing gear and all the requisites of the Hammam. When he saw this, he said to himself, “Meseemeth these here be mistaken in me; or else they are of the company of us Hashish-eaters.” Then he stretched out his legs and he imagined that the bathman said to him, “O my master, the time of thy going up to the Palace draweth near and it is to-day thy turn of service.” At this he laughed and said to himself, “As Allah willeth, O Hashish!” Then he sat and said nothing, whilst the bathman arose and took him by the hand and girt his middle with a waist-cloth of black silk, after which the two slaves followed him with the bowls and gear; and they ceased not escorting him till they brought him into a cabinet, wherein they set incense and perfumes a-burning. He found the place full of various kinds of fruits and sweet-scented flowers, and they sliced him a water-melon and seated him on a stool of ebony, whilst the bathman stood to wash him and the slaves poured water on him; after which they rubbed him down well and said, “O our lord, Sir Wazir, health to thee forever!” Then they went out and shut the door on him; and in the vanity of phantasy he arose and removed the waist-cloth from his middle, and laughed till he well nigh fainted. He gave not over laughing for some time and at last quoth he to himself, “What aileth them to address me as if I were a Minister and style me Master, and Sir? Haply they are now blundering; but after an hour they will know me and say, This fellow is a beggar; and will take their fill of cuffing me on the neck.” Presently, feeling hot, he opened the door, whereupon it seemed to him that a little white slave and an eunuch came in to him carrying a parcel. Then the slave opened it and brought out three kerchiefs of silk, one of which he threw over his head, a second over his shoulders, and a third he tied round his waist. Moreover, the eunuch gave him a pair of bath-clogs, and he put them on; after which in came white slaves and eunuchs and supported him (and he laughing the while) to the outer hall, which he found hung and spread with magnificent furniture, such as beseemeth none but kings; and the pages hastened up to him and seated him on the divan. Then they fell to kneading him till sleep overcame him; and he dreamt that he had a girl in his arms. So he kissed her and set her between his thighs; then, sitting to her as a man sitteth to a woman, he took yard in hand and drew her towards him and weighed down upon her and lo! he heard one saying to him, “Awake, thou ne’er-do-well! The noon-hour is come and thou art still asleep.” He opened his eyes and found himself lying on the marge of the cold-water tank, amongst a crowd of people all laughing at him; for his prickle was at point and the napkin had slipped from his middle. So he knew that all this was but a confusion of dreams and an illusion of the Hashish and he was vexed and said to him who had aroused him, “Would thou hadst waited till I had put it in!” Then said the folk, “Art thou not ashamed, O Hashish-eater, to be sleeping stark naked with stiff-standing tool?” And they cuffed him till his neck was red. Now he was starving, yet forsooth he savoured the flavour of pleasure in his dream.
1. The Pers. “Bang”; Indian “Bhang”; Maroccan “Fasúkh” and S. African “Dakhá.” (Pilgrimage i. 64.) I heard of a “Hashish-orgie” in London which ended in half the experimentalists being on their sofas for a week. The drug is useful for stokers, having the curious property of making men insensible to heat. Easterns also use it for “Imsák” prolonging coition, of which I speak presently.
2. Arab. “Hashsháshín;” whence Dr Sacy derived “assassin.” A notable effect of the Hashish preparation is wildly to excite the imagination, a kind of delirium imaginans sive phantasticum
The Tale Of Two Hashish Eaters (Traditional)
From 1001 Arabian Nights
There was once, my lord and crown upon my head, a man in a certain city, who was a fisherman by trade and a hashish-eater by occupation. When he had earned his daily wage, he would spend a little of it on food and the rest on a sufficiency of that hilarious herb. He took his hashish three times a day: once in the morning on an empty stomach, once at noon, and once at sundown. Thus he was never lacking in extravagent gaity. Yet he worked hard enough at his fishing, though sometimes in a very extravagent fashion.
On a certain evening, for instance, when he had taken a larger dose of his favorite drug than usual, he lit a tallow candle and sat in front of it, asking himself eager questions and answering with obliging wit. After some hours of this delight, he became aware of the cool silence of the night about him and the clear light of a full moon abouve his head, and exclaimed affably to himself: “Dear friend, the silent streets and the cool of the moon invite us to a walk. Let us go forth, while all the world is in bed and none may mar our solitary exaltation.” Speaking in this way to himself, the fisherman left his house and began to walk towards the river; but, as he went, he saw the light of the full moon lying in the roadway and took it to be the water of the river. “My dear old friend the fisherman,” he said, “get your line and take the best of the fishing, while your rivals are indoors.” So he ran back and fetched his hook and line, and cast into the glittering patch of moonlight on the road.
Soon an enormous dog, tempted by the smell of the bait, swallowed the hook greedily and then, feeling the barb, made desperate efforts to get loose. The fisherman struggled for some time against this enormous fish, but at last he was pulled over and rolled into the moonlight. Even then he would not let go his line, but held on grimly, uttering frightened cries. “Help, help, good Mussulmans!” he shouted. “Help me to secure this mighty fish, for he is dragging me into the deeps! Help, help, good friends, for I am drowning!” The guards of that quarter ran up at the noise and began laughing at the fisherman’s antics; but when he yelled: “Allah curse you, O sons of bitches! Is it a time to laugh when I am drowning?” they grew angry and, after giving him a sound beating, dragged him into the presence of the kadi.
At this point Shahrazad saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.
BUT WHEN THE SEVEN-HUNDRED-AND-NINETY-EIGHTH NIGHT HAD COME SHE said:
Allah had willed that the kadi should also be addicted to the use of hashish; recognizing that the prisoner was under that jocund influence, he rated the guards soundly and dismissed them. Then he handed over the fisherman to his slaves that they might give him a bed for calm sleep. After a pleasant night and a day given up to the consumption of excellent food, the fisherman was called to the kadi in the evening and received by him like a brother. His host supped with him; and then the two sat opposite the lighted candles and each swallowed enough hashish to destroy a hundred-year-old elephant. When the drug exalted their natural dispositions, they undressed completely and began to dance about, singing and committing a thousand extravagances.
Now it happened that the Sultan and his wazir were walking through the city, disguised as merchants, and heard a strange noise rising from the kadi’s house. They entered through the unlatched door and found two naked men, who stopped dancing at their entrance and welcomed them without the least embarrassment. The Sultan sat down to watch his venerable kadi dance again; but when he saw that the other man had a dark and lively zabb, so long that the eye might not carry to the end of it, he whispered in his wazir’s startled ear: “As Allah lives, our kadi is not as well hung as his guest!” “What are you whispering about?” cried the fisherman. “I am the Sultan of this city and I order you to watch my dance respectfully, otherwise I will have your head cut off. I am the Sultan, this is my wazir; I hold the whole world like a fish in the palm of my right hand.” The Sultan and his wazir realized that they were in the presence of two hashish-eaters, and the wazir, to amuse his master, addressed the fisherman, saying: “How long have you been Sultan, dear master, and can you tell me what has happened to your predecessor?” “I deposed the fellow,” answered the fisherman. “I said: ‘Go Away!’ and he went away.”
“Did he not protest?” asked the wazir.
“Not at all,” replied the fisherman. “He was delighted to be relased from the burden of kingship. He abdicated with such good grace that I keep him by me as a servant. He is an excellent dancer. When he pines for his throne, I tell him stories. Now I want to piss.” So saying, he lifted up his interminable tool and, walking over to the Sultan, seemed to be about to discharge upon him.
“I also want to piss,” exclaimed the kadi, and took up the same threatening position in front of the wazir. The two victims shouted with laughter and fled from that house, crying over their shoulders: “God’s curse on all hashish-eaters!”
Next morning, that the jest might be complete, the Sultan called the kadi and his guest before him. “O discreet pillar of our law,” he said, “I have called you to me because I wish to learn the most convenient manner of pissing. Should one squat and carefully lift the robe, as religion prescribes? Should one stand up, as is the unclean habit of unbelievers? Or should one undress completely and piss against one’s friends, as is the custom of two hashish-eaters of my acquaintance?”
Knowing that the Sultan used to walk about the city in disguise, the kadi realized in a flash the identity of his last night’s visitors, and fell on his knees, crying: “My lord, my lord, the hashish spake in these indelicacies, not I!”
But the fisherman, who by his careful daily taking of the drug was always under its effect, called somewhat sharply: “And what of it? You are in your palace this morning, we were in our palace last night.”
“O sweetest noise in all our kingdom,” answered the delighted King, “as we are both Sultans of this city, I think you had better henceforth stay with me in my palace. If you can tell stories, I trust that you will at once sweeten our hearing with a chosen one.”
“I will do so gladly, as soon as you have pardoned my wazir,” replied the fisherman; so the Sultan bade the kadi rise and sent him back forgiven to his duties.
The Poetry Of Yahia Lababidi
I buried your face, someplace
by the side of the new road
so I would not trip over it
every morning or on evening strolls
still, I am helplessly drawn
to the scene of this crime
for fear of forgetting
the sum of your splendor
then there’s also the rain
that loosens the soil
to reveal a bewitching feature
awash with emotion
an eye, perhaps tender or
a pale, becalmed cheek
a mouth tight with reproach or
lips pursed in a deathless smile
other times you are inscrutable
worse, is when I seem to lose you
and pick at the earth like a scab
frantic, and faithful, like a dog.
to find the origin,
trace back the manifestations.
Between being and non-being
these sails of water, ice, air –
Indifferent drifters, wandering
high on freedom
of the homeless
like ghosts, slithering through substance
in puffs and wisps
Lending an enchanting or ominous air
luminous or casting shadows,
ambivalent filters of reality
Bequeathing wreaths, or
modesty veils to great natural beauties
like mountain peaks
Sometimes simply hanging there
airborne abstract art
in open air
great sky whales, now, horse drawn carriages
unpinpointable thought forms,
punctuating the endless sentence of the sky.
What do animals dream?
Do they dream of past lives and unlived dreams
unspeakably human or unimaginably bestial?
Do they struggle to catch in their slumber
what is too slippery for the fingers of day?
Are there subtle nocturnal intimations
to illuminate their undreaming hours?
Are they haunted by specters of regret
do they visit their dead in drowsy gratitude?
Or are they revisited by their crimes
transcribed in tantalizing hieroglyphs?
Do they retrace the outline of their wounds
or dream of transformation, instead?
Do they tug at obstinate knots
inassimilable longings and thwarted strivings?
Are there agitations, upheavals or mutinies
against their perceived selves or fate?
Are they free of strengths and weaknesses peculiar
to horse, deer, bird, goat, snake, lamb or lion?
Are they ever neither animal nor human
but creature and Being?
Do they have holy moments of understanding
deep in the seat of their entity?
Do they experience their existence more fully
relieved of the burden of wakefulness?
Do they suspect, with poets, that all we see or seem
is but a dream within a dream?
Or is it merely a small dying
a little taste of nothingness that gathers in their mouths?
There are hours when every thing creaks
when chairs stretch their arms, tables their legs
and closets crack their backs, incautiously
Fed up with the polite fantasy
of having to stay in one place
and stick to their stations
Humans too, at work, or in love
know such aches and growing pains
when inner furnishings defiantly shift
As decisively, and imperceptibly, as a continent
some thing will stretch, croak or come undone
so that everything else must be reconsidered
One restless dawn, unable to suppress the itch
of wanderlust, with a heavy door left ajar
semi-deliberately, and a new light teasing in
Some piece of immobility will finally quit
suddenly nimble on wooden limbs
as fast as a horse, fleeing the stable.
Words are like days:
coloring books or pickpockets,
signposts or scratching posts,
fakirs over hot coals.
Certain words must be earned
just as emotions are suffered
before they can be uttered
– clean as a kept promise.
Words as witnesses
testifying their truths
squalid or rarefied
But, words must not carry
more than they can
it’s not good for their backs
or their reputations.
For, whether they dance alone
or with an invisible partner,
every word is a cosmos
dissolving the inarticulate
Yahia Lababidi Biography
Yahia Lababidi, born 1973, is an internationally published writer of Egyptian – Lebanese origin. Lababidi’s first book, Signposts to Elsewhere (2006) received generous reviews from writers in the USA and the Middle East.
Lababidi’s aphorisms are included in an encyclopedia of The World’s Great Aphorists (Bloomsbury) by former Time editor James Geary, out in October 2007.
Otherwise, Lababidi’s poems and essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals world-wide, including: Leviathan: Melville studies (USA), Cimarron Review (USA), Mizna: journal of Arab American literature (USA), Haight Ashbury Literary Journal (USA), Islamica Magazine (USA), Philosophy Now (UK), The Wildean (UK), The Idler (UK), Other Poetry (UK), Dream Catcher (UK), Arena (Australia), Montreal Serai (Canada), Al Ahram Weekly (Egypt), Iranian Times (Iran), Bidoun: Middle East Arts and Culture magazine, as well as online literary communities such as RAWI: Radius of Arab American Writers, Inc. and The Other Voices International Project.
Solar Fields – Dust