This blog is best viewed with the latest browser and an open mind!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kahlil Gibran Revisited

I realise that the feelings in this post are extremely negative and are not my usual mode of expression. The truth is, however, that much of what's happening around us is depressing and it is impossible to not be affected by it, however optimistic one may be. An old friend, Frederick Nazareth, sent me this poem in an email with the Subject: Benazir's return & Kahlil Gibran

Pity the Nation Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion. Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press. Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful. Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening. Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block. Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking. Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again. Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle. Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.
In reponse I sent him another poem in an email with the Subject: Pakistanis and Kahlil Gibran
My Countrymen What do you seek, my countrymen? Do you desire that I build for you gorgeous palaces, decorated with words of empty meaning or temples roofed with dreams? Do you command me to destroy what the liars and tyrants have built? Shall I uproot with my fingers what the hypocrites and the wicked have implanted? Speak your insane wish! What is it you would have me do my countrymen? Shall I purr like the kitten to satisfy you, or roar like the lion to please myself? I have sung for you, but you did not dance; I have wept before you, but you did not cry. Shall I sing and weep at the same time? Your souls are suffering the pangs of hunger, and yet the fruit of knowledge is more plentiful than the stones of the valleys. Your hearts are withering from thirst, and yet the springs of life are streaming about your homes. Why do you not drink? The sea has its ebb and flow, The moon has its fullness and crescents, And the ages have their winter and summer, And all things vary like the shadow of an unborn god moving between earth and sun, But truth cannot be changed, nor will it pass away; Why, then, do you endeavour to disfigure its countenance? I have called you in the silence of the night to point out the glory of the moon and the dignity of the stars, But you startled from your slumber and clutched your swords in fear, Crying "Where is the enemy? We must kill Him first!" At morning-tide when the enemy came, I called to you again, But now you did not wake from your slumber, For you were locked in fear, wrestling with the processions of spectres in your dreams. And I said unto you, "Let us climb to the mountain top and view the beauty of the world." And you answered me, saying, "In the depths of this valley our fathers lived, And in its shadows they died, and in its caves they were buried. How can we depart this place for one which they failed to honour?" And I said unto you, "Let us go to the plain that gives its bounty to the sea." And you spoke timidly to me, saying, "The uproar of the abyss will frighten our spirits, And the terror of the depths will deaden our bodies." I have loved you, my countrymen, but my love for you is painful to me and useless to you; And today I hate you, and hatred is a flood that sweeps away the dry branches and quavering houses. I have pitied your weakness, my countrymen, But my pity has but increased your feebleness, Exalting and nourishing slothfulness which is vain to life. And today I see your infirmity which my soul loathes and fears. I have cried over your humiliation and submission, and my tears streamed like crystalline, But could not sear away your stagnant weakness; Yet they removed the veil from my eyes. My tears have never reached your petrified hearts, but they cleansed the darkness from my inner self. Today I am mocking at your suffering, for laughter is a raging thunder that precedes the tempest and never comes after it. What do you desire, my countrymen? Do you wish for me to show you the ghost of your countenance on the face of still water? Come, now, and see how ugly you are! Look and meditate! Fear has turned your hair grey as the ashes, And dissipation has grown over your eyes and made them into obscured hollows, And cowardice has touched your cheeks that now appear as dismal pits in the valley, And death has kissed your lips and left them yellow as the autumn leaves. What is it that you seek, my countrymen? What ask you from life, who does not any longer count you among her children? Your souls are freezing in the clutches of the priests and sorcerers, And your bodies tremble between the paws of the despots and the shedders of blood, And your country quakes under the marching feet of the conquering enemy; What may you expect even though you stand proudly before the face of the sun? Your swords are sheathed with rust, and your spears are broken, and your shields are laden with gaps, Why, then, do you stand in the field of battle? Hypocrisy is your religion, and falsehood is your life, and nothingness is your ending; Why, then, are you living? Is not death the sole comfort of the miserable? Life is a resolution that accompanies youth, and a diligence that follows maturity, and a wisdom that pursues senility; But you, my countrymen, were born old and weak. And your skins withered and your heads shrank, Whereupon you become as children, running into the mire and casting stones upon each other. Knowledge is a light, enriching the warmth of life, And all may partake who seek it out; But you, my countrymen, seek out darkness and flee the light, Awaiting the coming of water from the rock, And your nation's misery is your crime. I do not forgive you your sins, for you know what you are doing. Humanity is a brilliant river singing its way and carrying with it the mountains' secrets into the heart of the sea; But you, my countrymen, are stagnant marshes infested with insects and vipers. The spirit is a sacred blue torch, burning and devouring the dry plants, And growing with the storm and illuminating the faces of the goddesses; But you, my countrymen, your souls are like ashes which the winds scatter upon the snow, And which the tempests disperse forever in the valleys. Fear not the phantom of death, my countrymen, For his greatness and mercy will refuse to approach your smallness; And dread not the dagger, for it will decline to be lodged in your shallow hearts. I hate you, my countrymen, because you hate glory and greatness. I despise you because you despise yourselves. I am your enemy, for you refuse to realize that you are the enemies of the goddesses.
Sincerest apologies if turned your mood to sadness, too. If you need to laugh, please turn to a channel where Shaikh Rasheed or Wasi Zafar are being interviewed.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home