Sunday, August 10, 2008

ghazal: "my parquetry"



I'm seated at the chessboard   late in life
defeated at the chessboard   late in life

the braid of dark and light   that attracts my heart
is pleated at the chessboard   late in life

thought's leisurely loaf   with its pliant forms
I've kneaded at the chessboard   late in life

a dualist oboe   you can hear here
twin-reeded   at the chessboard   late in life

this duel   is a decorous deathtrap
who'll beat it at the chessboard   late in life?

there's no move without loss?   you're arrested
rap-sheeted   at the chessboard   late in life

years pass   I still ponder   those fatal moves
slow-speeded   at the chessboard   late in life

each time I sit   our parley   reappears
I meet it at the chessboard   late in life

I'm game to play!   ready to engage you
repeat it at the chessboard   late in life

your gaze moves   from square to square within me
you've freed it   at the chessboard   late in life

inept to block your checkmate!   my vanquish
proceeded at the chessboard   late in life

this parquet   contains a tale of danger
you'll read it at the chessboard   late in life

immediate protection   not small talk
I've needed at the chessboard   late in life

after summer's harsh days   by quiet rains
beleaguered   at the chessboard   late in life

the impetus for love   seeks a clear path
impeded at the chessboard   late in life

after untold deaths   some perfect a way
to be good at the chessboard   late in life

the first move   is the dawn   of amazement
rose-cheeked   at the chessboard   late in life

the meaning of alap   is opening
slow-greeted   at the chessboard   late in life

unplugged   the phrase is bent to coolest blue
unheated   at the chessboard   late in life

was fate's   deceptive   ambiguity
well treated at the chessboard   late in life?

motives abstract   grow step-wise   specific
concreted at the chessboard   late in life

why prate of paradise?   when such a hope
out-petered at the chessboard   late in life

pastel dreams   at the stage of latency
deleted at the chessboard   late in life

the boys in the band   brag of Broadway nights
backstreeted at the chessboard   late in life

a glance that would launch ships   she once cast you?
I'm fleeted at the chessboard   late in life

what I know of you is wind   little more
half-heeded at the chessboard   late in life

I've listened for your note   soft and distant
I've waited at the chessboard   late in life

in a Manhattan minute   I'd meet you
heart-beated at the chessboard   late in life

come haunt me   belovèd   I'm willingly
afreeted at the chessboard   late in life

where remain   modest moves   to contemplate?
effeted at the chessboard   late in life

sun leads   the cloudscape follows   such a dance
Monet did   at the chessboard   late in life

a crude pawn   with the right move   proves dextrous
concede it at the chessboard   late in life

a suave queen   at the wrong place   gets worsted
unseated at the chessboard   late in life

the ocean first approached   than stepped aside
receded at the chessboard   late in life

come tangle again   O toreador!
I'm bleeding at the chessboard   late in life

where sly strategy pays off   you'll spot me
conceited at the chessboard   late in life

the case is admittedly   difficult
I plead it at the chessboard   late in life

we seek your intervention   who wound us
we need it at the chessboard   late in life

he failed to grasp   with sure clarity
what she did at the chessboard   late in life

the cake can be consumed   or else displayed?
I eat at the chessboard   late in life

no true thing can be said   in poetry?
forget it   at the chessboard   late in life

who cultivate   an agonized patience
can breed it at the chessboard   late in life

your garden is half thorns   and half roses
we weed it at the chessboard   late in life

your thorn-prick   inevitably piercing
succeeded   at the chessboard   late in life

with such a window view   you're my opera
box-seated at the chessboard   late in life

Lord Krishna   amid the field   sings wisdom
God geeted   at the chessboard   late in life

today you sport beret   anon fedora
Magritted at the chessboard   late in life

young summer!   can you grasp how it snowed
and sleeted   at the chessboard   late in life?

par for the course   infants   we've forgotten
what we did at the chessboard   late in life

love is cruel   chant crooners   were they all
maltreated at the chessboard   late in life?

romantics   favor my way   Sinatra
competed at the chessboard   late in life

bitter news   dusk mellows   dulcet cellos
Bach suited   at the chessboard   late in life

go watch TV   I'll study this mirror
glass teated at the chessboard   late in life

lavish meal or plain fare?   all (pardon me)
excreted at the chessboard   late in life

final justice?   it's just this   Nirvana
out-meted at the chessboard   late in life

who reach nonexistence   return to you
thus jeeted at the chessboard   late in life

we were lost in the throng   till stepping in
elited at the chessboard   late in life

sharp gains   sudden losses   vague learning's
discreted at the chessboard   late in life

paths are made   by walking   quoth Chuang Tzŭ
ways streeted at the chessboard   late in life

our will was in motion   but not steering
back-seated at the chessboard   late in life

singing Baba Little Blacksheep   are we?
I've bleated at the chessboard   late in life

in memory's microwave   everything's
reheated at the chessboard   late in life

is whiskey your liquor?   my parquetry
I've neated   at the chessboard   late in life

one square   cool scholars never noted   ex-
egited   at the chessboard   late in life

always honey with medicine admixed   bit-
tersweeted at the chessboard   late in life

at the center of thought   heart's gratitude
drum-beated at the chessboard   late in life

play done   you remain all-pervasive   A-
to-Z hid at the chessboard   late in life

iron rules   unbending   but have poets
half-cheated at the chessboard   late in life?

Zarathustra's handiwork?   a rumor
repeated at the chessboard   late in life

every feint   in time's tragic conversation
lies naked at the chessboard   late in life

ascend cliffs   while sitting in an armchair
soul cleated   at the chessboard   late in life

the road to Shu   is difficult to scale
as Li did   at the chessboard   late in life

lose ten thousand rounds   to gain ambergris!
secreted at the chessboard   late in life

who resign to you   become   to the wind
three-sheeted   at the chessboard   late in life

didn't Shams   win again?   yet was Rumi
completed at the chessboard   late in life

fresh curls of green appear   out of dark loam
when seeded at the chessboard   late in life

what do I tender?   this   guttering wick
Kali lit   at the chessboard   late in life

what's hidden in the heart   grows manifest
you bleed it   at the chessboard   late in life

where have Raphael's midnights   this season
retreated at the chessboard   late in life?



========================


Every line has 10 syllables.
a ghazal in 79 couplets (so far)

August 18: . . . but editing is still in progress


couplets on hold:

I'm one spinning cog   in your universe
a widget at the chessboard   late in life

away   the clamor   of the marketplace
all fleeted at the chessboard   late in life [?]


survival   as fruit of agile foresight
acceded at the chessboard   late at night
paraded

was foresight born   merely for survival?
created at the chessboard   late at night

what has been   your basic meditation?
you'll see it   at the chessboard   late in life

the predator of dawn   proved prey at dusk
who pleaded at the chessboard   late in life

though prey afore   as predators anon
exceeded at the chessboard   late in life

the tryst were half-announced   half-forgotten
belated   at the chessboard   late in life

to lose is no mean thing!   dying deepens
elated at the chessboard   late in life

lost happiness   yet rill-like runs   anti-
cipated at the chessboard   late in life

[alternate form of verse 8]:

I'm game to play!   ready to oppose you
repeat it at the chessboard   late in life


notes

alap: I'm not clear on the root meaning of alap in Sanskrit. The term signifies a process of improvisation that opens up the musical mode -- an essential approach in Indian classical music.

afreeted: haunted (possibly an English neologism, although I vaguely recall having seen the word used thusly somewhere -- if so, probably amid Victorian-era translations from Persian poetry); from afreet (Arabic): a powerful or frightening jinni.

geeted: besung. This would be an English-verb neologism, based on the Sanskrit noun gita [or geeta] (song), as in the Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord), in Hinduism the quintessential book of spiritual wisdom in form of a lengthy philosophical dialogue described as having occurred beside the Kurukshetra battlefield, during a lull (and the hero's Arjuna's befuddled indecision) prior to the conflagration of action.

suited: to be made into a suite. Again (but obviously), a verb neologism; here, intended to suggest Johan Sebastian Bach's notable Cello Suites.

glass teated: as in Harlan Elison's The Glass Teat (1970)

jeeted: rendered victorious; as English verb, this would be a neologism (based on the Hindi/Urdu noun jeet = victory)

elited : to be made into an elite

Chuang Tzŭ: a.k.a. (or, now more commonly spelled) Zhuangzi, the great Daoist writer. Burton Watson thusly translates the classic utterance here in question:
      A road is made by people walking on it;
      things are so because they are called so.

Another rendering of the same reads:
      A way is made by walking it
      A thing is so by calling it


parquetry: the geometrical mosaic of patterned square wood pieces, as found on a chessboard, often used decoratively; see: parquetry

exegited: explained (as with a sacred, ancient text) in much literary detail, drawing out its full, inherent meaning; from exegesis

Zarathustra's handiwork!: the ancient Persian spiritual figure Zarathustra (Zoroaster), if not the inventor of the game of chess, was apparently at least an interpreter of its symbolism. (It is said that Persians attributed the game to India.) Poetically, one might esteem Zarathustra the game's inventor. Like his teachings, the sport of chess deals in sharp, dualistic distinctions, pitting light against dark.

the road to Shu: Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Li Bai (or Li Po) wrote an evocative ballad with the refrain The road to Shu is hard!

didn't Shams win again? -- alluding to the anecdote of Jelaluddin Rumi's chess-playing sessions with his spiritual mentor Shams-i-Tabriz (a tale recalled, for instance, in poet Francis Brabazon's magnum opus, Stay With God (1958)). The story goes, Rumi exclaimed (when losing), "I've lost yet again!" "No, this time," replied his master, "you've won," an utterance which (one might say) sparked or marked the sudden (and thereafter, continuous) experience of God-realization in Rumi.

5 comments:

अजित वडनेरकर said...

अंग्रेजी में ग़ज़ल पढ़ना भी शानदार अनुभव है राफेल साहब। उम्मीद है , आप हिन्दी समझ लेते होगे।

David Raphael Israel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lavanyam - Antarman said...

David,
Read your 2 Blogs this " Bhairo one " & Kirwani Re: Music & am still sorting through the wealth of Info. posted by you - Thank you especially for Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa web site & photographs.
They are a JOY to behold.
Peace be upon you.
Regards,
- Lavanya

David Raphael Israel said...

Thanks for the feedback, Lavanya. I had posted that item about Paramahamsa Ramakrishna's room (maintained at the Kali Temple in Dakshineswar, on outskirts of Calcutta) on my old Kirwani blog long before I ever ended up -- finally -- getting to Calcutta myself, a thing I at last did this past spring. Hope perhaps to spend more time there some future year. But the place was so crowded -- mainly people going for darshan of the Kali image, the Ramakrishna room relatively less jam-packed. I think (if back again) I may see try going in evening or early morning . . .

cheers,
d.i.

David Raphael Israel said...

dear अजित वडनेरकर --

thanks for your kind note.
Regrettably, I'm not at all fluent in Hindi (but a friend helpfully gave a translation).

And thanks also for somehow discovering this rather unknown backwater of the blogosphere.

cheers,
d.i.