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Author Topic: memorising poetry
Mohamad Khan
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Babbler # 1752

posted 19 June 2003 01:38 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
one of the things i've decided to do with my hourlong commute is to use the time to get some neat or important poetry fixed in my brain. i'm so envious of people who have reams and reams of (usually Urdu) poetry committed to memory. and it's neat to have a poem up there, and to be able to pull it out and relish it every now and then. on the subway i was trying to memorise the first poem in Rumi's Masnavi. what i've got so far is this (there may be mistakes, if my memory is messing up):

bishnau az nai chuu~ hikaayat mii kunad
az judaaii-haa shikaayat mii kunad
k'az nayistaa~ taa maraa bubriida and
az nafiiram mard o zan naaliida and
siina khwaaham sharha sharha az firaaq
taa buguuyam sharh-i dard-i ishtiyaaq
har kase k'o duur maanad az asl-i khwesh
baaz bijuuyad rozgaar-i wasl-i khwesh
man bi har jam`iyyate naalaa~ shudam
juft-i bad-haalaan o khush-haalaa~ shudam
har kase az zinn-i khud shud yaar-i man
az daruun-i man na just asraar-i man
sirr-i man az naala-i man duur niist
laik chashm o gosh raa nuur niist

that's as far as i can go....and now i have to run....


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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Babbler # 2534

posted 19 June 2003 01:47 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Unfortunately my Urdu is a bit weak . I'm sure it is much prettier in Urdu script too.

Memorising poetry has helped many captives and people hiding or taking refuge keep their sanity. Two famous examples were Primo Levi and Terry Waite.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
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posted 19 June 2003 06:03 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
it's Persian, actually...here's a translation (Arberry's or Nicholson's, i think; quite literal and a bit boring):

Listen to the reed how it tells a tale, complaining of separations--
Saying, "Ever since I was parted from the reed-bed, my lament hath caused man and woman to moan.
I want a bosom torn by severance, that I may unfold (to such a one) the pain of love-desire.
Every one who is left far from his source wishes back the time when he was united with it.
In every company I uttered my wailful notes, I consorted with the unhappy and with them that rejoice.
Every one became my friend from his own opinion; none sought out my secrets from within me.
My secret is not far from my plaint, but eye and ear lack the light (whereby it should be apprehended).

yikes...the original is much better. anyhow, what i was wondering, before i had to rush off was, what sort of poetry do you have in your head, and why?

edited because i have an urge to write down memorised stuff even though nobody will understand it.

in my head, besides the Qur'anic verses, there are a lot of Urdu ghazals, mainly ones by Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ahmad Faraz. i've also involuntarily memorised most of Muhammad Iqbal's "Shikwa" ("Complaint")...these two stanzas slip off my tongue in particular:

kyuu~ ziyaa~ kaar banuu~, suud faraamosh rahuu~,
fikr-i fardaa na karuu~ mahw-i Gham-i dosh rahuu~,
naale bulbul ke sunuu~ aur hama tan gosh rahuu~--
ham nawa, mai~ bhii koii gul huu~ ke Khaamosh rahuu~?
jur'at aamoz merii, taab-i sukhan hai mujh ko
shikwa allaah se khaak-am ba-dahan hai mujh ko

aa gayaa `ain laRaayii me~ agar waqt-i namaaz
qibla ruu ho ke zamii~ bos huii qaum-i hijaaz
ek hii saff me~ khaRe ho gaye mahmuud o ayyaaz
na koii banda rahaa aur na koii banda nawaaz
banda o saahib o muhtaaj o Ghanii ek hue
terii sarkaar me~ pahaunche to sabhii ek hue

there's another line in that poem that came up one night in Lahore, when my cousin Sikandar and i were walking to the tailor's to pick up a kurta. Sikandar accidentally stepped in a puddle of water in the darkness, and having done so he quoted "Shikwa":

bahr-i zulmaat me~ dauRaa diye ghoRe ham ne

the poem is a man's complaint to God about the sufferings of the Muslims, and he's basically saying, "well, we propagated your faith, so how come we've been subdued by Western colonialism?" in the sequel God refutes him, but "Shikwa" talks a lot about the heroic exploits of Muslim armies; so the couplet is:

dasht kyaa ciiz hai~? daryaa bhii na choRe ham ne
bahr-i zulmaat me~ dauRaa diye ghoRe ham ne

What is a forest to us? We left not even the rivers,
In the sea of darkness we spurred our horses.

i totally cracked up at his referring to a night-time puddle as "the sea of darkness."

in Faisalabad, another cousin of mine showed me the school my father used to go to. it was an absolute wreck, completely broken down, and from what i gathered, the education given there wasn't first-rate either. my cousin said that nowadays when he thinks of his old school, my father must say to himself:

yaad-i maazii `azaab hai yaa rabb
chiin le mujh se haafiza meraa

O Lord, remembrance of the past is a torment,
steal away my memory from me.

no doubt the poet, Asad Allah Ghalib, had some higher intentions for his couplet.

[ 19 June 2003: Message edited by: Mohamad Khan ]


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
catje
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Babbler # 7841

posted 09 February 2005 04:32 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
mandos has started resurrecting the Threads of Ancient Babble, so I'm being a shameless copycatje.

I have the usual miscellany of Shakespeare and Shelley which was drilled into me at an early age, but I think it's TS Eliot who comes to me most often.

And yesterday as I was waking up I found myself remembering an old imagist poem by HD:

These be
three silent things:
The falling snow
the hour before the dawn
the mouth of one just dead

It reminded me of going with an old friend to see her grandfather's body in the hospital. We were both secretly terrified but she felt she had to do it, and she was right. Death is such an issue in our culture, and so often concealed, that it can become huge and terrible in its invisibility. But 'just dead' is . . . just so. There is no one there anymore. And that was alright.


From: lotusland | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Anchoress
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Babbler # 4650

posted 09 February 2005 04:58 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think memorising poetry is one of the best pastimes a person can engage in. It's not only endlessly enriching to the one doing the memorising, but it also honours the author.

This is one of my favourite poems from memory:

This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
I didn't kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn't turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn't sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this (I remember it as 'one night like this', either a typo or a mis-remembrance)
by one like me


From: Vancouver babblers' meetup July 9 @ Cafe Deux Soleil! | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Al Creed
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posted 10 February 2005 12:34 PM      Profile for Al Creed   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I actually write my own poetry. This is a poem I wrote (ongue-in-cheek, Mind you) about Donald Rumsfeld. Enjoy.

A Poem, By Rumsfeld!

The public must never see,
every War Attrocity.
Pathetic sheep, we must mislead,
in Iraq, expendables bleed.
Impeding our oligarcic way,
Congress will dearly pay.
I want weapons in space,
to put those pussy Europeans in their place.
I don't care if our war breaks laws,
we must pry the oil from thier claws.
Global conquest is our game,
PNAC is our name.

FEAR ME!


From: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
catje
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posted 13 February 2005 03:10 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Now what we REALLY have to fear is The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld himself!
From: lotusland | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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Babbler # 214

posted 13 February 2005 10:14 AM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I havn't done any memory work in a while. At one time or another, I've been able to recite "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Highwayman", in their entirety, without prompting. I'd need to brush up a bit to accomplish that now.

The last time I turned to memory work because I was concerned I was having problems with my memory. I guess I just had a lot on my mind; the memory work went well.

I also like to memorize snippets of poetry, or some bits of Shakespear's work.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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Babbler # 7791

posted 13 February 2005 10:27 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I used to be good at memorizing, but I really had to work at it. Too many distractions in my life now. Huh.... what are we talking about again?
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 13 February 2005 10:28 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

"The Unknown"

by Donald H. Rumsfeld

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know we don't know.


I honestly do want to commit that to memory.

"Oh, young Lochinvar is come out of the west ..."

And I could go on.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
koan brothers
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Babbler # 3242

posted 13 February 2005 11:41 AM      Profile for koan brothers     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The excesses of my youth have left my short term memory in tatters but I have been able to memorize this.

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

For some reason the poem from Sophie's Choice (Ample make this bed...) took purchase in one of the undamaged parts of my brain and never left. Strange what sticks with us.


From: desolation row | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 13 February 2005 11:54 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

The Waking

by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.


Confession: past the first three lines, I always have to look it up.

Besides being wise, it is also a version of the villanelle, so it reminds me as well of another poet who has charmed me, Francois Villon.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
oldgoat
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Babbler # 1130

posted 13 February 2005 12:12 PM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know lots of poetry, but keeping it straight in my head can be difficult.

My beautiful, my beautiful,
Who standest proudly by,
It was the schooner Hesperus
The breaking waves dashed high.

Why is the Forum crowded?
What means this stir In Rome?
Under a spreading chestnut tree
There is no place like home.

When Freedom from her mountain
height
Cried, "Twinkle, little star,"
Shoot if you must this old gray head,
King Henry of Navarre.

If you're waking, call me early
To be or not to be,
Curfew must not ring to-night,
Oh, woodman, spare that tree,

Charge, Chester, Charge! On, Stanley
on!
And let who will be clever,
The boy stood on the burning deck
But I go on for ever.


.
.
.


(thanks to The Overworked Elocutionist by Robert Reese)


From: The 10th circle | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 13 February 2005 12:18 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

Standing ovation, oldgoat!


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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Babbler # 4140

posted 13 February 2005 12:29 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Welly welly welly welly WELLY!
Welly welly welly welly WELLY!

Awfully close to Valentine's Day and ...

the
talk
turns
to poe-
try


A chess friend dropped by last night and he and i rapped a bit and had some fun with his French name which is pronounced "Prew" but spelled "Proulx".

Was it you
that the Proulx
slew,
Or is it true
that you drew the Proulx?

drew the Proulx
drew the Proulx

Ha ha. Good luck in your games, Roy Proulx.

Memorizing is so much easier with some comfortable structure in place. I'm terribly fond of the simple sonnet for that reason, among others.

(Said Simple Simon, "I like a simple sonnet. So!")

Where was I? Oh yes. I like a sonnet and for memorizing there's nothing quite like the chant-like quality of verse . Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who produced a worthy new translation of Beowulf in the last few years, is one of the few modern poets still writing sonnets. But Heaney has modified the form in some clever ways.

Here is how Heaney's Death of a Naturalist begins:

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

BANG! Ha ha. Made you look.

ANYWAY, in honour of the forthcoming Valentine's Day, here is a little pair of lines, in iambic pentameter form, for those who've lost at love:

Now don't you say that love's a weakish sign
I yelp my barking heart when you were mine.

Manitoba poet Catherine Hunter liked that one. Catherine won Manitoba Book of the Year in 1996 or 1997 and beat out Carol Shields for the top prize. Poetry pounded prose and I like that.

[ 13 February 2005: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged

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