One Day I Wrote Her Name
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide and made my pains his prey.
“Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain essay
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.”
“Not so,” quoth I; “let baser things devise
To lie in dust, but you shall live by fame;
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where, whenas Death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
A garden among the flames!
My heart can take on any form:
A meadow for gazelles,
A cloister for monks,
For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim,
The tables of the Torah,
The scrolls of the Quran.
My creed is Love;
Wherever its caravan turns along the way,
That is my belief,
Love Is Enough
Love is enough: though the world be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the skies be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter:
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
I want to write different words for you
I want to write different words for you
To invent a language for you alone
To fit the size of your body
And the size of my love.
I want to travel away from the dictionary
And to leave my lips.
I am tired of my mouth
I want a different one
That can change
Into a cherry tree or a matchbox,
A mouth from which words can emerge
Like nymphs from the sea,
Like white chicks jumping from the magician’s hat.
Take all the books
That I read in my childhood,
Take all my school notebooks,
Take the chalk,
And the blackboards,
But teach me a new word
To hang like an earring
On my lover’s ear.
Translation: Bassam Frangieh and Clementina Brown
The Morse Code of the Heart
Poems arrive as meteorites.
Collecting them, I try my best to impart
impulses, the Morse code of the heart,
but I do not understand the vernacular
of fear that jostles me until art occurs,
or why knowing you from afar
spurs hours of working myself into the stars.
Well, I do know, but I fight its common sense:
I try to stabilize us through eloquence.
It’s an old story, better told than I tell,
how artists shape what hurts like hell
(usually love) into separate empires
of lust, tenderness, and lesser desires
Touched by An Angel
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
Love and Friendship
Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?
The wild-rose briar is sweet in the spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He may still leave thy garland green.
While now my heart
May always stay empty
Though tears have dried
Leaving behind residue of loss
It is a void
A space that reverberates still
With memories eternal
Which remind and sustain
Love which even gone
Can never be forgotten
There is love
That changes your being
Writing itself so deeply
That it is entwined with your DNA
Though it might appear mortal
Something which lives and dies
The lives it touches
Know with quiet certainty
That its memory
Will echo in eternity