Today is May Day. Celebrated around the world, esp. by Rob. So, Happy Day to one and all.
Before the links, a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz - the poet who more than anyone speaks for the workers of Pakistan against the dictators - translated by Agha Shahid Ali. I was gonna translate a poem of his on May Day myself but I forgot the book at work and I am going out so, this found treasure must suffice. And a few, random links after.
A Prison Evening by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Each star a rung,
night comes down the spiral staircase of the evening.
The breeze passes by so very close
as if someone just happened to speak of love.
In the courtyard,
the trees are absorbed refugees
embroidering maps of return on the sky.
On the roof, the moon - lovingly, generously -
is turning the stars into a dust of sheen.
From every corner, dark-green shadows,
in ripples, come towards me.
At any moment they may break over me,
like the waves of pain each time I remember
this separation from my lover.
This thought keeps consoling me:
though tyrants may command that lamps be smashed
in rooms where lovers are destined to meet,
they cannot snuff out the moon, so today,
nor tomorrow, no tyranny will succeed,
no poison of torture make me bitter,
if just one evening in prison
can be so strangely sweet,
if just one moment anywhere on this earth.
happy may day! faiz was the first asian to receive the lenin peace prize in 1963. i bought a book of his short stories in delhi. very nice.
Tyrants, lamps = wonderful, comrade. Rob's election summary: Labour: ya, Tories: boo, Liberals: shucks; Respect: oi! Labour will lose a fair few seats to the Blue Bastards but keep a hefty majority, Bow & Bethnal Green will likely go to Respect, and the Liberals will make the usual 10-20 seat gain--not all because of antiwar. It all depends on turnout, as ever, and possibly that telling symptom alone is a justification for my/your lack of interest. If I'm completely wrong I'll make a model of myself out of chapatis next to the words "he's not a prophet he's a twit" and email the photo to you.
happy may day! In Oregon, my native place, May Day was all about flowers. In elementary school, we would decorate our empty tiny milk cartons from lunch into (ridiculous, stale-milkish) 'baskets'. We filled the baskets with flowers and were instructed to take the 'bouquet' to our neighbor's house, put it on their doorstep, ring the bell, and run away. This was the very best way to celebrate spring, our teachers said. Did anyone else do this? Our May Day 'baskets' seems to be loosely related to german and english maypole-dancing traditions (which were also a pretty big deal in oregon in the 70s. I'm sure everyone was very high, but it was fun at age 8!) and the general european pre-Christian spring-celebrations of May Day. I'm realizing that in all those years of stealthy flower delivery, nobody mentioned the Labor history of this important day.
May Day isn't celebrated in Japan. However, the land of the rising sun has its own bevy of national holidays in early May (thank God!). I read the link regarding the obscurity of Pakistan. No comment! I guess it is easy to get a book contract when you marry well in Hollywood.
I'm guessing there's an transatlantic delay, so you might not know that Ferguson has a fairly desperate letter response to Mr. Porter in the latest LRB (19/5 - or maybe you've already got it internet-style, I have no idea how their website is) along the lines of "But I footnoted you Bernie!" The intellectual part of his argument is infinitely complex and nuanced, but might be (with great daring) simplified as: "Yeah, we were naughty, but empire's the best, admit it." I reckon he's got a macro to type letters like this...
what a beautiful poem.
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