Friday, December 18, 2009

I hear you knocking Extremum Tanaïn si biberes III:10

At the door of the beloved. In Latin poetry, what a bad place to be! She won't let you in no matter how much you cry out, no matter what humiliation you must suffer. Your only recourse is to threaten to leave, perhaps shout nasty things you'll later regret.

In Persian poetry, on the other hand, standing in front of the locked door is exactly where you want to be! The درگاه [dargah] doorway is where you can cry out to show your pain, and grovel in the dust to show your unworthiness. There you can wait long hours, hoping for a sign of the beloved, hoping that s/he might come out or better yet, let you in. At the very least, all you know is that you've made it this far on your spiritual journey.

Pick almost any Persian poem and you will find some reference to the doorway—the doorway that frightens and beckons, worries and entices, but forever remains the obstacle to true union.  Here is a poem [which my friend Brandon Stone and I read just yesterday] written by Araqi [Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi], a thirteenth-century poet, who knew Rumi and whose poetry is similar in style to his but, in my opinion, less preacherly:

ای یـار بـیا و یــاری کـن  *  رنجه شو و غمگساری ای کن
آخـر سگـک در تو بــودم  *  یادم کن و حق گزاری ای کن
ای نیک ز من همـه بد آمد  *  نیکی کن و بردباری ای کن
بر عاشق خود مگیر خرده  *  ای دوست برزگواری ای کن
ای دل چو ترا فتاده این کار  *  رو بر در یار زاری ای کن
ای بخت بموی بر عراقی  *  و ای دیده تو نیز یاری ای کن

Beloved, come, help a bit, try to share a little sorrow.
Me, a dog at last at your door, think of me, be fair a bit. 
Good one, all the bad came from me, be kind, a little patient 
Don't fault me for loving you. Lover, be generous a bit.
Heart, this befell you so go, cry a little at the friend's door
Fortune, weep for Araqi, and, eye, you, too, help a bit.
[translation © 2009 by James Rumford] 

Closed-door poetry is known as paraclausithyron [παρακλαυσιθυρον], a Graeco-Latin hybred composed of para (beside) clausi (shut), and thyron (door). The image of a locked door was a favorite one of the ancient world and occurs today in literature and song. A twist on this theme was the song "I Hear You Knocking," written by Bartholomew and King in the mid fifties, which gives us the point of view of the lover behind the door. 

There is apparently a sequel to this poem in the Book IV, which I will get to next. Meanwhile, be introduced to the notions of 
  —the wild people of Russia who must drink from the River Don,
  —a grove of trees planted in a courtyard large enough to hold them, 
  —the two-headed god Janus of doors and the New Year, 
  —a pulley rope that symbolizes as it snaps under the weight of its load a fall from virtue, 
 —Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay during his long absence, and 
 —Piera, a valley north of Mt. Olympus, 

Even if you drank from the far-off Don, 
and were married to a savage, Lyce,
you would cry for me stretched out here to live  
before your harsh door thrown to the north winds.

Do you see how the Janus doors cry out, 
how the trees planted between the pretty 
rooves roar in the wind, how Juppiter from
the pure blue sky glazes the fallen snow?

Lay aside your pride, hateful to Venus, 
let not the pulley rope run backwards. 
Your Etruscan father didn't beget you, 
a difficult Penelope for suitors.

Oh, whatever! Neither gifts nor prayers, 
nor the violet pallor of lovers, 
your man love-sick for a Piera whore, 
would curve you over, spare your supplicants, 

you no more supple than the rigid oak, 
no mind more gentle than a Moorish snake's.
My body is not going to suffer
this threshold and heaven's rain forever.
[translation ©  2009 by James Rumford]

Prose Rendition:

[O] Lyce, si [tu], viro saevo nupta, Tanain extremum biberes, plorares tamen ‹me porrectum ante fores asperas Aquilonibus incolis obicere. 
[Tune] audis, quo ianua strepitu, quo ‹nemus satum inter tecta pulchra› [a] ventis remugiat et ut Iuppiter numine puro nives positas glaciet? 
Pone ‹superbiam, Veneri ingratam›, ne funis, rota currente, retro eat. 
‹Parens Tyrrhenus› ‹te Penelopen procis difficilem› non genuit. O quamvis neque munera—nec preces—nec ‹pallor amantium viola tinctus›—nec vir paelice Pieria saucius—te curvat, supplicibus tuis parcas. Nec aesculo rigida mollior—nec animum anguibus Mauris mitior. 
Hoc latus liminis aut aquae caelestis semper patiens non erit.  
[Revised March 27, 2015]

Horaci verba:

Extrēmum Tanain sī biberēs, Lycē,
saevō nupta virō, mē tamen asperās
porrectum ante forıs obicere incolīs
   plōrārēs Aquilōnibus.
audis quō strepitū iānua, quō nemus
inter pulchra satum tecta remūgiat
ventīs, et positās ut glaciet nivēs
   pūrō nūmine Iuppiter?
ingrātam Venerī pōne superbiam,
nē currente retrō fūnis eat rotā:
nōn tē Pēnelopen difficilem procīs
   Tyrrhēnus genuit parēns.
ō quamvis neque tē mūnera nec precēs
nec tinctus violā pallor amantium
nec vir Pīeriā paelice saucius
   curvat, supplicibus tuīs
parcās, nec rigidā mollior aesculō
nec Maurīs animum mītior anguibus:
nōn hōc semper erit līminis aut aquae

   caelestis patiēns latus.

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.

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