Category Archives: art

The Art of Poetry by Jorge Luis Borges

To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there’s a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

Two English Poems by Jorge Luis Borges

I.

The useless dawn finds me in a deserted street-corner; I have outlived the night.
Nights are proud waves: darkblue topheavy waves laden with all hues of deep spoil, laden with things unlikely and desirable.
Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals, of things half given away, half withheld, of joys with a dark hemisphere.
The surge, that night, left me the customary shreds and odd ends: some hated friends to chat with, music for dreams, and the smoking of bitter ashes. The things my hungry heart has no use for.
The big wave brought you.
Words, any words, your laughter; and you so lazily and incessantly beautiful. We talked and you have forgotten the words.
The shattering dawn finds me in a deserted street of my city.
Your profile turned away, the sounds that go to make your name, the lilt of your laughter: these are the illustrious toys you have left me.
I turn them over in the dawn, I lose them, I find them; I tell them to the few stray dogs and to the few stray stars of the dawn.
Your dark rich life.
I must get at you, somehow: I put away those illustrious toys you have left me, I want your hidden look, your real smile – that lonely, mocking smile your cool mirror knows.

II.

What can I hold you with?
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the moon of the jagged suburbs.
I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked long and long at the lonely moon.
I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts that living men have honored in marble: my father’s father killed in the frontier of Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs, bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in the hide of a cow; my mother’s grandfather – just twenty four- heading a charge of three hundred men in Perú, now ghosts on vanished horses.
I offer you whatever insight my books may hold, whatever manliness or humor my life.
I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never been loyal.
I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved somehow – the central heart that deals not in words, traffics not with dreams and is untouched by time, by joy, by adversities.
I offer you the memory of a yellow rose seen at sunset, years before you were born.
I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about yourself, authentic and surprising news of yourself.
I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.

Jorge Luis Borges (1934)

“Dasht-e-Tanhai” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz – English Translation

“Dasht-e-Tanhai”

Dasht-e-tanhaee main ai jaan-e-jahaan larzaan hai
Teri aavaaz kay saaey, teray honton kay saraab

Dasht-e-tanhaee main dooree kay khas-o-khaak talay
Khil rahay hain teray pehloo kay saman or gulaab

Uth rahee hai kaheen qurbat say teri saans kee aanch
Apnee khushboo main sulagti hooee madham madham

Door ufaq paar chamaktee hooee qatra qatra
Gir rahee hai teri dildaar nazar kee shabnam

Is qadar payaar say ai jaan-e-jahaan rakha hai
Dil kay rukhsaar pay is waqt teri yaad nain haath

Yoon gumaan hota hai gerchay hai abhee subh-e-firaaq
Dhal gaya hijr ka din aa bhi gaee wasl ki raat.

Dasht-e-tanhaee main ai jaan-e-jahaan larzaan hai
Teri aavaaz kay saaey, teray honton kay saraab

Dasht-e-tanhaee main dooree kay khas-o-khaak talay
Khil rahay hain teray pehloo kay saman or gulaab

Uth rahee hai kaheen qurbat say teri saans kee aanch
Apnee khushboo main sulagti hooee madham madham

Door ufaq paar chamaktee hooee qatra qatra
Gir rahee hai teri dildaar nazar kee shabnam

Is qadar payaar say ai jaan-e-jahaan rakha hai
Dil kay rukhsaar pay is waqt teri yaad nain haath

Yoon gumaan hota hai gerchay hai abhee subh-e-firaaq
Dhal gaya hijr ka din aa bhi gaee wasl ki raat.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION
My best shot, aided by various online translations, Nov 24, 2009:

“The desert of my solitude”

In the desert of my solitude, my love, quiver
the shadows of your voice,
the mirage of your lips

In the desert of my solitude,
from the ashes of the distance between us,
bloom the jasmines, the roses of your touch

From somewhere nearby
rises the warmth of your breath
it smolders in its own perfume – gently, languorously

Far away, on the horizon, glistens
drop by drop,
the dew of your beguiling glance

With such tenderness, my love,
your memory has placed its hand
on the contours of my heart

Even though this is the dawn of our farewell,
it feels like the sun has set on our separation
and the night of our union is at hand

A revised version of my translation, April 21, 2019:

“The desert of my solitude”

In the desert of my solitude, my love, quiver
the shadows of your voice,
the mirage of your lips

In the desert of my solitude,
from the arid dust of our parting,
bloom the jasmine, the roses of your touch

From somewhere nearby
rises the warmth of your breath
it smolders in its own perfume – gently, languorously

Far away, on the horizon, glistens
drop by drop,
the dew of your beguiling glance

With such tenderness, my love,
your memory has placed its hand
on the contours of my heart

Even though this is the dawn of our farewell,
it feels like the sun has set on our separation
and the night of our union is at hand

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Procol Harum – A whiter shade of pale 1967

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, ‘There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.’
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well’ve been closed

She said, ‘I’m home on shore leave,’
though in truth we were at sea
so I took her by the looking glass
and forced her to agree
saying, ‘You must be the mermaid
who took Neptune for a ride.’
But she smiled at me so sadly
that my anger straightway died

If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
and attacked the ocean bed

Tuning Out the Taliban

the split within pakistani society itself. interesting how condemning drone attacks is disdainfully described as “patriotic, conservative, islamist apologist” by someone who calls himself a “cultural critic” – what the hell is that anyway? this guy and other like-minded critics might be surprised to find out that drone attacks are condemned here in the u.s. as well – not by conservatives, but by liberals who believe in the sanctity of life and human rights. the vast majority of people killed by drone attacks are civilians (mostly women and children). but as long as the cultural critic’s family remains unaffected he can continue to cheer them on. well, at least he’s not patriotic or an islamist apologist. watch the video.

Music of Resistance – Tinariwen

The nomadic Touareg tribes have endured years of drought and civil war. The one constant through this hardship has been the music of Tinariwen. Once a group of rebel soldiers, training alongside Colonel Gadaffi in Libya, after years of struggle and violence Tinariwen decided to lay down their guns and fight with a different weapon – music.

tinariwen cler achel

The thirty-year musical and social history of Tinariwen is a fascinating and inspiring tale. Initially a loose collection of displaced Touareg musicians centred around Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who, although born in Mali, grew up in the refugee camps near the Malian border in Algeria and later around the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset following the suppression of the Touareg people by the new independent Malian government in the early 1960s. Coming together in the late 1970s with a shared passion for everything from traditional Touareg music & poetry to western rock and pop artists such as Hendrix, Santana, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, the collective steadily built their reputation in and around the Sahara desert.

Welcome to Slackistan: Pakistan’s first ever slacker movie

Visitors to Islamabad, the small but perfectly formed capital of Pakistan, could be forgiven for thinking that the only things to rock the place were terrorist attacks. But they would be wrong. The city, population approximately 600,000, forms the backdrop for the country’s first slacker movie. Titled Slackistan, the low-budget independent film from first-time British director Hammad Khan features the Pakistani young and privileged as they drift around in a rarefied world of cars, dating, drinking and parties. Worrying only about what to wear and where to go, this group of fashionably-dressed kids could be in Orange County or New York’s Upper East Side. Full article.