Sunday, 15 November 2009

ممتاز محل

The mausoleum for the woman who Shah Jahan loved at first sight is inscribed with inscriptions, mostly from the Koran.  The planning was begun after Jahan was brought out of secluded mourning by his daughter, as Jahan was on military campaign.  The construction, beginning 1632, took 22 years and 22 000 laborers to complete the principle and surrounding buildings and garden.  

After a five-year betrothal, Jahan married Arjumand Banu Begum on the auspicious day selected by his sages.  Finding her in looks and personality the best of all women of the time, he gave her the name Mumtaj Mahal, "Chosen One of the Palace".  She was "the Cradle of Excellence" to others.  Jahal mostly put off the rights to his other wives, and for 19 years she was with him and he trusted her, and she was with him throughout his earlier campaigns and the rebellion against his father.  They had 14 children together, and Mumtaj died giving birth to the 14th while with Jahan, fighting in the Deccan Plateau.  

Jahan's words on the building:

Should the guilty come here for asylum, like a pardon he is set free from sin,
Should a sinner come here all the past is washed out from him,
In the eyes of all this mansion brings soft sighs,  This mansion's sight draws sorrowing sighs
it brings tears to the heavenly bodies.
In the world therefore this mausoleum was created
For to display God's glory.

The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads: "O Soul, thou art at rest.  Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."

و الضُّحَى
وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَى
مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَى
وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَى
وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَى
أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيماً فَآوَى
وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالّاً فَهَدَى
وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلاً فَأَغْنَى
فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ
وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ
وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّث
يقسم الله سبحانه – بهذين الموحيين . فيربط بين ظواهر الكون

By the morning's glorious light, and by the still night,
Your guardian and lord has not forsaken you, nor is he displeased.
Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you?
Did He not find you lost and guide you?
And did He not find you in need and enrich you?
Therefore, as with an orphan protect him,
As with a beggar, oppress him not,
And as with your Lord's favor, declare it.

On a square plinth, a cube, and sitting on a cylindrical drum, a dome, decorated with lotus design, finial, topped a cowlike heavenward moon;

the cube, octagonal, unequal, completely symmetrical, four long sides, chamfered corner areas, huge vaulted archways framing iwans, multichambered, arched balconies, stacked, gilded finials and spires, faced with a great iwan, four smaller domes in corners, lotus motifed, perforated bases letting light; outside and on the edges of the plinth, four minaret corners, divided by threes by ring balconies, topped by domes, lotus-shaped, gilded finials, frame the plinth.
   Traceried, incised, painted, geometric, white inlays on sandstone, dark or black on white marbles, mortared areas stained, painted with constrasting color; floors tiled, blocked constrasting patterened, tessellated; marble bass reliefed, flowers, vines, fruits, geometric; inlayed with 28 stones, yellow, jasper, jade, polished to the level of the walls;
Calligraphy, the thuluth script, jasper, black marble, inlaid white marble.

Bleach white in the early light, warmth peaches, and reddened in the lengths of day.

The inner chamber octagonal, entry from each side, lapidary of gemstones, the pen box and writing tablet caskets, Mumtaj's tomb the 99 Names of God,

The Just, The Equitable; The Forgiver, The Effacing; The One, The Only One; The Last, The End and Ultimate; The Highest, The Exalted; The All-Knowing, The Omniscient; The First, The Pre-Existing; The Supreme Glory, The Most Grand; The Mighty, The Eminent; The Wonderful Originator, The Awesome Inventor; The Awakener, The Resurrector; The Everlasting, The Ever-Present; The Maker from Nothing, The Evolver; The Gracious Benefactor, The Source of Goodness; The All-Seeing, The All-Perceiving; The Expander, The Unfolder; The Hidden, The Inner; The Corrector, The Distresser; The Lord of Majesty and Generosity; The Opener, The Revealer; The All-Forgiving, The Absolver; The Forgiving, The Pardoner; The Self-Sufficient, The Independent; The Guide, The Leader on the Right Path; The Preserver, The Protector; The Judge, The Arbitrator; The Perfectly Wise, The Most Judicious; The Forbearing, The Calm-Abiding; The Praiseworthy, The Laudable; The Truth, The Only Reality; The Accounter, The Reckoner; The Ever-Living, The Alive; The Restorer, The Repairer; The Majestic, The Glorious; The Gatherer, The Uniter; The Greatest, The Most Great; The Generous, The Bountiful; The Inner-Aware, The Reality-Knower; The Humbler, The One who Softens; The Creator, The Planner; The Subtle, The Gracious, The Refined; The All-Glorious, The Majestic; The Noble, The Generous; The Master of the Kingdom; The Ruler, The King; The Preventer, The Defender; The Firm, The Steadfast; The Delayer, The Postponer; The Starter, The Beginner, The Originator; The Disgracer, The Dishonorer; The Bestower of Wealth, The Fulfiller of Needs; The Protector, The Bestower of Security; The Reckoner, The Appraiser; The Giver of Life, The Reviver; The Restorer, The Renewer; The Bestower of Honor, The Strengthener; The Fulfiller of Prayers, The Responsive; The Remover of Fear, The Giver of Tranquility; The Creator of Death, The Life-Taker; The Avenger, The Inflictor of Retribution; The Expediter, The Promoter; The Nourisher, The Sustainer; The Equitable, The Just; The All-Determining, The Prevailing; The Fashioner, The Bestower of Forms; The Supremely Exalted, The Most High; The Supremely Great, The Perfection of Greatness; The Creator of Good, The Auspicious; The Light, The Illuminator, The Enlightenment; The Withholder, The Restrainer; The Able, The Empowered, The Capable; The Ever-Dominant, The Conqueror; The Inexhaustible Strength, The Supremely Strong; The Self-Existing, The Self-Subsisting; The Holiest, The Most Pure; The Exalter, The Uplifter; The Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate; The Lovingly Beneficent, Most Kind and Gracious; The Watchful, The All-Observing; The Appointer to the Right Path, The Director; The Kind, The Tenderly Merciful and Consoling; The Supplier, The Provider; The Patiently-Enduring, The Long-Suffering; The Source of Peace, The Flawless; The Satisfier of All Needs, The Eternal; The All-Hearing, The Ever-Listening; The Witness, The Testifier; The Most Grateful, The Most Appreciative; The Acceptor of Repentance, The Oft-Forgiving; The Loving-Kindness, The Most Affectionate; The Liberal Bestower, The Giver of Gifts; The One, The Manifestation of Unity; The Finder, The Resourceful; The Trustee, The Advocate; The Sole Governor, The Friendly Lord; The Protecting Friend, The Nearby Guardian; The Inheritor of All, The Supreme Heir; The All-Embracing, The All-Pervading; The Manifest, The Evident

Jahan's bears"He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."

The garden, completed in 1653, is a complex square divided into four and each forth into four sunken flowerbeds.  A raised marble water tank forms a line between the mausoleum and the gate, called the "Tank of Abundance" in reference to that recorded as promised to Muhammad.  The traditional charbagh format symbolizes a paradise described as an ideal garden with four rivers flowing from a central spring or mountain, separating the garden into north, west, south and east.  The garden was filled with roses, daffodils, and fruit trees.  

The land was compensated to the Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the center of Agra.  1000 elephants were used to transport transglucent white marble from Makrana, Rajasthan, jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China, turqoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli from Afganistan, sapphire from Sri Lanka, carnelian from Arabia.  A board of architects under imperial supervision planned for 20 000 workers from across Northern India; sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stonecutters from Baluchistan, a gold caster from Lahore, a lapidary from Chiranjilal were among the team of masters.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor

This is my version of the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor. I used 5 or 6 texts, especially John Foster's in World Materpieces (which I copied word for word in some places I couldn't replace better) and the Invisible Books "Isle of Fire". Hereis a site that provides educational information around this tale and other things.

The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor
Middle Kingdom Egypt

"Be hale of heart, my good leader! Look, we've made it here!
We've pounded the mooring peg home and the tether's secure;
We've praised and thanked the gods, everyone has embraced!
The whole crew has made it home clear, not a one lost,
Though we went down as down as far as Wawat's marshes, the isle of Es-n-Mewet.
Hey! Our home! Our home land! We've arrived!

Now, hear me out, captain; I am a man who never stretches the truth:
Go purify yourself, wash up,
Then thereafter you'll be able to answer what is put to you,
And you can address the King staunch-hearted, responding without hesitation.
A man's words can save him; speech can soften an angry face..."

"Ah, whatever. Go ahead, then, and say whatever in the world you're going to say. It wears me out, talking to you."

"But let me tell you a story. It's a bit like this,
It happened to me once upon a time.
I shipped out for the royal mines, Sinai,
And had entered into the basin of the great green sea.
The vessel grand: 60 meters long, 20 meters broad,
the crew 120 of the best of Egypt!
Show them sea! Show them land! Their hearts
were braver than lions; sailing-acumen to read the signs of wind
before a storm's coming, smell in the air foul weather's approach.
Yet all were certain, as certain as could be, the wind would
not be harsh, and likely there would be no wind at all.

Well, up came a storm! It roared up, we were
still far from any harbor in that dark. The wind made terrible moans and
the waves raged hungry against the hull, 5 meters high.
I was socked in the stomach by some big piece of wood
I was washed out into sea from the rolling vessel,
the vessel sank, not one man survived.

I was carried, by a great green swell, to
a desert island.
The first three days my heart
was my sole companion. I nested in the shadows of a covering tree.
Finally, that third day, I stretched my legs
in order to discover what there was to eat. What I found:
Figs, grapes, every sort of green:
Sycamore figs, knotched figs, and cucumbers that looked as good as on any farm.
Also there were fish, and birds. There was nothing this island did not have.
I filled myself past satisfaction, spilling and dropping what I'd
gathered in my arms--
I fashioned myself a firedrill, and built myself a fire,
and here I made an offering to the gods.

Then I heard a rumbling. Another storm approaching, the roar
I made out to be the roar of oncoming waves. Trees
were breaking. The ground was vibrating.
I looked through two of the fingers over my face and saw
a huge giant serpent coming my way.
Over 20 meters long, width huge,
It's beard hung down a meter.
It's leather was scales of gold, and lapis lazuli were it's eyes.

Before me it's great mouth opened, and in fear
I trembled down to my belly before him.
He breathed: "What brings you? brings you? little man? what brings you?
Hesitate to respond to me for an instant, and you will find yourself
ashes which will answer no questions again."

"Though you might ask, I am not all quite here to answer.
I am here before you, but I hardly know what's going on."
Then into his mouth he took me and
away he spirited me to the place of his residence,
and again set me down without malignance.
Still whole--no bites were out of me.
He bared his mouth before me again.
I got down on my belly again.
"What brings you? brings you? little man? what brings you? to
this island, in the great green sea, where shores are as shifty as the
changing waves?"
This time I told him all about it. Raising my arms as the gesture addressing the gods,
I started to say, "I was sailing to the region of the royal mines on the kings ship, in a vessel grand, 60 meters long, 20 meters broad, manned my 120 of Egypts best men. Show them sea! Show them land! Braver than lions were they. Each was stronger and braver than the next. Not a slouch in the lot! They could tell a storm coming a mile away, and smell foul weather on the air before any sight.

Then a storm came up! We were still far out in open sea. No chance of reaching harbor.
The wind howled foully, moaning, biting sharp, and there were hungry waves 5 meters high!
Some piece of wood hit me, and then the ship she went down.
Of all those men, best of the men in Egypt, not a one survived.
Only myself here, before you. After that I was carried
by a great green swell to be cast up on this desert island."

Then the snake said to me: "Fear not! fear not! My little man! A pale trembling face you must not show! You have found your way to this island. Look, It is God has let you live that you may be brought to this desert isle. There is nothing this island does not have! It is a land which engenders vitality in all that grows, and it is full of every fine and lovely thing.

Now, you will stay here and you'll spend a month,
then another, then another, until
four months on this island you have passed.
And then a ship will come from Egypt. With sailors in it
whom you know.
And you will go on home with them to die in your own city.
What joy it is for one to tell of the things he has gone through and suffered
when his suffering is over!

But let me tell you a story. It's a bit like this.
It happened once upon on this very isle.
I was here, living with all my family and companions in one big group.
75 persons we totaled. My offspring, relatives, and friends.
There was also a young girl who was washed up here by chance.
A star fell, and they were all gone, burnt up in flame.
It happened while I happened to be away. All burned... and
not even with them.
I wanted to be dead instead of them. After finding them a heap of tangled cinders.

If you have courage, steel your heart
that you may fill your arms with children and kiss
your wife, and see your home.
Believe me, it is better than all else
when you are back again
and dwell within the bosom of your friends."

Here I was flat stretched out forehead to the dirt, bowing
in respect, and I answered, "Let me return to tell
report of your magnificence to my king, all tell about all your
greatness, and arrange to have brought to you
precious ointments, balsam, spices, perfumes, and the sacred oils
and finest incense for the temple, that the gods enjoy.
And tell them all that has happened to me, and
of what I have seen of your power,
and the gods will be praised for your existence in the
Capitol. In the courts and counsils of the land! I will
slaughter cattle and offer them to you on altars. I will wring the necks
of birds for you!
Let me have them bring a fleet to you
laden with the wealth of Egypt, as is done for a foreign god much loved
by men, hitherto unknown, who has shown favor to us in a distant land.

He laughed at this, at what I'd told him. My solemn declaration, the contents
of my heart.
"Your's is no great supply of myrrh. Though it happens
you have incence. While I myself am a king of Punt. The myrrh from there is mine.
And that poor sacred oil you talk of bringing here is the chief product on this island.
And anyway, after you leave here you will never again
see this island, which will shift away with the waves of the sea.

At last, after 4 months, the ship arrived.
I climbed to a height in order to see, and I recognized the crew.
I ran down to report it to the snake
but found he already knew.
Then he opened his huge mouth to me: "Fare well, fare well, my little man. Off to your home to see your little children.
Make a good report of me when you get there. That's one demand I ask of you.
I placed myself on the ground before him and raised my arms gratefully.

Then he gave me a load of cargo. Myrrh, sacred oils, perfumes, spices, kohl, giraffe tails,
incense, elephant tusks, hounds, monkeys and baboons, every good imaginable. I loaded it all
onto the ship.
I prostrated myself again before him, thanking and praising God for him.
Then he said to me: "In two months you shall see your home land. You will hold your children in your arms and grow young again until you die there.
Then I went down to the shore and hailed the crew. Beside the sea I offered thanks to the Lord
of the Isle, and the crew aboard did likewise.

From there we made our way northwards
to the city of the King
In two months we arrived there, just as he had said.
Then I was granted audience with my King
and presented him with my gifts there,
which I had brougt from that island.
He offered thanks to God for my return,
and before the courts and counsils of the Land
I was made a royal Follower and
given 200 servants. Imagine! Me there, returned home,
after seeing all that I had seen!

Now, let what I said to you sink in a little, Captain,
sometimes what people say can help you, you know."

Then he replied, "Don't try to play the expert, friend.
Does one give water to a sacrificial bird
the morning of it's execution day?"

1001 Nights Tales

We are told when we hear the beginning of the background of the 1001 Nights' tales, that the younger brother of the king of the land was going out to visit his older brother the king, and just happening to pop back in his place around midnight to say goodbye to his wife, he found her wrapped up with a kitchen boy. He took a sword and cut them down, and then rashly sped away on the road, beginning, as sorry as any cavalier, the course of the cuccold's education. Feeling heartsick and liferavened, he tossed around and he wrung his hands, until sitting alone in the garden-view window of his guest palace quartres at his brother's, he saw the orgy which brought him a new perspectiveon things, a perspective that was even farther away from the innocent one he had once had. Then on he consumed food and drink and ravished life's offerings, seeming merry. After he was forced to tell the truth to his older brother, the king invited him to leave their kingdom and travel unattached throughout the world, until they found a sheep blacker even than the king was himself. Not long afterwards, then, after being forced down out of the tree where they had been hiding, and after giving the 99th and 100th rings to the treasured honeymooner, and jumping and marvelling at the wiles of women, the king bid his brother return with him to their homes and marry to not again. As for the king, he would show his personal solution when he got back to his palace, and that he did, by slashing down all the girl slaves in his hold and replacing them. His wife also he had taken care of. From then, every night, he would take a virgin daughter of some commoner, a soldier's daughter or a merchant's daughter, wed her, and after the night, slay her in the morning to save from any breach of fidelity. Surely this can't be the first time someone has tried to solve this old problem this way. 
Scherazade volunteers herself, despite her father the visier's words: "Foolish child, if I give you to him, he will sleep with you for one night and will ask me to put you to death in the morning, and I shall have to do it, since I cannot disobey him." He furiously tries to disuade her with many timeless adages:
"The misbehaver ends up in trouble!"
"He who doesn't think about the effects is unhappy in the world!"
"If I wasn't so adventurous I'd be much better off now!"
Then he said, "I'm afraid what happened to the Donkey and the Ox will happen to you, my daughter."
She looked up, "What happened to the Donkey and the Ox, father?"
The visier starts on the tale for her. To spoil it in short, the cunning Donkey talks the honest Ox into playing sick so he can lounge around like the Donkey. The Farmer overhears, and so he does let the Ox rest, but puts the Donkey to work, from which he thinks he'll die.
"You, my daughter, will likewise die because of your miscalculation. Give it up, sit quietly, and don't expose yourself to trouble. If you don't give it up, I'll do to you what the farmer did to his wife."
Sharazad perks up and asks what happened.
So he tells her how the Donkey said he heard the Farmer saying he'd turn that good-for-nothing Ox into meat, so the Ox goes back to work. But he couldn't tell his wife what they said, because he was not allowed to tell the secrets of the animal language. She became very curious, and insisted, though he would die. She still insisted, so he spent a year putting his things in order, releasing his slave girls and so forth, and then he overheard a Rooster chatting with a Dog. The Rooster told the Dog what the Farmer ought to do, which was take his wife into a room and fix her with an oak branch until she'd not want him to explain anything anymore, and then keep on until she's fixed for life. The Farmer did this, and everybody was happy because he'd learned good management and the wife had become docile.
"If you don't give it up, Sharazar, I'll do you like the Farmer did his wife."
"Father, such stories don't put me off my intention. If you want, I could tell a million such stories. If it comes down to it, I'll tell the king you'd deny me such a match, and that you'd deny him such a girl."
When the wedding comes around, Sharazar asks her little sister to hide under the bed, and when the king is all finished for the night, to ask Sharazar to tell them one of her great stories. "May I have the kings permission to tell one story?" says Sharazar. He assented. She began to tell a story about a wealthy, content merchant who was travelling, and he was taking a rest on his way back. It was under a walnut tree by a spring and threw some of the date seeds he was eating on the ground. When he's done and about to go, an old demon appears and blames him for killing his son by throwing his date seeds. He pleads his innocence, but the demon insists on taking "blood for blood." The merchant prays to God, but the demon insists. He recited a poem, but the demon insists just the same. "By God I must kill you, as you killed my son, even if you weep blood." "Must you?" "I must," and he raises his sword to strike. But morning overtook Sharazar, and she was too sleepy to go on, though Shahrazad the king was burning with curiousity what would become of these happenings. "What a strange, lovely story, sister," said Dinarzad. "That is nothing compared to what I will tell you tomorrow night, if the king permits. It will be even better and more entertaining, sister." The king thought that he would just put her death off until after the next night when she would tell the end of the story. He would then slay her the next day. Even when a man is as firmly determined as this king was, how long do you think a woman's words could lead him to delay?

The Three Apples. Earliest murder mystery and suspense thriller with multiple plot twists and detective fiction elements.

The Willow Song

The bulk of this post is taken from John Launer here.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song ...
(Psalm 137)

The poore Soule sat sighing by a Sicamour tree,
Sing all a greene Willough:
Her hand on her bosome, her head on her knee,
Sing Willough, Willough, Willough,
The fresh Streames ran by her, and murmur’d her moanes,
Sing Willough &c.,
Her fast teares fell from her, and softened the stones,
Sing Willough, Willough, Willough ...(Othello, Act IV, scene 4)

I was sceptical that you could hang any kind of harp on a weeping willow, even if—as was presumably the case here—your instrument was more like a Welsh harp than a concert one. Of course, the passage is meant to be figurative rather than literal, and it has its counterpart in Psalm 126 when the exiles return to Zion with songs of joy.

A song of ascents.

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

As it happens, willows (aravim in Hebrew) appear six or seven times in the bible, generally as ‘willows of the brook’. However, modern commentators seem to agree that the aravim mentioned in the Psalm 137 are not in fact willows at all but Populus euphratica.

This is a kind of poplar native to Iraq, apparently similar in some ways to our own black poplar. It has two different kinds of leaves—long pedunculated ones as well as deltoid ones—and this may explain why it was regarded as a willow. Poplars and willows are closely related anyway, and people in biblical times may not have distinguished one from the other. And who knows, maybe the psalm was written by a Jerusalemite who had never actually been to Babylon or looked at the trees there very closely.

Populus euphratica appears in only one other place in the bible, in the prophecies of Ezekiel. There it has a different name—tsaftsafah, which is thought to be onomatopoeic, echoing the characteristic rustling of the leaves. For Ezekiel, the tree symbolized the deep-rooted imperial power of Babylon. This certainly adds some poignancy to the image of hanging up your harp in despair.

However, if you look more closely at Desdemona's song, it leads to some more arboreal surprises and pleasures. For a start, the tree in the song, like the biblical one, cannot have been a weeping willow either. They were unknown in Europe until they were imported from China at the beginning of the eighteenth century: the Chinese connection is commemorated in the willow pattern plate, designed in 1779. Popular myth attributes the first weeping willow grown in Britain to Alexander Pope, who is said to have planted a budding wand from a basket containing figs that a Turkish lady admirer had given him. A later inhabitant of Pope's villa in Twickenham then cut it down, to deter tourists who came especially to gawp at it.

It was Linnaeus who gave the tree its Latin designation Salix babylonica, also on the mistaken assumption that it was the psalmist's tree. The English term ‘weeping willow’ was first used around the same time, presumably because of the psalm as well, although the description might be justified by the tree's drooping appearance alone. Ironically, most weeping willows nowadays are not the real thing, but a hardier hybrid with the native white willow Salix alba.

Which brings us, finally, to the sycamore, and the intriguing question of why the poor soul in Desdemona's song should sit by a sycamore but sing about willows. Part of the answer, apparently, is that the sycamore is not a sycamore either, or at least not the familiar Acer pseudoplatanus, or English maple, that we now mistakenly call a sycamore. Instead, the song refers to the mulberry fig, Ficus sycomorus, which appears many times in the bible as a symbol of rejuvenation, but seems, by Shakespeare's time, to have acquired an association with infidelity—not that anyone is suggesting for one moment that there is a link between the two.
The ironic contrast with Desdemona's position, as a faithful wife about to be murdered by a pathologically jealous husband, would probably not have been lost on the audience.
The Willow Song
The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree
Sing all a green willow
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee:
Sing willow, willow, willow, willow!
Sing willow, willow, willow, willow!
My garland shall be;
Sing all a green willow, willow, willow, willow
Sing all a green willow
My garland shall be.
The fresh streams ran by her, and murmer'd her moans
Sing willow, willow, willow
Her salt tears fell from her and soft'ned the stones.
Let nobody blame him, his scorn I approve
Sing willow, willow, willow
He was born to be fair, I to die for his love,
I call'd my love false love but what said he then?
Sing willow, willow, willow
If I court more women, you'll couch with more men.
They might also have understood why an encounter with a sycamore (which also sounds remarkably like ‘a sick Moor’, not to mention ‘a sick amour’) might lead a woman to bemoan her fate under a willow. Certainly, the association between willows, sadness, loss and weeping appears to have been fixed by then in the European mind, regardless of the botanical facts. But I won't harp on about that.

Our Willow, by the way, makes aspirin

Common Names: Willow
Latin Name: Salix spp.Parts Used: Bark, wood
Cultivation: Cuttings will root in moist soil. Start them where you want them to grow, as willows are difficult to transplant. Willows prefer soggy soil and full sun.
Cosmetic Uses: Decoctions of white willow bark make good facial astringents.
Magickal Uses: The willow tree is associated with the moon. Its wood is frequently used to make magick wands, and willow branches are used to bind a witch's besom. Use willow leaves in love mixtures, and carry them to guard against evil.
Medicinal Uses: Willow bark has been used for thousands of years to treat fevers and relieve the pain of headaches and arthritis. The bark contains salicin, the natural source of the chemicals used to make aspirin. It is also good for heartburn and digestive upsets (unlike aspirin, which can irritate your stomach).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy

My own translation (from the old scots to our tongue) of this early 16th century flyting...

Sir John the Rose, one thing there's written:
In general, Kennedy and Quinting,
Who himself is is above the shining stars
And if any threat were made him
Such a stint of strife would arise
And with pride-swelled breast
As Lucifer that from the heaven descended
Hell couldn't hide their heads from harm's hunting.

The earth would tremble, the firmament would shake
And all the air of venom suddenly stink
And all the devils of Hell fear quake
To hear what I would write with pen and ink.
For if I flyght, some men for shame would sink.
The sea would burn, the moon would suffer eclipse,
Rocks would rife, the world would have no grips
So loud exclaiming the common-bell would clink.

But wonderous loath would I be to bard,
Flyghting to use, right greatly ashamed,
For in its neither winning nor reward,
But tinsel of both honor and fame.
Increase of sorrow, slander, and ill-name,
Yet might they be so bold in their backbiting
To spur me to rhyme and raise the fiend with flyghting
And through all countries and kingdoms them proclaim,
Quod Dunbar to Kennedy.

Durtin* Dunbar, on whom do you think you throw your boast? [beshitten]
Of claiming to write such scabrous verse?
Stank-mawed ribald, you fall down at the feast,
My leareate's letters at you I'll loose.
Mandrake dwarfkin, master but in scorn,
Thrice-shown trumper with one threadbare gown,
Cry for God's Mercy before I cry you down,
And leave thy ryming, ribald, and thy rolls.

Dread, dirtcaked dwarf, that though he disobey it,
My cousin Quintene and my commisar* [deputy]
Fantastik fool, trust you will be put to flight.
Ignorant elf, ape, mishapen owl,
Scabrous skaitbird and common sponger,
Wanfukkit* foundling that nature made a dwarf, [misconceived]
Both John the Rose and you all will squeel and shriek
If ever I hear more of your making poetry.

Here I put silence to thee in all thy parts,
Obey and cease the play that you're pretending.
Weak wastrell and puller of the carts,
See that you make my commisar amends
And let him lay six leeches on your loins,
Meekly in recompensing for your scorn,
Or you shall bane the time that you was born:
For Kennedy to thee this document sends.
Quod Kennedy to Dunbar.

Juge in the nixt quha gat the war

Irish bumming bard, vile beggar with your rags,
Cuntbitten* craven Kennedy, coward by nature make,
Evil-farit* and dried as a Danesman on the wheel,
Like as that kites had on thy gulesnout dined.
Mismade monster, ilk of men our of his mind,
Renounce, ribald, your ryming, you but rave,
A lowland arse would make a better noise

Riven ragged roook, and full of ribaldry,
Skitterand scorpion, scold in scuriliee,
I see the haughty in your harlotry,
And other sciences nothing sly* [knowledge, skilled]
Of every virtue void, as men may see,
Quit-claim clergy* and take to you a club, [learning]
A bard blasphemer in bribery* for to be, [beggary]
For wit and wisdom one wisp from thee may rub.

You ask, dastard, if I dare with you fight.
Yea, Dagone dumwit, thereof have no doubt,
Wherever we meet, there my hand I pledge,
To rid your ribald rhyming with a rout.
Through all Brittain it will be blown out,
How that you, poisoned pelour*, for your ______, [thief]
With a dog leash I'll make you shout,
And neither to you take knife, sword, or axe.

You crop and rute of traitorous tressonable*,
The father and mother of murder* [and mischief, Dunbar was suspected/accused of murder]
Deceitful tyrant with serpents tongue unstable,
Cuckold, craven coward, and common thief,
You purposed to undo our lord's chief
In Paisley with a poison that was fell* [deadly. Dunbar also accused of attempted mutiny]
For which, you brim, yet will you get a brief.* [summons to court]
Pelour, on you I will this prove myself.

Even if I lie, your frawart* physique [vile]
Does manifest your malice to all men.
Fie, traitor thief, fie glengoir doun*, fie, fie!
Fie, fiendly face far fowler than a fen*, [midden]
My friends you accused with your pen.
Even if I lie, tratour, which on you I'll prove,
Suppose your head was armed times ten,
You will recry* it, or thy crown will cleve. [retract]

Before you dare move your mind malicious,
You saw the sail above my head updrawn.
But Eolus, full wroth, and Neptunus,
Mark and moonless us met with wind and wave,
And many hundred mile hense we were blown
By Holland, Zeeland, Shetland, Norway coast,
In sea desert where we were famished all,
Yet came I home, false bard, to lay low your heart.



... god-like ...... ...He had a cruel heart, and hated all of them,Till he conceived a love for his own form:He wailed, seeing his face, delightful as a dream,Within a spring; he wept for his beauty.Then the boy shed his blood and give it to the earth... to bear

Narcissus Ovid
The Transformation of Echo

Fam'd far and near for knowing things to come,
From him th' enquiring nations sought their doom;
The fair Liriope his answers try'd,
And first th' unerring prophet justify'd.
This nymph the God Cephisus had abus'd,
With all his winding waters circumfus'd,
And on the Nereid got a lovely boy,
Whom the soft maids ev'n then beheld with joy.

The tender dame, sollicitous to know
Whether her child should reach old age or no,
Consults the sage Tiresias, who replies,
"If e'er he knows himself he surely dies."
Long liv'd the dubious mother in suspence,
'Till time unriddled all the prophet's sense.

Narcissus now his sixteenth year began,
Just turn'd of boy, and on the verge of man;
Many a friend the blooming youth caress'd,
Many a love-sick maid her flame confess'd:
Such was his pride, in vain the friend caress'd,
The love-sick maid in vain her flame confess'd.

Once, in the woods, as he pursu'd the chace,
The babbling Echo had descry'd his face;
She, who in others' words her silence breaks,
Nor speaks her self but when another speaks.
Echo was then a maid, of speech bereft,
Of wonted speech; for tho' her voice was left,
Juno a curse did on her tongue impose,
To sport with ev'ry sentence in the close.
Full often when the Goddess might have caught
Jove and her rivals in the very fault,
This nymph with subtle stories would delay
Her coming, 'till the lovers slip'd away.
The Goddess found out the deceit in time,
And then she cry'd, "That tongue, for this thy crime,
Which could so many subtle tales produce,
Shall be hereafter but of little use."
Hence 'tis she prattles in a fainter tone,
With mimick sounds, and accents not her own.

This love-sick virgin, over-joy'd to find
The boy alone, still follow'd him behind:
When glowing warmly at her near approach,
As sulphur blazes at the taper's touch,
She long'd her hidden passion to reveal,
And tell her pains, but had not words to tell:
She can't begin, but waits for the rebound,
To catch his voice, and to return the sound.

The nymph, when nothing could Narcissus move,
Still dash'd with blushes for her slighted love,
Liv'd in the shady covert of the woods,
In solitary caves and dark abodes;
Where pining wander'd the rejected fair,
'Till harrass'd out, and worn away with care,
The sounding skeleton, of blood bereft,
Besides her bones and voice had nothing left.
Her bones are petrify'd, her voice is found
In vaults, where still it doubles ev'ry sound.

The Story of Narcissus

Thus did the nymphs in vain caress the boy,
He still was lovely, but he still was coy;
When one fair virgin of the slighted train
Thus pray'd the Gods, provok'd by his disdain,
"Oh may he love like me, and love like me in vain!"
Rhamnusia pity'd the neglected fair,
And with just vengeance answer'd to her pray'r.

There stands a fountain in a darksom wood,
Nor stain'd with falling leaves nor rising mud;
Untroubled by the breath of winds it rests,
Unsully'd by the touch of men or beasts;
High bow'rs of shady trees above it grow,
And rising grass and chearful greens below.
Pleas'd with the form and coolness of the place,
And over-heated by the morning chace,
Narcissus on the grassie verdure lyes:
But whilst within the chrystal fount he tries
To quench his heat, he feels new heats arise.
For as his own bright image he survey'd,
He fell in love with the fantastick shade;
And o'er the fair resemblance hung unmov'd,
Nor knew, fond youth! it was himself he lov'd.
The well-turn'd neck and shoulders he descries,
The spacious forehead, and the sparkling eyes;
The hands that Bacchus might not scorn to show,
And hair that round Apollo's head might flow;
With all the purple youthfulness of face,
That gently blushes in the wat'ry glass.
By his own flames consum'd the lover lyes,
And gives himself the wound by which he dies.
To the cold water oft he joins his lips,
Oft catching at the beauteous shade he dips
His arms, as often from himself he slips.
Nor knows he who it is his arms pursue
With eager clasps, but loves he knows not who.

What could, fond youth, this helpless passion move?
What kindled in thee this unpity'd love?
Thy own warm blush within the water glows,
With thee the colour'd shadow comes and goes,
Its empty being on thy self relies;
Step thou aside, and the frail charmer dies.

Still o'er the fountain's wat'ry gleam he stood,
Mindless of sleep, and negligent of food;
Still view'd his face, and languish'd as he view'd.
At length he rais'd his head, and thus began
To vent his griefs, and tell the woods his pain.
"You trees," says he, "and thou surrounding grove,
Who oft have been the kindly scenes of love,
Tell me, if e'er within your shades did lye
A youth so tortur'd, so perplex'd as I?
I, who before me see the charming fair,
Whilst there he stands, and yet he stands not there:
In such a maze of love my thoughts are lost:
And yet no bulwark'd town, nor distant coast,
Preserves the beauteous youth from being seen,
No mountains rise, nor oceans flow between.
A shallow water hinders my embrace;
And yet the lovely mimick wears a face
That kindly smiles, and when I bend to join
My lips to his, he fondly bends to mine.
Hear, gentle youth, and pity my complaint,
Come from thy well, thou fair inhabitant.
My charms an easy conquest have obtain'd
O'er other hearts, by thee alone disdain'd.
But why should I despair? I'm sure he burns
With equal flames, and languishes by turns.
When-e'er I stoop, he offers at a kiss,
And when my arms I stretch, he stretches his.
His eye with pleasure on my face he keeps,
He smiles my smiles, and when I weep he weeps.
When e'er I speak, his moving lips appear
To utter something, which I cannot hear.

"Ah wretched me! I now begin too late
To find out all the long-perplex'd deceit;
It is my self I love, my self I see;
The gay delusion is a part of me.
I kindle up the fires by which I burn,
And my own beauties from the well return.
Whom should I court? how utter my complaint?
Enjoyment but produces my restraint,
And too much plenty makes me die for want.
How gladly would I from my self remove!
And at a distance set the thing I love.
My breast is warm'd with such unusual fire,
I wish him absent whom I most desire.
And now I faint with grief; my fate draws nigh;
In all the pride of blooming youth I die.
Death will the sorrows of my heart relieve.
Oh might the visionary youth survive,
I should with joy my latest breath resign!
But oh! I see his fate involv'd in mine."

This said, the weeping youth again return'd
To the clear fountain, where again he burn'd;
His tears defac'd the surface of the well,
With circle after circle, as they fell:
And now the lovely face but half appears,
O'er-run with wrinkles, and deform'd with tears.
"Ah whither," cries Narcissus, "dost thou fly?
Let me still feed the flame by which I die;
Let me still see, tho' I'm no further blest."
Then rends his garment off, and beats his breast:
His naked bosom redden'd with the blow,
In such a blush as purple clusters show,
Ere yet the sun's autumnal heats refine
Their sprightly juice, and mellow it to wine.
The glowing beauties of his breast he spies,
And with a new redoubled passion dies.
As wax dissolves, as ice begins to run,
And trickle into drops before the sun;
So melts the youth, and languishes away,
His beauty withers, and his limbs decay;
And none of those attractive charms remain,
To which the slighted Echo su'd in vain.

She saw him in his present misery,
Whom, spight of all her wrongs, she griev'd to see.
She answer'd sadly to the lover's moan,
Sigh'd back his sighs, and groan'd to ev'ry groan:
"Ah youth! belov'd in vain," Narcissus cries;
"Ah youth! belov'd in vain," the nymph replies.
"Farewel," says he; the parting sound scarce fell
From his faint lips, but she reply'd, "farewel."
Then on th' wholsome earth he gasping lyes,
'Till death shuts up those self-admiring eyes.
To the cold shades his flitting ghost retires,
And in the Stygian waves it self admires.

For him the Naiads and the Dryads mourn,
Whom the sad Echo answers in her turn;
And now the sister-nymphs prepare his urn:
When, looking for his corps, they only found
A rising stalk, with yellow blossoms crown'd.

Naucissus Pausinus

So widely different are the traditions of Hesiod himself and his poems.
[7] On the summit of Helicon is a small river called the Lamus.2 In the territory of the Thespians is a place called Donacon (Reed-bed). Here is the spring of Narcissus. They say that Narcissus looked into this water, and not understanding that he saw his own reflection, unconsciously fell in love with himself, and died of love at the spring. But it is utter stupidity to imagine that a man old enough to fall in love was incapable of distinguishing a man from a man's reflection.
[8] There is another story about Narcissus, less popular indeed than the other, but not without some support. It is said that Narcissus had a twin sister; they were exactly alike in appearance, their hair was the same, they wore similar clothes, and went hunting together. The story goes on that Narcissus fell in love with his sister, and when the girl died, would go to the spring, knowing that it was his reflection that he saw, but in spite of this knowledge finding some relief for his love in imagining that he saw, not his own reflection, but the likeness of his sister.
[9] The flower narcissus grew, in my opinion, before this, if we are to judge by the verses of Pamphos. This poet was born many years before Narcissus the Thespian, and he says that the Maid, the daughter of Demeter, was carried off when she was playing and gathering flowers, and that the flowers by which she was deceived into being carried off were not violets, but the narcissus.

Ovid's version
In Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story of a graceful and pretty nymph named Echo who loved Narcissus in vain. Narcissus' beauty was so unmatched that he felt it was godlike in scope, comparable to the beauty of Bacchus and Apollo. As a result, Narcissus spurned Echo's affections until, despairing, she faded away to nothing but a faint, plaintive whisper. To teach the vain boy a lesson, the goddess Nemesis doomed Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in Echo's pond. Entranced by his own beauty and enamoured with his own image, Narcissus lay on the bank of the river and wasted away staring down into the water. Different versions of the story state that Narcissus, after scorning his male suitors, then was cursed by the gods to love the first male that he should lay his eyes on. While walking in the gardens of Echo he discovered the pond of Echo and saw a reflection of himself in the water. Falling deeply in love with himself, he leaned closer and closer to his reflection in the water, eventually falling into the pond and drowning.
Archaic version
This, a more archaic version than the one related by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is a moral tale in which the proud and unfeeling Narcissus is punished by the gods for having spurned all his male suitors. It is thought to have been meant as a cautionary tale addressed to adolescent boys. Until recently, the only source for this version was a segment in Pausanias (9.31.7), about 150 years after Ovid. However, a very similar account was discovered among the Oxyrhynchus papyri in 2004, an account that predates Ovid's version by at least fifty years.
In this story, Ameinias, a young man, loved Narcissus but was scorned. To tell Ameinias off, Narcissus gave him a sword as a present. Ameinias used the sword to kill himself on Narcissus' doorstep and prayed to Nemesis that Narcissus would one day know the pain of unrequited love. This curse was fulfilled when Narcissus became entranced by his reflection in the pool and tried to seduce the beautiful boy, not realizing it was himself he was looking at. Completing the symmetry of the tale, Narcissus takes his sword and kills himself from sorrow.[
The new version of the Narcissus story is much more concise than Ovid’s. Ovid devotes many verses to the nymph Echo, who in her unrequited love for Narcissus wastes away until only an echo remains: she can only repeat what others say. There is no trace of her either in the papyrus text or in Conon’s account. There, Narcissus is a young boy and his lovers are all male. Ovid also distinguishes himself from the other two authors by having Narcissus, like Echo, simply waste away. His body mysteriously disappears, and when the nymphs come to collect it, they find the flower in its place. In Conon’s version, as in the new papyrus, the boy kills himself. It is his blood that produces the narcissus flower. (In this respect, the story resembles that of Adonis, told on the other side of the papyrus fragment.) In the light of the new evidence, it seems that Ovid may well have been the first to give the myth its now familiar form.
It is noteworthy in view of the fundamental role assigned to narcissism by Freud that there exists no detailed analysis of the myth which immortalized the handsome youth, Narcissus and provided psychoanalysis with so felicitous a term. Certain essential features of the myth are well-known, and these may serve as convenient initial material for analysis, the more so, as they raise certain problems of considerable importance for investigation. Narcissus, as will be recalled from the frequently cited version of the myth, was a youth of extraordinary beauty who fell in love with his image as he leaned over a pool of water. Fascinated by his own reflection, he pined away and died. There appeared in his stead the flower which bears his name. What is usually emphasized in this touching story is the extreme self-love which Narcissus manifests, the very quality which is designated by the term narcissism. But is self-love the only essential aspect of the myth? Apparently what has been less em
NARCISSUS, in Greek mythology, son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope, distinguished for his beauty. The seer Teiresias told his mother that he would have a long life, provided he never looked upon his own features. His rejection of the love of the nymph Echo drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. Having fallen in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring, he pined away (or killed himself) and the flower that bears his name sprang up on the spot where he died. According to Pausanias, Narcissus, to console himself for the death of a favourite twin-sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features by his own. Narcissus, representing the early spring-flower, which for a brief space beholds itself mirrored in the water and then fades, is one of the many youths whose premature death is recorded in Greek mythology (cf. Adonis, Linus, Hyacinthus); the flower itself was regarded as a symbol of such death. It was the last flower gathered by Persephone before she was carried off by Hades, and was sacred to Demeter and Core (the cult name of Persephone), the great goddesses of the underworld. From its associations Wieseler takes Narcissus himself to be a spirit of the underworld, of death and rest. It is possible that the story may have originated in the superstition (alluded to by Artemidorus, Oneirocritica, ii. 7) that it was an omen of death to dream of seeing one's reflection in water.