Monday 21 March 2011

Nav Roz, and A Prayer for our Daughters

Happy Nav Roz!! It is New Year's Day for Parsis and Iranians, and the Spring Equinox. Things are larking about in the garden, and a snowdrop, from a different time and season has hung about, staunch supporter of all things spring. I found him among a clump of ivy, sneakily enjoying the shade of the giant cherry tree. Can't wait for the cherry to bloom! Can't wait for my nephew to be born! Does he have to take nine entire months to gestate?!!
Today is also World Poetry Day, so I thought I'd post one of my favourite poems. Tough decision! Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou? Or something by Robert Frost, Rabindranath Tagore or Christina Rossetti... Dad's favourite poem du jour is by Stevie Smith, and it begins 'Nobody heard him, the dead man, But still he lay moaning...'

Below is my poem of choice. My beloved friend Mary Haybittle once hand calligraphed the entire poem into a little book for my father. I am only posting a few favourite paragraphs here. Modern life... such brevity is sacrilege. But if you are in your own garden today, then be sure to read the entire poem out loud to the listening trees... and then tell me your favourite...

A Prayer for my Daughter
by William Butler Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half-hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on...
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise.
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

June 1919.


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Shaista, what a beautiful post! Happy New Year to you and your family, and Happy Spring! It sounds like winds are warmer where you are. Our buds are poking through, and the pink cherry buds are there, but not yet opening. The news that you will have a nephew is thrilling. You will be the best auntie ever! And the joy of watching a baby grow is a miracle not to be duplicated in one's life. It is sheer joy and magic.

The poem is quite wonderful. I especially related to eating "crazy salad with my meat" for my entire life has been a crazy salad. I so love that image!
I might have to write a poem about it!

Yesterday I walked by Pup's favorite river for the first time since his death. I missed him so terribly. There are photos on my site, it is quite a beautiful spot and the water is raging right now.

This has been such a tough two weeks for this old planet, hey? Beautiful to know that new babies will still arrive, bringing joy, that buds will unfurl, and the sun will warm.

Beautiful post, Shaista. I so love your writing. And your radiant spirit.

Ruth said...

Lovely and sweet green.

Beautiful gift this poem, this lintel, this poet, this woman, this post, your soon-to-be-born baby.

Headstrong said...

What a fabulous poem! Thank you for sharing, will enjoy to find more the authors works! And eide shoma mobarak to you and yours!

Tess Kincaid said...

Happy Nav Roz! I love Yeats' line "fine women eat a crazy salad with their meat". :)

alex said...

nice post..
keep blogging..

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* said...

Happy World Poetry Day to you! It completely escaped me until mid-day, at which point I stopped & promptly read several poems, just to make it up to myself.

Happy dreams, dear Shaista! :)

Sarah Laurence said...

Happy Nav Roz to you! What lovely blooms – we only have snow so thanks for sharing yours. That’s quite an opening line in your dad’s favorite poem. I like your choice better.

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