MOST WANTED, MOST NEEDED


I

 

We know what happened to ‘the end of history’

and ‘the peace dividend’ but what will we do now

that Osama sleeps with the fishes? Gladly, there

is no shortage of men, for they do tend to be

men, for the role of bogeyman. The myth of the

ruthless, devious, almost supernaturally

efficient enemy endures, for all wars make

money for some and wars of choice – Afghanistan,

Iraq – make even more for the same some, so war

with Iran is probably, definitely not ‘if’ but ‘when’.

 

How many of us dare to publicly expose

our leaders’ new clothes, reveal courageous death and

injury under fire as pointless, immoral,

unnecessary, avoidable, in this still

bellicose and jingoistic nation with its

tinsel patriotism of drums and flags muffling,

obscuring reason – its manipulation

of so much righteous anger and genuine grief!

 

 

II

 

According to legend, Hafiz of Shiraz, Fars,

Persia – the Sufi mystic and lyric poet,

an exact contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer,

and popular still with speakers of Farsi

in Afghanistan and Iran, who learn his work

by heart as proverbs, sayings – was summoned

by Timur Leng aka Tamburlaine, who ruled

an empire that stretched from the Black Sea to China

and south from Kazakhstan to the mud flats of Sindh,

whose conquests, it is estimated, caused the deaths

of seventeen million men, women and children.

 

‘How could you prefer the mole on your lover’s cheek

to Bokhara and Samarkand, cities of gold,

the very jewels in my crown?’ questioned Tamburlaine,

making reference to one of the master’s ghazals.

‘I am profligate,’ replied Hafiz, ‘so am poor.’

The tyrant paid the poet many gold dinars

for his diplomatic wit. So let there always

be war by any other means, by doing what

we do best. The last couplet of the lyric reads:

‘O Hafiz, you have made a poem, so recite it well!

Be rewarded with the pearls of the firmament.’[1]

 

 

 

 



[1] The last two lines have been adapted from ‘TEACHINGS OF HAFIZ’ translated by Gertrude Lowthian Bell, 1897.

 

 

 

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