Monday, March 09, 2009

a ghazal

How splendid in the morning glows the lily; with what grace he throws
His supplication to the rose: do roses nod the head, Yasmin?

But when the silver dove descends I find the little flower of friends,
Whose very name that sweetly ends, I say when I have said, Yasmin.

The morning light is clear and cold; I dare not in that light behold
A whiter light, a deeper gold, a glory too far shed, Yasmin.

But when the deep red eye of day is level with the lone highway,
And some to Mecca turn to pray, and I toward thy bed, Yasmin,

Or when the wind beneath the moon is drifting like a soul aswoon,
And harping planets talk love's tune with milky wings outspread, Yasmin,

Shower down thy love, O burning bright! for one night or the other night
Will come the Gardener in white, and gathered flowers are dead, Yasmin.
This is "Yasmin: a Ghazel" from The Collected Poems of James Elroy Flecker (London, 1918). It is the 7th poem that Lawrence wrote out in Minorities, his pocket book of blank pages.

The ghazel, or more usually, ghazal is a short lyric poem in Islamic literature. Typically dealing with love, particularly the Sufi expression of religious longing given in the language of romantic love. It originated late in the 7th century and consists of couplets whose second lines all have the same rhyme. "A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain." (wikipedia)

This ghazal comes from Flecker's play Hassan and in some anthologies is called "Hassan’s Serenade." Flecker wrote a friend to explain:
June 21st (1913)       

Thanks so much for writing promptly and at such length. The novel is a most patchy affair — I quite agree with you. I am not a novelist because I don't really think novels worth writing — at the bottom of my heart. . . .

A drama is a thing, now, that is worth writing. I have had most encouraging letters about my work in that direction from Drinkwater, of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre; but I hope that Granville Barker and no other will take up 'Hassan' my Oriental play. It may interest you to know that Yasmin is out of my play — was written for it — and also 'The Golden Journey to Samarkand' is nothing but the final scene. I admit a little verse into my play here and there.

Read the poem called 'The Golden Journey,' and consider the 'pilgrim with the beautiful voice' to be Hassan, the hero of a whole drama, and think what it would sound like actually on the stage, with Granville Barker scenery — moonlight. . . .
Frederick Delius wrote incidental music for the first production of the play in 1923.

{Lawrence; source}

Some sources:

Minorities, by T E Lawrence; ed. by Jeremy Wilson (London, Cape, 1971).

The Collected Poems of James Elroy Flecker

The Bookman


Ghazal, غزل

James Elroy Flecker; an appreciation with some biographical notes

Mr. Delius Discourses on His Music to 'Hassan', a report from Marion Scott, Christian Science Monitor, Saturday, October 27, 1923.


Anonymous said...

Oh,no, the young man is TE Lawrence himself.In August 1912 Look

Jeff said...

Thanks; I've corrected.