Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Language Angels Speak

Salman Masalha

The Language Angels Speak

Presumably like all kids around the world, I was once asked an immortal question: What would you like to be when you grow up? Quite bizarre and abnormal in the circumstances and conditions I was born to, and unlike other children who have dreamed of becoming doctors, advocates, engineers etc., my answer always was: I want to be a poet. Those who might think in terms like self-achievement of a little child will soon find out that they were completely wrong. As it became clear to me later, being a poet is not a self-achievement in any way. After all it seems to me now a kind of punishment rather than a joyful experience. Nevertheless, the world of poetry is a kind of prison world in which residency is still worthy.

Poetry is a prison within the chaos of letters, signs, words, lines and all possibilities that language with its generosity provides for us. In this sense the role of a poet is comparable with the role of the First Creator who has set an order in the universe from within the wide and huge disorder. Poetry itself has no sense of time nor sense of place nor sense of nationality. In its very essence poetry holds all times, inhabits all places, experience all lives and talks to all nations at once. The language of poetry is the language of human experience despite color, sex and tongues. It is a meta-language that goes beyond the tongues scattered from Babel in the four directions of the wind. The language of poetry is the first sense of divine creation and the first spark of eternity. Furthermore, poetry is the tool with which poets compete with the work that was done by God. It competes with God for it tries to reshape His unfinished clumsy work. Optimists might say, He did not finish the job for reasons of unknown divine generosity, with the aim of leaving some space for the taste of living to the Earthly people. Pessimists, on the other hand, and surely they include poets and others who belong to different disciplines of the arts, will say: He didn’t do His work properly as it should be done.

In the beginning there were words in chaos, and darkness covered the cell of the primal prison. In a moment of will, the poet emerged from the darkness and collected all signs and letters and put them on paper. He picked up some of them and set them in the order: L. I. G. H. T. Then all off a sudden there was light. With this light he could see all words of all languages in their chaos. And that was the first day. That was the first poem.

With this light the real poet can see all meanings that potentially exist in languages. He can form the word of love and let others love their way. He can reshape the smell of existence and give some hope to the increasing miserable ones on Earth. He can speak out about death and beyond similes and metaphors aims to show the hidden meaning of life. With its few lines, poetry enables us to communicate with other peoples and reveal other cultures. It enables us to make wings of words and fly into other spheres and stop in other lands for language is the one and only promised homeland for a poet. Now, that time has passed and I am not a naive kid anymore, I have figured out another thing: Poetry is a supreme inner-net, a supreme maze that never lets you reach any end. Within this eternal maze the poet will exist until the Day of Judgment, when he is supposed to present his provocative alternative work in front of the first sole reader whom he competed with initially and all the way long. If the world was created and was put in focus by the light of poetry in on first day, no doubt this light will last until the end of days. Now, I have nothing but another wish: I wish I could live then in order to watch that last fight, that last light.

Finally, despite a Muslim tradition in which we are told that the inhabitants of the Garden of Eden speak the Arabic language, and despite the fact that it is the language angels speak, I can testify, from personal experience, that Arabic is the tongue in Hell as well.


For the Arabic text, press here.


Facebook comments:
Post a Comment

Middle East
  • The Arab world's quagmire

    Only a society that can engage in introspection and self-examination can emerge from its dark past and march confidently to a different future. Otherwise, it will continue to sink into the same marshy swamp.

    Read more

    A Feeble Middle East

    The West learned on its own flesh that this region conducts itself by other codes. Iran has continued to entrench its standing by means of its religious ideology. The toppling of Saddam Hussein shattered the illusion of the existence of a unifying “Iraqi identity” and gave an encouraging shot in the arm to Iran, which is forging ahead.

    Read more

  • The decay in the Arab world

    With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.

    Read more

    Neither Arab nor Spring

    The vicissitudes that have, for some reason, been collectively dubbed the "Arab Spring" are neither Arab nor Spring. One can say that they are actually living proof of the identity crisis and reverberating bankruptcy of Arab nationalism.

    Read more

  • another title

Israel - Palestine
  • Our troubles come from us

    And so we have reached a situation in which every Arab is concerned with his own problems and everyone talks about what preoccupies him personally – that is, his own troubles.

    Read more

  • Never-ending tragedy

    The Israeli right, in all its forms, wants exclusively Jewish control over all of the Land of Israel. To the Palestinians who live in this space, it promises residency – temporary, of course, on condition that they keep their heads down, accept their designated status and behave accordingly.

    Read more
  • Solomon’s Mosque

    Religion, every religion, is the No. 1 enemy of nationalism. But under conditions of tension, such as tribal warfare, these polar opposites combine into a toxic soup that consumes all common sense.

    Read more

  • They see not, nor know

    The term "neutralize" is very popular with people who have served in the security and expulsion forces. The question to be asked is, What did the poet who spoke of "neutralization" mean in this plan?

    Read more

    For Jews only

    From the moment the pundits followed in the footsteps of the politicians, both large and small, they carried this noxious melody everywhere. They were part of legitimizing the illegitimate in Israeli politics.

    Read more

  • With yearning soul

    The Zionism that aspired to establish a "Jewish home" in the Jews' "ancient homeland" did not take into consideration the fact that the land was not empty. It thus adopted the principle of population transfer, based on the same ancient biblical tradition.

    Read more

    Rabbis of the Dry Bones

    Racism surfaces when a society loses its self-confidence and turns to seeking ways to defend itself against what is different and perceived as increasingly threatening.

    Read more

  • الحلم

    أنّي في سجن جدران بيضاء
    حيث لا يعرفني أحدٌ، وأصواتٌ
    تختفي في الرّدهات، وأضواء تستنشقُ
    جمجمتي اللّاهثة.
    تتمة الكلام

Press photo to Email



Site Archive

Selected Topics

  • The pit and the pendulum

    In those days, we did not drink four goblets of wine, because everything that gladdens the human heart is not a part of our custom.

    Read more

  • Welcome Back to History

    Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...

    Read more

  • another title

  • Balkrishna Sama

    Man Is God

    He who loves flowers, has a tender heart.
    he who cannot pluck their blooms,
    has a heart that's noble.

    Read more

  • Martin Niemöller

    First They Came

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the Socialist
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Read More

  • Salman Masalha

    The Song About the Child

    Boston Gospel Choir

    Text: Salman Masalha
    Composer: Stephen Feigenbaum