The call has been made
and I wait for our leader to stand.
It’s early morning
and we’ll never understand.
How long the siege shall last.
How long we’ll remain cooped up
in the annuls of this haven.
My heart has begun to stir up
emotional prayers. For the time
is ripe. The liars and the unjust
have for long been torturing us…
It’s a test of our faith. He surely must
have a thorough plan. The white
tower is in front of me…
How beautiful shall be his face.
I imagine what my eyes shall see,
As I walk to greet him,
That brightness in his face,
Better than anything else I’ve seen before.
His charm and his grace.
And then as I greet him,
He’d anoint and inform me of my
rank… And as I stand beside him to kiss
the earth. My soul shall fly.
And then, “Come to victory”, as he cries…
There’s rapture in my heart and eyes.
It was early into the 13th century after the messiah was born. In a small island north of Europe, the French had lost England. But the remnants of their culture had remained. The language spoken in that Island, which was predominantly Anglo-Saxon, prior to the French invasion in 1066, had amalgamated with French. And hence, Middle English was born. And while the words in Middle English had French origins, the poetry that remained largely took its roots from Beowulf; alliteration was the norm, rhyme was merely an ornament, fit to be worn by the Queen. Going beyond the fourth meter was an abomination.
And then, about seven score years later, a man was born, who would change English poetry forever.
He traveled across Europe, studied Dante extensively, learnt the romantic poetry of the romantic languages; and decided to implement the same forms in English. He dared. He stretched the meter… A language which is inherently beautiful in its brevity was stretched just a tiny bit. But he just didn’t do that. In his own words,
But trusteth wel, I am a swoot remarne,
And cannot weste Rum-Ram-Ruf.
Now these lines may seem to the casual reader as mocking the alliterative verse. But history is more profound than this. At the same time when Chaucer was busy composing his Canterbury tales, and singing the tales along to crowds who would shower him with gold, northwestern England saw one of the greatest poems Middle English has ever seen: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight- which, by the way, was alliterative verse.
So, when people argue that alliteration died away, it’s untrue. Chaucer helped kill it. Chaucer helped people shape their opinion through his poetry. And why would Chaucer do it? He was politically motivated. His grandson had a shot at being king of England through marriage, so that is indicative of how elite Chaucer was!
Fast forward seven centuries. What relevance does this bit of lost history have to do with our world today? Well, not much, except that the same tools which Chaucer used so many years ago to demean a certain group of people, is being used by the Empire today. True, the medium has changed. The means haven’t. Entertainment back in the day was poetry. Entertainment today is TRP ratings. So, when the media decides to coin words such as ‘Islamists’ in lieu of ‘Muslims’, ‘Islamism’ instead of ‘Islam’, we need to be wary. These words rhyme eerily with ‘Terrorists’ and ‘Terrorism’; words that have extensively and casually been used by the Bush regime and forward. And the sad part is that often times, Muslim media-houses get caught up with the same terminology! Just as it happened, all those years ago, when northwestern England was forced to believe that alliteration is inferior to rhyme!
France may have lost England, but English lost to French.
Imagine a world where the East had won
the wars and battles; and conquered the lands
from plush Africa to Arabian Sands.
Arabia could be the land where the Sun
never set. They ruled though, with light run
from Spain to India- those dwellers of sands.
The West got darker. While the East found glands,
maths, science, art, stars, maps and rhymes for The One.
The past would be different if the writers
wrote a little truth. The Dark Ages wouldn’t be
so dark after all! Alexander was
no different from the other fighters.
But if you clean up your lenses and see
’twas inspired by the best of all the Laws.
The room without sunlight invites
As the night coils around the city,
And shadows spread on the streets so pretty-
Slumped in silence, through the cracks,
You can see the slither tracks.
He dons his turban on his head,
To the other home, he starts to tread-
Walking down a spiral flight,
Vanishing from the public sight.
Into the distant past he walks away,
Where they used to sing and sway,
And children used to laugh and play,
At the ending of the day.
Their mothers often had some fun
Basking in the evening sun-
Each talking of her son or daughter,
Their evenings ending with loud laughter.
Their husbands returned by the setting sun,
A long hard day, they sought some fun,
But now as the city grows older,
Its heart it seems, has grown colder.
And with the spirals of the night,
He seeks to test his carnal might,
Down he goes into the room,
He pays for a night as a groom.
Morning comes with the rising sun,
His deeds now won’t be undone,
He treads back down the perilous trail,
Only to see his wife so frail.
There is some tension in the air,
Of his deeds, she is aware,
On their big night, a present she sought,
He however, completely forgot.
With tears rolling down her eyes,
She seeks ways to rejoice,
Of the room, she locks the door,
She’s decided to live no more.
But she needs a final laugh,
Some tea she leaves for her half,
And as he sips some of his drink,
He feels a faint poison stink.
And even in his dying fear,
Her soft wails, he could hear.