Heartland

Heartland

W.S. Merwin, American, 1927-2019

(from The Shadow of Sirius: Copper Canyon Press)

 

 

 

From the beginning it belonged to distance

 

 

DSC03859_edited

 

 

as the blue color of the mountain does

 

 

DSC00955_edited

 

and though it existed on a map somewhere

 

 

 

 

and might be discovered by chance

 

 

DSC03856

 

 

and even be recognized perhaps

 

 

DSC03843

 

 

 

at an odd moment

 

 

 

DSC00959_edited

 

 

it survived beyond

 

 

DSC00960_edited

 

 

what could be known at the time

 

 

DSC03846

 

 

in its archaic

 

 

 

 

untaught language

 

 

DSC00964_edited

 

 

that brings the bees to the rosemary;

 

 

DSC00958_edited

 

 

many years after it had been found

 

 

DSC03855

 

 

its true name remained

 

 

DSC03840 - Copy

 

 

on the other side of knowledge

 

 

DSC03850

Second floor private, enclosed loggia for the wife of Ahmed Shah, Jummah Masjid, Ahmedabad, Gujerat

 

yet it was still there

 

 

DSC03854

 

 

like a season that changed

 

 

DSC03853

 

 

but appears in the light

 

 

DSC03841

 

 

in the unspoken morning.

 

 

DSC03876

 

These photos were taken in 2010,  of the Jumma Masjid, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

Around 3 sides is a covered, columned passageway with a roof punctuated by domes.  The mosque’s masonry had a number of carved marble lattice screens destroyed in the 2001 earthquake. 

The fourth side of the rectangle has an area the size of a football field which  is covered and pillared and contains a completely enclosed second floor to allow Ahmed Shah’s wife to attend service without being seen.

The mosque was built in 1424 in yellow sandstone by the founder of the city, Ahmed Shah, 1411-1442.  It is today in the west of the city.

The mosque is a vast rectangle floored in white marble. 

A place of flashing sunlight and absolute quiet in a city as noisy and lively as any Indian city.

________________________________________

 

 

The poet is speaking of the Dionysian life force 

where there are not bees and salukis, sassafras and the great crested grebe in separate expression.

The experience is of the indivisibility and eternity of life, of the life force.

An eternity which it is the function of time to allow all living organisms to experience.

 

 

As to the Islamic images in this post,

the first I heard anyone speak of this was the Sufi master, Idries Shah (1924-1996) and his friend, the British poet, Robert Graves (1895-1985). 

 

The insight into our insertion in an unending life force is experienced – the experience is believed widespread despite the scant discussion in the ‘West’ – 

as a momentary slip into a reality from which our ego-centered consciousness cuts us off.

 

A momentary experience whose half light enlightens one’s whole life. 

 

A reminder that we are an expression in time of a life force not bounded by time.

 

DSC03847

 

 

The header photo is of the Tree of Life jali  (latticework) in the Sidi Sayedd Mosque, Ahmedabad. Built in 1572-73, the last year of the Gujerat Sultanate by a man who was in the retinue of a general of the last sultan.  This is one of 10 jalis in the mosque. The mosque is still in use.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Heartland

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.