I wondered what I could give, somehow a little unsettled too; I’d wanted to give something to this author as she had brought me with her into that poetry cove awhile and has cared for me so tenderly with her poetry and presence.
And then I saw these ending lines of hers from the introduction of Flowers of a Dream:
“…You who read me, do not try to analyze or criticize. Smile instead. The forgiving smile is one of the most beautiful flowers of the soul, and this smile I implore, give it to me!”
Now I know that you don’t want a boring literary analysis and critique, so I will write you something you may like better. I had many smiles while reading this book and I happily give them! I am glad to know this now. I want more people to smile.
Flowers of a Dream
by May Ziadeh
published under the pen-name,
Isis Copia (1911)
I love how near these poems feel and like they were written in gladness and enjoyment. Even as the poems may suddenly turn to reveal some very sad and unfair truth, they come together with brilliance and compassion.
May blends her own questions and eloquent exclamations of beauty with other writers she’d studied, including making mention of her own Greek translation work, and references history a little with naming poets and philosophers like Lord Byron and Aristotle. In some poems, she mentions spiritual figures like Jesus and God that align with what she might’ve learned and found from her Christian background, which keeps the book grounded in a kind of tradition at times and also very new in other ways.
My favorite part was the prose poetry section entitled ‘Intimate Pages,’ which has its own introduction. I could feel my heart flooded with warmth as I’d found her words so very free without line breaks in mind, and these insights and confessions would simply spring up on the page like she hadn’t planned them, and she’d offered them to you.
It warmed me to see her telling of where she had placed her heart and with such sincerity, even in the writings of some sad rejection. Nature and landscape is monumental here including scenes of Egypt and Nazareth; she seemed to have a very deep and blissful connection to the countryside of Lebanon.
I truly enjoyed a prose-poem of hers that she’d written about Lebanon that had a subtle tone of part-melancholic loss and part-joy and contained a line very similar to my own that I’d written in a poem of mine called ‘Bright As The Hills.’ My tone was more of a gladness, and I wrote it years before I knew of May. I remember vaguely writing it; I believe it was written flowingly without a set direction or really any intention at all and having been satisfied with it, glad now to see it anew from reading her book.
Flowers of a Dream carries with it excitement that trickles into the wisdom of age even in one’s youth. They are poems of honesty, appreciation, strength, and mention the incomprehensible wrongs in the world alongside her own flowing praises of a few people she will name. The strength in this book is not in conflict with its surrendering.