From Sky to Earth and Earth to Sky, So Little Distance

“When the world tore my heart with its evil and littleness, my bird sang and made me forget the ugliness of folly and think of the beauty of everything splendid.”—May Ziadeh


June 10, 2021:

Afternoon moment of rest, I took out the poems of hers I’d handwritten and read one; I saw then in the corner of my eye the place of the sky I faced had changed color. Maybe she placed a little blush there for me to find, and so I sent up a kiss.

early afternoon


Excerpt from Fleurs de Rêve

(Flowers of a Dream) by May Ziadeh 1911.

What a sweet day today! That sad charm of the atmosphere! This suave mist which hides the sun and gives the trees that dear color of a very tender green.

… And the mountains, big and small, dream…They seem to dream…

The mountains, all the grand, majestic-looking mountains dream of distant azures, of the mysterious depths of the waves and of strange secrets from beyond the grave …

All the mountains seem to dream of deep and inexplicable things …

Pascal bothers me, he was neurasthenic, his only glory is his speech on the passions of love.

You blame me for my French and you call it dubious? You are wrong to do so. What does it matter if my sentences are more or less a la Bossuet?

When the soul is beautiful, the scabbard is negligible.

If my thought is interesting, what do I care about empty expressions?

No need to try to correct myself; I am incorrigible and the world will only see my ideas in a printed book, very printed even.

I said it; In one and the same person, there is often a mixture of silliness and intelligence that amazes one…


Does my conscience approve of me? Do I get closer to the ideal by fighting? Does my will develop in the struggle? Am I convinced of the repute of the goodness of my act? 

If the answer is yes, I am on the right track, whatever the multitude may say and think. And the multitude who love the rest of my character do not understand and cannot understand the struggle; it’s impossible. And when a soul suffers for another soul it loves, it is a struggle, a beautiful struggle, in which the hero is in a way a genius, since he aims at an ideal and achieves it.


Society has a knack for lying. She puts it in all her words and in all her actions; you have to know how to lie very well to be able to reach the higher levels of the social ladder: it is not gay…


You see the white stars but do not think they are lost in the secret of the heavens. What will the secret of heaven be, and do you know it?

The future should not frighten us. You have to be prepared to deal with contingencies and any hazards in life. If we overcome the difficulties, it will be a reward for a long preparation; if we are defeated we will at least have the consolation of having done all our duty and having always acted according to our conscience. Life will have conquered us, but we will not have given a hold to an enemy much stronger than us, and who is heroism to face without trembling.

“What makes vanity so unbearable is that it hurts ourselves.”

I am asked if La Rochefoucauld is right.


I was reading and I laughed; my canary has stopped singing to look at me with an air of thinking: “Why is my great friend laughing like that?” Poor little one – I educated him well already, but for the instruction ma fisch.

I’m talking about my canary, as if everyone knows him. So, I have to introduce him. My little canary is golden yellow with silver highlights and a long white tail; he has cute little pink paws, graceful little all-black eyes, blacker than ebony and jet, and a pink beak with a brown dot of beauty I call “Mimi”. Needless to say, I love and spoil him. He is very sweet and even more of a pixie. I speak to him and he answers me…in canary.

Poor little one, sometimes I pity him because he does not know freedom; but he seems very happy!

So much the better! !

You think the Greek calendar falls on July 19, which is good to know; Are there many Greek Calendars during the year?

When Dawn, dressed in whiteness, splendor and radiance, mounted in her chariot of fire drawn by four red horses quivering and spitting dew through their nostrils on the earth, this morning opened the gates of the azure, such a noise resounded in the Universe, such fear seized mortals, that Orpheus, whose supple and balmy arms had rocked me during the night, let me fall.

My dream was over!

In everything and always, there needs to be an ideal which lifts the soul, an ideal superior to the common one but nevertheless achievable.

May Ziadeh

sunset, a little more rose

and then this

and this

this too

4 responses to “From Sky to Earth and Earth to Sky, So Little Distance”

  1. […] I Wondered if I Had Been a Bird by Jade Nicole Beals for May Ziadeh (b. 1886 – 1941) I was very disturbed when what I’d found logical what could explain all this is that I could’ve been a bird before this. A canary, your canary, specifically, and how did all this start? By re-reading what you wrote about your own canary bird who had a mark of beauty on his nose you’d named “Mimi,” and I instantly recalled the tiny dot on my own nose mostly because I had been ashamed of it when I was a teenager, and it was a perfectly dark tiny dot that I had actually forgot. I looked in the mirror to find it there, faded and very subtle now. I asked myself, why wouldn’t I want to have been a bird? Do I have something against birds? No, because I’ve felt I’ve always been human, and because I wanted to be sexy, a bird to me isn’t sexy, despite the phrase, “rump-feathers,” but then again, I am a woman now and you were a woman, and are still. I cried then because that little canary was clearly the best person in your life… When I told my mom most of this on the phone, after a pause, she said, “What color is a canary? They’re yellow, right?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Ohh, that’s very pretty.” and we began to talk peacefully about other things. May, was I your bird singing you songs without words that made you smile and forget the sadness of the world? Did you speak to me in French, in Arabic, or both, and is that why I’d known some Arabic words almost instantly upon hearing them, and recognized no words quickly read, but your name? Is that why I felt I remembered what it looked like outside the windows of your home, and the shapes of them, and the shapes and colors of the trees, in the country, Lebanon you’d lived then, and where I’d never been in my own lifetime? Forget this. I would rather have been that bird, even if you’d found that bird a little bit dumb and amusing, but you’d loved him and loved to spoil him and spoke to him. Maybe he lived in a pretty golden cage, to which, someone else held the key, feeding on seeds, fruits, and overheard poetry. I’d rather be that bird than a king or a celebrity with words that set your heart to song and also tore your world and snuffed out your own flame, but maybe they’d all just liked the sounds and scents all that rending made. May, I cried because I felt you might’ve just thrown me away before you embarked on the ship to arrive in Egypt with your family. Did you leave me flying free, a little bright yellow canary, lost in the forests of Lebanon, longing for you and home and you? Had I died before you? Sometimes I wish to see you. We both are women now anyway. Yet I’d rather keep you safe in heaven with patience in my lifetime than if I’d had the choice to shake you from eternal peace just for my own wish to see you— That wouldn’t do. May, I give away flowers from the earth pressed in the pages of a book. I remember reading about the first flower you gave away, and it sounded to me like the girl had trampled it under her foot on her way— Had I followed the scent of that flower of which no shoe could eschew the fragrance of that crushed flower that lead me again to you? I don’t care what I cannot remember or for what I have no proof: as I eat my cereal with almond milk, the scent of the sweetened wheat flakes makes me laugh inwardly as I remember this whole story of a bird, and I don’t Care whether the bird was me then or not: I’m satisfied, with love that chose to lace the words that formed this poem that fell from my lips into whichever language, into whichever hands, it happened to fall. * The ringtone I didn't purposely put in—my mom was calling on the phone, to thank me about a gift I'd sent her in the mail that just arrived then, and so it was the perfect way to end this poem! I also found the painting this morning by Franz Marc to accompany my poem, which I had written and completed last night. Apr. 7, '22 * Back story: From Sky to Earth and Earth to Sky, So Little Distance […]


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