A Letter To Honor Poet May Ziadeh and Two of Her Poems, Eighty Years Later

Featured again today on the blog with affection💕🙏

for May

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021

after her first poetry book, Dream Flowers

May Ziadeh writes: “I hope that after my death someone will do justice to me and extract from my small writings the truthfulness and sincerity it contains!!”

b. Feb. 11, 1886 – d. Oct. 17, 1941

born in Nazareth, lived in Egypt and Lebanon

my own ‘dream flowers’ found and preserved with a golden cross I’d also found with a rose jeweled center

Oct. 9, 2021
My letter to May and two of her poems recited by me for a creative and meditative experience:

👑🎐💐

May, You wanted a smile for your poetry; here is mine…🎐

I feel you smiling back.☀️

and I happen to be reading a book by your favorite English poet for the first time

The letter and poems in writing, if you’d prefer to read:

10/9/21


My lips are scented with that chrysanthemum; the flower kissed powerfully and sweetly was carefully and freely not crushed by my lips; it became more fragrant, and revealed the very center of it, a tender and beautiful white.

I think of you, May…passionate, beautiful, direct, tolerant of differences, creative, and feminine; you knew what it was to be a friend, to consider a friend, to think into the many things that influence people’s everyday lives and happiness, the subtle things that are not the loudest voices heard, the sayings that aren’t ever-about a person’s own image or luck, and to see everything else deeply, including our souls and your own, to write and speak as a voice for the voiceless, so that they felt the support to pursue what brought them fulfillment, create a path for them to find, and add to the conversation.

I was dreaming of you somehow before I was born; I remember things…in feeling, not time or place; I’ve found some of my own phrases in your writings before I’d read yours, and much earlier than my own birthdate, and with your differences that soothe and complete mine, and mine, yours. Could I have been a soul awhile, not yet in my body, as you were once too, and now are you a soul with a body of heaven…not leaving behind warmth, personality, or weight?

I don’t always know if you found me first or I found you; the blossom I have in my hand has become a royal purple… for you, a queen they’d wanted to dethrone again and again, throw you away and not ask why, get some gain that doesn’t fill any lack, just power without point…and whatever they took; they didn’t get anything for it, if they made no space for a treasure, and what you have is yours always.

I am happy to know you with your presence and words, you were revered for introducing your esteemed prose poetry in your place in the world and I found my earliest freedom discovering the form myself not knowing it just writing it, same time a hundred years after you and finding some of the same images of yours and dedication in mine.

I like to speak with you, and I also learn your native language a little at a time, to read your work, to learn of the heart through your writing of your early desire to give away your fleur d’amitie, friendship flower…and I have the books of yours now that I’d hoped for, I got your Byron to read near future and your Lamartine for another time…

I’ve seen God more truly through your poetry and the last words of your will, to find and meet with God who uplifts me, not trying to ever-shape me impossibly as from apart, or get me only for me proving my belief, and believes more in me than I would’ve thought necessary. We are the soul beyond the books we write, and not behind them, and you bring mine alive.

I love you,

Jade

*


Two poems by May Ziadeh from the original French and my own translation of her 1911 book, Dream Flowers. Another poet (not myself) has been working to put her own translations of the book into print in English for the first time.

from my balcony, Sunday, 10/10, a week ago
TWILIGHT 
 
Very slowly my dreamy step 
Mark the ground of your aisles; 
 
And I walk, clasping my heart, 
Under your disheveled branches;
Embracing lovingly
In the festoons of their foliage,
To me, smiles an image 
Of a distant friend 
tender and charming.
 
… And it is evening… 
and the silence 
With its drowsy echoes 
Flows into my soul on the way 
To a heaven of dream friends. 
 
Ah! it is the twilight hour 
Which made Rousseau shiver, 
Where Edgar Poe thought of the dead, 
The hour when Baudelaire meditated… 
 
Under the shroud of the distant flood 
Vanishes the burning plum 
From the sun, so cheerful in the morning, 
But much more beautiful at this hour! 
 
And the plum of the night 
And my heart, so young, is clutching 
Under the splendour 
of this beautiful evening… 
 
The shadow that weighs on her 
and the mystery of the world 
that seems too dark to her… 
And tears, without just cause, 
Tears of a misunderstood fear, 
Tears of a child 
without brother or sister,
Slip on my closed eyelid…

by May Ziadeh 

LACRYMOSA 
 
I caressed my lyre with my weary hands 
And I climbed the coast where I often walked, 
And I kissed the flowers 
of the intertwined branches, 
And I followed my dream, 
going to the goal sought. 
 
With a beating heart in haste, 
in the shadows; 
A single desire in the soul, 
a tear in my eyelashes, 
Seeing the sky too dark 
and the city, too dark, 
I followed you, my dream, 
Distressing and soft!
 
… Follow the impulse, 
go when the spell calls you…
 
In the tender twilight,
wander alone and thoughtfully, 
and watch the sky 
when rebellious grief 
has bruised the pure heart 
that sobs, passive…
 
The sky is black, but something, 
a shimmering point, 
a semblance of pink plum, 
a star with soft, waving fires… 
 
As well as the star, formerly, 
Bethlehem to the Magi showing, 
the star that guides me awaits me 
at the door of the cemetery.
 
Child long gone, 
O brother, turned-beautiful angel, 
Forgive my voice, my little one, 
My sad voice that disturbs you! 
 
May your form, without lingering, 
Take up the ephemeral dress 
Of his childhood and his land 
And come and look at me a little! 
Does he remember our childhood? 
 
You are a few months old, 
I, proud of my importance, 
I was indeed two and a half years old; 
We often slept side by side 
Amused by our interviews 
Composed of laughter and nothing, 
To see a fly jumping;
 
Sometimes we fought very hard, 
And you bit my hand that dared,
That touched your golden belt 
On your dear cradle laid down; 
 
And I bit your finger, your hand, your arm, 
your cheek, and you felt well, confess! 
Breathless from my rough-yard. 
 
Then, conciliating like a man, 
Your arm stretched out, calling; 
And you seized my body, 
as a mother soothes a child;
You sucked my stern lip, 
And I on the tip of your nose 
I laid my fingers dismayed 
For having so wounded my brother.
 
And for a long time 
I cried on the empty cradle 
When, fearful, 
I saw a strange white and pink 
setting open 
Where something was laid… 
And the echoes seemed to whine!
 
Since years have passed; 
I have grown, suffered, embellished, 
and have been refined by my loves:
the greatest is buried and sleeps! 
 
Often the sweet call of my brother 
Has burned my lip and my heart… 
Ah! too cruel is the pain 
That fills our days on earth!
 
O my brother, O my dead brother, 
Nothing shudders in your ashes! 
Do you feel anything sweet and strong 
On all that was you, descending…? 
 
For your sister comes to sing to you 
With our eastern lullabies, 
Slow nocturnes, autumnal… 
Could you not repeat them…? 
Do the dead forget the romances 
Which they have learned to stutter, 
And their companions of suffering, 
And all their efforts to try…? 
 
And from their mother tongue 
Do they forget the extravagant accents, 
And the visions of scenic attractions 
Of the country, the beautiful countryside…?
 
Ah! in my arms, Form of love,
that gently leans over me, Come! 
Receive and give in return 
the kiss of a heart that extends! 
One is weary, bitter, grieved 
To see life a long lie; 
Brother, come and kiss me in a dream!
 
…Tears on my forehead bowed…

—May Ziadeh
green tea with this found
pink chrysanthemum upon my path

~*


~*

*

Previously: Singing

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