Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thirty-three Tritinas (12 - 20)

A productive weekend at the coast!

12. Al-Ghani, the Rich One; Al-Jabbar, the Compeller; Al-Muhsi, the Appraiser

Well, so you are very rich
(or at least, so you feel compelled
to tell me) in your own appraisal.

But, in completely honest appraisal
have you quite enough riches?
Isn't there some faint compulsion...

More! More! whispers the compulsion.
No matter how generously I'm appraised
I can never be sufficiently rich!

Such riches compel one to constant appraisal.

13. Al-Muqtadir, the Creator of All Power; Al-Muntaqim, the Avenger; Al-Qawi, the Strong One

The air crackles with electric power
and like a horde of armed avengers
comes a host of angels in all their strength.

They come to humble the strong.
They come to protect the powerless
and for the dead, claim vengeance.

In vain will they flee vengeance
these ones so confident in their strength
for the angels have overthrown their power.

Who else has power to take vengeance against the strong?

14. Al-Muqsit, the Equitable One; Az-Zahir, the Outer; Al-Quddus, the Holy One

This town proclaims all citizens are equal,
and-- at least to every outer
appearance-- the folk are quite holy.

I distrust this boast of holiness,
this grand show of equality,
suspecting it to be purely outer.

But if we wear these virtues outwardly,
perhaps they will train our hearts to holiness,
and we'll learn to live our claims of equitability.

Equitable life, the outer sign of holiness.

15. Al-Afu, the Forgiver; Al-Jami, the Gatherer; Al-Wahhab, the Giver, Bestower

Lear's injured pride would not forgive.
His weak understanding failed to gather
the love his plain-spoken daughter had to give.

Against all wise advice, he gave
himself into hands unkind and unforgiving.
In his broken heart, madness gathered.

Loyal hearts learned of his plight and gathered
to his aid, but all too late. Lear's last gift,
received from Cordelia's hands, was her forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not gathered, but given.

16. As-Salaam, the Peace, Salvation; Al-Aziz, the Victorious; Al-Karim, the Generous

The free folk worked hard for peace,
fearing in war they could not be victorious.
Whatever was demanded, they gave generously.

But came an end to their generosity
when they saw that poverty would end their peace,
turn them one on another, and leave their oppressors victorious.

Against all odds, the free folk seized victory.
They've made a treaty now, on terms fairly generous
trusting to so seal a lasting peace.

Peace secured, it behooves the victor to be generous.

17. Al-Wahid, the One; Al-Latif, the Subtle One; Al-Musawwir, the Detailer

Your design is good, but there's one
flaw I see-- it's subtle
but they say the devil's in the details.

The nail in the horseshoe was a detail.
The camel's nose in the tent, another one
(as an example, I grant it lacks subtlety).

A crack in a dam can be most subtle.
Even the most detailed
examination might not find one...

then disaster strikes, because of one subtle detail.

18. As-Samad, the Receiver of Requests; Al-Basir, the Seer; Al-Qayyum, the Eternal Caretaker

My dear, I understand your request.
Like all young folk, you want to see
the world, away from your parents' care.

These years you've been under our care
we've tried to honor your every request
within reason, so far as we could see.

But at last the time has come, I see
when you must make your way, and take care
of your own affairs-- but honor one last request.

Our only request: see that you take good care.

19. As-Sami, the Hearer; Ar-Rafi, the Exalter; Al-Khafid, the Abaser

Alone on a grassy hill, I heard
the music of meadowlarks, an exaltation!
I fell to the earth in joyful abasement.

They soared so far above all that is base,
the sweetest music I have ever heard
joyful, brilliant and exalted.

Time passes and the exaltation
fades-- but always at my heart's base
the music remains for me to hear.

The hearing heart may be exalted, no matter how base.

20. Al-Qabid, the Constrictor; Al-Badi, the Originator; Al-Ali, the Highest

You struggle through a narrow and constricted
pass, a gorge where the river originates,
the only path to the distant beckoning heights.

And there upon the dizzying height
where the thin air makes your chest constrict
--suddenly you understand your origins.

You hadn't come seeking your origins.
But you found them in the view from on high,
limitless, unconstricted.

Flesh constricts the soul from its original height.

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