Six tea lights and a nightingale / wrap the table in love’s sonorous luminance /
A throaty pathos she sings, of fleeting sensations / of long kisses that escape her/ a rose juice, God waters the way of her lover / as she remains the afternoon of her oath /
Her dress drips in raspberry affections / while an echo of my voice bathes dinner in a crimson glow of atonement /
Six votives petulantly spill stains / yellow light assertions of the unchangeable / flickering in passion /
Is love the sublime that rests in the shadows somewhere /
Hemmed onto a languorous song, an eternal abundance / in lyrical heartache, wafts / over mortal substitutes of a hearty dinner /
We of the world raise a toast / to the lunacy of a New Year in celebratory meals /
This month, a marker of Oxen / yoked to a duet of affections / on the day canonized by love / as aged as the oldest love song / etched onto a Sumerian tablet / lost in translation /
What is love / but that which ploughs around in these poetic spaces / steadfast
as candles, shedding light //
Happy Valentine’s Day !
We ushered it in last night in a Sichuan inspired dinner with friends, while celebrating our own version of the Chinese New Year as well. The year of the Ox, a day dedicated to love, hence the reference to Ancient Sumer, wherein originated the oldest love poem ever recorded, ‘The Love Song for Shu-Sin’ (written c.2000 BCE).
The smart lights above the table echoed the crimson shade. it’s so beautiful that candle light burns yellow even if all around is a crimson glow.
Love feels like the magic of light around the practicality of dinner. Food is always romantic, (being the way to the heart and all). Love songs abound in tales of heartbreak which brings me to this Mexican song, ‘La Fugitiva’. For those who love the beauty of the sonorous voice of Lila Downs, you must watch/listen to this duet of hers with singer, composer, Natalia Lafourcade. This song itself is love, if a song could even be called that. I wove a bit of the translation into my own poem when the artists sing of fleeting love kisses that escape like rose water that God throws towards a lover.
I also wove in the theme of a ‘duet’ in the duo of oxen at a plough in response to a Sunday prompt by @bloodmoonjournal about ‘duet’, songs of love. Somehow all the themes that inspired me, congealed together. (I am inspired by a lot usually 😄)
On the year of the Ox, the balbale of Inanna to her brother Utu
In other compositions from that period, there are a few that recount poetic dialogue (balbale) between the Goddess Inanna and her brother, about love, desire, reason and practicality. This Mesopotamian Goddess is torn between the love she feels for a farmer and the Shepherd Dumuzi she must eventually marry. It is the year of the Ox in any case, perhaps the year of the farmer, the man at the plough, and in those parts of the world where farmers have been engaged in a prolonged battle, let’s hope it’s a winning one unlike Inanna’s balbale to her brother Utu . These beautiful compositions can easily be sourced online and I have added a few links for reference.
Diane Wolkstein’s translation of Queen of Heaven and Earth, ‘Her Stories and Hymns of Sumer’, full text [Harper & Row 1983], 30-49)
The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi
(D. Wolkenstein, Inanna [Harper & Row 1983], 30-49
The love song of Shu-sin
La Fugitiva, (Audio, Lyrics, Translation)