As salaamu alaykum all,
I would like to share some reflections with you on Sidi Daniel
Moore's poem, "The Last Tawaf" and make some interpretations,
remembering that the meaning of a poem is open and should never
limited to one viewpoint or understanding.
This is, to me, a lovely example of how form and structure can
manipulated for a desired poetic effect. The use of enjambment,
run-on sentences helps to give a visual and oral feeling of the
voice following this man through the crowd. Short lines cut off
longer lines and vice-versa visually weaving and meandering down
page like a pilgrim weaves through the crowds during the tawaf,
is impossible to maintain a perfect circle around the House because
of the sheer numbers. In other words, the structure and layout
echoes the subject of the poem.
I enjoyed the economical language and memorable phrases like the
man's "wrinkled neck / with shaggy gray hair streaked with
gnarled hands /patiently tapping a / bamboo cane in front of him,"
and the words "wrinkled", "shaggy" and "gnarled"
capture the image of the man's old age which contrasts with
the "overblown bravado" and "passionate energy"
of the "impetuous
crowd". Consequently we have the patience and frailty of this
venerable character juxtaposed with the impatient nervous energy
the younger pilgrims. This contrast manages to express some of the
beautiful patterning, opposites and paradoxes hajjis witness during
the hajj and tawaf. The old and the young, the black and white,
and female, the physical and the spiritual, the patient and
impatient, the vigorous and mild divine attributes flow around in
this endlessly revolving orbit, opposites uniting into the unity
a cirlce. Within the unity of this circular motion we have a myriad
of hearts, minds and bodies, each utterly unique but similar
simultaneously. Each pilgrim has a special personality, appearance,
history but every individual within the tawaf is pointing towards
one God, following the same Prophets. The unity of the circle is
like the Oneness of Allah because He is the origin who encapsulates
every human being. We move and subsist as unique individuals by
Allah's circle of command, "Be and it is".
was salaam Novid Shaid
I went to a park in Berkeley in the summer of 1969 and experienced
the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company. I was in a very bad state
at the time. I didn't like people. I was either scared of them or
envious or I wanted something from them. That night in the park
with the fire and the dwarf and the music and the blue faced man
and the Tibetan mask and the zither and the bread and the Aum changed
my life. I arrived at the amphitheater early and the Company was
backstage preparing for the performance and chanting together. I
had never heard Aum before and it was incredible. It sounded like
it was coming down from above. Later, at the end of the performance,
a person in a deep hood led me gently to the stage. We stood in
a circle around loaves of homemade bread with incense. A man (who
I now realize was you) played a chord on a zither and we chanted.
Unbelievable overtones, infinity revealing itself, true magic. I
remember we all had our arms around each other at the end. For the
first time in my life I actually cared about people. I felt real
love. It was a defining moment in my life. I want to thank you and
the Company for all that you did for me. I'll never forget it.
We met in Buena Vista Park in San Francisco, in about 1968 or so.
You drew a sketch of me with ancient Incan ruins in my chest. We
sat in Tilden Park in Berkeley and watched trees dance while we
chanted AUM. I listened to you play the harp. You gave me a copy
of Dawn Visions and a picture post card of sand paintings from New
Mexico. I have come to the age of thinking about the past, so it
has been entertaining to find you in cyberspace and read about your
creative life of spirit. This brings you much goodness.
Love: joy, peace, Mark Benson