dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘world culture’

ORANGE Playlist

I don’t want to get too far along on ORANGE, I only have 5 poems completed for it. I honestly don’t know where I’m going with it. I have connected the titles to ideas and topics: fear, death, apostacy, community, the resurrection, and more. Culturally, orange is associated with autumn, harvest, fruitfulness. Orange is warm and happy. As a secondary color it’s transitional. Orange is a sensational color–slightly more intense than yellow, yet less aggressive than red–that stimulates activity and appetite, and encourages socialization. Orange elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than other colors.1

The Lord once told me concerning my poetry to make the connections and He would give the meaning. That isn’t to say that I don’t have an intended meaning to what I write. I’ve never quite understood writers that just write words on a page, only to say that they didn’t have meaning, expressed or implied; that the reader gives the interpretation. There had to be something on their mind or in their heart to put the words to page. With my poems I’m trying to make a connection, to have meaning; but God will give my poetry true meaning if my mind is stayed on Him (no matter how imperfect I may be–and I am extremely imperfect), and if I write to please HIm and to encourage, uplift, and enlighten others.

With that in mind, here is the current proposed playlist for ORANGE:

Orange
Jack O’Lantern
Terra Cotta Soldiers
The Scent of Autumn
Orange Crush
Lava Lamps
Orangemen
The Golden Gate Bridge
Black Box
Ghazal: La Naranja de Dios
Thursday in Thailand
Bell Edison Telephone Building, circa WWI
The Life of Oompa Loompas
Coals on the Altar
The Drink of Astronauts
Operation Ranchhand
Flight of Monarchs
Amber Alert
Orange Remix

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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Chants of Being RED

When I started this project, I wanted to incorporate different forms; some that I’m familiar with, others I’ve never tried. Of course I use a lot of free verse, there are the list poems that I enjoy writing, the ghazal and the unfinished sonnet. What else should I use in this collection of red?

Thinking about the line “feast of martyrs” in “Red“, which apparently in Catholic tradition is symbolized by the color red, my mind went to Gregorian chants. That would be cool. But alas, in my research I found that Gregorian chant is not really a poetic form. You can chant just about anything: the Psalms, the book of Numbers, an owners manual for a Volkswagen, a grocery list. Not what I’m looking for. Further study of chants led me to African chants and those being brought to the Americas through the slave trade. These chants are a call and response. This may work.

Occasionally, I’ll throw some Spanish or Latin or some other language into a poem. I don’t speak them, I just like the sounds and sometimes it’s needed. (I have a small collection of language dictionaries of languages I’ll probably never speak.) Living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I’m aware of the rich history and cultures of the area, including Gullah. Gullah are directly related to the Africans brought to the South as slaves for the rice plantations. The language is a creole and is in use today.

I wrote the poem first in English with a short Latin refrain. I then translated it into Gullah using De Nyew Testament from the American Bible Society. The refrain is Yiddish. I don’t know if it’s an accurate translation, perhaps it may need polishing. Anyone who knows Gullah, any input welcome.

First the English version:

Feast of Martyrs: Plain Chant

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who shall feed on the feast sublime?
Those who have eaten the bread and wine.
Those who have lived on bread and wine.

Who receives strong meat of the word?
Those who have learned what us evil and good.
Those who can discern the evil and the good.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is worthy to drink of His cup?
Those who are humble and do not lift themselves up.
Any who serves and who does not lift himself up.

Who will not taste death? Who shall partake of the kingdom reign?
Those that take up the cross and show not shame.
Those that deny themselves and lose their life for His name.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is a sweet smell in the nostril of God?
Those who sacrifice for others, those who show love.
Those who give themselves for others, sacrificial love.

Who is it that pleases God?
All that believe and know His reward.
They that believe Him and know He rewards.

dies mortis
dies natalis

And now the Gullah version, the title is Haitian Creole (thank you Google Translate):

Fet nan Mati: Plen Chante

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be et de feas ob heaben?
Dey dat be etin de bread and de wine.
Dey dat libe off ob bread and wine.

Who dat git de solid food?
Dem wa laan wa ebil an wa good.
Dem wa know de diffunce twixt de ebil an de good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat fit for ta drink ob E cup?
Dem wat take low. Dem wa ain’t pit demsef op.
Dem wa saabe and ain’t pit demsef op.

Who dat be ain gwine dead? Who gwine nyam een God nation?
E dat tote da cross. E ain for shame.
E dat dohn do jes wa e wahn. E dat giib e life fa God name.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be dat smell sweet ta da nose ob God?
Dem dat sacrifice fa odas, dat gii lob.
Dey dat gii ob desef fa odas, all de time lob.

Who dat be dat be pleasing God?
All dem dat belieb. Dem dat know what E got.
Dem dat belieb Um. Dem know Um gibe tings dat be good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE You Glad I Didn’t Say RED

Since the colors of the spectrum have no distinct delineation (at least to the naked human eye), I thought I’d throw in a poem from the next series, ORANGE, to allow the thoughts to bleed into each other.

It’s a list poem. I plan to start each series this way. I think it’s a good way to get focused in on the specific color. What I’ve been doing is jotting down things of the color, varying shades of the color, things that elicit the color; looking for the common and the unusual, the obvious and the odd. I then select the items that strike me, that stand out, that I see some possibility of spiritual and/or poetic connection, orthodox or obscure.

The final stanza is put together from interesting facts about the color or related to cultural or thematic aspects of the color; and those may lead to an overall theme.

At least that’s how I’ve done it so far.

Orange

autumn leaves and pumpkins
yams
egg yolks
the flesh of cantaloupe and mangoes
cumquats
carotene,
     converts to vitamin A in the liver
Cheetohs®
Tang®
marmalade
mandarins
Viceroy and Monarch butterflies
Baltimore oriole
Honduran milk snake
Okeetee corn snake
Panthera tigris tigris
terra cotta soldiers
construction signs
safety cones
the Golden Gate Bridge,
     it blends well with its natural setting
children’s aspirin
Amber alert
penal jumpsuits
flight data and cockpit recorders
Oompa Loompas
Irish Protestants
US Army Signal Corps
Thursday in Thailand
herbicides in Vietnam
lava
rust

The CMYK composition of a version of orange:
     0% cyan, 69% magenta, 100% yellow, 6% black.
The composition of pumpkin pie filling, from scratch:
     1 c. cooked pumpkin, ½ c. sugar, 1 t. cinnamon, ¼ t. ginger, ¼ t. nutmeg, ¼ t. cloves,
     1 t. vanilla, 1 c. milk, 2 egg yolks, beat until stiff 2 egg whites.
The composition of Orange, VA in 2011:
     70.7% white, 22.8% black, 3.5% Hispanic, 2.3% mixed, 0.3% American Indian,
     0.3% Asian, 0.04% Hawaiian, 0.02% other, 0.04% unknown;
     that’s a total of 2 Hawaiians.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Persian RED

“Cheap Valentine” speaks of love being truly unfulfilled; whereas, its companion poem “Ghazal: Of My Love” celebrates love to the fullest.

But what is a ghazal?

Pronounced ‘guzzle’,  it is an early Arabic/Persian form. We’re talking early, like around 900 to 1300 A.D. or before, depending on the source you read (see Bibliography). The main theme of a ghazal is that of love, erotic and/or mystic. English poets seemed to have taken an interest in the form in the last quarter of the 20th century, giving their unique twist to it.

The form itself is very specific (most “forms” are). I’ll give you the basics as I understand them. A series of couplets, usually 7 to 15, though no set quantity; each couplet should stand on its own, meaning it could be a poem by itself. Each couplet ends with the same word or set of words, a refrain. The refrain is actually repeated in both lines of the first couplet. Before each refrain is a rhyme; therefore, each couplet second line rhymes. The final couplet contains a reference to the poet–their name, pen-name or nickname, or a play on their name–something to form a “signature”.

These are most of the structural rules of a ghazal. There are others related to rhythm and meter and other matters, but you get the idea. I think I captured the essence of the style.

Here’s my first attempt at a ghazal, the companion poem to “Cheap Valentine“. Two of the couplets incorporate imagery of Indian/Hindi dress, style, and culture. Of course, red is the traditional color of Indian wedding dresses. Another aspect of early ghazals is the incorporation of much drinking of wine, so I started there. I hope you enjoy.

Ghazal: Of My Love

To the wine cellar! Tap into the kegs of my love!
Drink deeply! Drink deeply! Down to the dregs of my love!

My love’s a basket of fresh, ripe fruit—aromatic
pomegranates and apples, dates and figs of my love.

Crimson lehenga hugs her hips, tapers to her toes.
Satin holds tightly together the legs of my love.

Hand painted embroidered dupatta hides her bosom;
a true sign. Highly favored, the world brags of my love.

See how my arms are stretched taut in an open embrace.
Look closely at the holes made by the pegs of my love.

Scott has received the invitation sent to all.
Come. Come and drink freely at the feast, begs of my love.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Bibliography

Avachat, Abhay. “What is a Ghazal?” http://smriti.com/urdu/ghazal.def.html 21 February 2015

de Bruijn, J. T. P. “Gazal i History” December 15, 2000 Encyclopaedia Iranica February 3, 2012 http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/gazal-1-history 21 February 2015

“Ghazal” AHA Poetry http://www.ahapoetry.com/ghazal.htm

“Glossary Terms: Ghazal” The Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-term/ghazal 21 February 2015

“Poetic Form: Ghazal” American Acacemy of Poets http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-ghazal 21 February 2015

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