Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What I Like

This is the first in a two-post mini series on my Likes and Dislikes. The lists are in no way comprehensive or exhaustive. They are the brainchild of a Scotch on the Rocks, or two, a scrap of paper and a doodling pen. “What I like” shouldn't offend anyone to be certain. It's “what I don't like” that might bother some. My scribbles are to be taken only at face value, at least this time. They are not arranged in any order.



I Like: People who think more than they talk. I enjoy their presence around me. We can communicate in a few words and share our surroundings with our senses and inner thoughts rather than continuous babble.


I Like: The games women and men play in the beginning of courtship. How they whisper and hold hands, not getting enough of each other, smiling and laughing at inner jokes.
I also like the site of an old couple, withered by years of sharing hardships, gleaming with affection and love for each other, drinking their coffee together, surrounded by memories.



I Like: Cars, airplanes, motorcycles, trains and boats; anything on the move except taxis and busses.
I like the smell of a new Japanese car because it's the best I can afford, now or anytime in the near future. I don't really think much about the stuff I can't get anyway.
I'm in love with flying and am fascinated by the vapor trails of high flying jets in the blue of the sky.


When I'm in the saddle of my motorcycle I am simply a free person who enjoys the trip more than the destination. The hum of the engine, the wind blowing in my face and disturbing what little hair I have left, the blurred vision and teary eyes, the sour ass after hours of hard riding. I have no better explanation except perhaps saying that motorcycles are a way of life.
Traveling by train in Europe is one of the most pleasant experiences for me. I just stare out of the window and witness the splendor of creation, God's and Man's.
As for boats, I was born around them. There is no ugly boat or ship. I particularly appreciate wooden boats. No two are ever alike and they each take to the sea of its own volition. I need to add one last bit under this listing. I tremendously enjoy being in airports.


I Like: Sports. Any kind of competition would do except Golf and Khaliji Football. I am an Arsenal football club fan and I enjoy all European football but mostly the English Premiership.
I have been following Formula 1 since 1986 and consider Michael Schumacher the greatest athlete ever.
I follow women tennis and volleyball. At the end of the day, I fall asleep watching a game of snookers played by real professionals.


I Like: Being at home in my underwear.


I Like: Women. Pretty and intelligent women are very hard to resist. When it comes to their company, I’d choose intelligent any moment. I like the way they smell, the way they walk, the way they hug themselves if they’re cold. I like their hair to fly in the wind. Short or long it doesn’t matter. Blondes or brunettes, I am not that particular, although in retrospect I have known more dark haired companions. It’s very important to distinguish between liking women and being a womanizer of any sort. I am not. I am a happily married man, who will always love women.


I Like: The outdoors. Beautiful virgin locations are my favorites. Mountains fill me with awe and wonder. The sea beckons at me since birth to dip my toes at first then to take a long journey around the world some day. The exhilaration of being out of the city, without a roof over my head, alone, with my son or with a friend cleanses my body and mind. To walk a field of gold with a dog at my side and actually talk with (it), hunting for quail on an early morning is beyond words. Then, to rest near some water hole and grab a bite to eat while dividing my lunch with my loyal friend makes up for an ideal day.

I Like: All animals except hyenas, rats and cockroaches. Eh, flies and mosquitoes too.


I like: The M*A*S*H TV series. I must have seen all episodes at least once during my tenure in the US. I would like to order the complete set on DVD. I like Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) of Seinfeld and Hal (Bryan Cranston) of Malcolm in the Middle. There must be a reason for me to identify with both characters. I also enjoy the National Geographic Channel. I love most of their superb programming with the exception of their “take on international politics”. In that respect, they seem as if they’ve hired the brother of George W. Bush as their political advisor.


I Like: Good food. If I were ever faced with the tough decision of being on a deserted island with only one sort of food for the rest of my life, I would, without hesitation, choose “Eggs”. I am a master Egg Chef and Gourmet.
A big medium-rare piece of Texas steak is certainly on the top of my all-time favorites.
I love chocolate ice-cream, Louisiana crawfish and catfish, peanuts, Asheh and Stuffed Grape Leaves of Tartous. Being a Chef is a fantasy job for me. For the time being, I’m not even allowed in the kitchen.


I Like: Sile, my own private place. It’s a small room in the basement that is mine. It has a small bar, a TV, a foosball table, a small desk and a message board with old and new pictures of friends. Sile (rhymes with Chile the country) is a river in northern Italy which passes through the lovely city of Treviso. I have chosen this name for my most private space out of affection, loyalty and appreciation. This is where I can be truly alone or with my best friends to watch a game of football and to have a beer or something stronger as the occasion might call. ( I scrawled this post down in Sile). I already have a post on Sile and Treviso, if you care to read it click on THIS


I Like: Reading novels. Good literary work is what I am always after. I am also a fan of good science fiction. My favorite all-time literary work is Dune by Frank Herbert. I have read all five books several times and would do so again.


I Like: Ayn Al Jawzat Restaurant in the village of Saeen. This is a place where I absolutely feel at home. I have no inhibitions whatsoever there. I don’t even order the food and drink. As soon as I walk in, the friendliness of Majed and his small staff takes over. They bring me the exact same combination of Mezza plates every time. The same quantity and quality of home-made Arak. Immediately after I settle down, whatever music is playing stops and an old tape of Melhem Barakat starts from the very beginning. Déjà Vu, over and over again.

I Like: Blogging and the fact that there are some people out there, who don’t even know me, but who are willing to spend some of their time reading what words I’ve come up with. I would really like to meet all of them one day, preferably in a huge party in some exotic location. I enjoy reading blogs as well. I check some of them everyday and feel very happy when they have new posts.


I Like: Tartous. But this should be obvious to everyone already. I am very proud of who I am. If I were from Pakistan, I would’ve loved it as much as I love Syria. We don’t have control over our inherited identity, but whatever it is, it should make us extremely honored of belonging. That shouldn’t mean in anyway that we should be chauvinistic in our feeling or behavior. I just stand in front of anyone from anywhere with the assumption that we are equal. I wouldn’t change my attitude unless he or she takes the first stupid step.


I Like: Chanel no.5 on a woman. Under the right (or shall we say wrong) circumstances, I might act a little silly because of this olfactory obsession.


Finally, I like to walk in the rain and look at the displays of stores. I normally hate shopping and I wouldn’t do it unless absolutely in need. However, once it starts raining, especially in the evening, I grab a jacket or coat and go out in search for something to buy. Anything will do, but normally it would be some gadget or tool I don’t really need. I make it back and start reading the operating manual with avid fascination and deep satisfaction.

Coming Soon… What I Don’t Like!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Qalaat al Marqab (Castle of the Watchtower)

Thirty kilometers north of Tartous, where the sea washes the feet of the mountains and at the point where the road passage is at its most precarious, a gigantic black castle is perched on the peak of an extinct volcano. In 1062, the Muslims were the first to erect a post commanding a panoramic view of what makes up today’s entire Syrian coast.

The city of Banias, at the foot of the mountain has a much longer history and its origin dates back to the Phoenicians. It is referred to in Strabo’s geography as Balanea (c 58 BC to c AD 24). Banias was home to the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines. When the Crusaders came along in 1098, they first established themselves in the city and called it Valenia after slaughtering its original inhabitants. In 1104 Qallat al Marqab (Castle of the Watchtower) fell back to Byzantine hands from the Arabs. It is not certain when the Crusaders made their second comeback to the site but it is believed to be between 1108 and 1140 when it passed to the Principality of Antioch. It was held by the prominent Mansour family on behalf of the Prince and was later sold to the Knights Hospitaller in 1168.


The Hospitallers altered the castle into one of their strongest fortresses between 1186 and 1203. Qalaat al Marqab would have been absolutely impregnable if not for the dwindling human resources of the Crusaders. It had survived waves of offensives starting from the Emir of Aleppo (Malik a- Daher) in 1204, to the Turkoman Emir (Saif al Din Balban) in 1280. Only the lack of Crusaders troops because of fewer "volunteers" from Europe made the Marqab succumb to the bombardment and undermining of Qalaun in 1285. The Crusaders surrounded and were allowed to flee to Tartous and Tripoli. That was the beginning of the end for the Crusaders in the region. They surrendered Tripoli in 1289 and later Tartous in 1291. One of their final departure points from the East to Europe in 1301 was from the natural harbor (visible in background of the picture below) at the base of the mountain.


The visit to Qalaat al Marqab is a must for the serious traveler or archeologist of Syria. The view from the top is breathtaking. If you are a fan of arghile (shisha), sitting at the straw-roofed café and enjoying a smoke is an experience not to be forgotten. If hungry, there’s also a similarly simple restaurant at the base of the castle.
However, to walk inside within the remains of the walls, or to wonder in the deserted (and neglected) halls would take you back in time. You could almost sense the presence of armored soldiers, of tied horses being fed and resting after the arduous climb. You could smell the cooking in the vestiges of soup kitchens with smoke scorched ceilings. The keystones of the vaulted chapel tease the mind with metaphors and symbols of the Holy Grail.

With the setting of the sun, a surrealistic wind blows and phantoms from the past freely roam the passageways flanked by the magnificent black stones. The thin line between reality and illusion fades as the howling of the wind morphs into the moans of bygone warriors embattled and defeated a thousand mile from home.

To get to Qalaat al Marqab take the Lattakia Hwy from Tartous and drive north for 30 km. Just before you reach Banias take a right exit and drive following the signs for 5 km what is a very steep uphill climb. Park the car near the small café and climb the stairs leading to the main gates. There is a charge of SP10.00 for students and kids and SP50.00 = US$1.00 for adults.

For more information about this great site and others in Syria, I recommend Monuments of Syria an Historical Guide by Ross Burns (I. B. Tauris, Dummar Publisher, revised edition 1999.

See more pictures of the Qalaat al Marqab at my Flickr.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

This Is My Night

As I revere music so highly I can only enjoy it on rare occasions. Often, I consider music as an annoying background noise. I have to be not only in the right mood, but more like in a perfect and spellbinding ambiance. I also prefer to be alone. It is no surprise then that I normally listen to my favorite music while driving solo intercity.
Om Kalthoum
There are, however, a few masterpieces that entail total absorption. I need to be in a state of devout adulation, in a semi religious ecstatic mind frame. It is dangerous to listen to certain songs while driving. Company is also required to reap the full benefit of the experience, but they too, have to be in the proper disposition to accept the flow of lyrics, melody and human voice with their minds and not with their feet.
Mohamad Abdul Wahab

In 1968 three Arab giants, two Egyptians and a Lebanese met in Lebanon on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel overlooking the Lamartine Valley (named after the French poet 1790-1869). They were, Om Kolthoum (1904-1975) the all-time Diva of Arab Music, Mohamad Abdul-Wahab (1910-1991), arguably the greatest Arab composer of the 20th century and George Gerdak (b.1931), the Lebanese poet, writer, philosopher, critic and cynic. Of these three great artists, George Gerdak is my favorite. He wrote, what in my opinion is, the supreme celebration of Love and Life “Hazihi Laylati = This Is My Night”.
George Gerdak
I never really liked Mohamad Abdul Wahab either as a singer or as an actor. But as a composer, I bow my head and pay respect where it is due. I am a fan of Om Kalthoum and Cuban cigars. I like both tremendously but I don’t actually get to enjoy either more than a few times per year.


A companion had just returned from the north of Syria, where he’d been on a two-day hunting trip, bringing back a dozen pheasants from the distant cotton fields. We set out to our hideout in the mountains for a memorable repast away from it all. The evening was pregnant with anticipation. It was cold and windy outside, but by the fireplace the soul and body were able to take refuge. We were sharing a few rounds of drinks before dinner when, out of the blue, “Hazihi Laylati” invaded my mind. We were expecting two more guys to join us and it only took a phone call to ask them to fetch a CD of the song and to bring it along.


There is no way I can do justice to the evening. Talking about the song itself, in the particular instance and space where we shared it is virtually impossible. I feel humbled by my inability to translate into English the easy flowing poetry of George Gerdak. All I can do is offer you this link to listen and enjoy the song online:
http://www.omkolthoum.com/english/e_hazehe.htm


Hazihi Laylati is familiar to many readers. However, whether you’ve heard it before and whether Arabic is your language or not, I kindly ask you to free yourself for 32 minutes, sit down somewhere you feel very comfortable, get your favorite drink to nurse slowly (you might need a couple of refills) and enjoy my modest offering and contemplate the words if you understand them, or simply let yourself drift with the sound, the voice and the melody.

To read "Hazihi Laylati" in Arabic click on this link:
http://almashriq.hiof.no/egypt/700/780/umKoulthoum/Songs/LYR/hazi.html

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Boiled Crabs



Time yet again to talk about food.
Crabs this time!
I wanted to title this post “I Had Crabs” since I’ve already “had head” in a previous post but decided against it. Too tacky I guess.
Between the months of October and January, the fishermen of Tartous and Arwad net tons and tons of salt water crabs. In general, crabs are not on the top of the list of Syrian cuisine. But real Tartoussis always consumed these side-walking crustaceans with passion. Besides, they are cheap this time of the year (about $2.00 per kilo).
To get a good lot of crabs one needs to wake up either early and go to the fish market or have somebody on the inside to reserve it. A lot, or one fisherman’s harvest, weighs in at six to seven kilos minimum during this period. It’s very difficult to go wrong with the quality and size in the fall. The crabs are at their best. One thing the buyer should take very seriously though is that they should be fresh, real fresh, alive that this.
Preparation is straight forward and simple. The easiest way by far is having them boiled and eaten immediately afterward. Just follow these simple steps:
1-Place the crabs in a large enough pot and wash them with running water (they should be moving at this time and not dead).
2-Cover the crabs with enough water, add plenty of salt, pepper, a couple of cinnamon sticks and a large onion.
3-Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. 30 minutes of boiling should be just about right.
4-Drain all remaining water and place in a shallow pan.
The next step is optional but makes the crabs easier to eat.
5-Preheat the oven and place the pan inside for 10 minutes. This will help reduce the amount of water trapped inside the shells and makes eating them tidier.
That’s it, really simple.


For the uninitiated, eating them is a little bit more difficult, but I find it incredibly ridiculous to explain how to eat crabs. Suffice it to say that the meat inside the large pinchers is delicious and so are the shoulders (inside the shell where the pinchers meet the body).
A beer or a glass of wine makes the meal a joyful experience. Eat as much as you want, boiled crabs are not very filling. My friend, the one I posted about last time (3 Love Songs) tells me that they are a great aphrodisiac and I have no reason to doubt him at all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

3 Love Songs

Alone, he drove the wet and deserted streets of the sleepy town, listening to oldies at the whim and mercy of a disc jockey from a distant radio station. Memories were flooding through his mind as the music flowed. All of his life, he has been falling in love and each song brought back what was then the only one. By the time the third song was over, he parked his car underneath a lonely street light. He stepped out, lit a cigarette, and walked down a wooded hill in the light drizzle and falling fog.

His elbow accidentally brushed her breast. They were both around twelve. He was reaching out to kiss her on the cheek for the very first time. It was a hot summer afternoon and they were on the roof of a long-gone building. It was round, her breast. Round and firm and small and beautiful and it was worth the whole of his life. Nothing that ever came afterward was as magical as that moment.

He stood in an airport kissing her goodbye. He could never get enough of her lips. They were red and they were parted and they were strawberry sweet. It was the last time they would ever see each other. The smell of her hair stayed on him. When he reached the empty apartment, he stared down at the unmade bed. He threw himself upon it, sniffed her and cried for a long, very long time.

She was taking a shower as he lay in bed. When she’d come out he’d tell her that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. No. Why wait! He knocked on the bathroom door. It was partially open but he didn’t go in. “What” her voice came from behind the curtain. He hesitated, then mumbled something stupid like “...nothing I’ll tell you when you come out”. He sat on the sofa facing the box but not watching it. She came out, gift-wrapped in a white towel and sat on his lap. She kissed him and asked him what he had to tell her. He held her close and worshiped the smoothness of her fresh and milky skin. He never said a word. Days later she was gone.

He got back in the car. The deranged disc jockey was still playing nostalgic oldies. There was a fourth, a fifth, a… fuck the radio. He switched it off.

Was it a smile at the corner of his mouth or was he just licking the honey off the walls
of his memory? He drove on toward the lights feebly shining from behind the drapes of closed windows.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ascribo's Tag

I got back after a nine day absence to find a tag awaiting me. I have to thank Ascribo for taking my hand and coercing me to post after this long break. He just posed one seemingly simple question. The answer, as is the case with all intelligent questions, is as complex as it could get. I will try to be as spontaneous as possible, a trait I would very much like to pass on to my own children…

"Which of your qualities you want your child to have, and which of them you do NOT want him to have"

I want my children to be innocent but not naïve, exactly like me. Loyalty to friends, to family, to country and to principles is probably on the top of my better traits and which I consider to be my most valuable possession. I wish for my children to be loyal, to treat their word of honor as if it were of divine origin.
Although, at times, we have: “To prepare a face to meet the faces that [we] meet…” I am a man with one face only. I might rarely mask my emotions out of politeness or dignity, but my eyes are true windows to my soul. If one looks intently enough, he or she can always see my real and only self. I desire that my children are like that.
I have never taken myself or those I am with too seriously. I would not lose my self-respect or jeopardize the self-esteem of others. However, if faced with a pretentious bastard who enjoys playing the patronizing game, he will definitely be the sorry one. He would get a piece of my mind, and he would not like it. Despite the gift of being, in general, a peaceful person, I can turn into a fierce fighter if provoked, in the least, when my honor is at stake. I raise my children this way since I deem that this is a great aspect of my personality.
I believe in the personal freedom of choice. I would not hate a person if she disagrees with me. I would not stand her if she tries to convert me by making me “see her light” or if she is a persistent critic to others. I would like my children to make their own choices and to respect those of others. I fancy them to make their own way and not to follow a paved road, simply because it is less bumpy.
Finally (I need volumes to continue enumerating my “good” traits), I am a content man. I value the things in life I already possess. What I do not have means very little to me. I ask of my children to try to be like that.

My disdain for money in general means that I am not an overly ambitious man. I prefer that my children are, how shall I say it, more driven than I am. They should be less compromising when it comes to their personal materialistic comfort.
At times, I am too stubborn to realize what is good for me and for those around me. Once I set sails I loath any change in the direction of the wind. I should be more flexible and sensitive to the continuous alterations of the variables of life. I hope that my children can overcome this inherent shortcoming.
My patience runs thin when it shouldn’t or I maintain it for too long when there is no more reason to. It is a timing fault which I have failed to remedy. I prefer that my children’s mood be more consistent.
I am not an assertive person. Privately, within the chambers of my mind, I know that I am a very intelligent person and that I am grossly underrated. If I were not as spontaneous as I actually am, I would not have even written this last sentence. I crave that my children should promote themselves more lucratively.
I hope that my children turn out to be more focused than I am. I can easily get distracted and in doing so drop many potential possibilities. When the goal is of any material manifestation I often tend to lose interest if I find myself needing to ask for a favor or a shove to help me climb the ladder. I would call it a day and convince myself that nothing is really worth it after all. Nowadays, and in the future, a more cooperative and compromising stand would certainly be more fruitful in the end. I want my children to go all the way, even if it means that they should be “nicer”.
As is the case with my positive attributes there certainly are plenty of deficiencies in my personality. I see no reason why I should continue with this unconstructive babble about myself. I only desire that my children find their own way while standing tall, today and tomorrow.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

For the first time since I’ve started blogging I have to take a break for a little over a week. Actually, taking a break usually means that we stop laboring and start enjoying ourselves. In my case, it’s exactly the opposite. I have to stop doing something I enjoy tremendously and go on laboring. I am leaving Tartous on a business trip. I haven’t been on the road (working) for a while and it’s high time I take this “regular” journey in my line of work. Although my laptop is always near or on my lap, I don’t think that I would be able to read, post or comment on any of my favorite or even my blog.
I shall return Inshallah on Saturday 11/11/06. Until then, what can I leave on my blog for all to read and may be come back to re-read? I could only think of one piece of writing, a masterpiece, my favorite all-time poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by Thomas Stearns Eliot. The American (later naturalized British) T.S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 26, 1888. He is considered to be the most influential realist poet of the twentieth century. He won the Noble Prize for literature in 1948. He died in London on January 4, 1965.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 1910-1911 starts with a quotation from Dante’s Inferno (XXVII, 61-66) in ITALIAN. For your reference, I have added the translation at the end of the poem. I didn’t want to include it in the body of the poem itself in order to avoid any fiddling with the original work.
I will not be able to reply to your comments until early next week but I would love to read your thoughts and reactions concerning this poem.

From T. S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.


LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor
And this, and so much more?
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

********************************
Translation of Dante’s quotation

If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone ever returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy I answer you.