Compiled between January and April
Blessed are the words for the words are makers
Blessed is the music for the music is the soul of God
Blessed are our songs, our poems,
Our sighs, our cries, our murmurs,
Our lullabies, our prayers, our whispers, our laments
For they exist between one silence and another
So that silence will have no dominion.
By Alisar Iram
I am the word unsaid, say me
I am the music unheard, play me
It is the one who is made absent that is seen most
It is the note which is omitted that is heard most. It is the the name of the one who is not named that is deafening. It is the colour that is missing from the painting that makes it a work of art because without it, as we add the completing strokes in our imagination, the painting does not live. It is the one who is made absent that is seen and will be seen because it is the essence of light to shine.
Time is a Continuum
The more I live in the present time of the Revolution the more I live it in time continuum. The more the roots of the country are destroyed by annihilation, the more my mind becomes absorbed in the necessity to regrow these roots, to heal the land, to hold the shattered Syrians in the sanctity of compassion. If we regard time as not only now, but a continuum, we shall not despair because the future is waiting for us and the future is not going to be like the present because we are not going to carry to it with us the terror of our tragedies but the luminosity of our hopes and intimations of peace and life made whole again.
Let us make space for the future
I do not wish to dwell unnecessarily long on the Syria of the past except in order to carry the good things from the past to the future because I would be rather helping the present, but I would not like to give the sad heartbreaking present all my attention either because I would like to be working for the future , I would like to be sowing hope, I would like to be helping to be make space for the new life of the Syrians to emerge. Let us remember that there would be children. Let us remember too that the future will come because eventually life will write the story of Syria. Let us make space for life. Let us all be farmers and let us all tend the land and saw it with the good seeds of knowledge, awareness, understanding, compassion, while helping all those who need help coming our way. This way we can survive the terrible tragedies of the present and become part of the future we are bidding our bridges to cross over to. 9 April
To accept silence is the negation of the resounding words. to accept the absence of beauty is a negation of beauty, to accept the waning of love is a negation of love for love does not wane except in our forgetfulness and foolishness.
Yes there is that which is imperishable
I promise that I shall make that rare and beautiful thing, which was paid for with immeasurable anguish and infinite pain, live and breathe in the freedom of the soaring unbound word. I promise it shall all live beyond our lives in all that is tender, magnificent, graceful and enduring. For that which was made from love and light no human limitations and failings can dim or diminish. I promise it shall be kept whole and perfect in the holiness of poetry and the spledour of the creative word. We die but our voices do not; we forget but our poems will not; we weaken and bend, but our songs are born to weave their music into that which is imperishable because it is of the stuff of the universe. 13 Jan.
Alisar Iram: detail from a painting
Death of victims
To me death, the death of any victim is personal. End of conversation.
If we Can’t bring ourselves to refuse to condone the death of all the innocent people involved instead of being selective, I call this moral anaemia.
The whole world is less because of the murder of Aleppo. 5 April
Suicides and nihilism
It is easier for the young to die because they have not lived long enough to value life despite its store of suffering. The young do not have enough experience to combat the desire to die instead of trying to solve that which is hurting them intolerably. Nihilism is a way out of the complexities of life. You cannot solve the riddle so you destroy it together with yourself. You end the world which you have come to hate and despise. There is nothing so sudden in human actions. They brew and brew in the subconscious, and then they explode, indeed like a dormant volcano. April 6
Naming our pain
When you are stretched beyond your endurance, beyond almost redemption, you have to speak out. You sin against yourself and the other if you do not speak out. If you do not name your pain, if you do not name your unbearable suffering you create a hole in the consciousness of the world. It is a great lack of trust not to tell the truth of your feelings while it is an act of faith to express the depth and the anguish of what you feel. You do that not to blame for blame achieves nothing and it is destructive. You do this because you expect the others to be brave enough and noble enough to shoulder the truth. 20 March
Remaking the world
What should we think of those whom we remake the world in order to save and nurture when all they do is destroy that by which we live, the beauty that is the light of our souls, the beauty that made us remake the world for them? 9 April
Cruelty will always come back to haunt us. We can only free people who have suffered cruelty by kindness, tenderness and compassion or trey will remain bound to the act of cruelty forever. 12 April
اعيش في المنساة
المنساة تتناغم مع الملهاة والمأساة
ولكنها ليست ماساة ولا ملهاة
لانها ثقب اسود في الكون
هوة في الزمان والمكان
انا اعيش في المنساة
البحر لايهمس في الروح
النورلا يلمس القلب
البوم لا يناجي القمر
والقصص تذبل وتتكسر
لان الراوية غائبة
لان الراوية محجوبة
كقرص القمر محجوبة
اعيش في المنساة
تهيم الطيور من حولي
كانحسار الروح محجوبة
المنساة ملحمة منسية
كل قصة فيها منساة
تروي ملحمة الملحمات
سفر الخراب Destruction
وجاء في سفر الخراب: دمرت البلاد وعمها الخراب ودنس حجرها وسويت معابدها وصروحها بالتراب ونعقت غربانها وناحت البوم في اطلالها وتناوحت الاحزان والالام والمصائب فيها ولم يعد يسمع بها ضحكة طفل او همسة امراة اذ هربوا وتاهوا في المعمورة. ولم يبق فيها الا رجال تائهون في البراري سلب الهول عقولهم
“according to Aristotle, a purifying of the emotions that is brought about in the audience of a tragic drama through the evocation of intense fear and pity “.
If tragic feelings and intense pain is followed by cathartic emotions…if the suffering does not kill us spiritually but leads to purification and the purging of hate and resentment…if the Medusas are defeated and we are not made after the image of terrible dissipating anguish, then we can lift up our heads and smile, then we can walk towards the new life. 25 March
We take refuge in poetry and image making in order to achieve catharsis, in order not to despair. I have found out that churning beauty out of the wreckage of the soul is the only salvation we have.
The road back to humanity
At the start of the road of suffering and along the road of suffering and at the end of the road of suffering, I have learnt that sects, creeds, beliefs, ideologies, ethnic religious and national divides do not really exist because humanity alone exists. I have learnt, and realized, it has dawned on me and illuminated my insight, my consciousness, my intuition and my perceptiveness and discerning heart and mind that the true quest is the quest for our humanity, the human in us, that this Revolution as I see it is eventually our road back to humanity
By Alisar Iram
A short poem
If I can vanish into the heart of ten thousand flowers
And listen to their looms weaving ten thousand colours
My gentle sorrow will sing to them for one thousand hours
The wrongness of things
I cannot stop writing or questioning. Why do I have to do that? Because I believe there is something wrong. There is something wrong fundamentally, lethally, sacrilegiously wrong. Something is wrong…wrong…wrong and the wrongness of it is making me wrong myself. About 500,000000 years ago life started on earth in the sea. Then life crawled from the sea to land. That was the beginning of the explosion of life in years to come in all its glory and complexity, that was the beginning of the kingdom of life. That is what is wrong with me. My life which is 500,000000 old is screaming within me at the destruction of life and what life creates. The wrongness is all around us and has invaded our beings demanding we put things right, we undo the wrongness. The balance is broken and the gates between life and death are wide open instating the law of annihilation and extinction. It is wrong to kill Syria…..it is wrong…it is wrong.
This morning I have learnt more about the inimitable lovely human being that father France was. It is the story of a beautiful human being which reminded me of the story of another beautiful human being: Father Paolo. I felt enriched and my soul felt like flying to follow Father Francis on his great and final journey in order to say to him before the immensity of the mysterious unknown claims him: Don’t worry Father Francis, on onward we shall go as you wished us to do, onward we shall push our way through the darkness seeking the shores of light, the shores of compassion and togetherness. Peace be with you; journey well into peace. Your love shall always stay with Homs
The tears of the tulip by Alisar Iram. For Father Francis
PS. Onward was a favourite term of Father Frans. He used it to encourage the young people when he accompanied them on journeys of discovery and understanding in Syria
Why can’t people understand that not to sacrifice is the answer, for nothing good will come out of the sacrificial. Goodness is inviolate and whole. It does not demand sacrifices. Goodness is only glorified by the good deed, by the good love and the good will and above all compassion. Nothing good came of sacrificing Iphigenia to the gods because she was innocent.I do not believe in sacrificing one human being in order to save another or save a cause. It makes a mockery out of the concept of sacrifice. Besides who are we to decide who and who isn’t worthy of the sacrifice. Even when God accepted the sacrifice of Abel he made of Cain a killer.
هذا الصباح اريد ان اسمي نفسي لانني بدون اسم
اسمي هذا السلام الجميل الذي سيكون
اسمي هذا الحب العميق الذي مُرغ بالتراب
ولكنه ما يجعل الكون وطنا
اسمي هذا الخير الذي لن يدميه العبث
اسمي هذا الحق الجليل الذي به نعيش
اسمي تلك الرحمة التي تسمو على سجون الصمت
اسمي تقوله الرياح وتنشده الطيور وضمير الانسان
اسمي لا يرد الاساءة بالاساءة بل يبتسم بطفولة
لمن يحب ان يكرهني
اسمي من روح الروح ومن روح الحياة ومن روح الروح
الذي لن يقتلوه
بعد ايام سيقوم المسيح
وساقول المسيح قام حقا قام
وعندها سيقوم اسمي على شفتي هذا المسيح
البهي العذب الذي قام
واذ يتنفس ويتنهد ستتناول فراشة بيضاء اسمي
وتطير به فيلتقطه البلبل وينشده نهارا
ويودعه في همسات البحر ليلا
Gouache and pastels on paper by Alisar Iram
My name is
This morning I wish to name myself
For I have no name
My name is the eloquent peace to be
My name is that deep love that was trampled on
But by which the universe is made our home
My name is the goodness that will not be slain
My name is the hallowed truth by which we survive
My name is the compassion that will not be confined
Or held in bondage.
My name is called by the winds and the waterfalls
It is whispered in the immemorial depths of conscience
My name will not reward transgression with trasgrission
But will smile innocently at those who hate me
My name is woven from the soul of all things
From the soul of being
And from the spirit of love which cannot be destroyed.
Christ will rise soon and I shall say
Truly he has risen
It is then that my name will rise too
Lingering on the lips of Christ
The beautiful sweet Christ who has risen.
As he sighs and breathes
My name will fly on the wings of a white butterfly
To be sung by the nightingale at sunrise
And murmured by the sea at sunset.
By Alisar Iram
At the end of the road
What we find at the end of the road is ourselves and all that makes this self, the earth that bore us and the dreams that have sustained us and all those who have cherished us.
All people whoever they are will be what they make of themselves. There is nothing static in being human: either walk forward and evolve or stagnate. At the end of the road the Syrians will find themselves and perhaps discover that they have found these selves for the first time.
The Grecian Urn
I woke up thinking about the English poet Keats and his poem the Grecian Urn. An image of its ineffable perfection floated in my mind, for I woke with a thirst for flawless beauty. I saw it in my mind’s eye though I had to look up the poem to remember the words. The words rang like a silver bell in my thoughts:
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
So exquisitely simple, so fraught with affirmation.
Then I sailed up the poem to read:
“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;”
I thought to myself, perhaps it is better to be the unheard music, the invisible spirit that sings the unheard sweet tune. Whatever we do, we cannot get rid of the inner melody, the unheard music. Truth is beauty and beauty is the unheard, exquisite song of our being. Beauty and the truth within us are the moral law within us, Kant’s moral law.
Yes, my fiend, I am sad because of the worm inside the perfect apple, because of the crack that can travel up the Grecian Urn and destroy its perfect proportions.
Porcelain pot, decorated with underglazes by Alisar Iram
In the beginning was my poetry. Then I became many other things. Poetry comes back to me in times of upheavals and pain. Thank you for your appreciation and seeing into the poetry I write. In Arabic, I write seemingly simple poetry which rings with associations and echoes of remote times.
When the world crashes all around me and I am held in the grip of a grief that my flesh cannot tolerate, I sit down and write poetry. More correctly I begin to speak in poetry. Humanity wrote poetry and epics before it wrote in prose. Poetry is nearer to the primordial in us and nearer to our gut reactions. In true poetry, we do not lie because in poetry we speak with the tongue of fire and the tongue of peace, we speak words coming from the beating heart of the universe, the resonant rhythms of our earth. There is a great relationship between poetry and magic or the supernatural if you choose to call it. I have just written a poem which i cannot fully understand because it comes from a deeper place than I can reach.
I gazed at a rock
I gazed at a rose
I knew not
Which was the rose
And which was the rock
Then it seemed to me
That I was the rose
That I was the rock
By Alisar Iram
What the wars destroy, the poets resurrect.
Civilization versus barbarism
The way I see it is that it is a fight to the death between barbarism and civilization in Syria. It takes me back to ten thousand years ago when the settled agricultural man fought against the hunters and won the battle. The marauders of politics and religion, the hunters for booty and loot in all their forms and shapes (including the regime) have converged on the Syrian people, killing, raping, robbing, kidnapping , imprisoning and wasting the country, its history and its integrity. It is civilized man against the hunter and I know who is going to win eventually. 11 Jan.
A giant and not a dwarf.
Thank God because he created me a giant and not a dwarf. And because you might rush to object:
I am of medium height.
I am not conceited or a disciple to self-glorification.
But when you are a giant you are nearer to the blues of heaven, while when you are a dwarf, you do nothing but crawl.
This is a metaphor, so forgive me real dwarfs, I mean no insult. 11 January.
I feel at a loss attempting to find out who has swallowed me. Was I swallowed by the whale? Was I swallowed by the giant Ifrit? Was I gobbled up by the ghoul or the ogre? Was I taken by the great roc to feed me to his children? I must have been swallowed up because I do not find myself anywhere. I have looked for me high and low but in vain. All I know is that my soul is lost wandering, looking for me while I am looking for it. I am terrified to look for it under the debris and wreckage of homes where they lie lifeless because there dies all beauty; truth dies, humanity dies and the moral law dies. Because there poetry dies, the mind dies and my soul dies too.
Roc and Ifrit. detail
متحيرة بدي قول مين بلعني. هل بلعني الحوت؟ هل بلعني المارد؟ هل بلعني الديناصور؟ هل بلعتني امنا الغولة هل بلعني العفريت او اخذني طائر الرخ ليطعم اولاده؟ انا مبلوعة في مكان ما لانني لا اجد نفسي في اي مكان .بحثت وبحثت فلم اجدني. كل ما اعرفه ان روحي تائهة وانها لاتجدني وانني لا اجدها. اخاف ان ابحث عنها تحت الانقاض والحطام لان هنالك يموت كل شيء, يموت الجمال ويموت الحق،وتموت الانسانية ويموت الشعر وتموت الاخلاق وتموت الفلسفة ويموت العقل وتموت روحي.
My heart is heavy with love. My heart is sore with love for those whose hearts were forced into the harshness of untimely burials for they will not be visited by love anymore and will not be able to bless us with theirs. My heart is heavy with love for them, for those whom they are burying alive , for the grey children clothed in dust and and interned in concrete, for the fathers and mothers lost in the belly of greedy death, screaming for their children. My heart is sore within me, choking with smoke and dust but it is growing heavier with love, love of those whom the world has failed to love, the untouchables of Syria.
Test of faith
Sometimes we mourn the passing of something that used to hold our very soul together, but perhaps only illusions pass away while that which is valuable and truly deathless never passes away. It is a test of faith.
The personal and universal in suffering
It is time to get out of the prison of the personal and embrace the purifying ennobling freedom of the universal. Cogitation, remorse, regrets and shredding the self are futile practices and might lead to bareness of thoughts and emotions. It is only when we combine our private sorrows with those of the multitudes, with humanity in the grip of the nightmare of pain that we begin to see our path again and the doors stand open for us to pass into another level of awareness and responsibility
By Alisar Iram
Present in their absence
There are some people who are present most in their absence…there are some people who though hidden will light the world…there are some people who though they are deprived of love, their due, will spread love throughout the world and spread it again until the very stars in heaven will sing a song of rare beauty and gleam in the darkness of the universe. Move aside when the giants walk the earth for they are there to save the earth. Or haven’t you heard that love is our only saving grace?
We fight desperately for love to prevail for the triumph of love means the triumph of all values. Nothing defeats the souls as the death of love. The survival of beauty, truth, goodness, courage, altruism, justice and compassion are all dependent on the survival of love. Love is not a weakness. Love is the heroism of our souls, the greatest epic we can ever write with our lives. though we die trying to do so.
The ability to love
Whatever happens and no matter how the world treats us, we must never regret love and friendship. for in the first place the ability to love is the greatest of gifts. And some of us live by the law of love because it is the noblest of human feelings. Love moves in mysterious ways, but wherever it moves we must follow though we suffer for it beyond our endurance. In love of our fellow human beings, we fulfil our highest potential and in love of all that lives and sustains life, we sing the song of the earth and listen to the anthem of creation. Love does not accept the limitations imposed upon it by our human fallibility, because if there is anything divine in us, love is. 11 Jan. 14
دع الحب يسمو على الالم وتهاويل العذاب .دع الحب يعانق الالم ويهدهده حتى يستسلم للسلام. دعوا الحب يكون اعظم من الكره.دعوا الحب يهب قبلة الحياة بوداعة وعذوبة ويلمس بشفتيه ثرى سوريا واراضي سوريا وشعب سوريا. دع الحب يفرد اجنحة الشفاء ويضم اليه الصغار ويمنحهم حرما من لديه كي تلتئم جراحاتهم وتندمل اقدارهم. دع الحب يطوق بذراعيه ارتعاشات المسنين التائهين ويهبهم دفء البيوت الحانية. اواه، دع االحب ينفذ خلال الانقاض والحطام ويجمع اليه الاجساد الممزقة والاضلاع المبتورة ويواريها في محراب من الرحمة لا يمسه فناء، دعوا الحب يرفع مدننا المقوضة الهالكة، وجوامعنا وكنائسنا وبيوتنا ودورنا وصروحنا وتاريخنا، دع الحب يحييها بسلام وبهاء. وآه، دعوا الحب يرمم روحي ويرمم ارواحكم لاننا كنا الشهود على وحاملي الشهادة لما هو اعظم من الشر، واحلك من الخطيئة واشد هولا من اللعنة الابدية وافدح عذابا من جهنم. ليكن الحب معنا وعلينا وحولنا, ليكن القادر والمحيط…..اليسار
Let love be greater than pain and the terror of suffering. let it hold pain in its arms and sing it to sleep peacefully. Let love be mightier than hate. Let love softly softly breathe the kiss of life and touch with its lips of compassion the Syrian earth, the Syrian lands and the Syrian people. Let love enfold with its glorious wings of healing the tortured fractured torn lives of the young and give them sanctuary. Let love hold the shaking starving trembling old men and women and give them the warmth of pitying homes. O, let love go deep under the rubble and debris and collect the shattered limbs and broken bodies of our people and bury them in a niche of impregnable mercy. Let love raise our devastated ruined cities, churches, mosques, monuments, houses and dwellings, let love raise them in beauty and peace. O, let love heal my soul and your souls for we have born witness to that which is more than evil, darker than sin, more accursed than hell and more terrible than eternal damnation. Let love be with us, upon us and all enveloping. Let it be Omnipotent, all-powerful. 14 Feb.