Boatman ! Take These Songs From Me



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Painted Reliefs by Masood Hussain


Tanka by Gabriel Rosenstock

A condensed version of the introductory note by Zulfi Ali :

Masood Hussain’s (renowned artist & sculptor from Kashmir)  latest creative endeavor a series of reliefs – uncharacteristically dark and heavy, that portray the grief, pain, distress, and the occasional glimmer of escape, that is the human experience today.  To the viewer’s delight, visible within the collection are delightful signs and symbols that a man pins his hopes on, as he struggles for the amulets, holy writings, prayers, strings tied to the windows of mausoleums, appeals to the holy men for intercedence, penance, and meditation. The series ends, very appropriately, with reliefs that portray the ultimate, the eternal peace, the long quiet slumber of death.

Gabriel Rosenstock, born in postcolonial Ireland, is a bilingual poet, tankaist, haikuist, novelist, playwright, short story writer, translator, and essayist. He also writes for children.
He is a member of Aosdána (the Irish academy of arts and letters) and a recipient of the Tamgha-I-Khidmet medal for services to literature. Rosenstock responds to the extraordinary artwork of Masood Hussain with a sequence of tanka, five-line poems of love, emptiness, and desire. 





beloved, send me a sign
weave it from the threads
of memory and the strands of the future
      so that I can wear it
      if only in my dreams



i longed to hear from you
but silence is better:
to hear a whisper or a sigh
      would shatter everything
      into irretrievable fragments



she is beautiful’
my dance guru said
‘the one you dance for’
     ‘you have seen her?’ I asked
     ‘I see her in your eyes!’



to You I have revealed
the geography of my soul
the rivers and hills
      lakes and valleys
      seas where all my secrets lie



i awoke in another time
and You were gone
i asked the wise and the foolish
           none had ever heard Your name
           no one answered Your description



sing me to sleep, beloved
though I will not sleep
sleep has gone astray
        it has gone to the desert
        in search of itself this night