The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem, THE ARGUMENT:
“Passage from India. Passage to the Americas. Borges opens the door. Walt Whitman captains the Persona back from the “streams of the Indus and the Ganges,” “circumnavigation.” Pacific blue. Octavio Paz, a shape-shifting jaguar, and Teotihuacan, the Temple of the Moon. Neruda’s “The Heights of Machu Picchu.” Borges, through a mirror, on the pampas, Buenos Aires. Argentina’s “disappeared.” Under the Southern Cross, bitter juntas of the soul. Mirror moon draws in the Persona, onward to another continent.”
“Dante guides the Persona to Chartres Cathedral. Through the labyrinth, the Queen of Heaven. Europe, a hallowed tale, in colored glass. Erasmus returns to London, with the Persona, to outside Westminster Abbey. Browning’s poem “Christmas Eve” opens the door. Tennyson, a cordial reception and then a dressing down. The Federation of the World. Blake and Milton stroll over from St. Margaret’s Church. Milton guides the Persona to what Blake called, so rightly, “Englands green & pleasant land.” A simple parish church, surrounding graves, a church perhaps Thomas Hardy had restored, in need again of his services. A prayer. And the Lady of the Lake. Excalibur. Arthur returns. An inscription on the shining blade. Wainamoinen, along with Sigurd, Beowulf, and the Valkyries, lift the Persona from the Isle of green to a grove of green, turning toward early fall, as through a swirling tunnel of time, to a birch bench. Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy, along the path, discusses his beliefs, mourns his mistakes, grieves for Russia’s collapse into the crevasse. Two young poets swept away into the gulag emerge to carry the Persona from Russia, with Hadji Murad, heading south.”
“A house in Konya, Turkey, ancient Iconium, where St. Paul preached the Gospel. Around and around. Ethereal music and chanting. Another world. Rumi longing for the Beloved, the scent of her tresses, through fields of flowers to a riverbank of reeds. Attar and a soaring flock of birds fly the Persona, from the plain of Konya, that Valley of Search, to another plane, through Seven Valleys of the Soul, down into India and the plain of Agra. Leaving the Persona in Emperor Akbar’s city of Fatehpur Sikri, before the Ibadat Khana, the House of Worship, on the Pachisi Courtyard. Akbar’s court poet Faizi receives the Persona, along with many poet mystics and Sufis of India. Persuaded by Tagore, given the trials of the time, Rahman Baba, an Afghan Pashtun, comes down from his mountain village to confer with the Poet of the Moon. Evoking the majesty of human history, Lord Alfred Tennyson extols Akbar’s dream. The many oceans mingle. The dancing girls on the Pachisi Courtyard.”
The Mughal emperor’s Pachisi Courtyard. In front of the Ibadat Khana, House of Worship.
Akbar’s court poets Faizi and Urfi receive the Persona. Rabindranath Tagore, Amir Khosrow, Kabir, Bulleh Shah, Lalan, and Sarmad, the wild Persian-Jewish convert to Sufism, dressed like a Jain. The mystics and Sufis of India mix and consult. Vyasa, Valmiki, and Tulsidas look on. Persuaded by Tagore, given the trials of the time, Rahman Baba, an Afgani Pashtun, comes down from his mountain village to confer with the poet from the moon. Satya Pir, Dihlawi, Fani Kashmiri, Brahman, Panapati. Evoking the majesty of human history, Lord Alfred Tennyson extols Akbar’s dream.
The many oceans mingle. The dancing girls on the Pachisi Courtyard.
Attar. The Conference of the Birds. Seven Valleys.
January 14, 2010.
Attar and a soaring flock of birds lift the Persona, from the plain of Konya, onto another plane. Through Seven Valleys they fly, from Tabriz to Sulaymaniyah; Shiraz and Hafez, to Nishapur, Khorasan, on the Silk Road; Ferdowsi and a tear over Iran; Alexander’s Bactria and Kandahar; down through the Kyber Pass, Seven Valleys of the Soul, down into India and the plain of Agra. Leaving the poet before Emperor Akbar’s city of Fatehpur Sikri, standing alone, before the lake.
ANN ARBOR—On September 22, 29, and October 6, the theatre company, Apollo’s Troupe, will stage the theater adaptation of the poem, The Parliament of Poets, written by Michigan poet Frederick Glaysher and published in 2012 by Earthrise Press. Continue reading →