Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review of "Eulogy" By Lecturer Muhammad Ehtesham of Edwardes College

Lecturer Muhammad Ehtesham of Edwardes College, Peshawar, was kind enough to review/critique a poem of mine titled "Eulogy" published on Women for One. I am truly indebted to him. He not only has insight, wisdom and is learned, but is by far, the most knowledgeable mind I have met regarding literature. 

The poem is published on --> Women for One  and Rebelle Society & Black Elephant

Spoken word audio is above and on --> Soundcloud  

 Review of Susan Marie’s "Eulogy"

The voice of the divine – so transcendent yet anthropomorphized – is heard singing from a mountain of the “grandeur” of female spirituality and intellect. Susan Marie’s Eulogy has the voice of the woman Ubermensch that appropriates the tone of masculine assertion hence subverting the way power is seen.  Yet the tone is far from feminine itself. This power is the life-force, the voice of an animating spirit.

The duplicity of the female voice, one from the mountain and the other mediating is an “unapologetic” fragmentation of the consciousness that is “magnificent” yet “shrieking”; “unabashed” with all the vulnerabilities of nakedness.

Her brow wet
with brine,
upturned to the most holy sky,
arms raised
in supplication
to a dying world,
all that is.

The Ubermensch transcends suffering through suffering. And while the stanza is intertextual with:

    Here the stone images
    Are raised; here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man's hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.

    Is it like this
    In death's other kingdom
    Waking alone
    At the hour when we are
    Trembling with tenderness
    Lips that would kiss
    Form prayers to broken stone.

  - T.S Eliot; The Hollow Men

Yet the voice is far from hollow and rather than being an empty spectator to the death of man as a whole, the voice in Eulogy is messianic.

The “she” sits “cross-legged” (not cross-armed) in “brazen” sexuality in an earthly transcendence flaunting “gods” and “goddesses” yet quite beyond sexuality in the sense that the voice like Gaia encapsulates the whole of the Earth in it: all the “desire” and “madness.”

The Paradox of desire and madness makes the voice a neutral whole in its fragmentation.

Her howling
becomes one with the wind,
distress signals to the raiment,
the ancient raiment
that poets and sages
sat under and above
for millenniums.

The masculine image of “ancient poets and sages” is problematized by the female Ubermensch as she “howls” distress into the androcentricity of history.

Throughout the poem, the body parts of the “she” that are foregrounded are her legs. There’s a tinge of subverting the androcentricity of society and history through complicating spirituality and sexuality.

A eulogy to the past,
a welcome to the present,
an embrace to the future.

What it holds
is of no concern,
for she knows
where home is,
away from this society,
away from the busy-ness of life,
away from monotony
and dramatics,
away from this life
with triviality.

She is here
waiting for you,
to set you free
from chains
you have bound yourself with.

Whip your shoulders back,
allow them to fall.
Feel the weight

Grab her hand, willing,
pure and desirous.

Show her
how your soul
show her
how your eyes light up,
show her how you have released
from your very soul,
all the toxicity
of existence.

Henceforth, she becomes the voice of universal emancipation from what holds back humanity -- from all of its triviality. She becomes a part of all of us – in a very Jungian way. She becomes that part of human psyche that is female – the one that liberates; the one that nurtures and nourishes; the transcendental; the spiritual; the purgation of all that is “rotten.”

Spirituality is feminized and femininity is celebrated as a universal part of Nature – if not the whole of it, rather than a mere gender.

The present is to be captured, to be realized in a holistic experience when all the fragments of self-hood come together in a union, glued by the collective anima of being. This part of the human self is celebrated as a cleansing, invigorating, pulsating vibrancy -- the realization of which shall cause one to:

Sing of the grace bestowed upon you
for you are born to be supreme,
you are born with the ability to fly,
you are born with the gift to see
with six senses,

This force that is pushing man beyond his limits – so to speak, blowing up possibilities where he can see with six or seven senses, has less to do with fact and more to do with the force of language.

Muhammad Ehtesham
Lecturer in English
Edwardes College Peshawar, Pakistan

No comments: