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Thread: "The Golden Journey to Samarkhand" - An invitation to discussion/analysis

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    "The Golden Journey to Samarkhand" - An invitation to discussion/analysis

    THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKHAND - James Elroy Flecker

    THE GATES OF DAMASCUS
    Four great gates has the city of Damascus,
    And four Grand Wardens, on their spears reclining,
    All day long stand like tall stone men
    And sleep on the towers when the moon is shining.

    This is the song of the East Gate Warden
    When he locks the great gate and smokes in his garden.


    Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear,
    The Portal of Bagdad am I, the Doorway of Diarbekir.
    The Persian Dawn with new desires may net the flushing mountain spires:
    But my gaunt buttress still rejects the suppliance of those mellow fires.
    Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing. Have you heard
    That silence where the birds are dead yet something pipeth like a bird?
    Pass not beneath! Men say there blows in stony deserts still a rose
    But with no scarlet to her leaf - and from whose heart no perfume flows.
    Wilt thou bloom red where she buds pale, thy sister rose? Wilt thou not fail
    When noonday flashes like a flail? Leave, nightingale, the caravan!
    Pass then, pass all! "Bagdad!" ye cry, and down the billows of blue sky
    Ye beat the bell that beats to hell, and who shall thrust ye back? Not I.
    The Sun who flashes through the head and paints the shadows green and red, -
    The Sun shall eat thy fleshless dead, O Caravan, O Caravan!
    And one who licks his lips for thirst with fevered eyes shall face in fear
    The palms that wave, the streams that burst, his last mirage, O Caravan!
    And one - the bird-voiced Singing-man - shall fall behind thee, Caravan!
    And God shall meet him in the night, and he shall sing as best he can.
    And one the Bedouin shall slay, and one, sand-stricken on the way
    Go dark and blind; and one shall say - "How lonely is the Caravan!"
    Pass out beneath, O Caravan, Doom's Caravan, Death's Caravan!
    I had not told ye, fools, so much, save that I heard your Singing-man.

    This was sung by the West Gate's keeper
    When heaven's hollow dome grew deeper.



    I am the gate toward the sea: O sailor men, pass out from me!
    I hear you high on Lebanon, singing the marvels of the sea.
    The dragon-green, the luminous, the dark, the serpent- haunted sea,
    The snow-besprinkled wine of earth, the white-and-blue-flower foaming sea.
    Beyond the sea are towns with towers, carved with lions and lily flowers,
    And not a soul in all those lonely streets to while away the hours.
    Beyond the towns, an isle where, bound, a naked giant bites the ground:
    The shadow of a monstrous wing looms on his back: and still no sound.
    Beyond the isle a rock that screams like madmen shouting in their dreams,
    From whose dark issues night and day blood crashes in a thousand streams.
    Beyond the rock is Restful Bay, where no wind breathes or ripple stirs,
    And there on Roman ships, they say, stand rows of metal mariners.
    Beyond the bay in utmost West old Solomon the Jewish King
    Sits with his beard upon his breast, and grips and guards his magic ring:
    And when that ring is stolen, he will rise in outraged majesty,
    And take the World upon his back, and fling the World beyond the sea.


    This is the song of the North Gate's master,
    Who singeth fast, but drinketh faster.


    I am the gay Aleppo Gate: a dawn, a dawn and thou art there:
    Eat not thy heart with fear and care, O brother of the beast we hate!
    Thou hast not many miles to tread, nor other foes than fleas to dread;
    Homs shall behold thy morning meal and Hama see thee safe in bed.
    Take to Aleppo filigrane, and take them paste of apricots,
    And coffe tables botched with pearl, and little beaten brassware pots:
    And thou shalt sell thy wares for thrice the Damascene retailers' price,
    And buy a fat Armenian slave who smelleth odorous and nice.
    Some men of noble stock were made: some glory in the murder-blade:
    Some praise a Science or an Art, but I like honourable Trade!
    Sell them the rotten, buy the ripe! Their heads are weak; their pockets burn.
    Aleppo men are mighty fools. Salaam Aleikum! Safe return!

    This is the song of the South Gate Holder,
    A silver man, but his song is older


    I am the Gate that fears no fall: the Mihrab of Damascus wall,
    The bridge of booming Sinai: the Arch of Allah all in all.
    O spiritual pilgrim rise: the night has grown her single horn:
    The voices of the souls unborn are half adream with Paradise.
    To Meccah thou hast turned in prayer with aching heart and eyes that burn:
    Ah Hajji, whither wilt thou turn when thou art there, when thou art there?
    God be thy guide from camp to camp: God be thy shade from well to well:
    God grant beneath the desert stars thou hear the Prophet's camel bell.
    And God shall make thy body pure, and give thee knowledge to endure
    This ghost-life's piercing phantom-pain, and bring thee out to Life again.
    And God shall make thy soul a Glass where eighteen thousand ćons pass,
    And thou shalt see the gleaming Worlds as men see dew upon the grass.
    And son of Islam, it may be that thou shalt learn at journey's end
    Who walks thy garden eve on eve, and bows his head, and calls thee Friend.


    THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND

    PROLOGUE

    I

    We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage
    And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,
    We Poets of the proud old lineage
    Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why, -
    What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales
    Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
    Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales,
    And winds and shadows fall towards the West:
    And there the world's first huge white-bearded kings
    In dim glades sleeping, murmur in their sleep,
    And closer round their breasts the ivy clings,
    Cutting its pathway slow and red and deep.

    II
    And how beguile you? Death has no repose
    Warmer and deeper than the Orient sand
    Which hides the beauty and bright faith of those
    Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    And now they wait and whiten peaceably,
    Those conquerors, those poets, those so fair:
    They know time comes, not only you and I,
    But the whole world shall whiten, here or there;

    When those long caravans that cross the plain
    With dauntless feet and sound of silver bells
    Put forth no more for glory or for gain,
    Take no more solace from the palm-girt wells.

    When the great markets by the sea shut fast
    All that calm Sunday that goes on and on:
    When even lovers find their peace at last,
    And Earth is but a star, that once had shone.

    EPILOGUE

    At the Gate of the Sun, Bagdad, in olden time


    THE MERCHANTS :
    Away, for we are ready to a man!
    Our camels sniff the evening and are glad.
    Lead on, O Master of the Caravan:
    Lead on the Merchant-Princes of Bagdad.

    THE CHIEF DRAPER :
    Have we not Indian carpets dark as wine,
    Turbans and sashes, gowns and bows and veils,
    And broideries of intricate design,
    And printed hangings in enormous bales?

    THE CHIEF GROCER :
    We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,
    Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,
    And such sweet jams meticulously jarred
    As God's own Prophet eats in Paradise.

    THE PRINCIPAL JEWS :
    And we have manuscripts in peacock styles
    By Ali of Damascus; we have swords
    Engraved with storks and apes and crocodiles,
    And heavy beaten necklaces, for Lords.


    THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
    But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
    You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?

    THE PILGRIMS :
    We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
    Always a little further: it may be
    Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
    Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
    White on a throne or guarded in a cave
    There lives a prophet who can understand
    Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
    Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    THE CHIEF MERCHANT :
    We gnaw the nail of hurry. Master, away!

    ONE OF THE WOMEN :
    O turn your eyes to where your children stand.
    Is not Bagdad the beautiful? O stay!

    THE MERCHANTS in chorus :
    We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

    AN OLD MAN :
    Have you not girls and garlands in your homes,
    Eunuchs and Syrian boys at your command?
    Seek not excess: God hateth him who roams!

    THE MERCHANTS :
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    A PILGRIM WITH A BEAUTIFUL VOICE :
    Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells
    When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
    And softly through the silence beat the bells
    Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.

    A MERCHANT :
    We travel not for trafficking alone:
    By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
    For lust of knowing what should not be known
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
    Open the gate, O watchman of the night!

    THE WATCHMAN :
    Ho, travellers, I open. For what land
    Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?

    THE MERCHANTS with a shout
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.
    The Caravan passes through the gate

    THE WATCHMAN consoling the women
    What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.
    Men are unwise and curiously planned.

    A WOMAN :
    They have their dreams, and do not think of us.

    VOICES OF THE CARAVAN : in the distance, singing
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    Last edited by sundarramchand; 03-29-2014 at 12:03 PM. Reason: Change in formatting

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    This poem is part of a play "Hassan" by the same writer. Ironically, Samarkhand and Central Asia occur only at the end of the poem and that too incidentally. But the poem can stand alone because of the themes tackled and the imagery evoked. There are 3 separate sections which usually do not feature together, the Song of the Damascus Gates, the prologue and the epilogue which is the most well known. The poem contains many points / counterpoints , twists and turns meriting further analysis.

    The poems starts with Damascus gates but is set in baghdad. The pilgrims seem to have passed through the east gate of Damascus and as the East Gate warden warns, they seem to be propelled further to Samarkhand and beyond.

    Also, the deserts that the Warden warns them do not seem like the deserts of Arabia or Jordan but the deserts and mountains of Iran and Central Asia. In fact, the route from just east of Baghdad to Samarkhand which is mirrored in the route from Samarkhand to Kashgar and beyond to the Gobi is pretty rugged and passes through high and dry country interspersed with many centers of civilization, which is what Central Asia is all about (which can be said to begin from the Eastern Border of turkey and the northern border of Iran to the Gobi)

    There is also a counterpoint where the sea is mentioned. There is more than a hint of mockery , including the repetitive nature of the chorus of merchants but as we shall see later, this is probably a device to add dramatic effect almost as if the merchants are preparing themselves mentally.

    And again, the images evoked seems to be characteristic of the region which we know as Central Asia

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    Some major observations :

    - The poems seem to touch upon the essence of Central Asia and its significance on the psyche,
    (akin to the feeling of a boy looking at the strange / haunting lights from the almost mythical mysterious city on the mountain-top and growing up to explore it and find stranger mysteries of youth and manhood)

    - The need for relationships to be interspersed with significant historical developments so that there is a synergy between the intimate and the grand , the subjective and the individual (the lack of which the poet seems to be bemoaning in the prologue)

    - The poem seems to touch upon or at least hint at the essence of buddhist and other asian philosophies in the sense that there is constant evolution and continuity and hence the quest for meaning is never complete. So there can be no permanent peace and hence no permanent death either. So, instead of heaven, the poem seems to hint at a journey filled with moments of ecstasy (the mountains and vales of High Asia) but essentially consisting of human activities and the constant search for purpose, a kind of heaven on earth which seems to be close to the concept of "Nirvana". This is reinforced by the fact that the prologue which is a kind of acceptance of age and decay is followed by the journey of the caravan which is a journey ostensibly for the purposes of trade but acts as a kind of exploration / pilgrimage

    Even here, the age does not refer to old age but an "eternal twilight" and the whitening possibly seems to refer to a kind of uniformization but seems to hint at breaking out of that.

    Also, another hint is that with more refinement, at both individual and societal levels, activities tend to be for purposes other than glory or gain and more to do with strengthening relationships at multiple levels and exploring the richness and complexity of human relationships and the possibility of human achievement. In a sense, this means a journey to deeper / subterranean / subconscious levels of thought and activity



    The poem seems to hint at reclamation and reconstruction and a movement away from the sea in geographic terms. Though the poet seems to be mocking at the notion of a large civilized city deep in the interior of a continent, after a moments reflection, we realize that finally, at the end of any cycle, everything is measured in human terms and though oceanic exploration holds its fascination for the youth , beyond a certain age, one tends to be more drawn towards the mysteries of life, the mysteries and romance of relationships and the haunting memories of bygone empires and civilizations evoked by their ruins

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    Also, i seem to feel that for all his warnings, the Warden of the eastern gate seems to be saying "D'ont listen to me, take this gate. For all its dangers, you will emerge wiser and happier" and urging them to an almost "sufi"st jorney And as we see later, the caravan has not heeded his warnings

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    ronically, the play, though complex in plot and containing many dramatic elements, does not seem to cover the complexity of human character till the finale culminating in the poem. Could this be due to translation from an earlier source ?

    Also, the play mentions Haroun Rashid which seems to set it in 7th Century AD when Samarkhand was yet to realize its full glory or rather was set between two periods of greatness, that of the pre-christ era and that of the Tamerlane era and beyond

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    Other elements adding to the confusion :

    - The Persian Dawn with new desires may net the flushing mountain spires. But my gaunt buttress still rejects the suppliance of those mellow fires.

    The rugged landscape of Eastern Turkey and Persia are anything but mellow. But possibly, as mentioned further in the poem, the initial part of the journey is possibly deceptively pleasant and such hopes may in fact prove to be a mirage.

    He mentions something about Beduoins but the region outlined is not the usual abode of beduoins (even accounting for their wandering) but that of Turcoman , iranian and other assorted tribes (including Kurds etc).

    Also, Diyerbakir is to the north of Baghdad and is at quite a distance and not to the east. In fact, Diyarbekir is to the east of Anatolia.

    Is this mixup meant to reflect the confusion of the traveller or does it indicate the feelings of the poet ?

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    In Retrospect, Samarkhand (and Central Asia in general) as represented in the poem is more than a place. There is a "Samarkhand (or Bukhara or Kashgar for that matter )of the psyche") representing a mixture of wilderness (on reflection, a somewhat gentle, self-indulgent and even delicate / decadent wilderness) and sophistication, the mystery and romance of travel / adventure the with the cosy warmth of the "chai-khana" or the tavern

    As mentioned earlier, the poem seems to represent the somewhat spencerian idea of cycles in the sense that the travelers initially seek to break new ground and come to a city that , to their eyes, is not that different from the wilderness around it and in due course , discover the whole city teeming with life , develop new relationships, rekindle old ones and also help develop the city.

    Finally, the cycle is complete when they feel the urge to move on and again rejuvenate themselves.

    It could also be that they develop a new perspective on the places that they have left behind and look at them with new , "enchanted " eyes

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    But of course, in the final analysis, the history of the place and the geographical and socio-cultural landscape matter quite a bit and there are very few places that can be said to evoke the "Samarkhand of the psyche' (just as there are very few places that can evoke the "London or New York of the psyche") which is what makes each city so uhnique and fascinating

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    I suppose, in the above case, the journey becomes the destination . marked by milestones of memorable moments, which in a sense is what nirvana seems to be all about, ie, a continuous journey of evolution marked by moments of discovery and joy !!!

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    The 3 different sections, the prologue, the section about the gates of Damascus and the epilogue seem to reflect 3 different stages in the journey of discovery / self discovery at both individual and collective levels.
    The prologue seems to contain elements of mockery in the sense of the reference to “Samarkhand” standing for unknown frontiers such as the oceans or even space. (“Earth is but a star that once had shown “ could possibly refer to inter-planetary travel and colonization.) Possibly, the poet seems to hint at the possibility of journeys to Samarkhand actually referring to journeys of exploration.
    But in the initial poem itself, there seems to be an element of double irony in a sense. That is , it seems to be equally likely for “transoceanic travel” to stand for journeys to far off places such as Samarkhand as the reverse.
    The second section seeks to map out what lies in store for the travelers in the various directions.
    The culmination , the epilogue seems to mark the realization that Journeys of exploration are indeed wonderful and commendable but they need to be interspersed both with inner exploration and exploration of relationships , that is the mingling of wilderness and civilization, of remoteness, ruggedness and culture which is what the Cities of Central Asia seem to symbolize.
    Also, the initial poem itself seems to hint that these journeys could have metaphysical/ethreal dimensions and symbolize exploration of what lies beyond our earthly existence.
    But as the epilogue suggests, these journeys too have to be grounded in the human aspect , that is relationships etc for it to retain significance. It seems to hint at the paradox that ambition could actually make one more vulnerable / human (Links between the historical and psychological)
    In that sense, these journeys seem to explore what makes us more human and yet sublime.
    Also, the west was aware that the “journeys to Samrakhand” or “journeys to India” were unlike Journeys of exploration of the New World / Of Africa etc since the west had not been in contact with the latter and had not heard of any great Civilization in the Americas or Africa while the former was known to the civilized world and yet was remote (More in the case of Samarkhand than India). In that sense, there were layers and nuances to the former and hence inherently more complex in human terms

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    Rearranged version of the poem with the prologue coming first

    At last , a change that was long overdue. And apologies to the readers for the inconvenience, if any !


    THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKHAND - James Elroy Flecker



    PROLOGUE

    I

    We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage
    And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,
    We Poets of the proud old lineage
    Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why, -
    What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales
    Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
    Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales,
    And winds and shadows fall towards the West:
    And there the world's first huge white-bearded kings
    In dim glades sleeping, murmur in their sleep,
    And closer round their breasts the ivy clings,
    Cutting its pathway slow and red and deep.

    II
    And how beguile you? Death has no repose
    Warmer and deeper than the Orient sand
    Which hides the beauty and bright faith of those
    Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    And now they wait and whiten peaceably,
    Those conquerors, those poets, those so fair:
    They know time comes, not only you and I,
    But the whole world shall whiten, here or there;

    When those long caravans that cross the plain
    With dauntless feet and sound of silver bells
    Put forth no more for glory or for gain,
    Take no more solace from the palm-girt wells.

    When the great markets by the sea shut fast
    All that calm Sunday that goes on and on:
    When even lovers find their peace at last,
    And Earth is but a star, that once had shone.





    THE GATES OF DAMASCUS
    Four great gates has the city of Damascus,
    And four Grand Wardens, on their spears reclining,
    All day long stand like tall stone men
    And sleep on the towers when the moon is shining.

    This is the song of the East Gate Warden
    When he locks the great gate and smokes in his garden.

    Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear,
    The Portal of Bagdad am I, the Doorway of Diarbekir.
    The Persian Dawn with new desires may net the flushing mountain spires:
    But my gaunt buttress still rejects the suppliance of those mellow fires.
    Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing. Have you heard
    That silence where the birds are dead yet something pipeth like a bird?
    Pass not beneath! Men say there blows in stony deserts still a rose
    But with no scarlet to her leaf - and from whose heart no perfume flows.
    Wilt thou bloom red where she buds pale, thy sister rose? Wilt thou not fail
    When noonday flashes like a flail? Leave, nightingale, the caravan!
    Pass then, pass all! "Bagdad!" ye cry, and down the billows of blue sky
    Ye beat the bell that beats to hell, and who shall thrust ye back? Not I.
    The Sun who flashes through the head and paints the shadows green and red, -
    The Sun shall eat thy fleshless dead, O Caravan, O Caravan!
    And one who licks his lips for thirst with fevered eyes shall face in fear
    The palms that wave, the streams that burst, his last mirage, O Caravan!
    And one - the bird-voiced Singing-man - shall fall behind thee, Caravan!
    And God shall meet him in the night, and he shall sing as best he can.
    And one the Bedouin shall slay, and one, sand-stricken on the way
    Go dark and blind; and one shall say - "How lonely is the Caravan!"
    Pass out beneath, O Caravan, Doom's Caravan, Death's Caravan!
    I had not told ye, fools, so much, save that I heard your Singing-man.

    This was sung by the West Gate's keeper
    When heaven's hollow dome grew deeper.



    I am the gate toward the sea: O sailor men, pass out from me!
    I hear you high on Lebanon, singing the marvels of the sea.
    The dragon-green, the luminous, the dark, the serpent- haunted sea,
    The snow-besprinkled wine of earth, the white-and-blue-flower foaming sea.
    Beyond the sea are towns with towers, carved with lions and lily flowers,
    And not a soul in all those lonely streets to while away the hours.
    Beyond the towns, an isle where, bound, a naked giant bites the ground:
    The shadow of a monstrous wing looms on his back: and still no sound.
    Beyond the isle a rock that screams like madmen shouting in their dreams,
    From whose dark issues night and day blood crashes in a thousand streams.
    Beyond the rock is Restful Bay, where no wind breathes or ripple stirs,
    And there on Roman ships, they say, stand rows of metal mariners.
    Beyond the bay in utmost West old Solomon the Jewish King
    Sits with his beard upon his breast, and grips and guards his magic ring:
    And when that ring is stolen, he will rise in outraged majesty,
    And take the World upon his back, and fling the World beyond the sea.


    This is the song of the North Gate's master,
    Who singeth fast, but drinketh faster.

    I am the gay Aleppo Gate: a dawn, a dawn and thou art there:
    Eat not thy heart with fear and care, O brother of the beast we hate!
    Thou hast not many miles to tread, nor other foes than fleas to dread;
    Homs shall behold thy morning meal and Hama see thee safe in bed.
    Take to Aleppo filigrane, and take them paste of apricots,
    And coffe tables botched with pearl, and little beaten brassware pots:
    And thou shalt sell thy wares for thrice the Damascene retailers' price,
    And buy a fat Armenian slave who smelleth odorous and nice.
    Some men of noble stock were made: some glory in the murder-blade:
    Some praise a Science or an Art, but I like honourable Trade!
    Sell them the rotten, buy the ripe! Their heads are weak; their pockets burn.
    Aleppo men are mighty fools. Salaam Aleikum! Safe return!

    This is the song of the South Gate Holder,
    A silver man, but his song is older

    I am the Gate that fears no fall: the Mihrab of Damascus wall,
    The bridge of booming Sinai: the Arch of Allah all in all.
    O spiritual pilgrim rise: the night has grown her single horn:
    The voices of the souls unborn are half adream with Paradise.
    To Meccah thou hast turned in prayer with aching heart and eyes that burn:
    Ah Hajji, whither wilt thou turn when thou art there, when thou art there?
    God be thy guide from camp to camp: God be thy shade from well to well:
    God grant beneath the desert stars thou hear the Prophet's camel bell.
    And God shall make thy body pure, and give thee knowledge to endure
    This ghost-life's piercing phantom-pain, and bring thee out to Life again.
    And God shall make thy soul a Glass where eighteen thousand ćons pass,
    And thou shalt see the gleaming Worlds as men see dew upon the grass.
    And son of Islam, it may be that thou shalt learn at journey's end
    Who walks thy garden eve on eve, and bows his head, and calls thee Friend.

    EPILOGUE

    At the Gate of the Sun, Bagdad, in olden time


    THE MERCHANTS :
    Away, for we are ready to a man!
    Our camels sniff the evening and are glad.
    Lead on, O Master of the Caravan:
    Lead on the Merchant-Princes of Bagdad.

    THE CHIEF DRAPER :
    Have we not Indian carpets dark as wine,
    Turbans and sashes, gowns and bows and veils,
    And broideries of intricate design,
    And printed hangings in enormous bales?

    THE CHIEF GROCER :
    We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,
    Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,
    And such sweet jams meticulously jarred
    As God's own Prophet eats in Paradise.

    THE PRINCIPAL JEWS :
    And we have manuscripts in peacock styles
    By Ali of Damascus; we have swords
    Engraved with storks and apes and crocodiles,
    And heavy beaten necklaces, for Lords.


    THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
    But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
    You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?

    THE PILGRIMS :
    We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
    Always a little further: it may be
    Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
    Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
    White on a throne or guarded in a cave
    There lives a prophet who can understand
    Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
    Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    THE CHIEF MERCHANT :
    We gnaw the nail of hurry. Master, away!

    ONE OF THE WOMEN :
    O turn your eyes to where your children stand.
    Is not Bagdad the beautiful? O stay!

    THE MERCHANTS in chorus :
    We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

    AN OLD MAN :
    Have you not girls and garlands in your homes,
    Eunuchs and Syrian boys at your command?
    Seek not excess: God hateth him who roams!

    THE MERCHANTS :
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    A PILGRIM WITH A BEAUTIFUL VOICE :
    Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells
    When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
    And softly through the silence beat the bells
    Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.

    A MERCHANT :
    We travel not for trafficking alone:
    By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
    For lust of knowing what should not be known
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

    THE MASTER OF THE CARAVAN :
    Open the gate, O watchman of the night!

    THE WATCHMAN :
    Ho, travellers, I open. For what land
    Leave you the dim-moon city of delight?

    THE MERCHANTS with a shout
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.
    The Caravan passes through the gate

    THE WATCHMAN consoling the women
    What would ye, ladies? It was ever thus.
    Men are unwise and curiously planned.

    A WOMAN :
    They have their dreams, and do not think of us.

    VOICES OF THE CARAVAN : in the distance, singing
    We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

  12. #12
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Here's a video with Tom O'Bedlam reading the poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7smXvnElts

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    Yes, that is the one that often features separately. The epilogue is the one that is usually referred to as "The Golden Road / Golden Journey to Samarkhand" and prominently features at the end of the play, Hassan/

    At the time of starting this thread, i recollect seeing the three of them together , i think at the end of the play, "Hassan". In any case, the prologue / epilogue feature together as "The Golden Road..." in the collection of poems by James Elroy Flecker. I just saw that the middle section about the Gates of Damascus features as a separate poem "the Gates of Damascus" in the collection of poems by the same author. Though it contains no explicit reference to Samarkhand, it evokes the images of Caravans and travel amidst rugged landscapes that is typically associated with the cities of Central Asia , (especially through the east gate) and does seem to form a unified coherent whole with the above.

    Also, the themes featured in this thread / Poem(s) could possibly be linked to the theme of "Discovering/Creating/Inventing/Re-inventing the 'Other(s)' and hence the 'Self' "

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