A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

To be or not to be…

Although I’m both a bookworm and a huge aficionado of all things creative, I just fail to be impressed by poetry. I know, I know, that’s absolutely horrible of me, but I absolutely cannot control it, although I’ve tried.

Anyhow, I have a project due next week and to make a long story short, it’s basically a visual depictation of a poem. Since I do not know much about poetry, I would really appreciate some help here.

I’m looking for a good poem of medium length that preferably gives out a strong emotion(something easy to visualize), but no romantic poems, no case-related poems(ex. women’s rights, Palestinian-Israeli case, etc), and no historical poems.

I would probably most like to work with a poem about identity, control(in the Orwellian sense), alternative spirituality, passion(in a non-romantic sense), etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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  1. in Arabic or in English?

  2. Luai

    One of my favs….from when I was in elementary school…..

    Where The Sidewalk Ends

    By Shell Silverstein
    There is a place where the sidewalk ends
    And before the street begins,
    And there the grass grows soft and white,
    And there the sun burns crimson bright,
    And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
    To cool in the peppermint wind.

    Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
    And the dark street winds and bends.
    Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
    We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow.
    And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
    To the place where the sidewalk ends.

    Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow.
    And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go.
    For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
    The place where the sidewalk ends.

  3. GUYK

    Gravatar Check out the work of Edgar Allen Poe-morbid but good.

  4. foulla

    Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
    And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
    The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

    Dreaming when Dawn’s Left Hand was in the Sky
    I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
    “Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
    “Before Life’s Liquor in its Cup be dry.”

    And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
    The Tavern shouted–“Open then the Door!
    “You know how little while we have to stay,
    “And, once departed, may return no more.”

    Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
    The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
    Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the Bough
    Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

    Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
    And Jamshyd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one knows;
    But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,
    And still a Garden by the Water blows.

    And David’s Lips are lock’t; but in divine
    High piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
    “Red Wine!”—the Nightingale cries to the Rose
    That yellow Cheek of hers to incarnadine.

    Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
    The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
    The Bird of Time has but a little way
    To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

    And look—a thousand Blossoms with the Day
    Woke—and a thousand scatter’d into Clay:
    And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose
    Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.

    But come with old Khayyam, and leave the Lot
    Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot!
    Let Rustum lay about him as he will,
    Or Hatim Tai cry Supper—heed them not.
    Omar Khayyam

  5. Ziad D.

    How about Robert Frost’s stuff? Try this site…

    I remember one of his poems starting with the verse: 2 roads diverged into a forrest…
    but for the life of me I can’t remember the title of the poem… In any case, hope this helps.


  6. Onzlo

    The heavenly breeze comes to this estate,
    I sit with the wine and a lovely mate.
    Why can’t the beggar play the king’s role?
    The sky is the dome, the earth is my state.
    The green grass feels like Paradise;
    Why would I trade this for the garden gate?
    With bricks of wine build towers of love,
    Being bricks of clay is our final fate.
    Seek no kindness of those full of hate,
    People of the mosque with the church debate.
    Don’t badmouth me, don’t blacken my name;
    Only God can, my story narrate.
    Neither Hafiz’s corps, nor his life negate,
    With all his misdeeds, heavens for him wait

  7. Nas

    i love poetry, u shud give it a try. also ive never heard anyone use the word: aficionado to describe themselves so big props on that.

    anyways, i would go for the poetry of Rumi or Haafiz, both persian sufi poets with most of their work being short and spiritual/identity i.e. man’s place in the world.

    i dont remember too many at the top of my head so take the following with a grain of salt as im too lazy too google the grammar…

    “after all this time the sun never says to the earth ‘you owe me’. look what happens to a love like that. it lights the whole sky” – Haafiz.

    “late, by myself, in the boat, of myself. no light and no land anywhere, as cloud-cover thick. I try to stay just above the surface yet i am already under and living within this ocean” – Rumi

    and probably one of my personal favs that talks about who we are vs. who we think we are…

    “yesterday at dwan my friend asked about how long this unconsiosness will go on? you fill yourself with the sharp pain of love rather than its fulfillment. But i said ‘ i cannot get to you, for you are the whole dark and i’m just a single candle! my life is upside down because of you!’ and the friend replied i am ure deepest being so quit talking about wanting me. and i said ‘then what is this restlessness?’ and the friend replied ‘does a drop stay still in the ocean? move with the entirety and with even the smallest particular. be the moisture in the oyster that helps create one pearl’.” – Rumi

    Best of luck

  8. jameed

    how about Dominique’s new poem:

    Farfoura ana, zambi eih?

  9. Jelaluddine Rumi…sufi/ poems.html

    “Love is a Stranger”,

    O you who’ve gone on pilgrimage –
    where are you, where, oh where?
    Here, here is the Beloved!
    Oh come now, come, oh come!
    Your friend, he is your neighbor,
    he is next to your wall –
    You, erring in the desert –
    what air of love is this?
    If you’d see the Beloved’s
    form without any form –
    You are the house, the master,
    You are the Kaaba, you! . . .
    Where is a bunch of roses,
    if you would be this garden?
    Where, one soul’s pearly essence
    when you’re the Sea of God?
    That’s true – and yet your troubles
    may turn to treasures rich –
    How sad that you yourself veil
    the treasure that is yours!

    Hafiz of Shiraz (1230-91) the greatest lyric poet of Persia, who took the poetic form of the ghazal to unparalleled heights of subtlety and beauty.
    Hafiz – Ghazal 44 –

    “The Green Sea of Heaven”
    – Elizabeth T. Gray Jr

    I speak frankly and that makes me happy:
    I am the slave of love, I am free of both worlds.

    I am a bird from heaven’s garden. How do I describe that separation,
    my fall into this snare of accidents?

    I was an angel and highest paradise was my place.
    Adam brought me to this monastery in the city of ruin.

    The hours’ caress, the pool and shade trees of paradise
    were forgotten in the breeze from your alleyway.

    There is nothing on the tablet of my heart but my love’s tall alif.
    What can I do? My master taught me no other letter.

    No astrologer knew the constellations of my fate.
    O lord, when I was born of mother earth which stars were rising?

    Ever since I became a slave at the door of love’s tavern
    sorrows come to me each moment with congratulations.

    The pupil of my eye drains the blood from my heart.
    I deserve it. Why did I give my heart to the darling of others?

    Wipe the tears from Hafiz’s face with soft curls
    or else this endless torrent will uproot me.

  10. Omar

    Zaid I think I know what one you’re talking about..
    I think it’s called “the road less travelled”
    very famous and simple poem

  11. Omar

    Roba here is a very visual poem written during WWII depicting a “cemetery”

    In Flanders Fields
    By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
    Canadian Army

    IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
    Between the crosses row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

  12. Roba

    Thank you guys so much! I will have to read over them again tomorrow and I will let you know what I choose later on.
    I really, really, really appreciate the help!

  13. Dina

    There’s a poem by Tommi Jo Casteel that I really like called ” Mama’s Hands”, I don’t know if it’s really what you’re looking for but here it is:

    Mama’s Hands

    I saw you hide your hands in line,
    Behind that lady fair,
    I noticed too, hers soft and white-
    Immaculate from care.
    But Ma, I say, it’s no disgrace
    To have workin’ hands like you,
    And had she lived the life you have,
    She’d have hands just like it too.

    But her hands have never hauled in wood,
    Or worked in God’s good earth.
    They’ve never felt the bitter cold,
    Or chopped ice for waitin’ stock,
    They’ve never doctored sick ones,
    Or dressed a horse’s hock.
    They’ve never pulled a hip-locked calf,
    Or packed water to the barn.
    They’ve probably never patched blue jeans,
    Or had worn ol’socks to darn.

    They’ve never touched a young’n,
    Or caressed a fevered head,
    With hands so gently folded,
    All night beside his bed.

    They’ve never scrubbed a kitchen floor,
    Or done dishes every day.
    They’ve never guided with those hands,
    A child who’s lost the way.

    They’ve never made a Christmas gift,
    Shaped by a lovin’hand.
    They’ve never peeled apples,
    Nor vegetables they’ve canned.
    They’ve never worn a blister,
    Or had calluses to show,
    For all they’ve done for others,
    And the kindnesses I know.

    So you see, my dearest Mama-
    Yours are hands of love.
    And I bet the Lord will notice
    When he greets you from above.

  14. B.

    My favorite poet is E. E. Cummings. A lot of his poems are visual just with the particular way he typeset them. A famous poem of his: anyone lived in a pretty how town, which may not suit your purposes, exactly, but it’s fun to read out loud.

    anyone lived in a pretty how town
    (with up so floating many bells down)
    spring summer autumn winter
    he sang his didn’t he danced his did (first verse)

    But my favorite poem?
    if everything happens that can’t be done

    if everything happens that can’t be done
    (and anything’s righter
    than books
    could plan)
    the stupidest teacher will almost guess
    (with a run
    around we go yes)
    there’s nothing as something as one (again, first verse only)

    No complete collections of Cummings’ poems are available online. But there’s a good selection available here, and maybe there’s one in there that you could use.

    Since poems quite often use visual imagery to convey symbolic meaning, this project sounds pretty interesting! Wish I could be there to see everyone’s results. :)

  15. Laura_K…/poems/ 577.html

    “The Cat and The Moon” by William Butler Yeats
    I like this poem. Yeats really liked cats, so maybe this poem is really only about the cat Minnalousche. But I think there’s more to it, and I can identify with that cat. Maybe you can too. Very visual.

    And for a darker, scarier side of Yeats – “The Second Coming”
    About Armageddon. Definitely evokes a strong emotion. Also depressing, so maybe not a good choice.

    There are a lot of other good poetry links on this site.

  16. salam

    Ruba..I can visualize this poem/song by Paul Simon almost as if it is playing in front of me..I hope you like it..(please keep us updated on what you chose and how it works out ):

    Hello darkness, my old friend,
    I’ve come to talk with you again,
    Because a vision softly creeping,
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of silence.
    In restless dreams I walked alone
    Narrow streets of cobblestone,
    ‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
    I turned my collar to the cold and damp
    When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
    That split the night
    And touched the sound of silence.

    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more.
    People talking without speaking,
    People hearing without listening,
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dare
    Disturb the sound of silence.

    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows.
    Hear my words that I might teach you,
    Take my arms that I might reach you.”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell,
    And echoed
    In the wells of silence

    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made.
    And the sign flashed out its warning,
    In the words that it was forming.
    And the sign said, “The words of the prophets
    are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls.”
    And whisper’d in the sounds of silence.

  17. red_enclave

    Gravatar You could also try Emily Dickinson’s poems. Hers are very dark and deep.

  18. That Poem Mama’s Hands Is not written by him tommi don’t ask how i know this it just isn’t so don’t gave him created

  19. Tommi Jo Casteel

    This is really Tommi Jo Casteel, the original author of the poem Mama’s Hands. First of all, thank you for the interest in my poetry. From the comments I’ve read here, I’m assuming you are not familiar with ranch life, so I think it’s great that you connect with something in my favorite poem!

    I would like to add that this poem was published in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, but without my knowledge, or consent. I tried to contact the publishers, but never got a response. I am justified here to let your readers know that the poem was printed incorrectly. Two lines were left out, so that it doesn’t rhyme. This has always bothered me, so you can have the truth about it now!

    The poem correctly reads as follows:

    Mama’s Hands
    by Tommi Jo Casteel

    I saw you hide your hands in line, behind that lady fair,
    I noticed too, her’s soft and white–immaculate from care.
    But Ma, I say, it’s no disgrace, to have workin’ hands like you,
    And had she had the life you have, she’d have hands just like it, too.

    But her hands have never hauled in wood, or worked in God’s good earth,
    They’ve never warmed a baby lamb, or helped a mare at givin’ birth.
    They’ve never felt the bitter cold, or chopped ice for waitin’ stock,
    They’ve never doctored sick ones, or dressed a horse’s hock.

    They’ve never pulled a hip-locked calf, or packed water to the barn,
    They’ve probably never patched blue jeans, or had worn old socks to darn.
    They’ve never touched a young’un, or caressed a fevered head,
    With hands so gently folded, all night beside his bed.

    They’ve never scrubbed a kitchen floor, or done dishes everyday,
    They’ve never guided with those hands, a child whose lost the way.
    They’ve never made a Christmas gift, shaped by a lovin’ hand,
    They’ve never peeled apples, nor vegetables they’ve canned.

    They’ve never wore a blister, or had callouses to show,
    For all they’ve done for others, and the kindnesses I know.
    So you see, my dearest Mama–your’s are hands of love,
    And I bet the Lord will notice when He greets you from above.

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