Monthly Archives: August 2019

The New Divan: Final Greenshoots


69243169_370526970310014_4520528661874475008_nYesterday I completed the final few openings to The New Divan. Earlier in the day I went to the outside auction in Leith to see what poetry had popped up. It was a bumper day actually, & I got all the above ones for a fiver. Its an interesting experience. They auction starts at 11, but at at 10 they put the books out. This brings a gaggle of the city’s booksellers to have a look, & there seems a tacit agreement among them to carve up the spoils, very rarely bidding against each other. Luckily theres not that much money in poetry books (old & new) so I can make my own pretty pile & no bothers me, maybe someone takes a book out & places it n their own pile – you’re allowed to bid for them separately. For example yesterday, I noticed Percy’s Reliques in a guy’s pile, so I took them out to bid separetely. The guy was great tho, & said don’t worry about it & put it in my pile, chit-chatting about a poetry a little & gaurding them fastiduously from predatary sellers. In the end those three books are worth about £40 on their own, but I’m there to study them not sell them.


Another of the books I picked up had a wonderful effect on the day’s transcreation. It was a litttle book of Robert Louis Stevenson’s, whose ‘children’s poetry’ were both octosyllabic & rhyming, & emotive as love! absolutely brilliant transportational abilities & I’ll be doing a Pendragon poetry post on them soon! Reading the poems absorbed the measured music into my mind, & when I sat down with A New Divan, I found very much the whole process of transcreation easier than previously. Having him board has made me realise that the English poets & Scottish Makars & of course the Welsh bards shiould be involved somewhere in The New Divan. To facilitate this idea I shall take me with me on my composition sessions a poet or two from a pantheon, whose words I can bounce off when lacking inspiration, whose music I can draw on to mould a proper mindset. 24 poems to go…



Knew everybody since childhood,
He’d dreamt he was a shaft of wood
By axehead topp’d, his foes to fight
To chop off heads & branches smite!



NUJOOM ALGHANEM: The Crimson Shades

If Venus e’er should act a thief
Of hearts once sworn our destiny
Or if Lord Jupiter’s mischief
Would draw upon us furtively
Should ever come to pass these odds
Let us refuse their rudest guiles
Bestow, instead, on Fates & Gods
The Rose of Hope that grows in smiles!



Each runic bottle teaches me
Beseeching pure humility
If every god can be seduced
By the carafe, & thus reduced,
How fine a drop am I?

Intoxicating, misty dream
I sip between my lips, & seem
Made larger & more eloquent.




Words you have grasp’d all on your own
I cannot utter unto you
Without inflicting ills to groan
Or causing harm, send thought askew.

I can’t go on, I do not care
To wound or flatter, so I stay
Within my family, to share
Encircled warmth, tho cool as May.

So words be good, be gone into
The silence of a summit bird
My voice it plummets low for you
So much you cannot hear a word.


MOURID BARGHOUTI: The Obedience of Water

Nights of art & erudition
Sacrifice & hesitation
At little, or at great expense,
Must pass, how many, since or hence
Need you to cleverly invent,
A simple gadget’s supplement,
When all we need for tyranny
Are single bendings of one knee!



Goethe, Goethe, poet master
From the furthest lands a-wester
Of the East, I have sung in praise
Of that peace goblet you did raise
To happiness, under the vines,
To goodness dressing all designs.



Cunedda, son of Woden… King of Picts

Breth son of Buthut
Vipoig namet
Wradech uecla
Talore son of Achivir
Drust son of Erp
Talore son of Aniel (PKL)

These are the names of the sons of Cunedda, whose number was nine: Tybion, the firstborn, who died in the region called Manaw Gododdin and did not come hither with his father and his aforesaid brothers. Meirion, his son, divided his possessions among his brothers. 2, Ysfael, 3. Rhufon, 4. Dunod, 5. Ceredig, 6, Afloeg, 7. Einion Yrth, 8. Dogfael, 9. Edern Harleian 3859 (pedigree 32)

Maelgwyn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.’ (NEN)


The first extract is from the Pictish King List. Only a handful of these lists that survived the rigors of time, but they all contain pretty much the same sequence of kings (tho’ spelt differently) to which are attached reign-lengths (which differ between recensions) and on rare occasions a piece of biographical information. The second extract refers to one of the first recorded monarchs of Britain, & a babel-chain between Cunedda & the PKL’s Canutulahina is both easy to create & to support, for the names of Cantaluhina’s immediate successors in the PKL have chispological correspondnaces in the Harleian MS, where Wradech transchispers into Ceretic, Dorornauch becomes Dunaut. We also have the chispological connections between the Historia Brittonum’s Cunedag variant for Cunedda, & the PKL’s Canutulachama variant.

We now fast-forward in time to the reign of Maelgwyn Gwynned, whose death in 547 is recorded by the Annales Cambraie as, ‘The great death [plague] in which Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd died. Thus they say ‘The long sleep of Maelgwn in the court of Rhos’.  It is through a passage in Nennius that we can link Cunedda to Maelgwyn;
Maelgwn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.

If we say that it was 20 years after his reign as the King of Picts that Cunedda left Scotland for Wales as given in Nennius, & that Maelgwyn had also been ruling for 20 years before he died, then the 146 years as given by Nennius gives us a tentative date of 361 for Cunedda.


We may infer from Nennius that Cunedda had taken took up a position of power in the eastern central Belt of Scotland, the approximate area of Manaw Gododdin. That this region is was connected to his Pictish monarchy is remembered in the Pentland Hills, which were originally known as the ‘Pehtland’ Hills, after a variant name for the Picts also found in the Pentland Firth which seperate the Orkneys from the Scottish mainland. In East Lothian, at Traprain Law, a massive double-linked Silver Chain of the Early Christian period was discovered in 1938, a tangible hallmark of Pictish nobility.



Nennius tells us that in the 4th century, Cunedda & his sons travelled from Scotland to North Wales, where they fought & defeated the ‘Scotti’ – the same Irish tribe that would eventually establish itself further north in Dalriada – & established the Kingdom of Gwynedd. The approximate 361 dates for Cunedda is significant, for in 367 we have historical evidence for the Scotti, & others, attacking Britain.  Known as ‘The Barbarian Conspiracy,’ it was eventually put down the following year by the Roman general, Flavius Theodosius.  The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, has all the details;

At that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation; while the Gallic regions, wherever anyone could break in by land or by sea, were harassed by the Franks and their neighbours, the Saxons, with cruel robbery, fire, and the murder of all who were taken prisoners.

When the Batavi, Heruli, Jovii, and Victores, who followed {Flavius Theodosius}, had arrived, troops confident in their strength, he began his march and came to the old town of Lundinium, which later times called Augusta. There he divided his troops into many parts and attacked the predatory bands of the enemy, which were ranging about and were laden with heavy packs; quickly routing those who were driving along prisoners and cattle, he wrested from them the booty which the wretched tribute-paying people had lost. And when all this had been restored to them, except for a small part which was allotted to the wearied soldiers, he entered the city, which had previously been plunged into the greatest difficulties, but had been restored more quickly than rescue could have been expected, rejoicing and as if celebrating an ovation.

While he lingered there, encouraged by the successful outcome to dare greater deeds, he carefully considered what plans would be safe; and he was in doubt about his future course, since he learned from the confessions of the captives and the reports of deserters that the widely scattered enemy, a mob of various natives and frightfully savage, could be overcome only by secret craft and unforeseen attacks. 10 Finally, he issued proclamations, and under promise of pardon summoned the deserters to return to service, as well as many others who were wandering about in various places on furlough. In consequence of this demand and strongly moved by his offer, most returned


 We here see Roman Britain continuing in a state of reconciliation. Was Cunedda part of the attacking force & later redeemed, or did he stay put in Lothian all the while & remain loyal to Rome while the Barbarians hordes ravaged Britain. We know the Attacotti members of the Barbarian Conspiracy were absorbed into the legions, so Cunedda may have experienced the same treatment. It is imposible to say at this juncture, but the timing of his move against the Irish in North Wales in all likelihood seems connected to the Roman restoration of its Britannic power base after 368.


Returning to the genealogy of Cunedda, I would like to show that he was the son of a human figure deified with some majesty by the Nordic & Teutonic races. The god was Woden, or Odin, but the man was given as either Edern (Jesus College MS20) or Aeturn (Harleian MS 3859). Aeturn-Waeturn-Woden is an easy babel-chain, but of course we need support.  We begin with Harleian MS 3859, which tells us how Tybion was Cunedda’s first-born son. This gives us a possible Woden-Cunedda-Tybion lineage, which has a mirror in the royal Anglo-Saxon genealogies of East Anglia. Here Caser would be Cunedda, with the name either corrupted from ‘Cune,’ or perhaps even Ceasar, which is a lofty rank similar to Cunedda’s ‘Guledig’ epithet.

Woden – (Aeturn)

Caser / Casser – (Cunedda Gwledig)

Titmon  / Tẏtiman / Titinon – (Tybion)


 We should also examine Cunedda’s grandfather & great-grandfather, who appear in Jesus & Harleain as Tegyth/Tacit and Padarn Beisrud/Patern Pesrut. These names translate into Latin as Tacitus & Paternus, with the latter’s epithet meaning ‘of the red robe’, indicating a high rank in the Roman administration. A link to Rome is suggested by the Scandinavian record of Woden/Odin as recorded by the medieval chronicler, Snorri Sturluson, who places him in the Trojan region of NW Turkey, beside the Dardanelles. This region was a part of the Roman province of Asia, which seems to be the etymological route of the Aesir.



In the middle of the world was built a city called Troy. This is in the land of Turkey. Twelve kingdoms were there and one high King. In this city there were twelve languages. The twelve rulers were better than any human in all the world. One king was called Munon or Mennon. His son was called Tror, who we call Thor. He would later take control of Thrace, which we call Thrudheim. He travelled all through the world and found a sibyl who we call Sif. Thor married her. Their male descendents are Loridi, Einridi, Vingethor, Vingenir, Moda, Magi, Sescef, Bedvig, Athra (who we call Annar), Itrmann, Heremod, Scialdum (who we call Skiold), Biaf (who we call Biar), Iat, Gudolf, Finn, Friallaf (who we call Fridleif), and Woden. Odin is the name we use for Woden.

The chief Odin was a great warrior and travelled all over and gained many kingdoms. He was very victorious wherever he went. This made him very esteemed and praised so much so that everyone believed that he always won every fight and battle.

Odin was supposed to have great lands near the Turks. When the Roman Emperors were trying to conquer the world they dispersed many people and kings, who fled their lands. During this time, Odin used his magic to see the future and learned that his descendents would live in the northern parts of the world. As a result, he made his brothers Ve and Vili leaders of the people of Asaland and went off to the northern lands. He took with him all his priests and many of his people.

Odin conquered many lands and had many sons who he set as leaders upon those lands. His travels took him to Gardarik (Germany), then to Saxland. There they stayed for a while. Odin had three sons in Saxony, who were put to rule over the area:

Veggdegg, who ruled East Saxony.
Beldegg (who we call Balder), who ruled Westphalia.
Siggi, who ruled over what is now France. The Volsungs are descended from him.
Odin then went northward to a country called Reidgotaland (which is now called jutland) and conquered it. In this land he set his son Skiold as ruler. From him are descended the Skioldungs dynasty of Denmark. Snorri
He then travelled north to the sea and made a home in Odenso in Fyn, Denmark.

After this he went northward into Sweden where there was a king called Gylfi. When the Aesir (what the people of Asia are called) arrived King Gylfi offered them as much power as they desired in his land. Odin found the area pleasant to live in and settled in an area now called Sigtunir. In this new land he set up rulers in the same pattern as was seen in Troy. There were twelve chiefs to administer law, and he established a legal system as it was in Troy.

After this, he travelled north even more til he confronted the sea. He then set one of his son, Saemung (who all the rulers of Norway are descended), as ruler over this area, which is now called Norway.

The Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north. In this area, also, their language spread, the language of the people of Asia, and became the mother tongue there. Because of this, there are names for regions and places in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and England that come from the ancient language before the Aesir appeared.

Odin died in his bed in Sweden. As he approached death he had himself marked, or stabbed, with a spear point and dedicated himself all men who died through weapons. Odin was burned after his death and they say his fire was very glorious.

‘Odin was credited, the world over, as a god,‘ wrote Saxo Grammaticus, ‘which was false. He spent his time in Uppsala.’ According to my analysis, he was also connected to Britain, & Pictland in particular. The key passage in Snorri reads, ‘the Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north.’ This sentence opens up the possibility that Woden’s son, Cunedda, married into the Pictish Royal bloodline.


Woden was clearly once a mortal. We can now deduce he had at least some aristocratic Roman blood in his veins, & that he came from the Trojan region of NW Turkey, beside the Dardanelles. This region was a part of the Roman province of Asia, which seems to be the etymological route of the Aesir. This opens up the intriguing possibility that Woden’s grandfather could have been Titus Flavius Festus, who was the govenor of Asia c.286. Saying that, an earlier Titus – Titus Flavius Postumius Varus – was actually in northern Britain during the 240s as Legatus legionis of the Legio II Augusta. But I ruminate too far in unclear waters, altho’ Varus did at one point hold the position of the Augurship, whose prophetic abilites strike a tally with the prophetic powers of Snorri’s Woden.

The key passage in Snorri  reads, ‘the Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north.’ This sentence opens up the possibility that Woden’s son, Cunedda, married into the Pictish Royal bloodline. Also of interest is how Woden took control of Denmark & Jutland, the very homelands of the Angles who would go on to invade & name the southern portions of Britain. What has always been a bit of a mystery is why an island of NW Wales, & part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, is also named after the Angles – Anglesey. However, if we were to simply place Cunedda in command of a group of Angles conquered by Woden & placed in the Hunnic imperial service, then all makes perfect sense.



According to various lineages, such as in Bede & the Anglian Collection,  another of Woden’s sons was Vecta, who Snorri says was a ruler in East Saxony (as Vegdagr). His name was found etched inyo a stone memorial near Edinburgh. When Bede tells us Hengist was the ‘son of Vitgilsus, whose father was Vecta, son of Woden’ we have a direct match up to an inscribed 6th century memorial called the Cat Stane, which stands in the precincts of Edinburgh Airport. It reads;

 In this tomb lies Vetta son of Victus

This places the burial site of Cunedda’s nephew in Manau Gododdin, encouraging a belief that Edinburgh was named after Aeternus-Woden. The ‘Finnesburh Fragment’ describes Hengist & his men as ‘Eotona,’ a name which clearly derives from Woden, Hengist’s great-great grandfather. Hengist’s son, Octa, led the mid-fifth century conquest of Scotland, where according to the Lancelot-Graal, they fortified a very Edinburgh like ‘Rock.’ Thus Edinburgh was named, not after Woden, but the royal house which he had founded.

Further affirmation of Woden’s children being connected to the Pictish kingship comes thro’ Vetta, whose alternative names were given as Vegdagr & Waegdaeg. Chispering these together gives us Ve-gd-aeg, which transchispers into Vipoig, who is given in the King lists as ruling directly before Cantulahina/Cunedda.



We must also look at Woden Hillfort in the Scottish Borders, near Kelso, which has a correctly-dated Roman influence. Canmore ID 58068 tells us, “Originally it was a native British fort, built in three stages – a settlement surrounded by a single, oval stone dyke, to which was then added a double rampart and intervening ditch. Both ramparts were demolished quite soon after completion, probably as a result of Roman road-building and occupation, and the site was only reoccupied by native peoples after the Romans left. Then the innermost rubble dyke on the top of the hill was built and faced with boulders. The Romans, however, seem to have used Woden Law for siege practice (if the so-called siegeworks are not simply part of the native defences). They dug a remarkable earthwork of two banks between three ditches at 12m-30m from the fort’s defences: in other words, mostly beyond the killing-range for hand-thrown missiles. Several flattened platforms on the outer bank seem to have provided sites for siege engines, protected by the inner bank and ditch, whilst beyond the main siegework, three further independent lines of earthworks were built in the customary Roman manner of short, separate sections. These are all incomplete. A further feature, the series of five cross-dykes spanning the easy ridge between Woden Law and Hunthall Hill, is pre-Roman however, and part of the native British defence system. Such cross-dykes are not uncommon in relation to hillforts in the Cheviotsi here they guard access from the main Cheviot ridge and emphasise the importance of the site and the route.”


We have now come to the most fascinating piece of the puzzle. It begins with Cunedda’s Pictish name – Canutulahina. Breaking this down we obtain – Canutu – la – hina, which seems to translate as Cunedda the Hun. This Scythian tribe would rise to a devastating prominence with Attila in the middle of the 5th century, but it seems that a couple of centuries earlier among their number was counted Woden himself. The northern settlement of Woden & his people should then be responsible for the Hunaland region mentioned in the Eddas,  which some sources place on either side of the Gulf of Bothnia down to Gästrikland, in Sweden. The key evidence comes from the Völsunga saga, a late thirteenth century Icelandic text. in it we read that Sigi, Woden’s son as given by Sturluson, was also the king of the Huns. A priceless clue that dictates how if Sigi was a Hun, then his brother Cunedda should also be one.

Oguz Yabgu State in Kazakhstan, 750–1055
Oguz Yabgu State in Kazakhstan, 750–1055

The presence of the Huns in late Roman Britain was remembered by Bede, in whose Historia Ecclesiastica we read; ‘He knew that there were very many peoples in Germany from whom the Angles and the Saxons, who now live in Britain, derive their origin… Now these people are the Frisians, Rugians, Danes, Huns, Old Saxons, and Boruhtware (Bructeri).’ The last two tribes also appear among the allies of Atilla the Hun in his 451 invasion of Gaul. Two years earlier, what we may now observe as a Hunnish contingent led by Henghist were active in south England.  Octa, for example, the kinsman of Henghist  seems a variant of the Hunnic name Octar – Attila’s uncle and earlier ruler of the Hunnic Empire. It also seems likely that the ‘the elders of the Oghgul Race’ referred to by Nennius as advising Henghist were Huns. Oghgul – Mohgul – Mongol is a distinctly possible babel-chain, but more likely is a connection to the Oghuz Turks


Where Nennius tells us that Henghist despacted reinforcemnet requests ‘to Scythia, ‘ in more recent times Lotte Hedeager has expertly shown how the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ homelands on the continent were made a part of the Hunnic Empire during the early 400s, maintaining a Hunnic presence throughout. Archeology tell us that gold open-ended earrings show the presence of the Huns in Denmark & Britain, where also a Dyerkan-type cicada brooch, found primarily in the Middle Danube, the Black Sea area and the Northern Caucasus (5th century), was discovered in Suffolk. We also have the Skjoldunge–Skilfinger texts, which descibe the early Norse rulers Haldan, Roo, Ottar and Adils – these names & their activities correspond to the fifth-century Hunnic kings Huldin, Roas, Octar and Attila.

That we have a record of the ‘Saxons’ in Britain at least as early as 441 (the Gallic Chronicle) & as we now understand, there were Huns in Pictavia, then we may now understand better a statement made by  Priscus of Panium,  who visited the court of Attila the Hun as part of an official delegation in AD 448/9.

No previous ruler of Scythia or of any other land had ever achieved so much in so short a time. He ruled the islands of the Ocean and, in addition to the whole of Scythia, forced the Romans to pay tribute. He was aiming at more than his present achievements and, in order to increase his empire further, he now wanted to attack the Persians.

Writers such as  Orosius & St Augustine were definers of the British Isles as among the ‘islands of the Ocean.’ We must also recall that 80 years later, the Romans also considered Britain to be under the ‘Giothic’ influence, with Procopius recording Belisarius as saying, ‘we on our side permit the Goths to have the whole of Britain, & the Hun-Goth connection  secured through Priscus, who said that Attila’s “Scythian” subjects spoke “besides their own barbarian tongues, either Hunnish, or Gothic.”


We have also the fabulous possibility of identifying the Pictish symbols with the Hunnic invasion of North Britain, that they are based upon the druidlike, paganistic, shamanistic Tengrism of the Huns. Recent discoveries at a Pictish site at Dunnicaer have dated the symbols to a third or fourth century date – fitting in with the arrival of Cunedda into the Pictish King List.



To wrap everything up, the Pictish King List unveils a figure called Cunedda in the very time period that the Cunedda of the Welsh tradion came down from the north. Through significant Chispological protocol we learn that he was Hunnish, & that his father was Woden, a historical figure rather like Zeus, who was originally a Hyksos king known as Seuserenre before being deified by posterity. We also learn that the ‘Saxon Advent’ Britain was in fact only a small part in a long-term Hunnish conquest. ‘Given the cultural background,‘ writes Dr Caitlin Green, ‘of the time and the textual context of the passage in question, the most credible solution is arguably that the Western Roman ambassador to the Huns did indeed believe that Attila ruled in parts of Britain and its associated islands in the late 440s, as Peter Heather, C. E. Stevens and others have indicated in the past.

The New Divan: Greenshoots


In Edinburgh a soul can call its home
As classical as Athens, Thebes & Rome
With catacoombs quite gloomy underneath
I’ve heard them say some flume as far as Leith
City of Gargoyles in the sandy stone…


I am currently in the National Library in Edinburgh, typing up my first efforts at transcreating ‘A New Divan’ into the more uniform, Goethe-pleasing octosyllabics of ‘The New Divan.’ Over the weekend I got the rough openings to most of the 24 poems, which you’ll see shortly. Ive just had a book delivered to my desk which contains translations out of the Divan of Hafiz, from which I’ll transplant  a few nuggets into the text of The New Divan as we go. So without further ado, this is the state of play as of 12.35 on the 28th August, 2019.




After mountains of Albania’s
Glimps’d thro’ portholes & the haze,
All downy & yielding, like cultures
Under microscopic gaze,
After distant lakes of mercury
Let us see the peaks at last,
See the ragged shores of Thessaly!
As the plane touches downcast,
Meeting July’s deep melted tarmac
Open door hot furnace frees
But feels like paradise to be back
Among these the blossom lemon trees


RAOUL SCHROTTL: suleika speaks

Time after time, “Where are you from?”
Its all a blur, tormented bomb,
Dark memories of paths & routes
Laughing them off with substitutes;
My father hears the question too,
That same queer tone, that same brain screw,
Which drove him off from land & kin,
To taxifahrer, father’s chin
Gleams strong, when ends the night’s long shift
Wine glasses… one, two… he’ll uplift
Such keepers of our faith toast-rise
Shiraz into entempl’d skies!



FADHIL AL-AZZAWI: Paradise on Earth

I see it as I leave the inn
The dark of night, an evil djinn
Close follows me, each step I take
Each step I shudder & I shake
Furious dogs barking behind
Down hunting me, out flung from mind,
I should drive this road’s solitude
I must sing madly, loud & crude!


GONCA OZMEN: Knowingly Willingly

Insane the shadows that I taste
& speak to, tho’ I promis’d not

Love, keep me from my home displac’d,
Its nights especially boycott!


JAN WAGNER: Ephesus Ghazal

With tyrants who cavort like gods,
Our early day the shortest odds,
There so severe was one in faith
His painters perpetrate a wraith
With shaggy face & eyes like sleet
Young jasmine seven at his feet
Preparing freedom swift, they hid
Themselves, before Dawn lifts its lid


CLARA JANES: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

As Shiraz roses still upclimb
These pages thro, as does the chime
Sung by the Holy Fool that stands
Beside the well at dusk – my hands
Reveal the decorated cup
As if from it Jamshid did sup
Containing worlds within wine-pools
Where ripple stars, submerging jewels,


HAFEZ MOUSAVI: The Name of that Sad Dove

The Parsi couple returning
From bathing their baby’s ashes
Under morning’s hot sun’s burning
Passing sadly by charr’d flashes
Of Baucis & Philemon’s hut
From their bones burnt smoke still rises
Likewise guest skeletons in soot
Heavy-hearted Herr Faust sizes
His realm long prized,  stretching endless
From this tower-top – Ode to Joy
Rings out, Europa whole to bless!

Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan /PEN American Center

HOMERO ARIDJIS: The Creation of the World by the Animals

Across unmoving, dark blank sky,
Scarlet Macaw did flash & fly
Daybreak’s orioles yellow
With turquoise eyes, began solo
Dances of lightning honeybee
Sundering mighty Ceiba Tree



Unto the man I would return
Who inside, once, my shirt did burn

At each lip’s precipice I fret
To find the voice I once did set
Down-dangling from a ciggarette

I ask the card-turn to unshroud
The revelations thro the crowd
That sweeps away plant, bird & cloud


ADONIS: Letter to Goethe

I conjur’d, in the afternoon,
In your dear name, my night & moon,
I heard the Great Bear breathe & blow
Vain verses off to Earth’s blood flow
& in the cities, laws-wax seal’d
Found scrolls recited & reveal’d
To people made of wounds & bread
Who roam, asking the streets instead
Where do we come from, where’ll we go,
Erewhile the eastern moon did flow

My Spring of freedom, is it time
I’ll go on walking clime-on-clime
Does from the West the East now veer,
To ther moons offer its sphere,
I’ll go on walking – all allow’d
The soul is nothing but the cloud
Of sperm reveal’d as guises two –
Is it the image that time drew
With ink temptated yon amends
While space the other apprehends?

The West behind you but the East
Lies not before mine eyes releas’d
They are the river’s double sedge
One transcending the abyss edge
More than a rock, tis Sisyphus
Screaning the slopes, Sinbad wanders



KHALED MATTAWA: Easter Sunday, Rajab in Mid-Moon

A poet let us find down there
Beside the waves off Mozambique
Flown south had he to taste the air
Of those first migrants who did creak
Across the Earth, canoeing free,
Khidr’s eternal progeny!


DON PATERSON: Eleven Maxims from the Book of Ill-Humour

Unleash a poem slow enough,
Fie with vigilance & care
& you’ll discover lots of stuff
That quite simply is not there!

In the country of the two-eye’d
Sentiment still holds the same
The one-eyed man still puffs with pride
For he has the better aim!



Tell me, bent branch, how came ye here?
How did you pass thro’ cobalt wood
Thro’ shrouds of white, to reach the sneer
Where fat hyenas feast on blood.

The God we’ve worshipp’d for so long
Abandons us this very night
No longer do we set among
Sanguineous heaven, his light!


ABBAS BEYDOUN: Suleika & Marilyn

I heard my throat deep from the well,
The wolf my brothers’ summon spell
Invok’d, did hear & fled to Hell,
My shirt with others’ blood did swell
My father’s eyes were still a shell
But were they real; that shirt, that well?
Was desert a false infidel?
Was Wolf himself an actuelle?
What waited yon the parallel?
Of surfac’d Earth’s detention cell
But the Prophet’s road to Egypt!


Durs Gru?nbein 

DURS GUNBEIN: The Devil in the orient

Today’s slogan buzzword goes, ‘lie!’
newspapers, TVs, politics
Are duping voters with dark tricks
War’s still our master, as awry
Falls everyone – friends, enemies –
Morass’d by chutzpah perfidies
Reminding of the Auschwitz lie.


IMAN MERSAL: Your Smell is the World’s Dust

The fish the seller touts bushwhack
Belongs to the sea no longer
Washing lines & salt smell stronger
As I pass the woman in black.


ANGELICA FREITAS: The Peacock on the Roof

It flies, its up there on the roof
Of the hostel, extraordinairre,
At that same time a bird aloof,
I know not how it flies thro’ air
This ashram silence souls restore
Ten days of peacocks, none dare speak,
From sitting legs-cross’d on cool floor
My knees groan aching as they creak.


FATEMEH SHAMS: Electrocardiogram

My back she aches again today
Three months ago they moved my heart
& ledg’d my vital spine apart
Then wedg’d it in the vertebrae
Now each musk-fragrant breath depends
On one thin vein that empties blood
From darkness to new heart blood wends,
My idiotic bruise of vein
My wanton whore of heart, the pain
My back endures nobody should.
My ECG supplies, these days,
My news, headlines from past suck’d out –
A woman used to laugh about
Her love for one man & his ways,
When lavish hearts love’s healths endow
Form windows facing long exile,
These bunch’d red muscles bled servile
I wish it were a mirror, now!

The New Divan: Genesis


Its been a while since I posted on my blog, but a new project has just popped into my psyche which will have a natural home here. The subject matter is the transcreation of a book called A New Divan, recently released by Gingko. It had been inspired by the 200th anniversary of a collection of poems by Goethe, itself inspired by works of the medieval Pesian poet, Hafiz. I had no idea either existed, & thoroughly enjoyed my education into the texts at the recent Edinburgh International Book Festival, of which you can read more of here.



The main premise of the book is to mirror Goethe’s subjects & themes using an international array of poets, whose creations would then be translated into English by another set of pets. Like a poetical UN. Intrigued, I requested a review copy from Gingko, which duly arrived yesterday. Running through the poems gave me the distinct impression that the collection was unfinished – that to match a production by Goethe, & the musical poetics of Hafiz, a single synthesizing mind had to work the ‘notes’ to order. With yesterday also being my last day reviewing at the Edinburgh Fringe, & with a full month’s worth of poesis stored in my creative antechambers, the catalyst had been sparked. I felt almost like Hammer did when hearing Hafiz in the original Persian for the first time, now compelled to translate it into German.  I felt almost like Goethe did on hearing Hammer’s translation for the first time, now compelled to create a western reply to Hafiz.


This morning I set to work. The vast majority of Goethe’s Divan is cast in octosyllabic metre, with simple but effective rhyme schemes. This of course I had to emulate, into which mould I would try & replicate the literary trickery of high-brow Persian poetics. Ultimately its the spirit of Goethe we are trying to please here, and I’m sure he’d be quite averse to Free Verse.

Its still early days of course,  but a project worth pursuing. This morning I began transcreating the openings of five of the 24 poems, & am satisfied, even happy, with the effort thus far. Once I have opened all 24 poems – perhaps this evening in the Lammermuirs – I will then turn to them one-by-one & publish them here in 2s or 3s. The resulting piece, then, drawn from A New Divan, I shall name THE New Divan. 


Hafiz, Herr Goethe, wait for me!

Forming triplet fraternity,

By chance, or not by chance, I heard,

Entrancing dances of the word,

Rose Voice of East, rose Voice of West,

Where voices lay choice words to rest,

I’ll pluck them up, I’ll dust them down,

Then cap them with my laurel crown.