Strait_v1n3_1971-10

in panic at her danger, and I caught the contagion; yes, they do scare, but not a basic scare, nothing to jar them from their center; later, in the bazaar I saw the same woman squatting on a doorstep munching ,pistachios serene as heaven. But I am hopelessly sucked into the malestrom ; I can't begin to tell beginning from end : today, this first day of classes, my first assignment, I booked passage home, next summer's tourist season hard on my heels, and I do not guess what stranger, wearing my clothes, carrying my baggage, Last ·October, when I returned to Turkey, this time to Ankara (of angora cats and sheep), I felt a renewal of spiritual ties. For me Ankara is not only a city representing the mixing of Western and Eastern cultures on the level of economics, politics, and ethics. It is that . But more than that. Ankara is my home, one of my homes. Its ancient, fortress-crowned beauty is mine. Its ancient filth is mine. Its noise (din here means faith or religion) is mine . Its brutality and affection are mine. New city will board the freighter for Piraeus and America.

Er several weeks I have been working chiefly on one poem. I have been searching for one symbol to express the dilemmas of our age -- our age when East and West are ming- ling as never before and facing many of the same problemsA The question is will the confrontation be with a handshake o• a lunge for the jugular? I wanted a symbol for : 1. An institutionalized religion that is everywhere ob- solete, but everywhere in power . 2 . An economic estallishment , stratified, class-- conscious, everywhere obsolete, but everywhere in control. 3. A nationalistic system of government , everywhere ob- solete , but everywhere the ruling force . On more affirmative principles, I wanted the same symbols to represent : 4 . The galaxies with their stars and planets revolving around some unknown center, sure and serene but filled with explosive energy _ 5. The atoms revolving around the nucleus of every cell in every object down to the smallest pinpoint with its thousands of invisible motes, 6. A "right order" for society , based on brotherhood and cooperation, where individuals are not lost in the collaboration of a crowd, 7. The emergence from no-motion into motion, and of no-thought into thought , 8. The inevitable sinking back into no-thought and no- motion , 9. The fundamental, basic glory of sex. In December 1968, my wife and I bought tickets for an excursion to Konya to see the whirling dervishes, an order founded in the thirteenth century by Jalal al-Din or Rumi or Mevlana. We were not able to go, but remembering the dervishes from my visit to Kenya six years ago, I began to write a poem with them as my symbol. Some of the details-- for example, the infatuation of Mevlana for Shems 'i Tebrizi -- came from an article in the Ankara Daily News for December, 1968. The "Uncle Tom" president of Tuskegee Institute was Booker T. Washington. One quatrain refers to Andrew Carnegie, whose confidence in the gospel of wealth principle of the "protestant ethic" is better known than the last para- graph of his autobiography, where his own words fade out into his blundering disillusionment, an old man confronted by the shattering spectacle of a world war which destroyed his faith in Benevolence operating inevitably for human good on prin- ciples of unfailing reward for merit. My poem is made up of twenty-five short lyrics, bound together by a common symbolism and a common lyrical tone of voice. The unity is textural rather than argumentative. Sense depends more on keeping the elements suspended in a kind of loose poetic context than on an attempt to bind to- gether the elements point by point in a forced "logical" struc- ture. It is best to read poetry with an unflexed mind.

like New York, rushing but with open pores, masculine sweat and stink,

and a great voice of taxi drivers- - boys with toy fire engines easing up on the gas at intersections, luring pedestrians, then gunning, c;abuk! scattering walkers, squawkers, feathers ruffled

like nipped poultry . It is not Istanbul -- Grecian, Roman, Turk-- layer under layer;

Byzantine

dig anywhere you find relics. Here is an old city on the hill, ruins of ancient wall, but downtown rears to a future ten floors tall; even the few female trousers seen skimming toward bright Nirvana are earth-Ankara-anchored, no sweet by and by, nor neither sweet here and now: apples, melons, the freighted market is raw •· teeming hamals & an open sewer flowing from city center.

THE DERVISHES

I. Out of no-motion, motion starts, obedient to the pull of captive atoms, magnetized, orbited, controlled;

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