Poem of the Day: Tonight

Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spellWhere . . . spell A direct quotation of line 2 of “Kashmiri Song” tonight?
Whom else from rapture’s road will you expel tonight?
Those “Fabrics of Cashmere—” “to make Me beautiful—”Fabrics . . . tell The quotations are from Emily Dickinson’s poem that begins, “I am ashamed – I hide – / What right have I – to be a Bride -”. Lines 7-9 of her poem read: “Me to adorn – How – tell –/ Trinket – to make Me beautiful –/ Fabrics of Cashmere –”
“Trinket”—to gem—“Me to adorn—How tell”—tonight?Fabrics . . . tell The quotations are from Emily Dickinson’s poem that begins, “I am ashamed – I hide – / What right have I – to be a Bride -”. Lines 7-9 of her poem read: Me to adorn – How – tell – / Trinket – to make Me beautiful – / Fabrics of Cashmere –
I beg for haven: Prisons, let open your gates—
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.
God’s vintage loneliness has turned to vinegar—
All the archangels—their wings frozen—fell tonight.
Lord, cried out the idols, Don’t let us be broken;

Only we can convert the infidel tonight.

MughalMughal The standard spelling of the variant “Mogul,” relating to the Muslim dynasty in India ceilings, let your mirrored convexities
multiply me at once under your spell tonight.
He’s freed some fire from ice in pity for Heaven.
He’s left open—for God—the doors of Hell tonight.
In the heart’s veined temple, all statues have been smashed.
No priest in saffron’s left to toll its knell tonight.
God, limit these punishments, there’s still Judgment Day—
I’m a mere sinner, I’m no infidel tonight.
Executioners near the woman at the window.
Damn you, Elijah, I’ll bless Jezebel tonight.Damn you, Elijah… Jezebel See 1 Kings 16-22 for the enmity between the prophet Elijah and Queen Jezebel, married to Ahab. Jezebel worshipped Baal, and “was killing off the prophets of the Lord” (1 Kings 18.4); under Elijah’s command, 450 priests of Baal were killed. Jezebel threatened Elijah, who subsequently fled from danger. In 2 Kings 9, Jezebel was killed by being thrown out of a window.
The hunt is over, and I hear the Call to Prayer
fade into that of the wounded gazelle tonight.
My rivals for your love—you’ve invited them all?
This is mere insult, this is no farewell tonight.
And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell theeAnd . . . thee Job learns of his losses from four messengers – each messenger ends his statement “I alone have escaped to tell you” (Job 1.13-19) [New Revised Standard Version]
God sobs in my arms. Call me IshmaelCall me Ishmael The first sentence of chapter 1 in Moby Dick (1851). Also, Ali noted that Ishmael is the “Father of the Arab nation” in The Country Without a Post Office (1997). tonight.
“Tonight" from Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals by Agha Shahid Ali. Copyright © 2003 by Agha Shahid Ali Literary Trust. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2003)

Agha Shahid Ali

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