Wednesday, October 04, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 18, 1445 H
clear sky
30°C / 30°C

The poetry of a man of dignity, a man of an age gone by


Here he sat... rain or shine... “Well, it hasn’t rained for nearly three years,” maybe he thought to himself, “and I can’t smell rain in the air, but you never know...”

He knew this street so well... he had seen shadows disappear with the morning sun, and lengthen in the afternoon for so many days, weeks, months, and years, and he knew, almost with an intimacy, every door, window, nook, and cranny along the street. He knew who, or what, was coming and going, by their tread, their footfall, each distinctive and individual. The tramp of the tourist’s boots... the trigger clicks of their camera, and then their tramp continues... Or the rattle of gravel on the dusty street, as a sandal wearing Omani shuffles past... then the uneven slap, slap, roll, slap, roll, slap, as a young boy dribbles his football past... and he surely remembered others who have walked the same street, family, and friends mostly... and he would have sighed... a long sigh, but tempered by an old poem uttered by a British soldier he knew when they were here, and when he was much, much younger, all those years ago...

“There’s nothing at all wrong with me, I’m as healthy as a man can be.

I’ve got arthritis in both my knees, and when I smoke, I cough and wheeze.

My pulse is weak, my blood is thin, it’s good to be alive, the shape I’m in.”

... and he would have chuckled to himself, remembering the bleary-eyed, gaunt, knobbly-kneed sergeant, who looked as little like a soldier as it was possible to look every morning as he rousted himself, and his Omani troops from bed, they to pray, and he to smoke a cigarette, though he called it a ‘durry.’ Somehow, almost mystically that cigarette would stick to his bottom lip when he talked, even when he barked orders... aaaah, it’s funny what you remember... and had he known, but another poet, more prosaic, shared some of his ____ writing...

“When you are old and grey, and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.”

Such, inshallah, are the thoughts of men of an age, men of dignity, men of measure... men of old.

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