Song of Two Worlds
144 pages
English

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144 pages
English

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Description

“VERDICT A vivid and moving book-length narrative poem that places the reader inside of a universe of wonder; of interest to poetry readers and beyond.” —Library Journal


From the author of international bestseller Einstein's Dreams and National Book Award nominee The Diagnosis.


After decades of living “hung like a dried fly,” emptied and haunted by his past, the narrator, a man who has lost his faith in all things following a mysterious personal tragedy, awakens one morning revitalized and begins a Dante-like journey to find something to believe in, first turning to the world of science and then to the world of philosophy, religion, and human life. As his personal story is slowly revealed, little by little, we confront the great questions of the cosmos and of the human heart, some questions with answers and others without. An exciting new illustrated edition of a unique narrative poem.


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Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 10 février 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781597095846
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

MORE PRAISE FOR
Song of Two Worlds
The book begins with an un-named protagonist finding himself suddenly moved to re-examine his life, both to confront past tragedies and failings and also to look for meaning. We overhear his thoughts as he uses his scientific skill to interrogate the mechanisms of the cosmos and the workings of his own body. When he reaches the limits of scientific questions with answers he turns to questions without answers which must be explored by faith, art or philosophy. Alongside rehearsals of insights by great thinkers and teachers we also get glimpses of the narrator s relationship with an old and loyal servant. This weaving of the lofty with the human and mundane is one of the more effective aspects of the book.
-M ICHAEL B ARTHOLOMEW -B IGGS London Mathematical Society
Only Alan Lightman could have written this verse narrative that brings together his explorations in the worlds of science, art and philosophy and makes of them this strange and mysterious but seamless and beguiling whole.
-A NITA D ESAI
Lightman s Song of Two Worlds is of consistent high quality and poetic energy. To begin with, the perspective is intelligently conceived, surprising, and productive. The provenance of the speaker who obviously is routed in the Islamic culture, his scientific competence, his familiarity with history-combined with his personal view, his regular life, his introspective mood, all this creates a captivating and innovative narrative verse.
-H ANS M AGNUS E NZENSBERGER
ALSO BY ALAN LIGHTMAN
Screening Room
The Accidental Universe
Mrg
Ghost
A Sense of the Mysterious
The Discoveries
Reunion
The Diagnosis
Great Ideas in Physics
Dance for Two
Einstein s Dreams
Time for the Stars
Ancient Light
Origins with Roberta Brawer
Good Benito

Song of Two Worlds
Copyright 2009, 2017 by Alan Lightman
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner.
Illustrations by Derek Domnic D souza
Book design and layout by Selena Trager
ISBN: 978-1-59709-032-2
eISBN: 978-1-59709-584-6
The National Endowment for the Arts, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Dwight Stuart Youth Foundation, the Max Factor Family Foundation, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Foundation, the Pasadena Arts Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Audrey Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amazon Literary Partnership, and the Sherwood Foundation partially support Red Hen Press.

Second Edition
Published by Red Hen Press
www.redhen.org
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
-Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali
Contents
Preface
PART I: Questions with Answers
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
PART II: Questions without Answers
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
Song of Two Worlds
Preface
I would like to tell the story of the remarkable genesis of this new Red Hen edition of Song of Two Worlds . The first edition, illustrated using a few photographs, was published in 2009 by AK Peters of Boston. In late September 2014, I received an unexpected letter from Ajai Narendran, who introduced himself as a teacher at a school in Bangalore, India, the Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology. Mr. Narendran was using my book in his classroom and told me that one of his students, Derek Domnic D souza, was so inspired by the book that he began doing penand-ink illusrations of the chapters. Mr. Narendran described his student as a gifted boy with amazing skills at drawing/sketching a self-taught artist. Attached to the teacher s letter were a few of his student s drawings. I was so taken with the beauty, imagination, and whimsy of these drawings that I contacted my literary agent, Deborah Schneider, to see if we might explore the possibility of a new edition of the book illustrated by Mr. D souza. Happily, Red Hen Press in Pasadena, California, was as struck by Mr. D souza s drawings as I was, and the result is this book. I believe that the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, whose Gitanjali was part of the inspiration for my own book, would have been pleased with this collaboration.
-A LAN L IGHTMAN , October 2016
PART I
Questions with Answers
1
Awake-
What are these quick shots of warmth,
Fractals of forests
That wind through my limbs?
Fragrance of olive and salt taste of skin,
Razz-tazz and clackety sound?
Figures and shapes slowly wheel past my view,
Villas and deserts, distorted faces,
Children, my children-
Distant, the pink moons of my feet.
What rules do they follow?
I think movement, they wondrously move,
Moons flutter and shake.
I probe the hills and the ruts of my face-
Now I grow large, now
I grow small, as the waves
Of sensation break over my shore.
There, a gnarled tree I remember,
A stone vessel, the curve of a hill.
What is the hour?
Some silence still sleeps
In my small sleeping room-
Is it end or beginning?
2


Have I awakened?
For decades, it seems, I have slept in a cave,
Hung like a dried fly
Sucked of all insides and faith.
Am I awake
After so many foldings unfoldings,
The loose flaps and threads?
Something is stirring, some newness,
A flail, buzz, and heave.
Welcome, this sharp morning blast-
Pleasure floods through me
While tears sting my eyes,
Veins fill with promised life.
Breathing, I breathe and I feel,
My skin bristles.
3
Footsteps-
It s Abbas, dear Abbas.
I know that old shuffle,
Grey stubble, haired mole,
Yellowing teeth.
Clatter of pots in the kitchen.
He s making some tea.
Are you awake? he roars.
Smells of hot peppers and onions
With cinnamon, hazelnut cake,
Baklava, sugared cream.
I rise from my bed, middle-aged,
Balding, the white scar on my arm,
Shrunken chest,
Losing more weight every year-
In thirteen, by my estimate, I ll weigh zero.
My spindly legs stiff as I stand,
Light from the night hallway,
Red glint of my eyes.
Am I still sleeping?
I dreamed of Zafir,
Weighing the sand on the beach.
4


Abbas is muttering.
Standing, I look for my paper and pen,
Books scattered about. Inhale-
I breathe in my ancestral home,
Turquoise rough stucco and terra cotta-tiled floors,
Earth colors, arches and airy rooms,
All crumbling now. There, the tinny piano
My mother once played. Here, the brass compass.
Abbas serves breakfast,
Eats at his small bench,
Belching and smiling.
Through an arched window,
I gaze at the wide rutted steps
To the terrace and down to the sea.
Garden of aloe and sharpened spine puyas,
The dune evening primrose, the prickly white poppies,
The red bougainvilleas that wind up the walls-
Shadowy shapes in the dim light of dawn.
There, bitter orange trees,
Now smelling vanilla and powdery.
Olive groves, gift of my father,
Like everything here.
Parentless now. I was a parent myself,
Father and husband.
5
Then faintly, the call of the muezzin,
The nasalized song.
Abbas drops to the floor, praying.
I watch him and wait,
Help him regain his feet,
Give him his cane.
I am blasphemy.
Shukr , he says, rubbing his bony knees.
Glances at me, sighs,
Hobbles from the room.
6


I take up my pen, dry for some years.
What should I write?
What should I think?
Escape from this slow daily drip-
Keeping accounts, trips to the tailor,
My sweeping cracked plaster, the buckling
Unbuckling of sandals,
The sippings of tea,
Life without life-
Nothing and nothing,
Drivel from dry seabeds,
While time slides to an end.
But something has turned, opened,
Some wrinkling of air, brain cell that shuddered,
Perhaps Uncle Zafir called from the grave-
And the tree is no longer a tree,
Hand is no longer a hand,
And I will not sleep to the end.
Look, morning light falls on my desk-
I take up my pen.
7
In the distance, I see a great tower,
A built thing, a place.
Child, I m a child, song of discovering-
I ll move and explore.
There, a long hallway,
A dome, silent stars
Splitting the blackness from light-
I knock on the door of the universe.
Here, this small villa, this table, this pen.
I ask the universe: What? and Why?
Now wakened, I must remake the world,
One grain at a time.
8

A great door opens a crack,
Sends a shaft through the darkness,
Which brightens one tile in the hall,

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