Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Messenger Donkey

"Two men riding donkeys met one day on a narrow mountain trail. They greeted each other in the customary way, asking about each other's family, and health, and cattle. They began to speak of the crops and the rainfall, and as they talked they noticed that their donkeys put their heads together and sniffed at one another.

One of the men became very annoyed at this, and he said irritably:

- Isn't it enough that you and I have already greeted each other? Why is it necessary for our animals to carry on a conversation too?

The other man smiled and said:

- You don't know the reason? Well, I will tell you. You see, donkeys have been beasts of burden for a long while. Many years ago they had a great meeting and selected one of their members to go to God to plead with him that all donkey should be freed from the cruelty and tyranny of men. The years have gone by, but their messenger hasn't come back yet. And now whenever donkeys meet on the road or in the market place, they put their mouths together and ask one another: 'Has the messenger donkey returned?

So when you see your donkey nuzzling another don't become angry, but simply remember that all living creatures long for liberty."

This is a story lifted from "The Fire On The Mountain and Other Ethiopian Stories" by Harold Courlander and Wolf Leslau.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Lion in the Iron Cage - by Nazim Hikmet

"Look at the lion in the iron cage,
look deep into his eyes:
like two naked steel daggers
they sparkle with anger.
But he never loses his dignity
although his anger
comes and goes
goes and comes.

You couldn't find a place for a collar
round his thick, furry mane.
Although the scars of a whip
still burn on his yellow back
his long legs
stretch and end
in the shape of two copper claws.
The hairs on his mane rise one by one
around his proud head.
His hatred
comes and goes
goes and comes ...

The shadow of my brother on the wall of the dungeon
up and down
up and down."

Nazim Hikmet, Turkish poet, 1902-1963