Word Fog

Words, even if they come from
the soul, hide the soul, as fog

rising off the sea covers the sea,
the coast, the fish, the pearls.

It’s noble work to build coherent
philosophical discourses, but

they block out the sun of truth.
See God’s qualities as an ocean,

this world as foam on the purity
of that. Brush away and look

through the alphabet to essence,
as you do the hair covering your

beloved’s eyes. Here’s the mystery:
this intricate, astonishing world

is proof of God’s presence even as
it covers the beauty. One flake

from the wall of a gold mine does
not give much idea what it’s like

when the sun shines in and turns
the air and the workers golden.

— Ghazal (Ode) 921
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
“The Glance”
Viking-Penguin, 1999

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One Comment on “Word Fog”

  1. Denny Says:

    I really like this poem. Still (and I reveal myself as an outsider when I say this), this poem does not need the line breaks to sustain its full power as a poem. In fact, to me they are distinctly distracting, because they serve absolutely no purpose, save one, which is perhaps to signal to the reader that it is, in fact, a poem, in case the reader could not already sense it. The line-break convention is the poetic equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes. This is a comment on poetic convention, not the poem itself. Other poems, on the other hand, would have no poetic qualities whatsover, if the line breaks were removed. Which is to say, they aren’t really poems at all, except in the mind of the poet.