Monday, October 05, 2009

821. Apologies - Gwendolyn Mac Ewen

from The T.E. Lawrence Poems

I did not choose Arabia; it chose me. The shabby money
That the desert offered us bought lies, bought victory.
What was I, that soiled Outsider, doing
Among them? I was not becoming one of them, no matter
What you think. They found it easier to learn my kind
of Arabic, than to teach me theirs.
And they were all mad; they mounted their horses and camels
from the right.

But my mind's twin kingdoms waged an everlasting war;
The reckless Bedouin and the civilized Englishman
fought for control, so that I, whatever I was,
Fell into a dumb void that even a false god could not fill,
could not inhabit.

The arabs are children of the idea; dangle an idea
In front of them, and you can swing them wherever.
I was also a child of the idea; I wanted
no liberty for myself, but to bestow it
Upon them. I wanted to present them with a gift so fine
it would outshine all other gifts in their eyes;
it would be worthy. Then I at last could be

You can't imagine how beautiful it is to be empty.
Out of this grand emptiness wonderful things must surely
come into being.
When we set out, it was morning. We hardly knew
That when we moved we would not be an army, but a world.