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City of Jamine

October 6th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Jasmine is the flower of Damascus.
No Jasmine in the world smells like the Damascene Jasmine. But as the city jumped head-first into the Soviet-style progress of the 1960s and 70s, that smell was replaced by the odour of petrol fumes, building site work, dust and cigarettes.
By the turn of the century, the idea of Jasmine in Damascus had become just that – an idea, a memory, slowly fading away until it became nothing more than a myth. But people live on myths, and imagined memories. So a massive Jasmine planting programme began a few years ago. 5000 plants sprung up across the capital, surrounding almost every public building.
Walk along the streets at night, especially at this time of year, and the scent of Jasmine becomes overpowering.
I have some Jasmine scent in a bottle that I take with me when I travel. Its job is to remind me what this city smells like. But truth got mixed up with imagination a few nights ago. I was walking through Damascus, and I could smell the Jasmine. I racked my brain trying to think what it reminded me of.
Then it came to me – the flowers brought back the memory of my bottle of scent.


4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tess // Oct 7, 2008 at 3.34 pm

    Your post makes me think of this poem by Vicente Huidobro, a Chilean poet who was particularly prominent during the post-WWI literary vanguard in Paris and Madrid. The poem is called “Luna” and unfortunately loses its formatting when I copy/paste.

    Estábamos tan lejos de la vida
    Que el viento nos hacía suspirar


    Inútilmente hemos huido
    El invierno cayó en nuestro camino
    Y el pasado lleno de hojas secas
    Pierde el sendero de la floresta
    Tanto fumamos bajo los árboles
    Que los almendros huelen a tabaco

    Sobre la vida lejana
    alguien llora
    Y la luna olvidó dar la hora

    Here’s a rather rough English translation:

    We were so far from life
    that the wind made us sigh


    Uselessly have we fled
    Winter fell across our route
    And the past filled with dry leaves
    Loses the trail in the grove
    We smoked so much under the trees
    That the almond trees smell of tobacco

    Over the distant life
    someone cries
    And the moon forgot to give the time

  • 2 Walter William Safar // Apr 28, 2011 at 10.11 pm


    I want to live in a world
    where everyone has the right
    to await Freedom,
    like all the beautiful mornings
    that don’t have two cold eyes
    scathingly looking at Freedom;
    I want to live in a world
    where we don’t dance around mister politician
    and all his satellites,
    while at the same time waltzing our way
    to the grave.

    I want to live in a world
    in which I can
    see a dear,
    confident and faithful face
    on each step of the way,
    instead of those of thousands of conspirators,
    sunburnt tycoons
    and stern politicians,
    which appear in the street
    for two or three weeks a year,
    with their lies
    like demonic torches
    in their cause against people.

    I want to live in a world
    where dreaming is dignity
    and not a shame,
    where there is no need to reconsider
    one’s importance in the human society,
    but it’s rather a birthright.

    I want to live in a world
    where people aren’t haunted by conscience
    for having once eaten peas,
    where food isn’t vanity to some
    and mere fantasy to others.
    I want to live in a world
    where we don’t bring dandyism
    into faith,
    to discuss in dandy terms
    how mankind no longer has faith;

    I want to live in a world
    where mankind and faith
    walk side by side,
    so that even prayers
    aren’t necessary.

    © Walter William Safar

  • 3 Walter William Safar // Jun 28, 2011 at 1.54 am


    I decided to walk upright;
    to look into the eyes of the new morning
    that rushes to meet me,
    like an honorable friend,
    and not like a dark master,
    like I used to do on all those miserable days
    when I crawled the world.

    I decided to walk upright;
    to look into the eyes of the new day,
    that caresses the sleeping rainbow
    with its white face,
    just like I used to caress
    my sleeping love.

    I decided to walk upright;
    to look into the eyes of the playful night,
    that, in the wind’s embrace,
    sings the most beautiful melodies to the lonely star
    that wanders the heavenly paths
    in its eternal search for my gaze.
    (It is known that any star
    is entirely useless without a human gaze,
    like a match in the box).

    I decided to walk upright;
    to look into the eyes of the lonely shadow
    that is looking for its bed now,
    in the dark night,
    and to cry out
    like the voice of Life,
    and not like the voice of a copper bell
    calling out for death.

    ©Walter William Safar

  • 4 Walter William Safar // Jul 5, 2011 at 6.35 pm

    The Syrian people must have civic rights to freedom of expression.
    Remember:neither a dictator and the army can not kill the voice of Freedom!!
    Only cowards and thugs shoot at civilians, a brave and honorable soldiers protect civilian


    Demonic fires blaze in the eye of the stone palace,
    and me,
    I only stand in the dark beneath the sky
    that reaches its invisible hands
    out towards scores of nameless graves.
    For callous dictator Assad,
    they are but nameless graves
    upon which no one’s tear fell.
    They were silently and swiftly buried into the black soil,
    without speeches and tears,
    without too many imprints
    on the black soil.
    (They say that everyone’s life is worth attention,
    and that the dark truth is that only death equally appreciates each life)
    And while they treacherously, silently and swiftly
    dug a new nameless grave,
    only death was faithfully listening to the crickets
    feverishly spluttering away in the dark
    to honor the dead child.
    In the hazy grave lies the child,
    like a shadow of many dreams,
    and the raindrop,
    brought from the honorable mountain
    by the honorable wind,
    softly and timidly trembles
    on the dead poet’s white face,
    like an angel’s tear.
    And dictator, tycoons and thugs
    are sitting in the golden loges now,
    ghastly and faithfully acting:
    the righteous, the charitable, the Believers,
    crying their copper voices
    out into Global silence,
    like a copper bell,
    and the dead child
    now waits for one tear
    in a nameless grave.

    ©Walter William Safar


    Tell me FREEDOM…

    Oh…tell me Hope

    Does your hot breath

    Travel the cold mountain,

    -where the solitary scream

    strays through the pestiferous fog-

    Tell me,golden FREEDOM

    Tell me hope

    How can I descend

    Into the mild valley

    Where Your wings

    Chase away

    The fog

    Towards the white heavenly fields

    Where yours wings

    Chase away the screm

    Oh the Life

    Did our acquaintance

    Turn into

    An everlasting friendship


    Golden hope

    My friend!…

    My Life!

    Is what I drink from your spirit…

    From yours spirit-

    Walter William Safar©


    It is good to see You

    flying there in the abundance of crimson and gold,

    amidst the great world,

    agleam with the flush of sunlight.

    This is why my heart is so full now,

    I am moved to tears by the thought:

    “You see, You are the patron of mankind,

    and the little dignity it has was Your work!”

    I, the poet, the dreamy child of solitude,

    Your faithful servant,

    can once again cry with joy, and You can cry with me,

    because there is no other ruler I would serve as faithfully as You.

    Whenever I look at the stars I think of those who suffer

    in faraway countries, and of the stars

    those sufferers can’t see,

    because You are so far away from them.

    My golden Freedom,

    what connection is there between Your eternal youth

    and man’s old age,

    between Your free hopes

    and man’s birds locked away in cages;

    between Your humility

    and man’s arrogance?

    My golden Freedom,

    while Your reverberant voice still echoes

    for the higher spiritual good of mankind,

    that modest candle shall still shine in the dark.

    © 2010 Walter William Safar

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