Friday, May 2, 2008

Splendid Suns - Introduction

A Thousand Splendid Suns is about Kabul, Afghanistan. It's also about two women. However, let's start with the poem from which the title is taken:

KABUL
(Translated by Dr. Josephine Davis)

Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains
And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies
Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes
But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust

My song exhalts her dazzling tulips
And at the beauty of her trees, I blush
How sparkling the water flows from Pul-I-Bastaan!
May Allah protect such beauty from the evil eye of man!

Khizr chose the path to Kabul in order to reach Paradise
For her mountains brought him close to the delights of heaven
From the fort with sprawling walls, A Dragon of protection
Each stone is there more precious than the treasure of Shayagan

Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Her laughter of mornings has the gaiety of flowers
Her nights of darkness, the reflections of lustrous hair
Her melodious nightingales, with passion sing their songs
Ardent tunes, as leaves enflamed, cascading from their throats

And I, I sing in the gardens of Jahanara, of Sharbara
And even the trumpets of heaven envy their green pastures
---Saib-e-Tabrizi 17th Century


This poet obviously loved Kabul, and thought of the city as a beautiful woman.

Remember this personification when you read the book. There's a real disconnect between the loving description of a woman in this poem, and the women in the book.

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