September 27, 2014

Wiki Friday: Neruda / Rosh Hashanah / September

Four years have passed since I wrote a Wiki Friday post. Man, time. Anyway, this one is themed around connection and poetry.

Pablo Neruda

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon

What adjective-noun combinations! They make you a little woozy, no?

I was at a dinner party with family friends on Wednesday and saw these words on the book shelf. They are the title of a collection of Neruda's poems–his mature work, apparently–and also the first words in a pretty sexy poem involving mud and honey. Naturally I came home and Wikipedia'd Neruda. So many nuggets of delight:

That he wrote his first poems when he was 10.

That he chose his pen name after a Czech poet. And later adopted it as his legal name.

That he wrote in green ink, his "personal symbol for desire and hope."

That he published erotic poetry at 18.

Rosh Hashanah

Next up on the Wikipedia search list was Jewish New Year, which started on Wednesday.

I learned that people often eat apples dipped in honey to evoke a "sweet new year." It was very fitting, then, that I ate three caramel apples at a wedding the weekend before.

The word Elul jumped out–the month in the Hebrew calendar leading up to Rosh Hashanah. In Turkish the word for September is eyl├╝l. And flash, I remembered a wonderful Turkish poem that I (poorly) translated in a creative writing class years ago. Here it is:


a poem by Hilmi Yavuz

september! even in childhood
I would watch you
how by the waning
words of summer
you were dismantled
      with the gardens and ashes
filled me… september!

september! the fragile season!
fall’s glass dagger
would splinter in my heart
while day and night
you were cloaked
      with loneliness and lace
filled me… september!

september! I forgot you
the mountain turned red, the path yellow
and I would glance back
your memory showed no mercy
your laughter shattered
      mirrors and roses
filled me… september!


Let us take another moment looking at Elul, the 12th month of the Jewish civil calendar.

The word comes from the Akkadian word for 'harvest'.

The word is similar to the Aramaic root for 'search'.

The Talmud says that Elul can work as an acronym for "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li" - "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" 

"Many Jews also visit the graves of loved ones throughout the month in order to remember and honor those people in our past who inspire us to live more fully in the future."

The month is meant to be spent in preparation for important spiritual days, and for asking for and granting forgiveness. A time of focus and shift.

I have always felt that September is the true beginning of a new year. I am somewhat heartened to learn that an entire religious tradition feels the same way.

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