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06 September 2020

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Sailing to Byzantium
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
I

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.


II

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.


III

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.


IV

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

W. B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium” from The Poems of W. B. Yeats: A New Edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran. Copyright 1933 by Macmillan Publishing Company, renewed © 1961 by Georgie Yeats. Reprinted with the permission of A. P. Watt, Ltd. on behalf of Michael Yeats.
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

Polish Janitor

I remember visiting Haggia Sophia back in 2000 and it was a fascinating experience. The ambiance, both the byzantine architecture and the Islamic influence together in one site. The bazaars near the site and the hustle and bustle around it.


I follow ME geopolitics closely(not professionally) and the Erdogan case is a curious one to me. He really thinks he could revive a 21st century neo-ottoman empire in the region. The guy is over-stretching Turkey in multiple fronts and all of this is taking place in the context of the quagmire that is the ME and its unforgiving and brutal dynamics. He is even opening up a new front in Yemen with the aim of supporting M.Brotherhood so that he could carve out a piece of the Yemeni pie when the time comes. On the Libyan front, things are calmer so that Erdogan has been able to focus more on other issues at hand such as the Mediterranean oil and the standoff with Greece, and the Arab-Israeli normalization.

I always thought it was very interesting and commendable that the christian communities-especially the Orthodox- in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon never joined forces with the Borg and did not-at lest not to my knowledge- become destabilizing forces in the region at the behest of regime-changers there, unlike Sunnis and its Wahhabi nutcases who have never seen a jihad they didn't like.

John Unhinge

A slightly misleading article because the finished building will be a vastly scaled down version built primarily for its symbolic implications.
There is a recent proffesy that Hagia Sophia will be taken and held by the Russians when Erdogan and Turkey go too far and finally upset the Russians beyond reason.
The last Orthodox mass was celebrated in the Hagia Sophia during the First World War when a Greek warship, anchored in the Bosporus, sent its priest and some of its ship’s company ashore to visit Hagia Sophia without permission. The local Turks, being totally unfamiliar with Orthodox practices, didn’t realise what was going on and the Orthodox celebration was completed in full and without interruption. This story is still talked of lovingly within Greek naval circles. Just as there is a song sung by Greek naval divers about reoccupying ‘the City’, which is a direct reference to Byzantium.
If you think this unlikely please don't forget that Greece was once a Turkish province. Islamic dictators like Erdogan can only survive with the help of the idle Islamic rich and the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood. In himself Erdogan has no more influence than a pig’s fart in a thunderstorm!
John Unhinge.

Babak makkinejad

Polish Janitor

It reminded me of the Saint Mark Cathedral in Venice.

Babak makkinejad

John Unhinge

Erdogan is not a dictator, he has done more for representative system of government in Turkey than any so-called secularist Turkis leader, in my opinion.

But neither him, nor the secularists, understand the idea of Freedom. No one in the Muslim world grasps it the way it is understood or practiced in the Western Diocletian civilization - again, in my opinion.

Bill H

"The Syrian government is the protector of the Christian and other minorities in the country."

That should be posted on billboards throughout the United States, with the addition that Assad is the elected head of that government.

Polish Janitor

Babak makkinejad,

Yes indeed. The byzantine architecture is so unique, especially the implementation of domes and the generous application of 'space'in structures that makes it really stand out compared to angular and more 'geometric' application of space in the arrangement of columns and domes in Greek and neo-classical architecture. It also very interesting how the confluence of cultures from east (Persia) and west can be seen in architecture and temples in places such as Constantinople and Venice, as you mentioned.

If I could interject here with regards to Erdogan and the non-western societies: I think a lot can be traced back to the nature of the social contract between the state and the individual. The concept of 'guardianship' is an integral fabric of traditional societies and are omnipresent in its various forms such as religious, monarchical, and parliamentary (the latter which is illiberal in nature) and eastern societies have yet to reach to an understanding where government's guardianship by its nature is against individual freedoms that, say exists in Britain because of 800+ years (Magna Carta) of struggle between the state and the individual. This is why, to me, that the idea of nation-building in tough corners of the world by certain factions in the West is preposterous and impossible because the cultural heritage of individualism, self-reliance and responsibility is either non-existent or just not that strong to lead to any fundamental changes in the gov. vs individual relationship.

Deap

Yeats - condensed version - tribute to Hagia Sophia - such artfully crafted words -can a mere building transcend into the spiritual for a dying man ...who sails to Byzantium?.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.


II
Monuments of its own magnificence;.
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.


III

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.

Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Babak makkinejad

Polish Janitor

I do not think there has been a lot of theoretical considerations on the nature of an Islamic state. I can recall only 3 thinkers: Al Farabi, Khwajeh Nasir al Din Toosi, and Khwajeh Nizam al Mulk. As far as I know, the common understanding and expectation of an Islamic state was the Protection of Islam, which, seems to have been reduced to upholding of Islamic Law, for the most part.

To this day, among the Shia, the Path of Eloquence of Imam Ali is studied for pertinent lessons on Islamic governance and statesmanship - there has been no cannonical text in the intervening 1200 years.

That is one thing. In England, one has to entertain, beside the influence of developments that led to Magna Carta, the English Common Law with its enshrinment of the Right of Personal Freedom; an analogue of which has never existed in historical lands of Islam, not even during the Reign of Sassanids.

To all of this must be added the Legacy of Rome (or its absence) as well as the ideas of Christianity: Trinity leading to the Separation of Powers into 3 branches, and St. Paul's distinction between License and Liberty, a distinction that does not exist in either Judaism or in Islam.

Americans could have had some limited success in nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan had they tried to emulate the Iraian system of Islamic governance.

But that was not to be, as such heretical ideas that that hybrid system of government embodied, went against the recieved wisdom of the Enlightenment Tradition.

FakeBot

The original cathedral was built during one of the darkest periods of human history. Dark skies may await us again...

I don't say that lightly. To quote Karl Rove, empires create their own realities and the one Erdogan intends to build portends very serious dangers ahead.

Efforts need to be made contain Turkey from doing something that threatens to engulf the rest of region (or perhaps the world) into a wider war. What Biden told the New York Times back in December is correct, but he should not have aired those views so publicly. We can only hope that whatever remnants that are left of Turkish democracy will be enough to dispose of Erdogan before things in Turkey are allowed to dangerously deteriorate any further.

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