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  1. #1
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    Could somebody read the following text and say what's it all about. I would appreciate discussing both the language and the (literary) message of the text.
    Thanks and regards
    Jamshid
    Indian Rubies
    Patti Smith
    I Have ALWAYS POSSESSED a kind of knapsack, if nothing more than a piece of cloth or skin tied in a knot. My sack, worthy companion, produces, when opened, a world
    defined by its contents-fluxion, unique, beloved.
    This uncommon bundle has always been my comfort, my happy burden. Yet I have found it unwise to attach myself to the souvenirs within. For as soon as I focus on a certain object I misplace it or it just disappears.
    I had a ruby. Imperfect, beautiful, like faceted blood. It came from India where they wash up on the shore. Thousands of them – the beads of sorrow. Little droplets that somehow became gems gathered by beggars who trade them for rice. Whenever I stared into its depths I felt overcome, for caught within my little gem was more misery and hope than one could fathom.
    It frightened and inspired, and I kept it in my sack, a waxed yellow packet the size and shape of a razor blade. I’d stop and take it out and look at it. I did this so often it was no longer necessary to see what I was looking at. And because of this I can not say for certain when it disappeared.
    I can still see it though. I see it on the foreheads of the women. In the poet’s hollow. I see it at the throat of a diva and in the palm of the deserter. Pressing against a wire fence. A drop of blood on a calico dress. I open my bundle and dump the contents in the furrows of the earth. Nothing – an old spoon, a rudder, the remains of a walkie-talkie. Spreading the cloth to rest upon I take breaths as long as the furrows. As if to quell the spirits; hold them from shaking and clanging.
    In the ring of the impossible night. Everything elastic. The sky a deep disturbing rose. I can feel the dust of Calcutta, the gone eyes of Bhopal. I can see the prayer flags flapping about like old socks in the warm, ironic wind.
    Can I offer you this bell
    The whisper merchant
    It is extremely valuable
    A museum piece, priceless
    No thank you, I answer
    I do not wish to own
    But it is a wonderful bell
    A ceremonial piece
    A fine bell
    My head is a bell
    I murmur
    Between
    Bandaged fingers
    Already asleep
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 22-Mar-2006 at 08:45.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    My intial reaction is that the prose part is very well-written and evocative, but the poetry towards the end is rather lame and obvious. I like some of the phrasing, like 'more misery and hope', and the staccato effect of the short sentences and incomplete fragments. It would be better for me if she ended with the warm, ironic wind.

  3. #3
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    Hi Richard
    Thanks for your comments. The idea of seeing the text as two parts: the prose and the poetry part is surely intended but at the same time raises the question why the modes. I would say form and content support each other to some extent. The poetry message as you said is more obvious and not as interesting as the first part.
    Your observation regarding the short fragments is right. What does it reflect? What's is the overall message? A ruby is supposed to be one of the most precious stones. The idea of possession begins the text: I have always possessed.. What does the knapsack symbolize. BTW the text starts with the knapsack (word play on nap) and ends with asleep.
    Regards
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 24-Mar-2006 at 07:57.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    Hi, Jamshid. I'd say the significance of the knapsack is that it is a basic and cheap bag, suggesting he possession of a backpacking traveller, not the luxury end. Simple and basic, but full of memories, both positive and ngative, the riches of the world and experience, not simply the material value of a ruby.

  5. #5
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    Hi, Richard
    I can't agree more (Possession and material value):
    the significance of the knapsack is that it is a basic and cheap bag, suggesting the possession of a backpacking traveller, not the luxury end.
    The memories as you say are both positive and negative:
    Simple and basic, but full of memories, both positive and ngative, the riches of the world and experience, not simply the material value of a ruby.
    Whe she opens the knapsack you find: an old spoon but also a walkie-talkie which is not basic. Does it contain both basic and non-basic, good memories, bad memories, prose and peotry. I mean whatever you read you see two opposite poles. When you focus the ruby it disappears.
    When discussing it with a lady she said the knapsack and the ruby might symbolize pregnancy and giving birth. There is some allusion to blood in the text. Would you agree with that?

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    I hadn't thoght of the birth idea, though it makes sense. I thought the objects (spoon, rudder, walkie talkie) were an odd selection; why would she be carrying a rudder?

  7. #7
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    A rudder is perhaps a symbol for showing the way. This might be philosophical which way to go. A spoon is basic (food). What about the furrows of the earth?
    Regards
    Jamshid

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    Is dumping the contents in the furrows like planting?

  9. #9
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    A gem is taken out (robbed) of the ocean (water) and worn by some women. Perhaps furrows is the opposite you don't take out but give back (to earth). What was your about about planting?
    Regards
    Jamshid

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Indian Rubies by Patti Smith

    She dumps the contents of her bag in the furrow. The contents seem to contain memories of the past, so I thought it might be like a cycle of renewal- planting the past in a furrow.

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