Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Mother Tongue

“In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.” 
― Mark TwainThe Innocents Abroad

“Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.” 
― Roland Barthes

“An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.” 
― Edith Wharton

“In the Arab world, gratitude is a language unto itself. “May Allah bless the hands that give me this gift”; “Beauty is in the eyes that find me pretty”; “May Allah never deny your prayer”; and so on, an infinite string of prayerful appreciation. Coming from such a culture, I have always found a mere “thank you” an insufficient expression that makes my voice sound miserly and ungrateful” (169).
― Susan AbulhawaMornings in Jenin

Midweek Motif ~ Mother Tongue

I missed the International Mother Language Day on 21 February.  Did you?  Better late than never!  

From Wikipedia: 

"International Mother Language Day . . .  is an observance held annually worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism."

Your Challenge:  
Compose a poem on any subject/event which includes an experience of more than one language.  Make us experience it too.

Photo of little girl in Nepal leading class in pronunciation of alphabet
Little girl at Shreeshitalacom Lower Secondary School in Kaski, Nepal
leads class in pronunciation of alphabet.
Photo: World Bank

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings. . . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at The Poetry Foundation.)

by Perez Firmat

Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones.
I have mixed feelings about everything.
Name your tema, I'll hedge;
name your cerca, I'll straddle it
like a cubano.
I have mixed feelings about everything.
. . . .

(Read the Rest HERE at NPR, Morning Edition,  10/17/2011)


For those who are new to Poets United:  
  • Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  • Post your Mother Tongue poem on your site, and then link it here.
  • If you use a picture include its link.  
  • Please leave a comment here. 
  • Visit and comment on our poems.

(Our next Midweek Motif is "A Woman's Day")

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  1. Good morning, Susan and everyone! I enjoyed 'playing' with this prompt.

    1. Great! There are so many ways to think of mother tongues!

  2. Good Morning Everyone!
    Guten Morgen!
    Aloha kakahiaka!
    Buenos días!

    1. My mother tongue is English, though I heard German around the house. Like the first two poets above, I thought of some of the earliest language I learned. And, in my case, it was fun to remember something that lived only at the border of my memory.

  3. Thank you for this one Susan - it's been gestating for a usual a side tour of what language means and how things get lost in translation...happy Wednesday to you

    1. You are so very welcome. Your hard-won wisdom breathes through your poetry. I cannot thank you enough for sharing it.

  4. A few lines on the history of the significance of this day...Bengali words are in the notes of Wikipedia...great prompt Susan as always...I'll make round after a while...

    1. Forgive me, Sumana, for leaving out the important origin of this day. You provide a great summary beneath your poem, and here is the link to the history: Wikipedia has a Bangladesh portal: and many entrries on the Bengali dialects.

      তোমাকে ধন্যবাদ Tōmākē dhan'yabāda

    2. Oh Susan how sweet of you to thank me in Bengali!!

  5. Good morning all :) I'm trying to get more into doing the midweek motifs. I didn't think this was going to work out this week, but it did :) Thank you, Susan for this challenge! I look forward to more :)

    1. You are very welcome. Have fun with them. Everything here is meant to be stimulation you can pick and choose among.

  6. And I didn't mean to enter my name twice! Sorry about that.

  7. A very cool prompt and I look forward to the various takes on it. Yay!

    1. It's more varied than usual, my friend. Enjoy!

  8. When I visited Paris in my 20's I fell in love with every pretty girl I spoke with
    who says there's no language of love.

  9. Your prompt made me remember so many things. Too many to include in a poem. Great prompt Susan. I like how you select various special days and use them as prompts.
    I'll be back to visit everyone later. Have a good day.

    1. Good, good. Maybe this calls for a whole cycle of poems? I'm glad you like the special day poems, Myrna. We have another coming up for International Woman's Day. And since that one falls on a Sunday, you can do it again for the pantry!

  10. Susan, so sorry. I thought I posted my prompt hours ago. Glad I checked. I think I did it right this time.

  11. Annell's link does not work. This is her poem:

  12. morning all. the last lines in each verse are in spanish and when they are put together are a stand alone poem.

  13. A subtle one from me...the language of music and Love. Thank you for the challenge...sorry to be so late...I'll make rounds. :)

    1. You're not late--and you are very welcome! Very cool, Hannah.

  14. Hope no one is discriminated against because of language...
    Great that you have given this lovely topic!

  15. Susan,

    I had wanted to participate this week, but gradually was overcome by a bad cold, which took me off duty!! I have posted my poem and shall make visits to other writers, over the next few days.
    A wonderful prompt, which I enjoyed reflecting upon...


  16. What an interesting prompt and so many different interpretations. perhaps mine was little too literal.


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