Exotic Nights by Zulfiqar Ghose

“Exotic Nights” is a poem by Zulfiqar Ghose that invites readers into a vivid and atmospheric setting, exploring themes of birth, illumination, decay, and the duality of light and darkness. Written by Zulfiqar Ghose, the poem presents a surreal landscape and evokes a sense of mystery and intrigue. Disturbed Nights is also a famous poem by Zulfiqar Ghose.

Ten thousand children were born in Dolores Hidalgo 
between February and October. After the spring rains 
the hot, dry months nourished the fields of sunflowers 
and ten thousand flowers sprang up from each acre. 
O Lady of Shadows, you were vilely illuminated! 
The warrior on horseback had reached the shores of 
that same lake where illicit lovers rented cabins 
and pointed his sword at the water glowing pink 
in the sunset. The medieval castle in the lake had long
been abandoned. Lady Macbeth roamed among the tall 
sunflowers, throwing upon them the shadow of her 
feverish head. There was a grinding noise in the air, 
as of blades in a machine, a pulverizing of seeds, and 
a bitter powdery dust floated across the horizon 
where the evening's last flock of crows was falling
from the sky upon the silhouette of sycamores. 
O Lady of Shadows, what source of light vexed you then? 
You were crazed with the news of the ten thousand births 
and began to trample the sunflowers. You spat out 
the seeds. And when the sun went down and the light 
turned grey you saw the crows rise up, applauding the night.

Exotic Nights by Zulfiqar Ghose

The opening lines describe the town of Dolores Hidalgo, where ten thousand children were born within a specific time frame. The mention of the spring rains and the subsequent dry months creating fields of sunflowers highlights the cyclical nature of life and growth. The imagery of flowers springing up from each acre symbolizes the abundance and fertility of the land.

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The poem introduces the character of the Lady of Shadows, who is illuminated in a vile manner. This suggests that she is exposed to a harsh and unflattering light that reveals her flaws and vulnerabilities. The arrival of a warrior on horseback at a lake associated with illicit lovers adds an element of tension and danger to the scene.

As the narrative unfolds, the abandoned medieval castle in the lake and the presence of Lady Macbeth among the tall sunflowers create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. Lady Macbeth, a character known for her guilt and manipulation in Shakespeare’s play, becomes a symbol of inner turmoil and restlessness.

The poem continues with the depiction of a grinding noise in the air, reminiscent of blades in a machine and the pulverization of seeds. This imagery suggests destruction and decay, contrasting with the earlier theme of growth and fertility. The bitter powdery dust floating across the horizon and the falling crows contribute to the sense of impending darkness and foreboding.

The Lady of Shadows becomes increasingly agitated upon hearing the news of the ten thousand births. She tramples the sunflowers and spits out the seeds, perhaps representing a rejection of new life or a disturbance of the natural order.

As the sun sets and darkness descends, the crows rise up, applauding the night. This final image suggests a shift towards the acceptance of darkness and the unknown, hinting at a complex relationship between light and darkness.

Overall, “Exotic Nights” offers a surreal and enigmatic exploration of contrasting themes. The poem touches upon the cycles of life and death, the juxtaposition of illumination and shadow, and the underlying tension between growth and decay.

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Through its atmospheric imagery and symbolic elements, the poem encourages readers to contemplate the mysteries and complexities of existence.

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