In the name of -LETTERS FROM
By Octai Etrai
LETTERS FROM MADHOUSE written by an unknown poetess from an
unknown country with an imaginary name : Peri, gives us
stimulating sense of hope and identity. Why ?
While they are anonymous and hopeless, how do they give us
identity and hope ? Simply because by reading them we feel a
warmness in our blood. We feel we needed this madness and missed
it . We say to ourselves:
Oh God! then, we still live in a world that somebody becomes mad
for the sake of love and doesn’t fear of scandal ! There is
still somebody who takes love very seriously , like legendary
lovers and hits her head to the wall to say: I hate the walls,
I want to become a wanderer in the deserts forever. Somebody
who doesn’t want to protect herself from deadly wounds of love.
So, there is still a hope to this world ! And so , we are not
yet defeated by aircrafts, automobiles ,subways, bankbooks and
politicians ! A heart , as small as a fist and as soft as a
dove’s meat is still able to fight with all kind of bombs and
modern coldness and cruelty only by falling into pieces and
becoming mad !
Thanks God ! We can touch the kingdom of heaven by Peri’s naked
heart .Her perished reason,gives more strength to her purest
heart for touching the heaven and conveying it’s messages to us.
The most important thing for Peri is love. She can't forget her
beloved and that is why she takes refugee to the endless desert
of madness and her final choice is endless sleep.
I must remember Sylvia Plath who was mentally ill and killed
herself for the sake of lost love,but I remember Ted Hughes who
wrote Birthday letters in the last years of his life to prove he
was not a murderer, but a poet, a man in love. Peri, in
Madhouse letters tries to prove she is not crazy,she is only a
poet, a woman who loves madly; more alone than a lonely leaf
,full of need for a caressing breeze, a metaphor for a manly
Letter by letter, poem by poem she proves this: crazy, is the
society not she, because this society “loves the walls" and
“hates the windows”.This society Is used to “tell lies” and to
“ kill the spirits. ” This society “ has emptied brains of music
and bodies of dances” and tries to empty hearts from love.(An
ideal society for fundamentalists). This society in the name of
God, calls the innocent pollinating wind: the adulterer, while
God’s mercy exceeds our offense. I remember the poem SINFUL
The city of factory owners, boxers, millionaires,
the city of inventors and of engineers,
the city of generals, merchants, and patriotic poets
with its black sins has exceeded the bounds of God’s wrath:
and God was enraged.
A hundred times He’d threatened vengeance on the town,
A rain of sulphur, fire, thunderbolts raining down,
And hundred times he’d taken pity.
For ,he always remembered what once he had promised :
That even for two just men he’d not destroy his city,
And a promise should retain its power:
Just then two lovers walked across the park,
breathing the scent of hawthorn shrubs in flower.
Peri, remembering the death of her son in the war, reminds us
of the time in which we live, more crazy than all times because
the real actions are in the city, not on the front lines . Even
armies were more wiser in the former centuries. They ruined
only the enemy positions, while now they kill the women and
children in the cities .
Where is Good word, Good deed, Good thought ? Peri asks.
Once, the roofs ,were shelters over bleak heads, but now they
had turned into the fifth wall for our thoughts and feelings .
Everything conveys prison:
Naked walls, closed windows, terrifying whiteness .Life without
love is a prison, in which ,one can hear no voice but the tick
tack of the Time . Peri has taken refugee to love,for, she
doesn’t want to hear the tick –tack of o’clock but due to her
unfaithful lover she finds an o’clock in her chest. What is
left for her ? Absolutely nothing ! She has lost even her
personality as a housewife:
Why has the o’clock hidden itself
in my chest ? Where is my cat?
Where is the vacuum cleaner ?
Where are the mountains of
unwashed dishes and and clothes?
And these are the “things”, without them a woman can't
recognize herself ! Even her cat ,reminds of her duties as a
housewife, because she should take care of the cat so that her
children can play with it !
I, as a poetry reader claim that I have never seen, even in the
most painful love songs of the world , such a strong bond, Peri
feels for the man he loves . She describes her greatest grief
for separation, as a “Death certificate” written by the Doctor :
When he forgot her
She couldn’t remember herself anymore
This is why
Upon closing her eyelids only for having a nap
she died .
If this is not poetry, then what is poetry? Only poetry can say
how is it possible to die without the ugliness of death. Without
disgusting coldness of mortuary, without terrifying coldness of
coffin, without merciless coldness of the bottom of the grave.
And still no magnificent funeral can awake the saddest smell of
death as much as such a simple death in poetry.
I, personally, if can see this woman with my own two eyes, I
will never believe she is alive anymore. At the same time I
can't assume her a restful dead, slept under a sober and solemn
gravestone . I see her hand out of the tomb, stretching for her
man’s hand and I see her spirit on the wheelchair, sloping to
an unended downward …
I, again as a poetry reader am very eager to know what is the
cause of such a strong bond? The woman has not met the man .Never.
is not a young girl anymore .She has two children .She has
husband , (a good husband). She can't be a sentimental woman .
She has profound feelings:
In my eye
You were a man ,a human , a poet
I shared with you my visions, my cage , my poems
Thus , she can not be a dissolute woman , a second Madam Bovari
who seeks meaning of life in sumptuous parties and sees love as
a intermediary to reach her “meaningless” goals ; as Gustav
Faober reveals .
Peri has fallen in love with man’s poetry first, and has
translated them into her “mother language. She can be another Milena ,the woman who was translator of Franz Kafka and fell
desperately in love with him . Kafka called Milena “ a living
fire such as I have never seen before ” and soon she became his
“angel”. He writes: “She is sensitive, brave, and bright ,she
throws everything into her sacrifice or, if you will, owes
everything to sacrifice …”. They quickly became intimate in
their letters. To see a woman in love as an angel,is perhaps
the starting point of finding her on another day as a demon and
to leave her . Artists cannot walk on the ground .They are
either in the skies or in the world of Haydes.
Peri’s man is a poet .She is accustomed to receive his poems
everyday. This poet has a strong spirit, there is no doubt.
His spirit has build a beautiful bridge between west and east by
poetry. This is a bridge that denies all the the distances.
All mountains, all oceans, and all political discords and
I wish I could read his poems .Where is he ? Who is he? Has he
received Peri’s letters from madhouse? All these questions makes
warm our blood .Both of them are firmly successful in awakening
the dead flames of longing for love in our hearts . And at the
same time they make flow the burning tears in our eyes for
breaking this bridge. The words: money ,lie and deceive in
these lines are shocking:
The coldness and whiteness of this room
In this mad house
bears witness that I expected nothing from you , my love ;
not money ,not a ring ,not even the shadow of a dove,
“Liar and deceiver", you called me so and left me .
The coldness and whiteness of this room
In this mad house
Bear witness that “ I couldn’t lie ,
Is the roots of all these dark words because of differences
between western and eastern cultures? Between being visionary
and pragmatist ?
These are the questions that goads me ,according to Emily
Dickinson, like the goblin Bee ــ that will not State ـــ its
After this, in rainy days ,when I feel fresh, like a green leaf,I will remember Peri, like a bird in a cage .And I will
remember the true love she brought back from the fairytales to
our time to sanctify our days, full of disappointing damnable