I am an emerging playwright, producer, and poet. I graduated from NYU Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, class of 2015. Born into a Navy Family, I have had the privilege of living around the world, and I draw my inspiration from the near-legendary places I have passed through -- from the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, to the archaic ruins of Sicily, to the mighty fortresses of Malta. I love to cook, preferably while listening to KC and the Sunshine Band.
The Fall of the Ottoman Empire
I have seen the Ottoman Empire fall,
I watched it collapse under its own weight.
Not of hubris or pride or punished gall,
Nor nomads marching on the sultan’s gate.
We conquered Byzantium together
Proclaimed majesty from our Sublime Porte.
Sultan and Caliph, lashed tether to tether,
Holding a divinely drunken high court.
Immersed in decorum and ritual,
We Ottomans let our Empire decay.
What was once love became habitual;
Powerless, we watched our realms break away.
‘Till what remained was faded memory:
The lone tether left lashed ‘tween you and me.
I reached for your hand, but found brittle stone.
Thunderous silence ringing our death knell,
Drowning your decree that our empire fell.
Pleading for me to abdicate the throne,
Before you shut the door to our palace.
And the Baroque Hall became a bed room:
Our sacred bed contorted as a tomb,
Imprisoning me in sheets of malice.
Soft, I awaited the deposèd’s fate,
The barbaric end to our sultanate.
No blade ever fell, no gun ever shot:
A Sultan whom the uprising forgot.
The coldest punishment ever ordained:
My Empire shattered, yet I still remained.
Editor's Note: When I asked him to explain this fine poem to me, Nathan wrote:
I wrote "The Fall of the Ottoman Empire" as a way of dealing with, and codifying the end of a long-term relationship. I have always been drawn to conceit, allegory, and allusion. In this case, I tried to fuse the conceit of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the collapse of my relationship. Neither seemed to fall due to a violent uprising, or intense drama. They both withered and collapsed.
I also wanted to examine the sense of denial, and the almost impossible nature of moving on from the demise of a relationship: the Caliph is able to leave, while the Sultan can't. But the Sultan's inability to move on is insignificant; history marches on. The sultan never abdicates, yet he is not executed. The Empire is simply disintegrated, and he is forgotten. A king without a country -- I still existed, but the relationship was gone. In the end, I wanted to take something as universal as a break up, and make it feel as specific and unique as I could, by tying it to something I had studied and respected.
©2015 Nathan Dennis