If you wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly a surprisingly large percentage of the population is walking around singing a song you’ve never heard about fruit, this will be the reason why:
Perhaps “nah.... a mango” is destined to be the “thank u, next” of 2019, and by this time on Thursday we’ll all be living in a post-“nah.... a mango” world. All the world’s drag queens will know the lyrics by sundown that day. It’ll be mentioned Saturday night by Pete Davidson on Weekend Update. By Sunday, it’ll have a music video satirizing great sports movies of the ’80s. Every gay bar in the country will place a rush order for mango nectar and put “nah.... a mangorita” on special just in time for Taco Tuesday. Such is the way of the world.
But as fun as “nah.... a mango” and each of the four dots in its too-long ellipses are to type, it’s probably unlikely to dominate the cultural conversation. But this writer, at least, it still glad she tweeted such a thing, both because of those four dots and because it introduced me, a big poetry nerd, to this gem I’d never read before.
Here’s Grande, one minute before tweeting “nah.... a mango”:
That’s “He Visits My Town Once A Year” by Amir Khusrau, a 13th-century Indian poet and historian who is considered one of the great Persian language poets. I’m ashamed to say he wasn’t on my radar at all prior to this tweet. I should also mention that it took a lot of digging and an assist from Billboard to find the poet, source, and the names of translators (In The Bazaar Of Love, Paul E. Losensky and Sunil Sharma)—Ariana, attribution is your friend!
Still, quibbles aside, this is a pretty cool thing. Yes, it’s funny to type “nah.... a mango,” but there’s a lot going on in that poem, beginning with “mango” vs. “man go” and going on from there. It does what great poetry is supposed to do—it stopped this writer, at least, in her tracks. It captures a great deal about pleasure, relationships, food, sex, valuing the self, and so on in just a few lines. And it made me want a mango. Like, now.
Grande seems to feel similarly. She retweeted this, which she first wrote in 2013:
All it needs is four more dots.
Thanks to Ariana Grande to alerting me to this lovely poem and this poet. I hope to see more pop starts enigmatically tweet lines from poems about food in the future.