Three Translations of Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi’s ‘If the People Wanted Life One Day’

No one has yet submitted a re-translation of “To the Tyrants of the World.” However, we are having a miniature translation slam with Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi’s most famous work. As’ad Abu Khalil (the Angry Arab)—who has called al-ShabiThe Poet of the Tunisian Revolution—was the first to post a translation of al-Shabi’s most famous poem, which Abu Khalil titles, in English, “The Will of Life.”

I am not a translator, but I prefer something along the lines of the more literal title Marwa al-Naggar suggests, “If the People Wanted Life One Day.” Elliott Colla also sent over a translation (with no title):

إذا الشعب يوما أراد الحياة

“If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call.

And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall.

For he who is not embraced by a passion for life will dissipate into thin air,

At least that is what all creation has told me, and what its hidden spirits declare…”

Translated by Elliott Colla.

The Will of Life

If the people will to live
Providence is destined to favourably respond
And night is destined to fold
And the chains are certain to be broken

And he who has not embraced the love of life
Will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear.

Translated by As’ad Abu Khalil.

#

And, from over at Meedan, a translation from a contributor called “YankeeJohn”:

Should the people one day truly aspire to life / then fate must needs respond / the night must needs shine forth / and the shackles must needs break / Those who are not embraced by life’s yearning / shall evaporate in her air and vanish.

#

فلا بــدّ أن يستجيب القــــدر             إذا الشعب يوماً أراد الحيـــــــاة
ولا بـــدّ للقيـــد أن ينكســــر                ولا بدّ للــــيل أن ينجلــــــــــي
تبـــخّر في جــوّهـا واندثــــر                 ومن لم يُعانــقه شوق الحيــاة

#

Please do send your own…. And, for you Ukranian readers, Bohdan has written this version.



Categories: poetry, Tunisia

Tags: ,

28 replies

  1. I’ll forward this to some translators! Thank you, I love re-translations and multiple translations of the same poem, and this is awesome!

    • Yes, me too. We don’t have enough multiple translations in the Arabic lit world. And of course a lot of poetry that’s never been translated at all…(at least, to my knowledge).

    • This poem appeared in English translation in Salma Khadra Jayyusi’s anthology “Modern Arabic Poetry” (Columbia University Press):

      LIFE’S WILL

      When people choose
      To live by life’s will,
      Fate can do nothing but give in;
      The night discards its veil,
      All shackles are undone.

      Whoever never felt
      Life celebrating him
      Must vanish like the mist;
      Whoever never felt
      Sweeping through him
      The glow of life
      Succumbs to nothingness.

      This I was told by the secret
      Voice of All-Being:
      Wind roared in the mountains,
      Roared through valleys, under trees:
      “My goal, once I have set it,
      And put aside all caution,
      I must pursue to the end.
      Whoever shrinks from scaling the mountain
      Lives out his life in potholes.”

      Then it was earth I questioned:
      “Mother, do you detest mankind?”
      And earth responded:
      “I bless people with high ambition,
      Who do not flinch at danger.

      I curse people out of step with time,
      People content to live like stone.
      No horizon nurtures a dead bird.
      A bee will choose to kiss a living flower.

      If my mothering heart
      Were not so tender,
      The dead would have no hiding place
      In those graves yonder.”

      (Translated by Sargon Boulat and Christopher Middleton)

  2. I love comparing the translations and then wondering what choices I would have made. I think for the second part of the first line, I would have made destiny more “subservient” to the will of the people. Something along the lines of “destiny would have to give in/surrender”. Am sorely tempted to fiddle with this, but the research demons are calling my name. (*sigh* There’s a revolution going on, books! C’mon, give me a break!)

  3. I’m working on a draft of “To the Tyrants of the World”.

  4. and here’s my Ukrainian translation))) http://bohdan-rachok.livejournal.com/76813.html
    يحيا تونس!!1

  5. 7ade me3alti hzbi hiwet ms zdeli
    nay gdn ‘yu s7fto km’zezo
    gdn ‘yu selmat kqn6e6
    gdn ‘yu mequ7 ksber
    b’hrfan hiwet zeyte7aqufe
    ab ayera beninu 6efi’u terefe::
    My Tigrigna ( One of the semitic Eritrean Languages) translation of Iza Al-Sha3bu yawman arada al7ayat

  6. If one day people decide to live
    Destiny will no doubt respond
    Night will no doubt dissipate
    Chains will no doubt break
    This is what life told me
    And this is what its spirits revealed to me
    Those who are not infused by the passion of life
    Will evaporate in the air and disappear

  7. Look dear, I know exactly this poem in Arabic ( native Arabic speaker ), and I know English very well, and I’d like to see this poem translated into English, now I don’t have much time, but this is not the complete poem.
    There are many resources from the books and on the enternet, please visit this link:

    http://www.adab.com/modules.php?name=Sh3er&doWhat=shqas&qid=14579

    You can find the complete poem, and you may try to translate it, it’s one of my favorites :)

    • Yes, Muhammad, I have read the whole poem, and I have also been on Adab.Com. In fact, Gaelle has translated the whole poem, and I believe I’ve also posted a longer version. But in any case, it’s hard to do anything but focus on the beautiful Egyptian people and our future at this point.

  8. إرادة الحياة: أبو القاسم الشابي

    الترجمة: محمود عباس مسعود

    The People’s Will – Abul Qassim Al-Chabbi

    Translated by: Mahmoud Abbas Masoud

    إذا الشّعْبُ يَوْمَاً أرَادَ الْحَيَـاةَ = فلا بُدَّ أنْ يَسْتَجِيبَ القَـدَر
    وَلا بُـدَّ لِلَّيـْلِ أنْ يَنْجَلِــي = وَلا بُدَّ للقَيْدِ أَنْ يَـنْكَسِـر

    When people choose a noble and worthy existence
    The Fates will accordingly respond
    Gloom of night will lift and vanish
    Fetters will break open

    وَمَنْ لَمْ يُعَانِقْهُ شَوْقُ الْحَيَـاةِ = تَبَخَّـرَ في حرّهَـا وَانْدَثَـر
    فَوَيْلٌ لِمَنْ لَمْ تَشُقْـهُ الْحَيَاةُ = مِنْ صَفْعَـةِ العَـدَم المُنْتَصِر

    He who harbors no passion for life
    Its heat dematerializes him, he is forgotten
    Woe unto him who looses interest in life
    Victorious void will deal him a slap

    كَذلِكَ قَالَـتْ لِـيَ الكَائِنَاتُ = وَحَدّثَنـي رُوحُـهَا المُسْتَتِر
    وَدَمدَمَتِ الرِّيحُ بَيْنَ الفِجَاجِ = وَفَوْقَ الجِبَال وَتَحْتَ الشَّجَر

    Thus has the universe told me
    Thus has its hidden Spirit intimated
    The winds howled in the deep ravines
    Above mountain peaks, under the trees

    إذَا مَا طَمَحْـتُ إلِـى غَـايَةٍ = رَكِبْتُ الْمُنَى وَنَسِيتُ الحَذَر
    وَلَمْ أَتَجَنَّبْ وُعُـورَ الشِّعَـابِ = وَلا كُبَّـةَ اللَّهَـبِ المُسْتَعِـر

    When I aspire to lofty goals
    I mount high hopes and discard trepidation
    Neither avoiding rugged roads
    Nor evading the roaring flames

    وَمَنْ لا يُحِبّ صُعُودَ الجِبَـالِ = يَعِشْ أَبَدَ الدَّهْرِ بَيْنَ الحُفَـر
    فَعَجَّتْ بِقَلْبِي دِمَاءُ الشَّبَـابِ = وَضَجَّتْ بِصَدْرِي رِيَاحٌ أُخَر

    He who has an aversion to climbing mountains
    Will pass his days and nights in ditches and holes
    The blood of youth screamed in my heart
    Strange winds raged and raved in my chest

    وَأَطْرَقْتُ ، أُصْغِي لِقَصْفِ الرُّعُودِ = وَعَزْفِ الرِّيَاح وَوَقْعِ المَطَـر
    وَقَالَتْ لِيَ الأَرْضُ – لَمَّا سَأَلْتُ : = ” أَيَـا أُمُّ هَلْ تَكْرَهِينَ البَشَر؟”

    Intently I listened to the thunder peel
    And harkened to the sounds of wind and rainfall
    I asked the Earth
    “Mother, do you hate people?”, She replied

    “أُبَارِكُ في النَّاسِ أَهْلَ الطُّمُوحِ = وَمَنْ يَسْتَلِـذُّ رُكُوبَ الخَطَـر
    وأَلْعَنُ مَنْ لا يُمَاشِي الزَّمَـانَ = وَيَقْنَعُ بِالعَيْـشِ عَيْشِ الحَجَر

    I bless ambitious and aspiring souls
    Holding dear the ones who brave danger
    But condemn those who live, stone-like, behind times
    Content with a dull, callous existence

    هُوَ الكَوْنُ حَيٌّ ، يُحِـبُّ الحَيَاةَ = وَيَحْتَقِرُ الْمَيْتَ مَهْمَا كَـبُر
    فَلا الأُفْقُ يَحْضُنُ مَيْتَ الطُّيُورِ = وَلا النَّحْلُ يَلْثِمُ مَيْتَ الزَّهَــر

    Behold! The universe is alive; it loves life
    It despises the dead, great as it may seem
    The skies hold no dead birds close to their bosom
    Nor do bees sip nectar from lifeless flowers

    وَلَـوْلا أُمُومَةُ قَلْبِي الرَّؤُوم = لَمَا ضَمَّتِ المَيْتَ تِلْكَ الحُفَـر
    فَوَيْلٌ لِمَنْ لَمْ تَشُقْـهُ الحَيَـاةُ = مِنْ لَعْنَةِ العَـدَمِ المُنْتَصِـر!”

    If not for my soft motherly heart
    Graves will loathe admitting corpses into their folds
    So, woe unto him who looses interest in life
    The curse of victorious void will be upon him

    وفي لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ لَيَالِي الخَرِيفِ = مُثَقَّلَـةٍ بِالأََسَـى وَالضَّجَـر
    سَكِرْتُ بِهَا مِنْ ضِياءِ النُّجُومِ = وَغَنَّيْتُ لِلْحُزْنِ حَتَّى سَكِـر

    Once on an autumn night
    Heavy with sorrow and boredom
    I was intoxicated with the stars’ glittering light
    And lulled sorrow into exhilaration

    سَأَلْتُ الدُّجَى: هَلْ تُعِيدُ الْحَيَاةُ = لِمَا أَذْبَلَتْـهُ رَبِيعَ العُمُـر؟
    فَلَمْ تَتَكَلَّمْ شِفَـاهُ الظَّلامِ = وَلَمْ تَتَرَنَّـمْ عَذَارَى السَّحَر

    I asked the night: “Will Life ever bring back to wilted blossoms
    The bloom and freshness of life?”
    Neither the lips of darkness muttered
    Nor the nymphs of dawn recited their lyrics

    وَقَالَ لِيَ الْغَـابُ في رِقَّـةٍ = مُحَبَّبـَةٍ مِثْلَ خَفْـقِ الْوَتَـر
    يَجِيءُ الشِّتَاءُ ، شِتَاءُ الضَّبَابِ = شِتَاءُ الثُّلُوجِ ، شِتَاءُ الْمَطَـر

    The forest whispered gently to me
    And spoke in melodious strains
    Winter comes befogged with clouds
    Bleak with rain, heavy with snow

    فينطفئ السِّحْرُ ، سِحْرُ الغُصُونِ = وَسِحْرُ الزُّهُورِ وَسِحْرُ الثَّمَر
    وَسِحْرُ الْمَسَاءِ الشَّجِيِّ الوَدِيعِ = وَسِحْرُ الْمُرُوجِ الشَّهِيّ العَطِر

    The charm of tender twigs snuffed out
    The beauty of flowers and fruit extinguished
    The grace of meek and doleful eventides gone
    The appeal of scented meadows no more

    وَتَهْوِي الْغُصُونُ وَأَوْرَاقُـهَا = وَأَزْهَـارُ عَهْدٍ حَبِيبٍ نَضِـر
    وَتَلْهُو بِهَا الرِّيحُ في كُلِّ وَادٍ = وَيَدْفنُـهَا السَّيْـلُ أنَّى عَـبَر

    Branches wither and fall with their leaves
    Blossoms of happy and love-filled life drop too
    The winds scatter them in vale and valley
    Rushing waters bury them on the way

    وَيَفْنَى الجَمِيعُ كَحُلْمٍ بَدِيـعٍ = تَأَلَّـقَ في مُهْجَـةٍ وَانْدَثَـر
    وَتَبْقَى البُـذُورُ التي حُمِّلَـتْ = ذَخِيـرَةَ عُمْرٍ جَمِـيلٍ غَـبَر

    All lost to sight as a beautiful dream
    Momentarily glowing, soon to disappear without a trace
    Seeds bearing the essence of a beautiful faded life
    Will yet survive

    وَذِكْرَى فُصُول ٍ ، وَرُؤْيَا حَيَاةٍ = وَأَشْبَاح دُنْيَا تَلاشَتْ زُمَـر
    مُعَانِقَـةً وَهْيَ تَحْـتَ الضَّبَابِ = وَتَحْتَ الثُّلُوجِ وَتَحْـتَ الْمَدَر

    So will the memory of seasons and life’s visions
    And earthly phantoms that vanished in droves
    All from beneath the clouds
    From beneath the soil and snow

    لَطِيفَ الحَيَـاةِ الذي لا يُمَـلُّ = وَقَلْبَ الرَّبِيعِ الشَّذِيِّ الخَضِر
    وَحَالِمَـةً بِأَغَـانِـي الطُّيُـورِ = وَعِطْرِ الزُّهُورِ وَطَعْمِ الثَّمَـر

    Will revive and embrace the never boring breath of life
    Clasping the green, fragrant heart of Spring
    Dreaming of bird songs
    Of aromas and savory fruit

    وَمَا هُـوَ إِلاَّ كَخَفْـقِ الجَنَاحِ = حَتَّـى نَمَا شَوْقُـهَا وَانْتَصَـر
    فصدّعت الأرض من فوقـها = وأبصرت الكون عذب الصور

    Suddenly , in the soft beat of wings
    Passion for life triumphantly returned
    The earth above the seeds cracked open
    And glorious images unexpectedly emerged

    وجـاءَ الربيـعُ بأنغامـه = وأحلامـهِ وصِبـاهُ العطِـر
    وقبلّـها قبـلاً في الشفـاه = تعيد الشباب الذي قد غبـر

    Spring made a return with delightful songs
    Celebrating its dreams, its balmy youthfulness
    Lo, it pressed many kisses upon their lips
    Bringing back to life a youth, long gone

    وقالَ لَهَا : قد مُنحـتِ الحياةَ = وخُلّدتِ في نسلكِ الْمُدّخـر
    وباركـكِ النـورُ فاستقبـلي = شبابَ الحياةِ وخصبَ العُمر

    It addressed the seeds, murmuring: I have given you life
    And shall live in your posterity forevermore
    You have been blessed by the light, so receive
    The youth of life, the maturity of age

    ومن تعبـدُ النـورَ أحلامـهُ = يباركهُ النـورُ أنّـى ظَهر
    إليك الفضاء ، إليك الضيـاء = إليك الثرى الحالِمِ الْمُزْدَهِر

    He whose dreams adore the Light
    The Light, in turn, will bless him when it shines
    Lo, the entire space is yours, and yours is the Light
    The dreaming, flower-glittering soil is yours as well

    إليك الجمال الذي لا يبيـد = إليك الوجود الرحيب النضر
    فميدي كما شئتِ فوق الحقول = بِحلو الثمار وغـض الزهـر

    Receive the deathless beauty
    Receive the vast shimmering universe
    Sway as you please in the meadows
    Laden with your sweet fruits and tender flowers

    وناجي النسيم وناجي الغيـوم = وناجي النجوم وناجي القمـر
    وناجـي الحيـاة وأشواقـها = وفتنـة هذا الوجـود الأغـر

    Whisper your gentle love to the breeze and clouds
    Hum soulful tunes to the stars and moon
    Talk to life with the language of your heart
    And commune with the captivating beauty of a unique existence

    وشف الدجى عن جمال عميقٍ = يشب الخيـال ويذكي الفكر
    ومُدَّ عَلَى الْكَوْنِ سِحْرٌ غَرِيبٌ = يُصَـرِّفُهُ سَـاحِـرٌ مُقْـتَدِر

    Darkness, too, revealed a hidden charm
    Stirring the imagination, inspiring thoughts
    A strange mystic harmony engulfed the universe
    Skillfully manipulating it as an ingenious magician

    وَضَاءَتْ شُمُوعُ النُّجُومِ الوِضَاء = وَضَاعَ البَخُورُ ، بَخُورُ الزَّهَر
    وَرَفْرَفَ رُوحٌ غَرِيبُ الجَمَالِ = بِأَجْنِحَـةٍ مِنْ ضِيَاءِ الْقَمَـر

    Candles of glittering stars were lit all
    The sweet perfume of flowers wafted about
    A spirit of strange beauty fluttered by
    With wings made of moonbeams bright

    وَرَنَّ نَشِيدُ الْحَيَاةِ الْمُقَـدَّسِ = في هَيْكَـلٍ حَالِمٍ قَدْ سُـحِر
    وَأَعْلَنَ في الْكَوْنِ أَنَّ الطُّمُوحَ = لَهِيبُ الْحَيَـاةِ وَرُوحُ الظَّفَـر
    إِذَا طَمَحَتْ لِلْحَيَاةِ النُّفُوسُ = َلا بُدَّ أَنْ يَسْتَجِيبَ الْقَـدَرْ

    The sacred song of life rang out
    Within a dreaming, charmed temple
    Announcing this truth to the whole universe
    Aspiration is the fuel and flame of life
    The spirit and stamina of victory
    Yea, when souls aspire
    For a worthy and noble existence
    The Fates will accordingly respond

  9. The introduction to the translation of إذا الشعب يوماً أراد الحياة was not meant to be posted here along with the translation. Since I was unable to edit the post, I would like to ask that that introduction be deleted, if possible. Thank you.

  10. قلب الأم لأبي القاسم الشابي

    A Mother’s Heart
    By Abul-Qassim Al-Chabbi

    الترجمة: محمود عباس مسعود
    Translated by: Mahmoud Abbas Masoud

    يا أيها الطفلُ الذي، قد كانَ كاللحن الجميلْ
    والوردةِ البيضاءِ تعبقُ في غيابات الأصيلْ
    يا أيها الطفلُ الذي، قد كان في هذا الوجودْ
    فرِحاً يناجي فتنة َ الدنيا بمعسولِ النشيدْ

    O dear child, whose life was a charming melody,
    A pure white rose, wafting its fragrance at colorful sunsets!
    O dear child, who so happily lived in this world;
    Celebrating life’s beauty with your sweet songs.

    ها أنتَ ذا قد أطبقتْ جَفنيكَ أحلامُ المنونْ
    وتطايرتْ زمرُ الملائِك، حولَ مضجعكَ الأمينْ
    ومضتْ بروحِكَ للسماءِ، عرائسُ النورِ الحبيبْ
    يحملنَ تيجاناً مذهّبة ، من الزهر الغريبْ

    The dreams of death have now tenderly closed your eyelids,
    A Host of angels gathered ‘round your quiet deathbed;
    Nymphs of glorious light carried your soul into heaven,
    With golden crowns, of rare flowers fashioned.

    ها أنتَ ذا قد جللتكَ سكينة الأبدِ الكبيرْ
    وبكتكَ هاتيكَ القلوبُ، وضمّكَ القبرُ الصغيرْ
    وتفرّقَ الناسُ الذين إلى المقابرِ شيّعوكْ
    ونسوكَ من دنياهمُ، حتى كأنْ لم يعرفوكْ

    The mysterious stillness of vast eternity surrounded you,
    Hearts wept your departure; the little tomb embraced your body.
    People who ushered you to the cemetery soon dispersed,
    Later to forget you entirely,
    As if never knew you before.

    شغلتهمُ عنكَ الحياة وحربُ هذي الكائناتْ
    إن الحياةَ وقد قضيتَ قبيلَ معرفةِ الحياةْ
    بحرٌ قرارتهُ الردى، ونشيدُ لجّتهِ شَكاةْ
    وعلى شواطئهِ القلوبُ، تئنُّ، داميةً عُراةْ
    بحرٌ تجيشُ به العواصفُ في العشيّةِ والغداةْ
    وتـُظلهُ سُحُبُ الظلامِ، فلا سكونَ ولا إياةْ

    They forgot you, distracted by life and the struggle for existence,
    You have exited this world ere knowing what life is about.
    It is a Mighty Ocean: its abysmal depth, death,
    The song of its billows, suffering.
    By its shores, bleeding and naked hearts wail.
    It is an ocean where storms ever rage, evening and morn,
    An ocean shrouded by dark clouds; bereft of peace and light.

    نسيَتكَ أمواجُ البحيرةِ والنجومُ اللامعهْ
    والبلبلُ الشادي، وهاتيكَ المروجُ الشاسعهْ
    وجداولُ الوادي النضير، برقصها وخريرها
    ومسالكُ الجبلِ الصغيرِ، بعشبها وزهورها

    Waves of the lake and the glittering stars have forgotten you,
    So did the singing nightingale and the stretching meadows.
    Murmuring brooks, dancing in the lush valley, no longer remembered you,
    The flowery, hilly green paths, failed to recall you to memory.

    حتى الرفاقُ فإنهمْ، لبثوا مدىً يتساءلونْ
    في حيرةٍ مشبوبةٍ، أينَ اختفى هذا الأمينْ؟!
    لكنهمْ علِموا بأنكَ، في الليالي الداجيهْ
    حملتكَ غيلانُ الظلامِ، إلى الجبال النائيهْ

    Your playmates wondered what happened to you;
    Eagerly asked: Where might our faithful friend be now?
    Yet, they realized that on a lightless night,
    The ghouls of darkness carried you far away, to the remote mountains.

    فنسوكَ مثلَ الناس، وانصرفوا إلى اللهو الجميلْ
    بينَ الخمائلِ والجداولِ، والروابي والسهولْ
    ونسوا وداعةَ وجهكَ الهادي ومنظركَ الوسيمْ
    ونسوا تغنيكَ الجميلَ بصوتكَ الحُلو الرخيمْ

    Soon, like others, they forgot you too,
    Indulging themselves in sportive playfulness
    ‘Midst streams and meadows, hills and pastures.
    They forgot the meekness of your innocent face,
    Your serene countenance, your gentle mien.
    Yea, they forgot the lovely songs
    uttered by your soft and sweet voice.

    ومضوا إلى المرج البهيج، يطاردونَ طيورهُ
    ويزحزحون صخورهُ، ويعابثونَ زهورهُ
    ويشيدونَ من الرمالِ البيضِ والحصبِ النضيرْ
    غرَفاً وأكواخاً تكللها الحشائشُ والزهورْ

    They sought the gladsome fields, chasing birds;
    Moving rocks, plucking flowers;
    Building rooms and huts of white sand and pebbles,
    Patching them with green grasses, tender blossoms.

    وينضّدون من الربى، بينَ التضاحكِ والحبورْ
    طاقاتِ وردٍ آبدٍ، تزري بأورادِ القصورْ
    يلقونها في النهرِ، قرباناً لآلهة السرور
    فتسيرُ في التيارِ راقصة ً على نغم الخريرْ

    Between laughter and joyfulness,
    They weave garlands of wild flowers,
    Infinitely lovelier than roses grown in palace gardens.
    They toss them in the river; a sacrifice to the goddess of gladness.
    The current carries them along,
    Dancing to the undertone of the rushing waters.

    كلٌّ نسوكَ ولم يعودوا يذكرونكَ في الحياةْ
    والدهرُ يدفنُ في ظلام الموتِ حتى الذكرياتْ
    إلاّ فؤاداً ظلَّ يخفقُ في الوجودِ إلى لقاكْ
    ويَودُّ لو بذلَ الحياةَ إلى المنيةِ وافتداكْ

    They all forgot you, never remembering you again;
    Time buries, even memories, in the gloom of death.
    Yes, all forgot, save one lonely heart;
    That never ceased to throb in hopes of meeting you again.
    A heart that so often wished to have sacrificed its own life,
    As an offering to death, so that your life may be spared.

    فإذا رأى طفلاً بكاكَ، وإن رأى شبحاً دعاكْ
    يصغي لصوتكَ في الوجودِ ولا يرى إلا بهاكْ
    يصغي لنغمتكَ الجميلةِ في خرير الساقيهْ
    في رنةِ المزمارِ، في لغو الطيور الشاديهْ

    Weeping, when seeing a child,
    Calling your name, when spotting a phantom.
    Listening to your familiar voice in Nature’s many voices;
    Never relishing a beauty, save your own charm.
    It listens to your lovely tune in murmuring brooks,
    In doleful strains of flutes
    In the chirp and chatter of birds.

    في ضجةِ البحرِ المجلجلِ، في هديرِ العاصفهْ
    في لجةِ الغاباتِ، في صوتِ الرعودِ القاصفهْ
    في نغيةِ الحملِ الوديعِ، وفي أناشيدِ الرعاةْ
    بين المروجِ الخضرِ، والسفحِ المجللِ بالنباتْ

    In the sea’s mighty roar, the booming of storms,
    In the heart of the forest, in resounding thunders
    In the soft bleats of gentle lambs, in songs of the shepherds;
    Among grassy meadows, amidst green, rolling hills.

    في آهةِ الشاكي وضوضاءِ الجموع الصاخبهْ
    في شهقةِ الباكي يؤججها نواحُ النادبهْ
    في كلّ أصواتِ الوجودِ، طروبـِها وكئيبـِها
    ورخيمها وعنيفها، وبغيضها، وحبيبها

    In the wistful sighs of the sorrowful, the commotion of the crowds;
    In the sobbing cries of distressed souls;
    Made more poignant by others’ wails.
    In every sound uttered or heard; blithesome or grievous,
    Mellow or sharp-toned, disagreeable or harmonious.

    ويراكَ في صورِ الطبيعةِ، حلوها وذميمها
    وحزينها وبهيجها، وحقيرها، وعظيمها
    في رقة الفجرِ الوديعِ، وفي الليالي الحالمهْ
    في فتنة الشفق البديعِ، وفي النجومِ الباسمهْ

    It sees you in all forms of nature, sweet and unlovely,
    Sad and jovial, insignificant and grand.
    In the softness of dawn; the dreamy nights,
    The glory of sunsets, the smiling stars.

    في رقصِ أمواج البحيرةِ، تحتَ أضواء النجومْ
    في سحرِ أزهارِ الربيعِ، وفي تهاويل الغيومْ
    في لمعة البرقِ الخفوقِ، وفي هوّي الصاعقهْ
    في ذلة الوادي، وفي كِبْر الجبالِ الشاهقهْ

    It beholds you in dancing waves of the lake,
    Beneath the faint light of distant stars.
    In the beauty of spring flowers, the sailing clouds.
    In flashes of lightning, the clamor of thunderstorm,
    In the humbleness of valleys,
    And the loftiness of towering peaks.

    في مشهد الغابِ الكئيبِ وفي الورود الغاويهْ
    في ظلمةِ الليلِ الحزينِ، وفي الكهوفِ العاريهْ
    أعرفتَ هذا القلبَ في ظلماءِ هاتيكَ اللحودْ
    هو قلبُ أمّك، أمكَ السكرى بأحزان الوجودْ

    In somber scenes of the timberland, in enchanted roses,
    In cheerless darkness of nighttime, in bare caves.
    Now, do you know whose heart it is,
    That haunts yonder dark graves?
    It is the heart of your Mother,
    Whom life’s sorrows have heavily intoxicated.

    هو ذلكَ القلبُ الذي سيعيشُ كالشادي الضريرْ
    يشدو بشكوى حزنهِ الداجي إلى النفـَس الأخيرْ
    لا ربّة النسيانِ ترحم حزنهُ، وترى شقاهْ
    كلا،! ولا الأيامُ تـُبلي في أناملها أساهْ
    إلاّ إذا ضفرتْ له الأقدارُ إكليلَ الجنونْ
    وغدا شقيّاً ضاحكاً، تلهو بمرآهُ السنونْ

    It is a Heart that will live as a blind bard,
    Ever caroling his plaintive songs, to the very last breath.
    Neither the goddess of forgetfulness takes pity on its grief,
    Nor the days soothe its cheerlessness away;
    Unless the Fates weave a garland of madness for that heart,
    Making it a laughing miserable;
    A clown entertaining the years.

    هو ذلكَ القلبُ الذي مهما تقلبتِ الحياةْ
    وتدفـّعَ الزمنُ المدمدمُ في شِعاب الكائناتْ
    وتغنـّت الدنيا وغرّدَ بلبلُ الغاب الجميلْ
    سيظل يعبدُ ذكرياتكِ، لا يملُّ ولا يميلْ

    It is that faithful heart,
    That remains unchanged, ever dwelling on your memories;
    Regardless how life’s circumstances change,
    No matter whether Nature sings,
    Or birds of the woods joyfully whistle
    That heart remains constant, ever doting on you.

    كالأرضِ تمشي فوق تربتها المسرّةُ والشبابْ
    والليلُ والفجرُ المجنّح، والعواصفُ والسحابْ
    والحبُّ تنبتُ في مواطنهِ الشقائقُ والورودْ
    والموتُ يحفرُ أينما، يخطو المقابرَ واللحودْ

    Like the earth, on which stroll joy and youthfulness,
    Like the night, the winged dawn, the gales, the clouds;
    The love in whose soil grows anemones and blossoms,
    Like the death, that digs graves wherever it roams.

    وتمرُّ بين فجاجها اللذاتُ حالمةٌ تميدْ
    سكرى وأشواقُ الورى، ترنو إلى الأفق البعيدْ
    وتظلُ ترقصُ للأسى، للّهوِ أشباح الدهورْ
    حتى يواريها ضبابُ الموتِ في وادي الدثورْ

    Pleasures walk its roads, dreaming and swaying,
    Inebriated by humanity’s longings, gazing into the far horizon;
    Ever dancing to sorrow, to entertain eternity’s spirits,
    Until fogs of death lay it to rest, in the vault of oblivion.

    وتظلُ تورقُ ثم تزهر، ثم ينشرها الصباحْ
    للموتِ، للشوكِ الممزّق، للجداولِ، للرياحْ
    بسماتُ ثغرٍ حالمٍ، يفترُّ في سهو السرورْ
    وورودُ روضٍ باسمٍ، يٌصغي لألحانِ الطيورْ

    It will ever leaf and bloom;
    Morning will unfold its petals
    An offering to death, to thorns, to brooks, to the winds.
    Sheer smiles of dreamy lips, that part in moments of joy;
    Roses of bright gardens that harken to bird songs.

    وتظلُ تخفقُ، ثم تشدو، ثم يطويها الترابْ
    قـُبَلٌ وأطيارٌ تغردُ للحياةِ وللشابْ
    وتظلُ تمشي في جوار الموتِ أفراحُ الحياةْ
    ويغردُ الشحرورُ ما بينَ الجماجمِ والرفاتْ

    It will ever throb and sing until buried beneath the sod,
    Kisses and birds joyously sing to life and youth.
    The joys of life will ever walk close to death,
    The songbird will warble among human remains.

    والأرضُ حالمةٌ تغني، بين أسراب النجومْ
    أنشودة الماضي البعيد، وسورة الأزل القديمْ

    And the dreamy earth will chant amid the countless stars,
    Recalling the distant past, celebrating hoary eternity.

Trackbacks

  1. Poetry of the Arab Revolt
  2. Walking and marching « That's How The Light Gets In
  3. 2011 02 01 | verse per se
  4. Poetry of protest « occasional links & commentary
  5. 2011 03 01 | verse per se
  6. Intel Challenges « Tunisia Security Update
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,585 other followers

%d bloggers like this: