Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Who are they and who are we?

Who are they and who are we?
They are the princes and the Sultans
They are the ones with wealth and power
And we are the impoverished and deprived
Use your mind, guess…
Guess who is governing whom?
Who are they and who are we?
We are the constructing, we are the workers
We are Al-Sunna, We are Al-Fard
We are the people both height and breadth
From our health, the land raises
And by our sweat, the meadows turn green
Use your mind, guess…
Guess who serves whom?
Who are they and who are we?
They are the princes and the Sultans
They are the mansions and the cars
And the selected women
Consumerist animals
Their job is only to stuff their guts
Use your mind, guess…
Guess who is eating whom?
Who are they and who are we?
We are the war, its stones and fire
We are the army liberating the land
We are the martyrs
Defeated or successful
Use your mind, guess…
Guess who is killing whom?
Who are they and who are we?
They are the princes and the Sultans
They are mere images behind the music
They are the men of politics
Naturally, with blank brains
But with colorful decorative images
Use your mind, guess…
Guess who is betraying whom?
Who are they and who are we?
They are the princes and the Sultans
They wear the latest fashions
But we live seven in a single room
They eat beef and chicken
And we eat nothing but beans
They walk around in private planes
We get crammed in buses
Their lives are nice and flowery
They’re one specie; we are another
Use your mind, guess…
Guess who will defeat whom?

---Ahmed Fouad Negm, trans. Walaa Quisay

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

--- Derek Walcott

Friday, May 1, 2015

वह बुड्ढा

खड़ा द्वार पर, लाठी टेके,
वह जीवन का बूढ़ा पंजर,
चिमटी उसकी सिकुड़ी चमड़ी
हिलते हड्डी के ढाँचे पर।
उभरी ढीली नसें जाल सी
सूखी ठठरी से हैं लिपटीं,
पतझर में ठूँठे तरु से ज्यों
सूनी अमरबेल हो चिपटी।

उसका लंबा डील डौल है,
हट्टी कट्टी काठी चौड़ी,
इस खँडहर में बिजली सी
उन्मत्त जवानी होगी दौड़ी!
बैठी छाती की हड्डी अब,
झुकी रीढ़ कमटा सी टेढ़ी,
पिचका पेट, गढ़े कंधों पर,
फटी बिबाई से हैं एड़ी।

बैठे, टेक धरती पर माथा,
वह सलाम करता है झुककर,
उस धरती से पाँव उठा लेने को
जी करता है क्षण भर!
घुटनों से मुड़ उसकी लंबी
टाँगें जाँघें सटी परस्पर,
झुका बीच में शीश, झुर्रियों का
झाँझर मुख निकला बाहर।

हाथ जोड़, चौड़े पंजों की
गुँथी अँगुलियों को कर सन्मुख,
मौन त्रस्त चितवन से,
कातर वाणी से वह कहता निज दुख।
गर्मी के दिन, धरे उपरनी सिर पर,
लुंगी से ढाँपे तन,--
नंगी देह भरी बालों से,--
वन मानुस सा लगता वह जन।

भूखा है: पैसे पा, कुछ गुनमुना,
खड़ा हो, जाता वह घर,
पिछले पैरों के बल उठ
जैसे कोई चल रहा जानवर!
काली नारकीय छाया निज
छोड़ गया वह मेरे भीतर,
पैशाचिक सा कुछ: दुःखों से
मनुज गया शायद उसमें मर!

--- सुमित्रानंदन पंत

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wretched exiles, rare survivors

Wretched exiles, rare survivors

Of a brave and martyr race,

Children of a captive mother,

Heroes with no resting place,

Far from home in squalid hovels,

Sick and pale from lack of sleep,

See them drink to drown their sorrows,

Hear them sing and singing, weep!



Drink… For drunkenness erases

Former troubles, present woes,

Bitter memories effaces,

Gives a broken heart repose.

Heads grow heavier, a mother’s

Look of anguish disappears

And a son’s appeal is smothered,

For the mind no longer hears.


Winter winds intone a descant,

Terrifyingly they swirl,

Whirl and lift the song rebellious,

Carry it across the world.

Fouler still the sky is seething,

Chillier the frowning night,

Ever louder the Armenians

Sing, the storm attains its height…



Thus they drink and sink… Survivors

Of a brave and martyr race,

Children of a captive mother,

Heroes with no resting place.

Far from home, barefoot and ragged,

In slum squalor shorn of sleep,

See them drink to ease the agony,

Hear them sing and, singing, weep!

--- P. Yavorov (1900)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What’s Wrong With Our President?

I never fret, and will always say
A word, for which, I am responsible
That the president is a compassionate man
Constantly, busy working for his people
Busy, gathering their money
Outside, in Switzerland, saving it for us
In secret bank accounts
Poor guy, looking out for our future
Can’t you see his kindly heart?
In faith and good conscience
He only starves you; so you’d lose the weight
O what a people! In need of a diet
O the ignorance! You talk of “unemployment”
And how conditions have become dysfunctional
The man just wants to see you rested
Since when was rest such a burden???
And this talk of the resorts
Why do they call them political prisons??
Why do you have to be so suspicious?
He just wants you to have some fun
With regards to “The Chair”
It is without a doubt
All our fault!!
Couldn’t we buy him a Teflon Chair?
I swear, you mistreated the poor man
He wasted his life away, and for what?
Even your food, he eats it for you!
Devouring all that’s in his way
After all this, what’s wrong with our president?

--- Ahmed Fouad Negm; trans. Walaa Quisay

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

लम्हे-लम्हे की सियासत पे नज़र रखते हैं

लम्हे-लम्हे की सियासत पे नज़र रखते हैं
हमसे दीवाने भी दुनिया की ख़बर रखते हैं

इतने नादां भी नहीं हम कि भटक कर रह जाएँ
कोई मंज़िल न सही, राहगुज़र रखते हैं

रात ही रात है, बाहर कोई झाँके तो सही
यूँ तो आँखों में सभी ख़्वाब-ए-सहर रखते हैं

मार ही डाले जो बेमौत ये दुनिया वो है,
हम जो जिन्दा हैं तो जीने का हुनर रखते हैं!

हम से इस दरजा तग़ाफुल भी न बरतो साहब
हम भी कुछ अपनी दुआओं में असर रखते हैं

---जांनिसार अख्तर

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven
Full of all manner of problems
With a wrinkled brow
(As if you were a common everyday man)
Think no more of us.
We understand that you suffer
Because you can’t put everything in order.
We know the Demon will not leave you alone
Tearing down everything you build.
He laughs at you
But we weep with you:
Don’t pay any attention to his devilish laughter.
Our Father who art where thou art
Surrounded by unfaithful Angels
Sincerely don’t suffer any more for us
You must take into account
That the gods are not infallible
And that we have come to forgive everything.

--- Nicanor Parra [translated from the Spanish by Miller Williams]

Saturday, March 28, 2015

And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

---Dylan Thomas

Friday, March 13, 2015

There is a relationship between war and words.
There is a relationship between love and words.
I choose my battle in words.
I make fire by words.
I save some people in words; make victims in words
This is my playground. I fight by words
The violence inside me will come out in words
So that there is no blood.

---Yehia Jaber

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Brown Penny

I whispered, "I am too young,"
And then, "I am old enough";
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair."
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

--- William Butler Yeats

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