February 26, 2011

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.
Friends are enemies sometimes, and enemies friends.

I was a tiny bug. Now a mountain. I was left behind. Now honored at the head. You healed my wounded hunger and anger, and made me a poet who sings about joy.

If your guidance is your ego, don’t rely on luck for help. you sleep during the day and the nights are short. By the time you wake up your life may be over.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absent-minded. Someone sober will worry about events going badly. Let the lover be.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.

Most people guard against going into the fire, and so end up in it.

My friend, the sufi is the friend of the present moment. To say tomorrow is not our way.

Nightingales are put in cages because their songs give pleasure. Whoever heard of keeping a crow?

No longer a stranger, you listen all day to these crazy love-words. Like a bee you fill hundreds of homes with honey, though yours is a long flight from here.

No mirror ever became iron again; No bread ever became wheat; No ripened grape ever became sour fruit. Mature yourself and be secure from a change for the worse. Become the light.

Only from the heart Can you touch the sky.

Patience is the key to joy.

People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.

Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening.

That which is false troubles the heart, but truth brings joyous tranquility.

The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.

The middle path is the way to wisdom.

The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart.

Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.

To praise is to praise how one surrenders to the emptiness.

We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.

We rarely hear the inward music, but we’re all dancing to it nevertheless.

You think the shadow is the substance.

---Jalal-Uddin Rumi (1207-1273)

February 25, 2011

Write down ! I am an Arab

Write down !

I am an Arab

And my identity card number is fifty thousand

I have eight children

And the ninth will come after a summer

Will you be angry?


Write down!

I am an Arab

Employed with fellow workers at a quarry

I have eight children

I get them bread

Garments and books

from the rocks..

I do not supplicate charity at your doors

Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber

So will you be angry?


Write down!

I am an Arab

I have a name without a title

Patient in a country

Where people are enraged

My roots

Were entrenched before the birth of time

And before the opening of the eras

Before the pines, and the olive trees

And before the grass grew


My father.. descends from the family of the plow

Not from a privileged class

And my grandfather..was a farmer

Neither well-bred, nor well-born!

Teaches me the pride of the sun

Before teaching me how to read

And my house is like a watchman’s hut

Made of branches and cane

Are you satisfied with my status?

I have a name without a title!


Write down!

I am an Arab

You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors

And the land which I cultivated

Along with my children

And you left nothing for us

Except for these rocks..

So will the State take them

As it has been said?!



Write down on the top of the first page:

I do not hate poeple

Nor do I encroach

But if I become hungry

The usurper’s flesh will be my food



Of my hunger

And my anger!

---Mahmoud Darwish

A Word on Statistics

Out of every hundred people,
those who always know better:

Unsure of every step:
almost all the rest.

Ready to help,
if it doesn't take long:

Always good,
because they cannot be otherwise:
four -- well, maybe five.

Able to admire without envy:

Led to error
by youth (which passes):
sixty, plus or minus.

Those not to be messed with:

Living in constant fear
of someone or something:

Capable of happiness:
twenty-some-odd at most.

Harmless alone,
turning savage in crowds:
more than half, for sure.

when forced by circumstances:
it's better not to know,
not even approximately.

Wise in hindsight:
not many more
than wise in foresight.

Getting nothing out of life except things:
(though I would like to be wrong).

Balled up in pain
and without a flashlight in the dark:
eighty-three, sooner or later.

Those who are just:
quite a few, thirty-five.

But if it takes effort to understand:

Worthy of empathy:

one hundred out of one hundred --
a figure that has never varied yet.

---A poem by Wislawa Szymborska
(translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak)

February 22, 2011

दिल-ए-मन मुसाफ़िर-ए-मन

मेरे दिल मेरे मुसाफ़िर
हुआ फिर से हुक्म् सादिर
के वतन बदर हों हम तुम
दें गली गली सदायेँ
करें रुख़ नगर नगर का
के सुराग़ कोई पायेँ
किसी यार-ए-नामाबर का
हर एक अजनबी से पूछें
जो पता था अपने घर का
हमें दिन से रात करना
कभी इस से बात करना
कभी उस से बात करना
तुम्हें क्या कहूँ के क्या है
शब-ए-ग़म बुरी बला है
हमें ये भी था ग़निमत
जो कोई शुमार होता
हमें क्या बुरा था मरना
अगर एक बार होता

---फ़ैज़ अहमद फ़ैज़

February 15, 2011


Furrowed motherland,
I swear that in your ashes
you will be born like a flower of eternal water

I swear that from your mouth of thirst
will come to the air the petals of bread,
the spilt inaugurated flower.

Cursed, cursed, cursed be those
who with an ax and serpent came to your earthly arena,
cursed those who waited for this day to open the door of the dwelling
to the moor and the bandit:
What have you achieved?

bring the lamp,
see the soaked earth,
see the blackened little bone eaten by the flames,
the garment of murdered Spain.

--- Pablo Neruda from Spain In Our Hearts (1973) translated by Donald D. Walsh

Su Nombre es Hoy (His Name is Today)

We are guilty of many errors and many faults,
but our worst crime is abandoning the children,
neglecting the fountain of life.

Many of the things we need can wait.
The child cannot.
Right now is the time his bones are being formed,
his blood is being made,
and his senses are being developed.

To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow,’
his name is today.

---Gabriela Mistral

La Standard Oil Co

When the drill bored down toward the stony fissures
and plunged its implacable intestine
into the subterranean estates,
and dead years, eyes of the ages,
imprisoned plants’ roots
and scaly systems
became strata of water,
fire shot up through the tubes
transformed into cold liquid,
in the customs house of the heights,
issuing from its world of sinister depth,
it encountered a pale engineer
and a title deed.

However entangled the petroleum’s arteries may be,
however the layers may change their silent site
and move their sovereignty amid the earth’s bowels,
when the fountain gushes its paraffin foliage,
Standard Oil arrived beforehand
with its checks and it guns,
with its governments and its prisoners.

Their obese emperors from New York
are suave smiling assassins
who buy silk, nylon, cigars
petty tyrants and dictators.

They buy countries, people, seas, police, county councils,
distant regions where the poor hoard their corn
like misers their gold:
Standard Oil awakens them,
clothes them in uniforms, designates
which brother is the enemy.
the Paraguayan fights its war,
and the Bolivian wastes away
in the jungle with its machine gun.

A President assassinated for a drop of petroleum,
a million-acre mortgage,
a swift execution on a morning mortal with light, petrified,
a new prison camp for subversives,
in Patagonia, a betrayal, scattered shots
beneath a petroliferous moon,
a subtle change of ministers
in the capital, a whisper
like an oil tide,
and zap, you’ll see
how Standard Oil’s letters shine above the clouds,
above the seas, in your home,
illuminating their dominions.

--- by Pablo Neruda, Canto General, 1940 and Translated by Jack Schmitt

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

---Maya Angelou

February 13, 2011

एक बूँद

ज्यों निकल कर बादलों की गोद से
थी अभी एक बूँद कुछ आगे बढ़ी
सोचने फिर-फिर यही जी में लगी,
आह ! क्यों घर छोड़कर मैं यों बढ़ी ?

देव मेरे भाग्य में क्या है बढ़ा,
मैं बचूँगी या मिलूँगी धूल में ?
या जलूँगी फिर अंगारे पर किसी,
चू पडूँगी या कमल के फूल में ?

बह गयी उस काल एक ऐसी हवा
वह समुन्दर ओर आई अनमनी
एक सुन्दर सीप का मुँह था खुला
वह उसी में जा पड़ी मोती बनी ।

लोग यों ही हैं झिझकते, सोचते
जबकि उनको छोड़ना पड़ता है घर
किन्तु घर का छोड़ना अक्सर उन्हें
बूँद लौं कुछ और ही देता है कर ।

---अयोध्या सिंह उपाध्याय ‘हरिऔध’

February 12, 2011

कभी मोम बन के पिघल गया

कभी मोम बन के पिघल गया कभी गिरते गिरते सँभल गया
वो बन के लम्हा गुरेज़ का मेरे पास से निकल गया

उसे रोकता भी तो किस तरह के वो शख़्स इतना अजीब था
कभी तड़प उठा मेरी आह से कभी अश्क़ से न पिघल सका

सरे-राह मिला वो अगर कभी तो नज़र चुरा के गुज़र गया
वो उतर गया मेरी आँख से मेरे दिल से क्यूँ न उतर सका

वो चला गया जहाँ छोड़ के मैं वहाँ से फिर न पलट सका
वो सँभल गया था 'फ़राज़' मगर मैं बिखर के न सिमट सका

---अहमद फ़राज़ 

कुछ न किसी से बोलेंगे

कुछ न किसी से बोलेंगे
तन्हाई में रो लेंगे

हम बेरहबरों का क्या
साथ किसी के हो लेंगे

ख़ुद तो हुए रुसवा लेकिन
तेरे भेद न खोलेंगे

जीवन ज़हर भरा साग़र
कब तक अमृत घोलेंगे

नींद तो क्या आयेगी "फ़राज़"
मौत आई तो सो लेंगे

---अहमद फ़राज़

February 11, 2011

A poem by Noon Meem Rashid

ज़िंदगी से डरते हो!
ज़िंदगी तो तुम भी हो ज़िंदगी तो हम भी हैं!
ज़िंदगी से डरते हो?
आदमी से डरते हो
आदमी तो तुम भी हो आदमी तो हम भी हैं
आदमी ज़बाँ भी है आदमी बयाँ भी है
उस से तुम नहीं डरते!
हर्फ़ और मअनी के रिश्ता-हा-ए-आहन से आदमी है वाबस्ता
आदमी के दामन से ज़िंदगी है वाबस्ता
उस से तुम नहीं डरते
''अन-कही'' से डरते हो
जो अभी नहीं आई उस घड़ी से डरते हो
उस घड़ी की आमद की आगही से डरते हो
पहले भी तो गुज़रे हैं
दौर ना-रसाई के ''बे-रिया'' ख़ुदाई के
फिर भी ये समझते हो हेच आरज़ू-मंदी
ये शब-ए-ज़बाँ-बंदी है रह-ए-ख़ुदा-वंदी
तुम मगर ये क्या जानो
लब अगर नहीं हिलते हाथ जाग उठते हैं
हाथ जाग उठते हैं राह का निशाँ बन कर
नूर की ज़बाँ बन कर
हाथ बोल उठते हैं सुब्ह की अज़ाँ बन कर
रौशनी से डरते हो
रौशनी तो तुम भी हो रौशनी तो हम भी हैं
रौशनी से डरते हो
शहर की फ़सीलों पर
देव का जो साया था पाक हो गया आख़िर
रात का लिबादा भी
चाक हो गया आख़िर ख़ाक हो गया आख़िर
इज़्दिहाम-ए-इंसाँ से फ़र्द की नवा आई
ज़ात की सदा आई
राह-ए-शौक़ में जैसे राह-रौ का ख़ूँ लपके
इक नया जुनूँ लपके
आदमी छलक उट्ठे
आदमी हँसे देखो शहर फिर बसे देखो
तुम अभी से डरते हो?
हाँ अभी तो तुम भी हो
हाँ अभी तो हम भी हैं
तुम अभी से डरते हो

English Translation

And you are afraid of life?
But, you too are life
We too are life

And you are afraid of humanity?
But, you too are human
We too are human

Man is word, and
Man is meaning
To the iron bond
Uniting word and meaning
Man is connected
Life itself is tied to his sleeves

Of this, being unaware, you are not afraid.

Afraid of the unsaid
Afraid of the moment that has not yet arrived
Afraid of even the awareness of the coming of that moment

We have seen the consequences
Of remaining aloof
Of a seemingly guileless divinity
And yet you believe
That to desire is worthless
That this night of silenced tongues
Is the noble path to salvation

How will you know though
That if those lips don’t move
One's arms begin to stir
One's hands begin to call
As the shining lights in the night
As the voice of heavens
Like the voice from the temple at dawn

But you are afraid of Light?
Remember, you too are a light
We too are a light

What was earlier only a shadow of the prophets
It finally became holy
A new light, a new wind, a new message was in the air

As in the journey of love
The traveler’s blood soars
A new passion leaps
Man is consumed with it
And he laughs, look!
The city is reborn in love

You are alive, and so are we.
Still you are afraid?

---Noon Meem Rashid

February 7, 2011

Unadikum ( I Call on You )

I call on you
I clasp your hands
I kiss the ground under your feet
And I say: I offer my life for yours
I give you the light of my eyes
as a present
and the warmth of my heart
The tragedy I live
is but my share of your tragedies
I call on you
I clasp your hands
I was not humiliated in my homeland
Nor was I diminished
I stood up to my oppressors
orphaned, nude, and barefoot
I carried my blood in my palm
I never lowered my flags
I guarded the green grass
over my ancestor’s graves
I call on you
I clasp your hands

---Tawfiq Zayyad (1929-1994)

The Will of Life

“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…”

---Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi. Translated by Elliott Colla.


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.

--- Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi. Translated by As’ad Abu Khalil.

I am the People

I am the people, marching, and I know my way
My struggle is my weapon, my determination my friend
I fight the nights and with my hopes’ eyes
I determine where true morning lies
I am the people, marching, and I know my way

I am the people. My hand lights life
Makes deserts green, devastates tyrants
Raising truths, banners on guns
My history becomes my lighthouse and comrade
I am the people, marching, and I know my way

No matter how many prisons they build
Mo matter how much their dogs try to betray
My day will break and my fire will destroy
Seas of dogs and prisons out of my way

I am the people and the sun is a rose in my sleeve
The day’s fire horses galloping in my blood
My children will defeat every oppressor
Who can stand in my way?

I am the people, marching, and I know my way.

---Ahmed Fouad Nigm

The Dragon

A dictator, hiding behind a nihilist's mask,
has killed and killed and killed,
pillaged and wasted,
but is afraid, he claims,
to kill a sparrow.
His smiling picture is everywhere:
in the coffeehouse, in the brothel,
in the nightclub, and the marketplace.
Satan used to be an original,
now he is just the dictator's shadow.
The dictator has banned the solar calendar,
abolished Neruda, Marquez, and Amado,
abolished the Constitution;
he's given his name to all the squares, the open spaces,
the rivers,
and all the jails in his blighted homeland.
He's burned the last soothsayer
who failed to kneel before the idol.
He's doled out death as a gift or a pledge.
His watchdogs have corrupted the land,
stolen the people's food,
raped the Muses,
raped the widows of the men who died under torture,
raped the daughters and widows of his soldiers
who lost the war,
from which, like rabbits in clover fields,
they had run away,
leaving behind corpses of workers and peasants,
writers and artists,
twenty-year-old children,
carpenters and ironsmiths,
hungry and burned under the autumn sky,
all forcibly led to slaughter,
killed by invaders, alien and homegrown.
The dictator hides his disgraced face in the mud.
Now he is having a taste of his own medicine,
and the pillars of deception have collapsed,
his picture is now underfoot,
trampled by history's worn shoes.
The deposed dictator is executed in exile,
another monster is crowned in the hapless homeland.
The hourglass restarts,
counting the breaths of the new dictator,
lurking everywhere,
in the coffeehouse, the brothel,
in the nightclub, and the marketplace.

From the Caribbean to China's Great Wall,
the dictator-dragon is being cloned.
When will you do it, St George?

---"The Dragon", by the Iraqi poet Abd al-Wahhab Al-Bayyati (1926-1999) was originally published in 1996. The translation appearing on this page is by Farouk Abdel Wahab, Najat Rahman, and Carolina Hotchandani. It is from the volume Iraqi Poetry Today (ISBN 095338246X) (c) 2003, edited by Saadi Simawe.

February 1, 2011

To the Tyrants of the World

You, the unfair tyrants…

You the lovers of the darkness…

You the enemies of life…

You’ve made fun of innocent people’s wounds; and your palm covered with their blood

You kept walking while you were deforming the charm of existence and growing seeds of sadness in their land

Wait, don’t let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you…

Because the darkness, the thunder rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you from the horizon

Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash

Who grows thorns will reap wounds

You’ve taken off heads of people and the flowers of hope; and watered the cure of the sand with blood and tears until it was drunk

The blood’s river will sweep you away and you will be burned by the fiery storm.

---Aboul-Qacem Echebbi .
"To the Tyrants of the World" was recited on the streets during the protests in Tunisia, and in streets of Cairo and Alexandria.

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