September 3, 2012


I stand accused of Shahrayaristry
By friends
By enemies,
Accused of Shahrayaristry,
Of collecting women
Like stamps or empty matchbooks,
Of pinning them up
On the walls of my room.
They call me narcissistic,
Oedipal, sadistic...
Accusing me of every known disorder
To prove themselves educated
And me a deviant.

Nobody will hear my testimony,
My love.
The judges are biased
The witnesses bribed.
I am declared guilty
Before I testify.
Nobody, my love,
Understands my childhood
For I am from a city
That has no love for children,
That knows no innocence,
That has never bought one rose
Or book of poetry,
A city of rough hands,
Of hard feelings and hearts
Calcified by swallowed glass and nails.
I come from a city of ice walls
Whose children are dead of frostbite.

I make no apologies, have no intentions
To hire a lawyer
Or save my head from rope.
A thousand times they hung me
Till my neck got used to hanging,
And my body to the ambulance.

I make no apologies, have no hopes
For an innocent verdict
From any man,
But in a public hearing
I will tell you alone
Before my mere accusers,
Who tried me for possessing more than one woman
For hoarding perfumes, rings, combs
And other rationed things in wartime:
I love you alone,
I cling to you
As the peel to the pomegranate,
The tear to the eye
And the knife to the wound.

I want to say
If just this once
That I have never followed Shahrayar,
I am no murderer
And have never melted women in acid,
But am a poet,
Writing out loud,
Loving out loud.

I am a green-eyed child
Hanged on the gates of a childless city.

--- By Nizar Qabbani
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

*Shahrayar=The King

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