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)

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

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

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]

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