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Poetry

An Alphabetical Formation

Translated from Arabic
AlifYou're not beginning . . .It's an eternity, you know . . .I mean, the ever-after, you knowNo matter, then.Raise your cavalryBut don't set out for the horizon,Or the sea . . . or the soillines for beginnings,finish me off on a wire.	You are not beginning now,watch out . . .              anyone who begins is deceived Ba  We haven't yet finished the elegy for the century,                  We haven't explained blood,                  flowing from poetry,or a tear from prose,and what of glories,                  to see through them just ourselves,and in ourselves, only us  . . .Do the dead epitomize the living?Well, then . . . does captivity test thewings a bird uses to                   swoop  down freely,or does it discover significance far                  from their twin meaning? Ta That's a mirror,	and this a woman,the woman rises . . . So let the mirror be shattered, and the ruler, 	 and the secret between themThe woman rises . . .	to see the before and the after from the inside and the outsidewe' ve obscured the sky,	and performed ablutions at dawn,then prayed at its knee until noonthe sultans passed by without their dreams,they were dragging coffinswe call thrones!Do you really see? . . . we ask ourselvesand how is it they've triumphed?Only defeats have been victorious Kha The beginning of wine is the shadow . . .	  And it is not content with the volcano,              we've raked the languages of serenity,              to raise a glassthe naked trees . . . our remainsfor he who gathers enoughof the silence that extinguishes an ember              we no longer grasp, we' ve returned              and raked letters              whose eyes have forsaken sorrow,for a glorious silence               they have stabbed its isolations . . . the silence indicts armiesand judges and turncoats . . . and titles . . . It does not forget . . . a summons from your master's resolutions,               or from the binding of the threads that remind. Thal Oblivious to design, this tomorrow is baffled by intentand the yesterday that moans from our first humanity.Rather, baffled by our first blood,for this I search the nightfor a new master                 sowing wheat with his palms,                 singing from our songs,                 and quenching his thirst from our casks                 and if fury remains, then an invasion is                               undertaken Nun A gift is my ribAnd my spirit a brown horseAnd memory my pavilionFor to whom do I leave my belongings?And to whom do I entrust my desireFor a mirage that doesn't betray its master                one day as the capitals                 have betrayed their inhabitants Yah Has he finished . . . ?No . . . He does not know this deed,and doesn't accept its definitions,it embarks within usand if he arrives to shore,he says:  Apologize to it for me.	 Around me is a vaster blueness	 out of your dreams	 Imru al-Qays 		was straying from it		and so, it strayed from him.The poet has finished and as for the poetry . . .We say no . . . And we say: we'll try.March 7, 1992 
English
AlifYou're not beginning . . .It's an eternity, you know . . .I mean, the ever-after, you knowNo matter, then.Raise your cavalryBut don't set out for the horizon,Or the sea . . . or the soillines for beginnings,finish me off on a wire.	You are not beginning now,watch out . . .              anyone who begins is deceived Ba  We haven't yet finished the elegy for the century,                  We haven't explained blood,                  flowing from poetry,or a tear from prose,and what of glories,                  to see through them just ourselves,and in ourselves, only us  . . .Do the dead epitomize the living?Well, then . . . does captivity test thewings a bird uses to                   swoop  down freely,or does it discover significance far                  from their twin meaning? Ta That's a mirror,	and this a woman,the woman rises . . . So let the mirror be shattered, and the ruler, 	 and the secret between themThe woman rises . . .	to see the before and the after from the inside and the outsidewe' ve obscured the sky,	and performed ablutions at dawn,then prayed at its knee until noonthe sultans passed by without their dreams,they were dragging coffinswe call thrones!Do you really see? . . . we ask ourselvesand how is it they've triumphed?Only defeats have been victorious Kha The beginning of wine is the shadow . . .	  And it is not content with the volcano,              we've raked the languages of serenity,              to raise a glassthe naked trees . . . our remainsfor he who gathers enoughof the silence that extinguishes an ember              we no longer grasp, we' ve returned              and raked letters              whose eyes have forsaken sorrow,for a glorious silence               they have stabbed its isolations . . . the silence indicts armiesand judges and turncoats . . . and titles . . . It does not forget . . . a summons from your master's resolutions,               or from the binding of the threads that remind. Thal Oblivious to design, this tomorrow is baffled by intentand the yesterday that moans from our first humanity.Rather, baffled by our first blood,for this I search the nightfor a new master                 sowing wheat with his palms,                 singing from our songs,                 and quenching his thirst from our casks                 and if fury remains, then an invasion is                               undertaken Nun A gift is my ribAnd my spirit a brown horseAnd memory my pavilionFor to whom do I leave my belongings?And to whom do I entrust my desireFor a mirage that doesn't betray its master                one day as the capitals                 have betrayed their inhabitants Yah Has he finished . . . ?No . . . He does not know this deed,and doesn't accept its definitions,it embarks within usand if he arrives to shore,he says:  Apologize to it for me.	 Around me is a vaster blueness	 out of your dreams	 Imru al-Qays 		was straying from it		and so, it strayed from him.The poet has finished and as for the poetry . . .We say no . . . And we say: we'll try.March 7, 1992 
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