I stretch out on the shore and think of you

Happy summer solstice, dear readers. Here’s a bit of verse from the great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) to celebrate the longest day of the year.

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Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Photo by me. 

“In the Summer”

In the summer
I stretch out on the shore
And think of you
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me.

(Translated by B. Frangieh and C. Brown)

My lungs are my poetry, my eyes a book

Dear readers,

Thank you for following me on this month’s journey in verse. It’s always a pleasure to share the words that have woven themselves into my past year and to seek out new poets to introduce to you all. I hope you’ve encountered at least a few pieces along the way that have moved or confounded, delighted or enlivened you.

April’s final poem comes from the great Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said Esber, who began writing under the name Adonis (1930-) in his late teenage years. As I mentioned in this month’s introductory post, the current state of the world has increasingly inspired me to turn to poetry for solace and sense. This song from Adonis is one I hold close to me as I try to comprehend the enormous weight of it all while still remembering those birds at the edges of our shared sky.

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“Song”

from “Elegy for the First Century”

Bells on our eyelashes
and the death throes of words,
and I among fields of speech,
a knight on a horse made of dirt.
My lungs are my poetry, my eyes a book,
and I, under the skin of words,
on the beaming banks of foam,
a poet who sang and died
leaving this singed elegy
before the faces of poets,
for birds at the edge of sky.
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translated by Khaled Mattawa

My body is an eternal motion outside itself.

The Syrian poet, translator, and essayist Adonis (1930-) was born to a small family of farmers in the Al Qassabin village and taught to read and memorize poems by his father. He is now one of the most celebrated living Arab poets–check out this fascinating article about his life.

“Motion”

I travel outside my body, and inside me there are continents
that I do not know. My body
is an eternal motion outside itself.
I don’t ask: From where? Or where were you? I ask, where do I go?
The sand looks at me and turns me into sand,
and the water looks at me and brothers me.

Truly, there is nothing to dusk but memory.