Poetry from around the World.
As sunlight is attributed to the moon, so is the
Beloved's form ascribed to the lover; but in truth
each image painted
on the canvas of existence
is the form
of the artist himself.
spews forth new waves.
"Waves" we call them;
but there is only the Sea.
-- from Fakhruddin Iraqi
musk, clove... all from the hyacinthine shadows
of those tresses. You think you hear
a nightingale's song... No. It is the voice
of the Rose.
By Fakhruddin Iraqi (? - 1289)
Suspicion consumed me
As it does to this day
Lined by desire
I hid the wounds in my heart
You make it all end in tears
Values are abandoned
As if a thorn were pulled out of my heart
Tears spill from my eyes
Lights still burn but the place is deserted
Once faith was unshakeable
A head of snow at my shoulder
Once we were a tongue of flame
Loneliness is my twin
Were there ever such twins before?
Kishwar Naheed (Pakistani poet; translated from Urdu by Poetry Translation Centre)
Escape, Lines 14-27
out of night
in the sand
of dunes on my deserted
Yesterday, Lines 8-21
you have told me
my culture's past
of my Somali
And like this fine sand
in the hollow
of a hand
you sift down into the past
where the mind
William J.F. Syad. Somalia (1930- ).
William Syad was born in French Somalia in 1930 and was educated in Saudi Arabia and at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. As a supporter of Somalian unity, Syad has spent much of his life in exile. He worked for Radio Djibouti from 1955-1960 but then fled into exile once again. When the Somalia Republic was formed, Syad became head of the department of Tourism and Culture at the Ministry of Information in Mogadishu. This was followed by a long and distinguished career in the Somali foreign service.
Syad's has published four volumes of poetry, Khamsine (1959), Cantiques (1976), Harmoniques (1976) and Naufragés du destin (1978). This body of work reflects the unique character of Syad's French Somali roots. It blends Syad's devotion to Islam with his acceptance of Western influences into into the Horn of Africa. Perhaps put best by Léopold Senghor (in Jahn, 1972), "His poems have the subtle perfume of the Song of Songs. And the tone of the poems of Tagore. They are natural flowers of a land of poetry, of a land of nard and incense: balmy orchids."
Beyond the closed panes
past the window,
it keeps raining
on the green trees,
on the thick branches,
on the frail flowers.
Like your memory
which keeps raining
beyond voices, faces,
and milling thoughts
that crowd my mind.
Rain Moods: by Gulzar
This poem, by the Kenyan poet, Ahmed Sheikh Nabhany, first appeared inthe 1985 collection, Umbuji wa Kiwandeo. Ed. Ibrahim Noor Shariff.Nairobi: East African Publishing House. It was subsequently revised by Nabhanyduring his Fulbright visit to UCLA in 1996 and is included here with hispermission. The translation by TJH is based on an unpublished one done bythe author.
Shaza Ahmed Sheikh Nabhany (1985) The Oyster Shell (TJH translation)
1. Divers of the ocean, you dive, Through distant and foaming waves
Diving in unsounded depths, You expert, strong swimmers
Swimming backstroke, swimming crawl, Strengthening each joint
I ask you, when I throw my net, What will it catch?
2. I know you will not hesitate, You understand, defying defeat
Open this up, knowing ones, Unstringing my clues one by one
Anyone who is a smith, And who must use a hammer
Here, I have close a riddle, Let you experts untangle it
3. Experts, figure it out, Tell me (the meaning of the riddle) so I mayunderstand
In the sky there is a cloud, May its rain spread far and wide
The wind propels it along the coast, its raindrops like pebbles
Spread quickly, And descend into the sea.
4. It penetrates deep within, Into thehe heart of the ocean
Like thread through a needle, A single thread, soft as silk
Descending into the shell which, Enfolds and forms the precious pearl
It has no rivel, It is a gem of great value.
5. The shell is on a tree, In the depths of the ocean
The tree is not out in the open, It gets no light
Its branches are invisible, Even though they have grown
It is not a miracle tree , On the earth there are plenty
6. When it is a completed pearl, On the tree in the shell
Its shell cracks open, It emerges from its nest
Into the waves it thrusts, Landing on the beach
Leaving seaweed behind, The waters abate, the pearl glitters
7. Rays of light, luminescence, The whole area glows
Attracting everyone who passes, They gather and stare in small groups
Valuable to the one who gets it, He keeps it in a chest
Many have become richer, With gold and lots of silver
8. Ponder this you experts, reveal the mystery
I am releasing this kite, Into the air, aloft
I give you much time, Open this knot
Let me weigh it for you, The reward is a rare gift
9. I'm going back home to rest, I'm throwing down my anchor
An anchor in front and rear, So that the boat is balanced
The captain is Nabhany, He knows the ocean, he braves
He fears neither sudden nor foaming waves, And no other waves in the sea.
In Swahili and English:
Utenzi wa Vita vya Wadachi Kutamalaki Mrima The German Conquest of the Swahili Coast
1 BISMILLAHI Ghafari 1 IN THE NAME OF GOD, the Forgiving,
alWahidi 'lKahari the One, the Dominant,
mwinyi kuhui shajari the giver of life to plants,
na jinni na insiya to spirits and to mankind.
2 Yu pweke ARRAHAMANI 2 He is alone THE COMPASSIONATE,
wala hayuko wa thani there is none other that mruzuku duniani provides for the world ila ni yeye mmoya but Him alone.
3 ARRAHIMI siku ya nyot 3 THE MERCIFUL, Who on the Day of tawapeleka Janata Judgment will send to Paradise
ambao wametakata those who are purged na maasi ya dunia from the sins of the world.
4 Ndiye muumba Jannati 4 [He is] the Creator of ardhi na samawati of Earth and of Heaven na vilivyo katikati and of all between them; muumba ndiye Jaliya the Almighty is their creator
5 Ndiye muumba bahari 5 [He is] the Creator of the sea, na shamsi na kamari of the Sun and the Moon na nyota zikakithiri and the countless stars ili anga la dunia to light the world
6 Ndiye muumba tuyuri 6 the Creator of the birds that kuruka pasi shajari flit through the trees; kwa uwezowe Jabbari the Repairer, the Mighty: may He be exalted; Jalla waala Taaa of His power He made them
7 Ndiye muumba Rasuli 7 [He is] the Creator of the Prophet, Muhammadi mfadhili Mohamed the bringer of good, tena akamjamili Who favoured him with haiba ya mambo pia beauty of body and soul and all the virtues.
8 Kwanza kampa Jannati 8 First He gave him the Garden of ya lulu na mayakuti pearls and rubies, na kushufai umati the redemption of his people siku ya kiu na ndaa in the day of hunger and thirst.
9 Kampa na Kur'ani 9 And He gave him the Koran na sabaa 'lmathani and the seven sections, na nuru za duniani and the Lights of the world kampa kamuwatia He put in his keeping.
10 Na jamii mashahidi 10 And all the confessors akapewa Muhammadi Mohamed was given and Mitume yote idadi the countless number ~~ hapana aliyepewa of the prophets.~~
11 Kampandisha mbinguni 11 And of His love kwa huba yake Manani He took him up to Paradise kamtia na peponi and allowed him into Heaven kabla kutawafaa before his death.
12 Sifa za Rabbi Majidi 12 the praises of the Lord, the Glorious na Mtume Muhammadi and of the Apostle Mohamed ufanyapo jitahidi [when] you diligently do (praise), kufuruni hutangia you will not fall into unbelief. Note: 12d Utangiya in MS. JWT
13 Sasa nashika kalamu 13 Now I take my pen na karatasi ya shamu and my Syrian paper ambalo nalifahamu and write in order ~~ nilandike moya moya that which I have learned
14 Niname nitafakuri 14 I will bend myself and consider nipige zangu nadhari and fix my attention nelekeze ushairi and direct my verse na kwamba utalekea to your advantage.
15 Na moyo nitoe ghashi 15 I will put away deceit from my heart niwakhubiri Mdachi and tell of the Germans na nipatalo siachi I will omit nothing that I know, na wenzangu kuwambia but will tell it to my friends
16 Nitulize moyo wangu 16 I will sit quietly tuwe pamoya wenzangu with my friends niwakhubiri Mzungu and tell the story of the European awali na akhiria from beginning to end.
17 Kwanza nitake auni 17 First I need help kwakeye Mungu Manani from God the Beneficent na Muhammadi Amini and from Mohamed the Faithful na mitume yote pia and all the Prophets.
18 Nidhukuru Allahumma 18 Let me repeat, "Almighty God", ndiwe mwingi wa rehema Thou art full of mercy, muabudiwa dawama ever to be worshipped ni jinni na insia by men and spirits.
19 Tunusuru waja wako 19 Protect us Thy servants vita vya adui zako in war against Thine enemies wakataa dini yako who reject Thy religion, tusiabudu Taaa lest we fail to worship the Most High.
20 Na Mtume Muhammadi 20 Thou, Apostle Mohamed Sala lLahu wa Sayyidi (God bless him and give him glory) tuombeeni Wadudi pray for us to the Loving tunusurike na baa to preserve us from evil.
21 Na baba yetu Adamu 21 [And our] Father Adam na Musa na Brahimu and Moses and Abraham, tuombeeni Karimu pray to the Generous atwondolee udhia to take trouble from us.
22 Na Nuhu na Idrisa 22 Noah, Enoch, Shuaibu na Yunusa Jethro, Jonah, na Zakariya na Isa Zacharias and Jesus tuombeeni Jaliya pray for us to God.
23 Na Isahaka dhabihu 23 Isaac the sacrificed, na Sami waladi Nuhu Shem son of Noah, na Yushau na Salehu Joshua and Saleh nyanda zenu ni kwinua raise your hands.
24 Pamwe na Ismaili 24 [Together with] Ishmael yeye na Dhu 'lKifili [both he] and Isaiah muombeni tasihili pray now to Rabbi kutusahilia the Lord to save us.
25 Yusufu na Yaakubu 25 Joseph and Jacob, na Harunu na Ayubu Aaron and Job, tuombeeni Wahabu pray for us to the Bestower, Mwinyi ezi na kusaa the Lord Almighty
26 Daudi na Sulemani 26 David, Solomon, na Iliasa yuani Elijah na Lutu na Lukmani Lot, Luqman na tumwa Hudi pamoya and Hud too.
27 Thuma na tumwa Yahya 27 Thou, prophet John Rabbi ni kutuombea pray to the Lord atwondolee udhia to protect us kwa ezi yake taaa from trouble.
28 Thuma na Abubakari 28 Abu Bakr and na Sayyidna Umari Lord Omar, Khalifa wake Bashiri Representative of Muhammadi mfadhaa Mohamed the great, the good Prophet
29 Na Sayyidi Athmani 29 Lord Othman na Sheikhe Abu Hasani and Sheikh Abu Hasan na Abdirahmani and Abdu 'lRahman bin 'Aufi sikia bin Auf, [hear]
30 Na Hamza na Abbasi 30 Hamza and Abbas mlioshinda Majusi who defeated the Magians tuombeeni Kuddusi pray to the Holy atunusuru Jaliya that He will preserve us.
31 Na Hasani na Husaini 31 Hasan and Hussein, dhuria wake Amini descendants of the Prophet, kwa Mungu tuombeeni pray to God dini yenu yapotea that our religion may not perish.
32 Na Talha na Zubairi 32 Talha and Zubeir, ndinywi wapiga kufari you too defeated the infidels kwa saifi na khanjari with sword and scimitar dini mkaiwania you fought for the Faith.
33 Fadhili na Msellemu 33 Fadhl and Msellem wana wa Bani Hashimu [children] of the Bani Hashim, waungwana mlotimu real men who did not waver or falter. ~~ msio shaka na tuwa [you who are without doubt nor ....]
34 Thuma na bin Maadi 34 Bin Maadi na mwana wa Aswadi and Bin Asad, wazoefu wa hadidi men skilled in the use of weapons, kula utambo kungia come to our aid.
35 Amru bin 'lAsi 35 Amr bin alAs yeye na bin Unaysi and bin Unais, tuombeeni upesi pray [quickly] that atwondolee balaa He may preserve us from evil. Note 35c Emended from ombane upesi JWT
36 Na Sayyidna Khalidi 36 Lord Khalid, mzaliwa ni Walidi son of Walid na jamii masayyidi and all Seyyids, Rabbi ni kutuombea pray to the Lord.
37 Ewe Mama Mwana Hawa 37 [Oh you] Mother Eve, mikono yako inuwa lift thy hands, duayo itapokewa thy petition will be heard uombalo litakuwa and thy prayers granted.
38 Thuma na Mwana Fatuma 38 Fatuma the daughter na Khadija wako mama and Khadija the mother pamoja na Mariyama [together with] and Mary binti Imraniya daughter of Imran
39 Na Zaina na Sakina 39 Zaina and Sakina wewe na Mwana Hasina and Lady Hasina, ndinywi mnao majina you have great names na Ummi Kulthumiya and the stately Mother
40 Na Aisha na Zuhura 40 Ayesha and Zuhura, na Zalikha na Asira Zuleikha and Asira, ndinywi wanawake bora you are good women, mtakalo mwalipewa what you ask you will receive;
41 Na Khatuni na Asiye 41 Khatuni and Asia, na Halima na Radhiye Halima and Radhia, Saliha na Atikiye Saliha and Atikia, leo nawakumbukia I think of you today.
42 U wapi Mwana Mayasa 42 Where art thou Lady Mayasa, Khaulata na Anisa Khawlata and Anisa, mkaomba kwa Kuddusa you prayed to the Holy, Subhana wa taaa the Lord God on high?
43 U wapi Mwana Hanifa 43 Where art thou, Lady Hanifa na Zaina na Afifa and Zaina and Afifa, na Salima na Zalifa and Salima and Zalifa wanawake mashujaa famous women?
44 Amina na Mwana Hinda 44 Amina and Lady Hinda inuani zenu nyanda lift up your hands, atende mwinyi kutenda that He who can may do, atujalie wasaa and give us His blessing.
45 Nishapo hao kutaja 45 After mentioning all these by name mtu mmoja mmoja [one by one / each one in turn] ndipo nidhukuru haja I will repeat the purpose niliyo ikusudia that I have in mind;
46 Na mimi kusudi yangu 46 the purpose iliyo moyoni mwangu of my heart is to tell you kisa cha hawa Wazungu the story of the Europeans. takacho wahadithia [that is what I want to tell you]
47 Mwanzo wake hikutubu 47 First, I must tell you walifunua vitabu they opened their books Kususu na Marahibu and the priests and monks vyuo wakaangaliya studied them.
48 Wakatunza Majahili 48 They pored over the Zend Avesta, Taurati na Injili the Torah and the Gospels, vyuo vikawaratili and the books made it clear to them kwingiliwa ni wakaa that an attack was approaching.
49 Wakasoma Taurati 49. In the Torah they read wakaona katikati and there [within] they found kungiliwa ni mauti disaster [to be attacked is death] wala yasiyo wasaa without measure.
50 Wakakiona kitali 50. without parallel They found killing wala kisicho mithali [nor without equal] na watu wengi kudhili and the death of many, katika zote kariya as they read.
Ah, sis jannah! Maashallah!
The Swahili poetry put a smile on my face. I never thought I'll ever read it here. The beauty about Swahili is that it is read the way it is spelt. That is its simplicity too.
Let me not spoil the beautiful flow of the world poetry here by saying too much.
The Almighty Allah says,
"When a servant thinks of Me, I am near.
When he invokes Me, I am with him.
If he reflects on Me in secret, I reply in secret,
And if he acknowledges Me in an assembly,
I acknowledge him in a far superior assembly."
- Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reptd by Abu Huraira
by Kajal Ahmad (a Kurd poet)
According to the latest classification, Kurds
now belong to a species of bird
which is why, across the torn, yellowing pages
of history, they are nomads spotted by their caravans.
Yes, Kurds are birds! And even when
there's nowhere left, no refuge for their pain,
they turn to the illusion of travelling
between the warm and the cold climes
of their homeland. So naturally,
I don't think it strange that Kurds can fly.
They go from country to country
and still never realise their dreams of settling,
of forming a colony. They build no nests
and not even on their final landing
do they visit Mewlana to enquire of his health,
or bow down to the dust in the gentle wind, like Nali.*
[* Refers to a famous line from Nali, 17th century poet: I sacrifice myself to your dust - you gentle wind! Messenger familiar with all of Sharazoor!]
Translated from Kurdish: Mimi Khalvati
Like a Desert Flower
by Parween Faiz Zadah Malaal
Like a desert flower waiting for rain,
like a river-bank thirsting for the touch of pitchers,
like the dawn
longing for light;
and like a house,
like a house in ruins for want of a woman -
the exhausted ones of our times
need a moment to breathe,
need a moment to sleep,
in the arms of peace, in the arms of peace.
'Lalmi' is dry farming on desert areas where there is no proper irrigation system.
'Goodar' is a place on the bank of a stream or river at which water is drawn. Girls usually go there in the late afternoon to take fresh clean water in earthen ware jars.
'Mangai' is a large earthenware water pot.
Translated from Pashto by: Poetry Translation Centre, British Arts Council.
Parween Faiz Zadah Malaal
Parween Faiz Zadah Malaal is one of the most popular women poets writing in Pashto. Born in 1957, in southern Afghanistan (Kandahar province), Parween began her career as a journlaist by writing for the daily paper Tolo-e-Afghan in Kandahar. She also worked in Kabul for Radio Afghanistan. She has recently moved to Peshawar where she has published both short stories and three collections of poetry. This poem is taken from Da Khazaan Tilayee Ploona (The Golden Footsteps of Autumn) published in Peshawar in 2002.
The head of the protocol department asked
What are you involved in
We are tired I said
Alright, but what are you involved in
We have been occupied
We would like to have a little rest
Are you involved in politics
Our goal is freedom
The department head took note
And gave us a startled look
They look naive he said
As he came in to meet us
They are Albanians
They come from a land of hatred
They want to be understood
They don't insist on love
Eqrem Basha (born in Macedonia, 1948) , Translation: Robert Elsie