Thursday, October 20, 2016




Agony, not Death ,

Words , No Voice 
Labour Pains , No Birth 
Who crucifies the poet in Baghdad ?
Who Buys his Eyes and Hands ?
Who Makes a crown of thorns for him ?
Strings of Light 
Hang Up the Cradle of Morning 
Prepare the birds and Ants 
A Meal from My wounds .
This is my Meal , O Hungary People 
These are My Tears ,O Poor People 
This is My Prayer, O Believers: 
May the Volcano Burst Out in Flames 
May the Euphrates send its streams 
So that we can enlighten the darkness 
And learn What Mercy Is .

Vinegar and Water are coming out of My Heart 

From My Burning wounds 
From all my deepness 
O My people 
Open the door for those who want to go In 
Collect your children playing in the village Garden 
This is the last Supper 
This is the Harvest of years ……………………
( Badr Shakir Al Sayyab )

Badar Shakir Al Sayyab ( 1926- 1964 ) was an Arab Poet from Iraq . He was a communist . For his beliefs , he was sacked from his Government Job and forced to live as exile far away from his land .Sayyab died at a very young age of 38.
  For the Arab world , Al-Sayyab’s poetry  was completely new in its form and content .It  knocked   over the metrics of traditional Arab poetry. He drew  inspiration from  ancient Iraqi and Greek mythologies and wrote about intricate topics and  in simple language with powerful metaphors.

Influenced by Modern English Poetry , Sayyab lead the free verse movement in Arabic poetry .He  also wrote  some of the best poems on the tragedy of Human banishment and life of an Exile.
Al-Sayyab translated and was greatly influenced by  T S Eliot, Edith Sitwell,  Ezra Pound, Neruda, Nazim Hikmet and Paul Eluard.

“Who will hear my poems

when death's silence dwells inside my home,
when night settles in my fire?
Who will lift the burden of my cross
in this long night of dread?
Who would cry out, who would answer to the hungry,
care for the destitute?
Who would lower Jesus from His cross,
who would drive the vultures from His wounds,
remove the lid of darkness from His dawn?
Who would replace His thorns with a crown of laurels?”

( Badar Shaikir Al sayyab )

Born in  a southern Iraqi village near Basra, close to where the Euphrates and Tigris meet, Al Sayyab  studied Arabic and English literature and worked as a teacher for some time  before he was   dismissed from his post for being a communist. Although he abandoned the Communist Party and published a series of articles explaining his disenchantment and detachment from the ideology , his camaraderie with the struggles of others remained fearsome that got embedded in more individual themes for  his poems . The titles and themes of many of his poems speak to that: “The Blind Prostitute,” “The Gravedigger,” “Weapons and Children,” “Christ after Crucifixion.”

Al Sayyab went to England for the first time in Autumn of 1962 and  attended Durham University for translation studies.
As an Exile , he died in extreme poverty . And Al-Sayyab did not only die in poverty, he lived in poverty all his life , the last three years of which were indeed miserable, compounded — as his poverty then was — with the incurable, degenerative neuron disease of his spinal cord that led gradually to the paralysis of his legs and the deterioration of his nervous system.

The union of Arab writers had declared 2014 as Sayyab year . So Many seminars , so many conferences and so many functions to honour his work and memory . His son Ghailan was a participant in all these functions .

Below is one of his Popular Exile Poem .. “For I Am A Stranger”…
(For I Am A Stranger)
For I am a stranger 

beloved Iraq
Far distant, and I here in my longing
For it, for her .. I cry out: Iraq
And from my cry a lament returns
An echo bursts forth
I feel I have crossed the expanse 
To a world of decay that responds not
To my cry
If I shake the branches
Only decay will drop from them
Stones-no fruit
Even the springs 
Are stones, even the fresh breeze
Stones moistened with blood
My cry a stone, my mouth a rock
My legs a wind straying in the wastes 
(Badr Shakir al-Sayyab)

The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was greatly impressed and influenced by the poetry of Badr Shakir al-Sayyab.

The poem “Rain Song” is al-Sayyab’s most famous and most memorable Creative work. The narrator of the poem has a bird’s eye view of Iraq from his exile. It happens to be most popular among  the  iconic poems of Al Sayyab  . It is a song of a person   banished and separated from the  Mother land  . This Individual is pained to see the resources of his country getting  grabbed  by a few Influential persons .The poem was written by the Poet facing Exile in Kuwait.
Through  Rain ( used as a Metaphor ), the poet also  wants to convey that  water remains  denied to those who need it the most . Reading the poem one feels as if Individual unhappiness and anguish are welling  up in the eyes to pour down as rain echoing extraterrestrial tears.  Using rain as Metaphor , Al Sayyab also conveys the paradox of  Existence and nature .

I add this celebrated poem …

Your eyes are two palm tree forests in early light,

Or two balconies from which the moonlight recedes
When they smile, your eyes, the vines put forth their leaves,
And lights dance . . . like moons in a river
Rippled by the blade of an oar at break of day;
As if stars were throbbing in the depths of them . . .
And they drown in a mist of sorrow translucent
Like the sea stroked by the hand of nightfall;
The warmth of winter is in it, the shudder of autumn,
And death and birth, darkness and light;
A sobbing flares up to tremble in my soul
And a savage elation embracing the sky,
Frenzy of a child frightened by the moon.
It is as if archways of mist drank the clouds
And drop by drop dissolved in the rain . . .
As if children snickered in the vineyard bowers,
The song of the rain
Rippled the silence of birds in the trees . . .
Drop, drop, the rain
Drop the rain

Evening yawned, from low clouds

Heavy tears are streaming still.
It is as if a child before sleep were rambling on
About his mother a year ago he went to wake her, did not find her,
Then was told, for he kept on asking,
'After tomorrow, she'll come back again . . .
That she must come back again,
Yet his playmates whisper that she is there
In the hillside, sleeping her death for ever,
Eating the earth around her, drinking the rain;
As if a forlorn fisherman gathering nets
Cursed the waters and fate
And scattered a song at moonset,
Drip, drop, the rain
Drip, drop, the rain

Do you know what sorrow the rain can inspire?

Do you know how gutters weep when it pours down?
Do you know how lost a solitary person feels in the rain?
Endless, like spilt blood, like hungry people, like love,
Like children, like the dead, endless the rain.
Your two eyes take me wandering with the rain,
Lightning's from across the Gulf sweep the shores of Iraq
With stars and shells,
As if a dawn were about to break from them, But night pulls over them a coverlet of blood. I cry out to the Gulf: 'O Gulf,
Giver of pearls, shells and death!'
And the echo replies,
As if lamenting:
'O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death .
I can almost hear Iraq husbanding the thunder,
Storing lightning in the mountains and plains,
So that if the seal were broken by men
The winds would leave in the valley not a trace of Thamud.
I can almost hear the palm trees drinking the rain,
Hear the villages moaning and emigrants
With oar and sail fighting the Gulf
Winds of storm and thunder, singing
'Rain . . . rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .

And there is hunger in Iraq,

The harvest time scatters the grain in-it,
That crows and locusts may gobble their fill,
Granaries and stones grind on and on,
Mills turn in the fields, with them men turning . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
When came the night for leaving, how many tears we shed,
We made the rain a pretext, not wishing to be blamed
Drip, drop, the rain
Drip, drop, the rain
Since we had been children, the sky
Would be clouded in wintertime,
And down would pour the rain,
And every year when earth turned green the hunger struck us.
Not a year has passed without hunger in Iraq.
Rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
Drip, drop . . .

In every drop of rain

A red or yellow color buds from the seeds of flowers.
Every tear wept by the hungry and naked people
And every spilt drop of slaves' blood
Is a smile aimed at a new dawn,
A nipple turning rosy in an infant's lips
In the young world of tomorrow, bringer of life.
Drop..... the rain . . .In the rain.
Iraq will blossom one day '
I cry out to the Gulf: 'O Gulf,
Giver of pearls, shells and death!'
The echo replies
As if lamenting:
'O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death.'
And across the sands from among its lavish gifts
The Gulf scatters fuming froth and shells
And the skeletons of miserable drowned emigrants
Who drank death forever
From the depths of the Gulf, from the ground of its silence,
And in Iraq a thousand serpents drink the nectar
From a flower the Euphrates has nourished with dew.
I hear the echo
Ringing in the Gulf:
'Rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
Drip, drop.'

In every drop of rain

A red or yellow color buds from the seeds of flowers.
Every tear wept by the hungry and naked people
And every spilt drop of slaves' blood
Is a smile aimed at a new dawn,
A nipple turning rosy in an infant's lips
In the young world of tomorrow, bringer of life.
And still the rain pours down.

(Translated by: Lena jayyusi and Christopher Middleton)

( A poem By Badr Shakir al-Sayyab)

More Next Time ..

( Autar Mota )

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