Poems by Nazik Al-Mala'ika


 
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Love Song for Words



Why do we fear words
when they have been rose-palmed hands,
fragrant, passing gently over our cheeks,
and glasses of heartening wine
sipped, one summer, by thirsty lips?

Why do we fear words
when among them are words like unseen bells,
whose echo announces in our troubled lives
the coming of a period of enchanted dawn,
drenched in love, and life?
So why do we fear words?

We took pleasure in silence.
We became still, fearing the secret might part our lips.
We thought that in words laid an unseen ghoul,
crouching, hidden by the letters from the ear of time.
We shackled the thirsty letters,
we forbade them to spread the night for us
as a cushion, dripping with music, dreams,
and warm cups.

Why do we fear words?
Among them are words of smooth sweetness
whose letters have drawn the warmth of hope from two lips,
and others that, rejoicing in pleasure
have waded through momentary joy with two drunk eyes.
Words, poetry, tenderly
turned to caress our cheeks, sounds
that, asleep in their echo, lies a rich color, a rustling,
a secret ardor, a hidden longing.

Why do we fear words?
If their thorns have once wounded us,
then they have also wrapped their arms around our necks
and shed their sweet scent upon our desires.
If their letters have pierced us
and their face turned callously from us
Then they have also left us with an oud in our hands
And tomorrow they will shower us with life.
So pour us two full glasses of words!

Tomorrow we will build ourselves a dream-nest of words,
high, with ivy trailing from its letters.
We will nourish its buds with poetry
and water its flowers with words.
We will build a balcony for the timid rose
with pillars made of words,
and a cool hall flooded with deep shade,
guarded by words.

Our life we have dedicated as a prayer
To whom will we pray . . . but to words?


New Year

New Year, don't come to our homes, for we are wanderers
from a ghost-world, denied by man.
Night flees from us, fate has deserted us
We live as wandering spirits
with no memory
no dreams, no longings, no hopes.
The horizons of our eyes have grown ashen
the gray of a still lake,
like our silent brows,
pulseless, heatless,
denuded of poetry.
We live not knowing life.

New Year, move on. There is the path
to lead your footsteps.
Ours are veins of hard reed,
and we know not of sadness.
We wish to be dead, and refused by the graves.
We wish to write history by the years
If only we knew what it is to be bound to a place
If only snow could bring us winter
to wrap our faces in darkness
If only memory, or hope, or regret
could one day block our country from its path
If only we feared madness
If only our lives could be disturbed by travel
or shock,
or the sadness of an impossible love.
If only we could die like other people.

 

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