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Home >> Modern Arabic Poetry >> Adnan Al-Sayegh >> I Emerged from the War Inadvertently

I Emerged from the War Inadvertently

Poem No.: 19 :

I am emerging from the age of betrayals

Toward noble weeping for a verdant dream

Sown by pigs and vermin

I am entering the orbit of the poem

Half free and half chained.

It is for you to lament me, with you hired mourners

I need do nothing but point

With Nailahs severed fingers,

Toward the countrys cloak, saluted by gunshots,

And draped upon tribal spears.

The bloody Euphrates will seep

Through your fingers

When you write

All that the poets write is in vain.


For this age teaches us

To applaud murderers

When they cross the pavement into our blood,

And this age teaches us

That we must dwarf our statures

So that the winds may pass easily over us,

That we must follow the herd

Toward the sesonal pasture.


.But I,

From amidst the wreckage born out of the cannons,

I raise my palm, covered with blood-drenched dust

Before the eyes of the age.

I teach it how we etch our names with fingernails

To ignite the word No.

We who have emerged from the barracks,

We scatter the metropolitan flies from our wounds.

Can we be mistaken when the huge trucks pass us by

About the number of martyrs who left in the company of bombs,

About the numbers of friends

Who passed in battle lines


The wounded poem has not yet healed but I

Do not mistake the bitter pain

When we come to the terror of mothers

Who, nailed to the pavement at depots,

Ask those going to the war

To take their long maternal nights

As tearful kerchiefs to bind up the distance

Between bullet and supplication.

Mothers who defy years patience

Before empty beds

In the military hospitals(spreading the sheets of the departed

On wind-swept ropes to dry them for those who will come



Where shall we go with our lives still young

Oh, lord.


I will stifle this scream in my throat

While you take your breakfast of the daily news and tea.

I write about a moon that will come

And a cloud that traversed our wheat

To perch on our wounds.

I stroke your pains

To pass like a line of my poem

Threading my heart through the passageways.

I tailor the cloak of exile to the size of your sorrows

Leaving behind the blood from my cloak of kisses,

As my witness and my evidence

Before the writer of justice.

I have not been defeated

Nor have I fled -- like my cousins horses

from the battlefield.

Between me and the bullets there is my truthfulness,

And this poem, with its voice hoarse

From too much hurrying through the trenches,

Screams in terror and bewilderment:

-- Stop beating these drums!

Who will erase now from the vault of my memory

The images of friends who have passed in the postage of the battle

Without a flower or slumber,

Leaving nothing behind but the address of my heart.

Friends who have lost the path

To their tears and homes,

Friends of the bombs.

I have grown old before my time.

Havent you seen my lungs, blackened by slogans not tobacco?

Havent you seen my back, humched beneath the steps of those

heading for trophies?

Oh what my heart conceals!

Oh What newspapers and girls reveal (girls who hustle the

lovers pulse to the lift of the elegant apartment)

Greetings to the country of wheat

Greetings to the country of streams

Greetings to my country which, whenever besieged by bombs

Carries its wound as a banner for struggle

And took arms against the Romans

The only Romans are our own countrymen, who thurst

Their treacherous blades in our backs



On my lips is a withered tree, and the Euphrates, which passed

by, did not quench my thirst; behind me is the barking of the

barren wars launched by the general on our flesh, though we elude

the wars teeth and shrapnel which combed our childrens hair

before they left for school and roses; I run, I run, through the

forest of death, collecting the kindling of those who departed in

the autumn of battles and left me alone behind them lika a sad

star; lifting up the edge of my robe with my teeth as I run I

dodge my death between bullets and martyrs; I am a poet whose life

has been eaten by words, so how am I to arrange these letters and

launch a sentence without letting my heart slip in confusion

from my tongue and exploding a land mine? I run, run, and my heart

goes out to my country where will it bury its sons? The earth

is smaller than my mothers tears; from my childs skin, I shake

out the bullets and he gathers them in the flour bin; winds pass

over my heart strings and sorrow of the meadows resonates;

butterflies pass over our wounds and then fly to the flowers; oh

trees, whose boughs have taught us to sprout branches of our pain

for the spring which will come so that the jasmine may open its

windows. If only the jasmine and my heart would be reasonable!

She shelters herself in his coat when the aircraft pass overhead

--she feels his pulse bursting forth like a garden, touching

the corona which was trembling under his wet shirt: -- I love

you! Sirens interrupt her and the kisses were scattered about on

the grass, plowed by the vermin to the end of the jasmine and my

sorrow; we drape the remains of anger on the hook of war; as night

slopes toward the serene houses in the evening of obscurity and

bitter lillies, birds lean toward the roofs of the warehouses; a

flock of cranes hurries to my souls spring; tomorrow in a morning

without aircraft, we will run beneath a drizzle of violets, melded

together, wandering among the streets and the bubblings, well

stroke the fountains hair, Ill remember that your hands love to

doze in my hands, and well grow; does the field grow from a flower

or from your hands? Ill see what I see of lifes craziness on her

chest, my soul roaming like larks, Ill gather the flowers from her

clothes and the meadows which have been harvested by shrapnel;

honey pours from the lips error, intoxicating me: was I wrong to

love? The passageway that enclosed us beneath the shade of the

pine trees remembers how my heart crawled unwittingly to your chest

--have I drunk too much? dont delude me that you are warmer

than the land, this country is only a bomb away from your vein; oh

you bird, exiled between dictionaries, we measure life by the bomb

which passed over our wearisome patience as we shoot down the

unnecessary shrapnel to wear as a shirt of impossible joy; is it

wrong that we love life?



12/14/1991 Baghdad


From the collection A Cloud of glue

(Kharajt min al-harb sahwan min diwan Ghimat al-Samgh)


Translated by Nancy Coffin and Hani Hanafi.


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