Samer Madbak

(31 July 1969 / Beirut)

Poem 038: Too Far Tonight


Tonight, celestial night
Why have you cast me here
Alone, ever alone
Beneath this shimmering light?
Oh holy night, give ear
Attend my moan
Calling to you, where are they, where?
Tell me that I may live it
With a pining tone
And a silent spirit…
Oh! By the churchyard, there!
Now laughing, feasting, dancing…
And I? And what of me?
Ha! So far, so distant
The sway of destiny!
Oh must I never share
This moment enhancing
This charming instant
But why?
O why the woe?
Come spirit, come
Across the Earth we’ll flow
To see them, we shall fly
Oh how I long to see
Them faces, happiness!
And I?
I’m feasting too! O’ercome
With full complacency
Or is it bitterness? !
Or is it solitude, I shouldn’t know
I fear the verity…
Say night, noble and dim
Say, do they spare a thought
For that one guy, for him
Who ‘neath a quiv’ring light
Now lingers unsought
Unseen…
Still wishing all this was a whim
A fading scene…
Within the night!
Oh, do they think of me
Or are they busy laughing
Absorbed in jollity
When all I can
A sterile graphing
A summons of my memory…
Ah! Ten days ago we shared that smile
I, then, a happy man
I still recall it…
Ten days ago we celebrated
In that village dear
A memorable while
Oh! The dancers unabated
And the happy cheer
A heaven I call it…
Ten days ago
I stared at a different darkness,
A different void
The night… a stranger harness
And now… ten days after,
The moments I enjoyed
Denied! A fatal blow
A blade
Oh blessèd shade
Are they absorbed in laughter?
Oh friend, my earnest friend,
By Heaven pure,
What are you doing there?
Ah! tirading as usual
Though you are sure
That none will comprehend;
Talks immutual!
I know you wouldn’t care
O yes I’ve always known
Your moody tolerance
And damn I know this time you will not find me
At the break of dawn
To chat about the dance
Or, as you call it “wriggle”
And remind me
Of the fête, unfolding
A funny happening, vainly holding
Your unfettered giggle
So laugh your length, what boot? I’m here!
Dear friend of teen
Your laugh, I fear
Will never wash my spleen!
And you my dear?
Who will have the chance
To live the paradise
Of your wondrous glance
Ah! Yes I see it clear
He loves you, Ay! Who can withstand
Those stupefying eyes?
And then -I understand-
You love him, and his talking
Is music to your ear
Ten days ago
You were together, walking,
Ogling, and I was happy, no!
I was even laughing
Oh! If you could have seen
This night my idle graphing
And my ruling spleen!
And what of you my dove?
Oh! I can tell
You share and equal liking
And his stronger arrogance
Is truly striking…
Come now, you are in love
I know it well,
Although he talks a lot
But nothing better than a dance
And he’ll forget his tales
In the joyful trot.
Oh blessèd beat
That never fails
Player and tambourine
Your song will never blot
My reigning spleen.
And why?
Why can’t we rejoice at one time
Happiness in chime?
Oh! friends, you are so far away
And the tear within my eye
Has turned to lime…
If only I could cry!
If I could fall
If I could pray
And this, my august soul,
Would subside…
Damnation, heart don’t tarry there
Enthroned forever in your pride
As silent as e’er
A sigh, a tear, I say
For they are laughing
And there you are
Dumb spirit, mutely graphing
An unavailing sight
Cry heart! For you are very far
Too far away
Too far tonight.


Beirut
August 24th 1988

Submitted: Sunday, December 29, 2013
Edited: Friday, January 03, 2014

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