A Mother's Heart Poem by Aboul-Qacem Echebbi

A Mother's Heart

O dear child, whose life was a charming melody,
A pure white rose, wafting its fragrance at colorful sunsets!
O dear child, who so happily lived in this world;
Celebrating life's beauty with your sweet songs.
The dreams of death have now tenderly closed your eyelids,
A Host of angels gathered ‘round your quiet deathbed;
Nymphs of glorious light carried your soul into heaven,
With golden crowns, of rare flowers fashioned.
The mysterious stillness of vast eternity surrounded you,
Hearts wept your departure; the little tomb embraced your body.
People who ushered you to the cemetery soon dispersed,
Later to forget you entirely,
As if never knew you before.
They forgot you, distracted by life and the struggle for existence,
You have exited this world ere knowing what life is about.
It is a Mighty Ocean: its abysmal depth, death,
The song of its billows, suffering.
By its shores, bleeding and naked hearts wail.
It is an ocean where storms ever rage, evening and morn,
An ocean shrouded by dark clouds; bereft of peace and light.
Waves of the lake and the glittering stars have forgotten you,
So did the singing nightingale and the stretching meadows.
Murmuring brooks, dancing in the lush valley, no longer remembered you,
The flowery, hilly green paths, failed to recall you to memory.

Your playmates wondered what happened to you;
Eagerly asked: Where might our faithful friend be now?
Yet, they realized that on a lightless night,
The ghouls of darkness carried you far away, to the remote mountains.
Soon, like others, they forgot you too,
Indulging themselves in sportive playfulness
‘Midst streams and meadows, hills and pastures.
They forgot the meekness of your innocent face,
Your serene countenance, your gentle mien.
Yea, they forgot the lovely songs
uttered by your soft and sweet voice.
They sought the gladsome fields, chasing birds;
Moving rocks, plucking flowers;
Building rooms and huts of white sand and pebbles,
Patching them with green grasses, tender blossoms.
Between laughter and joyfulness,
They weave garlands of wild flowers,
Infinitely lovelier than roses grown in palace gardens.
They toss them in the river; a sacrifice to the goddess of gladness.
The current carries them along,
Dancing to the undertone of the rushing waters.
They all forgot you, never remembering you again;
Time buries, even memories, in the gloom of death.
Yes, all forgot, save one lonely heart;
That never ceased to throb in hopes of meeting you again.
A heart that so often wished to have sacrificed its own life,
As an offering to death, so that your life may be spared.
Weeping, when seeing a child,
Calling your name, when spotting a phantom.
Listening to your familiar voice in Nature's many voices;
Never relishing a beauty, save your own charm.
It listens to your lovely tune in murmuring brooks,
In doleful strains of flutes
In the chirp and chatter of birds.
In the sea's mighty roar, the booming of storms,
In the heart of the forest, in resounding thunders
In the soft bleats of gentle lambs, in songs of the shepherds;
Among grassy meadows, amidst green, rolling hills.
In the wistful sighs of the sorrowful, the commotion of the crowds;
In the sobbing cries of distressed souls;
Made more poignant by others' wails.
In every sound uttered or heard; blithesome or grievous,
Mellow or sharp-toned, disagreeable or harmonious.
It sees you in all forms of nature, sweet and unlovely,
Sad and jovial, insignificant and grand.
In the softness of dawn; the dreamy nights,
The glory of sunsets, the smiling stars.
It beholds you in dancing waves of the lake,
Beneath the faint light of distant stars.
In the beauty of spring flowers, the sailing clouds.
In flashes of lightning, the clamor of thunderstorm,
In the humbleness of valleys,
And the loftiness of towering peaks.
In somber scenes of the timberland, in enchanted roses,
In cheerless darkness of nighttime, in bare caves.
Now, do you know whose heart it is,
That haunts yonder dark graves?
It is the heart of your Mother,
Whom life's sorrows have heavily intoxicated.
It is a Heart that will live as a blind bard,
Ever caroling his plaintive songs, to the very last breath.
Neither the goddess of forgetfulness takes pity on its grief,
Nor the days soothe its cheerlessness away;
Unless the Fates weave a garland of madness for that heart,
Making it a laughing miserable;
A clown entertaining the years.
It is that faithful heart,
That remains unchanged, ever dwelling on your memories;
Regardless how life's circumstances change,
No matter whether Nature sings,
Or birds of the woods joyfully whistle
That heart remains constant, ever doting on you.
Like the earth, on which stroll joy and youthfulness,
Like the night, the winged dawn, the gales, the clouds;
The love in whose soil grows anemones and blossoms,
Like the death, that digs graves wherever it roams.
Pleasures walk its roads, dreaming and swaying,
Inebriated by humanity's longings, gazing into the far horizon;
Ever dancing to sorrow, to entertain eternity's spirits,
Until fogs of death lay it to rest, in the vault of oblivion.
It will ever leaf and bloom;
Morning will unfold its petals
An offering to death, to thorns, to brooks, to the winds.
Sheer smiles of dreamy lips, that part in moments of joy;
Roses of bright gardens that harken to bird songs.
It will ever throb and sing until buried beneath the sod,
Kisses and birds joyously sing to life and youth.
The joys of life will ever walk close to death,
The songbird will warble among human remains.
And the dreamy earth will chant amid the countless stars,
Recalling the distant past, celebrating hoary eternity.

Translated by: Mahmoud Abbas Masoud

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