Badr Shakir al-Sayyab
The River And The Death - Poem by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab
Buwaib , Oh Buwaib ,
Bells of a lighthouse lost at the bottom of the sea ,
Water is in the pots , and the sunset in the trees ,
The pots ooze bells of rain ,
Their crystal melts away in wailing .
Buwaib , Oh Buwaib !
Sympathy for you , Buwaib darkens in my blood ,
Sad like rain , O my river ,
I wish I could run in the darkness ,
Tightening my both fists to carry ,
In each finger , a year of yearning ,
As if I were carrying votive offerings ,
Of wheat and roses .
I wish I could approach from the hills beds ,
To glance the moon ,
Wading between your banks ,
Planting shadows and filling the baskets ,
With water , fish and roses .
I wish I could wade you , to follow the moon ,
And hear the pebbles rattle in the bottom ,
The rattling of thousands of sparrows on the trees .
Are you a wood of tears or a river ?
And will the fish sleep at dawn ?
And will these stars stay waiting ,
To feed with silk thousands of needles ?
And you , Buwaib , how I wish I could sink into you ,
To pick up oyster shells to build a house out of them ,
To enlighten with it the verdancy of water and trees ,
Of what the stars and the moon ooze ,
To reach the sea in you with the ebb ,
For death is a strange world ,
That enchants the young ,
And its hidden door was with you , Buwaib .
Buwaib , O Buwaib .
Twenty years have gone , every year is like ages ,
And today , when darkness overcast ,
To stay up sleepless in bed ,
And to delicate the conscience up to the daylight ,
Like a tree with delicate branches , birds and fruits .
I feel the blood , the tears as the rain ,
Ooze by the sad world .
Bells of the dead are shaking in my veins ,
To darken sympathy in my blood ,
Sympathy for a bullet to cut open the depths of my heart ,
With its constrictive ice ,
To burn up the bones like the hell .
I wish I could run to support the strugglers ,
To tighten my both fists and slap the fate .
I wish I could drown in my blood to the bottom ,
To bear the burden with human beings ,
To infuse life . My death is then triumph .
Translated by : Jamil Azeez Mohammad
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