Taha Muhammad Ali: “Twigs”

TWIGS

Neither music,
fame, nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,
could provide consolation
for life’s brevity,
or the fact that King Lear
is a mere eighty pages long and comes to an end,
and for the thought that one might suffer greatly
on account of a rebellious child.

My love for you
is what’s magnificent,
but I, you, and the others,
most likely,
are ordinary people.

My poem
goes beyond poetry
because you
exist
beyond the realm of women.

And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.

After we die,
and the weary heart
has lowered its final eyelid
on all that’ve done,
and on all that we’ve longed for,
and all that we’ve dreamt of,
all we’ve desired
or felt,
hate will be
the first things
to putrefy
within us.

Taha Muhammad Ali (1989-91)

Translation by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, Gabriel Levin

The photo depicts one of the 3rd century mosaics in Suffurriya (صفورية‎), the town in Gallil where the poet was born and forced to flee in 1948.

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~ by matt on 10 May 2008.

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