Friday, February 5, 2010

unpublished letters from birds

goldfinch caught by my sister, Katja. Find more of her feathered friends at her Red Bubble site.

Musical Variations of a Naked Woman....Qabbani abbreviated. See the full text here.

Two beautiful roosters
Crow on your chest
And sleep.
I remained sleepless.
The hand-embroidered sheet
Was covered with birds,
Roses and palm trees.

A Lesson In Drawing....Qabbani abbreviated. See the full text here.

My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
"... But this is a prision, Father,
Don't you know, how to draw a bird?"
And I tell him: "Son, forgive me.
I've forgotten the shapes of birds."

My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son sits at the edge of my bed
asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
"But this is a tear, father, not a poem!"
And I tell him:
"When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you'll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers."

a Christmas card I bought once

When I love you.
....Qabbani abbreviated, see the full text here

When I love you
A new language springs up,
New cities, new countries discovered.
The hours breathe like puppies,
Wheat grows between the pages of books,
Birds fly from your eyes with tiding of honey,
Caravans ride from your breasts carrying Indian herbs,
The mangoes fall all around, the forests catch fire
And Nubian drums beat.

Katja's birds.

Why do you ask? Qabbani abbreviated, full text here.

When I write
I roam light
As a legendary bird.

Canada Geese. from the web somewhere. photographer unknown.

The following poem by Qabbani, I don't know the title, but it's one of my favorites. I never get tired of reading it. Each time I read it, it is new. Now, that's magic.

I taught you the names of trees
And the dialogue of the night crickets
I gave you the addresses of the distant stars.
I registered you in the school of spring
And taught you the language of birds
The alphabet of rivers.
I wrote your name
On the notebooks of the rain,
On the sheets of the snow,
And on the pine cones.
I taught you to talk to rabbits and foxes
To comb the spring lamb’s wool.
I showed you the unpublished letters of the birds,
I gave you
The maps of summer and winter
So you could learn
How the wheat grows,
How white chicks peep,
How the fish marry,
How milk comes out of the breast of the moon,
But you became tired of the horse of freedom
So the horse of freedom threw you
You became weary of the forests on my chest
Of the symphony of the night crickets
You became bored of sleeping naked
Upon the sheets of the moon,
So you left the forest
To be ravished by the leader of the tribe,
And eaten by the wolf.

Nizar Qabbani


Merche Pallarés said...

Beautiful poems! Who and from where is Nizan Qabbani?? I had never heard of him/her. Hugs, M.

marja-leena said...

Lovely poems! I'd not heard of Qabbani either but found him in Wikipedia. Thanks for sharing! I also love Katja's birds.

northshorewoman said...

These poems are translations; Qabbani wrote in Arabic, so we are reading him mediated through others. Can you imagine reading him in Arabic? Perhaps you would swoon. Qabbani was a Syrian poet. He's dead now. Along with Mahmoud Darwish, most Arab people know of Qabbani. He is renowned. Famous. There's no one I could compare him to in the English canon. He inspired a lot of women writers. His poems are dazzling. He venerates the female body--but that's reducing his diwan.

tasteofbeirut said...

Is that telepathy or what? While planning my Valentine recipes I was thinking about Nizar Kabbani and what a great poet he was; I listen to his songs by Kazem al-Saher and so I was going to mention him in the blog; now I will just link to yours!
Taina, you are intriguing me more and more!