Monday, May 16, 2022 | Shawwal 14, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

A window into contemporary Omani literature...

Interested in the discourse of orientalism, Hilal al Hajri has written extensively on Western travel in the Arab world

Hilal al Hajri is a contemporary Omani researcher, translator as well as a poet. He served as a professor of Arabic literature and travel writing at the College of Arts and Social Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University for over a decade.


Interested in the discourse of orientalism, he has written extensively on Western travel in the Arab world. Perhaps the title of his masterpiece “British Travel Writing on Oman, Orientalism Reappraised” encapsulates the geography of his scholarly interests.


Published by Peter Lang, International Academic Publishers in 2006, this book traces the writings of British travellers’ for over three centuries, (roughly from the 17th Century to 1970).


In 2010, he was honoured by the GCC ministers of culture for his “outstanding” contribution to translation, and in 2020 His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik bestowed upon him the Order of Appreciation for Good Civil Service (Second Class).


Till date he has published two poetry collections: “Night Is Mine” (Muscat 2006) and “Like a Mountain Bird Watching the Collapse of the World” (Beirut 2013). By and large, Al Hajri’s poetry is characterised by such a sense of freshness and sincerity that touches the heart, as can be felt in the following translations from his second collection.


Sweetheart


You're there


A moon lighting up the gloom of the world


I'm here


Collecting my soul's scattered parts


To offer them as sacrifice


To your sacred love.


Depths’ Call


Glory to you


O ancient sea


There's a distant light


Shining in your soul


Lend me a flash from it.


O Sir


Let it be a shooting star's spark


Or the gleam of a pirate's gold tooth


Or whatever I light up with my dark caves.


To A Friend


My friend,


Cling to joy's fringes


Behind you is an abyss


Of anarchy and nothingness.


Believe me


I'm the naked prophet.


A Lover Looming as Light


Nothing can portray how much I need you


More than a plant panting


In a recess of sand


For life.


Like a Mountain Bird


Here I am


Alone


Savage


Ascending the divine throne


Like a mountain bird watching the collapse of the world


Below the mountainside.


Bedouin


Here are the Bedouin


Desert children and wolves


Squatting in the mosque.


The Friday preacher stuffs them


With sermons on nationality


And the comfort of a kingdom to come.


Omani Turbans


The tongues of sea waves are


White


Folded.


Just like the turbans of our Omani ancestors


They purify the earth


Enlighten hearts.


A Good Citizen


Shanfara


Noble rebel


Friend of wolves and jackals


Lord of the Empty Quarter's wilderness


Prophet of revolution and apocalypse


Here I am


Waiting for my turn


To get the right to good citizenship.


A Cloud


To whom shall I dedicate this lost cloud?


In this rebellious morning


I see her


Confident


Unbound


Eyeing the earth wryly


It refuses to spit on these cattle!


The Morning Star


Omanis long slept away


From the morning star.


I see her there in the east


A spear distant from the Arabian Sea


I see gods bathing


In a pool of a true dawn.


Isn't there a knight


To snatch this candlestick


And lead us to glory?!


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