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Transcending ideological affiliations

A Window into Contemporary Omani Literature
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Zahir al Ghafri’s cosmopolitanism is such that one can hardly find any treatment of local themes in his entire oeuvre

Dr Khalid Mohammed al Balushi Born in 1956, Zahir al Ghafri is among the first poets championing verse free poetry in Oman. Thematically, there’s a marked transcendence of all manner of ideological affiliations in his poetry.

In fact, his cosmopolitanism is such that one can hardly find any treatment of local themes in his entire oeuvre. The following are translations of poems from his Whenever an Angel Appeared in the Fort published in Beirut in 2008.

The Stranger

Those sitting care not about the stranger.

I left my life there between the stones

Here I am

Like someone hunting dusk’s glow.

Must all these years have passed

To discover I was but a cry

Returning from death

From solitude lighter than a bird’s feather

Carrying regret’s smell and shadows? My straying glance

Knits a snare from my distant past

And every word I utter to myself

Raises my lofty destiny Like a bow broken on a ladder.

Light rain on the window

A black cloud-clothed face Just like that

The underground prince lands

Carrying an icon that swings

Like a copper necklace.

I say neither mind nor forest

Will be at peace

Like a sickle, truth passes by my face. From one city to another I plunge into rivers empty of friendship

Resort to fear

To charms

To the magic of bygone days

Knowing the arrow shall never cease.

My heart is a temple for angels

And a single step

Just a single step

Over garden’s grass is enough.

O God

Should I find but a white hand in the river

Whenever I peek through the window? There’s no father, no mother, no bed to say to me: “Sleep beneath the sun”.

My loss is but certain in what I own

I owned no home or gods’ foresight.

I’m probably a lost creature Under a star

Behind the light of a curtain.

Regret is the garment

Of those I love

My boughs are still white

Thus I raise my hand to write: Wilderness is Iram zaat Al’imad

And my towering fruits. Those sitting

Care not about the stranger. Beside the fountain

The pavements filled with butterflies tonight

An injured ibex with a bloody kneeI walk by, hear a sound Like a breeze descending on the hand: “There’s no life

Nor a mother suckling ancestors. Go there

To that forest. Your guide is a torch

In the tiger’s eye. Go there

Die alone

Behind a dome buried in the fog.

Karin Boye I’ll talk to you tonight I’ll talk to the angel in you

The angel sleeping next to the grave.

I’ll talk to you, Karin Boye

As you look with your fiery eyes

At the crystal tempest

While the gun fog covers the city’s night. Femininity is a flower on a suicide bed

A flower that raises the call of hands

To the heights. That voice is yours

It rings like an ibex chased in a wasteland

Coming from freedom’s banks

Your voice digs a grave above hills.

Leave God asleep on the bough

Take a cup of wine

From the fountain’s stone

For the third millennium.Miracles are few these days

But pain usually comes

Before everybody’s eyes

Here or there.

Your life was a forty year old cloud

Filled with butterflies

But remember

Either in the forest or on the river’s edge

Boys stay up on your fingertips’ light

Like buds opening up in the air.

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