Sunday, February 05, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Bedouin Damsels

The following are translations of poems by the Omani poet Hilal Al Hajri (1968-) from his first collection titled: “Night Is Mine”, (Muscat: 2006):


1 -


Philosophy


Were it not for loneliness


No poem would be written


No stranger would cry


Were it not for loneliness


No virgin would be deflowered


No teenager would moan,


Were it not for loneliness


We’d never discover


This dreadful pain.


2 -


Iram*


Iram


Is a baby girl whose deity


Dispensed with


Because of its great beauty


And wealth.


Both travelers and lovers


Adored it


But only


Bedouins of the Empty Quarter


Step on it with bare feet.


Iram


So mysterious, so far-off


The exile for the poets


And their afterlife.


Iram


A poem never sung by Motanabbi


Or Maghot**


Never lends itself to rhyme or rhythm.


An open text


For all dreams


The wonder of the first cup


And pleasure of the last one!


Iram


Wilderness of the last agony!


Iram


Salvation


Salvation


Salvation.


3 -


Lord Curzon


This colonial historian


I etest so much


He hates the East


And sings so stupidly


From the buttocks of his


Decayed empire!


4 -


Who’s like me?


Who’s like me


A despised, proud poet?


Who like me


Drinks with such grand visions in his head:


Plump Bedouin damsels


A city teeming with immortal souls


But buried beneath sands


An expanse where all things meld


Even nothingness


The Supreme Ego Freud didn’t fathom?


5 -


The Conceited


Don’t wear make-up now!


In my moment of sobriety


I was


Fighting the air


That tightened your breasts


And exposed them to passers-by.


6 -


Direction


She


And the pianist


Take you to every direction.


He, with his mad frivolity


And rash creativity,


Doesn’t leave you


A sense to sway you.


She contains the place


With a beauty


She shares with no shareek!***


*Name of an ancient city mentioned in the Quran. Some archaeologists believe it is in Zofar, the southern part of Oman (the translator).


**Mohammed Maghot (1934-2006) is a contemporary Arab poet from Syria (the translator).


***Shareek is the Arabic word for partner. It is rich with religious associations, as Muslims believe that God has no shareek. And because the English word, partner, falls far short of conveying the religious dimension, I preferred to use shareek (the translator).


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