|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
23 - 29 August 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Dreams of the Old Knight
If we were two boughs of a tree
Cavalier with Pipe, Picasso, 1968
The sun would nourish our veins
The dawn would water us with dew
A blooming greenness would dye our leaves
When we grow up and embrace each other.
In spring we would wear colourful garments
In autumn we would take them off,
Bathe nude in winter. Tenderness would warm us.
If we were two waves
Pure of sands and seashells
Crowned with foam and light
Driven in the current
From birth to grave
In a droning dancing step
If a transparent cloud should drink us,
And melt under the tender lovely mouth of the sun
Then again we become two twin waves
Driven by the current
In an eternal round
From the seas to the sky
From the sky to the seas
If we were two close stars
From the same horizon we shall rise
On one cloud we shall sleep
And only to the lovers, only to the travellers
to the land of love,
Only to the sleepless who do not break their pledges
We shall lighten the way.
And when the stars set
We shall set
And our deep love shall be quenched
then God brings us together again as two pearls in His gardens
Among innumerable pebbles.
An angle might see us while passing by
And bow. Our purity might attract his gaze
He shall take us and shine us with his wings
How lustrous these pearls are, he will think
And will set us in his pure temple.
If we were two tender wings of a seagull
A seagull that never leaves the strait
That hovers on the sails,
Announcing the arrival of the sailor
Arousing yearning for friends and home.
The breeze nourishes him
And the vapour of the clouds is enough for his drink
And when the night falls he folds us together... together
Then sleeps on the sail of an ancient vessel
Pleasing the crew whose absence from home has wearied them
While they relieve his fear and anxiety
By singing and reciting poems
By blowing tunes on the wind's flute
If we were
If we were
If we were, Ah how cruel is it to say "If"
My sweet, if we start our conversation with a wish
Ah, how cruel to say "but"
The tangled twisted letters betray
That we deny what the days have left in our souls
We wish to throw the memory off
We wish to forget
We wish to bring it back to the womb of life
But my sweet, I am benumbed
Cast away on the way side of the world
A world sweltering in delirium and garbage
A world which is void of beauty
A world that gave me nothing but darkness and melancholy
When I fell upon its surface in the prime of my youth
Once my sweet
I was a gallant warrior
Before strange feet spurned my heart
Before the sun and the frost lashed my pride
I lived in an eternal spring
Ah what a spring
I used to cry
And whenever I pitied
The wretched poor
I wished I could feed them from my ailing heart
And whenever I saw the puzzled,
And the wanderers in darkness
I wished their suffering could consume me
I wished I could shine.
And whenever I laughed, my laughter was pure
As if I were a brook
Whose bright face reflected the shadow of stars
But what happened to the brave warrior?
His heart was startled, and fled away without reins
The wings of his dreams were broken.
Who guides me to the path of the innocent tear?
Who shows me the path of the innocent laughter?
Peace be with you
Peace be with you
I would give you the knowledge and the skill which the world has given me
For a single day of innocence
No, no one but you and only you who can bring me back to the ancient chivalry
Without a price
Without wavering between the profit and the loss.
Pure, my love, I see you pure, as if you grew beyond time
And when we met I realised that
We would part
And I would stand still without a place
If your tender love did not bring me back to purity:
To know love like two boughs of a tree
Like two close stars
Like two twin waves
Like two tender wings of a seagull
Then we will never part
One way embraces us both
Translated by Samar Attar. Extracted from the bilingual A Journey at Night: Poems by Salah Abdel-Sabour, Cairo: Al-Hay'aa Al-Masriya l'il-Ta'lif w'al-Nashr, 1970.
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