For Valentine’s Day: Love and Anti-Love Poems, and Things Between

Valentine’s Day is just two days off. Nothing yet to scribble in your card?

LoveModern love:

Three Arabic poems were among those chosen for the “50 greatest modern love poems“; they are: “Love,” by Iman Mersal, trans. Khaled Mattawa; “A Song and Three Questions” by Amjad Nasser, also trans. Mattawa, and “In Search of the Other” by Ashjan Al Hendi, trans. the author.

High romantic love:

For this, there is Nizar Qabbani. See seven of his poems translated by B. Frangieh and C. Brown. Or “When I Love You,” trans. Lena Jayyusi and Jack Collum.

Raunchy love…or anti-love:

Many of the poems from the first chapter of Sinan Antoon’s The Poetics of the Obscene in Premodern Arabic Poetry should suffice, whatever your desire.

Man to man:

Abu Nuwas. Several of his homoerotic poems are collected here, including “In the Bath-House.

Crazy love:

The craziest is the Majnun himself. Poetry about him, including “Love,” by Qassim Haddad (from Chronicles of Majnun Layla), trans. Ferial Ghazoul and John Verlenden.

Truest love:

A poem by Mourid Barghouti, “Sleeping Woman,” which must refer to Radwa Ashour. Translated by Radwa Ashour.

Serious anti-love:

Yahia Jaber’s “How I Became a Suicide Bomber,” trans. Thorayya El-Rayyes. How? Well, it begins:

Without asking permission, like a heart attack
like a falling button from the shirt of the sky
like a bulb blowing out in the corridor
water cutting out in the tap
my muse, my electric generator, decided
to dim her face at the table
and slap me with the sentence
“Our relationship is over,
let’s be friends.”