Selections from 3 Poems by Today’s Google Doodled Poet, Translator, and ‘Shi’r’ Co-founder Ounsi el-Hajj

Today, Google threw out a doodle for poet-translator Ounsi al-Hajj (1937-2014), one of the co-founders of the influential poetry journal al-Shi’r:ounsi-el-hajjs-79th-birthday-5737296668131328-hp2xAl-Hajj was also a poet and a prolific translator, bringing into Arabic a wide variety of works, from André Breton and Antonin Arnaud to Shakespeare, Brecht, Camus, and Ionesco.

First, an excerpt of a poem, from the author’s former website, translated by Issa Boullatta:

Nothing has saved us, my sweetheart, but madness

When we jumped at the fresh loss

And met our shadows

And so, our darknesses illuminated us

And our laps became waves for the winds.

The poem “Is This You or the Tale?” was highlighted by Google. In it, they write, el-Hajj travels from the fifth century to Beirut’s Golden Age, settling somewhere timeless. The name of the translator is, disappointingly, not given:

And as my age

is counted in years,

likewise I wander outside this necklace

like drops of pearl.

Last, a short section from an epic poem that ran in Banipal 28, “The Messenger with Hair Long to the Springs,” co-translated by Brandel France and Adnan Haydar:

The Messenger with hair long to the springs

Help me
Let there be in me all poets
Because the charge is greater than my two hands

This is the story of the other side of Creation
I discovered it, my eyes obscured.
The past, my beloved,
leads from me awaiting me
Leads from my return to her
This is the story of the other side of Creation
Do not shut the doors
The breakers bear the message to the wind
The wind to the trees
The trees to notebooks
You, old men with homes, and uyou, youngboys of the streets
Sit this very night in the presence of the lover.