Translating Kamel Elshennawy’s ‘Full Moon’

Amr El-Zawawy translates a poem by journalist and poet Kamel Elshennawy:

By Amr M. El-Zawawy

a-3037072-1371818989-9561-jpegKamel Elshennawy (1908-1965): Kamel Elshennawy was an Egyptian poet and journalist, born in Dakahleyya. His original name is Mustafa Kamel Elshennawy, for he was born just after the death of the Egyptian political leader Mustafa Kamel.

Elshennawy was a disciple of Taha Hussein, and collaborated with him in his job at Alwady Newspaper in 1930.

He is best known for his lyrical poetry, which was made into memorable songs by Abdel-Halim Hafiz, Umm Kalthoum and Farid Alatrash. His famous poem Laa Takzibi (Don’t Lie to Me) was sung by Nagaat Alsaghira.

The present poem is also lyrical in nature, but contains a semi-stanza redolent of English poetry. The simplicity and directness of the diction render it a joy to translate.

Full Moon

Kamel Elshennawy, translated by Amr M. El-Zawawy

O Full Moon,

Did you see my own full moon?

How would you meet him?

And the shine of the front teeth?

Would you see him interested in me?

Caring about my tears and poetry?

He is silent, Full Moon.

Is he silent for something?

Or don’t you know of my own pangs of love,

Chagrin of pain and days?

O Meadows, tell me:

Where did my bird  fly away?

Would he return, filling up my emotions with his voice,

 Blessing my eyes with his endowed charming beauty?

He is silent, Meadows.

Is he silent for something?

Or don’t you know of my own pangs of love,

Chagrin of pain and days?

Amr El-Zawawy is a doctor of linguistics and translation at Alexandria University, Egypt.

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