New Poetry: Samar Abdel Jaber’s ‘Four Years Without You’

Poet Zeina Hashem Beck wrote yesterday, on Twitter: “For #MahmoudDarwish ‘s death anniversary, I translated this moving poem by the lovely Samar, in convo with Darwish. May longing always surprise us. Written in 2012.”

She also shares the translation here.

Four Years Without You

For Mahmoud Darwish

By Samar Abdel Jaber

Translated by Zeina Hashem Beck

Perhaps you’re there now

You watch what’s happening from afar,

and with the silence of a god,

decide to do nothing.

Perhaps you think poetry

is a waste of time,

for eternity can’t be rendered in languages

and death after death

has a different name.

Words lose their meanings,

mean nothing.

Perhaps you watch the world from afar

pouncing on itself

to devour itself.

Perhaps you think,

How do people on earth not realize

they’re the enemies of themselves?

You’re surprised:

Is there, on this earth,

what makes life worth living?

Perhaps you’re indifferent

because you’ve despaired of this world

and fulfilled your duties before leaving—

you’ve earned the right to retire.

Perhaps, from time to time

(or so we like to believe)

longing surprises you,

so you decide to be a breeze

that freely crosses

from Mount Carmel to Beirut.

Perhaps, sometimes

(or so we imagine)

you write a poem

and send it to us

through the sunlight.

Read the original online.

More poetry by Samar Abdel Jaber at


Samar Abdel Jaber is co-author of Translucence (Indolent Books, 2018) and author of Wa fi rewayaten okhra (And There Are Other Accounts; Malameh Publishing House, 2008), Madha law konna ashbahan (What If We Were Ghosts; Dar al-Ahlia Publishing, 2013), winner of the Palestinian Young Writer of the Year Award from the A.M. Qattan Foundation, and Kawkab mansey (The Forgotten Planet; Dar al-Ahlia Publishing, 2016). Abdel Jaber holds a bachelor’s degree from Beirut Arab University and currently works in Dubai.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet and co-host of the acclaimed poetry podcast Maqsouda. Her third full-length poetry collection, O, will be published by Penguin Books in Summer 2022. More at