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,
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?
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.
(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 summer-blues.blogspot.com.
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 zeinahashembeck.com.