Riyad al-Saleh al-Hussein’s ‘How Delicious’

How Delicious

By Riyad al-Saleh al-Hussein

Translated by Ghada Alatrash

The dead who died

in wars and epidemics

in prisons and on the roads  

the dead who died

with daggers, bullets, and dynamite

with an ax and a noose

the beautiful dead

with decayed teeth

and bulging faces

they remembered as they lay in their graves

the moonlight and the green pastures

they remembered that they did not live as they should

that they did not notice sounds and colors

they remembered

how many kisses they were deprived of

how much beauty they wished they had not seen

how many flowers they did not plant

how many kind words they did not express

the dead realized

perhaps for the last time

how delicious life is for the living.


كم هي لذيذة

 رياض الصالح الحسين

الموتى الذين ماتوا

في الحروب و الأوبئة

في السجون و الطرقات

الموتى الذين ماتوا

بالخنجر الرصاص و الديناميت

بالفأس و حبل المشنقة

الموتى الجميلون

ذوو الأسنان البالية

و الوجوه الناتئة

تذكروا و هم في قبورهم

ضوءَ القمر و خضرة المراعي

تذكروا أنهم لم يعيشوا كما ينبغي

لم ينتبهوا إلى الأصوات و الألوان


كم قبلة أضاعوا

كم ضوءًا أغمضوا عيونهم كيلا يروه

كم زهرة لم يزرعوا

كم كلمة طيبة لم يقولوها

الموتى عرفوا

ربما للمرة الأخيرة

كم هي لذيذة حياة الأحياء

Riyad al-Saleh al-Hussein, despite dying at the age of just 28, published four collections that deeply marked Syrian poetry.

Ghada Alatrash, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Critical and Creative Studies at Alberta University of the Arts in Calgary, Canada. She holds her PhD in Educational Research: Languages and Diversity from the Werklund School of Education, the University of Calgary, and a Master’s Degree is in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma.  Her current research speaks to Syrian art and creative expression as resistance to oppression and dictatorship.

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