Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No Amends

This is my first post, it is my translation for Amal Donkol's poem Make no Conciliation.

Koleib's Murder (The Ten Commandments)

Koleib looked around and sighed, shed a tear and cried, seeing a slave he said: O good servant, before you take my life away, take me to that stone near the stream; I want to write my will to my brother Prince Salem El-Zir entrusting him my children, my flesh and blood…

The slave took him where he would. With the spear buried in his back, he steeped his finger in the blood dripping off his side, on the stone he started writing...

Make no conciliation!

Would they grant you gold.

Should I gouge your eyes,

Fix two jewels in their place

Could you still behold?

Such are not to purchase:

You and your brother, your memories of childhood,

Your sudden feeling of manhood,

Longing suppressed by bashfulness, when him you hold.

Silence…smiling at your mother's scold

As if...children you still were!

Your eternal reassurance:

That two swords are your sword

And two voices

That if you die:

The house has a master

The child a father

Could my blood turn water in your eyes?

Will you forget my gory dress…

Wear a brocaded one with my blood underneath?

Such is war!

The heart it may burden

But the Arabs' shame is behind

Make no conciliation…

Nor seek to hide!

Make no conciliation!

Not even for blood!

Make no conciliation!

Would they say a head for a head!

Is one head like another?

Is the stranger's heart like that of your brother?

Has he your brother's eyes?

A hand whose sword was yours…

Could it even that whose sword bereaved you?

They would say:

We've come to you to spare blood

We've come, O prince be our judge

They would say:

Now we're cousins.

Tell them: they trod on their cousinship to those they killed

And plant the sword in the desert heart

Till echo repeats

That for you I was

A knight,

A brother,

A father,

And a king!

Make no conciliation…

If you're denied sleep by screams of remorse

And retain…

If women in black with their children bereft of smile your heart soften

That "El-Ymama" your niece

Is a flower, in her youth,

Garbed in a mourning dress

She used to run down the palace stairs

On my return,

And on my coming down hold my legs…

I lift her _smiling_ on the back of the horse.

Here she is…silent

The hand of treason

Has deprived her of hearing her father's words,

Wearing the new dress,

Having one day a brother,

Or in her wedding a smiling father

To whom she returns when the husband her vexes,

And to whose arms, his grandchildren race

To get their presents,

Pull the turban,

And with his beard mess.

Make no conciliation!

This dove has committed no guilt

To suddenly see the burning nest

While she on the ashes rests!

Make no conciliation!

Would they crown you a prince

How could you step on the body of your father's son?

And on faces of fake joy…

Become a king?

How could you look in the hands you shake

Without noticing in every hand the blood?

A sword that caught me from behind …

Will catch you from a thousand side

For blood has now become a badge of honor.

Make no conciliation!

Would they crown you a prince

Your throne is a sword,

And false is your sword

Shouldn't you, with its wisp, weigh moments of honor

And in luxury found rest.

Make no conciliation!

Should those who waver in fight say

"…we can not bear swords unsheathe…"

When truth fills your heart:

Fire erupts when you breathe

And the voice of treason gets dumb

Make no conciliation

No matter how much peace they speak

How could the lungs breathe in the foul breeze?

How could you look a woman in the eye…

If you know you can not her shield?

How could you, in love, be her knight?

Or for a newborn sleeping await the light?

How could you dream or sing of future for a boy

Who at your hands with a heavy heart grows?

Make no conciliation

Nor share with your murderers food

And with blood,

Your heart water,

The holy soil,

And your lying successors

Till resurrection day!

Make no conciliation!

Should the tribe beseech you

By El-Galila's sadness

To be a foxy fellow

And show acceptance.

They would say:

Here you seek a long vengeance;

Now take what you can:

A little right…

In these few years

The revenge is not only yours,

But the coming generations' too

And tomorrow…

Someone will be born to put on the full armor,

And a sweeping fire,

to take vengeance

And beget truth

From the impossible heart

Make no conciliation

Should they say it is only a device

Such is revenge

Its flame in the heart fades away

As time passes by

And with its five fingers remains sealed the hand of disgrace

Upon disgraced brows!

Make no conciliation, though stars may warn you

And fortunetellers make you a prophecy

I would have forgiven had I died…

Perplexed between right and wrong.

I was not an invader,

Never sneaked near their camps,

Nor hovered around the borders,

Never approached their vineyards

Their garden I never trod.

My murderer did not shout: "watch out"!

He walked with me…

Then shook my hand…

Then hoofed a little

But in the bushes he took a hide!

Then all of a sudden:

A shudder riddled me between two ribs…

My heart shivered _as a bubble_ and slacked!

I braced myself up, till on my arms I weighed

I saw my ignoble cousin

With a sordid face, maliciously satisfied

I had no spear

Nor an old weapon,

Nothing but my rage complaining of thirst.

Make no conciliation…

Till being to its cycle returns:


To their orbits, return the stars

To their twitter…the birds

To their grains…the sands

And the murdered to his waiting child

All was ruined in a fleeting second:

Youth, family joy, horse neigh, guests hosting, the heart murmur when a bud in the garden withers, prayer for seasonal rain

The heart dodge when the death omen hovers over the savage wild

All was ruined in a flagrant slide

And that who murdered me is not a god

To have me killed by his will

Not grander than me…to take my life with his sword

Nor smarter…to finish me off with his sly fraud

Make no conciliation

For it's only an accord between two rivals…

Unbroken by the honor of the heart

And that who murdered me is a mere thief

He stole the land before my eyes

As silence broke into a mocking laugh!

Make no conciliation

Though all sheikhs against your sword may stand

With shadow men whose souls are cracked

Those who love sopped bread and meat

And surmounting slaves

Those whose turbans dangled on their eyes,

And their Arab swords have forgot chivalry years

Make no conciliation

This desire shall be odd

In this age you're the sole knight

Others…are freaks!

Make no conciliation

Make no conciliation

November 1976


mashreb said...

my name is giuseppe and I'm italian.
I translated La Tusalih into italian for my university.
your translation is very good!!
in italian I can not keep the "qafia" of the original qasida.
very good work.

abood alali said...

thank you