I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

po_Quabbani-Nizar2Nizar Tawfiq Quabbani (March 21, 1923 – April 30, 1998) was a Syrian diplomat, poet and publisher.

His poetic style combines simplicity and elegance in exploring themes of love, eroticism, feminism, religion, and Arab nationalism. Qabbani is one of the most revered contemporary poets in the Arab world.

 


A LESSON IN DRAWING
Nizar Quabbani

My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
‘… But this is a prison, Father,
Don’t you know, how to draw a bird?’
And I tell him: ‘Son, forgive me.
I’ve forgotten the shapes of birds.’

My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheat stalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son mocks my ignorance,
demanding,
‘Don’t you know, Father, the difference between a
wheat stalk and a gun?’
I tell him, ‘Son,
once I used to know the shapes of wheat stalks
the shape of the loaf
the shape of the rose
But in this hardened time
the trees of the forest have joined
the militia men
and the rose wears dull fatigues
In this time of armed wheat stalks
armed birds
armed culture
and armed religion
you can’t buy a loaf
without finding a gun inside
you can’t pluck a rose in the field
without its raising its thorns in your face
you can’t buy a book
that doesn’t explode between your fingers.’

My son sits at the edge of my bed
and asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
‘But this is a tear, father, not a poem!’
And I tell him:
‘When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you’ll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers.’

My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
front of me
and asks me to draw a homeland for him.
The brush trembles in my hands
and I sink, weeping.

=========

A MAN’S NATURE
Nizar Quabbani

A man needs one minute
to love a woman
and centuries to forget her.

========

TWO AFRICAN BREASTS
Nizar Quabbani

Let me find time
to welcome in this love
that comes unbid.
Let me find time
memorize
this face that rises
out of the trees
a forgetfulness.
Give me the time
to escape this love
that stops my blood.
Let me find time
to recognize your name,
my name,
and the place
where I was born.
Let me find time
to know where I shall die
and how I will revive, as
a bird inside your eyes.
Let me find time
to study the state of winds
in waves, to learn the maps
of days…

Woman, who lodges
inside the future
pepper and pomegranate seeds,
give me a country
to make me forget all countries,
and give me time
to avoid this and the Andalusian face,
this Andalusian voice,
this Andalusian death
coming from all directions.
Let me find time to prophecy
the coming of the flood.

Woman, who was inscribed
in books of magic,
before you came
the world was prose.
Now poetry is born.
Give me the time to catch
the colt that runs toward me,
your breast.
The dot over a line.
A Bedouin breast, sweet
as cardamom seeds
as coffee brewing over embers,
its form ancient as Damascene brass
as Egyptian temples.

Let me find luck
to pick the fish that swim
under the waters.

Your feet on the carpet
are the shape and stance
of poetry.

Let me find the luck
to know the dividing line
between the certainty
of love and heresy.
Give me the opportunity
to be convinced as I have seen
the star, and have been spoken to
by saints.

Woman, whose thighs are like It’s
the desert palm that golden
dates fall from,
your breasts speak seven tongues
and I was made to listen
to them all.
Give me the chance
to avoid this storm,
this sweeping love,
this wintry air, and to be convinced,
to blaspheme, and to enter
the flesh of things.
Give me the chance
to be the one
to walk on water