Friday, July 04, 2014

Political Arabic Poetry for you: (2) "Renunciation" and "Revolution"

“Poetry is not an Arab regime that falls with the death of the ruler. And it's also not an alternative to action. It's an art form whose job is agitating, exposing, and witnessing reality, and aspiring beyond the present. Poetry comes before action. Then poetry catches up. Poetry lights the road, and guides our deeds.
Back in the day, Nassr Bin Seyar said, “Indeed, war begins with speech.”
In reality, speech surrounds war from its beginning to its end through awareness, instigation, and glorification.

Indeed, action needs the influence of sincere speech. Because its absence means filling the space with contradictory speech. And we know that this contradictory speech is always present and active, even while truth exists. So, imagine that the space was entirely void of truth.

There is no resistance on the face of earth that would dispense the poet for the fighter. Every living resistance realizes that there is no use for bloodshed without a moral conscience. The history of our people is the greatest witness to the importance of the poet’s role in war. The fighter has always sharpened both his sword and tongue.” [1]

Ahmed Matar is known as “The Poet of Freedom and Exile.” Several times in his life, he has been forced to live in exile because of his poetry - from Iraq to Kuwait to London, where he currently resides. Constant forced migration, the yearning for home, and the cruelties of exile, and those who impose it, are reflected through his work. [2]

The following poem is the fifth poem in the collection of translated poems we chose from his work. 
You can find them in the following website:
 ( Political Arabic Poetry in English )

"Renunciation and Revolution" is a statement of rejection against most of the poets and the poetry of nowadays made by Matar who paid a very high price when he utilized his poetry as a tool for resistance.
It reflects his deep frustration at how many poets manipulate poetry in order to please the rulers and avoid speaking the truth then eventually betray their own people's struggles when they don't pack them with resistance poetry. 

"Renunciation" and "Revolution" 
التكفير و الثورة

By: Ahmed Matar أحمد مطر

I renounce pens and notebooks.
I renounce the Arabic language,
That gives birth while it is barren. 
I renounce poetry,
That doesn't stop injustice,
And doesn't move the moral consciousness.

I curse each word,
That doesn't result in a march,
After it is uttered.
And in the wake of which,
The people don’t write their destiny.

I curse each poet,
Sleeping over comfortable verses,
While their people are sleeping in the graveyards.
I curse each poet,
 Who’s inspired by tears,
To talk about drinking.
And inspired by bitterness,
To talk about their desires,
And inspired by death,
To talk about their chills.

I curse each poet,
Who flirts with lips and braids,
In the times of cops and police stations.
And doesn't see the muzzle of the rifle,
When he sees lips appealing for help,
And doesn't see the noose,
When he sees braids.

In times when rulers arrive by a tank,
or upon the tribe’s camel.


The original poem in Arabic:

The poem and the quote are translated and edited to English as a part of this initiative to translate political Arabic poetry to the English reader.

Related posts in this blog:


[1] An introduction to political Arabic poetry and its significance in the Arabic tradition.

[2] Ahmed Matar speaking in an interview after the uprisings in 2011 about the significance of Arabic poetry as a form of resistance.

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