The Collected Works Of Nizam Qabbani


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The Collected Works Of Nizam Qabbani

  1. 1. Letter From Under the Sea<br />If you are my friend...Help leave youOr if you are my lover...Help I can be healed of you...If I knew....that the ocean is very deep...I would not have swam...If I I would end,I would not have beganI desire teach me not to desireteach to cut the roots of your love from the depthsteach tears may die in the eyesand love may commit suicideIf you are prophet,Cleanse me from this spellDeliver me from this atheism...Your love is like purify me from this atheismIf you are strong...Rescue me from this oceanFor I don't know how to swimThe blue your eyesdrag the but the color blueand I have no experiencein love...and no boat...If I am dear to youthen take my handFor I am filled with desire...from myhead to my feetI am breathing under water!I am drowning...drowning...drowning... <br />A Letter From A Stupid Woman<br />(A Letter to a Man)<br />(1)My dear Master,This is a letter from a stupid womanHas a stupid woman before me, written to you?My name? Lets put names asideRania, or Zaynabor Hind or HayfaThe silliest thing we carry, my Master - are names(2)My Master:I am frightened to tell you my thoughtsI am frightened - if I did -that the heavens would burnFor your East, my dear Master,confiscate blue lettersconfiscate dreams from the treasure chests of womenPractices suppression, upon the emotions of womenIt uses knives…and cleavers…to speak to womenand butchers spring and passionsand black plaitsAnd your East, dear Master,Manufactures the delicate crown of the Eastfrom the skulls of women(3)Don't criticize me, MasterIf my writing is poorFor I write and the sword is behind my doorAnd beyond the room is the sound of wind and howling dogsMy master!'Antar al Abys is behind my door!He will butcher meIf he saw my letterHe will cut my head offIf I spoke of my tortureHe will cut my head offIf he saw the sheerness of my clothesFor your East, my dear Master,Surrounds women with spearsAnd your East, my dear Masterelects the men to become Prophets,and buries the women in the dust.(4)Don't become annoyed!My dear Master, from these linesDon't become annoyed!If I smash the complaints blocked for centuriesIf I unsealed my consciousnessIf I ran away…From the domes of the Harem in the castlesIf I rebelled, against my death…against my grave, against my roots…and the giant slaughter house….Don't become annoyed, my dear Master,If I revealed to you my feelingsFor the Eastern manIs not concerned with poetry or feelingsThe Eastern man - and forgive my insolence - does not understand womenbut over the sheets.(5)I am sorry my master -If I have insolently attacked the kingdom of Menfor the great literature of course -is the literature of menAnd love has always beenthe allotment of men…And sex has always beena drug sold to menA senile fairytale, the freedom of women in our countriesFor there is no freedomOther than, the freedom of men…My MasterSay all you wish of me. It does not matter to me:Shallow.. Stupid.. Crazy.. Simple minded.It does not concern me anymore..For whoever writes about her concerns…in the logic of Men is calleda stupid womanand didn't I tell you in the beginningthat I am a stupid woman?<br />Words<br />He lets me listen, when he moves me,Words are not like other wordsHe takes me, from under my armsHe plants me, in a distant cloudAnd the black rain in my eyesFalls in torrents, torrentsHe carries me with him, he carries meTo an evening of perfumed balconiesAnd I am like a child in his handsLike a feather carried by the windHe carries for me seven moons in his handsand a bundle of songsHe gives me sun, he gives me summerand flocks of swallowsHe tells me that I am his treasureAnd that I am equal to thousands of starsAnd that I am treasure, and that I ammore beautiful than he has seen of paintingsHe tells me things that make me dizzythat make me forget the dance and the stepsWords…which overturn my historywhich make me a woman…in secondsHe builds castles of fantasieswhich I live in…for seconds…And I return…I return to my tableNothing with me…Nothing with me…except words<br />" your body is my map" <br />raise me more love… raise memy prettiest fits of madnessO’ dagger’s journey… in my fleshand knife’s plunge…sink me further my lady…the sea calls meadd to me more death …perhaps as death slays me… I’m revivedyour body is my map…the world's map no longer concerns me…I am the oldest capital of sadness…and my wound a Pharaonic engravingmy pain…. extends like an oil patchfrom Beirut… to China…my pain… a caravan…dispatchedby the Caliphs of " A’Chaam" … to China…in the seventh century of the " Birth" …and lost in a dragon’s mouth…bird of my heart… " naysani" O’ sand of the sea, and forests of olivesO’ taste of snow, and taste of fire…my heathen flavor, and insightI feel scared of the unknown… shelter meI feel scared of the darkness… embrace meI feel cold… cover me uptell me children stories…rest beside me…Chant to me…since from the start of creationI’ve been searching for a homeland to my forehead…for a woman’s hair…that writes me on the walls… then erases me…for a woman’s love… to take meto the borders of the sun… and throws me…from a woman’s lip… as she makes melike dust of powdered gold…shine of my life. my fanmy lantern. declaration of my orchardsstretch me a bridge with the scent of oranges…and place me like an ivory comb…in the darkness of your hair… then forget meI am a drop of water… ambivalentremaining in the notebook of Octoberyour love crushes me…like a mad horse from the Caucasus throwing me under its hoofs…and gargles with the water of my eyes…add to me more fury… add to meO’ prettiest fits of my madnessfor your sake I set free my womenand effaced my birth certificateand cut all my arteries…<br />When I Love You<br />When I love youA new language springs up,New cities, new countries discovered.The hours breathe like puppies,Wheat grows between the pages of books,Birds fly from your eyes with tiding of honey,Caravans ride from your breasts carrying Indian herbs,The mangoes fall all around, the forests catch fireAnd Nubian drums beat.When I love you your breasts shake off their shame,Turn into lightning and thunder, a sword, a sandy storm.When I love you the Arab cities leap up and demonstrateAgainst the ages of repressionAnd the agesOf revenge against the laws of the tribe.And I, when I love you,March against ugliness,Against the kings of salt,Against the institutionalization of the desert.And I shall continue to love you until the world flood arrives;I shall continue to love you untill the world flood arrives.<br />Damascus, What Are You Doing to Me?<br />1My voice rings out, this time, from DamascusIt rings out from the house of my mother and fatherIn Sham. The geography of my body changes.The cells of my blood become green.My alphabet is green.In Sham. A new mouth emerges for my mouthA new voice emerges for my voiceAnd my fingersBecome a tribe2I return to DamascusRiding on the backs of cloudsRiding the two most beautiful horses in the worldThe horse of passion.The horse of poetry.I return after sixty yearsTo search for my umbilical cord,For the Damascene barber who circumcised me,For the midwife who tossed me in the basin under the bedAnd received a gold lira from my father,She left our houseOn that day in March of 1923Her hands stained with the blood of the poem…3I return to the womb in which I was formed . . .To the first book I read in it . . .To the first woman who taught meThe geography of love . . .And the geography of women . . .4I returnAfter my limbs have been strewn across all the continentsAnd my cough has been scattered in all the hotelsAfter my mother’s sheets scented with laurel soapI have found no other bed to sleep on . . .And after the “bride” of oil and thymeThat she would roll up for meNo longer does any other " bride" in the world please meAnd after the quince jam she would make with her own handsI am no longer enthusiastic about breakfast in the morningAnd after the blackberry drink that she would makeNo other wine intoxicates me . . .5I enter the courtyard of the Umayyad MosqueAnd greet everyone in itCorner to . . . cornerTile to . . . tileDove to . . . doveI wander in the gardens of Kufi scriptAnd pluck beautiful flowers of God’s wordsAnd hear with my eye the voice of the mosaicsAnd the music of agate prayer beadsA state of revelation and rapture overtakes me,So I climb the steps of the first minaret that encounters meCalling:“Come to the jasmine”“Come to the jasmine”6Returning to youStained by the rains of my longingReturning to fill my pocketsWith nuts, green plums, and green almondsReturning to my oyster shellReturning to my birth bedFor the fountains of VersaillesAre no compensation for the Fountain CaféAnd Les Halles in ParisIs no compensation for the Friday marketAnd Buckingham Palace in LondonIs no compensation for Azem PalaceAnd the pigeons of San Marco in VeniceAre no more blessed than the doves in the Umayyad MosqueAnd Napoleon’s tomb in Les InvalidesIs no more glorious than the tomb of Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi…7I wander in the narrow alleys of Damascus.Behind the windows, honeyed eyes awakeAnd greet me . . .The stars wear their gold braceletsAnd greet meAnd the pigeons alight from their towersAnd greet meAnd the clean Shami cats come outWho were born with us . . .Grew up with us . . .And married with us . . .To greet me . . .8I immerse myself in the Buzurriya SouqSet a sail in a cloud of spicesClouds of clovesAnd cinnamon . . .And camomile . . .I perform ablutions in rose water once.And in the water of passion many times . . .And I forget—while in the Souq al-‘Attarine—All the concoctions of Nina Ricci . . .And Coco Chanel . . .What are you doing to me Damascus?How have you changed my culture? My aesthetic taste?For I have been made to forget the ringing of cups of licoriceThe piano concerto of Rachmaninoff . . .How do the gardens of Sham transform me?For I have become the first conductor in the worldThat leads an orchestra from a willow tree!!9I have come to you . . .From the history of the Damascene roseThat condenses the history of perfume . . .From the memory of al-MutanabbiThat condenses the history of poetry . . .I have come to you . . .From the blossoms of bitter orange . . .And the dahlia . . .And the narcissus . . .And the " nice boy" . . .That first taught me drawing . . .I have come to you . . .From the laughter of Shami womenThat first taught me music . . .And the beginning of adolesenceFrom the spouts of our alleyThat first taught me cryingAnd from my mother’s prayer rugThat first taught meThe path to God . . .10I open the drawers of memoryOne . . . then anotherI remember my father . . .Coming out of his workshop on Mu’awiya AlleyI remember the horse-drawn carts . . .And the sellers of prickly pears . . .And the cafés of al-RubwaThat nearly—after five flasks of ‘araq—Fall into the riverI remember the colored towelsAs they dance on the door of Hammam al-KhayyatinAs if they were celebrating their national holiday.I remember the Damascene housesWith their copper doorknobsAnd their ceilings decorated with glazed tilesAnd their interior courtyardsThat remind you of descriptions of heaven . . .11The Damascene HouseIs beyond the architectural textThe design of our homes . . .Is based on an emotional foundationFor every house leans . . . on the hip of anotherAnd every balcony . . .Extends its hand to another facing itDamascene houses are loving houses . . .They greet one another in the morning . . .And exchange visits . . .Secretly—at night . . .12When I was a diplomat in BritainThirty years agoMy mother would send letters at the beginning of SpringInside each letter . . .A bundle of tarragon . . .And when the English suspected my lettersThey took them to the laboratoryAnd turned them over to Scotland YardAnd explosives experts.And when they grew weary of me . . . and my tarragonThey would ask: Tell us, by god . . .What is the name of this magical herb that has made us dizzy?Is it a talisman?Medicine?A secret code?What is it called in English?I said to them: It’s difficult for me to explain…For tarragon is a language that only the gardens of Sham speakIt is our sacred herb . . .Our perfumed eloquenceAnd if your great poet Shakespeare had known of tarragonHis plays would have been better . . .In brief . . .My mother is a wonderful woman . . . she loves me greatly . . .And whenever she missed meShe would send me a bunch of tarragon . . .Because for her, tarragon is the emotional equivalentTo the words: my darling . . .And when the English didn’t understand one word of my poetic argument . . .They gave me back my tarragon and closed the investigation . . .13From Khan Asad BashaAbu Khalil al-Qabbani emerges . . .In his damask robe . . .And his brocaded turban . . .And his eyes haunted with questions . . .Like Hamlet’sHe attempts to present an avant-garde playBut they demand Karagoz’s tent . . .He tries to present a text from ShakespeareThey ask him about the news of al-Zir . . .He tries to find a single female voiceTo sing with him . . .“Oh That of Sham”They load up their Ottoman rifles,And fire into every rose treeThat sings professionally . . .He tries to find a single womanTo repeat after him:“Oh bird of birds, oh dove”They unsheathe their knivesAnd slaughter all the descendents of doves . . .And all the descendents of women . . .After a hundred years . . .Damascus apologized to Abu Khalil al-QabbaniAnd they erected a magnificent theater in his name.14I put on the jubbah of Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-ArabiI descend from the peak of Mt. QassiunCarrying for the children of the city . . .PeachesPomegranatesAnd sesame halawa . . .And for its women . . .Necklaces of turquoise . . .And poems of love . . .I enter . . .A long tunnel of sparrowsGillyflowers . . .Hibiscus . . .Clustered jasmine . . .And I enter the questions of perfume . . .And my schoolbag is lost from meAnd the copper lunch case . . .In which I used to carry my food . . .And the blue beadsThat my mother used to hang on my chestSo People of ShamHe among you who finds me . . .let him return me to Umm Mu’atazAnd God’s reward will be hisI am your green sparrow . . . People of ShamSo he among you who finds me . . .let him feed me a grain of wheat . . .I am your Damascene rose . . . People of ShamSo he among you who finds me . . .let him place me in the first vase . . .I am your mad poet . . . People of ShamSo he among you who sees me . . .let him take a souvenir photograph of meBefore I recover from my enchanting insanity . . .I am your fugitive moon . . . People of ShamSo he among you who sees me . . .Let him donate to me a bed . . . and a wool blanket . . .Because I haven’t slept for centuries<br />Every Time I Kiss You<br />Every time I kiss you After a long separation I feel I am putting a hurried love letter In a red mailbox. <br />Light Is More Important Than The Lantern<br />Light is more important than the lantern,The poem more important than the notebook,And the kiss more important than the lips.My letters to youAre greater and more important than both of us.They are the only documentsWhere people will discoverYour beauty And my madness.<br />My Lover Asks Me<br />My lover asks me: " What is the difference between me and the sky?"  The difference, my love, Is that when you laugh, I forget about the sky. <br />Oh, My Love<br />Oh, my loveIf you were at the level of my madness,You would cast away your jewelry,Sell all your bracelets,And sleep in my eyes.<br />Language<br />When a man is in lovehow can he use old words?Should a womandesiring her loverlie down withgrammarians and linguists? I said nothingto the woman I lovedbut gatheredlove's adjectives into a suitcaseand fled from all languages. <br />Love Compared<br />I do not resemble your other lovers, my ladyshould another give you a cloudI give you rainShould he give you a lantern, Iwill give you the moonShould he give you a branchI will give you the treesAnd if another gives you a shipI shall give you the journey.<br />I Have No Power<br />" I have no power to change youor explain your waysNever believe a man can change a womanThose men are pretenderswho thinkthat they created womanfrom one of their ribsWoman does not emerge from a man's rib's, not ever,it's he who emerges from her womblike a fish rising from depths of waterand like streams that branch away from a riverIt's he who circles the sun of her eyesand imagines he is fixed in placeI have no power to tame youor domesticate youor mitigate your first instinctsThis task is impossibleI've tested my intelligence on youalso my dumbnessNothing worked with you, neither guidancenor temptationStay primitive as you areI have no power to break your habitsfor thirty years you have been like thisfor three hundred yearsa storm trapping in a bottlea body by nature sensing the scent of a manassaults it by naturetriumphs over it by natureNever believe what a man says about himselfthat he is the one who makes the poemsand makes the childrenIt is the woman who writes the poemsand the man who signs his name to themIt is the woman who bears the childrenand the man who signs at the maternity hospitalthat he is the fatherI have no power to change your naturemy books are of no use to youand my convictions do not convince younor does my fatherly council do you any goodyou are the queen of anarchy, of madness, of belongingto no oneStay that wayYou are the tree of femininity that grows in the darkneeds no sun or wateryou the sea princess who has loved all menand loved no oneslept with all men… and slept with no oneyou are the Bedouin woman who went with all the tribesand returned a virginStay that way." <br />When I Love<br />When I loveI feel that I am the king of timeI possess the earth and everything on itand ride into the sun upon my horse.When I loveI become liquid lightinvisible to the eyeand the poems in my notebooksbecome fields of mimosa and poppy.When I lovethe water gushes from my fingersgrass grows on my tonguewhen I loveI become time outside all time.When I love a womanall the treesrun barefoot toward me…<br />On Entering The Sea<br />Love happened at last,And we entered God's paradise,SlidingUnder the skin of the waterLike fish.We saw the precious pearls of the seaAnd were amazed.Love happened at lastWithout intimidation…with symmetry of wish.So I gave…and you gaveAnd we were fair.It happened with marvelous easeLike writing with jasmine water,Like a spring flowing from the ground.<br />The Epic Of Sadness<br />Your love taught me to grieveand I have been in need, for centuriesa woman to make me grievefor a woman, to cry upon her armslike a sparrowfor a woman to gather my pieceslike shards of broken crystalYour love has taught me, my lady, the worst habitsit has taught me to read my coffee cupsthousands of times a nightto experiment with alchemy,to visit fortune tellersIt has taught me to leave my houseto comb the sidewalksand search your face in raindropsand in car lightsand to peruse your clothesin the clothes of unknownsand to search for  your imageeven…..even…..even in the posters of advertisementsyour love has taught meto wander around, for hourssearching for a gypsies hairthat all gypsies women will envysearching for a face, for a voicewhich is all the faces and all the voices…Your love entered me…my ladyinto the cities of sadnessand I before you, never enteredthe cities of sadnessI did not know…that tears are the personthat a person without sadnessis only a shadow of a person…Your love taught meto behave like a boyto draw your face with chalkupon the wallupon the sails of fishermen's boatson the Church bells, on the crucifixes,your love taught me, how love,changes the map of time…Your love taught me, that when I lovethe earth stops revolving,Your love taught me thingsthat were never accounted for So I read children's fairytalesI entered the castles of Jenniesand I dreamt that she would marry methe Sultan's daughterthose eyes..clearer than the water of a lagoonthose lips…more desirable than the flower of pomegranatesand I dreamt that I would kidnap her like a knight    and I dreamt that I would giveher necklaces of pearl and coralYour love taught me, my lady,what is insanityit taught me…how life may passwithout the Sultan's daughter arrivingYour love taught meHow to love you in all thingsin a bare winter tree,in dry yellow leavesin the rain, in a tempest,in the smallest cafe, we drank in,in the evenings…our black coffeeYour love taught me…to seek refugeto seek refuge in hotels without namesin churches without names…in cafes without names…Your love taught me…how the nightswells the sadness of strangersIt taught me…how to see Beirut as a  woman…a tyrant of temptationas a woman, wearing every eveningthe most beautiful clothing she possessesand sprinkling upon her breasts perfumefor the fisherman, and the princesYour love taught me  how to cry without cryingIt taught me how sadness sleepsLike a boy with his feet cut offin the streets of the Rouche and the HamraYour love taught me to grieveand I have been needing, for centuriesa woman to make me grievefor a woman, to cry upon her armslike a sparrowfor a woman to gather my pieceslike shards of broken crystal<br />Nizar Tawfiq Qabbani <br /> <br />(21 March 1923 – 30 April 1998) was a Syrian diplomat, poet and publisher. <br />His poetic style combines simplicity and elegance in exploring themes of love, eroticism, feminism, religion, and Arab nationalism. <br />He is one of the most revered contemporary poets in the Arab world. <br />Nizar Qabbani was born in the Syrian capital of Damascus to a middle class merchant family.He was raised in Mi'thnah Al-Shahm, one of the neighborhoods of Old Damascus.<br />When Qabbani was 15, his sister, who was 25 at the time, committed suicide because she refused to marry a man she did not love. During her funeral, he decided to fight the social conditions he saw as causing her death. <br />When asked whether he was a revolutionary, the poet answered: “Love in the Arab world is like a prisoner, and I want to set (it) free. I want to free the Arab soul, sense and body with my poetry. The relationships between men and women in our society are not healthy.” <br />He is known as one of the most feminist and progressive intellectuals of his time. <br />The city of Damascus <br />remained a powerful  muse in his poetry, most notably in the Jasmine Scent of Damascus. <br />The 1967 Arab defeat also influenced his poetry and his lament for the Arab cause.<br />In 1997, Nizar Qabbani suffered from poor health and briefly recovered from his sickness in late 1997. <br />A few months later, at the age of 75, Nizar Qabbani died in London on April 30,1998 of a heart attack. <br />In his will, which he wrote in his hospital bed in London, Nizar Qabbani wrote that he wished to be buried in Damascus, which he described in his will as the " the womb that taught me poetry, taught me creativity and granted me the alphabet of Jasmine." <br />Nizar Qabbani was buried in Damascus four days later in Bab Saghir. <br />Qabbani was mourned by Arabs all over the world, with news broadcasts highlighting his illustrious literary career.<br />Trinity,<br />October 2009.<br />