The Trial – Nizar Qabbani

The East receives my songs, some praise, some curse 
To each of them my gratitude I bear 
For I’ve avenged the blood of each slain woman 
and haven offered her who is in fear. 

Woman’s rebellious heart I have supported 
ready to pay the prize – content to die 
if love should slay me, for I am love’s champion 
and if I ceased, then I would not be I. 

Words – Nizar Qabbani

He lets me listen, when he moves me,
Words are not like other words
He takes me, from under my arms
He plants me, in a distant cloud
And the black rain in my eyes
Falls in torrents, torrents
He carries me with him, he carries me
To an evening of perfumed balconies

And I am like a child in his hands
Like a feather carried by the wind
He carries for me seven moons in his hands
and a bundle of songs
He gives me sun, he gives me summer
and flocks of swallows
He tells me that I am his treasure
And that I am equal to thousands of stars
And that I am treasure, and that I am
more beautiful than he has seen of paintings
He tells me things that make me dizzy
that make me forget the dance and the steps

Words…which overturn my history
which make me a woman…in seconds
He builds castles of fantasies
which I live in…for seconds…
And I return…I return to my table
Nothing with me…
Nothing with me…except words

I Have No Power – Nizar Qabbani

‘I have no power to change you
or explain your ways
Never believe a man can change a woman
Those men are pretenders
who think
that they created woman
from one of their ribs
Woman does not emerge from a man’s rib’s, not ever,
it’s he who emerges from her womb
like a fish rising from depths of water
and like streams that branch away from a river
It’s he who circles the sun of her eyes
and imagines he is fixed in place

I have no power to tame you
or domesticate you
or mitigate your first instincts
This task is impossible
I’ve tested my intelligence on you
also my dumbness
Nothing worked with you, neither guidance
nor temptation
Stay primitive as you are

I have no power to break your habits
for thirty years you have been like this
for three hundred years
a storm trapping in a bottle
a body by nature sensing the scent of a man
assaults it by nature
triumphs over it by nature

Never believe what a man says about himself
that he is the one who makes the poems
and makes the children
It is the woman who writes the poems
and the man who signs his name to them
It is the woman who bears the children
and the man who signs at the maternity hospital
that he is the father

I have no power to change your nature
my books are of no use to you
and my convictions do not convince you
nor does my fatherly council do you any good
you are the queen of anarchy, of madness, of belonging
to no one
Stay that way
You are the tree of femininity that grows in the dark
needs no sun or water
you the sea princess who has loved all men
and loved no one
slept with all men… and slept with no one
you are the Bedouin woman who went with all the tribes
and returned a virgin
Stay that way.’

Poem – School of Love

Your love taught me how to grieve,

And for centuries I needed a woman to make me grieve,

I needed a woman

To make me cry on her shoulders like a bird,

I needed a woman to collect my pieces like broken glass.

Oh my lady, your love taught me the worst of my habits,

It taught me how to drink coffee a thousand times every night,

It taught me how to visit doctors and ask soothsayers,

It taught me to go out to scan the streets,

To seek your face in the rain and in the lights,

To chase your shadow in the faces of strangers,

To hunt your aura even in the newspapers!

Your love showed me the sadness city,

Which I have never entered ere you,

I have never known that the tear is humane,
And the human without tears is just a memory!

Your love taught me

How to draw your face on the walls with chalk like kids,

It taught me how love can change the map of times,

It taught me that when I love,

The earth stands still!

Your love showed me what hallucination is,

It taught me how to love you in every little thing,

In the bare, autumn trees,

In the falling, yellow leafs,

In the rain,

In every cafeteria in which we drank our black coffee,

My lady, your love taught me to sleep in nameless hotels,

And to sit by nameless shores,

It taught me to weep without tears,

Your love taught me how to grieve,

And for centuries I needed a woman to make me grieve,

I needed a woman

To make me cry on her shoulders like a bird,

I needed a woman to collect my pieces like broken glass, 

Poem – My Angry Cat 

You’re repeating yourself

for the twentieth time.

Is there another man in my life? 

Yes. Yes. What did you think? 

Even graveyards have visitors.

There are, my dear sir,

a lot of men out there,

and no garden is ever devoid of birds.

You’re just an experience I had,

and here I am,

tired and bored from this experience,

out from under your spell.

I’m cured of all

my weakness and gullibility.

Niceties do, after all, always end.

You love me! 

There you go again,

dredging up all that ancient history.

And since when did you ever show

the slightest interest in me

outside the contour of my hips? 

Where does this sudden gush of love come from? 

I was never anything more

than a forsaken chair

among your expensive furniture,

a garden you chose to raze

without shame or repentance.

Why are you staring at my breasts

as if you owned them? 

And why do you weep as if you

stood before a lost kingdom? 

Your glorious kingdom, dear sir,

has just crumbled.

There. I’ve settled my score

in an instant.

You tell me now

who’s losing the game.

I opened myself to you

like the Garden of Eden,

gave you all the sweet fruit

and green grass you desired.

Today I offer you

neither heaven nor hell.

This is what you get

for acting the ungrateful.

You faithless. If you’d only treated me

like a human being – just once –

this other man wouldn’t exist. 

Poem – Jerusalem

I wept until my tears were dry

I prayed until the candles flickered

I knelt until the floor creaked

I asked about Mohammed and Christ

Oh Jerusalem, the fragrance of prophets

The shortest path between earth and sky

Oh Jerusalem, the citadel of laws

A beautiful child with fingers charred

and downcast eyes

You are the shady oasis passed by the Prophet

Your streets are melancholy

Your minarets are mourning

You, the young maiden dressed in black

Who rings the bells in the Nativity

On Saturday morning?

Who brings toys for the children

On Christmas eve?

Oh Jerusalem, the city of sorrow

A big tear wandering in the eye

Who will halt the aggression

On you, the pearl of religions?

Who will wash your bloody walls?

Who will safeguard the Bible?

Who will rescue the Quran?

Who will save Christ?

Who will save man?

Oh Jerusalem my town

Oh Jerusalem my love

Tomorrow the lemon trees will blossom

And the olive trees will rejoice

Your eyes will dance

The migrant pigeons will return

To your sacred roofs

And your children will play again

And fathers and sons will meet

On your rosy hills

My town

The town of peace and olives. 

School Of Love – Nizar Qabbani

Your love taught me how to grieve, 

And for centuries I needed a woman to make me grieve, 

I needed a woman 

To make me cry on her shoulders like a bird, 

I needed a woman to collect my pieces like broken glass. 

Oh my lady, your love taught me the worst of my habits,

It taught me how to drink coffee a thousand times every night, 

It taught me how to visit doctors and ask soothsayers, 

It taught me to go out to scan the streets, 

To seek your face in the rain and in the lights, 

To chase your shadow in the faces of strangers, 

To hunt your aura even in the newspapers! 

Your love showed me the sadness city, 

Which I have never entered ere you, 

I have never known that the tear is humane, 
And the human without tears is just a memory! 

Your love taught me 

How to draw your face on the walls with chalk like kids, 

It taught me how love can change the map of times, 

It taught me that when I love, 

The earth stands still! 

Your love showed me what hallucination is, 

It taught me how to love you in every little thing, 

In the bare, autumn trees, 

In the falling, yellow leafs, 

In the rain, 

In every cafeteria in which we drank our black coffee, 

My lady, your love taught me to sleep in nameless hotels, 

And to sit by nameless shores, 

It taught me to weep without tears, 

Your love taught me how to grieve, 

And for centuries I needed a woman to make me grieve, 

I needed a woman 

To make me cry on her shoulders like a bird, 

I needed a woman to collect my pieces like broken glass,

Two African Breasts – Nizar Qabbani

Let me find time 

to welcome in this love 

that comes unbid. 

Let me find time 

to memorize 

this face that rises 

out of the trees 

of 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 

and waves, to learn the maps 

of bays. . . 
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 Andalusian face, 

this Andalusian voice, 

this Andalusian death 

coming from all directions. 

Let me find time to prophesy 

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 I have seen 

the star, and have been spoken to 

by saints. 
Woman, whose thighs are like 

the desert palm where 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.

When I Love You – Nizar Qabbani

When I love you 

A 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 fire 

And 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 demonstrate 

Against the ages of repression 

And the ages 

Of 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.

My Lady – Nizar Qabbani

You were the most important woman in my history 

before the leaving of this year 

you’re now.the most impoertant woman 

after the birth of this year 

you’re a woman i can’t count it with hours and days 

you’re a woman made of the poetry nectar 

and from the Dreams’ Gold 

you’re a woman were living in my body 

before a million years 
My Lady 

the one who was made of Cutton and Clouds 

the one who i can call her a Rain of Jewel 

and the River of Nahound 

and a Row forest 

the one who siwmmes in the water of my heart like a fish 

the one who lives in the eyes like a folk of pigeons 

nothing will change in my emotion 

nor my feelings 

not even in my heart or my faith 

because i’ll stay in the islamic religion 
My Lady 

do not care about the harmony of time 

nor about the name of the years 

you’re a woman and you’ll still as woman 

and in everytime 

i will still Love you 

when the 21 century enter 

and when the 25 century enter 

and when the 29 century enter 

and I will Love you 

when the seas drys 

and the forst burns

A Brief Love Letter – Nizar Qabbani

My darling, I have much to say 

Where o precious one shall I begin ? 

All that is in you is princely 

O you who makes of my words through their meaning 

Cocoons of silk 

These are my songs and this is me 

This short book contains us 

Tomorrow when I return its pages 

A lamp will lament 

A bed will sing 

Its letters from longing will turn green 

Its commas be on the verge of flight 

Do not say: why did this youth 

Speak of me to the winding road and the stream 

The almond tree and the tulip 

So that the world escorts me wherever I go ? 

Why did he sing these songs ? 

Now there is no star 

That is not perfumed with my fragrance 

Tomorrow people will see me in his verse 

A mouth the taste of wine, close-cropped hair 

Ignore what people say 

You will be great only through my great love 

What would the world have been if we had not been 

If your eyes had not been, what would the world have been?