Wednesday, 19 January 2011

If one day the people desire to live

by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi.

(Updated 30th Jan)
In light of the current situations in Tunisia, and now Egypt, this poem by al-Shabi seems to be gaining popularity as perhaps a sort of anthem for resistance - a clear statement that the power for change is in the hands of the people.  That said, it was already a very well-known poem in the Arab world. A Jordanian friend of mine said he studied it in the 5th grade at school. Writing in the Guardian, Soumaya Ghannoushi celebrates the Tunisian people's revolution as an example of change from inside. The Arab world does not need direct foreign intervention/aggression in order to be democratised. It is so sad to hear of the mounting death toll, but on the other hand it is a proud moment for the Arab people, I believe, as they take their future into their own hands.

 إذا الشعب يوماً أراد الحيـــــــاة
فلا بــدّ أن يستجيب القــــدر
 ولا بدّ للــــيل أن ينجلــــــــــي
ولا بـــدّ للقيـــد أن ينكســــر
 ومن لم يُعانــقه شوق الحيــاة
تبـــخّر في جــوّهـا واندثــــر

If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call.
And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall.
For he who is not embraced by a passion for life will dissipate into thin air,
At least that is what all creation has told me, and what its hidden spirits declare…

Translation by Elliot Colla (one of a few suggested at )
 Click here for a song version by Latifa al-Tonsia.

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