Sunday, 13 February 2011

Words for a revolution: Here We Will Stay by Tawfiq Ziad

11th February 2011, Egypt - the people take back their country.

There are many pieces circulating on the internet commemorating the revolution: from Wust El-Balad's pleasant 'Sout El-Horreya' to Wyclef Jean's, er, well-meaning, though perhaps not particularly memorable 'Freedom'. I've seen some Egyptian friends posting to facebook videos of poetry recitals too, click here for one with English subtitles.

I'd like to contribute the following poem. It is not new, and was written for another cause, but it embodies the same spirit, I believe, as we, watching from all over the world, have seen in the eyes of Egyptians over the last two weeks.

The poem is by Tawfiq Ziad (1929-1994). A Palestinian politician, political writer and poet educated in Nazareth and Moscow. He fought for the rights of Palestinians in Israel through the Communist organisation, Rakah and was elected mayor of Nazareth in 1973. In addition to translations of Russian literature he published collections of poetry, much of which was concerned with the Palestinian struggle and resistance.

هنا باقون

كأننا عشرون مستحيل
في اللد , والرملة , والجليل
هنا .. غلى صدوركم , باقون كالجدار
وفي حلوقكم
كقطعة الزجاج , كالصبار
وفي عيونكم
زوبعة من نار
هنا .. على صدوركم , باقون كالجدار
ننظف الصحون في الحانات
ونملأالكؤوس للسادات
ونمسح البلاط في المطابخ السوداء
حتى نسل لقمة الصغار
من بين أنيابكم الزرقاء
هنا غلى صدوركم باقون , كالجدار
نجوع .. نعرى .. نتحدى
ننشد الأشعار
ونملأ الشوارع الغضاب بالمظاهرات
ونملأ السجون كبرياء
ونصنع الأطفال .. جيلا ثائرا .. وراء جيل
كأننا عشرون مستحيل
في اللد , والرملة , والجليل
إنا هنا باقون
فلتشربوا البحرا
نحرس ظل التين والزيتون
ونزرع الأفكار , كالخمير في العجين

Here We Will Stay
In Lidda, in Ramla, in the Galilee,
we shall remain
like a wall upon your chest,
and in your throat
like a shard of glass,
a cactus thorn,
and in your eyes
a sandstorm.

We shall remain
a wall upon your chest,
clean dishes in your restaurants,
serve drinks in your bars,
sweep the floors of your kitchens
to snatch a bite for our children
from your blue fangs.

Here we shall stay,
sing our songs,
take to the angry streets,
fill prisons with dignity.

In Lidda, in Ramla, in the Galilee,
we shall remain,
guard the shade of the fig
and olive trees,
ferment rebellion in our children
as yeast in the dough.

Translation by Sharif Elmusa and Charles Doria

(The full poem is a bit longer, read it here in Arabic). 

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