Ummi (My Mother)

I long for my mother's bread
And my mother's coffee
And my mother's touch
And childhood grows in me
Day after day
And I cherish my life
For if I die
I shall be shamed by my mother's tears

Take me, if I come back one day
As a veil to your eyelashes
Cover my bones with grass
Blessed by your footsteps
And tighten my bind
With a lock of your hair
With a thread that waves from the tail of your dress
That I may become a god
If I touch the depths of your heart

Take me, if I come back one day
As wood to feed your fire
As the clothesline on the roof of your house
For I have lost my feul
Without the prayer of your morning

I have grown old
Give me back the stars of childhood
That I may join the bird young
On the path back to the nest of your waiting

--Mahmoud Darwish


At Tuesday, March 21, 2006 4:23:00 PM, Blogger Eve said...

yaaay, how I love this song! makes me shiver everytime! thx for this post, arch..

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006 10:04:00 PM, Blogger fadibou said...

thanx for the post, reminds me of how good this poem and poet are.

At Friday, March 24, 2006 3:55:00 AM, Blogger Ecce Libanus said...

Somehow, when Marcel sings it, it becomes more of a tearjerker ;)
Still, my favorite is Saïd's "Ummi yaa Malaaki" (Mother O My Angel). It's not for nothing that Saïd has earned the reputation of the "Poet of Joy", for even as his mother lay dead in a casket, he could only sing her beauty rather than lament her passing in lachrymose histrionics. In that poem, Saïd could not muster a single word to even allude to death or a sense of loss. Yet Darwish, in the great tradition of Arabic poetry of the bleeding-hearts, could not BUT speak of death, even as his mother stood alive and breathing before his eyes. But hey, this is the blinkered lockstep in which Arabic culture and its modern imitative intellectual output choose to remain.

Now, don't get me wrong! I have great affection for Darwish, especially that he was the ONLY Palestinian intellectual to have openly objected (and in no uncertain terms) to the dirtbag Arafat's rape of Lebanon. To my sense, his firm stand on this issue dignified the entire Palestinian nation (although not the lowlife "father" of that nation; Arafat.) Still, his poetry, although exquisite in many respects, remains straightjacketed in stale and obsolete traditionalisms.

Here's my humble translation of Saïd's ode to the noblity and resilience of the human spirit, even as he faced the greatest loss of his life; his mother!

Mother, O my angel,
O my everlastin love,
May your hands remain my cradle forever,
And forever may I remain your child.

Another month dawns upon me,
Another Spring pushes on,
O mother, you are the flowers
In whose fragrances I drown...

And when I utter the words "my mother"
I am entranced and filled with bliss...

Mother, O beatings of my heart,
O my cry when I ache,
My kisses, and my passion,
O mother, when love sets me ablaze.

Your eyes.. O what are your eyes?
The brightest of the stars,
Gracing the heavens above,
Mother O my angel,
O my everlasting love!

At Friday, March 24, 2006 11:51:00 AM, Blogger Maldoror said...

For Heaven's sake, stop translating songs! All of you! :)

At Friday, March 24, 2006 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Maldoror said...

The author's name is Said Akl by the way :) Have some respect for one of our great intellectuals :)

At Friday, March 24, 2006 1:45:00 PM, Blogger AbdulKarim said...

Thank you for translating this gem.

At Thursday, May 20, 2010 9:26:00 AM, Blogger Jean Paul Zoghbi said...

Thank you Ecce Libanus for translating Said Akl's mother poem...it is one of my favorite too..especially when it sung by fairuz..

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