“Against”

One is reminded of Rashid Hussein’s poem “Against” ضد when hearing news reports like this.

ضدَ ان يجرحَ ثوارُ بلادي سنبلهْ

ضدَ أن يحملَ طفلٌ – أي طفلٍ- قنبلهْ

ضدَ أن تدرسَ أُختي عضلاتِ البندقيهْ

ضد ما شِئتثم … ولكن

ما الذي يصنعه حتى نبيٌ أو نبيه

حينما تشربُ عينيهِ وعينيْها

خُيولُ القَتَلهْ

ضدَ أن يُصبِحَ طفلٌ بطلا ً في العاشرهْ

ضدَ أن يُثمِرَ ألغاماً فؤادُ الشجرهْ

ضدَ أن تُصبِحَ أغصانُ بساتيني مشانقْ

ضدَ تحويل ِ حياض الوردِ في أرضي مَشانقْ

ضد ما شئتُم … ولكنْ

بعدَ احراق ِ بلادي

ورفاقي

وشبابي

كيفَ لا تُصبِحُ أشعاري بنادقْ

Translation

Against the revolutionaries of my country injuring a sapling,

Against a child — any child — carrying a grenade,

Against my sister studying the components [lit. sinews, muscles] of a rifle,

I am against whatever you will … but:

What can even a prophet or a prophetess do

When their eyes take in [lit. drink, drink up] murderers on horseback [lit. the horses of murderers]?

Against a child becoming a hero at the age of ten,

Against the heart of a tree bearing mines,

Against the branches in my orchard being converted into gallows,

Against the rose gardens on my land becoming gallows,

I am against whatever you will … but:

After the burning of my country,

And my friends [alt. comrades, buddies],

And my youth,

How can my poems not turn into rifles?

 

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