Breaking down cultural barriers
Transposer une culture dans une autre par delà les barrières culturelles

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Ahmad Shamlu : 23

The stripped body of the street
fell on the flank of the city
and sipped up the settled drops of the ripples

and the warm summer of sighs
drunk with dream of reeds drenched in rain
dripped to the beat of the core of love

the naked street
with its floor of pearly teeth
opened its mouth
to taste the venomous essence
of the agony of enjoying a single love

and the town wrapped around it
tightened its embrace
with lustful arms

the stamped date of a love
flaunting its little girl’s body in heat
to the wild calls of a decrepit crowd
soiled with blood the bed of a city
mired in the present

the multitude that give birth to death
ran over the paleness of the wrinkles
on the city’s forehead

the naked street
In its fervour for its last demand
Bit its lip

But a girl who has no legs
cannot be made to kneel
to the crumbling enamel
of her foe’s grinding fangs…

I, myself, make my love sing like a clarion.
I pluck off the petals of my heart,
as I would a red rose.
I fly my soul like I would a pigeon.
I pitch my cry as a dagger
into the crystal of the skies.

Alas…
what of the mindless screams,
the unrestrained, thankless hands
behind rejection and spheres of aristocracy,
behind silence and behind gallows,
behind turbans and cloaking garments,
behind slander and behind walls,
behind today and behind birthday
- with its cracked black frame,
behind suffering, behind denial, behind darkness,
behind diligence, behind crudeness,
behind the insistent recurring despair of our gods
And even behind the thin skin
of our amorous hearts…?
the beauty of an era
yields the red Eden of its flesh
to a man whose bones hold together
like the bricks of an edifice,
whose kiss is a furnace
and whose voice is a drum roll,
and whose pillow -- made of steel --
Is an anvil.

Blood lips,
lips made of blood…
Had the blade of hope not been a stunted foe,
the street’s capped teeth
would have kissed you once more.
Now, you go and tell those people on my behalf,
those addicted souls to loss,
who, without a customary loss
figure they have won nothing…

And to all those others listening,
whose profit stems directly from others’ loss,
who -- with no profit in hand -- can conceive it
only as the sum of their losses--
go, go tell them:
“Eat your hearts out,
you poor saps,
eat your hearts out!
The prayer that you spout
is the story of the living who have died
and whose moments, when yet alive,
Were sung by no live rooster in the heart of their hamlet…

Eat your hearts out,
for in the casket of our history,
the butterflies of a girl’s legs
will flutter in place of your collective heart.

And as a start,
this is the world whose narrow perimeters have retained you,
like a single raisin to be changed into vinegar.

To shine this broad boot of mine, full of nails!”

As for you!
Go wash your heart in the purity of a crystal clear rain,
to fathom how
those at the height of their maturity
danced on graves that gaped beneath the toes of each foot.
How they trampled the grounds of ill temper
and how their craving for valor, in a banquet of predicted death,
grinded down, one after the other, the sizzling kebabs of bullets
in the teeth of their gears.

Preset your heart as you would
a listening device,
so that I may sing my song:
The song of the hearts of oranges squeezed
in the dampness of dungeons,
in the blistering trauma of torture,
in the knot of the suffocating noose --
and are yet to vomit the blood bloated names
during the searing fever of confession…

The song of the children of the deep
Who have knelt on the shore of their deeds
Without kneeling
And who have died without death.

As for all of you!
You, warm breaths of the earth who plant the seeds of tomorrow
in yesterday’s soil,
if you fail to rip the foe’s sails of hope,
You will have dragged the capsized ship of its history ashore…

With you, who, in the vast square, have signed the preface to our history
with the blood of affairs of hearts and faiths,
with the blood of striking similarities,
with the blood of heads of plaster in hats of steel,
with the blood of the eyes of one single sea,
with the blood of infinite ineptitude,
with the blood of those who seek humanity
with the blood of those who masticate humanity,
we mix our blood
at tomorrow’s meeting,
to serve the enemy a cup of the wine of death
to the health of the fact that he drank it
in the lapping drains of the street
to fill the mother of history’s womb
with the great stars of martyrdom
on the day of the Twenty-Third of Tir
on the day of the Twenty-Third…


Ahmad SHAMLU
from the book Moments and Eternity
translated by Tatul Sonentz from Sylvie M. Miller's French translation

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