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

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Avediq Isahakian - ABU-LALA MAHARI

Abu Lala Mahari,
The renowned poet of Baghdad,
Lived for decades in the splendid city of the Caliphs,
Enjoying a life of luxury and delight;
He sat at banquets with affluent and powerful people,
Debating both the learned and the wise,
He cherished and assessed his companions;
He visited the lands of many a nation;
He saw and studied the peoples and their laws.
And his discerning soul, comprehending people, assessed and hated
Profoundly man and his rules.

And since he had no wife or children,
He gave away his entire fortune to the poor,
Gathered his caravan of camels, along with provisions and food,
And one night, when Baghdad slept on the cypress-covered
Banks of the Tigris –
He departed from the city in secret…

First Surah

And Abu Lala’s caravan, gurgling softly like a spring,
Proceeded  serene in the sleepy night, with bells sweetly tinkling.

That winding caravan appraised the road with measured strides,
And the melodious chiming suffused the tranquil grounds.

With ardent dreams of splendor, Baghdad slept in mellow restfulness,
In the rosebushes, the canary sang tearful songs of love’s distress.

The fountains chuckled with sprays of dazzling diamond cascades,
From the caliphs’ gleaming mansions scents and kisses pervaded the glades.

The jeweled caravans of stars wandered on stellar freeways,
And the boundless skies echoed the harmonium of eternal stars’ rays.

The wind whispered, with violets’ breath, tales of a thousand and one nights,
In sweet sleep, palm tree and cypress swayed on the roadsides.

And rolling along, the caravan rumbled forward with no backward glance,
The unknown path with myriad lures, enticed Abu Lala, stroking his dalliance.

“Go forth! Keep on going, my caravan, and walk till my days’ demise,”
Thus spoke deep in his heart, Abu Mahari, the poet great and wise.

“Go to the forlorn, desolate places, to the emerald vastness, free, pure and forthright;
Soar tireless toward the sun, and sear my heart in the sun’s heart.

“To you, oh, my father’s crypt, my maternal crib, I offer no farewell,
My soul is sore with eternal grief for paternal home and childhood’s pure spell.

“I was too fond of all my peers, and all people hither and there; whereas of late,
My love has turned to venomous viper, and my heart boils with toxic hate.

“Now, I detest that which I loved, since what I discovered in the souls of men; herewith,
In the human soul, nasty and mean, I have counted a thousand outrages and much filth.

“But above all, I hate the thousand-and-first – the spirit’s ribald falsehood,
Which adorns the face of man with the sacred halo of innocent sainthood.

“You, human tongue, who with a veil infused with heavenly scent and radiance
Cover the hell of man’s soul, have you ever spoken an honest sentence?

“Go to the desert, my caravan, to the wild forsaken, flaming borders,
In the company of beasts and rest there, under the bronzed, red boulders.

“Let me set up my tent – let me set it up on nests of scorpions and snakes,
I am a myriad times safer there, than among devious men with smiling faces.

“Or near a comrade, on whose breast I gladly rested my head once,
A comrade’s breast concealing the chasm of a fatal fall beneath a veil of lies.

“As long as the sun keeps searing Sinai’s soaring summits,
And the desert’s yellow layers form whirlpools as do mighty swells:

“I have no wish to break bread at their table, or offer humans my greeting,
I rather share a meal with wild beasts, or receive a hyena’s welcoming.

“And may predators tear me apart, flaming winds roar at me and burn –
And thus, till the end of my days, my caravan, keep going, go beyond return…”

End of First Surah…


Translated by TATUL SONENTZ

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