Belongings

by Abboud al Jabiri

I want to change everything:
the crippled chair
and the rug lolling its tongue across the tiles.
I want to change the rug
because it stretches its tongue across the tiles
and the chair
because it is crippled.
I will try,
I said,
I have my reasons -
and you can wait
to see how the house turns out
when that chair has gone
and the rug, crawling in the dust,
has deserted the tiles.
I will try,
I said,
but I don't know
if that chair
would wear sackcloth and ashes
and plead with me
to stay.
And I don't know if the rug will ever stop
bothering the cracks -
so I must find a wise man to guide me
because I want to change everything
I want to kick out this routine
and free my hands to do my will.
I must rearrange everything
and all my possessions
are nothing but poems waiting to be read -
a crippled chair
and a joke of a rug.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Worod Musawi

The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop

Notes

This was the third workshop we've devoted to the poetry of Abboud al Jabiri and, as with the others, it was a real pleasure to bring his poem into English. His poetry, unlike a good deal of poetry in Arabic, translates well into English. This is because it's relatively simple, relying on concrete imagery and eschewing complex metaphors.

As you'll see if you compare our final version with the literal translation prepared by Worod Musawi, we've stuck quite closely to her text.

However, there was one image, towards the end of the poem, which Worod translates as 'to free my fingers / From the rubber tree who planted above of the sky' which, however much we tried, we couldn't make sense of and get into good English - so we abandoned it as we felt it would have distorted our version. Sometimes translators have to make tough decisions!

Comments

  1. April 1st, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Breanna Thompson says:

    really intriguing

  2. February 13th, 2014 at 10:23 am

    lana says:

    very beautiful lines

    only us

  3. March 23rd, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Amber Lough says:

    This poem is beautiful and haunting. I don't think I can forget it, if I tried.