Passing Cloud

by Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye'

Setting sun
You're on the run:
Late afternoon
And gone so soon!
What are you scared of? What's the rush?
Is it the spears of light that shine
Back at you from rock and bush?
Is it the dark creeping up on you
Or bad news from the depths of night
That makes you want to hide your light?
Or is it this girl, more beautiful
Than rain in the season of drought, whose grace
Is greater by far than the subtle pace
Of a passing cloud when it's nudged by the wind?
When you and she exchanged glances just now,
It was you who grew pale, it was you who shrank
From the gleam in her eye and the glow of her smile.
Setting sun
You're on the run:
Late afternoon
And gone so soon!
Have you gone
To warn the moon
That she must face
This greater grace?
The roll of the clouds, the furl of the waves -
A sea of cloud stained purple and red,
The swing of her arms, the swing and the sway
Of her hips as she walks is just like the way
You sway and dip and the end of the day.
Now the clouds turn their backs on you.
They only have eyes for the eyes of the girl:
Eyes that launch love-darts, darts that sink
Into the flanks of the clouds and draw
Droplets of blood that stain the sky.
Setting sun
You're on the run:
Late afternoon
And gone so soon…
These are the lines
That seemed to fall
To hand when first
I saw the girl.
Now this is what
I most recall:
The way she reached up to gather fruit
Believing herself to be alone
Until she saw me there, wide-eyed,
As the wind read my mind and sent a gust
To part her dress and lay her breast
Bare for the space of an indrawn breath.
Ah, yes, I remember that…and the way
She caught at the cloth and fastened it,
Turning her face from mine, her eyes
Lowered, as if to say: No man
Has seen before what you saw today.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Martin Orwin and Maxamed Xasan 'Alto'

The final translated version of the poem is by David Harsent


  1. December 20th, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Ella says:

    Yet another stunningly sublime poem by Gaarriye. Somali poetry rocks!

  2. July 14th, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Abdirasak says:

    Gaarriye.. Deserves to be entitled africa's most prominent poet. I love his poetry.


  3. February 20th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Rooble Odey says:

    What a poem! somali lirature is very righ

  4. April 4th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Harun says:

    Great and inspiring poem.

  5. August 30th, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Tony says:

    Nice stuff, Gaariye is a legendary african poet. I think he should be nominated for a literary prize

  6. August 3rd, 2009 at 9:50 am

    ahmed yusuf says:

    Awe inspiring

  7. January 31st, 2009 at 10:48 am

    jack says:

    its a good one

  8. January 21st, 2009 at 7:26 am

    cc says:

    looking good, great poem. 

  9. December 11th, 2008 at 5:00 am

    abdulqadir says:

    all i can do is wonder,it's a wonderful poem,it has left so many images in my mind in a very short time.( as a somali nomad i have seen all those images, in wandering through the forest but i have not seen the woman).thanks for translating