Message from a Martyr

by Mbarka Mint al-Barra'

Fire your bullets -- our hearts are already ablaze
       In this land, grief wells up from my distress
Fire your bullets -- you villain -- for I
       Won't play at murder or run away
My blood fertilises and refreshes this land
       And plants a promising generation that is fully conscious
Limbs grow from seeds of shrapnel
       Hands are formed and crowns spring
That bet this land will always be their home --
       In every corner they stand their ground
Wherever I am, this land is my passion
       Nostalgia is fused with this timeless love
I don't care if there are explosions
       I don't mind the annihilating thunder

The literal translation of this poem was made by Joel Mitchell

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


This Arabic poem, written in classical metre, was far from easy to translate. If you compare the opening lines of the literal and final versions, you'll see that 'pencils' becomes bullets - the word for 'lead' in Arabic can mean both the lead running through a pencil and a bullet.

'Message from a Martyr' is very typical of many contemporary poems written in Arabic in response to the Palestinian crisis. Although Palestine isn't mentioned in the poem, it's clear that the country and its struggles are its subject.


  1. February 10th, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    shreela says:

    one of the most moving poems i've read in a long time. thanx!

  2. November 21st, 2012 at 5:02 am

    Aj says:

    This poem reflects the situation in Palestine right now

  3. October 27th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Mike says:

    The same poem could easily have been written by an Israeli. Suffering by two peoples. Time for compassion - time to stop taking sides

  4. September 28th, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Allayna says:

    Unparalleled accuracy, unequivocal clatriy, and undeniable importance!

  5. July 21st, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    sheikh Mohiuddin says:

    this is real calling of an Kashmir Martyr