Our throats sharpen
but night approaches
digging the foundations of the house
and the wall of minutes
that surrounds the house
Death is honoured
by time stretched out
until everything past has been forgotten
other than the leaves that dried
on the tree, that tremble, now and then
Who would have heard the voice?
As if there were a person in heaven
to pay for our blood that was poured
and poured out
The literal translation of this poem was made by Katriina Ranne
The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop
Another complex and suggestive poem by Alamin Mazrui, whose simple language holds great depths of thought and feeling.
We decided to retain 'sharpen' from the first line of Katriina's translation because it kept the ambiguity of sharpen as in the pitch being raised and for its (hidden) suggestion of execution.
The poem appears to be referring to two different kinds of time: one an ancient, ancestral time (in the second verse) that's placed against the menace and destruction of the 'walls of minutes' in the first.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2013