You Crossed the Border

by Reza Mohammadi

You crossed the border: your homeland had no language,
or maybe it had nothing to say.
You crossed the border: imagine it's your homeland.
What did your homeland have that the whole world lacked?

First, you were greeted by tears.
This kind friend with an unkind face,
Sorrow, embraced you out of dirt and dust,
a friend who clasped you closer than others.
The sick old man who welcomed you so tenderly
was exhausted by travelling from village to village.
You longed to buy happiness
but only smugglers offered it for sale.

You crossed the border: imagine it's your homeland.
What did you homeland have that the whole world lacked?
Oh poet! You have come to the kingdom of misery,
to a land with no sky,
a land where poets trade in humanity,
where the mouths of prophets are stopped,
where dogs are ministers and donkeys are imams.
No calls to prayer issue from its mosques free of bribes.
What on earth did you expect from your homeland?
That its banquet tables weren't piled high with bones?

Poet! Your homeland is a vanished past.
Now it offers nothing but insults, greed, boredom and grief.
Instead of poetry, would that you had gold and power -
that sacred talent does no good here.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Hamid Kabir

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

Notes

This poem is untitled in Dari, so we chose the first part of the first line as its title.

Reza told us he wrote this poem for a friend of his who returned to Afghanistan for the first time for many years and who was heartbroken by what he found there.

Comments

  1. October 25th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Navni Tandon says:

    It is beautifully written. the meaning is deep and well thought. You people will reach to each CITIZEN OF THE EARTH. Lovely poem.