A Few Lines About My Age
When Valia asked me,
'When did you first set foot in the world?',
my laugh, like a rhubarb shoot
pokes its head through the snow of my mouth.
My laugh is a sob
that crumples all the smiles in the world.
I was Neanderthal
when I first set foot in this world.
With my own eyes
I witnessed the era of the prophets,
the shameful passage of history
marched down the wrinkles on my forehead.
the swindling institutions
of the rotting conscience of the age
have not recorded my name
in the book of the living.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Mahsn Majidy
The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop
We Brits tend to think of rhubarb as being a very distinctive British - especially Yorkshire - plant and so we were pleased to come across it the very different context of a poem by a Kurdish poet written when he was living in Moscow. (In fact, the plant originated in China and was brought to Britain during the fourteenth century via the Silk Route and was first known as 'Turkish Rhubarb'.)
This small poem is, of course, a wry reflection on the ancient culture of the Kurds who, although swindled and pushed from pillar to post for centuries, have not (yet) been accepted as a nation.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2014