by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

Facing down wind in a dust-storm
wrapped up in his cloak
and wearing a hat that can’t make him vanish —

this skinny man
scans the horizon
gathering — but not quite yet — flowers
until the moment you meet

(… but stuck in this narrow alleyway
among mountains of rubbish
he longs to lift up his beak
unfurl his wings
and take flight…)

The literal translation of this poem was made by Hafiz Kheir

The final translated version of the poem is by Sarah Maguire


The main thing I need to tell you about this song is that it is a love poem (forgive me if I am stating the obvious!). Like in his previous poem Saddiq uses a scene to convey his idea: sad and frustrated by lack of magic powers and engulfed in dust this thin man is singing this song to his lover.… The last bracketed part stands for his determination to strive (to meet his lover?) despite everything… and I think it will be great if we could make the last line about wings much more beautiful or make the idea of him flying clearer....


  1. August 28th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Chris, Otto, Greyson says:

    The first paragraph re-arrangement of syntax, putting dust storm in the first line, is a great translation. The image of unfurling wings also creates a great image. Maybe could have added an image of the girl as another bird at the end of the poem.

  2. August 28th, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Willie the Poet says:

    the imagery in this poem is exquisite, especially the bird analogy at the end.

    We thought it would be effective to make this message more clear, yet still injecting the emotion this poem conveys. The culture still needs to be ambigous because of the universal themes in this poems. 

  3. August 28th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Kate, Erin, and Jon says:

    Overall, super job on the translation. We are impressed! We especially like the last stanza because it shows his determination. We also like the "gathering - but not quite yet - flowers" line. When we translated the poem, we said "confronting the wind" instead and also we placed more focus on the character instead of the scenery.


    Kate, Erin, and Jon

  4. August 28th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Chloe, Joshua, and Lauren says:

    This is a very good translation that seems to capture the literal essence of the poem. The one thing about this translation is that I would think that it may force people to really have to figure out the figurative meaning. I love the phrase "scans the horizon" because I feel that is so much better than "will browse the space" in the literal version.

  5. August 28th, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Kaylea Pallister says:

    "he longs to lift up his beak" sounds much more emotional than the original version and also indicates that he wants to lift his head and fly but can't accomplish it. The original translation of "he'd lift his beak up" sounds more certain and indicates he has the ability to lift his beak.