Exhortation to the Village (8)


This small, delicate and suggestive poem was one of the most complicated translations we've had to tackle in a workshop for a very long time. Arabic can sometimes be very difficult to unpick, but the kind of poetry that Ateif, and his friend, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, write, is particularly difficult to get into English because of the density of the imagery, the way in which images are juxtaposed and the freight of meanings from centuries of Sufi poetry that they bear.

Every single word in our final version provoked long discussion - from the title which, in Sam's very literal version, could seem close to 'broadcast' in English, but which also carries the idea of an instruction, which we translated as 'exhortation' - to the final line with, again, an image of something being broadcast, this time via an aeriel.

Translating 'Exhortation to the Village (8)' was a truly mind-bending and profoundly satisfying experience and we very much look forward to translating more of Ateif's poems in future.

Sarah Maguire, Workshop Facilitator

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Comments (2)

Michael Farrell

I think in reading this poem, despite my limited knowledge, I have a sense of reading Atief’s writing. I like the crates of fruit and carefree mammals ..
i think ‘We preserve the story in salt’ might be different? it feels like there are too many instances of ‘the’ in this stanza ..


Really glad I could be involved in the translation of this poem, which I found exceptional. The debates about almost every word (!) really clarified the meaning of the poem for me.

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