Message from a Martyr


This Arabic poem, written in classical metre, was far from easy to translate. If you compare the opening lines of the literal and final versions, you'll see that 'pencils' becomes bullets - the word for 'lead' in Arabic can mean both the lead running through a pencil and a bullet.

'Message from a Martyr' is very typical of many contemporary poems written in Arabic in response to the Palestinian crisis. Although Palestine isn't mentioned in the poem, it's clear that the country and its struggles are its subject.