Sorrows of the Black City


The literal translation of lines 4-7 is problematic because it is not always clear what the subject of the verbs are - e.g. in line 4 the line is literally 'you see her' which would appear to refer to the city, which is a feminine noun. It could even refer to the roads. However, when I studied this poem previously in class we took it to mean the people of the city, which seems to fit better in light of the last stanza, which repeats the same lines, but following on from a description of the people. I imagine the ambiguity is deliberate.

Lines 12-17 also pose a problem as it is hard to show whether 'the darkness' or 'the city' is the subject. In this case the Arabic verbs are clear since darkness takes a masculine verb and city a feminine verb, but it is harder to show this in English.

The final version was produced in the workshop and then finished by Sarah Maguire.