Less BeautifulI think you could make a decent case for this poem's being misogynistic -- or, if not that, then at least presenting a very undesirable politics. (I'm thinking primarily of line 10 here.) But it's also, to my ears, a great poem -- a poems' politics having little to do with a poems' quality -- alas, and thank God.
When I see you, I despair of poetry
As only you can make me.
You are beautiful
And if I ponder your beauty
My breath is choked up
My language choked off
My words choked out.
Save me from this. Be less beautiful
And let me find my inspiration.
Be a woman of make-up, perfume, pregnancy and childbirth
Be like other women.
Reconcile me with language
And give me words again.
-- Nizar Qabbani; translated by A.Z. Foreman.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Poem of the Day: Another Foreman Translation (Accidental Poetry Month, Part 15)
In an earlier installment in Attempts' Accidental Poetry Month™, I extolled the virtues of linguist A. Z. Foreman's site Poems Found in Translation, and included his version of a poem by Classical Chinese poet Li Bai, "Thoughts on a Quiet Night". Here's another translation of his, this time from the Arabic, by a Syrian poet named Nizar Qabbani (of whom I'd not previously heard). Here's the translation; click through to his site for the original (both written and in an audio file, read by Foreman himself).