Abdul Wahab Al-BayatI
1926 - 1999


Abdul Wahab Al-BayatiFrom the cities of magic and the caves: Waddah arises,
Crowned by the moon of death and the fire of a shooting star,
Falling into the desert,
Carried like an orange nightingale
By the ogress with the caravans
To Syria.
A red feather
Is blown into the air by a magician
He wrote a charm on it
For the ladies of the cities of the wind
The words of the stones falling in the wells,
The dances of fire
Are blown into the chamber of the caliph
Becoming sometimes a poem,
Sometimes a virgin pearl
Falling at the feet of Waddah
Who carries it to bed,
A woman crying with desire
Making love with the night and the crazy light of the moon
Raving, singing, ending from where she did not begin,
Rediscovering on the bed her virginity,
Ashamed of the night
And the crazy light of the moon
She opens her eyes on the ashes of the fire of a shooting star
Falling on the desert

And a red feather
Is blown into the air by the magician
Sometimes turning into a gazelle
With horns made of gold
Sometimes into a priestess practicing seduction
And the game of the end
In the harem of the caliph
His night is haunted by ghosts and boredom.


I did not find salvation in love, but I found God.


I kissed my mistress on the carpet of light
I sang a poem for her
I granted her the sun of Bukhara,
The fields of wheat in Iraq,
The Atlas moon and the spring in Arwad
I granted her the throne of Solomon,
The fire of the night in the desert,
And the gold of the waves in the seas
Upon her lips I printed my love
For all the beautiful women of the world,
And the kisses of the lovers
Within her I sowed
A child from the people
And from the dynasty of the phoenix.


Where do these ghosts come from?
While you slept in her bed 0 Waddah,
Was it the windows of the palace?
Or perhaps the guardians of the walls
Did not close the doors?


In my sleep: I saw the river of death on your breast,
Forcing its current in the flesh of the silence
A hunting dog bites your breast
As the quail begin their migration
Following the orbit of human exile in the world and things
A face of a palace slave
Emerges from my eyes and from the mirror of this dawn
In my sleep I saw him kissing your breasts,
Lying naked over the bed of roses
Smiling for the future


Where are these ghosts from?
While you were sleeping in her bed, O Waddab
Perhaps it was the informer who relieved you
Perhaps it was the caliph who sent after you
The slave, the hunting dog, and the nightmare.


Before it came to be in the books,
In the novels and in the poems,
Othello already existed.
The scorpions of jealousy bit him, O Waddah! Before it
came to be in the books
Othello was a bloody killer,
But Desdemona
Will not die this time.
It is you who will die.
It is you.


Othello in the turban of the caliph
Faces the masses
With his broken sword.


I didn't find salvation in love, but I found God.


I died on the carpet of love,
I didn't die by the sword.
I died inside a box, thrown in the well of night Suffocated,
my secret died with me
And my mistress, on her bed
Innocently caressing the cat, embroidering the moons In
the glacial darkness,
Reciting to the caliph
A tale about cities of magic and their buried treasures
And the morning surprises Desdemona.

Translate by Bassam k. Frangieh

*Waddah of Yemen : `Abdul Rahman ibn Isma'il , a man of great beauty who lived in Umayyad times during the rule of Caliph Al-Walid ibn `Abd al-Malik. He didn't go out in public unless he was veiled for fear of the evil eye and covetous women . According to legend, the Caliph's wife fell in love with him and during one of his secret visits, she was forced to hide him in a boX

. The Caliph was told by his men that Waddah was hidden in the box and he had Waddah buried inside it in A.D.708.

Abdul Wahab Al-BayatI
1926 - 1999

Born in Baghdad, a Contemporary Iraqi poet and a pioneer in the free verse movement, published his first collection of poetry, (Angels and Devils) in 1950 In 1953 he founded Iraqi magazine (New Culture). Forced to flee his country in1955. He published his next collections in exile in 1956 and 1957.

After the Iraqi revolution in 1958 he returned to Baghdad and worked in the ministry of education. Published some twenty collections of poetry in addition to a three-act play (Trail in Nishapur). He translated poems by P.Eluard and L.Aragon ,published studies about them and others as well as a book of prose called ( my Poetic Experience)

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