A Mirror for the Twentieth Century
A coffin that wears the face of a child,
written inside the guts of a crow,
a beast trudging forward, holding a flower,
breathing inside the lungs of a madman.
This is it.
This is the twentieth century.
To the country dug into our lives like a grave,
to the country etherized, and killed,
a sun rises from our paralyzed history
into our millennial sleep.
A sun without a prayer
that kills the sand’s longevity, and the locusts
and time bursting out of the hills,
and time drying out on the hills
A sun that loves maiming and murder,
that rises from there, behind that bridge...
Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
Adonis was born in Al Qassabin, Syria, in 1930. He is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry. These poems are from Selected Poems, which will be published later this year by Yale University Press.
Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, and has translated many Arabic poets. His most recent collection of poems is Amorisco (Ausable Press). Tocqueville (New Issues Press) will be published later this year.