THE LAND SAID
A poem penned by Adonis in the early 1950s in commemoration of Antun Sa'adeh's Martyrdom
on 8 July, 1949.
Transcreated by Anne Fairbairn AM
Note: I was able to do the first literal translation of this poem with the assistance of Iraqi-Australian Hassan Nasser and also Jordanian-Australian, Imad Alsmadi. Dr Dennis Walker was also helpful with the literal translation of a number of lines. I then worked on my 'transcreation' of the poem. This poem has deeply inspired me because I believe so much respect and gratitude is owed to the huge contribution Syria has made to civilization over the centuries.
The land said,
- On my eye-lids there is an eternity
And a question is on my lips.
I am hungry for beauty
Although beauty and love
Emerges from my breast,
My summits emptied their minarets
And the hills absorbed this.
My plains are deserted,
Neither wheat nor barley crops
Are dancing there.
The land said - Our land
Is on my eye-lids, on my skin,
- On my lips there is a question,
Why am I trembling and exhausted?
Why are there questions
Yet my destiny is silence?
My hands tortured me
The silence to my questions wounded me,
As did my border conflicts.
For beyond horizons
There were caravans and conquests,
- Dust ascending to the stars.
Waves are my playground,
My sails have never been folded,
My image has not faded.
By my hands
Time is moulded and created
And life's sorrows are mine.
Why am I waking today to find
My fields are not blooming
And my hills are bare?
The axe has vanished,
The grapevine vanished,
The wells have dried up.
Shepherds are no longer gossiping
In the moonlight,
Light is not reaching into quarries.
Remaining goat-herds are seeking
Green pastures and a young
Shepherd with a sprit of adventure.
I am a concealed treasure,
Where are my children?
I am all voices and throats, calling for them;
They may have been blindly struck
And ruined, so they surrendered,
Giving themselves up.
Perhaps they felt obliged
To adorn themselves
To look like decorated statues.
Perhaps, perhaps these statues
Became like voiceless black letters
Which nobody heard.
It is as if Baghdad has never seen the sun.
As if mankind had not created Lebanon.
As if I had never been created,
Nor human beings been close to my heart;
Let them arise from their rest
With sallow, sad faces while thirsting
Whilst my history is abandoned,
A target for those who are ignorant,
Frivolous or merely spiteful.
I have been deprived of a brilliant future
With a hand that can shake the world.
Oh my youth, rise with the sun!
Inspire the blind, inactive world
For you taught it how to live
And you are still the guide.
- Its soul is thirsting to be active,
Armed with the muscle of youth.
Ask the sea, the waves, the sun,
Ask the earth.
Whenever light shines from the sun
It reveals a gleaming dome
That strips away the dark aura of the past.
We wanted light to be created
So in this gloom let us ignite the stars!
I created from my veins my children
To raise them from mere fragments
To become as mountains.
To struggle, for ambition is
An open horizon which is eternal,
- While forgiving one another.
They will never have to face the impossible.
They will achieve the unachievable.
If I chose to, I could end existence for them
- Or make it unbearable.
My children were created from my veins
And thus children were made from them.
They glorified me,
Rising up from my spring
Becoming springs in the earth.
We were as one,
Laughing heart to heart
As we inspire one another,
Then, stranded on the path,
We were perplexed - burnt out like candles.
To the light, we dedicated our hearts
Which were lost in darkness.
We extended our hands
To those who were thirsty
And our springs gave them new life.
How profound is my longing;
Within it the unknown is created,
Days are created.
It erases disillusionment;
Generations of pagan idols have vanished.
Dawn is a part of me
And so is the light of the sun.
Darkness never prevails with me;
I never surrender to the mire of sleep.
I am filled with joy
As paths leading from my paths
Are green, bordered by abundant blossoms.
The light is dancing,
Reaching harmonious horizons.
Dancing among the hills,
Dancing among rejoicing roses.
We have a new dawn.
New stars, blossoms and new light!
- Since darkness disappeared,
Limitations on us have disappeared.
This is a revolution of this earth,
Which, in the month of March
Is celebrated …
What a creature
Like a secret, a riddle, a conquest
- Venturing into the unknown.
Blossoms are asking
- Who is this?
Who has created this beauty?
The reply is
- Nothing will last forever
There will always be wilting, yellowness, death.
What a secret, a riddle, a conquest
- Venturing into the unknown,
Conceiving everything within
The universe is a woven coronet
- Yet woven and worn with pride.
My homeland carried tales of days past,
Of abundance, of eternal life.
The passionate heart yearns for these things
Cherishing the land with this heart
- Eyelashes awash with feelings
Its core emitting whispering hymns,
Filling the universe with fertility.
Tell the one who embraces the mirage,
Enjoying embellished emptiness,
That a new world is rising
While ignorant ears are left behind.
- Those days have gone.
What depth is in these views?
What pride erupting in this heart?
Luminous stars are the beginning of
This journey towards eternal shores.
- Lebanon is there, Palestine is there.
Sham and Iraq are there.
If united, horizons would erupt
To witness the resurrection of a nation.
Syria, Syria rejoice!
For it is you that has given the ages
Pride and all that sustain this.
You bestowed on history a glorious epic,
Conferring a splendid panoply of gifts.
- Time awake to inquire of this land
And with pounding arteries
Enrich us with unending duration.
Have you known the virgin dough
- The creation and the day that created
Our being, still smouldering from fire?
That is March …The first of March
And this is your Great Son - Sa'adeh