Arabic Language Blog

فـــــــــي القُـــــــــــــدس (In Jerusalem) Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Arabic Language, Vocabulary

Today, May 15th, is to be remembered as يــــــوم النكبــــــــــــــة (“The Day of the Catastrophe”), a day commemorated by virtually everyone in the Arab world—in addition to an important number of Orthodox Jews who not only vigorously uphold the Palestinian cause, but who also, in the name of the Jewish faith which they dearly cherish and identify with, are uncompromisingly opposed to the apartheid ideology of Zionism.  

Now, setting all political considerations aside, here is a little fragment of a major piece of modern Arabic poetry that deserves to be presented in such an occasion.

I’m confident that upon hearing its verses, no lengthy introduction of its author will be required.

That is why, please, simply meet: 

تمِّيــــــــــم البرغُـــــــــــــوثــــــــــي (Tamim Al-Barghouthi)

 Since the already existing English translations available on the Web do not truly render it justice, here is my own translation, which I believe is more faithful to the spirit of the original Arabic poem:


فــــــــــــــــــــــــي القُــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــدس (In Jerusalem)

مَرَرْنـــــــــــــا عَلــى دارِ الحبــــــيب فرَدَّنـــــــــــــــــــــــا

By our beloved’s house we passed, but were turned away


عَنِ الدارِ قانـــــــــونُ الأعــــــــــادي وســــــورُهـــــــا
By the foes’ laws and walls


فَقُــــــــــــلْتُ لنفســــــــــــــي رُبمَّــــــــــــا هِيَ نِعْمَــــــــــــــــــــــــةٌ
 A blessing in disguise, I thought to myself

فماذا تَرَى في القُدسِ حيـــــــــــــــــــــــنَ تـــــــــــــــــــَزُورُهـــــــــــــــــــــــا؟

After all, what’s in Jerusalem, when you see it?


تَــــــــــــــــــــرَى كُلَّ ما لا تستطيــــــــــــــــــــعُ احتِمالَــــــــــــــــــــهُ
All that which you cannot bear is what you see

إذا مـــــــــــــــــــا بَدَتْ من جَانِـــــــــــــــــــبِ الدَّرْبِ دورُهــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــا

 Whenever its houses emerge along the side of the path

وما كلُّ نفـــــــــــــــــــسٍ حينَ تَلْقَـــــــــــــــــــــــى حَبِيبَهـــــــــــــــــــا تُـسَــــــــــــــــــــرُّ

No, not every soul is delighted to meet its soul mate

ولا كُلُّ الغـِيــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــابِ يُضِيــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــرُها

Nor must every absence fill it with pain


فإن سـرَّهــــــــــــــــــــــا قبلَ الفِـــــــــــــراقِ لِقـــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــاؤُه
For its secret resides in meeting it, before bidding it farewell 


 فليسَ بمأمــــــــــــــــــــــونٍ عليها ســــــــــــــــــــــرُورُها

There’s no telling if there is ever a safe haven for its happiness

متى تُبْصِــــــــــــــــــــــــــــرِ القُدسَ العتيقــــــــــــــــــــــــــــةَ مَــــــــــــــــــــــــــــرَّةً
Yet if you looked upon the old Jerusalem once


! فســــــــــــوفَ تراها العَيْــــــــــــــــــــــــنُ حَيْثُ تُدِيرُهــــــــــــــــــــــــا 

Then wherever your eye is set afterwards, you shall see it! 

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