Arabic Language Blog

Nizar Qabbani: One Road Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Arabic Language, Culture, Grammar, Vocabulary

      Ahlan أهـــلاً , Arabic lovers! Today, I introduce one of Nizar Qabbani‘s poems. It is not a love poem. It is a patriotic one. The poem is for Palestine and the struggle of its people against the occupation. There is no Arab poet who didn’t write about that problem. I did the English translation for the poem.

طــَــريــقٌ وَاحــِــد

One Road

أُريــــِـــدُ بــُـــنــْـــدُقــِــــيـــّـــة

I need a rifle

خــَــاتــَـــمُ أُمــّــي ، بــِــعــْـــتــُــهُ

The ring of my Mum I sold

مــِــنْ أَجــْــلِ بــُــنــْــدُقــِــيــّـــة

For a rifle

مـِــحــْــفــَـــظــَـــتــِـــي رَهــَــنــْــتــُــهــَــا

My wallet I mortgaged

مـِــنْ أَجــْــلِ بــُــنــْــدُقــِــيــّـــة

For a rifle

الـلــُّــغــَــةُ الـتـي بــِــهــَــا دَرَســْــنــَــا

The language with which we studied

الــكــُــتــُـــبُ الـتـي بــِــهــَــا قــَــرَأنــَــا

The books in which we read,

قــَــصــَـــائـِــدُ الـشـِّــعــْـــرِ الـتـي حــَــفــِــظــْــنــَــا

The poems which we learned

لــَــيــْــســَـــتْ تــُــســَـــاوي دِرْهــَــمــَــاً

Are not worth a dirham

أَمــَــامَ بــُــنــْــدُقــِــيــّـــة

In front of a rifle

أصــْــبــَــحَ عـِــنــْــدِي الآنَ بــُــنــْــدُقــِــيــّـــة  

Now, that I have a rifle

إلــى فــَــلــَـــســْــطــِــيـنَ خــُــذُونــِــي مـَــعــَــكــُــم

To Palestine, take me with you

إلــى رُبــَــىً حــَــزيــنــَــةٍ كــَــوَجــْـــهِ مــَــجــْــدَلــِـــيـــَّــه

To sad hills like the face of a Magadalan (woman)

إلــى الــقــِـــبــَــابِ الـخــُـــضــْـــرِ .. والـحــِــجــَـــارَةِ الــنــَّــبــِـــيــَّــه

To the green domes .. and nimble stones

عــِــشــْــرونَ عــَــامــَــاً .. وأنــَــا

Twenty years .. and I

أبــْــحــَـــثُ عــَــنْ أرْضٍ وعــَــنْ هــَـــويــَّـــه

Have been searching for a land and identity

أبــْــحــَــثُ عــَــنْ بــَــيــْــتــِــي الـذي هــُــنــَــاكَ

Searching for my home that is there

عــَــنْ وَطــَــنــِــي الــمــُــحــَـــاطِ بـــِــالأســْــــلاك

For my homeland that is sieged with wires

أبــْــحــَـــثُ عــَــنْ طــُـــفــُــولــَــتــِــي

Searching for my childhood

وعــَــنْ رِفــَـــاقِ حــَــارَتــِــي

And for my neighborhood companions

عــَــنْ كــُـــتــُــبــِــي .. عــَــنْ صــُـــوَرِي

For my books .. my photos

عــَـــنْ كــُـــلّ رُكــْــنٍ دَافــِــئٍ .. وكــُــلِّ مــِــزهــَـــريــّـــه

For every warm corner .. and for every vase

أصــْــبــَــحَ عـِــنــْــدِي الآنَ بــُــنــْــدُقــِــيــّـــة  

Now, that I have a rifle

إلــى فــَــلــَـــســْــطــِــيـنَ خــُــذُونــِــي مـَــعــَــكــُــم

To Palestine, take me with you

يــَــا أيــُّــهــَــا الــرِّجــَـــال

O, fellow men

أريـــدُ أنْ أعــِـــيشَ .. أوْ أمــُـــوتَ كــَــالــرِّجــَـــال

I want to live .. or die .. as a man

أريـــدُ .. أنْ أنــْـــبــِــتَ فــِـي تــُـــرَابــِــهــَـــا

I want to sow in its dust

زَيــْـــتــُــونــَــةً ، أوْ حــَــقــْـــلَ بــُــرْتــُـــقــَـــال

An olive or an orange farm

أوْ زَهــْـــرَةً شــَـــذِيــَّـــه

Or a scented rose

قــُــولــُـــوا .. لـِــمــَــنْ يــَــســْــألُ عــَــنْ قــَــضــِــيــّــتــِــي

Tell .. whoever asks about my problem

بــَــارُودَتــِــي .. صــَــارَتْ هــِــي الــقـــَـــضــِــيــَّـــه

That my bullet .. has become the problem

أَصــْــبــَــحَ عـِــنــْــدِي الآنَ بــُــنــْــدُقــِــيــّـــة  

Now, that I have a rifle,

أصــْــبــَــحــْـــتُ فــِــي قــَـــائـِــمـَــةِ الــثــُّــــوَّار

I have been enlisted as a revolutionist

أفــْـــتـــَـــرشُ الأشــْـــوَاكَ والــغــُـــبــَــار

I sit on thorns and dust

وألــْــبــَــسُ الــمــَـــنــِـــيــَّـــه

And I dress in death

مــَــشــِـــيــئــَـــةُ الأقــْـــدارِ لا تــَــرُدُّنــِــي

The will of fate cannot stop me

أنــَــا الــذي أغــَـــيــّـــرُ الأقــْـــدار

I am the one who changes fate

يــَــا أيــّــهــَـــا الــثـــُّـــوّار

O, fellow revolutionists

فــِــي الــقــُـــدْسِ ، فــِـي الـخــَــلــِــيــلِ

In Jerusalem .. in Al-Khalil (Hebron)

فـِـي بــيــســَــانَ ، فــِـي الأغــْــوَار

In Bisan .. in the Jordan Valley

فــِــي بــَــيــْـــتِ لــَــحــِـــمٍ .. حــَــيــْــثُ كــُــنــْـــتــُــمْ أيــُّــهــَــا الأحــْـــرَار

In Bethlehem .. wherever you are, free men!





فــَــقــِـــصــَّـــةُ الــســَّـــلام .. مــَــســْـــرَحــِـــيــَّــه

For the story or peace .. is a play

والــعــَــدلُ .. مــَــســْــرَحــِــيــَّــه

And Justice .. is a play

إلى فــَــلــســْــطــِــيــنَ طــَــريـــقٌ وَاحــِــدٌ

To Palestine, there is only one road

يــَــمــُـــرُّ مــِــنْ فــُــوَّهــَــةِ بــُــنــْـــدُقــِـــيــَّــه

That passes through the mouth of a rifle.


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Peace  ســَـــلام /Salam/

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. Stephen Berger:

    As a student of Arabic language and culture, I appreciate reading your blog. I respectfully ask you to consider, however, whether this poem and your accompanying ilustration are consistent with your customary concluding line:

    Peace ســَـــلام /Salam/

    • Fisal:

      @Stephen Berger Hi Stephen,
      The image is taken down. However, the poem is still literature which is part of the language and culture. We are not callers for violence. We call for peace, yes, this is the concluding line of all (my) posts. But let’s not forget that history has so many examples of peace imposed through violence; e.g. WWI, WWII, the 6th. of October war …etc. The poem just reflects the frustration and despair of the poet in the pursue of peace and justice to a whole nation.
      Peace ســَــلام /Salam/

  2. Laila:

    Do you know when this poem was written?

    • Fisal:

      @Laila Ahlan, Laila. The poem was written immediately after the 1967 war and the launch of the resistance against the occupation. Muhammad Abdel-Wahhab composed it and sang it with Omm Kulthoum in 1969. I have attached the youtube link to the song by the two great Egyptian singers.