Arabic Language Blog

To My Mother Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Arabic Language, Culture

Marhaba (مرحبا)! A few months ago, I introduced you all to one of my favorite Arab artists, the accomplished Oud player, composer and singer, Marcel Khalife (مارسيل خليفة). Mother’s Day in the Arab world falls on March 21st of every year, coinciding with the beginning of spring (الربيع) On the occasion of Mother’s Day, which is one of the most glorious and important holidays of the year, I want to share with you all another masterpiece by Khalife, called To My Mother (الى أمّي) The song’s lyrics are in fact a poem by the prominent and famous Palestinian poet, the late, Mahmoud Darwish (محمود درويش). The story for this song is an actual personal experience that Darwish had while serving as a political prisoner of Israel. He recounted that while in prison, his mother came to him one time carrying bread and fresh-brewed coffee that the officer threw on the ground after preventing her from seeing Darwish. Thus, this poem was written by him while still in prison as a homage to his mother and to her bread and coffee that he missed. However, many individuals usually claim that Darwish was metaphorically talking about Palestine.


I have added the poem in Arabic and I have translated it to English so that you can follow with the song which is in form of a YouTube video. Regardless of whether this song is meant to recount the grievances of the Palestinian people or simply words of respect and admiration from Darwish to his mother, the core message of this poem is beautiful and requires recognition. Khalife in turn has made this poem even more beautiful by strumming his oud and singing these mesmerizing words. With its deep meanings, this poem captures the specific cultural and traditional positions that a mother carries in the Arabic culture and among Arab people.

إلى أمي

To My Mother

أحنُّ إلى خبز أُمي

I long for my mother’s bread

وقهوة أُمي

And my mother’s coffee

ولمسة أُمي..

And my mother’s touch…

وتكبرُ فيَّ الطفولةُ

My childhood grows within me

يومًا على صدر يومِ

Day after day

وأعشَقُ عمرِي لأني

I love my life because

إذا مُتُّ،

If I died

أخجل من دمع أُمي!

I would be embarrassed by my mother’s tears

خذيني، إذا عدتُ يومًا

Take me, if I return one day

وشاحًا لهُدْبِكْ

As a scarf for your lashes

وغطّي عظامي بعشب

And cover my bones with grass

تعمَّد من طهر كعبك

Baptized by the purity of your heel

وشُدّي وثاقي ..

Tie me up

بخصلة شَعر ..

With a lock of hair

بخيطٍ يلوِّح في ذيل ثوبك ..

With a thread that points to the tail of your dress

عساني أصيرُ إلهًا

Perhaps I will become a god

إلهًا أصير ..

A god I would become

إذا ما لمستُ قرارة قلبك !

If I felt the bottom of your heart

ضعيني، إذا ما رجعتُ

Put me, if I return

وقودًا بتنور ناركْ ..

As fuel to light your fire

وحبل غسيل على سطح دارك

And a wash line on your house’s roof

لأني فقدتُ الوقوفَ

Because I’ve lost my strength to stand

بدون صلاة نهارك

Without the prayer of your day

هَرِمْتُ، فردّي نجوم الطفولة

I’ve grown old… return the stars of childhood

حتى أُشارك

So I can share

صغار العصافير

with the sparrow chicks

درب الرجوع ..

The way back

لعُش انتظارِك

To the nest of your waiting

On the blessed occasion of Mother’s Day, I would first like to wish my dear mother a happy and long life. My last but not least wishes go out to all the mothers out there and the mothers to be, in the Arab world and beyond, a very Happy Mother’s Day! Just like the advent of Spring and the transition from winter, may all your days blossom and grow into eternal moments of happiness (فرح) and good health (صحة جيدة), and may all your winter days be short and away.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

Have a nice day!

نهاركم سعيد

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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.


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    • jesa:

      @Win on Quibids Everytime Good for you! Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get all our updates, including very interesting facts and lessons!


  2. Laronda Schuckers:

    I truly treasure your work, Great post.

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  4. Shemika Dilsaver:

    I always was concerned in this subject and still am, thanks for posting.

  5. chriss:

    Thank you for this post, Jesa. I really have no words to describe how beautiful this is…

    Happy Mother’s Day!!

    • jesa:

      @chriss Salam Chriss! I am glad you enjoyed it 🙂 take care.

  6. Munswif:

    This post is good. This is really helpful me .very thanks