Reading: In The Summer by Nizar Qabbani

Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) was a Syrian diplomat, poet and publisher. His poetic style combines simplicity and elegance in exploring themes of love, eroticism, feminism, religion, and Arab nationalism (Wikipedia).

I read a simple love poem, translated by B. Frangieh And C. Brown, that sounds unmistakenly Arabic:

In the summer
In the summer
I stretch out on the shore
And think of you
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me.

No tricks here, just the imagination of a mighty sea that is longing along with the poetic subject lying on the shore. The imagery of a sea leaving its place is brilliantly absurd, and indeed captures the all-encompassing feeling of being in love. Is there any religious connotation? I doubt it. Moses told the sea he loved his people, and the Red Sea parted, leaving the ichtus and – forget it. This poem is what it is.

Browsing some more Qabbani we discover the recurring metaphor play around writing for love:

Every time I kiss you
After a long separation
I feel
I am putting a hurried love letter
In a red mailbox.

or

When a man is in love
how can he use old words?
Should a woman
desiring her lover
lie down with
grammarians and linguists?

I said nothing
to the woman I loved
but gathered
love’s adjectives into a suitcase
and fled from all languages.

or

Oh, my love
If you were at the level of my madness,
You would cast away your jewelry,
Sell all your bracelets,
And sleep in my eyes.

It seems to me the Arab World had its High Romantic Period about a century after the Occident (this statement accidentally coincides with academia).

Reading: In The Summer by Nizar Qabbani was originally published on Meandering home

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Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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