Salah Abdessabour’s “An Old Story” Translated by Robin Moger

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Vincent Van Gogh, Self-portrait with bandaged ear and pipe, 1889, Arles. Source: Wikipedia

He had friends,

and they pledged him in the evening of his sorrow

not to turn him over to the soldiers

or to deny him when

he was summoned by the king.

And one turned him over

for a handful of silver

then committed suicide

and by another he was denied

three times before dawn broke

and once he had died his lips

could smile again, and then

he went on his way evangelizing,

boasting that he had known him,

and fished blessings by baptizing

in his name.

.

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Robin Moger Does Salah Abdessabour

The Daybook of Bishr the Barefoot

Abu Nasr, Bishr bin al-Harith, sought out debate and discussion and heard all that was said and so inclined to mysticism. And one day he was walking through the market when, taking fright at the people there, he removed his sandals and slipped them beneath his arms and set off running through the sunbaked stones and sand, and none could keep pace with him. This was in the year 227 AH.

Leopold Müller, A barefoot man in robes running while holding a stick, 1878. Source: Wikipedia

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The Brimming Sea: More Ibn Arabi from Robin Moger

The Prophet Ilyas Rescues a Prince, from the Hamzanama, India, 1567-1572. Source: britishmuseum.org

Then the secret was there in my heart

and I was gone and my star set away

my heart by my lord’s secret changed and I

absented from the body’s feeling frame

wherefrom therewith I came

upon a ship of my high resolution

disposed therein my fortress thoughts

through a dark gulf of what I knew

unthought

.

and on my ship my longing blew

as winds, and so it passed

an arrow’s passage through the sea

and across that sea Approach I cut

till I perceived unsecret what

was without name. You!

.

I said, by my heart seen!

I loose an arrow at your love

for you are dear to me

and you are my festivity

the end of all my passion and my prize.

.

Ibn Arabi’s original poem can be found here.

Robin Moger Does Mohamed Al Maghout

The Dying of 1958 *

 

.

Not men them flaming in the rose gardens

but cubs who roared for the last time

beneath the north rains.

They shouldered history

like fruit crates borne across the mire

through the filthy schools, the brothels of the south.

.

I know them.

I know chivalry

dignity

the precepts flowing

over the backseats of taxis.

*

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Seat of a passenger who left the bus

WADIH SAADEH’S LANDMARK POEM IN ROBIN MOGER’S TRANSLATION

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Wadih Saadeh selling his poems on Hamra Street in Beirut, circa 1968. Source: al-ghorba12.blogspot

Farewell God I walk looking at my feet off to the cafe to meet my friends

Farewell I grow old the cafe in the square I mount two steps and sit

Heard Carmena Burana and went now the player sings alone

by the closed window

Light rain against the pane light rain against the port across the way

Farewell Four o’clock I have a date with my friends

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Robin Moger Does the Classics

Ibn Arabi

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Gleams lightning, thunder hymns

and down the rain pours where

it falls the hills and dells turn green

and flowers open in their fields.

.

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Robin Moger Does Ahmad Yamani

Tomorrow the village market day

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By Youssef Rakha. Leukerbad, Switzerland

I will go to the spring

where you slip away to fill your jar

everyone at the market and me by the tree

we maintain twenty metres no more no less

and this before you catch on a stone or two

and before a foot slips and a jar slips

leaving me ahead

on our way to the spring again

by twenty metres and a slight smile.

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