16 November 2011

The Coffee Cup

So many things happening at Penn, so many Arab encounters.  A couple of weeks ago, I met this man.  Because I saw him in a panel discussion, he at first simply struck me as a impressively well-spoken English-Arabic bilingual Syrian immigrant, hip-hop artist.  I spoke to him, collected some advice to give any aspiring young artists I meet, and went on my way.  I doubt he would remember the polite, quiet white girl, or would know the ghorba she feels in her own country.  But he did give me a CD that day, and I can't stop listening to it.  It's been years since I've listened to a CD on repeat, but this one is sticking with me.  I think it's the combination of English and Arabic, and because I'm studying foosha now I understand more dialects of Arabic.  It's also the poetry.  Poetry in any language, read aloud, especially to mournful music, is always soothing to me.  

This one I'm posting here is based on a famous poem by Nizar Qabbani.  I'll post it here in English and Arabic, and when you read it, you have to imagine Omar reciting the whole thing, in Arabic.

قارئـــة الفنجـــان
نزار قباني - قصائد متوحشة

جلست .. والخوف بعينيها
تتأمل فنجاني المقلوب
قالت : يا ولدي . لا تحزن
فالحب عليك هو المكتوب
.. يا ولدي . قد مات شهيدا
.. من مات على دين المحبوب

فنجانك .. دنيا مرعبة
وحياتك أسفار .. وحروب
ستحب كثيرا وكثيرا
وتموت كثيرا وكثيرا
.. وستعشق كل نساء الأرض
..وترجع .. كالملك المغلوب

بحياتك ، يا ولدي ، امراة
عيناها .. سبحان المعبود
فمها .. مرسوم كالعنقود
ضحكتها .. موسيقى وورود
لكن سماءك ممطرة
وطريقك .. مسدود .. مسدود

فحبيبة قلبك .. يا ولدي
نائمة .. في قصر مرصود
والقصر كبير .. يا ولدي
وكلاب تحرسه وجنود
وأميرة قلبك .. نائمة
من يدخل حجرتها مفقود
من يطلب يدها .. من يدنو
من سور حديقتها مفقود
من حاول فك ضفائرها
يا ولدي .. مفقود .. مفقود

.. بصرت .. ونجمت كثيرا
.. لكني .. لم أقرا أبدا
فنجانا يشبه فنجانك
لم أعرف أبدا .. يا ولدي
أحزانا .. تشبه أحزانك
مقدورك أن تمشي أبدا
.. في الحب .. على حد الخنجر
وتضل وحيدا كالأصداف
وتظل حزينا كالصفصاف
مقدورك أن تمضي أبدا
في بحر الحب بغير قلوع
.. وتحب ملايين المرات
.. وترجع .. كالملك المخلوع

The Fortune Teller
Nizar Qabbani

She sat with fear in her eyes
Contemplating the upturned cup
She said "Do not be sad, my son
You are destined to fall in love"
My son, Who sacrifices himself for his beloved,
Is a martyr

For long have I studied fortune-telling
But never have I read a cup similar to yours
For long have I studied fortune-telling
But never have I seen sorrows similar to yours
You are predestined to sail forever
Sail-less, on the sea of love
Your life is forever destined
To be a book of tears
And be imprisoned
Between water and fire

But despite all its pains,
Despite the sadness
That is with us day and night
Despite the wind
The rainy weather
And the cyclone
It is love, my son
That will be forever the best of fates

There is a woman in your life, my son
Her eyes are so beautiful
Glory to God
Her mouth and her laughter
Are full of roses and melodies
And her gypsy and crazy love of life
Travels the world
The woman you love
May be your whole world
But your sky will be rain-filled
Your road blocked, blocked, my son
Your beloved, my son, is sleeping
In a guarded palace
He who approaches her garden wall
Who enters her room
And who proposes to her
Or tries to unite her plaits
Will cause her to be lost, my son...lost

You will seek her everywhere, my son
You will ask the waves of the sea about her
You will ask the shores of the seas
You will travel the oceans
And your tears will flow like a river
And at the close of your life
You will find that since your beloved
Has no land, no home, no address
You have been pursuing only a trace of smoke
How difficult it is, my son
To love a woman
Who has neither land, nor home

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