February 28th, 2006


Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq.

I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain:
Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq.
And nothing but an echo replies
I remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian space
A woman triumphed over the sterility of mist
She bequeathed to us earth and exile . . .
For poetry is born in Iraq,
So be Iraqi to become a poet, my friend.
Mahmoud Darwish, Nothing but Iraq

The wind gasps with the midday heat,
like a nightmare in the late afternoon
And on the masts, it continues to fold, to spread for departure
The gulf is crowded with them—laborers roaming the seas
Barefoot, half-naked
And on the sand, by the gulf
A stranger sat—a baffled vision wanders the gulf
Destroying the pillars of light with the rising wail
Higher than the torrents roaring foam, than the clamor
A voice thunders in the abyss of my bereaved soul:  Iraq
Like the crest rising, like a cloud, like tears to the eyes
The wind cries to me:  Iraq.
The wave howls at me:  Iraq.  Iraq.  Nothing but Iraq.
The sea is as wide as can be, and you are as distant
The sea is between you and me:  Oh Iraq.
Badr Shakir as-Sayyab, A Stranger by the Gulf