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Outside the long window,
With his head on the stone sill,
The dog is lying,
Gazing at his Beloved.
His eyes are wet and urgent,
And his body is taut and shaking.
It is cold on the terrace;
A pale wind licks along the stone slabs,
But the dog gazes through the glass
And is content.
The Beloved is writing a letter.
Occasionally she speaks to the dog,
But she is thinking of her writing.
Does she, too, give her devotion to one
Whistle under the water,
Make the water bubble to the tones of the flute.
I call the bluebirds song into the water:
Dawn is coming,
The morning star shines upon us.
Bluebird singing to the West clouds,
Bring the humming rain.
Star in Heaven shines.
I blow the oriole's song,
The yellow song of the North.
I call rain clouds with my rattles:
To the South I blow my whistle,
To the red parrot of the South I call.
Send red lightning,
Under your wings
The forked lightning.
To the sky waters.
Fill the springs.
The water is moving.
Whistle to the East
With a magpie voice.
Call the storm-clouds
That they come rushing.
Call the loud rain.
Why does it not come?
Who is bad?
Whose heart is evil?
Who has done wickedness?
I rend my garments,
I grieve for the sin which is in this place.
My flute sobs with the voice of all birds in the water.
Even to the six directions I weep and despair.
Come, O winds, from the sides of the sky,
Open your bird-beaks that rain may fall down.
Drench our fields, our houses,
Fill the land
With tumult of rain.
Stupefy my heart to every day's monotony,
Seal up my eyes, I would not look so far,
Chasten my steps to peaceful regularity,
Bow down my head lest I behold a star.
Fill my days with work, a thousand calm necessities
Leaving no moment to consecrate to hope,
Girdle my thoughts within the dull circumferences
Of facts which form the actual in one short hour's scope.
Give me dreamless sleep, and loose night's power over me,
Shut my ears to sounds only tumultuous then,
Bid Fancy slumber, and steal away its potency,
Or Nature wakes and strives to live again.
Let each day pass, well ordered in its usefulness,
Unlit by sunshine, unscarred by storm;
Dower me with strength and curb all foolish eagerness --
The law exacts obedience. Instruct, I will conform.
He died of "Stranger's Fever" when his youth
Had scarcely melted into manhood, so
The chiselled legend runs; a brother's woe
Laid bare for epitaph. The savage ruth
Of a sunny, bright, but alien land, uncouth
With cruel caressing dealt a mortal blow,
And by this summer sea where flowers grow
In tropic splendor, witness to the truth
Of ineradicable race he lies.
The law of duty urged that he should roam,
Should sail from fog and chilly airs to skies
Clear with deceitful welcome. He had come
With proud resolve, but still his lonely eyes
Ached with fatigue at never seeing home.
GEORGE AUGUSTUS CLOUGH
A NATIVE OF LIVERPOOL,
DIED SUDDENLY OF "STRANGER'S FEVER"
NOV'R 5th 1843
Adonis was born Ali Ahmed Said in the village of Al Qassabin in Syria, in 1930, to a family of farmers, the oldest of six children. At the age of nineteen, he adopted the name Adonis (also spelled Adunis), after the Greek god of fertility, with the hopes that the new name would result in newspaper publication of his poems.
Although his family could not afford to send Adonis to school, his father taught him to read poetry and the Qu'ran, and memorize poems while he worked in the fields. When he was fourteen, Adonis read a poem to the president of Syria who was visiting a nearby town. The impressed president offered to grant a request, to which the young Adonis responded that he wanted to attend school. The president quickly made arrangements for Adonis to attend a French-run high school, after which he studied philosophy at Damascus University.
In 1956, after a year-long imprisonment for political activities, Adonis fled Syria for Beirut, Lebanon. He joined a vibrant community of artists, writers, and exiles in Beirut, and co-founded and edited Sh'ir, and later Muwaqaf, both progressive journals of poetry and politics. He studied at St. Joseph University in Beirut and obtained his Doctorat d'Etat in 1973.
Considered one of the Arab world's greatest living poets, Adonis is the author of numerous collections, including Mihyar of Damascus (BOA Editions, 2008), A Time Between Ashes and Roses (Syracuse University Press, 2004); If Only the Sea Could Sleep (2003); The Pages of Day and Night (2001); Transformations of the Lover (1982); The Book of the Five Poems (1980); The Blood of Adonis (1971), winner of the Syria-Lebanon Award of the International Poetry Forum; Songs of Mihyar the Damascene (1961), Leaves in the Wind (1958), and First Poems (1957). He is also an essayist, an editor of anthologies, a theoretician of poetics, and the translator of several works from French into Arabic.
Over the course of his career, Adonis has fearlessly experimented with form and content, pioneering the prose poem in Arabic, and taking a influential, and sometimes controversial role in Arab modernism. In a 2002 interview in the New York Times, Adonis declared: '"There is no more culture in the Arab world. It's finished. Culturally speaking, we are a part of Western culture, but only as consumers, not as creators."
Adonis's awards and honors include the first ever International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Award, the Syria-Lebanon Best Poet Award, and the Highest Award of the International Poem Biennial in Brussels. He was elected as Stephen Mallarme Academy Member in Paris in 1983. He has taught at the Lebanese University as a professor of Arabic literature, at Damascus University, and at the Sorbonne. He has been a Lebanese citizen since 1961 and currently lives in Paris.
Tag: All Biography