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Birds – الطيور

by Ahmad Shafie, translated from the arabic by Humphrey Davies

The poem is by Egyptian writer Ahmad Shafei and comes from his verse collection: 77 (Cairo: Kutubkhan, 2017), where it is untitled but numbered 51. Translated by Humphrey Davies

Birds

have no hands.

They don’t expect a crutch

in old age

Or a pat on the back

in their moment of weakness

Or rings

Or keys

Or a goodbye wave.

 

Poetry?

They sing it and don’t care.

History?

They shit in the air.

Life?

They wing it.

Death?

They die alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

الطيور

                       لا يدي لها

لا تنتظر في شيخوختها

سندًا

ولا في ضعفها

،تربيتةً

بلا خواتمَ

لا مفاتيحَ

                                           .لا تلويحة في وداع

 

والقصائد؟

.تزقزقها ولا تبالي

والتاريخ؟

.تخرأ من أعلى

والحياة؟

.تَطِيرها

والموت؟

.تموت فرادى

Contributor
Humphrey Davies

Humphrey Davies has translated some twenty-five works of modern and pre-modern Arabic literature, including five Elias Khoury novels and Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg Over Leg (1855), respectively. He read Arabic at the University of Cambridge, received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and -- before publishing his first translation in 2003 -- worked for community development and research organizations in Palestine, Tunisia, Sudan, and Egypt. He lives in Cairo and is affiliated with the American University of Cairo.

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