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Tahar Bekri

Afghanistan


                        If music were to die
                        If love is the work of Satan
                        If your body is your prison
                        If the whip is what you know how to wield
                        If your heart is your beard
                        If your truth is a veil
                        If your refrain is a bullet
                        If your song is a funeral prayer
                        If your falcon is a crow
                        If your look is brother to dust

                       How can you love the sun in your lair?

                       If your sky detests kites
                       If your soil is a minefield
                       If your wind is thickened by powder
                      And not fecund pollen
                      If your mulberry tree is a gallows
                      If your door is a barrage
                      If your bed is a trench
                      If your house is a coffin
                      If your river flows with blood
                      If your snow is a cemetery

                      How can you love the water in the river?

                      If your mountains submit
                      Humiliated and humbled
                      Their backs unjust citadels
                      Their guts disembowelled to harden stone
                      If your valley is not to fuel your dream
                      Like a rose in the zephyr
                      If your clay is kneaded by grief
                      Not to raise a school
                      Like an apricot tree in flower
                      If your reed is not a qalam

                      How can you live in the light?

                      If your labour is seed for scarecrows
                      Craven cache for poppies
                      If your horse is enslaved by your blinkers
                      Scorns the flight of flutes in the air
                      If your valley vomits its sapphires
                      To the warlords
                      If the braids of women are ropes
                      If your stadium is a slaughterhouse
                      If your path is invisible
                      If your night is a tomb for the stars

                       How can you promise the moon?

                       If Ghengis Khan is your master
                       If your child is the offspring of Timur
                       If your face is faceless
                        If your sabre is your executioner
                       If your epic is ruins and vultures
                       If all the rain in the world cannot wash your forefinger
                       If your desire is dead wood
                       If your fire is ash
                       If your flame is smoke
                       If your passion is grenades and cannon

                       How can you seduce the dove at the window?
                                              
                       If your village is a casern
                       Not a nest for swallows
                       If your house is a cave
                       If your source is a mirage
                       If your dress is your shroud
                       If death is your mausoleum
                       If your Koran is a turban
                       If your prayer is war
                       If your paradise is hell
                       If your soul is your sombre gaoler

                       How can you love the spring

« Si la musique doit mourir », Ed.Al Manar, Paris, 2006

Translation by Patrick Williamson

Poppies for the Lament of Bethlehem

If your tank kills your prayer
If the cannon is your brother
If your boots raze my poppies
If your planes violate my sky
               
How can you wipe off your shadow
on the stones?

If my church is your slaughterhouse
If your bullets besiege my voice
If my Calvary is your candelabrum
And barbed-wire fences your frontiers
               
How can you then love the light?

If your hatred over the roof of my house
Confuses the balcony with a minaret
If your clouds of smoke block my horizon
If the loudspeakers muffle my bells

How can you venerate the rising sun?

If your claws tear up my sanctuary
If your casks are your ear-flaps
If you uproot my olive tree
Its branches for your pigsty

How can you fend off the stench of the ashes?

If “Jenine” means fetus and embryo in Arabic
And you bury it alive forgetting history
If you burn powder in your censer
If your missiles bless my somber nights
Will your flagstones comfort themselves being my debris?

If lies are your spinal column
If you feed your roots with my blood
If you hide my corpse
To stifle the scream of the land

How can you pretend this is your land?

Fredy Amariles

Tahar Bekri Born in Gabes in Tunisia, he has lived in paris since 1976, as a political exile from '76 until 1989. He writes in French and Arab and has published around twenty works, poetry, essays and art books. He is considered to be one of the foremost maghreban voices. His works have been translated into english, italian, turkish, russian, german and portugese. Published books: Les songes impatients, poésie, Ed. L'Hexagone, Montréal, 1997, Journal de neige et de feu, poésie, (en arabe) Ed. L'Or du temps, Tunis, 1997; L'Horizon incendié, poésie, Ed. Al Manar, Paris, 2002; Le vent sans abri, poésie, gravures de Wanda Mihuléac, calligraphies de A. Hamouda, Ed. Sygnum, Paris, 2002; Afghanistan, poésie, Ed. Les petits classiques du grand pirate, Paris, 2002; La sève des jours, poésie, CD, Ed. Artalect, 2003; La brûlante rumeur de la mer, Ed. Al Manar, 2004; Les Songes impatients, Ed. ASPECT, 2004; Le Livre du souvenir, Carnets, Ed. Elyzad, Tunis, 2007. (diffusion en France : Pollen); Si la musique doit mourir, poésie, Ed. Al Manar, Paris, 2006; Dernières nouvelles de l'été, Ali Becheur, Tahar Bekri, Hele Beji, Colette Fellous, Alain Nadaud, Ed. Elyzad, Tunis, 2005.

Última actualización: 28/06/2018