Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Samih al-Qassim 1939-2014

The Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim died Tuesday in a hospital in Safed hospital in northern Israel. He had been suffering from cancer of the liver for the past three years, Issam Khuri, a novelist and close family friend, told the press agency AFP. Al-Qassim who was of Druze descent, was best known for his nationalist poetry in which he passionately defended the rights and identity of Israel's Arab minority.

Here a short poem by him (in the translation of A.Z. Foreman) about the infamous killing of 48 inhabitants of the Arab town Kafr Qassim in 1956 by the Israeli border police.

Kafr Qasim
No monument raised, no memorial, and no rose.
Not one line of verse to ease the slain
Not one curtain, not one blood-stained
Shred of our blameless brothers clothes.
Not one stone to engrave their names.
Not one thing. Only the shame.

Their ghosts are gyring even now, their groaning shades
Digging through Kafr Qasim's wreckage for graves.

Here the Arabic  original: 
كَفرْ قاسم
لا نُصْبَ... لا زهرة... لا تذكار
لا بيت شعر يؤنّس القتلى ولا أستار
لا خِرقة مخضوبة بالدم من قميص
كان على اخوتنا الأبرار
لا حجرٌ خُطّت به أسماؤهم
لا شيء ... يا للعار!
اشباحهم ما بَرَحَت تدور

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