The following poem by Jawdat Fakhreddine appeared in Issue No. 16 of the Marlboro Review.
How Long This Day of Mine
Is it shameful
For one to outlive his friends?
Do the dead see, once they have settled
There in their death
What they dropped at the side of the road
Where they left us?
Do they realize the loneliness of the road
Once they have crossed it?
Do they laugh in their death
At our struggling in the strait they've already passed?
Do they pity us when they look back at where we are?
Do they have joy in their hearts, that they have made it?
How beautiful death would be,
If the dead were to look back at the loneliness of the road
Once they have settled.
Every day that passes,
I look behind me,
I find it calm, composed
Staring at me with pity, without boredom
That is how the day passes upon me
And hands me coldly to another.
Am I now in another?
That is how the day passes without me
And clears behind me.
How short life is,
And how long this day of mine!
Translated from the Arabic by Huda Fakhreddine and Jayson Iwen
Jawdat Fakhreddine was born in 1953 in Southern Lebanon. He has published seven collections of poetry, the first of which came out in 1979. Some of these collections are: Awham Rifiyya, 1980 (Rural Illusion), Manaraton lil Ghariq, 1996 (A Beacon for the Drowning), Samawat, 2002 (Skies). He is professor of Arabic literature and criticism at the Lebanese University. He has two books of literary theory: Shakl al-Qasida al-Arabia fi an-Naqel al Arabi Hata al Qarn a; Thamin al Hijiri, 1984 (The Form of the Arabic Poem in Arabic Criticism until the Eight Century of the Hijra) and al Iyqa wal Zaman: Kitabat fi al Naqd ash-Shi'ri, 1995 (Rhythm and Time: Writings in Poetry Criticism). He has published reviews and studies in a number of newspapers and journals in Lebanon and the Arab World. Some of his poems have been translated in English, French and German.
Huda Fakhreddine was born in 1981 in Beirut Lebanon. She is a graduate student of English literature at the American University of Beirut, where she also holds a minor in Arabic literature. She has a special interest in modern poetry, Arabic and English, and plans to pursue a degree in Comparative literature. She has worked on several translations of Arabic poetry and prose into English.
Jayson Iwen lives with his wife and three cats in Beirut, Lebanon, where he teaches at the American University of Beirut, and advises the literary and cultural journal, Anima. His own poetry has recently appeared in journals such as Fence, Clackamas Literary Review, Third Coast and Reed Magazine. Jayson also writes regularly for the Emergency Almanac.
Copyright © Jawdat Fakhreddine