Nizar Qabbani: Pregnant (From Arabic)

Qabbani was famous and/or infamous (your milage may vary) for writing poems in a woman's voice- something most male Arab poets of the time would have considered unmanly in both the literal and figurative sense. When Qabbani did so, it was almost always an act of social protest, directed toward misogynists and the society that enabled them. His odd ability to make impassioned speech in Literary Arabic sound totally natural saves such poems from sounding ridiculous. This translation was done rather freely so as to preserve the metrical and rhymed character present even in what Arab's of the time called šiˁr ḥurr "free verse."

By Nizar Qabbani
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Arabic

Don't look so pale now, baby.
Maybe I shouldn't have said it,
But I really think I may be
You yelled like someone stung by a bee:
"No. NO! We'll rip that kid apart"
You wanted to kick me out,
To kick me hard.
You started to swear at me.
But there's no scaring me.
I've always known what a cowardly bastard you are.

You sent for the servant to toss me
Out to the lonely nasty street.
You with your blasted seed!
You who sowed shame in my crotch,
Who broke my heart so you could watch
A little boy give me my answer:
"Sorry, the master isn't home yet"
Oh yes he is! That spineless "master"
Tried to hide from me the moment
He realized I was pregnant.

What? Are you really throwing me out
While I'm wracked by the throw-up in my own mouth?
While nausea's fingers throttle me?
While my body bears you a damned heir?
While my shame holds me down on my back
To ravage me with the dark fact
That I'm…pregnant?

These fifty liras of yours a
ren't even funny.
Who's it for, this money?
For an abortion?...Oh why, honey
You want to sew my shroud! How nice.
So this, then, is my retail price?
The price of my fidelity, you cheap little heap of trash?
I didn't come for your stinking cash.

But thanks.
I'll take this baby and abort it.
I want no coward father for it.

The Original:

نزار قباني

‎لا تَمْتَقِعْ !
‎هي كِلْمَةٌ عَجْلى
‎إنّي لأَشعُرُ أنّني حُبلى ..
‎وصرختَ كالملسوع بي .. " كَلاّ " ..
‎سنُمَزِّقُ الطفلا ..
‎وأخذْتَ تشتُِمُني ..
‎وأردْتَ تطردُني ..
‎لا شيءَ يُدهِشُني ..
‎فلقد عرفتُكَ دائماً نَذْلا ..

‎وبعثتَ بالخَدَّامِ يدفعُني ..
‎في وَحشةِ الدَربِ
‎يا مَنْ زَرَعتَ العارَ في صُلبي
‎وكسرتَ لي قلبي ..
‎ليقولَ لي :
‎" مولايَ ليسَ هُنا .. "
‎مولاهُ ألفُ هُنا ..
‎لكنَّهُ جَبُنا ..
‎لمّا تأكّدَ أنّني حُبلى ..

‎ماذا ؟ أتَبْصِقُني
‎والقَيءُ في حَلقي يدمِّرُني
‎وأصابعُ الغَثَيانِ تَخنُقُني ..
‎ووريثُكَ المشؤومُ في بَدَني
‎والعارُ يَسْحَقُني ..
‎وحقيقةٌ سوداءُ .. تملؤني
‎هي أنّني حُبلى ..

‎ليراتُكَ الخمسون ..
‎تُضحِكُني ..
‎لمَن النقودُ .. لِمَنْ ؟
‎لتُجهِضَني ؟
‎لتخيطَ لي كَفَني ؟
‎هذا إذَنْ ثَمَني ؟
‎ثمنُ الوَفا يا بُؤرَةَ العَفَنِ ..
‎أنا لم أجِئكَ لِمالِكَ النتِنِ ..
‎" شكراً .. "
‎سأُسقِطُ ذلكَ الحَمْلا
‎أنا لا أريدُ لهُ أباً نَذْلا ..

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