Abū Al-Qāsim Al-Shābbī: Storm in Dark (From Arabic)

Sometimes held to be Tunisia's national poet, Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabbi, was one of the great Romantic poets of the early 20th century. He is also largely untranslated, and has to my knowledge never been translated into English in a form-conscius way. This translation is small attempt to combat both oversights. It bears repeating that this translation is not literal, but literary.

Storm In The Dark
By Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabbi
Tr. A.Z. Foreman

If I had time clutched in my hand, I'd strew
the days out to the wind like grains of sand
and I would say: take them away with you, 
O Wind, disperse them in the hilled expanse,
Nay, in death's mountain passes, in a world
where neither light nor shade nor shadow dance. 

If I had the universe clutched in my hand
I'd hurl it into hellfire. Have it flare. 
What is this world, this kindling human race?
What are these skies, and what those stars up there?
Fire makes a fitter place for sorrow's slaves,
this theater of death, this nest of care.

O Past already passed and folded
in death and the eternal night! 
O mankind's Present that still is!
O Future yet unborn! It's quite 
silly, this world of yours. It's gotten lost
in darkness without end or sight.

Audio of me reciting the text in Arabic and then in English

The Original:

زوبعة في ظلام
ابو القاسم الشابّي

 لو كَانَتِ الأَيّامُ في قبضتي أذريتها للريح، مثل الرمال
 وقلتُ: «يا ريحُ، بها فاذهبي وبدِّديها في سَحيقِ الجبال
 "بل في فجاج الموت.. في عالَمٍ لا يرقُصُ النُّورُ بِهِ والظِّلالْ..
 لو كان هذا الكونُ في قبضتي ألقيْتُه في النّار، نارِ الجحيمْ
 ما هذه الدنيا، وهذا الورى وذلكَ الأُفْقُ، وَتِلْكَ النُّجُومْ؟
 النَّارُ أوْلى بعبيدِ الأسى ، ومسرحِ الموتِ، وعشِّ الهمومْ
 يا أيّها الماضِي الذي قد قَضَى وضمَّهُ الموتُ، وليلُ الأَبَدْ
 يا حاضِرَ النَّاس الذي لم يَزُل!  يا أيُّها الآتي الذي لم يَلِدْ
 سَخَافة ٌ دنياكُمُ هذه تائهة ٌ في ظلمة ِ لا تُحَدْ..

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