09 March 2007

Ahmad al 'Arabi

When Marcel Khalife returned from his study of classical music in Russia, he created the operatic masterpiece, 'Ahmad al 'Arabi'. His is the music, but the words were written by Mahmoud Darwish. Translation into English words printed on a page is woefully inadequate to convey the magnificent power of the operatic work, which bridges classical traditions of East and West and embodies all the passion and longing of Arab Nationalism.

I believe these words were written during the first invasion of Lebanon by the Zionists. Now, over two decades later, we still look for the face of Ahmad. So many martyrs have watered the soil with their blood, but there yet is no end to the foreign occupation of the Arab homeland.

I salute those who endure the siege, who maintain their steadfastness in the face of deprivation, torture and threat of death.

'To those hands of zatar(thyme)
and darkened stone,
I voice this cry:
To Ahmad
Forgotten and alone.
The passing clouds have left me
Homeless and unknown,
And only mountains
Dare to hide me
In a barren home.

I emerge once more
From the ancient wounds.
I approach until I see
The details of the land.
I emerge once more
In the year the sea was breached
From the cities of ash,
When I found myself alone.

Ahmad was the sea,
Foaming among the bullets,
A camp that fiercely grew,
Raining thyme and fighters
On us.

'I am Ahmad al Arabi,'
he said:
I am bullets
And oranges
And dreams.'

'I am Ahmad al Arabi
My body is the fortress,

'I am the line of fire
And I will besiege you in turn,
For my breast
Is the shelter for my people.

.... Oh Ahmad, born of stone and of thyme,
You say : 'NO!'

...Dying close to my blood
And rising in the wheat...

The birds have willed
Their songs to me,
And I have been gathered
To the heartbeat of the fields...

Go deep into my blood,
Go deep into the bread,
So that we will have
A simple homeland
And a dream of jasmine yet to come...

Ahmad al Arabi,
We will journey
In this struggle
Until we reach the shore
Of bread and waves.
We will die
For the dream of a homeland
And of jasmine yet to come.

Oh Ahmad,
Secret like forests and flame,
Make your face known to us:
Read us your last will.

We will disperse in silence
To step back
That the dead may hear your words,
That the living may know
The features of your face.

My brother, Ahmad,
We await your hero's death,
When will it be?
When will it be?
When will it be?'

Ahmad al 'Arabi is available now on CD. As a cri de coeur of Arab Nationalism but more than that, as an incredible musical achievement, I would recommend it to every one. The text in three languages, Arabic, French and English is included with the recording.


Fleming said...

Nabila, thanks for telling us Americans about Arabic creations which we probably never heard about otherwise.

Fleming said...

Come back, Nabila. We miss your posts.

Anonymous said...

Nice dispatch and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you as your information.

Anonymous said...

To be a adroit benign being is to from a make of openness to the in the seventh heaven, an skill to trusteeship unsure things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in unequivocally exceptionally circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very outstanding thither the prerequisite of the ethical compulsion: that it is based on a trustworthiness in the fitful and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a weed than like a sparkler, something fairly dainty, but whose mere precise attraction is inseparable from that fragility.