“The Poem of Christ” A Poem by Hafedh Mahfoudh (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

Picture of Hafedh Mahfoudh borrowed off http://www.alefyaa.com

Picture of Hafedh Mahfoudh borrowed off http://www.alefyaa.com

This is the original poem in Arabic. It appeared in doroob.com on October 21, 2012.

قصيـدة المسيـح ~ حافظ محفوظ

خذ شكلك المرئيّ واهبط
فوق غيمتك القصيرة،
كيف حال الأرض؟
لا تسأل، ترقّب ثورة الأشجار
وانتظر السّلام محلّقا…
ربّيت أطفالا لأجلك،
هم جنودك بعد جيل،
هم حواريّوك فاحذرهم جميعا
واتّخذني شاهدا
لك في الطّريق روائح الفردوس
سيّدة تراقب نومك الفضّيّ
سيّدة تعدّ طعامك…
الجوعى أمام الباب فانهرهم جميعا
واتّخذني حارسا
لك آيتان تكلّم الموتى وتستفتي الحجر
حاذر إذن!
أرجوحة في الرّيح هذا الملك
فاقطع حبلها،
واصنع من الغصن البليل الفلك
وافتح بابها،
وقل اصعدوا، باركت توبتكم
وكن ربّانها
سيكون دمع الأرض يمّك
آمن خشب السّفين
وآمن مجدافها.
لك إثم خوفك من ضياع البدو في لغة الفراسة
فاتّخذني ترجمانك وانطلق…
لا بأس،
هذي الخمر إن شاؤوا دمي!
لكنّها غسلت صراخي بالنّخيل وهدهدتني
ربّما هزّت إليها بالسّحاب وبلّلت صوتي
لها لبن اللّغات وأرضعت سمعي
لها حضن الملاك وكفكفت دمعي
لها ظلّ الحصاة،
فلا تكن ولدا لغير الأرض يا كبد السّمـاء
وخذ دمي.
خذ ما تساقط من جناح ملاكها
ما ظلّ منثورا على النّهدين من رمل الجنان وريحها
خذ رفّة الجفن الأخيرة
أنّة الخصر الهباء
خذ ما يشاء اللّون
خذ ما انحلّ من عقد المساء
أحسّ انبجاس حروف على شفتيّ
أحسّ هبوب السّلالة من شرقها
أرى جسر ضوء يطول
وعاصفة في الأعالي
أرى بجعات يشكّلن بالغيم إسمي
أرى شجرا
لكأنّي أراه يميل
أرى في البعيد بحارا وصحراء عالية
لكأنّي أراها تميل
أرى الطّير والوحش والكائنات
كأنّي أراها تميل
أراني أميل على صدرها وأنام

“The Poem of Christ” A Poem by Hafedh Mahfoudh (Translated by Ali Znaidi)


Take your visible shape and land

in your low cloud!

How’s earth?

Don’t ask! Expect the revolution of the trees,

and wait for peace, fluttering…

I reared children for you,

They are your soldiers, after a generation.

They are your apostles. Beware of them all!

And take me as a witness.

Scents of paradise for you in the pathway.

A lady surveilling your silvery sleep.

A lady preparing your food…

The hungry are in front of the door. So scold them all!

And take me as a guard!

You have two miracles:

you talk to the dead and you call rocks for a poll.

So, beware!

This kingdom is a trapeze in the wind.

So cut its rope!

And make ships out of the wet bough!

And open their doors,

and say, Go aboard I blessed your repentance.

And be its captain!

The earth tears will be your sea.

Make safe the ship’s timber,

& the oars!

You have the sin of your fear

of the Bedouins’ errancy in the language of the acumen.

So make me your translator and set out…


Never mind!

This wine is my blood if they want.

But it washed my cries with the palm trees and lulled me.

Perhaps it shook the clouds against it and wetted my voice.

It has the milk of languages and it breastfed my ears.

It has the lap of the angel and it wiped out my tears.

It has the shadow of the pebble.

O, liver of the sky! Be only the child of earth,

and take my blood!

Take the debris of her angel’s wing,

& the gardens’ sand and scents still scattered on the breasts!

Take the last delicacy of the lid,

& the aerosol waist’s moan!

Take what the colour likes!

Take remnants of the evening’s unstrung necklace!


I feel a gush of letters on my lips.

I feel the breed blowing from its east.

I see a bridge of light growing longer

and a tempest above.

I see pelicans molding my name with clouds.

I see trees

as if I see them swaying.

I see from faraway seas and a high desert

as if I see them swaying.

I see the bird, the beast, and the creatures

as if I see them swaying.

I see myself swaying to her bosom and I sleep.

Hafedh Mahfoudh’s Bio:

Hafedh Mahfoudh is a Tunisian poet and novelist. He was born in the Tunisian city of Ksour Essef in 1965. He is a teacher of Arabic language and literature. He was awarded many literary prizes such as The Tunisian Golden Comar in 1999 for his novel The Angels’ Guard. He authored many poetry collections like Anxiety (1989), The Ants’ Poems (1994), and The Potter (1999). Chief among his novels, we can cite The Confusion of Senses (1996), The Wisdom Cube (2003), and Hourria (2005).



About aliznaidi

Ali Znaidi lives in Redeyef, Tunisia. He graduated with a BA in Anglo-American Studies in 2002. He teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools. He writes poetry and has an interest in literature, languages, and literary translations. His work has appeared here and there and is scheduled to appear elsewhere . At moments of revelation, he smokes and drinks green tea with mint while pondering.
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3 Responses to “The Poem of Christ” A Poem by Hafedh Mahfoudh (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

  1. Pingback: New Year, New Poetry | Arabic Literature (in English)

  2. Kayleigh says:

    If I were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, now I’d say “Kboawunga, dude!”

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