“The Visa” – قصيدة “التأشيرة” ل هشام الجخ (with English)


The Visa I praise in God’s name I praise in God’s name And I fear none but You And I fear none but You And I know I have a destiny.. that I will surely meet that I will surely meet I was taught in childhood… that my Arab identity is my honor and my dignity and my guide In school we used to repeat melodies In school we used to repeat melodies And sing to ourselves songs like: “The Arab world is my homeland, and all Arabs are my siblings” And we used to draw the Arab with his head held high With a chest that repels the howling wind, With a chest that repels the howling wind revered in his cloak! We were kids moved by our emotions We were kids moved by our emotions Lost in tales that recall our heroism Lost in tales that recall our heroism I was also taught that our land knows no borders And that our wars were for the sake of Al-Aqsa Mosque And that our wars were for the sake of Al-Aqsa Mosque And that our enemy Zionism, is a devil with a tail And that the armies of our nation are as strong as the torrent I will sail when I grow up I will sail when I grow up I will pass by Bahrain’s beach in Libya I will pass by Bahrain’s beach in Libya I will harvest the dates of Baghdad in Syria I will harvest the dates of Baghdad in Syria I will cross Mauritania to Sudan I will cross Mauritania to Sudan I will travel through Mogadishu to Lebanon Hiding my songs in my heart and soul Hiding my songs in my heart and soul “The Arab world is my homeland, and all Arabs are my siblings” But when I grew up.. But when I grew up.. I was denied a visa to the sea! But when I grew up, I was denied a visa to the sea! But when I grew up, I was denied a visa to the sea! I didn’t sail! I was stopped at the counter with a red seal on the passport didn’t cross the border! I didn’t cross the border when I grew up! I didn’t cross the border when I grew up! I grew up but the child in me did not grow up! I grew up but the child in me did not grow up.. Our childhood is at war against us And ideas we learnt them from you..Oh rulers of our nation! And ideas we learnt them from you..Oh rulers of our nation! And ideas we learnt them from you..Oh rulers of our nation! Were we not brought up in your schools! And taught your curriculums! Did you not teach us.. that the sly fox is lurking, waiting for the stupid shepherds to sleep in order to eat their sheep!?! that the sly fox is lurking, waiting for the stupid shepherds to sleep in order to eat their sheep!?! that the sly fox is lurking, waiting for the stupid shepherds to sleep in order to eat their sheep!?! Did you not teach us that.. that sticks are protected when bundled, weak when divided?! that sticks are protected when bundled, weak when divided?! Then why does this foolish division rule us?! Did you not teach us.. Did you not teach us to hold fast to the bond of Allah and unite? Did you not teach us to hold fast to the bond of Allah and unite? Why do you cover the sun with your flags? Why do you cover the sun with your flags? You have divided us, and among you we have become like animals You have divided us, and among you we have become like animals You have divided us, and among you we have become like animals The child in my heart will remain your enemy The child in my heart will remain your enemy We have been divided by your hands.. so may all your hands perish! We have been divided by your hands.. so may all your hands perish! I am the Arab, and I feel no shame I feel no shame I was born in the green Tunisia from Omani origins.. I was born in the green Tunisia from Omani origins.. And I am more than a thousand years old and my mother still bears children! And I am more than a thousand years old and my mother still bears children! I am the Eygptian, I have palm trees in Baghdad I am the Eygptian, I have palm trees in Baghdad and my artery is in Sudan and my artery is in Sudan I am the Egyptian of Mauritania and Djibouti and Amman I am the Egyptian of Mauritania and Djibouti and Amman A Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, Druze, and Alawi.. A Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, Druze, and Alawi.. I do not learn the rulers’ names by heart as they leave! We are sick of being scattered while all the other people are gathering We are sick of being scattered while all the other people are gathering you have filled our creed with lies, forgery and falsification.. you have filled our creed with lies, forgery and falsification.. Does the bond of Allah unite us.. while FIFA’s hand divides us?! Does the bond of Allah unite us..while FIFA’s hand divides us?! We have deliberately abandoned our religion and reverted to being Aws and Khazraj (old Arab Tribes) We entrust the ignorant among us, and we expect salvation from the fool! We entrust the ignorant among us, and we expect salvation from the fool! the child in my heart will remain your enemy, your judge.. the child in my heart will remain your enemy, your judge.. And he will announce the union of all Arabs! Then, Sudan will not be divided, and Golan Heights will not be occupied Then, Sudan will not be divided, and Golan Heights will not be occupied And Lebanon will not be broken and left alone to treat its wounds He will collect and plant the pearls of our Arabian Gulf in Sudan And their seeds will grow like wheat in the Morocco And their seeds will grow like wheat in the Morocco The people will press oil in proud Palestine. And families will drink in Somalia forever Emerge from your mantles, God protect them.. Emerge from your mantles, God protect them.. Emerge from your mantles, God protect them.. For public burning.. From Algeria, he will light unwavering torches From Algeria, he will light unwavering torches From Algeria, he will light unwavering torches If Sana’a (Yemen) is suffering, then all our nation will be in pain If Sana’a (Yemen) is suffering, then all our nation will be in pain Emerge from your mantles, God protect them..For public burning.. Emerge from your mantles, God protect them..For public burning.. He is the public not you He is the ruler not you and I fear none of you He is Islam and not you so quit your trading (with religion) so enough manipulation..Or he will become an apostate And be afraid, for this nation is patient And be afraid, for this nation is patient But if the camel is cut. You will not get its milk nor get its calf! But if the camel is cut. You will not get its milk nor get its calf! But if the camel is cut. You will not get its milk nor get its calf! I will remain.. and my poetry remains in the air I will remain.. and my poetry remains in the air We have been given droughts of injustice in jugs.. We have been been given droughts of ignorance in prayers We have become tired of the drink and those who pour it I warn you.. We will remain despite your seditions For this nation is connected For this nation is connected I warn you.. we will remain despite your seditions I warn you.. we will remain despite your seditions For this nation is connected For this nation is connected If your ropes are weak God’s rope is steadfast I’ll grow up and leave the child ’ll grow up and leave the child My brush and my paints And he will remain painting the Arab tall and strong And the sound of my rhymes will remain The Arab world is my homeland, And all Arabs are my siblings The Arab world is my homeland, And all Arabs are my siblings

9 thoughts on ““The Visa” – قصيدة “التأشيرة” ل هشام الجخ (with English)

  1. Hisham Al Gakh is an Egyptian poet who was born in October 1978. He
    has written about 30 poems, mostly in Egyptian dialect. In this poem entitled
    (“The Visa”), he harshly criticizes the Arab leaders for not only dividing
    the nation but also for preventing him from sailing to other Arab countries due to
    the visa restrictions imposed. In addition to that, he is one of the voices that chant-
    ed the union of Arab countries in the wake of the political tsunami that has shaken
    North Africa and the Middle East, thus toppling oppressive regimes and sparking
    off further uprisings around the Arab world. While Hisham Al Gakh’s poem rings
    alarm bells over certain issues such as dictatorships, identity, nationalism, and
    Arab union, it posits some challenges when translating it to English, notably on the
    stylistic and cultural level.
    On the stylistic level, the metaphor, “my Arab identity is my honor / My
    dignity, and my guide,” is a tricky one. It cannot be translated literally because some
    interpretation is needed for the two words:
    and has many meanings: while it physically refers to the forepart of the head or the frontal lobe of the brain, it also has the meaning of dignity and pride. During the translation process, I chose the word “dignity” because it is related to the
    previous word “honor.” The second word, cannot be translated literally as the address. Among the meanings associated with it, I can cite “home,” “guide,” and “direction.” Since the poem glorifies the united Arab homeland, I chose to translate as “guide” in the sense that the Arab identity is like his compass that enables
    him to situate and define himself in the world. In addition to that, satire was present in the poem in the line ''Emerge from your
    mantles, God protect them'' , which posits a challenge to me as translator because I had to understand the hidden
    meaning of the sentence first and then render its meaning into English. On the cultural level, there are many concepts and words that are culture-specific, such as (Abbaya) , (fitna) .
    – Abbaya:
    is a tra-ditional men’s cloak, popular in the Arab Peninsula.
    – Fitna:
    is a word that is fraught with connotations related to temptation, trial, affliction, distress, and civil wars.

    I domesticated these foreign concepts to make it easier for a non-Arab reader to
    understand. Besides that, I provided cultural explanations in the notes for other
    cultural references that were mentioned in the poem.
    In a nutshell, this poem is a call for union and a pan-Arabist agenda that would shield the Middle East from future fragmentations, divisions, and, most importantly, sectarian strife fueled by foreign powers. Thus, translation in this
    context becomes a political and ideological act.

  2. made me cry i am an arab that is in the US .. i understand arabic but i always wanted a translated one … bless ur soul :')

  3. Thank you so much for posting.
    It was beautifully translated.
    I want to memorize it.
    Just curious, what prompted you to translate it?

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