Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Adonis
One of the most important anthologies of poetry, IMHO, is Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, edited by Carolyn Forché (W. W. Norton & Company, 1993)
This week’s poetic selection comes from that anthology, from a poet who calls himself Adonis:
Adonis, the pseudonym of Ali Ahmad Sa’id, was born in a village in Syria. He attended the lycée in Tartus, studied law and philosophy at the University of Damascus, and began writing poetry early. After emigrating to Lebanon in 1956, he founded the journal Shi’ir, which was pivotal in establishing modern Arabic poetry. He was an influential member of the first generation of Arabs to break with the traditional Arabic forms and write free verse. His work is also marked by a strongly nontraditional sense of social commitment.
Here is a section from a longer poem titled Elegy for the Time at Hand:
Chanting of banishment,
the carriages of exile
breach the walls.
Or are these carriages
the battering sighs of my verses?
Cyclones have crushed us.
Sprawled in the ashes of our days,
we glimpse our souls
on the sword’s glint
or at the peaks of helmets.
An autumn of salt spray
settles on our wounds.
No tree can bud.