Thursday, October 16, 2014

From Poems Found in Translation

Poems Found In Translation: “Nazeeh Abu Afash: God The Infidel (From Arabic)”

Now, the person in this poem is REALLY having  a hard time......LK   

Link to Poems Found in Translation

Posted: 12 Oct 2014 01:55 PM PDT
Nazeeh Abu Afash is a self-identified Arab Christian Atheist (yes, they exist) profoundly concerned with God as an idea, and deeply influenced by the book of Job. The poem here translated may be read as updating the voice of Job for the modern condition, and also taking God down a notch. 

God the Infidel

By Nazeeh Abu Afash
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Arabic 

O god! Tell me the truth!
My enemies say:
    "Everyone wants to..." et cetera
And the enemies of my enemies say:
    "Everyone wants to...." et cetera.
As for me, since you created every one and everyone,
I still - resting assured of your immaculacy and justice -
Raise my hand
Like a schoolchild threatened with expulsion
But as ever
Get nobody's permission to say anything

My god, O my god!
You, god of worms and vegetation, of cattle and all weeping creatures...
Could you have been messing with me?*
What everybody says means there's an everybody that knows the truth
       and another everybody that knows another truth.
What everybody says means that I do not exist
What everybody says means that nobody but everybody exists
What they say means
      That you were messing with me.  

*Full disclosure: The expression á¸aħika ˁalā normally means "deride, make fun of" but it can, depending on, context also mean "to kid (someone), to pull (someone's) leg" as in the phrase Ëalā man taḑħak? "Who do you think you're kidding? What're you trying to pull?" In this context "mess with" rather than, say,  "make fun of" seemed called for, both to bring the Jobian implications out fully, and because one of Abu Afash's favorite tactics (one especially on display here) involves subverting the lofty by casting it in un-lofty and often flippant terms. "Mess with" seemed the most appropriate, connotatively more than denotatively, for what Abu Afash seems to have been trying to accomplish (I decided against the option of "screw with" since, while Abu Afash often inclines toward approximations of colloquial language, this seemed like overkill in a number of ways.)      

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