Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Love List : Salah Jahin's Quatrains

Yes, they're awesome enough to take over the Friday Love List all for themselves!

For any Egyptian and probably any Arab, the mere mentioning of "Rubaiyat Salah Jahin" is pretty much self-explanatory. He's one of the greatest Egyptian poets (among other things) that came to pass and these quatrains have proven so philosophical, so deep and so mind stimulating that they'd live forever. I love reading them from time to time, and when I do, I think to myself that views of life way back in the sixties weren't essentially much different from our current times, since everything he talked about still applies.

Unfortunately, I don't possess the English proficiency or literary prowess to to translate them well. I'm seriously not going to be doing them justice. At all.
I could try to give a general feel for the meaning, though, so nobody's left out...

رباعيات صلاح جاهين

خرج ابن آدم من العدم قلت : ياه
رجع ابن آدم للعدم قلت : ياه
تراب بيحيا ... وحي بيصير تراب
الأصل هو الموت و الا الحياه ؟
(We awe at the creation of human beings from nothingness as well as their return to nothingness. Dust coming to life and life turning to dust. Is the origin death or life?)

ضريح رخام فيه السعيد اندفن
و حفره فيها الشريد من غير كفن
مريت عليهم .. قلت يا للعجب
لاتنين ريحتهم لها نفس العفن
(The well-off person was buried in a marble tomb and the beggar/homeless person was buried in a hole without a coffin. Passing by them, I thought: how strange, both of their smells have the same foul stench!)

ياما صادفت صحاب و ما صاحبتهمش
و كاسات خمور و شراب و ما شربتهمش
أندم علي الفرص اللي انا سبتهم
و الا علي الفرص اللي ما سبتهمش
(So many times I've met friends I didn't befriend, and glasses of alcoholic drinks I didn't drink. Should I regret the chances I didn't take or the chances I took?)

و الكون ده كيف موجود من غير حدود
و فيه عقارب ليه و تعابين ودود
عالم مجرب فات و قال سلامات
ده ياما فيه سؤالات من غير ردود
(And how is this universe endless? And why does it have scorpions, snakes and worms? An experienced scientist passed by saying hello, there are loads of questions that don't have answers.)

أنا شاب لكن عمري ألف عام
وحيد لكن بين ضلوعي زحام
خايف و لكن خوفي مني أنا
أخرس و لكن قلبي مليان كلام
(I'm young, but a thousand years old. Alone, but there's a crowd within my ribs. Afraid, but my fear's from me. Mute, but my heart's filled with words.)

يا باب يا مقفول إمتي الدخول
صبرت ياما و اللي يصبر ينول
دقيت سنين و الرد يرجع لي: مين ؟
لوكنت عارف مين أنا كنت أقول
(*addressing a closed door* When do I come in? I've been patient and the patient gets what he seeks. I knocked for years and the reply was "who?". If I knew who, I'd say.)

سهير ليالي و ياما لفيت و طفت
و ف ليه راجع في الضلام قمت شفت
الخوف . كأنه كلب سد الطريق
و كنت عاوز أقتله بس خفت
(I stay up at night and have been all around. In the dark, I got up and saw fear, like a dog, blocking the way. And I wanted to kill it but got afraid.)

كان فيه زمان سحليه طول فرسخين
كهفين عيونها و خشمها بربخين
ماتت لكين الرعب لم عمره مات
مع إنه فات بدل التاريخ تاريخين
(Long ago, there was a lizard as tall as two acres, two caves for eyes and huge gills. It died but the horror never did. Even though more time than history itself had passed.)

عجبتني كلمة من كلام الورق
النور شرق من بين حروفها و برق
حبيت أشيلها ف قلبي .. قالت حرام
ده أنا كل قلب دخلت فيه اتحرق
(I liked a word off the words of paper, the light shone from between its letters. I wanted to carry it in my heart, it said : pity, every heart I enter gets burnt.)

رقبه قزازة و قلبي فيها انحشر
شربت كاس و اتنين و خامس عشر
صاحبت ناس م الخمرة ترجع وحوش
و صاحبت ناس م الخمرة ترجع بشر
(My heart's stuck in a bottleneck. I drank once, twice and fifteen times. I befriended people who, because of liquor, turned into monsters and befriended people who, because of liquor, turned into human beings.)

ليه يا حبيبتي ما بيننا دايما سفر
ده البعد ذنب كبير لا يغتفر
ليه يا حبيبتي ما بيننا دايما بحور
أعدي بحر ألاقي غيره اتحفر
(Why, my love, do we always have distance between us? Being distant is an unforgivable sin. Why do we always have seas between us? Every time I pass a sea, I find that another one had been dug.)

ورا كل شباك ألف عين مفتوحين
و انا وانتي ماشيين يا غرامي الحزين
لو التصقنا نموت بضربة حجر
و لو افترقنا نموت متحسرين
(Behind every window, a thousand eyes are open. And you and I are walking, my sad love. If we stick together, we die with a stone's throw. And if we got apart, we die miserable.)

نوح راح لحاله و الطوفان استمر
مركبنا تايهه لسه مش لاقيه بر
آه م الطوفان وآهين يا بر الأمان
إزاي تبان و الدنيا غرقانه شر
(Noah went in his way and the flood still continues. Our boat's lost and can't find a safe harbor. How could it appear when the world's sinking in evil?)

انا كل يوم أسمع ........ فلان عذبوه
أسرح في بغداد و الجزاير واتوه
ما أعجبش م اللي يطيق بجسمه العذاب
و اعجب من اللي يطيق يعذب أخوه
(Everyday I hear, so-and-so got tortured. I daydream about Baghdad and Aljazaer and get lost. I don't get astonished at the one who bares torture with his body and get astonished at the one bares to torture his brother.)

ينبوع و في الحواديت أنا سمعت عنه
إنه عجيب .. و ف وسط لهاليب لكنه
شقيت كما الفرسان طريقي .. لقيت
حتي الخنازير و الكلاب شربوا منه
(I heard about a spring from the tales. It's magical and in the middle of flames. I went on my way to it like knights would, and found that even the pigs and dogs have drunk from it.)

يا قرص شمس ما لهش قبة سما
يا ورد من غير أرض شب و نما
يا أي معني جميل سمعنا عليه
الخلق ليه عايشين حياه مؤلمة
(oh, sun without a sky dome, oh, roses growing without the ground, oh, any beautiful meaning we have ever heard of, why are the people living a painful life?)

ياللي انت بيتك قش مفروش بريش
تقوي عليه الريح .. يصبح ما فيش
عجبي عليك حواليك مخالب كـبار
و ما لكش غير منقار و قادر تعيش
(You, whose home is made of straw, furnished with feathers. If the wind got stronger, it would become nothing. I marvel at you with big claws all around you, and you don't have but a beak, and still able to live.)

سمعت نقطة ميه جوه المحيــط
بتقول لنقطه ما تنزليش في الغويط
أخاف عليكي م الغرق .. قلـت أنا
ده اللي يخاف م الوعد يبقي عبيط
(I heard a drop of water in the ocean. It tells another drop not to go into the deep because it's scared that it would drown. I said, whoever gets scared from fate is silly!)

بحر الحياه مليان بغرقي الحياه
صرخت خش الموج في حلقي ملاه
قارب نجاه .. صرخت قالوا مفيش
غير بس هو الحب قارب نجاه
(The sea of life is filled with the drowning victims of life. I shrieked, the waves got into my throat and filled it. A rescue boat, I shrieked and they said there is no rescue boat but love.)

كرباج سعاده وقلبي منه اجلد
رمح كأنه حصان و لف البلد
و رجع لي نصل الليل و سألني.. ليه
خجلان تقول انك سعيد يا ولد
(A whip of happiness whipped my heart. A spear like a horse, went around the country and came back to me in the middle of the night and asked: why are you ashamed of saying that you're happy?)

حدوته عن جعران و عن خنفســه
اتقابلوا حوا بعض ساعة مســـا
و لا قال لهم حد اختشوا عيب حـرام
و لا حد قال دي علاقة متدنسـ ـة
(A story about two beetles who met at night. Nobody told them that it wasn't ok, nor told them that it was an unsanctified relationship.)

فتحت شباكي لشمس الصبــاح
ما دخلش منه غيـر عويل الريـاح
و فتحت قلبي عشان ابوح بالألـم
ما خرجش منه غير محبه و سمـاح
(I opened my window for the morning sun, nothing entered except the howling of the wind. I opened my heart so I could let out the pain, nothing got out except love and forgiveness.)

and one of my faves:
لا تجبر الإنسان و لا تخيره
يكفيه مافيه من عقل بيحيره
اللي النهاردة بيطلبه و يشتهيه
هو اللي بكرة ح يشتهي يغيره
عجبي !!
(Don't force a person nor give him choice, he's got enough in his mind that confuses him. Whatever he's asking for and wanting today, is what he'll be wanting to change tomorrow.)

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