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Stand for an hour: a poem with translation

Stand for an hour: a poem with translation

I have been listening to this amazing piece by Poet Tamim Albarghouthi for almost a decade and I have translated it about 3 years ago; and now refined it to a better version. I also have taken AJPlus production of the poem and added the translation as subtitles.


There are corrections in one of the verses and the final correct version is below…(if you figure out which verse I translated wrong in the video, I have a prize for you, just contact me)

Albarghouthi is a renowned Palestinian-Egyptian poet, columnist and political scientist. He delivered his masterpiece, “Stand for an hour” or “Sins of Death” poem at the renowned competition “Ameer Alshura’a'” , “Prince of Poets” and although he didn’t win the competition, he was by far the best.


So here comes the poem and also the video:

Stand for an hour,

My words and their narrator shall be a sacrifice for you

And don’t let down whom time has let down 

I’ve known sorrow since my childhood

He (sorrow) is my friend; I can’t pass him when I face him

And that he has enough of a palm

If he rests it on a mountain

The palm won’t be overburdened

He turns me upside down with it

Like how a newborn’s leg clings to the midwife

He carries me like a falcon carrying his catch

Lifting it up above the clouds; 

So if(the catch) falls from eagle’s claws; it wrecks

If it stays in his claws, it shall eat it

I am afraid that the oppressors may die before me

Full of death, it does not distinguish 

When death approach the killed, therefore

The killer won’t escape death either

Indeed, we are the sins of death; and they are many

And they are the virtues of death when you ask him

He comes off on the day of reckoning as an advocate

He responds to his critics and argues with them

But those killed in my country who were gracious

Will keep him unable to find the answers even if he tries

You see the child under the wall calling

Dad, don’t be scared” as death heavily pours

And his father; horrified; waving his hand;

Unable to block the bullets with his fingers

I see beauty didn’t help the beautiful

And since when the killed one is protected by morals

On the news bulletin every night

We see our death rise and loom

Coffins are weaved for us every night

For fifty years, its (death’s) spindles never wear off

I see death finding no one but us to prey on

As if we’re like its family and its tribes

And those killed on the Iraq beach as of like

Embossed mat, and art has perfected the sewing 

Using it to pray on the deceased; and then it’s put down 

And his eye turns away from his reach

If we lose the Levant and Iraq

As those are the entrances to the Haram (Ka’bah)

I see time not willing to be our ally

Nor we’re capable to be its enemy to fight it

Perhaps there might be a generation forthcoming or has already passed;

That would exchange our time for theirs


Arabic version:

قفي ساعةً يفديكِ قَوْلي وقائِلُهْ

ولا تَخْذِلي مَنْ باتَ والدهرُ خاذِلُهْ

أَنَا عَالِمٌ بالحُزْنِ مُنْذُ طُفُولَتي

رفيقي فما أُخْطِيهِ حينَ أُقَابِلُهْ

وإنَّ لَهُ كَفَّاً إذا ما أَرَاحَها عَلَى جَبَلٍ

ما قَامَ بالكَفِّ كَاهِلُهْ

يُقَلِّبُني رأساً على عَقِبٍ بها

كما أَمْسَكَتْ سَاقَ الوَلِيدِ قَوَابِلُهْ

وَيَحْمِلُني كالصَّقْرِ يَحْمِلُ صَيْدَهُ

وَيَعْلُو به فَوْقَ السَّحابِ يُطَاوِلُهْ

فإنْ فَرَّ مِنْ مِخْلابِهِ طاحَ هَالِكًا

وإن ظَلَّ في مِخْلابِهِ فَهْوَ آكِلُهْ

عَزَائي مِنَ الظُّلاَّمِ إنْ مِتُّ قَبْلَهُمْ

عُمُومُ المنايا مَا لها مَنْ تُجَامِلُهْ

إذا أَقْصَدَ الموتُ القَتِيلَ فإنَّهُ

كَذَلِكَ مَا يَنْجُو مِنَ الموْتِ قاتلُِهْ

فَنَحْنُ ذُنُوبُ الموتِ وَهْيَ كَثِيرَةٌ

وَهُمْ حَسَنَاتُ الموْتِ حِينَ تُسَائِلُهْ

يَقُومُ بها يَوْمَ الحِسابِ مُدَافِعًا

يَرُدُّ بها ذَمَّامَهُ وَيُجَادِلُهْ

وَلكنَّ قَتْلَىً في بلادي كريمةً

سَتُبْقِيهِ مَفْقُودَ الجَوابِ يحاوِلُهْ

 ترى الطفلَ مِنْ تحت الجدارِ مناديًا

أبي لا تَخَفْ والموتُ يَهْطُلُ وابِلُهْ

وَوَالِدُهُ رُعْبَاًَ يُشِيرُ بَكَفِّهِ

وَتَعْجَزُ عَنْ رَدِّ الرَّصَاصِ أَنَامِلُهْ

 عَلَى نَشْرَةِ الأخْبارِ في كلِّ لَيْلَةٍ

نَرَى مَوْتَنَا تَعْلُو وَتَهْوِي مَعَاوِلُهْ

أَرَى الموْتَ لا يَرْضَى سِوانا فَرِيْسَةً

كَأَنَّا لَعَمْرِي أَهْلُهُ وَقَبَائِلُهْ

لَنَا يَنْسجُ الأَكْفَانَ في كُلِّ لَيْلَةٍ

لِخَمْسِينَ عَامَاً مَا تَكِلُّ مَغَازِلُهْ

وَقَتْلَى عَلَى شَطِّ العِرَاقِ كَأَنَّهُمْ

نُقُوشُ بِسَاطٍِ دَقَّقَ الرَّسْمَ غَازِلُهْ

يُصَلَّى عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ يُوطَأُ بَعْدَها

وَيَحْرِفُ عُنْهُ عَيْنَهُ مُتَنَاوِلُهْ

 إِذَا ما أَضَعْنَا شَامَها وَعِراقَها

فَتِلْكَ مِنَ البَيْتِ الحَرَامِ مَدَاخِلُهْ

أَرَى الدَّهْرَ لا يَرْضَى بِنَا حُلَفَاءَه

وَلَسْنَا مُطِيقِيهِ عَدُوَّاً نُصَاوِلُهْ

فَهَلْ ثَمَّ مِنْ جِيلٍ سَيُقْبِلُ أَوْ مَضَى

يُبَادِلُنَا أَعْمَارَنا وَنُبَادِلُهْ