Faces by Maram al Masri

Arabic into English

Something old, something new. this incandescent performance by the Syrian poet Maram al Masri, resident in Paris, sent to me recently by Samar Shahdad. Maram recites the poem with music by Shezar. Samar and I have started translating Maram’s poems. Recited in Arabic, subtitled in French, I couldn’t resist translating this poem into English in order to share its extraordinary directness, emotional nakedness and existential rawness. Characteristic of all Maram’s poetry. No more to be said really. Read the translation, then just watch and listen to the video. (Mike Baynham)

Faces

 
By Maram al Masri 
 
A little ill-at-ease 
I croon to you 
a few songs 
I learnt about love. 
 
You encourage me 
and I sing a little louder 
to you who love me 
and expect nothing from me 
 
You have sat down delighting 
at the table of my body 
between my flesh 
and my blood 
 
I came to you 
without perfume 
unadorned 
with jewels 
 
I came to you 
just as I am 
without pretence 
 
I came to you  
one of those who dwells 
on this earth 
 
We have faces 
sitting in our shoulders 
on our identity cards 
on our photo memories 
 
We have faces 
which we tear up 
which we keep safe 
which we hide 
 
Which we unveil 
which become familiar to us 
which we get used to 
which we love 
which we hate 
 
We have faces 
which we know well 
which we speak 
which we know well 

Translated by Samar Shahdad and Mike Baynham

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