The Epic of Sadness

by Nizar Qabbani

Your love taught me to grieve
and I have been in need, for centuries
a woman to make me grieve
for a woman, to cry upon her arms
like a sparrow
for a woman to gather my pieces
like shards of broken crystal

Your love has taught me, my lady, the worst habits
it has taught me to read my coffee cups
thousands of times a night
to experiment with alchemy,
to visit fortune tellers

It has taught me to leave my house
to comb the sidewalks
and search your face in raindrops
and in car lights
and to peruse your clothes
in the clothes of unknowns
and to search for your image
even.....even.....
even in the posters of advertisements
your love has taught me
to wander around, for hours
searching for a gypsies hair
that all gypsies women will envy
searching for a face, for a voice
which is all the faces and all the voices...

Your love entered me...my lady
into the cities of sadness
and I before you, never entered
the cities of sadness
I did not know...
that tears are the person
that a person without sadness
is only a shadow of a person...

Your love taught me
to behave like a boy
to draw your face with chalk
upon the wall
upon the sails of fishermen's boats
on the Church bells, on the crucifixes,
your love taught me, how love,
changes the map of time...
Your love taught me, that when I love
the earth stops revolving,
Your love taught me things
that were never accounted for
So I read children's fairytales
I entered the castles of Jennies
and I dreamt that she would marry me
the Sultan's daughter
those eyes..
clearer than the water of a lagoon
those lips...
more desirable than the flower of pomegranates
and I dreamt that I would kidnap her like a knight
and I dreamt that I would give
her necklaces of pearl and coral
Your love taught me, my lady,
what is insanity
it taught me...how life may pass
without the Sultan's daughter arriving

Your love taught me
How to love you in all things
in a bare winter tree,
in dry yellow leaves
in the rain, in a tempest,
in the smallest cafe, we drank in,
in the evenings...our black coffee

Your love taught me...to seek refuge
to seek refuge in hotels without names
in churches without names...
in cafes without names...

Your love taught me...how the night
swells the sadness of strangers
It taught me...how to see Beirut
as a woman...a tyrant of temptation
as a woman, wearing every evening
the most beautiful clothing she possesses
and sprinkling upon her breasts perfume
for the fisherman, and the princes
Your love taught me how to cry without crying
It taught me how sadness sleeps
Like a boy with his feet cut off
in the streets of the Rouche and the Hamra

Your love taught me to grieve
and I have been needing, for centuries
a woman to make me grieve
for a woman, to cry upon her arms
like a sparrow
for a woman to gather my pieces
like shards of broken crystal.

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