Turtledove of the Green Land - Dedicated to Tunisian poet, Huda Hajji

O Witch!
O Lady of the meadows of golden spikes and dark olive groves
on the foothills of Atlas Mountains
How you amaze the lining of the azure sky
with the glamour of the Earth
when its flaccid grass
beneath the flames of the sun
turns in your petit fingertips
into braids
of rainbows
and necklaces of emerald, rubies, and pearls!


Ah, turtledove of the Green Land! *
I see the alphabets shimmer through your veins
whispering brooks
of love spittle
pouring in your great sea,
that tyrant whose waves
bubble in your depths
and whose spray, perfumed with musk,
ascends with your breath
to quench the thirst of roses.


O Fairy coming from the Thousand Nights!
who will describe the buds of your passions
as they fly like ghosts
dancing in the heart of the clouds
squabbling with comets
waving to the galaxies
and igniting the heart of the jealous moon?


Ah, shepherdess of deer!
on the banks of Medjerda**
you of whom Ishtar*** is jealous
and Aphrodite
regards your rosy cheeks
with an envious eye
O friend of the nymphs!
O spoiled child of the angels!
O beloved of the Gods
When you hold the lute to your bosom
and your fingertips flirt with its winged strings
my old, wretched heart,
in whose chambers
all the sorrows of the world have settled,
rises up
to dance its awkward dance
like a circus bear.

July 28,2010

(Translated from Arabic by Nizar Sartawi)


* The Green Land refers to Tunisia.

** A Tunisian river that springs from Algeria and pours into the Mediterranean Sea

*** Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex.

Nizar Sartawi's picture

Nizar Sartawi, a Jordanian poet and translator of Palestinian descent, was born in Sarta, Palestine, on February 16, 1951. He received his elementary, intermediate, and high school education in Jerusalem and Nablus schools. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Jordan in Amman. He also holds a Master’s degree in Human Resources Development from the University of Minnesota in the U.S., Sartawi began writing Arabic poetry at the age of 14. In 1980, he abandoned literary writing. However, in 2010, he returned to the world of poetry and literature. His first collection of Arabic poetry, Between Two Eras, was published in 1911. The collection combines his old and new poems., Sartawi translates poetry from English and other languages to Arabic and from Arabic to English. His translations have been published in poetry collections, literary journals, papers, and on the Internet. His translated works include:, - The Prayers Of The Nightingale (2013), Selected Poems by Indian poet Sarojini Naidu., - The Fragments of The Moon (2013), Selected poems by Italian poet Mario Rigli ., - Contemporary Jordanian Poets, Volume I (2013)., - The Eyes Of The Wind (2014), Selected Poems by Tunisian poet Fadhila Messai., - The Soul Dances In Its Cradle (2015), Selected Poems by Danish poet Niels Hav., Sartawi is currently working on a major translation project, Arab Contemporary Poets Series., Sartawi lives with his family in Amman, Jordan. He has one son, three daughters, and six grandchildren.

Last updated May 17, 2012