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Three Poems by Saadi Youssef

[Saadi Youssef. Image from Author] [Saadi Youssef. Image from Author]


Three Poems

Saadi Youssef

Translated from the Arabic by Sinan Antoon & Peter Money


The Glance


Our loss is not the earth

for the earth will stay,

it stayed before us,

it will stay after us,

earth of the singers,

and of silent ones,

earth of those who stay

and transients;

it is the earth of those

who became earth’s body

. . .

What we have lost is not the earth.

The loss is that glance we no longer exchange,

between one child and another

as they share a loaf of bread.




I will not open my window:

Even the grass is drowning in the sea winds;

trees are shaking under the rain.

The room is still (the house has double-windows);

I hear the clock ticking:


Tick Tick Tick,

I can hear the pond’s tiny waves in the distance

Nearby:  tiny waves of fingers. . .

Is my lover back after a long trip?

The yellow flowers at the entrance are very early.

No visitor knocks at my door.

Even the birds found a shelter.

But we,

the squirrel and I, are trying

to catch something. 


Bees Visit Me


A bee perched on my shirt,

then another.

Blossoms were radiant,

shaking the beechnut tree

and the orchard— 

How did the bees come?

My table doesn't have much:

a piece of bread and cheese,

but it overflows with French wine. . .

Is that what the bees are after?

What is strange is that they cling to my shirt,


Do they know that honey,

the universe,

and the end,

are under the shirt?

—That pollen is quivering?


[Translated from the Arabic by Sinan Antoon & Peter Money. From Saadi Youssef, Nostalgia, My Enemy, published November 2012 by Gray Wolf Press. You can purchase the book here.]       

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