Downtrodden People : Arabic poem by Qatari poet Abdulla al salem

Downtrodden People

Downtrodden People

Downtrodden people

Afflicted by fate with its worst punishments,

Don’t wish for anything,

Don’t desire anything.

. . . their brows are furrowed

And their spotless complexions turn sallow.

They abhor greed for petrol

In barren hills;

It’s just a current fad.

Downtrodden people:

Youth’s nectar flows pure for naught, and

Its naked clusters dangle.

Each bunch is available;

Just come,

Pull off as many as you want.

Apple, fig, and almond cascade down.

Every act is permissible;

Just come;

Slip your foot into any soft skin you like

For a paltry sum,

Of only a few dirhams.

Then rise and spit out:


Downtrodden people:

Softer than a feather’s fluff,

Gentler than a child’s laugh,

Simpler than gushing water.

Debased people:

Remnants an honorable life glisten in lackluster eyes.

In their valises,

Silently, with a smirk, they tote tragedies,

Concealing toys and gifts for their kids

Beneath cosmetic cases,

Beside letters from their family.

They are like us. . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . .

. . .

Downtrodden people:

Their sorrows seep

Into their tired blood.

. . . . .

Do you suppose

That if we awoke unexpectedly

One day

As downtrodden people ,

We would spill as much blood

Into chalices of debasement and misery?

Or, would we remain just as we are



And honorable people?

All summer long our young men reserve

More than half of London

For dancing, drinking, snorting, cursing, and legendary generosity,

Giving our letter to others.

We’re the most good-natured folks where money is concerned

And the most generous,

“And the generous man is merry”.

Will we continue

To look down on other people,

Considering them flawed, cursed, stupid louts

Who shove their filth into our teaspoons, beneath our fingernails, and inside our children’s copybooks,

Wantonly perpetrating their offenses in our streets?

Or, will we realize that it’s wrong

To diagnose their ailments preemptively

From this vantage point?

Amman, February, 2002


Arabic poetry , poem by Abdulla Al Salem

Translated by William M. Hutchins

النص الأصلي

Abdullah Al-salem
Abdullah Al-salem
Blogger critic poet from Qatar

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