band annie's Weblog

I have a parallel blog in French at



Famous Poem By Robert Frost

 taken from this site




Even nearly a century later, poems by Robert Frost continue to interest us. Robert Frost remains a quintessential American poet because of his depiction of the natural state of America, particularly New England. But while we encounter New England and its beauty, when we read poems by Robert Frost, we are also exposed to an American mind exploring intellectual and philosophical questions on human nature that remain relevant in society today. It is because of this that we seek out poems by Robert Frost, both for the comfort found in his lines, but also for the challenge of his words.

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Perhaps the most famous Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken” is taught widely in schools and its last three lines, the envy of poets everywhere, have been quoted, placed on walls, and written in graduation cards for almost a century.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

go to the website to find four more


Poet Mourid Barghouti on His Wife, Novelist Radwa Ashour (1946-2014)

The relationship between Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti and Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour — as traced through their literary works — is one of the twentieth century’s great love stories:182946_122926790673_2399930_nBarghouti and Ashour met as students at Cairo University in the 1960s, and he writes about the beginnings of their relationship in his second memoir, I Was Born There, I Was Born Heretrans. Humphrey Davies:“I read my first poems to her on the steps of the Cairo University library when we were not yet twenty. We took part together in literary gatherings at the Faculty without it occurring to us that a personal interest had developed, or was developing, between us. We were students and limited our conversation to ‘professional’ matters such as our studies and never went beyond these into any intimate topic. She would tell me, ‘You will become a poet,’ and I would reply, ‘And what if I fail at that?’ I’d tell her, ‘You will become a great novelist’ and she’d give the same answer and we’d laugh. This ‘fraternal’ language and collegial spirit continued between us until the four years of study were over and I went to work in Kuwait. I used to write regular letters about my new life in Kuwait to her and to Amina Sabri and Amira Fahmi, our best friends throughout our studies, with whom we’d made something like a small family. I realized, however, that my letters to Radwa contained nothing of my news or the events of my life and concerned themselves only with my unspoken feelings about that life.

“When I saw her on my first visit to Cairo during the summer holidays, we found ourselves talking like a mother and a father, and sometimes like a grandmother and a grandfather. We talked like a family of two that had been together for ages.

“It was out of the question to talk about ‘steps’ we ought to be taking.”

They married in 1970, and Radwa went to the U.S. for a time to study toward her PhD. Their only son, Tamim, was born in 1977. Barghouti writes about it in I Saw Ramallahtrans. Ahdaf Soueif:

“I do not know how men have stolen the right to name children after themselves. That feeling was not simply a temporary reaction to seeing a mother suffer during delivery. I still believe that every child is the son of his mother. That is justice. I said to Radwa as we took our first steps out of the door of the hospital, she carrying the two-day-old Tamim on her arm, ‘Tamim is all yours. I am ashamed that he will carry my name and not yours on his birth certificate.’”

37819_411548290673_1094883_nThat same year, 1977, Barghouti and many other Palestinians were deported from Egypt on the eve of Anwar Sadat’s controversial visit to Israel. Barghouti was prevented from living in Egypt for the next seventeen years. Also from I Saw Ramallah:

“And then the Egyptian president, Anwar al-Sadat, had a decisive role in defining our size as a family. His decision to deport me resulted in my remaining the father of an only child, Radwa and I not having a daughter, for example, to add to Tamim, or ten sons and daughters. I lived on one continent and Radwa on another: on her own she could not care for more than one child.”

On their continued years of off-on separation, from I Was Born There, I Was Born Here:

“Radwa would pay for the policies of Sadat and his successor Mubarak in the coin of her own private life. She would experience the expulsion of her husband and dedicate her time to caring for her son without the presence of his father for seventeen years, except for short and intermittent periods. When she was obliged to undergo a life-threatening operation, she would be alone with Tamim, who was not yet three years old, while I was in Budapest and forbidden to put my mind at rest about her and be by her side. My mother flew to Cairo the moment she heard of the disease and that lightened the burden for me a little. Once more I had failed to be where I ought to be.”

Barghouti was later able to return to Egypt and later even to Palestine, a journey documented in his I Saw Ramallah. Later yet, he is able to bring their son Tamim. On a poetry reading in the square of Deir Ghassanah, in Palestine, from I Was Born There, I Was Born Here:

“I wanted to speak of Radwa in the square of Deir Ghassanah and to the people of Deir Ghassanah because it wouldn’t be natural if Radwa’s almost total knowledge of everything about the village and its people — their names and life stories, the funny things they’re known for and their sorrows — were to remain one-sided. I wanted them to know her too.”

The two of them were married for forty-four years:radwa_ashour

Also from I Was Born There, I Was Born Here:

“Alone, between sky and earth, I think of Radwa.”


A Kurdish poet : Hoşeng Osê (Dutch translation)

Hoşeng Osê   now   lives in Flanders and has been translated in Dutch so far.

De blinde meeuw



Ik ben geen soldaat die een mes in de rug kreeg, noch een verradende koning op een schaaktafel.

Denk je niet dat ik de resten van een schipbreuk ben, die op je kust eindigt.

Ik ben de resten van een bloedbad.

Ik draag in mijn hart mijn kruis én mijn graf.

Ik verberg onder mijn tong het geheugen van mijn vaderland voor de oprukkende barbaren.

de verdriet is mijn beker, mij pijn is wijn.

Denk je niet dat ik een kapitein ben, wiens schip hem in de steek liet.

Ik ben een natie wiens vier windstreken hem niet langer herkennen.

Ik ben een treurend gedicht, dat een blinde profeet nog steeds schrijft, voor de kleine zwaluwen.

Zelfs jij, Noordzee?!

Zelfs jij keert mij ook de rug toe?!

Ik ben geen oprukkende Alexander, noch een ambitieuze Napoleon ..

Ik ben gewoon een echo ..

Een nederlaag ..

Gewoon een lijk dat sinds drie duizend jaar,

Nog steeds naar een graf zoekt.




Een gemummificeerde tijger



Zijn ogen: twee gloeiende kolen, die vonken uit een diepe put.

Hij zegt: ik ben Jozef, verraders, en ik wil niet uit de put komen.


Verjaagd door de duisternis, verdoemd door het daglicht, slaat hij met zijn nagels de rotsen van de tijd.

Noch de zee kan het vuur der hartstochten in zijn hart doven;

Noch de regen kan het leed, dat zijn geest treft, verzachten.

Alleen de stilte luistert eerbiedig naar zijn gekreun.


Jullie, die Abel duizend keer per minuut doden;

Denk je niet dat ik een gemummificeerde tijger in een museum ben!

Deze wereld die jullie met oorlogen en vernielingen gevuld hebben, is het eeuwige museum, en jullie zijn de mummies!

Ik wandel onder jullie rond.

En omdat jullie gemummificeerde mensen zijn, met duizend maskers,

Wil ik niet eens, dat jullie mijn prooi worden!

Hosheng at 11:40 in this youtube video in Kurdish.

Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri’s Second Death

by mlynxqualey

“A poet dies twice: once when he publishes, and once when a statue is erected to him.” So said Iraqi poet Mahmoud al-Braikan, in a speech in memory of the great Badr Shakir al-Sayyab:

A Google doodle for al-Jawahiri, which must be another sort of death.A Google doodle for al-Jawahiri, which must be another sort of death.

Al-Sayyab (1926-1964) — one of Iraq’s most gifted poets — lived and died in poverty. He was imprisoned and scapegoated by various successive regimes, and according to scholar and translator Ibrahim Muhawi, the last three years of his life “were indeed miserable,” as his poverty was compounded “with an incurable, degenerative…disease of his spinal cord…that led gradually to the paralysis of his legs and the deterioration of his nervous system, culminating in his death at the young age of 38.”

Al-Sayyab’s death did shake the world of Arabic literature, Muhawi said. By 1967, a new selection of his poetry appeared with an introduction by the Syrian poet Adonis. But it wasn’t until 1971 that he was claimed by the Iraqi government.

That’s when the Ba’athist regime, under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, erected a statue to the poet. In 2013, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture did one better, announcing that al-Sayyab’s family home would be turned into a cultural forum “and a tourist museum that documents his poetry works and displays to the public his personal effects, pictures, scripts and audio recordings.”

Perhaps the museum will be beautiful, educational, and a home for poets and poetry. In any case, Al-Braikan, who died in 2002, would surely not approve. But just as surely, Iraqi poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri’s (1899-1997) second death, revealed last month and chronicled in Al-Monitor and As-Safiris a bit unhappier. From Al-Monitor:

Jawahiri’s statue has become a bad joke among intellectuals, the public and the poet’s family. Jawahiri’s granddaughter saw her grandfather’s history collapse in front of her. No one in Baghdad province gave the history of that cultural and poetic figure his due.

The province put up a simple statue that said nothing about Jawahiri. It was a simple statue made of some kind of plastic material in the middle of a pool, whose water was dyed green during the unveiling celebration. But all that ugliness was not enough. They surrounded the statue with a number of coffee pots of different sizes. The statue’s head was crooked, and the coffee pots made the scene look even more ridiculous. Jawahiri’s family rushed to the governor to try to fix the monument, which offended the history of a man buried in the Ghuraba cemetery in the neighborhood of Sayyeda Zeinab, Damascus.

Baghdad assassinated Jawahiri twice, once when it forced him into exile, away from the “Tigris River of goodness,” and another time by making for him a
pathetic statue that is unworthy of his history.

The governor promised to fix the statue and to remove the coffee pots and coffee cups from around it so that the poet doesn’t get turned into a coffee seller after his death.

There’s no indication that the leftist poet would’ve been shamed or alarmed by an association with coffee-sellers. However, it’s not quite clear how the above statue won a competition that was apparently, according to the US Department of Defense news website al-Shorfa, worth 5 million dinars.

Although a popular and beloved poet — called by critic Salma Khadra Jayyusi in Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry “undoubtedly the greatest Iraqi poet of his generation” — al-Jawahiri, with his classical style, has generally been ignored by critics and translators.

According to Jayyusi, “Poetry of a unique and uncommitted nature such as that of al-Jawahiri, which does not proclaim a new doctrine of poetry, is immediately marked out as ‘conventional’ and left untreated.”

Read: Two poems by al-Jawahiri, submitted by an anonymous translator.

Another image: of the statue.


Syrian Poet Abed Ismael Named Writer-in-residence at University of Nevada


By on July 24, 2013 • ( 0 )

The Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, La Vegas, announced its 2013-14 fellowships at the beginning of this month. Their “City of Asylum” residency was granted to Syrian poet-translator Abed Ismael:

Abed Ismael-23Ismael will be one of three residents at the Institute, along with historian-reporter Sally Denton and memoirist Matthew Davis. All three, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal,  ”are slated to work in offices provided by the university, participate in BMI programs and potentially visit UNLV classrooms throughout their fellowships spanning from late August to mid-May.”

Ismael was born in 1963 in Latakia, Syria. He spent his early years there, later moving to Damascus, where he completed his high-school education and went on to teach at Damascus University. Just before the uprising, he spoke with poet Nathalie Handal about Damascus, telling her about places in the city he treasured, including:

“A famous café in downtown Damascus called ‘Havana’ built in 1945, where poets and politicians used to meet. The place is often associated with the poet  Mohammad al-Maghout (1934-2006), widely acknowledged as the spiritual father of the modern Arabic prose poem, who used to sit there, drink his famous Arabic coffee and compose poems and plays. Although the place has been renovated recently and lost some of its iconic glamour, it is still referred to as the birthplace of many novels, poems, and even “ideologies.’”

In the interview, he pointed to one of his poems about the city, “Mirrors of Damascus,” which was trans. Issa Boullata and published in the collection Unbuttoning the ViolinFrom the poem:

The life, which walks at the end of the night
and sees with its own eyes the perforated barrels
and the rifles trained on our backs
and the telephone receivers hanging down on the pavements
as if a crime has just taken place,
is our life. . .

The life, which passes in front of Parliament
heavily armed with applause. . .

The life, which enters the bedroom
with dark sunglasses
and a revolver at its hip. . . (read the complete poem here)

Ismael’s publications include four collections of poetry and thirteen translations from English into Arabic of works by Walt Whitman, V S Naipaul, Jorge Luis Borges, Noam Chomsky, Harold Bloom and others.

His poems, according to the International Literature Festival Berlin, “are characterized by dark colours which exude human pain. The poem appears as a place of dreams, and his voice, shifting between the first person and other narrative perspectives, conveys a sense of the profound isolation of an individual who retreats from society for self protection  and to avoid the enormous demands placed on them.”

Poems by Ismael:

A number have been translated by Issa Boullata and are available online, including: “Mirrors of Damascus,” “Where does it come from?”, “Statues”, “Don’t wake him up”, “…Days fly”, “Past dates”, “A mere ghost”, “Sorrow”

Three poems are available from Banipal, trans. the author: “Against Romanticism”, “A School Hobby”, “The Damascene Bird”


Word Play – Farah Chamma – “How Must I Believe?”

19yr old Farah Chamma gets political with power of spoken word and kicks off the season debut of the new poetry show, Word Play!

Poem entitled: How must I Believe. Word Play airs every 2nd Monday! (Arabic Poem w/Subtitles) – Translated by: Laith Aqel


Poem Translated:

How Must I Believe?

How must I believe when you have made belief more like blasphemy

As you separated countries, killed, and spread corruption

All in the name of religion and devotion

You, who in the name of God, orphaned children

You, who in the name of God, have stolen, lied, demolished homes

Only to live in castles built with bricks of injustice and slavery

Are you going to respond to this, o summoned ones?

For we have tired of your senseless speeches

We have tired of poetry, of songs, of chants,

We have tired of reform movements, of extremism, of neutrality

We have tired of presidents, security councils, and leadership

We have tired of religious adherence and apostasy

We have tired, grown weary in excess

For is there value in a Constitution under the shadow of tyranny?

I sat with myself but didn’t find myself

For I too, have been colonized

Within me, there’s a political prison

Within me, there’s a settlement

Within me, there’s a man carrying a weapon

And another looking for backwardness

Within me, a woman breathes a letter that falls on deaf ears

Within me, there are airplanes and explosions

Within me, there are worshippers bowing before God, within them hearts that do not soften

Within me, there are Arab countries from which only harm befalls

So how must I believe when within me, there’s an enemy that fears nothing at all

My Arab identity antagonizes me,

It melts in my chest like ice, as a another Cold War;

It antagonizes me…

It stops me from passing and never stamps my passport

It antagonizes me… as it roams in the streets searching for a Foreign government to shelter her

It roams… from officer to officer, from embassy to embassy, completely ignored

My Arab identity antagonizes me,

It melts in my chest like ice,

As another Cold war

For how must I believe When my Arab identity

Has become as shameless as a woman astray:

A beseeching, imploring whore

We have abandoned knowledge and so

Have been abandoned

As we rejoice in mere oblivion and pleasure O Ummah of Iqraa,

What have you read?

You have preferred everything over the mind instead

We have sought knowledge abroad

And so too will do our children

So how must I believe while I yearn to live in countries other than my own?

How must I believe when you have made belief more like blasphemy?

As you separated nations, killed, and spread corruption

All in the name of religion and devotion

You, who in the name of God, orphaned children

You, who in the name of God, will obtain nothing

As long as you oppress mankind

Do what you wish and claim what you wish,

For I have believed in Him,

So why must I believe in you?

Withdraw your belief systems,

For I declare my disbelief in you.

Translated from Arabic by Laith Aqel
Animation Audio Produced By: Basil Hanson –

Two Matar Poems





صباح هذا اليوم
This morning
أيقظني منبه الساعة
The alarm clock woke me up
و قال لي : يا ابن العرب
And told me: oh son of Arabs
قد حان وقت النوم !
It is time to sleep!

انحناء السنبلة
The Stalk Bows

أنا من تراب وماء
I am made from dust and water
خذوا حذركم أيها السابلة
Take your precautions, passersby
خطاكم على جثتي نازلة
Your footsteps fall on my body
وصمتي سخاء
And my silence is generosity
لأن التراب صميم البقاء
Because dust is the seed of eternity
وأن الخطى زائلة
And footsteps are ephemeral

ولكن إذا ما حبستم بصدري الهواء
But if you cage the air in my chest
سلوا الأرض عن مبدأ الزلزلة
Ask the earth about the beginning of the earthquake
سلوا عن جنوني ضمير الشتاء
Ask the conscience of winter about my madness
أنا الغيمة المثقلة
I am the burdened cloud,
إذا أجهشت بالبكاء
Which when it weeps
فإن الصواعق في دمعها مرسلة
Sends lightning with its tears

أجل إنني أنحني فاشهدوا ذلتي الباسلة
Yes, I bow, so bear witness to my valiant humiliation
فلا تنحني الشمس إلا لتبلغ قلب السماء
For the sun does not bow except to reach the heart of the sky
ولا تنحني السنبلة
Nor does the wheat stalk bow
إذا لم تكن مثقلة
If it is not burdened
ولكنها ساعة الإنحناء
But in the hour of its bowing
تواري بذور البقاء
It hides the seeds of its survival
فتخفي برحم الثرى ثورة مقبلة
Concealing in the earth’s womb a coming revolution.

أجل إنني أنحني تحت سيف العناء
Yes, I bow under the sword of oppression
ولكن صمتي هو الجلجلة
But my silence is deafening
وذل انحنائي هو الكبرياء
And my humiliation is pride
لأني أبالغ في الإنحناء
Because I exaggerate in bowing
لكي أزرع القنـبـلة
To plant the bomb

– Ahmad Matar

Read and listen in Arabic.


see also this very rich page 

Damascus- Omar Offendum.mp4


عفوا هل انا انسان:اتحداك ان تسمع هذا الشعر ولا يعجبك (in Arabic)


Blog at

Up ↑