martes, 4 de octubre de 2016


Muhammad Al-Fayturi

Sudanés, de padre de la misma nacionalidad y madre egipcia, nació parece que en Alejandría - el año 1930.  Fallecido el viernes 24 de abril de 2015.

Estudió algún tiempo en la Universidad del Azhar. Ha residido también en algunos otros países árabes: por ejemplo, Jordania y Libia, desarrollando en este último, durante algún tiempo, una destacada actividad editorial con soporte oficial. Casó con una conocida artista egipcia. Su obra poética es una cumplida muestra de lo que podríamos llamar negritud árabe, representada en títulos como Canciones de Africa, 1955; Enamorado de Africa, 1964; ¡Recuérdame, Africa!, 1966; Tocata para un derviche giróvago, 1970; La revolución, el héroe y la horca dedicada a Gamal Abdel-Naser -, 1970. Cultiva también el teatro poético: Solara, 1969; La revolución de Omar al-Mojtar el caudillo nacionalista libio contra el colonialismo italiano-, 1974. Fayturi es poeta claramente anti-esclavista, violento denunciador del crimen del colonialismo, apasionado cantor de su raza: Africa, en sus versos, se levanta potente y encendida con su escenario de bosques, chozas, flechas y tambores, también de desiertos y campamentos. Poeta de honda fibra romántica y arraigado sentimiento religioso, en fervor, revolucionario, al que se superpone la tensión del mensaje político.


¡Que siga cada héroe en su sitio!
¡Que caiga fulminada la traición!
¡Que enmudezca el cobarde reaccionarismo!
Pues el pueblo la afrenta lavará


Resonó el añafil de la venganza.
¡Raja de veinte años!
La estrella de Israel domina el alminar.
¿Quién, así, patria mía,
se alzará para orar?
Si pezuñas judías pisan el techo
de la mezquita de Aqsa.
Si cascos de soldados hacen sombra
al obispo, al devoto y al diácono.
Encarcelan el nombre de Dios
y cocean la misa.
¿Quién, así, patria mía,
puede cerrar los ojos al desbordarse de las campanas?


¿Quién es ese apretado contra el muro
como un castillo armado?
Sus ojos son dos rocas en tu ribera enorme
que luchan desde antiguo contra olas y vientos.
Sus dos manos vigilan una y otra colina.
Ruidosa risotada es su mirada
en lo alto de las cabezas de sus asesinos.
Altivo es como ejército de copiosas banderas.
¿Quién es ese apretado contra el muro
como castillo armado
que resiste a los invasores, obstinado?
¿Qué si se estrecha el cerco
y el humo de la matanza ensangrienta el horizonte
lucha de casa en casa?
Por las divinas calles de Jerusalén
amarillea el viento ceniciento
y el perfume de Raquel la judía.
Por donde caminaron los profetas,
la tierra báñase de sangre.

Muhammad al-Fayturi was born in Sudan – he does not know the year of his birth – in Al-Janina on the western border of Sudan. His father was a Sufi sheikh of Libyan Bedouin extraction while his mother was from a Gulf tribe which traced its lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad.

Soon after his birth his family moved to Alexandria where he spent his childhood except for a brief spell during the Second World War when the family fled to the Egyptian countryside to escape the German bombing. He attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo until 1953 where he studied the Islamic sciences philosophy and history then attended Cairo University where he studied literature for two years. In 1953 he published his first collection of poems entitled 'Songs of Africa.'

Since then Al-Fayturi has published a number of other collections including 'Sunrise and Moonset' and 'Lover from Africa'. He has also lived and worked as a journalist and writer in a variety of different countries including Lebanon Libya and Sudan itself. His poetry particularly draws on his experience as an African living amongst Arabs dealing as it does with issues of race class and colonialism and it is also influenced to some extent by Sufi philosophy.

Sorrows of the Black City

When night casts its net of shadows over the streets of the city
shrouding it in grief,
you can still see them —
slumped in silence, staring at the cracks.
And you think they are calm,
but you're wrong — they're on fire!

When darkness raises its statues of marble
on the streets of the city
then smashes them in fury
then the city will lead all the people
down the spiral staircase of the night
into the deep distant past.
The past with its ambergris shores
is dreaming of memories
too deeply to be roused.
And inside everyone something begins to stir —
a fresh wall made of clay,
stuck with diamonds and desires.
When night sleeps and day wakes
raising its candles in the dark
peace ebbs back to its home in the grave.
At that, the heart of the city
turns futile and wretched —
it is an oven at noon, a lamp for the blind.
Like ancient Africa, the city is truly
an old woman veiled in frankincense,
a great pit of fire, the horn of a ram,
an amulet of old prayers, a night full of mirrors,
the dance of black women, naked,
shouting their black joy.
This coma of sins was kept alive by the master,
ships filled with slave girls,
with musk, ivory and saffron —
gifts, all without joy, despatched by the winds of all ages
to the white man of our time
to the master of all time.
A plantation stretches out in imagination
to clothe the naked, to loosen their clothes,
flowing like its ancestors through the veins of life,
dyeing the water, and dyeing God's face,
its sorrows on every mouth
breeding tyrants and iron and slaves,
breeding chains, every day breeding some new horror….

And yet, on the streets of the city,
when night constructs
its barriers of black stone — they stretch out their hands,
in silence, to the balconies of the future.
They are locked-up cries
in a locked-up land.
Their memories are stab-wounds.
Their faces are sad, like the faces of the blind.
Look, there they are,
heads slumped in silence. And you think they are calm.
But you're wrong. Truth is, they're on fire….

Translation notes

The literal translation of lines 4-7 is problematic because it is not always clear what the subject of the verbs are - e.g. in line 4 the line is literally 'you see her' which would appear to refer to the city, which is a feminine noun. It could even refer to the roads. However, when I studied this poem previously in class we took it to mean the people of the city, which seems to fit better in light of the last stanza, which repeats the same lines, but following on from a description of the people. I imagine the ambiguity is deliberate.

Lines 12-17 also pose a problem as it is hard to show whether 'the darkness' or 'the city' is the subject. In this case the Arabic verbs are clear since darkness takes a masculine verb and city a feminine verb, but it is harder to show this in English.

The final version was produced in the workshop and then finished by Sarah Maguire.

To Two Unknown Eyes

Should these enamored words chance to meet your eyes
Or pass between your lips
The forgive me; it was your eyes
In whose shade one evening I leaned resting
And snatched brief slumber
In their repose I caressed the stars and moon
I wove a boat of fancy out of petals
And laid down my tired soul
Gave to drink my thirsty lip
Quenched my eye's desire.

When we met by chance as strangers meet
My sorrow too was walking on the road
Bare, unveiled
With heavy tread
You were my sorrow.
Sadness and loss
Silence and regret
Were embracing a poet consumed by struggle.
For poetry, mistress, is a stranger in my land
Killed by emptiness and void
My spirit trembled saw you
I felt suddenly as if a dagger delved into my blood
Cleanse my heart, my mouth
Prostrated me with soiled brow and supplicating hands
In the shade of your sweet eyes.

If suddenly we meet
If my eyes see those your eyes
High-set, green, drowned in mist and rain
If on the road by another chance we meet
And what is chance but fate?
Then would I kiss the road, kiss it twice. 

Sad Saturday Night

Tonight . . . tonight, o sad-eyed one
The cactus bloomed
Above our ancient tomb, the title cactus
Lavishing its black shade on our remains
As If not satisfied with our estrangement
It imbibes all our souls distill
And stretches above us its hard branches
Covering with them shroudless corpses
Tonight . . . tonight, o beloved
My eyes were with the clouds
And I behind my wall, a corpse imprisoned by a wall
greater than you perceive, o sad-eyed one
A wall dark by day and night
Buries us, digs our grave twice daily
And we are as two corpses
On the scream of death
Tonight, tears . . . tonight, regret 
A million flowers trampled underfoot
The smile on a murdered face
Blood from a menstruating face
Torment mixed with disgust
A seal on the lips
A whip on the brow 
Even my eternal cup is deface
My sacred cup is ruined
O hideousness of pain 


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