Poem for the Man of Light: Abdul Wahhab Al-Bayati


The man of light
Goes vagrant through my sleep at night
He stops in the abandoned corner
To extract words from my memory to write
And rewrite them aloud,
To blot lines out
He looks into the mirror
Of the house sunken deep in the darklight.
He recollects something
And slinks from my sleep.
I wake in dread
And try to recollect some thing
Of what he wrote, of what was said,
In vain. For the light
Has erased the papers and my memory
With daybreak’s deadman white.


We are grateful to A. Z.  Foreman for his translation from the Arabic into English.

Visit his site:  poemsintranslation.blogspot.com

Abdul Wahhab Al-Bayati (1926-1999) was an Iraqi poet who modernized Arabic poetry, introducing broader topics and breaking with the classical tradition of strict rhyme and metre.

The Arabic original of the poem follows:

قصيدة لرجل النور
عبد الوهاب البياتي

يتجول في نومي رجل النور
يتوقف في الركن المهجور
يُخرج من ذاكرتي كلماتٍ
ويعيد كتابتها في صوت مسموع
يمحو بعض سطور
ينظر في مرآة البيت الغارق بالظلمة والنور
يتذكر شيئاً
فيغادر نومي
استيقظ مذعوراً
وأحاول أن أتذكر شيئاً
مما قال ومما هو مكتوب
عبثاً ، فالنور
مسح الأوراق وذاكرتي
ببياض الفجر المقتول