Poetry holds an important place in Yemeni culture. It is recited during festivals and celebrations, and is the subject of numerous competitions. Poetry is a proud tradition in Yemen, particularly for the young generation.
These poems by Farah and Abdo were written in French as part of a poetry workshop I facilitated at the French Cultural Center in Sanaa in 2010. Participants were students of the French language, either at the Department of Languages at the University of Sanaa, or simply in the courses offered by the center.
The workshop was mixed and the participants were free to write without restraints of style or formatting. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of these youth, both for the workshop and their poetic creations. Their pieces demonstrate an immense creativity and desire to open up to others.
Abdo’s poem ‘Yemen’ was published in the French weekly Le Point, in the section ‘Poète toi-même’.
The beauty who twice gave me death:
Once when I loved her,
And hung as a necklace on her breast
She was my shelter and my hope
The other, when the brute veiled her
scorched the trees
stole the sea
And destroyed every thing
If I am dead now
I cannot kiss your domes and your dunes
I cannot dry your tears
I cannot ease your pain
I cannot stop to kiss your sweetness
I can meet you in Heaven
Here, everyone knows who you are, the Bride of the Sea.
We will wake the nymph asleep in the stars
We will sing the song of morning
The mountain, the bee and the world are just waking up
The sun has melted the moon’s crescent
Can’t you feel the tears of summer?
Can’t you hear the joy of the sea?
Can’t you see the hope in the eyes of the children?
At night, the clouds are otherworldly.
Wake up forever!
You are the memory of my childhood
You are the symbol of innocence
Farah Al Mouayad
There is no place as pretty as this one
Between the green of the trees and the blue of the sea
My country, it’s a beautiful country!
Listen to the stars who are singing a song called Yemen
Without poverty anymore
With no terrorism anymore
With our voices raised we’ll sing together for Yemen
No one dares stop the song for Yemen
In our eyes, Yemen is the being most dear
Deep in the Sea of Aden, we find love
At the summit of the Sanaa mountains, we find love too
Love has been found in the soil of Yemen since forever
Together we live and we die for Yemen
No more, no less.
The article was translated from French by Erin O’Halloran.