from "The Night Before"
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker
Pour Ali la Pointe
Here where each day calls out to our suffering
Here where each step chains our desire for hope
Here where everything cries out misfortune violence famine
Here where blood is confirmed silently and grief gains ground
He died. Died buried under a pile of rubble
While he trampled hatred down with his proud blood
So that the roots of his impatient people
Would grow knotty in the shadow of the flag
Gray tears, so slow to cool
Endurances curved round the sacred fire
Because they wanted to condemn our long
Arid thankless processions to the shadows
Because they wanted to tear up our lives
At the borders of oblivion
Ali La Pointe, son of a land that took up arms
Sole penance, disturbing spacious nights
Who wrestled down infamy, devoured disdain
At first sight of their guns
Here he is indicting at one more meeting
Their blood-gorged breath; he is there
For those who know the universe at the dark hour
Furies of one shared past!
His face—mirror of cruelties—where a chorus of cries
Fuses our hope, sharpens our freedom
Here he is again, living hostage in the wrinkles around
Our eyes where the new sun has driven away
Shame and emptiness forever. I say: spotted, wrinkled, polished fruits.
We sow because death is determined
Because death is stronger than hunger
O mother country, he called you Certainty before his rapture
Then gave himself to the flames to restore
Your sovereign brightness.
Yesterday strapped down once more by insults of the lords and masters
Swallowed up by incest misery
He loved the humble, set tenderness free
Devoured the past
At the multiple hour of inheritance
When our joy tells the beads of present freedoms
When his name is whispered in our silences
I cry out: Child of the Casbah
Spring thaw on the ramparts
Originally published in the January 2019 issue of Words Without Borders. © Djamal Amrani. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.
Born in 1935, in Sour El-Gozhlane, Algeria, Djamal Amrani's books include Soleil de notre nuit (Editions Subervie, 1964), L'été de ta peau (Société Nationale d'Edition et de diffusion, 1981), and La nuit du dedans (Marsa Editions, 2002).
Date Published: 2019-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/night-6