Nov 162012
 

On the tragedy of Lebanese sectarianism through an Israeli Druze lens.

Naim Araidi (1950 – )
Songs of Praise to Mount Lebanon

1.

I sit atop Mount Carmel and gaze out toward the north
it seems to me the pines are cedars
being dwarfed as they come towards me.
Suddenly the things I never wanted to believe were
exposed before me:
princes without masks
all the pretty girls I once saw in pictures
are nothing less than whores
and the heroes — a band of thieves.
The snows upon Mount Lebanon are tufts of cotton
with which I won’t be able to clean the glasses I don’t have.
And this sorrow that so sorrows me: never again will I get drunk
off Zahlawi arak1
suddenly between my palms it’s
watered down and made of rotten fruit.

2.

And there on Mount Lebanon suddenly everything was dwarfed.
From the slightest tremor in the Al-Shouf mountains
Jumblatt’s already fallen from my walls
and Emir Arslan.2
With their sons I can’t speak Arabic
because their Circassian mothers and Christian sisters
and Muslim brothers-in-law
speak another language —
a language, red and black, of blood and vengeance.
And here I am, just a man
between the mountains of the Galilee and the Carmel
dreaming in the white language of poetry3
about portraits of another kind.

נעים עריידי / نعيم عرايدي
שירי הלל להר הלבנון

 
א.
 
אֲנִי יוֹשֵׁב עַל הַר הַכַּרְמֶל וּמֵבִּיט צָפוֹנָה
נִדְמֶה לִי שֶׁעֲצֵי הָאֹרֶן הֵם אֲרָזִים
הַהֹולְכִים וּמִתְגַּמְּדִים לִקְרָאתִי.
לְפֶתַע נֶחְשָׂפִים לְפָנַי הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁלֹּא רָצִיתִי
לְהַאֲמִין בָּהֶם:
נְסִיכִים לְלֹא מַסֵּכוֹת
וְכָל הַיְּפֵהפִיּוֹת שֶׁרָאִיתִי פַּעַם בַּתְּמוּנוֹת
לֹא פָּחוֹת מֵאֲשֶׁר פְּרוּצוֹת
וְהַגִּבּוֹרִים — חֶבֶר גַּנָבִים.
הַשֶּׁלֶג שֶׁעַל הַר הַלְּבָנוֹן הוּא צֶמֶר־גֶּפֶן
שֶׁלֹּא אוּכַל לְנַקּוֹת בּוֹ אֶת הַמִּשְׁקָפַיִם שֶׁאֵין לִי.
וְעַל צַעֲרִי שֶׁאֲנִי מִצְטַעֵר: שׁוּב לֹא אוּכַל לְהִשְׁתַּכֵּר
מֵהָעַרַק הַזַחְלַאוִי —
בְּכַפּוֹת יָדַי הוּא פִּתְאֹם
מָהוּל בְּמַיִּם, עָשׂוּי בְּאוּשִׁים.
 
ב.
 
וְשָׁם עַל הַר הַלְּבָנוֹן הִתְגַּמֵּד הַכֹּל פִּתְאֹם.
מִזַּעֲזוּעַ דַּק בְּיוֹתֵר בְּהָרֵי אַל־שׁוּף
כְּבָר נוֹפְלִים מִקִּירוֹתַי גּ’וּנְבַּלַאט
וְהָאָמִיר אַרְסַלַאן.
עִם בְּנֵיהֶם אֵינִי יָכוֹל לְדַבֵּר עֲרָבִית
כִּי אִמּוֹתֵיהֶם הַצֶ’רְקֶסִיּוֹת וְאַחְיוֹתֵיהֶם הַנּוֹצְרִיּוֹת
וְגִיסֵיהֶם הַמֻּסְלְמִים
מְדַבְּרִים בְּשָׂפָה אַחֶרֶת —
שָׂפָה אֲדֻמָּה וּשְׁחוֹרָה שֶׁל דָּם וְנָקָם.
וַאֲנִי כָּאן הֲרֵי אָדָם
בֵּין הָרֵי הַגָּלִיל וְהַכַּרְמֶל
חוֹלֵם בִּשְֹפַת הַשִּׁיר הַלְּבָנָה
עַל דְּיוֹקְנָאוֹת מִסּוּג אַחֵר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

1.

Ani yoshéiv ʕal har ha-karmél u-meibít tzafónah
Nidméh li she-ʕatzéi ha-‘óren heim ‘arazím
Ha-holkhím u-mitgamdím likratí.
Le-fétaʕ neḥsafím lefanái ha-devarím she-ló ratzíti
Le-ha’amín bahém:
Nesikhím leló maseikhót
Ve-khól ha-yefeifiyót she-ra’íti páʕam ba-temunáh
Lo paḥót mei-‘ashér prutzót
Ve-ha-giborím — ḥéver ganavím.
Ha-shéleg she-ʕál har ha-levanón hu tzémer-géfen
She-ló ‘ukhál lenakót bo ‘et ha-mishkafáyim she-‘éin li.
Ve-ʕál tzaʕarí she-‘aní mitztaʕéir: shuv lo ‘ukhál lehishtakéir
Mei-ha-ʕárak ha-zaḥláwi —
Be-khapót yadái hu pit’óm
Mahúl be-máyim, ʕasúi be’ushím.

2.

Ve-shám ʕal har ha-levanón hitgaméid ha-kól pit’óm.
Mi-zaʕzúaʕ dak be-yotéir be-haréi ‘al-shúf
Kevár noflím mi-kirotái Junblát
Ve-ha-‘amír ‘Arsalán.
ʕim beneihém ‘éini yakhól ledabéir ʕaravít
Ki ‘imoteihém ha-cherkesiyót ve-‘aḥyoteihém ha-notzriyót
Ve-giseihém ha-muslemím
Medabrím be-safáh ‘aḥéret —
Safáh ‘adumáh u-sheḥoráh shel dam ve-nakám.
Va-‘aní kan haréi ‘adám
Bein haréi ha-galíl ve-ha-karmél
Ḥoléim bisfát ha-shír ha-levanáh
ʕal dyokna’ót mi-súg ‘aḥéir.

  1. A high-quality variety of arak, the anise-flavored spirit of choice in the Levantine Arab world. You can find Zahlawi arak in better-stocked liquor stores in the US sometimes. I used to get it from Spec’s in Austin. It is, to use the technical term, the good shit. If Naim Araidi won’t drink it anymore, then more for me.
  2. I’m not entirely sure whether Araidi here is referring to Walid Jumblatt and Talal Arslan or their fathers, who were equally prominent in Lebanese politics. The Jumblatts and Arslans are the dominant clans in Lebanese Druze society. Which particular scions are falling off the poet’s walls probably isn’t so important – the point is that he’s become disillusioned with the nominal leaders of his people.
  3. “White” (“levanáh”) and “Lebanon” (“levanón”) are etymologically linked in Hebrew and other Semitic languages – most likely because the mountains of Lebanon (towards which the poet is gazing) are snow-capped year-round. I’m assuming this is an intentional allusiveness.

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