Category Archives: Arabic poetry

Love Song for Words, By Iraqi poet: Nazek al-Malaikah


Why do we fear words

When they have been rose-palmed hands,

fragrant, passing gently over our cheeks,

and glasses of heartening wine

sipped, one summer, by thirsty lips?


Why do we fear words

when among them are words like unseen bells,

whose echo announces in our troubled lives

the coming of a period of enchanted dawn,

drenched in love, and life?

So why do we fear words?


We took pleasure in silence.

We became still, fearing the secret might part our lips.

We thought that in words laid an unseen ghoul,

crouching, hidden by the letters from the ear of time.

We shackled the thirsty letters,

We forbade them to spread the night for us

as a cushion, dripping with music, dreams,

and warm cups.


Why do we fear words?

Among them are words of smooth sweetness

whose letter have drawn the warmth of hope from two lips,

and others that, rejoicing in pleasure

have waded though momentary joy with two drunk eyes.

Words, poetry, tenderly

turned to caress our cheeks, sounds

that, asleep in their echo, lies a rich color, a rustling,

a secret ardor, a hidden longing.


Why do we fear words?

If their thorns have once wounded us,

then they have also wrapped their arms around our necks

and shed their sweet scent upon our desires.

If their letters have pierced us

and their face turned callously from us

then they have also left us with an oud in our hands.

And tomorrow they will shower us with life.

So pour us two full glasses of words!


Tomorrow we will build ourselves a dream-nest of words,

high, with ivy trailing from its letter.

We will nourish its buds with poetry

and water its flowers with words.

We will build a balcony for the timid rose

with pillars made of words,

and a cool hall flooded with deep shade,

guarded by words.


Our life we have dedicated as a prayer

To whom will we pray…but to words?

Translated from Arabic


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