El Baile

Por Siamanto (Atom Yarjanian).
Traduccion de Nicolas Alvarado

En un campo de cenizas donde la vida armenia
seguia muriendo,
una alemana, tratando de no llorar,
me narro el horror que atestiguo:

“Esto que te cuento
lo vi con mis propios ojos.
Tras mi ventana infernal
aprete los dientes
y vi el pueblo de Bardez ser reducido
a un monton de cenizas.
Los cadaveres se alzaban en pilas tan altas como un arbol
y, de los manantiales, de las corrientes y de los caminos,
la sangre emitia un terco murmullo
que aun clama venganza en mis oidos.

No temas; debo contarte lo que vi
para que la gente conozca
los crimenes que el hombre inflige al hombre.
Durante dos dias, junto al camino al cementerio.

Que los corazones del mundo comprendan!
Era una manana de domingo,
del primer domingo inutil que amanecia sobre los cadaveres.
Del crepusculo al ocaso habia estado en mi habitacion
con una mujer apunalada
-su muerte humedecida por mis lagrimas-
cuando escuche a lo lejos,
parada en un vinedo, a una turba oscura
que azotaba a veinte virgenes
y entonaba cantos inmundos.

Deje a la chica medio muerta en el colchon de paja
y sali al balcon de mi ventana.
La turba parecia crecer como una mata.
Un animal humano grito “ Debeis Danzar,
danzar al son de nuestro tambor!”
Con furia chasquearon los latigos
sobre las carnes de estas mujeres.
Tomadas de la mano, las virgenes comenzaron su
danza circular. Envidiaba ahora a mi vecina herida
quien, con un calmo ronquido,
maldecia al universo y entregaba su alma a las estrellas…

“¡Bailen!, clamaban
“¡Bailen hata la muerte, bellezas infieles!
¡Bailen con vuestras tetas batientes!
¡¡Sonreidnos!! ¡Estais perdidas!
¡Sois esclavas desnudas!
¡Bailen, pues, como un racimo de miserables putas!
¡Vuestros cuerpos muertos nos ponen calientes!”
Veinte agraciadas virgenes se desplomaron.
“¡Levantaos!”, gritaba la turba
blandiendo sus espadas.

Alguien trajo entonces un jarro de keroseno.
Justicia humana, escupo tu faz.
Los virgenes fueron ungidas.
“¡Bailen!, rugieron:
“¡He aqui una fragancia que no se encuentra en Arabia!”

Con una antorcha
prendieron fuego a los cuerpos desnudos
y los cuerpos calcinados rodaron
hasta alcanzar la muerte…

Cerre mi ventana,
me sente junto a mi muerta
y pregunte: “¿Como puedo arrancarme los ojos?

“The Dance”
by Siamanto (Atom Yarjanian).
(Translated by Peter Balakian and Nevart Yaghlian)

In a field of cinders where Armenian life
was still dying,
a German woman, trying not to cry
told me the horror she witnessed:

“This thing I’m telling you about,
I saw with my own eyes,
Behind my window of hell
I clenched my teeth
and watched the town of Bardez turn
into a heap of ashes.
The corpses were piled high as trees,
and from the springs, from the streams and the road,
the blood was a stubborn murmur,
and still calls revenge in my ear.

Don’t be afraid; I must tell you what I saw.
so people will understand
the crimes men do to men.
For two days, by the road to the graveyard …

Let the hearts of the world understand,
It was Sunday morning,
the first useless Sunday dawning on the corpses.
From dawn to dusk I had been in my room
with a stabbed woman —
my tears wetting her death —
when I heard from afar
a dark crowd standing in a vineyard
lashing twenty brides
and singing filthy songs.

Leaving the half-dead girl on the straw mattress,
I went to the balcony of my window
and the crowd seemed to thicken like a clump of trees
An animal of a man shouted, “You must dance,
dance when our drum beats.”
With fury whips cracked
on the flesh of these women.
Hand in hand the brides began their circle dance.
Now, I envied my wounded neighbor
because with a calm snore she cursed
the universe and gave up her soul to the stars …

“Dance,” they raved,
“dance till you die, infidel beauties
With your flapping tits, dance!
Smile for us. You’re abandoned now,
you’re naked slaves,
so dance like a bunch of fuckin’ sluts.
We’re hot for your dead bodies.”
Twenty graceful brides collapsed.
“Get up,” the crowed screamed,
brandishing their swords.

Then someone brought a jug of kerosene.
Human justice, I spit in your face.
The brides were anointed.
“Dance,” they thundered —
“here’s a fragrance you can’t get in Arabia.”

With a torch, they set
the naked brides on fire.
And the charred bodies rolled
and tumbled to their deaths …

I slammed my shutters,
sat down next to my dead girl
and asked: “How can I dig out my eyes?”


“The Desert” Verses 1 – 20
by Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said)
English translation by Abdullah al-Udhari

My era tells me bluntly:
You do not belong.
I answer bluntly:
I do not belong,
I try to understand you.
Now I am a shadow
Lost in the forest
Of a skull

I’m on my feet, the wall is a fence —
The distance shrinks, a window recedes.
Daylight is a thread
Snipped by my lungs to stitch the evening.

All I said about my life and death
Recurs in the silence
Of the stone under my head …

Am I full of contradictions? That is correct.
Now I am a plant. Yesterday, when I was between fire
and water
I was a harvest.
Now I am a rose and live coal,
Now I am the sun and the shadow
I am not a god.
Am I full of contradictions? That is correct …

The moon always wears
A stone helmet
To fight its own shadows.

The door of my house is closed.
Darkness is a blanket:
A pale moon comes with
A handful of light
My words fall
To convey my gratitude.

The killing has changed the city’s shape — This rock
is bone
This smoke people breathing.

We no longer meet,
Rejection and exile keep us apart.
The promises are dead, space is dead,
Death alone has become our meeting point.

He shuts the door
Not to trap his joy
… But to free his grief.

A newscast
About a woman in love
Being killed,
About a boy being kidnapped
And a policeman growing into a wall.

Whatever comes it will be old
So take with you anything other than this madness — get ready
To stay a stranger …

They found people in sacks:
One without a head
One without a tongue or hands
One squashed
The rest without names.
Have you gone mad? Please.
Do not write about these things.

You will see
Say his name
Say I painted his face
Stretch your hand to him
Or walk like any man
Or smile
Or say I was once sad
You will see
There is no homeland …

There may come a time when you’ll be
Accepted to live deaf and dumb, and perhaps
They’ll let you mumble: death,
Life, resurrection —
And peace be upon you.

He wears Jihad uniform, struts in a mantle of ideas.
A merchant — he does not sell clothes, he sells people.

They took him to a ditch and burnt him.
He was not a murderer, he was a boy.
He was not …
He was a voice
Vibrating, scaling the steps of space.
And now he’s fluting in the air.

The earth’s trees have become tears on heaven’s cheeks.
An eclipse in this place.
Death snapped the city’s branch and the friends departed.

You do not die because you are created or because you have a body
You die because you are the face of the future.

The flower that tempted the wind to carry its perfume
Died yesterday.

The sun no longer rises
It covers its feet with straw
And slips away …
Lament for Marmara
from Songs of Greek Refugees Kalamaria 1915-1925
published by the municipality of Kalamaria

In 1915, the island of Prikonisos, where the great
“Leventes” were raised, died.
A decree was issued by the Turkish ministers from Constantinople
And the Martial courts:

Three islands were ordered to be evacuated –
Marmara, Koutali and Pasalimani.

At 8 o’clock at night the news was spread that a boat
Would come tomorrow to take the residents of Marmara
At dawn on Sunday June the 7th
Marmara lost the bright light of the sun.

Ah, renowned Marmara, we’ll never forget you.
No matter how far I am from you nor for as long as I live.

I hope that when I board the ship, God will help me with
The pain of seeing the mountains of Marmara as I sail away.

Psalm 34
An Excerpt

Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Who among you loves life, takes delight in prosperous days?
Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The LORD has eyes for the just and ears for their cry.
The LORD’S face is against evildoers to wipe out their memory from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears and rescues them from all distress.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.
Many are the troubles of the just, but the LORD delivers from them all.
God watches over all their bones; not a one shall be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked; those who hate the just are condemned.
The LORD redeems loyal servants; no one is condemned whose refuge is God.

Sevda Zinçiri

Sevda Zinciri Taktim Boynuma/ I put a chain of love on my neck
Bu sönmez atesi saldim koynuma/ I set an undistinguishable fire to my bosom
Bile bile vebal aldim boynuma/ Knowingly, I took the burden on my shoulders
(chorus) (chorus)
Yar uydun el sözüne/ Oh, beloved, you took the word of a stranger
Uyku girmez gözüme/ Sleep doesn’t come to my eyes
Garibim gurbet elde/ I am a poor man abroad
Kimse bakmaz yüzüme,vay/ No one looks at me
Gel nazli cadan/ Come, beloved
Ben sana sana hayran/ I am astonished with you
Gel nazli cadan/ Come, reluctant beloved
Ben sana kurban, aman/ I have sacrificed myself to you
Ben urdan sen yiktin taci tahtimi/ You smashed, you crashed the crown of my throne
Yine sen açarsin kara bahtimi/ You, again open my fortune
Duyuramaz oldum sana abdimi/ I became unable to make my sorrow heard by you