Featured Poem

A Body

The body of a bird in your mouth
breathing songs.
Raw light spills from your eyes,
utterly naked.

You must breach the horizon, once,
in order to wake up.
You must open window after window.
You must support the walls.

I let alphabets cling to me
as I climb the thread of language
between myself and the world.
I muster crowds in my mouth:
suspended between language and the world,
between the world and the alphabets.

I let my head
listen to the myth,
to all sides praising each other.
And I shout at the winds from the top of a mountain.

Why does my tongue tell me to climb this far?
What is the distance between my voice and my longing?
What is there?

A body transcending my body.
A body exiled by desire.
A body sheltered by the wind.

Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is representing Sudan at Poetry Parnassus

» Comment on this translation 3 comment(s)

About the translation:
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi
Atef Alshaer, Sarah Maguire
Original language:
Series 3 No. 17 - Parnassus

About the author

Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

Original poet

Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic today. He has gained a wide audience in his native Su...

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Atef Alshaer

Born in Gaza, Atef Alshaer is a Leverhulme Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Political Communication and a teaching fellow at S...

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Sarah Maguire


Sarah Maguire

Sarah Maguire has published four highly-acclaimed collections of poetry, Spilt Milk (Secker; 1991; reprinted PBS; 2007), The I...

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Raficq Abdulla

22nd Jul 2012

I listened to Saddiq, at a reading for a private gathering and then at an event which I arranged at St. Ethelburgas last Friday and was moved by his language and now by the poem you have posted here.

My response is an 'answering poem' which I paste here.

I changed the font of your vision that breathes
A sample of insight which is not yours but
Comes through your mind, your lips and fingers,
And the sound of your voice
(Again not yours for we are nothing)
In my expectant reading, the play of language
I read and translate with expedient interpretations,
Not only the form but the phrased centre
That is covered by it, the singing epitome
Of a truth we are all longing for, here and there,
Anywhere that speaks for beauty and its acute
Accommodations of suffering, our necessary
Destiny brought about by birth phasing in death.

I wrote a poem lamenting loss when I was listening
To your reading in pristine Arabic – the lifeblood
Of the holy book phrased with the weight of its uncreated
Alphabet we are told to obey, that we share and are haunted by.

That undresses our raw souls making them whole as it clothes
Our bodies opened by the ebony reverberations of its uncanny sounds
That continue to hold sway in the cave of our ear with prophecy
And thus our dying parts, long after they are uttered as prayer and invocation.

Why did I write lamenting loss, listening to you?
It’s the beauty of the sound, the horizon of its iteration,
The music of the meaning that took hold of me enclosed
In a callous of words without translation
I did not understand but already loved … hearing.

© Raficq Abdulla

Melanie Wright

24th Jul 2012

This extraordianry Al Saddiq piece.... my goodness, what a breathtaking writer, i just relished this poem, he is a magician with words and i keep returning to it again and again,in awe at his gift and also with excitement. Your answering poem Raficq does him and yourself justice too... finely balanced, sensitively phrased, and in harmony with the spirit and flow of his words.


26th Jul 2012

as always, I am awestruck by Raficq's artistry with words. His is an enviable gift.


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