Eleven Poems by Syrian poet Hussein Bin Hamza

Hussein Bin Hamza ALT
Hussein Bin Hamza

translated by Piers Amodia




The gazelles roam in your sleep,
of the tigers decorating the bedcover.


Your foot,
exposed by the drawn-back cover,
does not accompany you
in your dream.


In the morning,
in working clothes
clip grass
on your side of the bed.


I won’t forget
a river,
over which leans a tree
replete with birds,
talking to it for a thousand years,
and the river passes
and doesn’t understand.


Every night
I go out of the house,
leaving the lights on.
Perhaps loneliness
will find its way to the kitchen
and there, calmly,
slit its wrists.


Although I
no longer care about anything,
and squander most of my time out of the house –
for days
I haven’t changed the water of the flowers,
and the books
and cups
and cigarette ends
are content with a layer of dust –
I find time
to feed the wolves of your absence
before I sleep.


Left to myself,
with no word to bring the absent one
with no violin to lull loneliness to sleep,
a stranger like the cypress wind among the oaks,
like a flag laughing
over sad countries.


I wasn’t able to see you today.
Yet I’m not sad,
if the rain that soaked me this morning
soaked you as well.


I enter into your life
like a sleepwalker,
like a needle roving through broadcloth.
A woman like you
accumulates deep shadow
on which my closed eyes stumble.
Even when you’re away,
when I’m no longer the natural panorama
under your gaze,
I look after myself like one
who would regret if his life did not correspond to your concept of it.

I’m no longer afraid of my misdeeds.
They live on their own like a child who’s grown
and now denies his parents.

What exists between us is like a wounded beast
that doesn’t recover and doesn’t die.

I said to myself:
Men regret like women.
I said to myself:
The autumn ruins the meditation of the trees.
I said to myself:
The bridge keeps watch and the river goes to sleep.

I said to myself:
Your perfume is everywhere and my days are dire.
I said to myself:
I speak like a man who loves to listen,
and you listen like a woman who loves to speak.

Now . . .
I live with my family, while my memories are an old maid
who never had tough sons
or gentle daughters.
Now . . .
I persevere with my regret under my parents’ gaze.
Now . . .
my brazen solitude shines under the sun of others.
What sadness dries up like grass on a grave?
What loneliness grows
with no-one to help me share it like a cake?

My life now
is like a field exposed
to your hot midday.
My isolation ransacked, my imagination exhausted.
I miss you
as soldiers miss a homeland
worthy of sacrifice


I turn my back
on the days with
no noon
for the cows of my loneliness to drowse.

I remember
that the squirrels
always guided me
to the hollow walnut tree . . .

And so
I am broken like the cypress tree
that long stood upright,
thinking itself
a piece of the forest.


There is nothing in the house
save the lowered laughter of the windows
and the half-closed sadness of the door.

save the mother sewing her children,
save our ghosts
coughing in the rooms.

In the house
that has
forgotten its address . . .


The woman …
who controlled my destiny
and put her touch
on my emaciated days,
before whose pine trees
I incline my mountain slope,
and who accompanied the symphony of my life
like a violin …

I loved her like a statue
and wandered in her life
like a tourist …


Because the tree,
the tree I didn’t talk to about you,
will not gather its birds
in the evening.

Because your blades of grass
would lose their way in another garden.

Because the air around you
does not sing the same verses
as the wind intones.

Because my mushrooming bewilderment
raises its hat
wherever you pass.

Because I believed
all the rain
that gathered in your sky.


From a new collection, as yet unpublished


Hussein Bin Hamza was born in Al-Hassaka, Syria, in 1963. Since 1995 he has lived and worked in Beirut. He has worked as a journalist on cultural affairs for several newspapers. He has two collections of poetry.

First publisahedn in Banipal 33 Autumn/Winter 2008
Fpr more information about the poet go to