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Abdulla Pashew

Born in 1946 in Hawler, Southern Kurdistan, he studied at the Teachers Training Institute in Erbil. In 1973 he went to the former USSR where six years later, he earned a Master of Arts in pedagogy, specializing in foreign languages. In 1984 the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences awarded him a Ph.D. in Philology. From 1985 to 1990 he lectured at Alfatih University in Libya.

Since 1995 he has lived in Finland. His first poem was published in 1963, his first collection in 1967. Since then he has published 8 collections, the latest, Baraw Zardapar-Towards the Twilight, was published in Sweden in 2001. He has also translated many distinguished writers and poets, in particular Walt Whitman and A. S. Pushkin.


No, I am not against dictators!
Let them multiply across the earth
Like the shadow of God.
But on one condition--
Let the children be dictators!


The free world has listened for so long
To the pulse of oil deep in the heart of things
It has become humpbacked,
Stone deaf.
It doesn't hear the mountains burning.


I am a bare dagger!
My Motherland is a stolen sheath.
Don't think I am bloodthirsty!
Go; find fault with the one,
Who unsheathed me!


If you wish your children's pillows
To bloom pink,
If you wish your gardens
To be fruitful,
If you wish heavy clouds
To send green messages to your fields
And raise the sleepy eyelids of spring _
Then liberate
Liberate the bird
That nests on my tongue!


If someday a delegate comes to my land
And asks me:
"Where is the grave of the Unknown Soldier here?"
I will tell him:
On the bank of any stream,
On the bench of any mosque,
In the shade of any home,
On the threshold of any church,
At the mouth of any cave,
In the mountains on any rock,
In the gardens on any tree,
In my country,
On any span of land,
Under any cloud in the sky,
Do not worry,
Make a slight bow,
And place your wreath of flowers."


Since the beginning of the earth
Man has been seeking after
Pearls, gold and silver
Searching the depth o oceans
And the peaks of mountains.
But, every morning, I discover a treasure,
When I see your plaits
Covering half of the pillow.


Every night, when a pillow
Invites our heads
As the two poles of the earth
To the feast of sorrow,
I see the parting lies between us
Shining, Like a dagger,
I remain awake,
Staring at it.
Do you see it, as I do?


Some need a magnificent lustre
To find the way to the Sultan's heart.
Some need a piece of a candle
For self seeing and self burning
Therefore, before taking up my pen,
I examine
What is lighting inside me:
The lustre, or the candle!


Poetry is a capricious woman
And I have fallen deeply in love.
Promising each day to come to me
She comes rarely, or not at all.


If an apple falls to my lot
I will cut it into two pieces:
One for me,
One for you,
If I win a smile, I will cut it into two pieces:
One for me
One for you.
If I come across grief
I will inhale it as deeply
As the last breath!


If I return once more,
In the mornings,
I will frolic in the lush fields like a lamb
I will chew a blade of bitter grass
And dampen my feet in the dew till I fall.

If I return once more,
I will climb the nut-trees, like a squirrel.
Like a low cloud, I will drift over green meadows.
Like a sad willow,
I shall bow over streams,
Touching the stones on their banks tenderly.
Oh, only to return once more?

If I return once more
With staring eyes I shall watch
How the heads of corn yellow;
How the apples and the pomegranates ripen,
How the birds make their nests;
How the young ones learn to fly;
How the migrant swallows sit in a row
On the telegraph wires;
Where brooks originate
And where they stream!

If I return once more
I will drink a sip of water
From the breast of each spring
To make them all my mothers.
In every cave
I will lay my head on a stone each night
To make them all my cradles.

If I return once more
I shall bring tongues of fire
To those who cannot speak.
I shall bring wings of fire
To birds which cannot fly.

If I return once more
I won't allow the young to rip up flowers
To place in dead vases

I will teach them how to place them
On the breasts of their lovers
Before embracing them.

If I return once more
I'll celebrate the birthdays of the children
Who have known no celebrations,
Instead of candles,
I shall burn my fingers
I shall burn the pupils of my eyes
I shall burn the youngest of my verses.

If I return once more
I shall bow over any cradle
I come across
Ah, children, if only I return once more.


Since I'll only live once
I love both of you.
Since I'll only live once
I offend neither the sunray,
Nor the moonbeam!

If I lived twice
I would have loved you in this life
And loved the other in that life.
Since I only live once,
I have no choice:
I love both of you.
I offend neither the sunray
Nor the moonbeam.


My Homeland--is the nest of the sun,
And the meadow, where rays bloom.
My head--is not a head,
But an ever-inclined sunflower!


My head was sea,
Thoughts, like small fishes,
Sank and floated till the morning,
I threw my net into the sea:
It fished a single.
And that one,
Turning from side to side, died!


I am in a hurry
It is high time to get
Some leaves of trees,
Some blades of grass,
Some wild flowers from that land.
I am not afraid to forget their names
I am afraid to forget their fragrance.


I admit--you are beautiful,
Like a drop of dew on a petal.
I admit--you are a temple for every eye,
Like a drop of dew on a petal.
Yet still I am bored with you,
As if you were my false passport--
I am mountainous!
The slightest touch
Boils my blood like a flame
And you are cold,
Like a drop of dew on a petal!


It was a snowstorm.
In the dusk, I made a nest of my own palm
For a wandering snowflake.
I gazed on it like a lover.
When it melted, I recognized it--
A drop of water in Kurdistan!


However I may try
I cannot distinguish youth from old age.
I worship both:
At dawn-the sunrise
At evening-the sunset
Ravish me.


Last night I left my bed,
Held up my thunderful head
Towards the sky.
I saw thousands and thousands of stars,
Scattered about,
Like seeds of pomegranate.
I came back, and remained sleepless
With sorrow for those stars
That fell down prematurely.

Source: International Journal of Kurdish Studies,  Jan, 2004
Translated by: Abdulla Pashew and Rikki Ducornet

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