Elsinore, Hamlet’s castle
The trench with green water
is criss-crossed by twigs and birds,
by the shoes of tourists
and the ghosts of shipwrecked sailors . . .
I cross it too
feeling the moat’s wooden boards,
soft, and water-logged.
Like blood within blood,
the castle resides within itself.
But now you will not caress a wooden board
or a stone, you will not enter history
to enjoy the paintings exhibited in the hall
while you listen to the
Now you will withdraw into yourself
like a snail into its shell.
You will listen to footfalls in a distant night.
To stifled breath, to the staircase
rising toward the questions.
So, then, beware!
Translated by Sargon Boulus. Reprinted from Banipal No 15/16. With thanks to the Arabic Literature (in English Translation) blog.
ٍSee also Youssef’s very long poem “Hamlet’s Balcony” – شرفة هاملت – (in Arabic).
Some high-cultural aspirations to enliven your rainy Wednesday.
These “poems” are from the slim 1925 diwan published shortly before his death by Tanyus ‘Abdu (طانيوس عبده), with a brief but glowing preface from none other than Khalil Mutran. These are not really very poetic — not even soliloquies so much as arias meant to be sung by Shaykh Salama Higazi (who later recorded some of them for Odeon Records).
Hamlet’s “monologue of the skull” (bottom right):
Another version of “Monologue of the Skull” as well as two poems for Ophelia, “Wada`a Husna'” (Farewell, Beauty), and “Bayn Narayn” (Between Two Fires, which stands in for the clumsy “Doubt that the stars are fire” poem Hamlet includes in his letter to Ophelia):
Finally, most famously, “Hamlet and his Mother,” an aria about which Muhammad `Awad Muhammad reminisces in his introduction to his own Hamlet translation as late as 1972.
Here is the man himself:
Adonis has a new poetry collection, just out this year, with a Hamlet-themed long poem in it. (Cover art is by Adonis as well.)
The poem is titled (slightly less decorously than the collection as a whole) “Calm down Hamlet, inhale Ophelia’s smell.” It was written in January 2006 (before the most recent Lebanon war, which he also writes about). On a very cursory first reading, not quite sure what it has to do with Hamlet (and it does not seem to be Adonis’ best work, not that I am any kind of expert).