The Three Cypress Trees

Transparent and frail,
like the slumber of woodcutters,
serene, foreshadowing things to come,
the morning drizzle does not conceal
these three cypresses on the slope.

Their details belie their sameness,
their radiance confirms it.

I said:
I wouldn’t dare to keep looking at them,
there is a beauty that takes away our daring,
there are times when courage fades away.

The clouds rolling high above
change the form of the cypresses.

The birds flying towards other skies
change the resonance of the cypresses.

The tiled line behind them
fixes the greenness of the cypresses
and there are trees whose only fruit is greenness.

Yesterday, in my sudden cheerfulness,
I saw their immortality.

Today, in my sudden sorrow,
I saw the axe.

by Mourid Barghouti

© Mourid Barghouti, 2005

Mourid Barghouti was born on 8 July 1944, in Deir Ghassana, near Ramallah, Palestine. He has published twelve books of poetry, the most recent being Muntasaf al-Layl / Midnight (Arc, 2008), the collection from which this poem is taken. His autobiographical narrative, Ra’aytu Ramallah / I Saw Ramallah (1997), published in several editions in Arabic, won the Naguib Mahfouz Award for Literature (1997), and was translated into several languages, with the English translation being published by the American University in Cairo Press, Random House, and Bloomsbury. In the year 2000, he was given the Palestine Award for Poetry. Mourid Barghouti has participated in numerous conferences and poetry readings and festivals in almost all the Arab countries, and in several European cities, and his work frequently appears in journals and magazines in both Arabic and in English translations. He has been in exile from Palestine since 1967, and lives in Cairo. To read more about Barghouti, and to see further examples of his work, visit this page.

Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, click here.