George Khabbaz on Lebanon: Rfi’i El Chahid

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We’re starting off 2014 with sad news. We’re going through a period that is confusing, terrifying and shocking. Much can be said about Lebanon’s obstacles, and I’ll surely dedicate a few posts to discuss them. But for now, I’ll just share this.

Our beloved George Khabbaz wrote a poem called “Rfi’i El Chahid” (My friend the martyr). For reasons you’ll soon see, I found it to represent Lebanon’s current situation.

The English translation was done by Joud Sharafeddine (Arabic below). If the blog’s format bothers you, you can download the file here.



اسمعني يا رفيقي الشهيد يللي تركتنا بكير ، نفس الغلطة عم منعيد واللي صار رجع يصير
رجعنا نمشي نفس الدرب ونفتش عماشي ، كأنو كل سنين الحرب ما تعلمنا منّا شي
و 30 سنة من الذل يظهر ما بتكفينا ، رجع الحقد فينا حل ورجعوا يلعبوا فينا
والشباب بعدا بتفل وعم نسمع صوت القنابل ، ورجع الكل يسب الكل وانخلط الحابل بالنابل
ومشيت لغة التجريح والبلد ما شفيوا جراحو ، قولك رح تاخدنا الريح ما بيكفوا اللي راحوا
سبق وشربنا من الكاس وبكينا عالمقابر ، ما اشتقنا عخطوط التماس ولا اشتقنا عالمعابر
قلن حاج يضحكوا عالناس اللي بيحكوا عالمنابر ، يا ريت فيك تزورهن يوم مش عم يسمعوا منّي
فيقهن انت من النوم ببلد متل الجنة ، قلن يا بشر اوعا ترجعوا لهاك الايام
صار لازم بقا نوعا ببلد بيلبقلو السلام ، ما حدا منّا سئلان وعَ وطنو خايف
كل واحد فاتح دكان ليتاجر بالطوايف ، يا عالم كل الاديان بتدعي لنكون محبّين
ونحنا منكره الانسان ومنحط الحجة بالدين ، قلوبنا صارت من حديد وما تعلمنا من الماضي
خايف يا رفيقي الشهيد تكون رحت عالفاضي
بنتَك صارت صبية وصار عمرا فوق العشرين ، عم بتسأل وينو بيي وبيي استشهد كرمال مين ؟
قلتلا بيّك بدمو دفع حق الحرية ، القضية كانت همّوواستشهد للقضية
قالت ايّا حرية ؟ وشو بدي بالقضية ، مبارح بحفلة تخرجت وما كان بالحفلة بيي
قلن يوعوا من جديد وما يرجعوا للماضي ، حتى يا رفيقي الشهيد ما تكون رحت عالفاضي
ليش ضحكات الاطفال عنّا الخوف بيخطفا ، بلدي يا احلى وردة الكل بدّو يقطفا


Joud’s Translation:

Listen to me my martyr friend who has departed us early,
We are repeating the same mistake; what has happened shall happen again
30 years of disgrace apparently do not suffice,
Grudge has returned and they play with us again
And the youth still act and we still hear the sounds of the grenades,
And all is back to scolding all and the saint has been mixed with the sinner
The language of hurting returns, and the country cannot see its own wounds
They said the winds will take us. Those who died are not enough
We have already drunk from the glass and cried over the graves
We do not yearn for the border lines not for the checkpoints
Tell those who talk on the podiums to stop fooling the people
I wish you could visit them some day; they do not listen to me
You wake them up from a sleep in a country like the heaven
Tell them, “People wake up; go back to those days”
It is time them we wake up in a country fit for peace; none of us is concerned
Or afraid about the future of his country
Each has opened a store to trade with sects.
People, all religions call that we love
We hate the human and we use religion as an excuse
Our hearts have become of steel and we did not learn anything from the past
I am afraid, my martyr friend, that you might have died for nothing
Your daughter has become a young lady, over 20 years of age
She is asking, “Where is my father? Whom did he die a martyr for?”
I told her, “Your father paid the price of freedom.
The cause was his concern and he died for the cause.”
She asked, “Which freedom? Yesterday in the ceremony, I graduated
And my father wasn’t there.”
Tell them to wake up again and not to go back to the past
Why are the laughter of children under threat of kidnap?
My country, the most beautiful of flowers which each wants to pick.

You can also find me on Twitter @JoeyAyoub

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