Muhammad al-Maghut's poetics of nonchalance
The Syrian poet Muhammad al-Maghut (1934–2006) embraced the persona of the outsider, the loiterer, the hobo. He performed it in his life and in his poetry. This marginal posture guides and supplements the reading of his work and the perceived achievement of his poetic project.
to rip something apart
to sail stubbornly
under a sad, sad rain,
not like an adventurer
in currents of suitcases and flowers,
but like a lowly rat,
like a teary-eyed rat
waking up, terrified,
and its lamps glittered
like the eyes of wet hyenas.
(excerpt from “A House by the Sea” from his A Room with a Million Walls)
without kin, without a beloved,
I loiter like scattering fog,
like a city burning at night.
Nostalgia stings my lanky sides
like the beautiful wind, the blind dust.
For, the road is long
and the forest grows distant like a spear.
(excerpt from “The Wing of Misery” from Sorrow in the Light of the Moon)
Lebanon is burning.
It jerks like a wounded mare at the mouth of the desert
while I look for a plump girl
to rub against on a bus,
for a man with Arab features
to kill somewhere.
My homeland falls apart
shivers naked like a cub lioness
while I search in an isolated corner
for a desperate peasant girl to lure.
(excerpt from “The Burning of Words” from Sorrow in the Light of the Moon)