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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Fortune Teller by Nizar Qabbani

Salam

I am happy because this semester I am finally taking language classes again. (Well, that is the only field I'm good in. I'm kinda messed up in other fields) For Arabic class, I am having extra sessions with my instructor, Mr. Housni Bennis from Morocco. For the first session, he asked me to listen to the song 'Qariat al-Finjan' or 'The Fortune Teller' written by a Damascus poet, Nizar Qabbani and sung by Abdel Halim Hafiz.

I am excited since this is my first time learning Arabic through music. The poem is wonderful and so is the singer's voice. Nizar Qabbani is famous with his description of women in his poems. Actually I learned his poem first time in Damascus, Syria in summer 2005. It was just poem but now I could learn it through music. Oooo..i love it!

The poem is about a fortune teller who reads the 'life' of a man. I remember when I was in Damascus, I saw my friend reading fortune through a cup. It goes like this. You drink a cup of coffee and after you finish it, you put it upside down on a saucer. Let it for a couple of minutes. After that, the fortune teller will 'read' through the shapes in the cup. Mmm..weird but that's what I saw. Maybe they have other ways of fortune telling too.

At first, I thought the woman in this poem is 'Palestine' since she has no home, no land, no address. However, Bennis said that it might be the dunya or the world too. It makes sense too because the world does not remain forever. As a human, the man loves the world so much and keeps searching for it. He cannot gain the world because she can never be hers since the world is only temporary. That is why she has no land, no address, no home..

Here is the full poem of Nizar Qabbani in Arabic for those who can read Arabic and a translation in English. Credits to: http://knightjordan.blogspot.com

قارئـــة الفنجـــان
نزار قباني - قصائد متوحشة

جلست .. والخوف بعينيها
تتأمل فنجاني المقلوب
قالت : يا ولدي . لا تحزن
فالحب عليك هو المكتوب
.. يا ولدي . قد مات شهيدا
.. من مات على دين المحبوب

فنجانك .. دنيا مرعبة
وحياتك أسفار .. وحروب
ستحب كثيرا وكثيرا
وتموت كثيرا وكثيرا
.. وستعشق كل نساء الأرض
..وترجع .. كالملك المغلوب

بحياتك ، يا ولدي ، امراة
عيناها .. سبحان المعبود
فمها .. مرسوم كالعنقود
ضحكتها .. موسيقى وورود
لكن سماءك ممطرة
وطريقك .. مسدود .. مسدود

فحبيبة قلبك .. يا ولدي
نائمة .. في قصر مرصود
والقصر كبير .. يا ولدي
وكلاب تحرسه وجنود
وأميرة قلبك .. نائمة
من يدخل حجرتها مفقود
من يطلب يدها .. من يدنو
من سور حديقتها مفقود
من حاول فك ضفائرها
يا ولدي .. مفقود .. مفقود

.. بصرت .. ونجمت كثيرا
.. لكني .. لم أقرا أبدا
فنجانا يشبه فنجانك
لم أعرف أبدا .. يا ولدي
أحزانا .. تشبه أحزانك
مقدورك أن تمشي أبدا
.. في الحب .. على حد الخنجر
وتضل وحيدا كالأصداف
وتظل حزينا كالصفصاف
مقدورك أن تمضي أبدا
في بحر الحب بغير قلوع
.. وتحب ملايين المرات
.. وترجع .. كالملك المخلوع

And now for the translation in English:

The Fortune Teller
Nizar Qabbani

She sat with fear in her eyes
Contemplating the upturned cup
She said "Do not be sad, my son
You are destined to fall in love"
My son, Who sacrifices himself for his beloved,
Is a martyr

***

For long have I studied fortune-telling
But never have I read a cup similar to yours
For long have I studied fortune-telling
But never have I seen sorrows similar to yours
You are predestined to sail forever
Sail-less, on the sea of love
Your life is forever destined
To be a book of tears
And be imprisoned
Between water and fire

***

But despite all its pains,
Despite the sadness
That is with us day and night
Despite the wind
The rainy weather
And the cyclone
It is love, my son
That will be forever the best of fates

***

There is a woman in your life, my son
Her eyes are so beautiful
Glory to God
Her mouth and her laughter
Are full of roses and melodies
And her gypsy and crazy love of life
Travels the world
The woman you love
May be your whole world
But your sky will be rain-filled
Your road blocked, blocked, my son
Your beloved, my son, is sleeping
In a guarded palace
He who approaches her garden wall
Who enters her room
And who proposes to her
Or tries to unite her plaits
Will cause her to be lost, my son...lost

***

You will seek her everywhere, my son
You will ask the waves of the sea about her
You will ask the shores of the seas
You will travel the oceans
And your tears will flow like a river
And at the close of your life
You will find that since your beloved
Has no land, no home, no address
You have been pursuing only a trace of smoke
How difficult it is, my son
To love a woman
Who has neither land, nor home
مغناة بصوت : عبدالحليم حافظ


I like Abdel Halim Hafiz's voice. I think he is a legendary singer in Egypt, if I am not mistaken. The song version has some difference compared to the original poem. For your information, classic Arabic songs usually have LONG introduction. Sometimes, it gets too long that you just want to shout "start singing NOW!" Below are seven videos for ONE song only. So just imagine how long the introduction is, plus the repeating words over and over. So take your time to listen to this song. If you are in a hurry, just ignore this song. You will get frustrated when the introduction gets dragged and the singer keeps repeating again and again. Anyway, enjoy!




















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Anonymous said...

Thanks for this :)

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