Mahjoub Sharif

Mahjoub Sharif was a Sudanese poet born in 1948. He trained as a teacher and was imprisoned for his poems throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, his work being critical of various Sudanese regimes. He died in April2004 at a hospital in Omdurman.
A Home-Sick Sparrow
(translated from Arabic)
To land like a turban,
On the shoulder of the homeland.
With each coup in a dark abyss we plunge,
The heavy-footed junta besiege our songs,
They agitate our inkpot, confiscate its internal peace.
They poison the cheerful spring,
And place their muzzles on everything.
What a pleasant dream they disfigure,
In the eyes of each mother.
But they can’t manage to silence us. Never.
In their cells we sip,
The perseverance syrup,
To remain bold and steadfast.
O my times in incarceration
O my pain of longing and torment,
If I lose touch with you,
Who, in this time of coercion, would I be?
If I lose touch with you I will betray
The little ones yet to come,
If I lose touch with you,
Conceited and self-centered I will become.
So long as I have a voice in my chords,
What prison—or even death—can silence me?
No. We will never succumb.
They have no say
In our destiny. No they don’t.
We are the ones who bring life
To the dead pores of dormancy.
O my sweetheart,
My life partner,
In the high regards I will always keep you.
O my beloved daughters,
Nestled in the shade of the kind people.
O the luminous space in the eye range:
Warm me up with your peaceful greetings,
With your letters.
Give my greetings to my peers;
Give my greetings to the clouds;
Give my greetings to the earth;
Give my greetings to the crowds;
And to the words of romance,
In the notebooks of the youth.