Thursday, November 6, 2014

Elegy, John Mikhail Asfour, Cousin + Poet


This past week a shining light in our community, in my family, was dimmed for the last time. While John may have passed away, his words remain with us. This is a piece called 'Elegy.'
Write me an elegy,
Write my country an elegy,
     For my country is dead
     And I am gone.
Stab me, that I may bleed,
Shoot me, shoot all the shame, the anger and the mockery
     I live in.
Write me an elegy,
     Write of the dead.
How they die unprepared, unaware
Of the futility of their death.
Write of the women blinded with their tears,
Of the children carrying flowers to their fathers' graves,
And write of the brides who had no time to bid their lovers farewell.
And finally, write of a man
     Sitting behind his desk,
     Holding his pen,
     Staring at his notes,
     Having a debate with his god
     About the injustice of his world.
Write me an elegy,
Write my country an elegy.
     The land is full of the dead,
     There is no place to bury more.
Write me an elegy and let me perish.
Let me die next to those who have perished.
     My blood shall nourish the earth,
     My grave shall grow a tree.
I die, and my country also dies.
The mountains fall, the stars fall,
     And the sun burns off.
by John Mikhail Asfour
Some of his accomplishment are recorded in Wikipedia as follows:
John Asfour (Arabic: جون عصفور) (born in 1945 in Aitaneat, Lebanon) (died in 2014 in Montreal, Canada) was a Lebanese-Canadian poet, writer, and teacher. At the age of 13, a grenade exploded in his face injuring his eyes during the Lebanese crisis of 1958.
He moved to Canada in 1968. He is a former professor of literature residing in Montreal, Canada.
He is the author of 5 volumes of poetry in English, and two in Arabic, he has selected, edited and translated into English the landmark anthology 'When the Words Burn: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry' and co-authored with Alison Burch a volume of selected poems by Muhammad al-Maghut entitled 'Joy is not my Profession.'
In 2005 and 2007, he organized and held two conferences on Arab Immigrants, their rights and duties for the Ministry of Immigration of Quebec.