We Wait for Poets by Manash Bhattacharjee


[In solidarity with Palestinian poet, Ashraf Fayadh]

prophets have retired
so do not wait for yours to come to you
~ Ashraf Fayadh (translated by Mona Kareem)

In our country, a prince,
Dara Shikoh, had his head severed,
He translated the name
Of another god, and after him,
Sarmad, beheaded too,
For his tongue refused to go
Beyond the “No”

Yes, there is god, no, there isn’t,
Between this and that
Lie many heads, below the earth,
Separated from their bodies,
They refused to bow before what
They held did not exist

Men, unlike animals, are sacrificed
For uttering, un-bleatingly
The word that faces the word (of)
God, without fear, for why
Fear god, unlike those,
Severing the head of animals,
To prove, vainly,
That god is not an animal

I disagree, Ashraf,
Those prophets aren’t retired,
They are scared to return,
The sword shall not
Spare them, appearing twice
For the same crime

But I agree, Ashraf,
We should not wait for them,
The way we wait, still,
For poets, to arrive with words
Contrary to our beliefs,
How else to dream of death
In this bewildering place,
Where men can turn animals
In the name of paradise

By Manash Bhattacharjee

CU4myZ-W4AA17GlAshraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist who lives in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’. The Saudi Arabian authorities claim that his poetry has questioned religion and spread atheism. Ashraf has committed no crime. He is a prisoner of conscience. Ask the Saudi Arabian authorities to free him now.

Amnesty InternationalEnglish PEN | #FreeAshraf