Ahmad Mattar, Obama and Arabs

The Iraqi poet Ahmad Mattar has always been a vocal critic of the Arab rulers and the silence of the Arab populace, with witty sarcasm and brilliant literary creativity. In a previous article, we gave a few examples, of his criticism of Saddam and the general downfall of Arab contemporary state of affairs.

He has a new poem on Obama, which is given below with an English translation. Even though it is titled Obama, it is really an inward looking poem lamenting the state of the Arabs.

This is not the first time Obama appears in Arab poetry. There is the Shaaban Abdel Rahim song about Obama where the song writer is dismissive of Obama, and also stresses the importance of Arabs standing up for themselves and not relying on external factors.


للشاعر أحمد مطر ..
By the poet Ahmad Mattar
مِن أوباما.. لِجَميعِ الأعرابِ شُعوباً أو حُكّاما:
From Obama to the all the desert [wandering] Arabs, peoples or rulers ...
[The use of "A'raab" denotes the bedouin desert wanderers, and is used as a derogatory by Mattar]

قَرْعُ طَناجِرِكُمْ في بابي
The noise from [you drumming your] utensils at my door
أرهَقَني وَأطارَ صَوابي
has tired me and made me lose my temper
افعَل هذا يا أوباما..
Do this oh Obama!
اترُك هذا يا أوباما ..
Leave this oh Obama!
أمطِرْنا بَرْداً وسَلاما
Rain on us cold and peace ...
[An allusion to a quotation from the Quran]
يا أوباما..
Oh Obama
وَفِّرْ للِعُريانِ حِزاما !!
Furnish the naked with a [leather] belt
يا أوباما..
Oh Obama
خَصِّصْ للِطّاسَةِ حَمّاما!!
Allocate to the pan a bath
يا أوباما..
Oh Obama
فَصِّلْ للِنَملَةِ بيجاما !!
Tailor to the ant a pajama
يا أوباما..
Oh Obama
قَرقَعَة نعلِكُ أحلاماً
The sound of your footsteps are dreams
وَتَقيء صَداها أوهَامَا
And the vomit of its echoes are hallucinations
[Not sure about the exact translation here]
وَسُعارُ الضَّجّةِ مِن حَوْلي
And the rabidness of the noise around me
لا يَخبو حتّى يتنامى
Only diminishes to grow [again]
وَأنا رَجْلُ عِندي شُغْلٌ
And I am a busy man
أكثَرُ مِن وَقتِ بَطالَتكُمْ
More than the time of your idleness/unemployment
أطوَلُ مِن حُكْمِ جَلالَتِكُمْ
Longer than the rule of your majesties
فَدَعوني أُنذركُمْ بَدءاً
So let me start by warning you
كَي أحظى بالعُذْر ختاما
So, that I have the excuse at the end
[This is derived from the Arab proverb: قد اعذر من انذر "He is excused, he who has warned"
لَستُ بِخادمِ مَن خَلَّفَكُمْ
I am no servant of those who gave birth to you
لأُسِاطَ قُعوداً وَقياما
So that I be flogged sitting and standing
لَستُ أخاكُمْ حَتّى أُهْجى
I am not your brother so that you insult my [by poetry]
إن أنَا لَمْ أصِلِ الأرحاما
If I don't keep [family] relations
لَستُ أباكُمْ حَتّى أُرجى
I am not your father so you look up me
لأكِونَ عَلَيْكُمْ قَوّاما
Or I can be always assisting
وَعُروبَتُكُمْ لَمْ تَختَرْني
And your Arabness did not choose me
وَأنا ما اختَرتُ الإسلاما !
And I did not choose Islam
فَدَعوا غَيري يَتَبَنّاكُمْ
So let someone else adopt you
أو ظَلُّوا أبَداً أيتاما!
Or remain forever orphans
أنَا أُمثولَةُ شَعْبٍ يأبى
I am an example of a nation that refuses
أن يَحكُمَهُ أحَدّ غَصبْا
to be rules by anyone by force
و نِظامٍ يَحتَرِمُ الشَّعبا
And a system that respects the people
وَأنا لَهُما لا غَيرِهِما
And I am for them both not for anyone else
سأُقَطِّرُ قَلبي أنغاما
I will distill my heart in tunes/melodies
حَتّى لَو نَزَلَتْ أنغامي
Even if my tunes/melodies
فَوقَ مَسامِعِكُمْ..ألغاما!
Came down your hearing as mines [bombs]
فامتَثِلوا.. نُظُماً وَشُعوباً
So, take example, regimes and peoples
وَاتَّخِذوا مَثَلي إلهاما
and take me as an inspiration
أمّا إن شِئتُمْ أن تَبقوا
Otherwise, if you wish to remain
في هذي الدُّنيا أنعاما
in this world as cattle
تَتَسوَّلُ أمْنَاً وَطَعاما
begging for security and food
فَأُصارِحُكُمْ ... أنّي رَجُلُ
I will be direct [and blunt], I am a man
في كُلِّ مَحَطّاتِ حَياتي
in all my landmarks in my life
لَمْ أُدخِلْ ضِمْنَ حِساباتي
have never ever envisioned
أن أرعى، يوماً، أغناما !!
that one day, I would be tending sheep!

Well said ...