Thu 31 Jan 2013
Artwork by Lebanese artist Fady Habib
By George N. El-Hage. Ph.D.
[Originally written in Arabic and Translated by Allen Lederman and George Nicolas El-Hage. For part 1, click here.]
1 – Glory be to Lebanon and the strength and dignity of man in her, now and forever.
2 – Oh my Lebanese friend, if only you could witness the politicians, and by God they are many. Those who deprived politics of its national obligations, you will see them as they are, without their chameleon skins, parrot tongues, and raven cloaks. If only you saw them in the mirror of truth and patriotism, you would curse them and refuse their sedition.
3 – Because Lebanon embodies love, and love embodies God, Lebanon endures. Fear not, oh Lebanese.
4 – No. The sound of the cannons and the explosions of the bombs and bullets no longer frighten our women. For the Woman who reared history’s greatest heroes is able to beget heroism any time.
5 – Those who died in the cause of Lebanon know they live in our hearts and that to die for Lebanon, is to live.
6 – Never have invaders and oppressors been more powerful than a people fighting for its survival. Thus we know we will triumph and endure.
7 – Those who sold their homeland and bartered their cause do not even deserve the curse of history, for he who has neither country nor cause, is non-existent.
8 – Those whom Lebanon harbored and fed, and carried their cause to the world, chased her people out, starved and killed them. We will continue to love them, for what good is it to love only those who love you.
9 – Never before has the Lebanese mother displayed such heroism. She has always known how to be worthy of motherhood, and now she knows how to be worthy of Lebanon.
10 – The deer said to the dog: “Why do you insist on chasing me, even if you continue to fail.” The dog replied: “I want to catch you and take you to my master.” Answered the deer: “Try again, but know that I run for my life while you run for others.”
11 – Oh, my friend, your Lebanese brothers will return to their senses, even if after a long while. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
12 – The desert has never been able to contain or understand us, for the enmity between the barrenness of the desert and the cool shade of the fields is infinite and deep.
13 – A grain of sand said to a drop of water: “Powerful I am and unyielding. In vain does man try to benefit from me.” The water answered: “You are despised and ungrateful. You have spent your life near the sea, a neighbor of water, and have never known the pleasure of quenching your thirst.”
14 – To those whom hatred blinded and savagery possessed, who burned the books in Lebanon, I say: “Wretched are you. He who invented the Letter once and bestowed the Alphabet of civilization on the world, is capable of creating the book once more. For civilization is a continuing dialogue and we are the masters of culture and conversation.”
15 – To those who defiled the sanctity of Lebanon’s Churches and Mosques, who stole what was at hand and burned the rest, I say: “Of those idealistic values and spiritual abodes, you destroyed only the physical, but the spirit preserves. No wonder, Lebanon is the fountainhead and breath of the spirit.”
16 – Oh mother, when you pray, pray not for me, but pray for Lebanon’s glory. For all things cease, the earth and sky will pass away and not one clump of Lebanon’s earth will disappear.
17 – Woman is the mirror of society. Do not destroy the mirror, for sand does not reflect civilization’s countenance.
18 – The relationship between the bee and the flower is an eternal conversation. The flower has always been worthy of the conversation.
19 – The day we met I instantly knew how much I loved you. I do not believe that separation is the measure of love.
20 – Do not blame me for leaving you. The people of the East complicate matters. They, for example, do not understand love without marriage. Love is a spiritual relationship, a story of feelings, an epic of emotions, not bound by conditions or limits. Love is boundless beauty. Never has marriage been the beginning or the end of love.
21 – I searched for your eyes in my notebooks. I searched in my face, in the narcissus gardens. I scattered the locks of my hair, and the stars, until the little bird came and made me understand that God is the filling of your eyes. Then, I went searching for God.
22 – You will not believe that you have become part of my consciousness, and that I am in need of your voice, your smile, and your face. I am in need of my soul and you have become me. True, one week in not enough to sow my love in your eyes without thorns and suspicions. Therefore, truly I say: “what is not born in a second will not be born in a generation, and doubt is the kernel of love.”
23 – Yesterday my friend passed away. The flame of life extinguished in his heart. A strange sniper plucked him. Twice I cried: once, because his rifle was not with him, and again, because the foreign sniper’s bullet came through the window of my neighbor, who is from my country.
24 – When will we all become Lebanese? As long as we abuse the message of Jesus and Mohammad, it is not possible for us to embrace love. Let Them leave us, for we still are not worthy of Lebanon.
25 – I will not believe that the soldiers of Lebanon, upon whose shoulders we rest our trust, upon whose heads rest the Cedars, and in whose right hand is the sword of Fakhr al-Deen, those who have breathed freedom and dignity, would turn their spears to Lebanon’s breast and upon the Lebanese themselves. I will not believe that one single Lebanese soldier is a traitor. They are all worthy of the Vow, worthy of the trust. I will not believe in this lie. I will not deny God.
26 – Never have the cultures of the world existed in Lebanon as has the culture of Lebanon permeated the world. It is not a matter of power and size, but of personality, generosity and genius.
27 – In the name of the one Lebanon, Lebanon the true, the good and the beautiful, Lebanon the fair and just, the human, the free and civilized. I call upon you, oh Lebanese, to unite. For it will avail you naught if you gain everything and lose Lebanon.
28 – Because I truly love you I have become a child again, as old as a lily. Never has love been for any, save for children. Adults, if they innocently loved, would become child-like, if not, what would they have to do with love?
29 – A heart without love is like a rose without fragrance, and a man without love is created incomplete.
30 – I cannot imagine myself as other than a lover. You have penetrated the pores of my body to the depths. You live within me and in every moment in the space of my existence. Do not ask where. The flower knows that it is the fragrance, not knowing the source of it. For the flower does not know itself save for the fragrance. I breath love. For breathing, like love, is an act of unity.
31 – Do not cry. You do not realize that your eyes are two mines of pearls, and that all the jewels of the world are not worth one pearl glittering upon your cheek for which the arbors of the dew crave when the sun is born.
32 – I do not know why I love you or what I love in you. Do not ask me, for love is like faith, an inner feeling of joy and tranquility. As for man, either he believes or not. It is not a matter of choice.
33 – We in Lebanon, are free from birth, and our freedom spans eternity. From among us arose the hosts of the martyrs bearing the cross of salvation to the enslaved peoples. From among us came forth the apostles preaching freedom and independence. And after that, today, come they who test our faith in freedom and heroism. To them I say: “ours is the quarry of manhood and ours are the swords of heroism. Never have the swords been for other than Men. We welcome you.
34 – Show me a people under the sun that love life as we and know how to live as we. Also, show me a people who abstain from life as we, buying death because they also know how to die as we. I do not exaggerate when I say that we are makers of glory and builders of civilization and history.
35 – Oh my friend, groom of the virgin Cedars. Oh, martyr of Lebanon. You were magnificent in your glorious life and heroism and you are magnificent today, for Lebanon’s flag shields your brave heart. I know you well. Even in your glorious death you would want us to be worthy of your heroism and manhood. Forgive me if I cannot help a tear from flowing the hour of your parting, but I promise you, we are behind you, marching until we free Lebanon.
36 – The time of religious terror and sectarian fanaticism is over. Religion, in essence, is intrinsically a message of open-mindedness, benevolence, tolerance, and love. While we in Lebanon gaze to the sun and attempt to embrace knowledge and free ourselves from the strictures of religion, and after we dared to declare that religion is for God and Lebanon is for all, we stumbled and fell, because a group of politicians and other merchants of naïve corruption, are unable to understand Lebanon except on the basis of religion, factionalism, and class divisions that only serve their interests. Poor Lebanon: victim of selfishness, hatred and religion. But not for long.
37 – The day your eyes told me of the friendship that was jasmine colored , and your smile, from which the sun learned to rise every morning, unfolded the tale of the ocean and the shore – – that day, I knew that my enduring village would not fall, because the woman in my village knows how to sow into the hearts and forearms of our men the strength of honor and the stubbornness of the Cedars crowned mountains whose emblem is sovereignty and loyalty.
38 – Those who fight us with every kind of weapon and means, and hire mercenaries of every creed and color, who inflame the fronts in every place and time, for what are they waiting? If they were capable of triumph they would not have delayed. We have not lost a round until now and will not lose. Our history is witness to this. The oil of the desert will dry, our proud blood will not. The mercenaries, numerous as the sands, we will lead to annihilation. I say sincerely: “you have tried arms, money, and terror, but you have taken nothing, not even a stretch of land. For our land which gives forth pine and laurel, also gives forth men and redeemers. Only with Love can our land and her people be taken.”
39 – Our countryside, is wonders of enchantment and sensitivity, tableaus of captivating beauty over the expanse of our mountains, but for whose sake the moon would not rise. And the tales of the shepherds and flocks are the songs of evening conversation on moonlit nights. Oh God, do not deny us the gentleness of the countryside and do not hurry the urban complication to it.
40 – When the fields and pastures of my village breathe, all the perfume factories of the world shut down. The lungs of the earth open to the smell of the laurel and basil, the fragrance of the camomille. Then the wings of the breeze are spread, carrying the gifts of spring to every corner of the land. Oh people, the burden of beauty is upon you. Let our fields breathe.
41 – The birds of winter, alone in their nests, know what transpires between the drops of rain and the roof tiles of our mountain home. This conversation, long as the cold days and nights, the birds memorize until spring comes, when they go out to announce to the trees and breeze these wintery words, cool and refreshing. Then the trees become pregnant with fruit, the breeze applauds and invigorates the hearts and faces, and in the heat of summer awakens a gentleness not of its nature.
42 – Your distant face, veiled behind space and time, is an icon of light, my love. Between us, are barriers of outsiders and the bulwarks of sand and enemies. Between us are months of black separation, colored by the hatred in the hearts of those who battle us. Letters of longing between us became the mouths of cannons and the bullets of the snipers. This time, possessed by the dust of death and swinging between the jaws of horror and destruction, is changing from bad to worse. This deluge of blood, in its abundance, carries the dryness in its own eyes. I bid you persevere. Do not retreat. The encounter with the season of love will return, drawn upon the kerchiefs of the mothers and the red cheeks of the tulips. I tell you that your face, the icon of light, will rise again. Do not retreat.
43 – Every time summer comes after the seasons’ journey, and the eyes of the grain are set aflame with rays of blessing, and every time the nest of the bird living under our red roof is visited by a new helpless wing, I feel, my love, that we have grown a year and that our love sprouts anew.
44 – Our sea, this blue spring whose color is the bird of love, feels that it is an extension of us, sleeping only on our shores, not travelling except on our ships, which each time it sails on a new journey, beauty abounds, genius and civilization sprout in another part of the world, and creativity gives rise to cities, citadels, and manuscripts. Our seagoing ships, whose cargo is from our mountains, our hearts, and forearms – protect them, oh God, from the sharks of the other seas and from the whales of hatred and ignorance.
45 – The genuine silk shawls which the young women of my village wove with love, eyelashes and tender fingertips, are gifts to the youths returning from the battlefields of honor and heroism which do not fit any save those who redeem Lebanon with their souls and deserve the pleasure of the honorable life in the shade of sovereignty and freedom.
46 – Your eyes are two islands of sadness and rain. The roaring wave in their two skies almost uproots all the trees of joy from the garden of my life. I know that in your eyes, and behind their sadness, are decades of war, death, and despair. And you, as much as you try to close your eyes, you will not be able to comprehend that barbarous time. You are dejected, even unto death. The traces of the barbarians and mercenaries show on your pale face, and frustrated look, your black and horrified hair, on your breast, raped of its beauty, and your frowning lips. Beirut, my sun-colored beloved, do not despair. I am with you until revenge and until we drive them all, barbarians of another age, and until you return betrothed. None are worthy of you except the monarchs of great Kingdoms.
47 – By God, my friend, this insane time, insane from head to toe, has altered many things and thoughts in my being. Every time we meet, despite the shelling, the sniping, and the terror, and every time we part, I feel that I am going for the last time, seeing you for the last time. Believe me, I am not afraid of death itself. Death is only a moment of transition and change. My fear stems from my attachment to Lebanon, my mother, and to you. I love you unto death, this is my weakness and my strength, because only for your sakes I endure, my beloved ones, unto death.
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