[Illustration: “In the Shade of the Arches,” Joseph Matar]

by George El-Hage

I vowed to rise in the eyes of the sun
To have its light wear me as morning
To build a castle in yesterday’s country
And become the Easter of your holidays.

I relate to you a myth about me
With love and my hands I build your home
I visit you in poems and thoughts
With the warmth of your eyes I light my tomorrows.

I build for you from the sap of my eyelashes
A swing in the shade of our cedar tree
Its ropes are my hope and my sinews
And my belief in our awakening.

If you had listened to the cry of my verses
You would have become again one family, and friends
You are the conscience of poetry within me
And the sweet wine in my cup.

I traveled from you to remain for you
I make no distinction … you are all my loved ones
If your love should weaken
Take my blood and the throb of my heart.

[Translated from the original Arabic by J. Lieberman and George El-Hage.]