Fadwa Tuqan – Hamza

Tuqan LE Arab Women P&W April 2024

Download PDF Here

Live Encounters Arab Women Poets & Writers April 2024.

Hamza,  poem by Fadwa Tuqan.

Translated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda. 


Hamza was one from my town, like the others
Who eats his bread nicely
With the hand of toil like my simple, good people


He told me when we met one day
As I stumble in the maze of defeat:
Be patient, do not weaken, my cousin
This land that the fire of crime reaps
Which, today, shrinks in sadness and silence
With its broken heart, will remain
Alive and never die.


This land is a woman
In the grooves and in the wombs –
The secret to fertility is one
The power of the secret that grows palm trees
And ears
Also, grows the fighting people.


Days passed when I did not meet
With my cousin
But I knew
That the belly of the earth was heaving in pain
With labor and a new birth.


Hamza — sixty-five — weighs
Heavy like a rock on his own back
When the town governor gave his order:
(Blow up the house and tighten up
His son in the torture chamber!)
The governor of the town ordered
Then he rose
He ,later. explained:
It was necessary for law and order
That is, for love and peace!


The soldiers surrounded the perimeter of the house –
The serpent’s coil came full circle
The bang at the door was but an order —
‘evacuate, damn it!’
And generous as they were with time, they could say:
‘In an hour, yes!’


Hamza opened the windows
Under the eyes of the soldiers, to the sun and say, “Allahu Akbar.”
Then he called:
(Oh Palestine, rest assured
I, the house, and my children are the offerings of your salvation
For you, we live and die)
Then a shake penetrates the veins of the town
When the echo repeated Hamza’s scream
Then, humility and silence enveloped the house.


An hour later, the house collapsed
Burying dreams and memories of a lifetime
Of labor, tears, and some happy moments.


Yesterday I saw my cousin on the road
He steps on the path with determination and certainty
Hamza still had his brow raised with pride
It is enough for me to stay in its embrace
It is enough for me to die on its land
And buried in it
And under its dust, I melt and annihilate
And I will resurrect as grass and as a flower on its land
Infested by the palm of a child grown by my country
It is enough for me to remain in its embrace
As dust
And grass
And its flower
Is the freedom of a people.

© Fadwa Tuqan

Fadwa Tuqan (1917-2003) is a prominent Palestinian poet known for her representations of resistance to occupation in contemporary Arab poetry. She has sometimes been referred to as the “Poet of Palestine.” Tuqan eventually published eight poetry collections, which were translated into many languages.

Translation by Dr. Salwa Gouda, an Egyptian literary translator, critic, and academic at the English Language and Literature Department at Ain-Shams University. She holds a PhD in English literature and criticism. She received her education at Ain-Shams University and California State University in San Bernardino. She has published several academic books, including “Lectures in English Poetry, and “Introduction to Modern Literary Criticism” and others. She has also contributed to the translation of “The Arab Encyclopedia for Pioneers,” which includes poets and their poetry, philosophers, historians, and men of letters, under the supervision of UNESCO. Additionally, her poetry translations have been published in various international magazines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.