Muhammad Al-Shahat – Sonata

Al-Shahat LE P&W June 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2024.

Sonata, poem by Muhammad Al-Shahat.

 Translated from Arabic to English by Dr. Salwa Gouda.



She was carrying some
Mulberry leaves
And holds between her fingers
The first thread
Of the silk cocoon
And she dreams of making
A dress for weddings
All her seasons were lost
The mulberry leaves withered
And she’s still holding on
Between her fingers
The first thread
Of the silk cocoon.


She was searching
About her knight
And she wrapps
Some wedding dresses
She sits near the window
Staring at everyone passing by
When her man sees her
He will know her
She kept looking out the window
All the knights returned except her knight
So she went back to wrapping
Some wedding dresses
And sits near the window.


All my strength failed
The gray hair covered me
And some women are still inhabiting me
And they flirt me
So I try to avoid
What slept in my memory
Oh, the bird of youth
You’re still fluttering
So dwell in your nests
And leave me with my gray hair.


Some of the thorns of cactus
Fell on my dress
I caressed the air in the room
So it can fly
Or for some aloe vera bitters
To fade away
My dress is torn
And the cactus remained
Sleeping in my throat.

© Muhammad Al-Shahat

Muhammad Al-Shahat (1954) is an Egyptian poet and journalist. He published twenty-five poetry collections. In addition, six critical studies are written about his poetry. He is also a member of the Egyptian Writers Union – and a member of its Board of Directors in the previous term. His poems are published in most newspapers and cultural and literary periodicals in Egypt and the Arab world. He has participated in literary forums and cultural conferences since the early seventies, and has won several awards, the most important of which is the Egypt Youth Award in 1978.

Dr. Salwa Gouda is 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.

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