In 2003, award winning Iraqi poet and novelist Younis Tawfik (based in Italy) published his work L’Iraq di Saddam (Saddam’s Iraq). It was a powerful plea to not enter Iraq and remains a emotional reminder of Iraq’s history and torment which is ongoing today. The Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, ISIS…Iraq is a wonderful land rich in history and culture torn apart by war.
As a powerful tool to voice Iraq’s suffering, pain, torment and nostalgia for its rich yet neglected history and culture, Younis Tawfik’s work once again shows the power of literature and art. Here are two translated extracts.
The Gulf War: Night of Destiny (1991)
Night of Destiny
On the passage between night
and the impossible,
under a veil of snow,
I heard you cry out the shapes of the wounds,
and in the tent you suffered the echo of silence:
you shared your terror with your assassin,
you opened your breast to the wind,
you put your passion in chains,
and for your cry…
It’s the Night of Destiny,
Thus tear your cape of patience,
and sacrifice your eyes to the gods of war,
until your visions will vanish…
The night is icy,
that the mirrors of the sky see shatter,
from which falls down moons,
as though they were raindrops of stone…
And so I stare at your name,
and your face,
I stare at death until day arrives.
But meanwhile, you…
you share my torment and then vanish,
you transform into a childhood mirage,
you penetrate into the secret of the desert
and your heart blossoms onto the sand,
like a sunflower, like a funeral lament.
you become the laughter of a child that life has killed
and in this night he is reborn, when
God comes down, sad full moon,
above the two rivers,
and on the ranks of the palms.
Italy, 17th January 1991
Pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom: Rebirth (2003)
Let us remember Iraq and the Iraqi people.
Literary extracts taken from: Tawfik, Y. (2003) L’Iraq di Saddam, Bompiani, Roma – translations by Elizabeth Arif-Fear (2011) Reframing Iraqi migrant narratives in a (post-)conflict setting: a translation of Younis Tawfik’s ‘L’Iraq di Saddam’ for Anglophone audiences with commentary (MA Translation Studies thesis) (c)