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  • Date :
  • 1/12/2013

Poem from Outside a Muharram Procession


The clash of arms, the clasp of armour

(Ya Hassan, Ya Hussein):

This is not sorrow, this is something else.

This is defeat

That's more than victory, this is

The past that's passed by father to son

As a trinket heirloom without price,

This is the inheritance of pain.

There they whirl, bleeding, bleeding

(Ya Hassan, Ya Hussein)

From wounds inflicted on other bodies

And in another century.

This is not war, this is women wailing

After the battle is over, after

The head is severed, mitred on a lance.

This is the knowledge of death

Passed on from mother to daughter

(Ya Hassan, Ya Hussein)

This is not religion, this

Is the exchange of unwrapped

Presents. This is a young boy feeling

With his father's heart, this is

A pony-tailed girl speaking

With the voice of her mother.

This is not anger, not even passion:

(Ya Hassan, Ya Hussein)

This is dancing with the wound of time.

This is my studied failure to feel.*


L. 2. Ya":  an Arabic vocative or attention-getter, almost equivalent to English O, Oh, or Lo.

 Imam al- Hassan, here mentioned as Hassan, was Imam al- Hussein's elder brother.

By Tabish Khair

Taken from: Ashura poems in English Compiled by Muhammad Reza Fakhr Rohani

Other links:

The Day of Ashura

Vale of Sorrow

Hussein of Karbala

The Night of Martyrdom

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