Author and Poet, May Ziadeh’s Birthday

Happy birthday, Mayy! 😊💕136 never looked so good! (…and that is earth years.) 😊🎊

b. Feb. 11, 1886 in Nazareth, lived in Egypt and Lebanon, d. Oct. 17, 1941 in Cairo. May Elias Ziadeh was a writer and editor, author of poetry, biographies and fiction, knew nine languages, was a speaker, translator, and tutor, and hosted her own literary salon on Tuesdays in Cairo that was very famous and respected in its time.

Early morning tea, ‘dream flowers’ for May found and preserved (within a book over the past summer) to match the title of her first poetry book she’d published under a penname, some poems of hers I wrote by hand I’d read in the book, and a poem I’d written myself for her, printed on paper, inside the open box.

Above is the cover page with a soft ’dream flower’ and others I drew to match the book’s title.

And finally, a poem by May I wrote by hand translated from her original French with my little drawings around the border that I included as I transcribed it; typed and then the photos:

After working for two hours
on these very difficult Greek translations
After having long watched over these books,
my eyes will fall asleep rested and quiet.
Yet the night is beautiful; dreams it invites
And its Star fruitfully extends its rays
In the darkened azure
On the Nile, that pulsate
On the sleeping leaf at the edge
of the green lawns
A light and gentle wind caresses the face
And sends to the bottom of the soul a shiver of a kiss
Borders the silky flower moved in its passage
And lazily, calming itself,
the grass grows on.

Great shadow, O fragrances of the breezes,
and you, Zephyrus
Before you touch me who hastened you?
And you Moon of love
before smiling at me
What sleep has your gentleness rocked?

But no, let's not dream, let's go to prayer,
Hide us from everything...
to the moon, to the night!
And let's say a humble, ardent prayer
to the God of the Universe
and the shining Star!
And when the god of Sleep
will pour over my eyelids
the rewards he spreads at night over mortals,
In the dream, my heart finds it chimeras
Study, Love, Fine Arts, beautiful eyes,
and tender calls.

—May Ziadeh

—May Ziadeh

Yesterday I started reading a full book of hers on my Kindle using the Translation feature from Arabic to English; I couldn’t read the title beforehand. Even though I’d chosen not to continue the book because translating page by page wasn’t really working for full comprehension (I will wait to learn the language better myself), from what I did read, I was given some great laughs and a refreshing view of book reviews and biography writing (I’ve written these genres on the blog!)

The book happened to be a biography May wrote about the poet, Aisha Taymur (b. 1840, d. 1902), a poet May admired and knew just a little personally whom she wanted to share with the world, a poet unknown to me before reading the book, which is nicely fitting around poet May’s own birthday time in this post written by me, another poet and writer. One thing I loved was how fun she made the biography, writing something like…’Why just use our imaginations when there are other ways? There is a little gate by the rose garden in the wind where we can break in!’ (into Aisha Taymur’s house, hypothetically)….and readers get a glimpse inside the poet’s home and learn about her as an everyday person…

Now let’s enjoy this luxurious day in the sun…😊☀️💖🙏✒️🙌💖☀️

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