Eyes by May Ziadeh

(complete July 5, 2022)

I came across this poem in Italian I’d originally found in Spanish as an excerpt. The poem “Eyes” (or “Occhi”) was written by May Ziadeh (in Italian or Spanish) most likely in the 1900s before 1941 (author b. 1886). May also wrote and published in French, Arabic, English, and German, and her work was primarily in Arabic. Here’s my translation of the poem, now complete (thought it was complete at first, but this translation feels more complete, with a feeling like little nudges to consider some words again):

Eyes

(“Occhi”)

by May Ziadeh

The face has pupils like ebony 
and silver amulets.
Waters, from flowing eyelashes, 
shores of lakes 
surrounded by poplars; 
Your eyes, aren’t you astonished 
by your eyes? Dreams and gray eyes, 
blue eyes with a thousand shades 
eyes amber and sweet,
the seduction of clear eyes 
the strength and sweetness 
of dark eyes.
All eyes.
The ones that are light as the sky
or as deep as the ocean,
or vast and illusory like the desert;
those who hold their senses 
in the ethereal kingdom 
where all is beauty,
eyes crossed by clouds 
filled with lightning and rain 
those from whom you look away 
only to look for a mole, beauty bean, 
eyes close and round, 
eyes almond-shaped 
and elongated, 
sunken in the sockets 
for having scrutinized too much
those who, lazy, slowly turn,
those with upper eyelids
that are slight as a flock of white birds 
planing on the northern lakes.
Other eyes emit rays of green flame
like hooks, attract the heart that looks and others, and others… 

Sensitive eyes 
Brooding eyes 
Happy eyes 
Singing eyes, arming hatred and wrath,
which are chasms of mysteries! 

The eyes and their secrets,
eyes conceal thoughts, or reveal them.
Eyes weighed down 
by the veil of apathy 
from pupils dilated with love,
and contract in hatred.
Eyes that incessantly ask, 
“Who are you?" 
and they come back to ask you that
for your every answer.
Eyes that decide in a flash,
"You are my slave,” 
or are begging "I need to suffer;
who will torture me?"
Eyes that say, "I want to oppress someone; where’s my victim?" 
Eyes that smile and beg.

Eyes in which the enchantment 
of prayer and the ecstasy 
of the one praying 
shine. Eyes that investigate 
your secrets 
and ask, 
“Don’t you know me?" 
Eyes turning questions and seductions, flipping denials into affirmations.

The eyes, the eyes, don’t their eyes scare you?
And you, what is the color of your eyes, what do they express? And to which, 
the visible or the invisible,
do they turn?
Go to the mirror 
look at your enchanted talismans;
have you ever studied them before?
Look at them at the bottom 
of their abyss, 
you will find the desire to know,
spying the movement of creation;

and the stars chase eternal motion, 
and in the deepest abyss you will see 
every place, every face, everything...

And if thou wilt know me, 
the unknown, 
examine thy eyes.
In spite of you,
your eyes will find me 
in themselves.

by May Ziadeh
(originally written in Italian or Spanish, my translation into English)

Source: https://poetassigloveintiuno.blogspot.com/2016/02/may-ziadeh-18114.html?m=1




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