Adonis

Songs of Mihyar the Damascene
  • Songs of Mihyar the Damascene

    • Adonis

    • Kareem James Abu-Zeid (Translator)

    • Ivan Eubanks (Translator)

    'The greatest living poet of the Arab world' Guardian

    Cloud, mirror, stone, thunder, eyelid, desert, sea. Through a dead or dying land, Mihyar walks: a figure of heroic individualism and dissent, part-Orpheus, part-Zarathustra. Where he goes, the austere building-blocks of his world become the expressions of passionate emotion, of visionary exaltation and despairing melancholy. The traditions of the Ancient Greeks, the Bible and the Quran flow about and through him.

    Written in the cosmopolitan Beirut of the early 1960s, Adonis's Songs of Mihyar the Damascene did for Arabic poetry what The Waste Land did for English. These are poems against authoritarianism and dogma, in which a new Noah would abandon his ark to dive with the condemned, and in which surrealism and Sufi mysticism meet and intertwine. The result is a masterpiece of world literature.

    Translated by Kareem James Abu Zeid and Ivan Eubanks

    'The most eloquent spokesman and explorer of Arabic modernity' Edward Said

Adonis was born Ali Ahmed Said Esber in the Syrian village Al-Qassabin in 1930. A perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Adonis initiated a revolution in the structures and themes of Arabic poetry. In 1956, fleeing political persecution, he moved to Beirut, and in 1985, the ongoing Lebanese civil war forced him to relocate to Paris, where he has resided ever since. Adonis has translated several poets into Arabic, such as Ovid and Saint-John Perse, and has received numerous honors, including the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Goethe Prize, and the Pen/Nabokov Award. Kareem James Abu-Zeid is completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. Ivan Eubanks is the editor of the Pushkin Review and Director of UCCI TV. He has a PhD in Slavic Languages from Princeton University.

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