DAMASCUS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?

I am the Damascene whose profession is passion
Whose singing turns the herbs green
A Damascene moon travels through my blood
Nightingales . . . and grain . . . and domes.

From Damascus, jasmine begins its whiteness
And fragrances perfume themselves with her scent

From Damascus, water begins . . . for wherever
You lean your head, a stream flows
And poetry is a sparrow spreading its wings.
Over Sham . . . and a poet is a voyager
From Damascus, love begins . . . for our ancestors
Worshipped beauty, they dissolved it, and they melted away.

From Damascus, horses begin their journey
And the stirrups are tightened for the great conquest.

From Damascus, eternity begins . . . and with her
Languages remain and genealogies are preserved
And Damascus gives Arabism its form
And on its land, epochs materialize.

- Excerpt from Nizar Qabbani, ‘A Damascene Moon’