Desert Sorrows

Desert Sorrows: Poems by Tayseer al-Sboul

Tayseer al-Sboul
Nesreen Akhtarkhavari
Anthony A. Lee
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 154
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  • Book Info
    Desert Sorrows
    Book Description:

    No poet of the twentieth century has captured the experience of Arabic-speaking people in the modern world better than Tayseer al-Sboul. One of Jordan's most celebrated writers, educated in that country, as well as in Lebanon and Syria, he faced the dilemmas and contradictions of the Arab world during the Cold War years. Caught between tradition and modernity, he dreamed of a great Arab nation. With unflinching courage and brutal honesty, he revealed his life in poems: his family, his connection with his homeland, his rejection of tradition, his flirtation with leftist ideology, his love affairs, his politics, his experience of war and defeat, his inner struggle, his quest for truth. Through al-Sboul's poems, we understand the struggle of one Arab man to make sense of a world gone mad. Caught between the restrictions of traditional life, the cruelty of war, and the political oppression of the modern Middle East, he was determined to find his own peace, though it proved impossible. After the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict, he lost all hope and took his own life. Featuring facing-page Arabic-English translations, this volume brings al-Sboul's poetry into English for the first time.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-449-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Otaba Al-Sboul

    Some people believe that everything about our universe, no matter how esoteric or counterintuitive, is knowable. I wish I were able to state the same about my father!

    In mid-January, 1939, in a remote, forgotten small town in a southern Emirate of Transjordan called Tafilah (30.84° n, 35.6° e)—or “Tafieh” per T. E. Lawrence’sSeven Pillars of Wisdom—a baby boy was born to a septuagenarian father. Expected to bring blessings and happiness, he was given the name Tayseer, which can be interpreted as “made easy” or “soften.”

    Being the youngest amongst four male siblings granted him some privilege,...

    (pp. xi-xxi)
    Anthony A. Lee

    Before I began working on this translation of the poems of Tayseer al-Sboul, I knew nothing at all about the man. Google searches yielded almost no information. I did learn that he was a Jordanian writer who had committed suicide at an early age. But one web page referred to him as “she,” rather than “he,” which only confused the matter. So, as I approached the translations of the Arabic poems provided to me by Nesreen Akhtarkhavari, I had practically no context in which to understand them. I simply decided that whatever I was going to learn about Tayseer’s life...

    (pp. xxii-xli)
    Nesreen Akhtarkhavari

    Tayseer al-Sboul not only is arguably Jordan’s most acclaimed writer and poet, he also is, as has been oft en pointed out, one of the greatest Arab literary reformers, having written some of the most creative and sophisticated works in modern Arabic literature.¹ Furthermore, al-Sboul’s work is a distinguished feature of Jordanian literature. We undoubtedly “cannot discuss Jordanian literature without discussing his creative experience.”² Despite his short life (1939–1973), he managed to record with striking clarity a Jordanian narrative that told of the struggles, dreams, and aspirations of a young nation during some of its most defining periods.


  6. شتاء
  7. و ميض الر غبة
  8. صراع في صحراء
  9. الرحيل عن الوطن
  10. الفو ضى والضياع
  11. الإ ستئذان بالرحيل