The Nile

The Poetry Translation Centre is a fantastic project which I stumbled upon recently. Today’s random poem I read had this to say:

The Nile flows quietly…
Seeping through the city’s silence
And the burning sorrows of the villages.

This from the first Sura of the Poem of the Nile by a leading Sudanese contemporary poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi. The original poem was in Arabic and has been translated by Hafiz Khebir and Mark Ford.

The traditional English poems of the Nile reflect on quite different themes: This is Shelley

O’er Egypt’s land of Memory floods are level
And they are thine, O Nile–and well thou knowest
That soul-sustaining airs and blasts of evil
And fruits and poisons spring where’er thou flowest.

And this is Keats:

Son of the old Moon-mountains African!
Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile!
We call thee fruitful…

Clearly the earlier poets had the Nile as the main hero. Al-Raddi puts the Nile as the silent spectator winding through cities made into ghosts and villages burnt into despair by the civil wars and calamities of Sudan.

Here’s a Flickriver stream of pictures of the Nile as it passes through Sudan.