Mansour Ajami

Mansour Ajami

Mansour Ajami was born and raised in Lebanon. He holds B. A. and M. A. degrees in Arabic Literature and Philosophy from the American University of Beirut and a PhD. in Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies from Columbia University. He taught Arabic language, literature, and culture at Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley and other major universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is currently an Arabist reviser/translator at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Mr. Ajami writes in both English and Arabic. His recent publications in English include a critically acclaimed memoir, The Book of Generations: A Reunion with Memory, and a collection of poetry, Words in the Memory of the Night. He has also published two books of poetry in Arabic: Vignettes from a Different World, and Between Speech and Sleep. Among the works he has translated from Arabic to English are And the Word Became Poem, The Trilogy of Exile, and For Poets Only, by Kaissar Afif. He also translated Holyland, A Cycle of Poems by Omar Ezra Pound from English into Arabic. Among Mr. Ajami’s critical literary works are The Neckveins of Winter, The Alchemy of Glory, and various articles in encyclopedias and other scholarly venues. He is an anthologized poet in Arabic and in English. Dr. Ajami is also a translator and editor, singer, musician, and composer of Arabic music.

Nosy Star

A beautiful little nosy star
was chasing the staid
crescent moon
Could it be Venus?
No need to know

I only wanted to know
if both moon and star
were pasted to the translucent
azure sky

Or were posing naked for
the artist sky
Or if the sky and moon
simply chanced to be

Should I be grateful to the patient night
for escorting the blue sky,
the nosy star, and the reserved
serene moon?

Or to the sky, moon and star
for creating the night
so my beloved can be there
     with me?

When a Smile is a Blossom

Your tender smile,
     shy, intimate,
eases into being
like a pomegranate blossom
     caressed by refulgent rays
     of the late summer sun:

Your smile,
     warm, dewy,
All seasons.
All time.

Your smile banishes worry,
beckons peace of mind,
     joyous hope,
     gentle repose,

Your smile, dear, celebrates
reminds those who love
that there will always be
Life in life.

Poetry in this post: © Mansour Ajami
Published with the permission of Mansour Ajami