Tahar Bekri

Tahar Bekri photo Al Manar

Tahar Bekri Poet, born at Gabès in Tunisia in 1951. He lives in Paris. He writes in French and Arabic and has published about thirty works (poetry, essays, art books). His poetry has been translated into various languages and is the subject of academic works. Prix de Rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises, Académie Française, 2019. Honorary Maître de Conférences at Université de Paris X-Nanterre. Latest publications: Par-delà les lueurs, Al Manar, 2021; Le Livre du souvenir, 2016, Elyzad Tunis.

Tree Ars poetica

He says to the tree in front
Are we brothers?
I bear the seasons, like you
I would like to have your leaves
Nourished by the four winds
Shadow and sun entwined
It does not matter
If so many old branches
Or dead leaves fall
Your sap does not fear the Night
This dew born of dawns
To quench the thirst of birds
Eager for your fruit

Are we brothers, tree?
In the storm
Threatened by lightning
And motionless
No offense to the thunder
You invite the volatile clouds
Wings spread for the waltz of love
Your roots are my lines
I deny they are underground
And would like to die standing
Your veins bear my quill
On evenings when you long for a tender sun
Or a glowing and free dawn

Tree, are we brothers?
I tell you of the colour of words
Laden with prisms of the rainbow
Rain relieving years of their stiffness
Your wood ringing with deep resonance
I harness my notes
Far from solemn woodcutters
We repel the teeth of unjust days
Saw to saw
All these deserts that burden us
Would we tell them
How many bare winters wait
To be clothed with spring

Tell me tree
How do you grow?
In the fray of human forests
Did you choose your land
Or is your land where you are
Life lies in the shoots
The skyline companion to blooms

Tahar Bekri
© Translation by Patrick Williamson

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Published with the permission of Tahar Bekri