Standing and The Ninth Floor Again: The Military Hospital by Sghaier Ouled Ahmed

Transference, Dec 2017

Translated from Arabic by Hager Ben Driss

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Standing and The Ninth Floor Again: The Military Hospital by Sghaier Ouled Ahmed

Standing and Th e Ninth Floor Again: Th e Military Hospital by Sghaier Ouled Ahmed Part of the Classical Literature 0 Philology Commons 0 Comparative Literature Commons 0 East Asian Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 European Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 French 0 Francophone Language 0 Literature Commons 0 German Language 0 Literature Commons 0 International 0 Area Studies Commons 0 Linguistics Commons 0 Modern Languages Commons 0 Modern Literature Commons 0 Near Eastern Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 Poetry Commons 0 the Reading 0 Language Commons 0 0 Hager Ben Driss University of Tunis , Tunis Follow this and additional works at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/transference - Article 8 Standing up in my shoes, 4. Pdf page 42 Poem title: my shadow kissing the cheek of a distant girl. Standing up, TThhee NMiinlittharFyloHoorsApigtaailn: nothing to say except that my lonely soul is now alone. 5. Pdf page 44 a. Paragraph 1, line 1: Standing up under (دﻼﺒﻟا ﺮﻋﺎﺷ), my head. If our master wills, I shall take it off the way I do with mby.sPhoaersa;graph 1, line 6: turn it around in the air, and throw it in one of the many garbage cans(.ﺔﺘﺴﻟا مﺎﯾﻷا ﺪﯿﺸﻧ), And then … there must be a “then” so that the conversation goes on and on. Standing up under my shadow, while my shadow politely answers the greetings of unique seeds. Standing up in a vast expanse that Uqba or Hannibal will reach, but won’t distinguish the sea from Kairouan. They would only find streets and avenues named for them by some guy in a newspaper. Standing with skies beneath me and above skies milked into a tough clay bowl of faith. Transfec Standing up. He who locked me out forgot that I am still standing to bring the place to Him and transmit to the sheikh the voice of his disciples. f page 42 title: Hager Ben Driss inth FloTohreANgianinth: Floor Again: ilitary HThoespMitaillitary Hospital I love a dead trinity: my father, f page 4d4eath, and the great poetry. agraph 1, line 1: Sghaier Ouled Ahmed ًادﺪﺠﻣ ﻊﺳﺎﺘﻟا ﻖﺑﺎﻄﻟا يﺮﻜﺴﻌﻟا ﻰﻔﺸﺘﺴﻤﻟا ﺮﻋﺎﺷ), I venerate a living trinity: life, its daughter, and the present tense of verbs when used correctly. ragraph 1, line 6: I look upon truth: (ﺔﺘﺴﻟا مTﺎﯾhﻷeا mﺪﯿoﺸuﻧ)th, of a volcano ........................... which neither sand nor water can fully satiate. I board the ark with two versions of my land ... and a tent ... where I take a nap, flying in the nebula like a butterfly. I insist on commas and dots, for I have no letters other than commas and dots. Our sky is full of diacritical marks, too. It’s had no language for a long time. I don’t forget the qāri’, either, who condenses the texts and al-Mughira’s testimony as in: Alif Lam Mim I insist that you are a replica of me, and I of you: only separated by our understanding of paradise. I believe They are greedy for the afterlife, therefore, they make a hell of life. 2017 5. Pdf page 44 5. Pdf page 44 a. Paragraph 1, linea1.:Paragraph 1, line 1: Commentary: Dubbed the “poe(دtﻼoﺒﻟfا ﺮtﻋhﺎeﺷ)c,ountry” (دﻼﺒﻟا ﺮﻋﺎﺷ), Sghaier Ouled Ahmed (1955–2016) celebrated his love of Tunisia throughout his poetic oeuvre. His work was censored under the regimes of both Habib Bourgbu.iPbaar(a1g9r5ap6h–119,8li7n)eabn6.:dPZarinageraalp-Ahb1i,dliinneeB6e:n Ali (1987–2011) and he was banned from media. In 1984, his poem “Song of the Six Days” (ﺔﺘﺴﻟا مﺎﯾﻷا ﺪﯿﺸﻧ), in which he chronicles (ﺔﺘﺴﻟا مﺎﯾﻷا ﺪﯿﺸﻧ), the violent events of the Bread Uprising, was censored and the poet was incarcerated. His poetry became available after the 2011 revolution and he emerged as the most prominent poet of dissent. He bestowed upon himself the title of the “poetic leader of the Revolution” and pursued his poetic activism against all types of regimentation and control. He was a vehement opponent of religious fundamentalism and launched a fierce attack on religious strictures and all the custodians of Islam. “Standing” (1989) and “The Ninth Floor Again: The Military Hospital” (2015) appeared in his volume of poetry Muswaddat Watan (Draft of a Homeland, 2015)1, a collection of poetry that gathers old and new poems. Despite the lapse of several years, the two poems offer stylistic and thematic reverberations. Both raise issues of death and religion. “Standing” offers a significant testimony. His claim in the first stanza that he has “nothing to say” unfolds in a flow of words that destabilizes the seeming immobility of his posture. Standing is an act of resistance as he witnesses and reports the maladies of his country. While the first stanza describes his loneliness in carrying the responsibility of testimony, the last one presents death as the ultimate destiny of his poetry. Death as related to his poetic production is a compulsive image in Ouled Ahmed’s early work. Because of censorship, his poetry was doomed to die as soon as it was produced. “The Ninth Floor Again: The Military Hospital” was written a few months before he passed away. Death is interpolated in this poem in a different way: it is more a celebration than a 1 Muswaddat Watan. Tunis: Al-dar al-Arabiyyah Lilkitab, 2015 (“Maqam alWuquf” [Standing], pp. 255–59; “Al-Tabiq al-tasi’ Mujaddadan” [The Ninth Floor Again], pp. 305–07). 38 Transfec mourning of his poetry. His relentless critique of the abuse of religion by those who appointed themselves “the ministers of God” brought upon him the wrath of religious zealots and he was pronounced an infidel. Even though expressing a sarcastic attitude towards fanatics, the end of the poem expresses Ouled Ahmed’s belief that fundamentalism is not inherent to religion, but rather to specific factions. A seeming simplicity defines Ouled Ahmed’s poetry. The fluidity of his language and especially his rhyming lines are quite difficult to render in translation. In “The Ninth Floor Again,” I managed to create a rhyme scheme only in the first two stanzas. This musicality is essential in recreating the celebratory atmosphere of the whole poem, which is remarkable given that it was written on the poet’s deathbed. What makes the two poems challenging in terms of translation is the density of cultural and historical allusions. In “The Ninth Floor Again,” for instance, the poet inserts towards the end of the poem “al-Mughira” without the least explanation, which obfuscates the meaning of the whole stanza. That is why I added the word “testimony” based on my knowledge of al-Mughira’s story. In fact, the poet refers to Walid Ben al-Mughira, renowned for his strong command of the Arabic language and his stubborn refusal to convert to Islam. Upon hearing the Koran recited by the Prophet, al-Mughira was impressed by its eloquence and the beauty of its economic style, which Ouled Ahmed exemplifies in his quo6t.ePodf fthpeaogpee4n5ing words of surat alrd Baqara: the three letters AlifT, oLwaamrd, Mthiemb.oIttuosmedoffotrheeig3nizpaatiroangraph: as a strategy of translation both at the beginning and the end of this stanza. I kept the word qqāārrii (Quran reciter, نآﺮﻘﻟا ئرﺎﻗ), for the palimpsestic nature of translation is sometimes challenged by some words that resist erasure. Unless the reader is well versed in Islamic culture, several religious references and7.aPlldufsipoangsea4r6e lost in translation. “Standing” offers pertinent examples of Ouled Ahmed’s subtle a. Line 2: critique, often verging on irony, of religious dogmatism. His lines “If our master wills/I shall take it off the way I do with my shoes” refers to the practice of taking o(fفf ﻮsﻗhﻮoﻟاeمsﺎﻘﻣb)e,fore entering a mosque. Religious zealots, however, seem to take off their “heads” as well. In other words, they obliterate all critical thinking. The poet’s subtle irony and deliberate obfuscation of b. Middle of first paragraph: f al 2017 39 (ةﺪﯿﻘﻌﻟا رﺎﺨﻓ ﻦﻣ ﺔﺳﺎط ﻲﻓ ﺐﻠﺤﺗ). 7. Pdf page 46 a. Line 2 : mean7i . nPgdafrepamgaen4if6est at the threshold of his text: the title . The worda. Line 2 : mosque. I finally opted to translate the title into “standing” because this word encapsulates the meaning of upright position as well as high status. In the same poemb,.sMtaindzdale7 opfrefisresnt tpsaarapgarratpichu:larly challenging venturﻲeﻓ . ﺐThﻠﺤeﺗ). (ةﺪﯿﻘﻌﻟا رﺎﺨﻓ ﻦﻣ ﺔﺳﺎط original line at the end of the stanza is “tuhlabu fi taasatin min fakhar al- › aqidah” (ةﺪﯿﻘﻌﻟا رﺎﺨﻓ ﻦﻣ ﺔﺳﺎط ﻲﻓ ﺐﻠﺤﺗ) . The originality of this line resides in the poet's idiomatic use of the word fakhar (clay), reminisc8e.nPtdhfepreagoef 6th7e Tunisian idiom fakhar bikri (ancient clay), whiPchoemmeatintsles:omething solid. A literal translation (“a bopwalgme6a7de oIunt Joefrtuhsealcelmay of faith”) would be rather 8. Pdf meaningless. My use of “a tough clay bowl of faith” describes


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Hager Ben Driss. Standing and The Ninth Floor Again: The Military Hospital by Sghaier Ouled Ahmed, Transference, 2017,