“To My Father” by Abdulla Thani Faris al Anazi

Two years have passed in far-away prisons,
Two years my eyes untouched by kohl.
Two years my heart sending out messages
To the homes where my family dwells,
Where lavender cotton sprouts
For grazing herds that leave well fed.

O Flaij, explain to those who visit our home
How I used to live.
I know your thoughts are swirled as in a whirlwind,
When you hear the voice of my anguished soul.
Send sweet peace and greetings to Bu’mair;
Kiss him on his forehead, for he is my father.
Fate has divided us, like the parting of a parent from a newborn.

O Father, this is a prison of injustice.
Its iniquity makes the mountains weep.
I have committed no crime and am guilty of no offense.
Curved claws have I,
But I have been sold like a fattened sheep.

I have no fellows but the Truth.
They told me to confess, but I am guiltless;
My deeds are all honorable and need no apology.
They tempted me to turn away from the lofty summit of integrity,
To exchange this cage for a pleasant life.
By God, if they were to bind my body in chains,
If all Arabs were to sell their faith, I would not sell mine.

I have composed these lines
For the day when your children have grown old.

O God—who governs creation with providence,
Who is one, singular and self-subsisting,
Who brings comfort and happy tidings,
Whom we worship—
Grant serenity to a heart that beats with oppression,
And release this prisoner from the tight bonds of confinement.