Abdo Wazen
Abdo Wazen
Poems from The Lamp of Enchantment

The Milk of Insomnia

I open my eyes and the milk of insomnia trickles down. The darkness of the soul gnaws at me so that I am more fragile than the shadow, which collapses before the first light. I am clouded like a copper sky and I almost suffocate when I look, but I only see a spot of fog. The cloud of memory erased all that was before my eyes and now I spend the night gazing at stars that erupt from the sky’s edge. I listen to the hushed fire as it devours the trees. If I shut my eyes for a moment, the bird of pain rises from the heart’s well. I sleep with my eyes wide open so that I never miss a dream and so that I can dream under the sky of insomnia.

The Beginning of the World

Give me some gold, O Sun: My heart is brackish like the wall’s water.
Give me some blueness, O morning: My eyes are pale from so much sleeplessness.
Give me some clouds, O sky: The blood of eternity is trickling down my face!
Give me some warmth, O night: My soul is depressed and barren, like the beginning of the world


How were you able to see at once: a glass and an apple, a statue and a rifle, a woman and a cage? When you started to collect all you saw, you found yourself unable to sketch even a passing image. What was missing was a thread and perhaps more glass so that these would all coalesce in an enchanting image. You then knew that the glass was not a glass, nor the apple and apple, or the statue. . . You had to search for their secrets. Sleeping in the well of your eyes, in the light of the absent mirror, in the ray glistening on the side of your face.

Translated by Sinan Antoon
from the poet’s collection
Saraj al-Fitna [The Lamp of Enchcantment],
Dar An-Nahar, Beirut, 2000

NB: These three poems were read by the translator at the Banipal celebration of Lebanese poets at Poets House in New York on 23 May 2007

Abdo Wazen will be reading at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Saturday 7 July at 2.30pm. For more information click here

For details of the London Banipal/Institut Français Reception and Reading on Monday 9 July, please click here