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Jameel Al-Zahawi, 'My Honesty'

Jameel Al-Zahawi (1863-1936), 'My Honesty'

(translated from the Arabic by Sivar Qazaz and A.M. Levinson-LaBrosse)


I love honesty in words and deeds Honesty
And I hate the tendency toward hypocrisy.

I don’t deceive anyone about anything 
Or harbor a desire to drink the foam: give me the milk!

And I am not for those who see goodness 
In keeping the truth hidden 

Nor for those who hold that religion standsHonesty2
Up from God’s inspiration sent down to prophets 

But I hold religions are creatively made 
By wise men in possession of their minds.

Nor am I for those who live on the illusion
That the soul will ascend to heaven: 

The earth swims in space Honesty2b
And what is heaven if not that space?

And I am not for those who take pride 
In those praised for shedding blood 

Nor for those who associate with the past - 
They live looking back.

Nor am I for those who judge others 
Except the judges presiding over the judiciary.Honestyimage

Nor for those who are all flattery to your face
And then unseen speak only hostility.

Nor am I for those who see lineage as all 
Encompassing; it can’t raise creatures to any great height.

Nor am I for those who seek shelter from 
The epidemic in humming prayers

Nor for a clan that prays and fasts 
For the divine reward they were promised

Nor for those who hold that God rewards 
Ablutions and prayers with a virgin 

Nor for those who believe things perish,
That air forms from nothing;

Life is accumulation and death merely dispersion
Each separate existence is only a change in form.Honesty4

And I am not for those who give great 
Favor to men and not women 

But the earth revolved until 
This one and those became confused. 

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