Aleppo: A Catastrophe Defying Poets’ Powers of Description

By 
Amjad Nasser

When talking about what is happening in Syria, I face the inability of language to express reality. My vocabulary remains limited. My ability to describe reality, the basic forms of literature and writing, remains limited.  Nothing I have written or read could be elevated to the level of one moment of the reality experienced by Syrians in their disastrous country, or in their great Diaspora into which they were unmercifully pushed.

 

When talking about what is happening in Syria, I face the inability of language to express reality. My vocabulary remains limited. My ability to describe reality, the basic forms of literature and writing, remains limited.  Nothing I have written or read could be elevated to the level of one moment of the reality experienced by Syrians in their disastrous country, or in their great Diaspora into which they were unmercifully pushed.

Who could put into words this displacement into the bitter cold of tens of thousands of families who fled from aircraft attacks and bombardments along their grim road as a murmuring river rushes toward a safe refuge?  Where does the language and the power of description lie, the passion which could transmit to us the suffering of these masses who leave their homes, human dignity, and family histories to flee toward a refuge, a scene absolutely unthinkable only a few years ago, and was even the equivalence of shame? As authors and poets examine the Syrian tragedy we discover the inability of the language itself, its limitations, not only due to a constrained vocabulary when describing reality; but also due to the scope of the tragedy. This enables us to examine the paralysis of the world when faced with the need to stop an unfolding massacre, as well as the lethargic consciences that populate it, and which now turn away from what is happening, or say: “They deserve it!”

Those barking on TV like mad wolves in defense of Arabism, religion, sect, or resistance, forget that these remain unimportant without humans. In fact, these ideas have no existence without people.

Aleppo remains a catastrophe. In size, scope, and wounds, it surpasses the catastrophe of Palestine. What the world witnesses today, human cleansing broadcast live on TV home screens, was not available during the Palestinian catastrophe. History tells us that Tamerlane, the dreadful Tatar leader, occupied Aleppo and murdered whoever he pleased in it, and then left the city after 80 days, plundering its resources, ruining its buildings and murdering its inhabitants.

This time the new Tamerlane will not leave after 80 days. But he will eventually leave. Aleppo will record this in its millennial records.

This is an edited translation by Elie Chalala from the Arabic of a Facebook post (and an article appeared in Al Arabi Al Jadeed) by Jordanian poet Amjad Nasser.

Copyright (c) 2016, by Al Jadid