Were you my Friend?

By Buland al-Haydari

Were you my Friend? One of the major themes in his poetry is his exile, or rather his self-exile. The coup d'etat of 1963 and subsequent events forced hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqi intellectuals, writers, poets, and artists to seek refuge elsewhere. Today, they are spread out in all five continents. This dispersal of Iraqi intellectuals has been aptly termed the "Iraqi diaspora." The fact that al-Haydari lived almost half of his life in exile affected his poetry in a very significant way. In a poem entitled Were You my Friend?, he wrote:

In my old-age,
I worry that my eyes
will be closed while in exile,
no land knows me,
exiled except from a bitter silence,
except from the loneliness of a dead man
searching for a tomb
how can I stretch to you my secret?

This is an excerpt of poem appeared in an article in Al Jadid Vol. 3 issue 17, April 1997

Translated from Arabic by Mohammed B. Alwan

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