The Translator’s Soliloquy

by qisasukhra

A translation of a poem by Ahmed Shafie, حديث المترجم لنفسه



Nothing asked of you this instant

but this sentence.

The next instant

the next sentence.


You pull a farflung carpet

on whose farthest edge

a fragile cut-glass cup

full to the brim with wine.

It must not reach you empty

but it will not reach you full.

What matters is that it does not break.

Few in this world can play this game.

There is no prize at the end. You know this.

The prize is from beginning to end.

The prize is in every line.

The prize in the hours then hours

when you are not yourself

were there not in this

your care for the cup

some meaning.