Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Hassan El Ouazzani

WHAT IF I UNSETTLED THE HOMELAND?

What if
I unsettled the homeland?
Richter would set its scale
To shake lots of leaves from
The tree of public interest
In which many hide.
The bourgeois and the destitute,
Warlords and frontline troops,
Shepherds and faithful citizens,
Leaders and freedom-fighters.

What if
I unsettled mountains?
Rebels who lost their way
To the battle-front
Would look down from the mountains’ heights.

What if
I unsettled death?
Friends whom I had seen off for good
Would return one by one
To sit up all night
Around the table
Of life.

What if
I unsettled truth?
Many lies
Would fall from
Its folds.

What if
I unsettled silence?
A lot of clamour
Would bounce off its guts.

What if
I unsettled the left?
Party militants dreaming
Of the extreme right
Would peep from its sidelines.

What if I unsettled
War?
Many fighters going to death
For the sake of a cause
That concerns
Only their generals
Would fall at the battlefronts.

What if
I unsettled heroism?
Great cowardice
Would emerge at its borders.

What if
I unsettled crime?
It would end up recognising
Its perpetrators.

What if
I unsettled the page?
A lot of war criminals busy
Planting kisses on the foreheads of victims
Would leap from its folds
And open
Other
Darker
Pages.

What if
I unsettled history?
Historians busy
Adjusting its frame
To the size of the state
Would look down from its heights.

What if
I unsettled love?
All the lovers
Who feign further losses
To realise the pain of love,
Would leap from its tales.

What if
I unsettled politics,
Men piling up their countries’ losses
To enter the Guinness Book
Through its wide gate,
Would jump off its notebooks.

What if
I unsettled the battlefront?
Generals stirring up more wars
To conclude a truce
Worthy of thousands
Of martyrs
Would emerge from its sidelines.

What if
I unsettled hell?
Angels who had lost their way
To Heaven
Would emerge from its maze.

What if
I unsettled certainty?
A large smile
Would light up the face
Of Uncle Descartes.

What if
I unsettled the wave?
Stories of sailors
Who got lost on the way
To treasures
That existed only in the heads
Of their leaders
Would bounce off its perplexity.

What if
I unsettled friendship?
A lot of enmity
Would fall off its banks.

What if
I unsettled age?
Children messing around with the stars
Would emerge from its wrinkles.

What if
I unsettled the ship?
A lot of opportunists
Seeking escape
And leaving the deluge
Behind,
Alone,
Would jump from its deck.

What if
I unsettled the Forties?
Little Rim
Would peep from the city’s outskirts,
While growing
To reach skies I have never touched
And mountains beyond the grasp of
My hands.

WAT GEBEURT ALS IK MIJN LAND ZOU ONDERMIJNEN

Wat gebeurt
als ik mijn land zou ondermijnen
Richter zou zijn schaal herijken
veel blad zou vallen
van de welzijnsboom
waaronder rijken en berooiden
brigadegeneraals en frontsoldaten
herders en kuddedieren
leiders en strijders
schuilen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de bergen zou ondermijnen
dan zouden opstandelingen
die de weg naar het front kwijtraakten
naar beneden kijken
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de dood zou ondermijnen
dan zouden de vrienden van wie ik afscheid nam
één voor één terugkomen
voor een lange avond
rond de maaltijd
van het leven
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de waarheid zou ondermijnen
dan zouden aan haar plooien
talloze leugens ontglippen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de stilte zou ondermijnen
dan zou uit haar ingewanden
veel lawaai ontsnappen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik links zou ondermijnen
dan zouden uit haar flanken
strijders komen die dromen
van uiterst rechts
 

 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de oorlog zou bedreigen
dan zouden aan de fronten
soldaten ontkomen
op weg naar de dood
voor doelen
die alleen voor generaals
betekenis hebben
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de heldendaad zou bedreigen
dan zou aan haar grenzen
een enorme lafheid verschijnen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de misdaad zou bedreigen
dan zou zij uiteindelijk de bedrijver
erkennen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de bladzij zou bedreigen
dan zouden uit haar plooien
oorlogsmisdadigers te voorschijn komen
en de hoofden van de slachtoffers kussen
om andere
nog zwartere
bladzijden
open te leggen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de geschiedenis zou bedreigen
dan zouden vanaf haar hoogten
geschiedschrijvers kijken
om haar staat
naar de maat
van het land te bepalen
 
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de liefde zou bedreigen
dan zouden uit de liefdesverhalen
talloze minnaars te voorschijn komen
die hopen ellende verzinnen
om op de pijn van de liefde
te wijzen
 

 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de politiek zou bedreigen
dan zouden uit dossiers
mannen verschijnen die de verliezen van hun land opstapelen
om door de wijd openstaande deur
in het Guinness Book of Records te komen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik het front zou bedreigen
dan zouden van de zijlijn
generaals verschijnen die andere oorlogen uitlokken
om een wapenstilstand te sluiten
die recht doet aan duizenden
martelaren
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de hel zou bedreigen
dan zouden uit de gangen
engelen komen die op weg naar het paradijs
verdwaalden
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de zekerheid zou bedreigen
dan zou rond de lippen
van Oom Descartes
een brede lach verschijnen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de golven zou bedreigen
dan zouden uit hun verwarring
verhalen verschijnen
van zeelieden die uit de koers raakten
op weg naar schatten
die alleen in de hoofden van hun bazen
bestaan
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de vriendschap zou bedreigen
dan zouden van haar oevers
veel vijandigheid vallen
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de ouderdom zou bedreigen
dan zouden uit zijn rimpels
kinderen komen en met sterrem spelen
 
Wat gebeurt
Als ik het schip zou bedreigen
dan zouden van het dek
talrijke gelukzoekers komen
om  naar verlossende grond te zoeken
en de watervloed
eenzaam
achter te laten
 
Wat gebeurt
als ik de jaren veertig zou bedreigen
dan zou mijn kleine Riem
uit de verte komen
zij is groot geworden
steekt uit boven hemelen die ik nooit heb aangeraakt
en boven bergen
die mijn handen
niet konden bergen

Close

WHAT IF I UNSETTLED THE HOMELAND?

What if
I unsettled the homeland?
Richter would set its scale
To shake lots of leaves from
The tree of public interest
In which many hide.
The bourgeois and the destitute,
Warlords and frontline troops,
Shepherds and faithful citizens,
Leaders and freedom-fighters.

What if
I unsettled mountains?
Rebels who lost their way
To the battle-front
Would look down from the mountains’ heights.

What if
I unsettled death?
Friends whom I had seen off for good
Would return one by one
To sit up all night
Around the table
Of life.

What if
I unsettled truth?
Many lies
Would fall from
Its folds.

What if
I unsettled silence?
A lot of clamour
Would bounce off its guts.

What if
I unsettled the left?
Party militants dreaming
Of the extreme right
Would peep from its sidelines.

What if I unsettled
War?
Many fighters going to death
For the sake of a cause
That concerns
Only their generals
Would fall at the battlefronts.

What if
I unsettled heroism?
Great cowardice
Would emerge at its borders.

What if
I unsettled crime?
It would end up recognising
Its perpetrators.

What if
I unsettled the page?
A lot of war criminals busy
Planting kisses on the foreheads of victims
Would leap from its folds
And open
Other
Darker
Pages.

What if
I unsettled history?
Historians busy
Adjusting its frame
To the size of the state
Would look down from its heights.

What if
I unsettled love?
All the lovers
Who feign further losses
To realise the pain of love,
Would leap from its tales.

What if
I unsettled politics,
Men piling up their countries’ losses
To enter the Guinness Book
Through its wide gate,
Would jump off its notebooks.

What if
I unsettled the battlefront?
Generals stirring up more wars
To conclude a truce
Worthy of thousands
Of martyrs
Would emerge from its sidelines.

What if
I unsettled hell?
Angels who had lost their way
To Heaven
Would emerge from its maze.

What if
I unsettled certainty?
A large smile
Would light up the face
Of Uncle Descartes.

What if
I unsettled the wave?
Stories of sailors
Who got lost on the way
To treasures
That existed only in the heads
Of their leaders
Would bounce off its perplexity.

What if
I unsettled friendship?
A lot of enmity
Would fall off its banks.

What if
I unsettled age?
Children messing around with the stars
Would emerge from its wrinkles.

What if
I unsettled the ship?
A lot of opportunists
Seeking escape
And leaving the deluge
Behind,
Alone,
Would jump from its deck.

What if
I unsettled the Forties?
Little Rim
Would peep from the city’s outskirts,
While growing
To reach skies I have never touched
And mountains beyond the grasp of
My hands.

WHAT IF I UNSETTLED THE HOMELAND?

What if
I unsettled the homeland?
Richter would set its scale
To shake lots of leaves from
The tree of public interest
In which many hide.
The bourgeois and the destitute,
Warlords and frontline troops,
Shepherds and faithful citizens,
Leaders and freedom-fighters.

What if
I unsettled mountains?
Rebels who lost their way
To the battle-front
Would look down from the mountains’ heights.

What if
I unsettled death?
Friends whom I had seen off for good
Would return one by one
To sit up all night
Around the table
Of life.

What if
I unsettled truth?
Many lies
Would fall from
Its folds.

What if
I unsettled silence?
A lot of clamour
Would bounce off its guts.

What if
I unsettled the left?
Party militants dreaming
Of the extreme right
Would peep from its sidelines.

What if I unsettled
War?
Many fighters going to death
For the sake of a cause
That concerns
Only their generals
Would fall at the battlefronts.

What if
I unsettled heroism?
Great cowardice
Would emerge at its borders.

What if
I unsettled crime?
It would end up recognising
Its perpetrators.

What if
I unsettled the page?
A lot of war criminals busy
Planting kisses on the foreheads of victims
Would leap from its folds
And open
Other
Darker
Pages.

What if
I unsettled history?
Historians busy
Adjusting its frame
To the size of the state
Would look down from its heights.

What if
I unsettled love?
All the lovers
Who feign further losses
To realise the pain of love,
Would leap from its tales.

What if
I unsettled politics,
Men piling up their countries’ losses
To enter the Guinness Book
Through its wide gate,
Would jump off its notebooks.

What if
I unsettled the battlefront?
Generals stirring up more wars
To conclude a truce
Worthy of thousands
Of martyrs
Would emerge from its sidelines.

What if
I unsettled hell?
Angels who had lost their way
To Heaven
Would emerge from its maze.

What if
I unsettled certainty?
A large smile
Would light up the face
Of Uncle Descartes.

What if
I unsettled the wave?
Stories of sailors
Who got lost on the way
To treasures
That existed only in the heads
Of their leaders
Would bounce off its perplexity.

What if
I unsettled friendship?
A lot of enmity
Would fall off its banks.

What if
I unsettled age?
Children messing around with the stars
Would emerge from its wrinkles.

What if
I unsettled the ship?
A lot of opportunists
Seeking escape
And leaving the deluge
Behind,
Alone,
Would jump from its deck.

What if
I unsettled the Forties?
Little Rim
Would peep from the city’s outskirts,
While growing
To reach skies I have never touched
And mountains beyond the grasp of
My hands.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère