Poetry: Eve of Qurban Eid, ’93 by Tahir Hamut

Translated from the Uyghur by Joshua Freeman, this poem speaks of God as the best poetry will—where no lecture is being made, or point argued, or overly sentimental gushing, but simply it lays bare a human heart in the context of their religion. Freeman does an excellent job of transferring the power of the imagery and sounds harmoniously, and the poem in English stands firmly on its own.


Eve of Qurban Eid, ’93

I have a field that God gave me
and on the eve of every Eid
I observe the futureless growing of the weeds,
the worthless little lives of the sparrows,
my own gradually lengthening shadow.
The next day,
I sense that the hair on my body has doubled.
The iron ring that doesn’t fit my finger and
the tedious song passed down from ancient times
fuse in my palm.
And just like that I will grow up,
I will become ever crueler and more apathetic.
I’ll see a bunch of kids walking along cracking sunflower seeds,
and I might think of the fig tree’s milk-colored nectar
or the new clothes I am to wear tomorrow.
Perhaps I’ll say to you:
—My mother is not an infidel.

June 1993, Kashgar

Note: Qurban Eid, also called Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice, is one of the holiest days of the Muslim year.



‘قۇربان ھېيت ھارپىسى 93’
تاھىر ھامۇت

مېنىڭ خۇدا بەرگەن بىر پارچە ئېتىزىم بار
ھەر قېتىمقى ھېيىت ھارپىسىدا
مەن ياۋا ئوت-چۆپلەرنىڭ ئىستىقبالسىز ئۆسۈشىنى،
قۇشقاچلارنىڭ ئەرزىمەس كىچىككىنە ھاياتىنى،
ئۆزەمنىڭ ئاستا-ئاستا ئۇزىرىۋاتقان سايەمنى كۆزىتىمەن.
بەدىنىمدىكى تۈكلەرنىڭ بىر ھەسسە كۆپەيگەنلىكىنى سېزىمەن.
بارمىقىمغا ياراشمىغان بىرتال تۆمۈر ئۈزۈك بىلەن
قەدىمدىن قالغان تېتىقسىز بىر ناخشا
ئالقىنىمدا بىرىكىدۇ.
مەن مانا مۇشۇنداق پىشىپ يېتىلىمەن،
تېخىمۇ رەھىمسىز ۋە تېخىمۇ پەرۋاسىز بوپ كېتىمەن.
گازىر چېقىپ كېتىۋاتقان بىر توپ بالىلارنى ئۇچرىتىپ،
ئەنجۈر دەرىخىنىڭ سۈت رەڭلىك شىرنىسىنى ياكى
ئەتە كىيىدىغان يېڭى كىيىمىمنى ئويلىشىم مۇمكىن.
بەلكىم، ساڭا دەرمەن:
ــ مېنىڭ ئانام كاپىر ئەمەس.

1993- يىل ئىيۇن، قەشقەر



Tahir Hamut was born in 1969 in a small town near Kashgar, in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. His first poem was published in 1986, and in the last three decades he has become one of the foremost modernist poets writing in Uyghur. Since the late nineties he has worked as a film director and has founded his own production company, Izgil, which specializes in documentaries, advertisements and music videos. He lives in Ürümchi, Xinjiang’s capital, with his wife and two daughters. His work has previously appeared in English translation in Words Without Borders, Crazyhorse, Asymptote, Gulf Coast, Berkeley Poetry Review and elsewhere.

Joshua L. Freeman is a PhD candidate at Harvard University. His upcoming dissertation deals with Uyghur cultural history in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a focus on literary canon. In the last few years, his translations of contemporary Uyghur poetry have appeared in Crazyhorse, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Asymptote, Words Without Borders, Berkeley Poetry Review and elsewhere. More of his translations are available at Academia.edu.

Reprinted with permission, this translation originally appeared in Crazyhorse Issue 79.

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