Life is Nostalgia (Poetry) (Guest Post)

the nighttime sky with the moon and the stars representing nostalgia that people experience
The nighttime sky is a symbolic scene for poets and creatives.

Today’s post is a contribution from my friend Souad Tello, who is a Syrian refugee currently living in Turkey. Recently, she shared with me a poignant poem she wrote in Arabic with themes of love, loss, heartbreak, separation, and nostalgia. I liked the poem so much that I translated it into English. No poetic translation, especially this one, can do the original justice. But I hope it can communicate a fraction of the beauty of the original, which I have entitled “Life is Nostalgia.” Below you can also find two audio recording by Souad of the original Arabic and English translation.

One of our readers once shared the following quote: expression is the opposite of depression. It goes without saying that art can be a powerful means to expel negative energy.

Nostalgia [no-stal-juh]: a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.


Life is Nostalgia (By Souad Tello) (Translated by Ben Peters)

The night comes. . with the moon in its embrace, mourning our sorry condition. . confused clouds, only occasionally visible to the eye. . a treacherous cold breeze after a violent heat. . the world spins around us. . as we stand firm in our place. . we cannot help but remember. . they departed. . they left our wounds to fester with blood. . and our eyes to wander through the labyrinths of the past in search of them. . because they were the source of our hope and confidence. . with a word or two they destroyed the worlds inscribed in our hearts . . with cold indifference they left like it was nothing. . the cold breeze returns. . the mourning moon. . and confused clouds, robbing sleep from our eyes. . with them they compel us to watch the threads of the past cloaked in sorrow. .

يأتي الليل . . وبحضنه قمر باك على حالنا . . غيوم حائرة . . تارة نراها وتارة لا . . نسمات برد غادرة بعد حر ثائر . . والدنيا تدور بنا . . وما زلنا واقفين بأمكنتنا . . مصرين على التذكر . . ذهبوا . . تركوا جراحنا تلعب بالدماء . . وأعيننا تائهة بمتاهات الماضي تبحث عنهم . . أجل إنهم من كانوا آمالنا من كانوا موضع ثقتنا . . بكلمة واثنتين دمروا عوالم كانت مخطوطة في قلوبنا . . وبلا أي مبالاة كان الفراق أسهل ما أمكنهم . . تعود نسمات البرد . . القمر الباكي . . والغيوم الحائرة وتسرق النوم من أعيننا . . لتجبرنا على السهر معها نشاهد أشرطة الماضي المغلفة بالأسى . .