Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Five Poems by Hassan Wahbi

Aug 13, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the French by Patrick Williamson

These poems originally appeared in French in Eloge de l’Imperfection (ed. Al Manar, Paris, 2012) and have been translated with the permission of the publisher.


Sometimes at the threshold of presence,
the world seems nor more than
the rumor of a dream,
an obscure family of bodies,
the tearing of the obvious.

here and there sleep folk
scattered under worn-out suns
dressed in old truths
walking to start over
the imperfect desire to live.


Who’s really there
when you move from one thing
to the other
from one riddle to another,
who speaks
or doesn’t speak
in the incompletion
of breath?
At what point
does the self progress,
where do you feel
one with yourself?
Which book do you read
the secret of life in?


It’s all too much:
faces, objects, looks,
words, movements, noises,
numbers, letters, bodies
and beasts, submissions
and allegiances, references
and preferences, genders, and deities…
Look for a place
where the mourning of memories
is the only reason
to live,
in an intimate geography
of silence.

Look for a tangible Qur’an
in the clay of all desire
without cruelty
neither that of men
nor that of the gods
the visible alone
will there reveal its secrets
or its evidence.


Every day
we think we see things,
are we not truly blind
because we cannot see
what we see
we guess
what is given
in the clarity of habits
in the memorial mimicry
of what is already distant.


Love is sometimes hostile to us
barely grazing
our imagination,
it barely glances at itself.
But late in life
in the weak wind of the body
we bury it
in its own sky.

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Hassan Wahbi lives and works in Agadir. He has published several essays on literary criticism of Moroccan society, and several collections of poetry, aphorisms, and subjective introspection. Among his latest books are Petit éloge de l’aimance (poetry, ed. Al Manar, Paris, 2021), La tyrannie du commun (Essay, ed. La Croisée des chemins, Casablanca, 2019), La nuit humaine (Notebooks, ed. Le fennec, Casablanca, 2022) and forthcoming La maladie de la littérature (Essay, ed. Al Manar, Paris, 2022), and Ordre et désordre des êtres (poetry, Al Manar, Paris, 2023)

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Most recent poetry collections are Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014), Nel Santuario (SE, 2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). He is the editor and translator of The Parley Tree: An Anthology of Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Max Alhau (France), Tahar Bekri (Tunisia), Gilles Cyr (Quebec), as well as Italian poets Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Recent translations have appeared in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, and poems in The Black Bough, The Fortnightly Review notably. He is a longstanding collaborator with artists’ book publisher Transignum, a member of the editorial committee of La Traductière, and a founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.


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