The Beginning of Speech

By Adonis b. 1930 Adonis

Translated By Khaled Mattawa

The child I was came to me
once,
a strange face
                He said nothing              We walked
each of us glancing at the other in silence, our steps
a strange river running in between
 
We were brought together by good manners
and these sheets now flying in the wind
then we split,
a forest written by earth
watered by the seasons’ change.
 
Child who once was, come forth—
What brings us together now,
and what do we have to say?

Adonis, “The Beginning of Speech” from Selected Poems, translated by Khaled Mattawa. Copyright © 2010 by Adonis. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press.

Source: Selected Poems (Yale University Press, 2010)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Adonis b. 1930

POET’S REGION Middle East

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Youth, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Arab poet, translator, editor, and theorist Ali Ahmad Said Esber was the eldest of six children born to a family of farmers in Syria’s Al Qassabin village. Though they could not afford the cost of formal education, Adonis’s father taught his son to read and helped him memorize poems while he worked on the family farm. At fourteen, Adonis recited a poem to the president of Syria during his visit a neighboring town, after which . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Youth, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION Middle East

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.