Abdul-Rahman al-Abnudi, born in the southern city of Qena in 1938, is one of the most important contemporary Egyptian colloquial poets. His work often returns to the joys and sorrows of the marginalized, and he has also written poetry for those struggling for positive change, including for imprisoned Alaa Abdelfattah (“The Prisoners’ Laughter”):
Although a number of al-Abnudi’s poems have been translated, mostly they have been translated in a rough and ready way by fans. “The Usual Sorrows,” which Cairokee adapted into the song “We are the People,” has also been so translated. Here, journalist Ahmed Aboul Enein gives the lyrics’ translation a go:
The Usual Sorrows
By Abdul Rahman al-Abnudi
trans. Ahmed Aboul Enein
From all corners of silent cities
Thousands of youth, crawling,
calling for the death of dawn.
Waiting dawn after dawn,
For the killing to stop,
Or at least for the grip to loosen.
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