Taha Muhammad Ali

Neither music,

fame, nor wealth,

not even poetry itself,

could provide consolation

for life’s brevity,

or the fact that King Lear

is a mere eighty pages long and comes to an end,

and for the thought that one might suffer greatly

on account of a rebellious child.

My love for you

is what’s magnificent,

but I, you, and the others,

most likely,

are ordinary people.

My poem

goes beyond poetry

because you


beyond the realm of women.

And so

it has taken me

all of sixty years

to understand

that water is the finest drink,

and bread the most delicious food,

and that art is worthless

unless it plants

a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.

After we die,

and the weary heart

has lowered its final eyelid

on all that we’ve done,

and on all that we’ve longed for,

on all that we’ve dreamt of,

all we’ve desired

or felt,

hate will be

the first thing

to putrefy

within us.