My eye, do not weep for those who are dead;
weep for those sleeping on prison beds.
Lonely, yearning for family and friends,
cruelty, torture – their final ends.
Their freedom depending on political bends,
approving, censuring – changing trends.
Their sacrifice and courage to history lends,
rebels? dissidents? – as the trial pends.
When freed, if freed, no kindness mends
the pain, the fear – the message it sends:
Be silent, be mute, about all that tends
to freedom. Or terror your family rends.
(Previously published in the Tripoli Post in 2007)
The first two lines of this poem are from a Libyan folk song. In Libyan poetry tradition (that goes back centuries), a poet would challenge other poets by composing a poem then daring them to ‘build’ upon the first stanza. Of course, that’s done in the Libyan dialect, but I thought I’d try it in English.
This is dedicated to all those Libyans who resist and fight injustice, whose weapons are their words and their pens. For every Libyan past and present.