Letter to a Bedouin Informer

My friend! Miserable grass
You who suffer whenever you sneak a word

Everyone here has got his eye on you
And sees you for a thief
You have left your comrades and your children
The good Arab coffee
Your tumbledown hut
To suffer among hard-faced strangers
Who do not honor the guest
Who know nothing of you.
But in the desert
There are those
Who know your true worth
The lineage of your great forbears.

You linger here like a shadow, like a blank wall
Not comprehending what we say
It seems to me you don't know
If you are at a wedding or a wake!

My friend, son of our forefather Qahtan,
You are a palace in ruins
The tatters of a shining chronicle
The saddened song of the camel driver
A festering wound

The wasted fragrance of the wild jonquil
A scowling child
The remnants of the proud desert
Whose angry winds
Have scarred your cheeks
So that your face looks
Uncouth and lost.

My friend! Estranged spirit!
Heaped-up grief
Eloquent silence
Pure sands stained with oil
We loath remarking each evening your scowling face
We'd rather see you among your children
Living at ease
So go and sleep now
Dream of vernal greenness, of rain,
Of the moon smiling on the horizon
Of sweet conversation with friends
And if you should come tomorrow
To deliver your wicked report
Tell them whatever you like,
Or whatever they want to hear
What you know
Or what you don't know
And go on talking and talking
Until you see within you
Homes ruined,
Children dead,
The desert defiled.
But when remorse grips you
Tell them that beyond the sea
There is an alien dragon
Who wants to swallow the sun
To rob my child
Of his food
Tell them that beyond
The sea
An ogre is marching on!
Author of original: 
Khalifa Al-Wugayyan
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