Concerto al-Quds

Yale Univ. (Margellos World Republic of Letters). Nov. 2017. 96p. tr. from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa. ISBN 9780300197648. $25. POETRY
OrangeReviewStar"Up there, up above,/ Look at her dangling from the sky's throat" opens this astonishing collection from Adonis, who has significantly shaped modern Arabic poetry. He offers a portrait both mythic and historical of Al-Quds, the Arabic name for Jerusalem; frequent references to the Qur'an and the Bible, among other sources, are clarified by excellent footnoting. The first shimmering vision of the city ("The wind reads the roses./ Perfume writes them") is interrupted by parenthetical citations to violence ("Terrorism. Kidnapping. Unknown Identity…"); in a city defined by time, "history arrived, invited by ash." And the book ends, "And Hell, in which sky do you reside/ and from which heaven will you descend?" Thus does Adonis capture in gorgeously singular language an eternal city now riven.
VERDICT Highly recommended.

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