Book Review: “The Processions” by Gebran Khalil Gebran translated by Ghassan Kassab

Jun 9 • Featured, Latest News • 851 Views • No Comments on Book Review: “The Processions” by Gebran Khalil Gebran translated by Ghassan Kassab

This is a new translation of Gebran Khalil Gebran’s Arabic masterpiece “The Processions”. The original poem was written in 1919, so we are close to its 100th birthday. The book is not the size of a paper back, but slightly larger. It still is a nice and comfortable size. The Cover features a solitary tree, which seems to indicate the recurring theme of “the woods” in the poem itself. In addition to the translation, the book has reproductions of Gebran’s original artwork that was published in 1919, albeit that the images are small in size. The book also features the original Arabic text after the English translation. This book is the second translation of this poem. The first translation was done in 1958 by George Kheirallah, and it was an incomplete translation.  As in the first translation, Mr. Kassab translated the poem into poetry.

cover 2

The English translation is brilliant by any means. It also attempts to conserve not only the meaning and the wording of the original translation, but also the spirit it conveys. The language is simple, even though the language of the original poem is complex. The opening verse pays tribute to Gebran’s masterful legacy with a rolling text:

 

The good in men is wrought by force,

And vice in men outlasts their course,

And most of men are tools moved by

Fingures of time, one day, then die.

So do not say this man is smart,

Nor of that an aristocrat,

As best of men are herds that race

At Shepherds’ voice, or else efface.

 

This opening sets the tone for the rest of the book. In addition, the imagery that is portrayed by the translator in the English translation, reminds us why Gebran is a great thinker and one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century. On love, the translation says:

 

Love comes in forms, most with no root,

Like weeds in fields, no flowers or fruit

 

And in another verse says:

 

For love is in the soul, not in the flesh, expressed,

Like wine is for inspiration, not drunkenness, pressed.

And on the distinction between body and soul:

In the woods I found no distinction

Between body and soul to question,

For air is water swaying slow,

And dew is water without a flow

 

There are more complex versus that posed a clear challenge for the translator such as:

 

Happiness in life is a pursued ghost,

When materialized, then that thrill is lost,

Like a river that hurls towards the plains,

Once there, slows down, muddies and wanes,

 

And Mr. Kassab’s treatment of these difficult Arabic passages is very poignant.

In conclusion, we highly recommend this book, and it would be a valuable addition to any personal library.

 

You can buy the book at www.amazon.com

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