Born in 1935, in Sour El Gozlane, Algeria, Djamal Amrani's books include Soleil de notre nuit (Editions Subervie, 1964), L'été de ta peau (Société Nationale d'Edition et de diffusion, 1981), and La nuit du dedans (Marsa Editions, 2002). Central to his life and work is the involvement in the Algerian liberation movement, and his arrest and torture by the French army for participating in a 1956 student strike. In 2004, he received the Pablo Neruda medal for his body of work published between 1964 and 2003. He died in Algiers, Algeria, in 2005.
sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox
from "The Night Before"
Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker Pour Ali la Pointe Here where each day calls out to our suffering Here where each step chains our desire for hope Here where everything cries out misfortune violence famine Here where blood is confirmed silently and grief gains ground He died. Died buried under a pile of rubble While he trampled hatred down with his proud blood So that the roots of his impatient people Would grow knotty in the shadow of the flag Gray tears, so slow to cool Endurances curved round the sacred fire Because they wanted to condemn our long Arid thankless processions to the shadows Because they wanted to tear up our lives At the borders of oblivion Ali La Pointe, son of a land that took up arms Sole penance, disturbing spacious nights Who wrestled down infamy, devoured disdain At first sight of their guns Here he is indicting at one more meeting Their blood-gorged breath; he is there For those who know the universe at the dark hour Of Servitudes Furies of one shared past! His face—mirror of cruelties—where a chorus of cries Fuses our hope, sharpens our freedom Here he is again, living hostage in the wrinkles around Our eyes where the new sun has driven away Shame and emptiness forever. I say: spotted, wrinkled, polished fruits. We sow because death is determined Because death is stronger than hunger O mother country, he called you Certainty before his rapture Then gave himself to the flames to restore Your sovereign brightness. Yesterday strapped down once more by insults of the lords and masters Swallowed up by incest misery He loved the humble, set tenderness free Devoured the past At the multiple hour of inheritance When our joy tells the beads of present freedoms When his name is whispered in our silences I cry out: Child of the Casbah Spring thaw on the ramparts
Born in 1935, in Sour El-Gozhlane, Algeria, Djamal Amrani's books include Soleil de notre nuit (Editions Subervie, 1964), L'été de ta peau (Société Nationale d'Edition et de diffusion, 1981), and La nuit du dedans (Marsa Editions, 2002).