New Internationalist

What is to give light

If I could say something to the brave souls back home, I’d say this:

Dear Egyptians,

Remember, you have Youth, Truth and Love on your side; the old regime only has Hate and Lies. Let that give you courage to forge a New Future; they represent a stubborn past. Do not let them divide you or put fear in your hearts. And let the young lead, the young are still immune to fear. Keep your spirits high and clean and you will keep the protests beautiful.  

You make us all proud. You’re our hope and inspiration!



27 January 2011

What is to give Light

   What is to give light must endure
   burning, a man once said
   Another man became the matchstick
   that set a nation aflame

   But fire, and its appetite, cannot be
   calculated, like freedom
   Injustice and desperation make men
   combustible, like dry wood

   When words lose their meaning
   and an entire people their voice –
   so they can neither laugh nor scream –
   death and life begin to taste the same

   From Tunis, to Egypt, to Lebanon to Yemen
   the light from a burning man proved catching
   And those with nothing to lose, or offer, but bodies
   fanned the embers of their hopes into a blazing dream.

Yahia Lababidi

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  1. #1 onedaywonder 11 Feb 11

    what it's all about

    One of those poems that leaves you feeling enriched. 'The blazing dream'- that's surely what all this all too human struggle is all about.

  2. #2 Rana 06 Mar 12

    A lovely poem!
    ’but bodies  fanned the embers of their hopes into a blazing dream.
    What a line!!
    A great play on fire and light and the link between them in relation to the Arab spring.

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About the author

Yahia Lababidi a New Internationalist contributor

Yahia Lababidi is an Egyptian-American thinker and Pushcart-nominated poet, whose work has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. To date, Lababidi is the author of five well-received books, in four different genres: Signposts to Elsewhere (aphorisms), Trial by Ink: From Nietzsche to Bellydancing (essays), Fever Dreams (poems), The Artist as Mystic (conversations) and, most recently, Barely There, a new collection of poems from Wipf and Stock. 

Read more by Yahia Lababidi

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