The loss of country due to war is difficult to fathom. I left Lebanon at the age of 25 when it was at peace, intending to return after finishing my medical training. When the civil war broke out and I could not return, I felt severed from my family, friends, and history. These feelings of estrangement, isolation, and exile provoked an existential crisis in my soul, a crisis that I was unable to resolve.
Orphaned from my fatherland, I looked to poetry for solace. This poem, the fruit of my grief, brought me a measure of peace and hope, which sustained me until my emotional storm slowly died down with time.
I watch the trees undress in autumn sun
Reveal their private branches one by one
Unmindful of my gaze, no blush nor cry
Embrace the humming wind and mark the sky.
These clouds of misty perfume and the breeze
Bring back your face amidst the naked trees
And tipsy violins and all the sins
Of gushing youth and ah, the memories.
Where mighty, melancholy, mountains peak
And olive branches meditate and speak
Unto the earth who is so old and noble
And the vine
Invites the birds to gossip on her cheek.
Fatherland, oh Fatherland
If only I could hold your hand
And stand upon your shore
Behold your hoary mountains dive
Into the sea and snore
With mystifying grace
Implore the endless waves
To wash your ancient face.
Fatherland, before I gray I will be back
I will be back one misty autumn day
To hug your loving dirt against my chest
And plant a garden on your ruddy breast
Loiter together in the timid afternoon
Until the sun begins to blush before the moon.
Some weary nights I wonder if you sleep
I see the worry on your mountain face
And frowning furrows run so dark and steep
And little soldiers run about the place.
Hoary mountain land repose, unfrown your brow
Forget the little soldiers now
Look back a thousand scores, recount
The many times some little soldiers
Ran about your mount.
What do the little soldiers know?
So they come and so they go
And you will have their dust and mine
And every year there will be snow.
The footsteps of the Lord stood once
Upon your sand
And the sea amid a storm stood still
And there are little soldiers under every hill
And the cedar trees upon the mount command:
Thou shalt not kill
And quietly pray for peace
In the land of the Lord our Father
In the Fatherland.
Lebanese-born Dr. Hanna Saadeh, MD is both a creative writer and an infectious disease specialist in Oklahoma City, OK. He travelled to the US in 1971 for completing his post graduate medical training. The twenty-year Lebanese Civil War prevented him from returning to his fatherland, thus making Oklahoma his second home, where he has been productive as both physician and writer. Dr. Saadeh has authored five poetry books, four novels, and a collection of short stories.
For more about Dr. Saadeh’s literary works, please visit his website on https://www.hannasaadah.com/ or his amazon page on https://www.amazon.com/Hanna-Saadah/e/B0191XNZ6C%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share