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Barada (2013)
for SATB Choir a capella
Text by Nizar Qabbani
Translated to English by Rebecca S. Taleghani
Click here to view score

The Barada river, which flows through the city of Damascus, Syria, has led the region to thrive for thousands of years. During this time, the area's inhabitants sculpted the river to irrigate what would have otherwise been a very barren landscape. In this way, the river has always been a vital force in the prosperity of southwestern Syria. Unfortunately, for the past few decades, the river has suffered from severe drought.

Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998), perhaps the most famous Arabic poet of his time, did not live to see the bombings of Damascus throughout the Syrian civil war. Although this poem, which reads as a prayer to the river, was not inspired by the revolution, the words certainly take on a more powerful meaning in this context.



Barada, by Nizar Qabbani

Barada, oh father of all rivers
Oh, horse that races the days
Be, in our sad history, a prophet
Who receives inspiration from his lord
Millions acknowledge you as an Arab
Prince... so pray as an imam

Oh eyes of the gazelle in the desert of Sham
Look down. This is the age of lavender
They have detained you in the pavilions for a long time
We have woven tents from tears
God has witnessed that we have broken no promise
Or secured protection for those we love