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Charles Corm

>>Version française du texte

Lebanon in Lebanon, December 25th 1932

Tonight, in our prisons, innocent men are being held. Their wives wait in terror; and their children, made martyrs by the other children, sleeping in anguish, beset by nightmares, only drink the bitterness of tears this Christmas. Charles Corm

I- Biography:

Charles Corm is a Lebanese author, writing in the French language. Born in Beirut in 1894 and dying there in 1963.

In 1919, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, he founded Al-Majjala Al-Phiniquiyya (The Phoenician Magazine), the first French magazine in Lebanon. He awakened the Lebanese sense of patriotism in Al-Jabal Al-Moulham (The Sacred Mountain) (1934) and revived the literary and artistic movement in his homeland. The books he published include: Fata Al-Jabal (The Mountaineer) (1938), Al-Fan Al-Phiniqi (Phoenician Art) (1938), and Sirr Al-Hobb (The Secret of Love) (1948). He also wrote Symphoniyat Al Nour (Symphony of Light) and A Look to the Indescribable (a paper on the painters of Lebanon), and Al-Hayat Al-Moussiqiyya (Musical Life), which is a series of critical impressions (1949). He contributed in many French, Lebanese, and Egyptian magazines. In 1935, he founded and chaired Al-Sadaqat Al-Loubnaniya (Lebanese Friendships), a symposium that aims at promoting cooperation between men of literature, art and science.

A patriot, a strong believer in his country and a great friend to France, Charles Corm took up a symbolic romantic path and his writings and thought were distinguished by elegance, talent and innovation.

Many of his poems are considered among the best representatives of Lebanese literature in the French language.

II- Extracts from
‘The Sacred Mountain’ by Charles Corm (You can order the book online)

The Tale of Enthusiasm

The heart spoke:
A crippled man has come to free my maimed homeland!

The arm spoke:
With the one arm he has left
He brings my severed cities back into my embrace!

The brain spoke:
Beirut shall be the capital city of my thoughts!

The eyes spoke:
Here, in the light, is my Phoenician coastline!

The ears spoke:
Without shame, we shall hear the name of our homeland!

The mouth spoke:
I shall eat the bread of my ancestral fields!

The lungs spoke:
Our harbors shall breathe the fresh air from the open sea!

The feet spoke:
We shall march toward the future!

The bones spoke:
We may now rest in the newfound peace of our ancient graveyards.

The blood spoke:
I am overflowing
And I am climbing at last towards the summit of my soul!

The soul spoke:
I was merely immortal. He gave me life once more!

Then Lebanon the antique,
Like a cathedral
Whose statues had become sadly silent
Since the Middle Ages,
Suddenly awakens!

And the holy faces
Of the simply sculptures,
The candid paintings,
The glowing stained-glass windows,

Illuminating the gilding
Of their dimmed silhouettes
On the edge of the moldings
And the frames,

Come back to life in their alcoves
All along the ledges
And the entablatures.

To the gables
Shaking off their dust
And their meditation,

From the parvis to the chapels,
From the altar to the turrets,
Blushing, they sang to me,

Sang this innocent and solemn litany
Weeping and smiling:

The poet spoke:
The muse is back!

The gardener spoke:
The laurel tree is blooming again!

The shepherd boy spoke:
I shall have more than one lamb!

The poacher spoke:
I shall rob no more!

The woodcutter spoke:
I shall plant cedar trees!

The woodworker spoke:
I shall build altars!

The carpenter spoke:
I shall arm ships!

The emigrants spoke:
On wings we shall return home!

The sailor spoke:
The sea has no ripples anymore!

The porter spoke:
The time of burden is over!

The blacksmith spoke:
We shall build canons!

The shoemaker spoke:
Seven-league boots are not big enough!

The architect spoke:
How straight our roads shall be!

The tailor spoke:
I measured him by the number of his battles!

The smuggler spoke:
Borders exist no more!

The merchant spoke:
Business is good!

The beggar spoke:
So what if I have no bread!

The doctor spoke:
The only way to die now is from too much happiness!

The lawyer spoke:
Lo! All my clients have made peace!

The peasant spoke:
A freed land is heaven!

The servant spoke:
I am now a queen!

The princess spoke:
Of all the poor people, I shall be the servant!

The culprit spoke:
I shall sin no longer!

The nun spoke:
We are unneeded!

The little girl spoke:
I dreamt that he was sleeping and that I was kissing him!

The young girl spoke:
I am going to be married!

The elderly lady spoke:
Liberty is the fountain of youth!

The elderly gentleman spoke:
I shall die with no regrets!

The atheist spoke:
I believe in God so that he protects us all!

The song-writer spoke:
The songs of Lebanon,
Which were only tears, shall become joyful again.

The musician spoke:
The souls of Lebanon are a true symphony.

The artist spoke:
When I try to paint
My brush trembles and the colors pale!

The jeweler spoke:
I want to engrave my swords with gold.

The sculptor spoke:
The Venus of Milo!
The Victory of Samothrace!
Long live General Gouraud!

The young woman spoke:
On our beautiful suffering features,
The centuries-old imposition had ruined our complexions.
And our hearts were ravaged with pain
And often with dread.
We were touching;
But with all the suffering,
We became vile to see!
In our native air, now so pure, grace has returned!
Is back!
Hope and light!
Our smiles light up,
As do our horizons!
Fear dares not disfigure our beautiful eyes.
All our doors open up
Like wide louvers,
Snapping their shutters,
And all of our windows, to the innermost of our beings,
Give themselves over to life,
As in fervent prayer!
We shall no longer sleep next to the smothered hearth,
In the house of darkness and melancholy!
We were beautiful, and taciturn;
Becoming happy, we shall be pretty!

The young man spoke:
I shall be able to fall in love,
A woman shall be mine!
I want to have sons!
I want my grateful heart to multiply,
I want to fill up my thankful heart!

September 1, 1920

III- The Tale of Agony
Translated from the Lebanese
In memory of Patriarch Elias Hoayek
Who never lost hope in God or in Lebanon



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