Knowledge is Unforgiving

Knowledge is unforgiving
It gnaws at you
What are you guilty of?
Something forgotten
or overdone?
To feel yourself burning with the words
you draped over the unnameable,
pinned to your seat
while sipping your coffee?
Dare to say it:
despite being free of evil
you are its hostage
Can we melt the executioner’s heart
change human nature?
No one has the answer
redemption, Redemption
you murmur
that insoluble equation

— Abdellatif Laâbi
(Trans. by Andre Naffis-Sahely / The Poetry Translation Workshop)

Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laâbi founded the art and literary magazine Souffles in 1966. The magazine was banned in 1972, the same year Laâbi was sentenced to ten years in prison for “crimes of opinion.” Laâbi was freed in 1980 as a result of an international campaign for his release. He was exiled from Morocco in 1985 and has been living in Paris ever since.

[Research note: Abdellatif Laâbi’s website]