Syria’s Poetic Justice

In the United States the conflict in Syria, although known, has been an issue recognized only during times when the media has made it a topic for evening headlines or endless partisan debates.

However, some Syrians are beginning to find a way through the red tape and lack of global attention; poetry. After an article was published in the New York Times about Syrian citizens using social media to publish poetry, I became interested in the conflict and began searching Facebook for pages from Syrian locals. After making a few contacts within the region, I was introduced to Ali Jamal Al-DeEn, a nineteen-year-old poet living in Syria, who has taken to using his Facebook page as a way to self-publish anti-regime poetry. In Syria, due to extreme government censorship, such an act could mean imprisonment or death. .

Al-DeEn’s Facebook page, self-titled, The Writer, has over a thousand loyal followers sharing his posts and aiding in a free form of speech that exists outside of the bounds of government. The website has in a way, provided literary liberation for a country so muffled. After a few weeks of developing a relationship, I began to ask Al-DeEn more about the situation.


Christopher Pugh

In light of recent discoveries of the use of chemical weapons by the current regime, there are a lot of questions about the violence, specifically actions the government may be taking against the people (civilians) of Syria. Can you tell me a little about what is happening?

          Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

Well, my friend I speak English but I’m not a native speaker so I may have some mistakes. The Syrian “leader“ used actually the chemical weapons against us. Not only chemical weapons, but he’s hitting us by panzer, planes, and every weapon you can imagine. Any boy might be listed as wanted because he went out against the president, even if he didn’t touch a weapon, and when I say any boy I mean anyone: I knew a boy listed who was only five years old. It’s a criminal regime and most of the population here hates it and don’t want them to rule anymore.

Christopher Pugh

            During the initial developments of the Arab spring, I remember hearing about peaceful protests and demonstrations from the people of Syria. It’s difficult to imagine why the government would take such harsh action against its own people. What are students, such as you, doing there right now to speak out?

Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

Most of the students went abroad; the others are not going to school. Colleges every day are seeing students become absent. There are no more protestors because they finally decided to hold guns to fight the regime. They could not keep silent any longer while they were attacked daily and killed. Everybody who protested now wants to fight to finish the regime and to live in peace again.

Christopher Pugh

How do you feel about military intervention from the United States?

Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

I can only take into account the pressure that will happen when bombing, because of the people who are somehow close to a military place. For those of us in this position, we have to put stickers on the windows to protect ourselves if the window has broken because of the pressure.

Christopher Pugh

Stickers for protection?

Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

I mean we put an adhesive tape on the glass to hold it if it’s broken when bombing. Well it’s a very long story to talk about but I can tell you. We used to live in the best country ever, even it wasn’t modern like foreign countries but we were happy even though we didn’t have enough money but we lived in peace and safety, although we didn’t have any opinion in the country’s things and there wasn’t democracy. However most people were okay with that and lived happily, but when some people demanded their rights and to have an opinion we all agreed. Then the president shot them and killed many. The numbers grew numerously to be a revolution that we know today that most of the people now desire to end the president’s rule here in our country because he caused all that blood and crime. Syrian people are strong, and though we now suffer, our past proves are strength. Many people here will not take that suffering lightly; However, Syrian people are cute, cheerful and funny. We always create new jokes, some even about bombs and the war things. Many of them are in Arabic, if I translated some they’ll lose their meaning.

Christopher Pugh

There has been a lot of talk about the lack of protest from well-known Syrian writers. Would you like famous Syrian poets such as Adunis to speak more for Syria and its people?


Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

No, I would like to hear from the young children and from the young poets who went out in this revolution They are deeper and more honest.

Christopher Pugh

Why do you think poetry is so important for the Syrian people right now?

Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

Every civilization has its own culture. Even every revolution. So our revolution is a cultured, educated one and we can rebuild our country again because of the wealth of educated people. Poetry is a part of our culture that walked with the revolution from the beginning and tells its story.


Below is a poem written by Ali, and published on his Facebook page. It has been shared and like by over a hundred of his followers. The piece serves as an example of the direct and often vivid style of poetry coming from the current movement.



By Ali Jamal Al-DeEn

Translations by Ibrahim Daib


And for crying’s sake…

I cry to you

I cry to you, my friends,

With the tears of a young girl,

Not like the other girls, called Syria

And I tell you

The tale of Loneliness … and Freedom

I had never cried with such a burn, till this day;

I have cried velvety tears

On a soil holding death in smears

I cry for the white hands

For the red rose in the urn of the Arabic world

I cry for you, my friends,

The shores of Barada, and the green valley trees,

Of my humiliation and the injustice of who adopted this fight as his,

I mourn today your Arabhood

You who defile the earth of Syria

A girl from the pretty girls, an Arab girl

Cries with me with her eternal tears

Of he who tries his sectarian ways

Of he who sets this hate ablaze

I have never been accustomed to such voices

Nor will I ever be

And we have never asked for more than Unity

And for our martyrs and our children to be free

I cry to you, my friends

Some of what this has turned to

And how the criminals dance away from the reach of the international court

I cry for you, for tears are neither sectarian nor racist, in any sort

Lovely people, we are,

We used to and we still live together

Over paved soil

Planted with trees soft as a feather

And fig trees, and olive trees, golden and better

I cry to you

The tears of the urn

And the wails of its flowers

And the damascene jasmine’s burn

I cry to you and my tears drowning me up to my ear

That hears the Muslim minarets in payer invitation

And the Christian churches tolling with determination

With sounds that run in every corner

Screaming: Arab, Arab Nation!

They kill the child with injustice, and aggression

They serve those systems in every session

So how do we accept such humiliation and destruction and torture?

Is this a price we’ve been asked to pay?

Or History teaching us a lesson?

They’ve slaughtered you, my God, what have they done?

And they’ve pronounced you lonely and exiled.

I cry for you.

I cry for you

And my eyes shout

When did they assassinate you?

And they took the bloods from within,

And the children and the women and the bodies

And the spirits and everything

Is Power really worth.. All this elimination?