Roberto Malini: Poetry Before the Law

Roberto Malini, co-president of EveryOne Group, an NGO supporting Roma people and refugees, left a poem he wrote for Hamza Kashgari in a comment. I want it to be more visible than that, so here it is again.

Poetry Before the Law

on the deportation of the poet Hamza Kashgari back to Saudi Arabia

Spare the poet, O Law,

for his soul expands

beyond the sources of reason,

as far as truth.

Spare the poet, O Death,

for his heart is the brother of a quasar

that ignites the Universe.

Spare the poet, O Faith,

for his song rises like the Sun

and reawakens the eternal in stone.

Roberto Malini (English translation by Glenys Robinson)


  1. John Morales says

    I generally don’t “get” poetry, and this is the case here.

    (If someone could translate it into meaningful prose, I’d appreciate it)

  2. says

    F says, Thanks for finding the original. Since Roberto Malini is co-president of an NGO supporting Roma people I had imagined it might be in inflected Romany, but Italian is great too,

  3. says

    John – have you ever tried Keats, John Donne, Shakespeare’s sonnets, Wordsworth? Emily Dickinson, Yeats?

    I used to think I didn’t get poetry either, but then I realized I was quite mistaken. I recommend testing the thought.

  4. Robert B. says

    Hm. I suppose you mean, John, that you’d like someone to unpack the metaphor and other figurative language. Explaining a metaphor is like running sushi through a blender, but in the name of accessibility:

    Poets should not be arrested for their poetry, because they can express those valuable ideas that cannot be communicated in rational argument.
    Poets should not be killed for their poetry, because their work is creative and creation is a positive good.
    Poets should not be persecuted by religion for their poetry, because poetry exposes people to powerful and fundamental thoughts and feelings, which is just what religion seeks or claims to do.

    Those are the ideas. There’s some emotional content as well, which (as the first stanza suggests) I can’t really unpack without writing something much longer than the poem.

    Like Ophelia, I really recommend you give poetry another try without an English teacher breathing down your neck. I’d give you a different list of starting poets, though. Wordsworth isn’t much and Shakespeare is really for people who like poetry already, but do try some Dickinson. Also Dylan Thomas, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rudyard Kipling. Robert Frost is good if you like ideas and narrative, Maya Angelou is good if you like the thundering sound of the language.


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