Posted by Warrior Empress from host-65-199-130-56.link.com.eg (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 at 11:50AM :
Your translation was pretty spot on, and no I am not offended but deeply flattered that you would take the time to find the meaning of this poem.
The poem is not accurate assyrian (eastern neo aramaic or whatever!) and is a symbol of my poor native language skills. There are many words that are actually arabic in origin and I guess twisted and churned into being the popular assyrian spoken by those who originate from iraq (ie my parents).
So by no means can we classify this poem as assyrian, although when you see it written in syriac script it looks like a masterpiece :)
The beauty in all of this I guess is manifold. It shows how we are a product of our times, grappling to find a way to communicate in a language that is rapidly evolving and simultaneously decaying.
Assyrian was my first language as a child and even though I studied the language every saturday until I was 12, English superceded my syriac skills to become my fluent tongue. I communicate most eloquently in English, and am reduced to a blabbering twit in assyrian, which pains me greatly I must say.
I did re-enrol into a saturday adult class at 18 but I spoke such little assyrian at this stage that many people were translating what the teacher had to say in english. Needless to say the average age of the group was 50 and as migrants had poor english skills. Needless to say it was alot of the fun (despite the fact the class started at 10am on a saturday!)
I stayed for about 2 or 3 years and we even started learning "leeshanah aramaya or leeshana sopraya" as they call it, and this was taken directly as biblical manuscript because of the lack of literature I suppose in aramaic.
I travelled to Iraq to live with friends and family and this helped improve my spoken modern assyrian, but I fail to speak academically and unfortunately my language skills are limited to domestic/ colloquial assyrian. I still fail to understand assyrian songs and academic/ political speaches in syriac.
I pray to return to Australia soon (have been working and living in Egypt for almost a year now) to return to some private lessons in syriac. I think the only person who will be able to do this will be a priest, coz they seem like the only breed left who really understand and appreciate the language. I dread having to learn it out of the bible however, so if you know of any cool texts we could use in my class I would appreciate it.
I have a journal full of assyrian writing and poetry I hope someday to publish. For me the beauty is not in the sound of "soorat" but in the majickal script. I still ask my mum to write me letters in syriac so I never forget it.
'Leywa khzeeta' is about the struggle of the assyrian diasporic refugee finding meaning and identity (a common theme in my work, essays, poems and short stories alike). Identity and recognition is the pain that stabs us in the heart i think, not due to national reasons, but personal psychological/ spiritual ones.
Evanessence sum up these emotions well in their song "Bring me to Life" with the catch cry...
"Save me from this nothing I've become"
...Oh and by the way I believe the saviour resides within...
-- Warrior Empress
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