God did not intend religion to be an exercise club.
by Elia Abu Madi
He said: Lo, the sky is somber, and frowned.
I said: Smile just the same! Enough frowns in the sky
He said: Youth has left me and fled; I said: Smile!
Sorrow will never bring back your vanished youth
He said: The one whose love was my heaven,
Has tormented my soul
And turned my love into an inferno
She has betrayed my affection,
After I made my heart her sole possession.
So how can I smile
I said: Smile and enjoy yourself;
If you dwell on the hurt she dealt you, you will spend
The rest of your days in pain and suffering
He said: Business is in such turmoil,
As a traveler, almost dying of thirst
Like a consumptive young lass, in dire need of blood;
Wasting her life blood, with each gasp
I said: Smile, you are not the cause of her disease,
Nor will you be able to heal her.
Smile, for a smile may help
If someone else is a culprit,
Must you lose sleep worrying,
As if you yourself were the culprit
He said: The loud cries of my enemies
Are blaring around me,
How can I be happy when enemies are roundabout
I said: Smile, they are not after you
For a crime you have committed;
They would have ought against you if you weren’t
Better and greater than themselves
He said: The sales’ season is upon us,
Yet my merchandise of clothes and toys
Is not selling at all
I have an obligation toward my loved ones,
Yet, I have no single penny in my hand
I said: Smile, it is enough you are still living,
And not lacking in friends and well wishers
He said: The days have forced me to swallow bitter gall.
I said: Smile, even if bitter gall was given to you in strong doses
Perhaps if someone saw you in good spirits
Will discard gloom and rejoice instead
Will complaining ever earn you a penny?
Will you lose anything for being cheerful
There is no danger, friend, in parting your lips;
Your face will not disfigure if you smile
Laugh, for the stars laugh when night is darkest;
It is for this reason we love the stars
He said: Cheerfulness makes no one happy,
People come to this world and leave it against their will
I said: Smile as long as a short span
Separates you from death;
For once dead, you will not smile again