Land of Flame

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 135th birthday.

Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker
1888 – 1942


Everything grows intensely in your soil, Algeria!
Trees, flowers, and golden wheat, protected by Ceres,
Juicy fruits, carnal fruits: Fatma, Rachel, Inès,
Zohra the mulatto or the white Marie.

Why don’t I have, like a cantor, a flowery tongue
Aloe to celebrate the olive grove
Where sometimes the shadow of Cervantes prowls
Pirate’s prisoner in ancient Barbary.

Exhaling scents of mint and henna,
Cities of fiery growth and unbridled luxury:
Algiers, Oran, Cirta, overflowing with sap

Open their white or golden arms like a fan
To receive the day. In iridescent prisms
The rocks or the beach are transformed.

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