Libyan poet who wrote warning poem died days later in floods

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A Libyan poet who attended a meeting to discuss the risk of a flood in the city of Derna and the state of its dams, and subsequently wrote a poem about it, is one of the many thousands who have died in the recent disaster.

The Guardian reports that Libyans are sharing a poem called 'The Rain’, written by Mustafa al-Trabelsi.


The rain

Exposes the drenched streets,

the cheating contractor,

and the failed state.

It washes everything,

bird wings

and cats’ fur.

Reminds the poor

of their fragile roofs

and ragged clothes.

It awakens the valleys,

shakes off their yawning dust

and dry crusts.

The rain

a sign of goodness,

a promise of help,

an alarm bell.


Khaled Mattawa, a Libyan writer who translated Mustafa’s poem, said the response and the generosity across Libya had been “heartbreaking”.

On the night of the storm, at 7.44pm, Mustafa wrote on his Facebook page: “The scenes are scary, and things may escalate to a disaster, and we are under the rule of a corrupt tyrant who has nothing but data, claiming to be prepared and, in fact, does not have any equipment, and rescue teams are only few.

“May God protect the Scouts, the Red Crescent and volunteers who prove that in every crisis our country goes through, they are true voluntary organisations, and the absence of a failed state. May God help the families all over our beloved country.”


The British Red Cross has launched a Libyan Floods Appeal




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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Wed 27th Sep 2023 11:36

Prophets; frequently unwelcome in their own countries.

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Stephen Gospage

Tue 19th Sep 2023 21:45

I can only echo Keith's words. Poets, indeed all artists, are to be applauded when they stand up against injustice.

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keith jeffries

Tue 19th Sep 2023 19:26

Amidst the unfolding tragedy of what took place in Derna we hear the voice of prophecy. Poets are called to be prophets and here we have one of the clearest examples of such a voice. Fearlessly he called his land a failed state and described conditions which existed before the catastrophy. He pointed the finger of where neglect had fermented. This man, Mustafa al Trabelsi epitomises the best of poets. Had the corrupt authorities only taken heed of his voice and strengthened two dams in neglected condition, many might have survived this ghastly event. Mustafa is to be applauded, a name for that hall of fame reserved for the best of poets.
Keith Jeffries

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