Little Poisonous Snakes

Soprano, Piano, Oboe, Cello, 7 mins, 2015

Large Ensemble | Song


I dream I am the president.
When I wake, I am the beggar of the world.


Your eyes are not eyes. They are bees.
For their sting I can find no cure.


I’ll make a tattoo from my lover’s blood
and shame every rose in the green garden.


O darling, you are just like America;
You are guilty, I apologize


Is there not one man brave enough to see
how my untouched thighs burn my trousers off me

The texts are translations of Landays, an ancient form of Pashto verse, which consist of two lines, the first of 9 syllables, the second of 13. Landays are almost exclusively created by Afghan women, who can use Landay to express themselves in ways that are prohibited by their society. Landay are an aural tradition, here translated by Eliza Griswold in collaboration with Asma Safi. The direct translation of Landay is little poisonous snakes.