Why is it that a poem such as this, composed in a language I don’t know and translated into mine — losing what and gaining what, I can’t pretend to say — … why is it that this speaks so much more powerfully than the hundreds of American poems I’ve read this summer? (Their considerable brilliance has struck me as being like sunlight dazzling off the surface of a swimming pool: surface flashes, sparkling words on vacation.) It can’t be this poem’s artistry, which I can experience only through the translator’s screen; it can’t be some personal resonance in the content, which flows from an emotion I’ve never known and from a foreign historical context. And yet this poem somehow delivers the shock of recognition — deep sympathy and moral meditation intertwined in a way that makes it seem as if the lines are my own, as if these thoughts and feelings are occurring to me as I pass in the street the man who murdered my father. All I can do is acknowledge the mystery, and thank Taha Muhammad Ali and his translator, Peter Cole, for thrusting me right into the middle of it.