The Eyes of Beirut by Alexander Durie

On the loud and winding roads of Lebanon

The Eyes of Beirut move like headlights

To guide the myriad wanderers of the night

It approaches 8pm on the mountaintop

When the green horizon

And the red sundown entwine

From up top

The cedar trees of the Chouf

Appear like any other broccoflower forest

From up top

All of Lebanon’s problems

Seem so miniscule

From up top

The Eyes of Beirut can breathe the tranquil air

And gaze from a distance

The changing world


A sigh

A sound

A spine-tingling

Guitar chord

That bellows

Out of the untouched world

Out of silence

A song begins to play

Thrown like the bone to the spaceship in 2001

Radiohead’s Nude vibrates the earth

And cuts the scene in slices

From the mountains of serenity

To the urban circus by the sea

The Hamra chaos

The Downtown desert

The Mar Mikhael maze

And the Raouche rocks,

The Eyes of Beirut do not see them

They channel them within

They become them in time

The Eyes of Beirut are quiet but never speechless

They utter a silence that echoes louder than words

And if we follow Robert Frank’s counsel that

‘The eye should learn to listen before it looks’

We seize through the Eyes of Beirut

The soul of the city

The tenderness that caresses the commotion

The grief that lingers

In untaught histories

The tragedies and the parties

The fireworks and the weddings

The hope and the wonder

And the endless mix

Of fascination and confusion.

The feeling of summer

Is walking barefoot

On rocky beaches

Rocking back and forth

On a rooftop chair

Hit by heat