When a stranger appears in wintertime,
these are the questions you must ask,
as you lie reclined on soft couches,
eating nuts, drinking wine by the fire:
“What’s your name?”, “Where do you come from?”,
“How old were you when the Persians invaded?”
Xenophanes (c. 570—c. 475 B.C.E.) was a Greek philosopher and poet.
André Naffis-Sahely is the author of The Promised Land: Poems from Itinerant Life (Penguin, 2017). His first poetry pamphlet, The Other Side of Nowhere, has just been published by Rough Trade Books. His translations include twenty titles of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, featuring works by Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Abdellatif Laâbi, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Alessandro Spina. Several have been featured as ‘Books of the Year’ in The Guardian, Literary Hub and NPR.
Note: This poem is excerpted from The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature (Pushkin, 2019).