Poetic Translation of The First Pre-Islamic Suspended Ode of -Qifaa Nabkee-

Hussain Alwan Hussain
2011 / 12 / 25

The First Pre-Islamic Suspended Ode of "Qifaa Nabkee"
By: Imru ul-Qais
Translated by Dr. Hussain Alwan Hussain
Ass. Prof. Al-Hilla University College, Hilla, Babylon

Translated Text

"Stand you here, my companions two,
Let s weep upon remembrance true,
Of love and her abandoned abode,
At the bending ridge of finest sand,
Between Addakhulee and Hawmalee.
Then Toodhiha and Al-Miqraatee,
Whose ruins are still unobliterated,
Though south and north wind alternated.
You ll see the dung of desert antelopes,
On yards and plains like pepper seeds.
By thorny trees at our empty habitation,
I stood in mourn of separation,
The day they rode away as if
I were a crusher of colocynth stuff.
As my companions witnessed my dismay,
From aboard their beasts, they d say:
"Let not yourself get lost in grief,
Let patience steer your soul s relief."
"Indeed, my cure requires a tear shed off;
For where can gentlemen, in ruins erased,
Obtain enough relief, and get redressed?"

Such was your lot with the maidens before:
Al-Huwairithi s mother, and her friend next door;
Al-Rabaabi s mother, at Ma sil water spring.
When they both arose, with musk suffusing,
Just like the fragrant breeze that brought
The sweetest scent of pink up-wrought.
And so the tears of passion gushed out
From my two eyes to drench the throat!
Perchance you ll win from them a day of award,
Nothing, though, could ever exceed
That day of blissful love enjoyed in need
At Darata Juljulin oasis.
When I for the virgin lasses
My beast of burden slaughtered,
And what a wonderful load it carried !
The maidens spent all day exchanging:
Meat and lard like silky trailing,
All woven in tightly knitted curling.
The day when I climbed Unaiza s sedan;
Unaiza s she-camel boarding divan.
So she wailed: "May woes upon you befall !
You re forcing me on foot to stride !"
She said, when the saddle sided
With both of us on board stranded,
"You re killing my she-camel, O, Imru ul Qais !
Off her bruising back get down at once!"
But I replied, "Carry on and loosen its rein,
And never try to drive me off again
From the promising fruits of your domain.
Indeed with many ladies like you I ve spent
A wholesome night, if even she were pregnant,
Or nursing an infant, squinting with amulets,
From whom I swayed away her interests.
If he, behind his mother wept,
To him she d turn aside one part;
Yet her other part, still enwreathed,
Beneath me remained tightly sheathed."
One day, on the dune, she insisted,
To resist my attempts, she persisted.
"O Fatim, ease your trifling down a bit, please.
If set to cut my cord of love, then have grace to release.
For if you anything in me dislike,
Then pluck your heart from mine alike.
Arrogant you grew when for certain you knew
My crush to you is bringing death to me, undue;
And that whatever you demand,
My heart will always be at your command.
Your eyes could not have shed those tears,
But to pierce with your two spears
Inside the factions of a heart in shears!"

An egg in bed, well hid at top security,
Her treasures I enjoyed without celerity.
I had to pass her many guards, so keen,
And many tribesmen standing by, her nest to screen;
All quite set to see me killed, once able and unseen.
When at dusk the Pleiades in sky profiled
Like a sash with pearls and jewels outlined,
I entered her room when she had herself unclad
Behind the screen before retiring to bed.
She waited naked, but for a single underwear,
And so she said, "By God, I have to swear,
You ve got no brain in your brazen head,
Nor could it ever to me occur
Your follies in any way to deter."
I took her out, she walking by my back,
And dragging behind us, upon our track,
Her embroidered laces to erase our traces.
As together we had crossed the tribe s yard,
And were engulfed by high a sandy band
Of rugged and bending hills a round the sand.
I drew to me her two hair locks,
And she sloped on me her slim two flanks,
So supple they were with ankles plump and round.
When turning to me, her breath perfumed,
Quite like the breeze that brought
The fragrance of pink up-wrought.
White is her abdomen, slim and slender,
Her neck glamorizes like a gleaning mirror,
Brilliant as a pearl, yellow mixed with white,
In purest water nurtured, sealed and untouched,
Turns away, and on she turns her high cheeks,
Averting others with her attractive looks,
Like an oryx from Wajrata domain beside her calf.
Her neck resembles antelopes , neither long nor stiff,
When exposed, it is never seen unadorned.
Her glossy hair beautifies her shoulders round,
Black like coal, thick as the clusters of a palm tree,
Compact with fruit, closely woven to fine degree.
Its plaits project in tresses upwards in spree
To cover braids; some tangled, some free.
And with a charming waist, like a bridle curved,
And legs resembling flushing water reed
That stand in shade, under date-palm trees
Densely laden with leaning clusters.
The dust of musk perfumes her bed past morn,
There she s used to stay asleep till past the noon.
Never wears an apron s girdle over her chiffon,
She handles things with tiny fingers, trim and tender,
As gentle as a Dhabyin caterpillar,
Or a tooth-pick from the twigs of Is-hiller.
She vanishes the gloom of nightfall
As if she were a lamp at a hermit s hall.
To ladies like her a gentleman must aspire,
With deep devotion, as she ripens higher:
Between a teenager s skirt and grown-up s attire.
Many men have shunned the chaos of love,
Yet my heart your love can never leave.
Contenders ve always put my love for you to blame,
Indulged indeed they were in their unfair claim,
To lure me from the merits of your fame,
But I rebuffed them all, to gain your aim.

A night like waves of sea,
Whose curtains drew on me,
With every sort of sadness
To test my grace of patience.
Him I addressed, when his back he stretched,
And propped his loins, and stooped his chest:
"O night! To the morning haste to clear the way !
Though your morning cannot better your stay.
Oh, what a lingering night you are !
Could it be that your stars, so far,
Are tied with linen ropes, so tough,
To the very core of Yathbuly Cliff ?"

Oft I laid the bond of water sack
For many clans on my duteous neck back,
Well set for feats of valour in desert trek .
And a vacant valley, like a zebra s belly,
Alone I crossed where the wolf, so hungry,
As a loosing gambler howled in fiery failure
To appease his cub s pounding hunger.
I told him when he howled in bitterness,
"Your lot and mine stop short of abundance
In case you haven t attained some sustenance.
Both of us if something got,
Cannot but let it get lost.
So, whoever plows our plowing,
Deprived indeed he must be growing."

Early in morns I speedily dash - as all the birds
Are still at rest in their ground nests -
Mounting high a hairless horse that hunts
By binding with spells the wildest beasts.
Attacking, retreating; advancing, retracting
Always dashing with sinewy habit
Like a block of rock by torrent tossed off a summit.
Dark and brown, with tufts sliding aside
His withers as drops of rain on stone glide.
Slim and strong, like a furnace sizzling,
He neighs as boiling under heated frizzling.
In pulses gushes when the other steeds,
With diving twin forearms, can barely tread
The topsoil to throw some dust off the ground.
He makes the trickiest boy fling down his back,
And blows away the clothes of men of mark.
Accelerates speed as a boy s spin, tightly knotted
To a string, and with two hands overhead rotated.
He has the flanks of a deer, and a wolf s trot,
And the legs of an ostrich, and a cub s gait.
With wide ribs profiling at back-sight.
He blocks the cleft between his hinds
With a straight tail, long and bound,
Though short of touching the hasty ground.
His girths resemble, as he gushes back and forth,
A bride s grinder of perfume or seeds of colocynth.
Behold the blood of first animal hunted
Over all his neck s expanse extended,
Much like the hue of henna made
To colour silver hair, well combed.
Then appeared a herd of oxen, circling,
With cows like virgin girls strolling
Around a sacred rock in robes with trailing.
At once the animals ran in masses,
Like alternated onyx necklaces that are
By sister jewels joined at even spaces on a par
To the neck of a tribesman of noble descent.
Overrunning the leading cows, he bypassed
The lagging oxen lowing in rows undispersed,
And overcame a cow and an ox in a dash,
Flashing; but short of oozing sweat to wash.
So my mates indulged themselves in cooking beef,
Some broiling lumps in lines, others boiling in brief.
Till dusk our eyes his beauty couldn t wholly capture;
If raised in gaze, they have to slide down in rapture.
In rein and saddle, he spent the night,
Standing near me, always within sight.

Lo friends of mine, behold the lightning,
Whose flashes clash like arms glistening
Through amassing clouds while crowning,
Illuminating their edges, vividly defined.
Or like a hermit s lanterns sliding aside,
With their curly wicks freely over-fuelled.
Together with my companions I sat in meditation
Between al-Atheebi and Dhaariji station,
Gazing at the far-off cloudy congregation.
The massive clouds amounted Qatany Mount,
To the right, if seen, they rained and rained,
While their downpour to the left stretched
Over al-Sittary summit, overtaking Yathbuly Mount.
Till noon the clouds showered and showered,
Its water torrents all the trees overpowered,
Plucking them to roll down towards
The sloping chins of mountain sides.
By Qanani Mount passed a petit rain descent
That made the wild goats assail every slope in dales.
In Taima, no tree trunk remained standing erect,
Nor any house, except with rock and mortar built.
And Mount Thabeera, during the earliest rain-shed,
Looked like a chief in dripping robe appareled.
And the peak of al-Mujaimiri s head settling
Amid the flooding waves, resembled a spindle whirling.
Upon the desert s bending dunes,
The rain unloaded its booming boons.
Like the Yemenite merchant s call-ons
To deliver his luxurious male gowns.
And the morning thrushes drunken sang earlier
As if vanquishing their thirst with finest liquor,
Impregnated with the scent of peppered nectar.
And the carcasses of wildest beasts at sight,
Drowning down the valley overnight,
Lay dispersed over all its slopes so vast,
Resembling lily acacias that are plucked out."


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