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The follies of men cease with youth, but my heart does not
cease to love you.
Many bitter counselors have warned me of the disaster of
love, but I turned away from them.
Many a night has let down its curtains around me amid deep
It has whelmed me as a wave of the sea to try me with sorrow.
Then I said to the night, as slowly his huge bulk passed over me,
As his breast, his loins, his buttocks weighed on me and then passed afar,
"Oh long night, dawn will come, but will be no brighter without my love.
You are a wonder, with stars held up as by ropes of hemp to a solid rock."
At other times, I have filled a leather water-bag of my people and entered the desert,
And trod its empty wastes while the wolf howled like a gambler whose family starves.
I said to the wolf, "You gather as little wealth, as little prosperity as I.
What either of us gains he gives away. So do we remain thin."
Early in the morning, while the birds were still nesting, I mounted my steed.
Well-bred was he, long-bodied, outstripping the wild beasts in speed,
Swift to attack, to flee, to turn, yet firm as a rock swept down by the torrent,
Bay-colored, and so smooth the saddle slips from him, as the rain from a smooth stone,
Thin but full of life, fire boils within him like the snorting of a boiling kettle;
He continues at full gallop when other horses are dragging their feet in the dust for weariness.
A boy would be blown from his back, and even the strong rider loses his garments.
Fast is my steed as a top when a child has spun it well.
He has the flanks of a buck, the legs of an ostrich, and the gallop of a wolf.
From behind, his thick tail hides the space between his thighs, and almost sweeps the ground.
When he stands before the house, his back looks like the huge grinding-stone there.
The blood of many leaders of herds is in him, thick as the juice of henna in combed white hair.
As I rode him we saw a flock of wild sheep, the ewes like maidens in long-trailing robes;
They turned for flight, but already he had passed the leaders before they could scatter.
He outran a bull and a cow and killed them both, and they were made ready for cooking;
Yet he did not even sweat so as to need washing.
We returned at evening, and the eye could scarcely realize his beauty
For, when gazing at one part, the eye was drawn away by the perfection of another part.
He stood all night with his saddle and bridle on him,
He stood all night while I gazed at him admiring, and did not rest in his stable.
But come, my friends, as we stand here mourning, do you see the lightning?
See its glittering, like the flash of two moving hands, amid the thick gathering clouds.
Its glory shines like the lamps of a monk when he has dipped their wicks thick in oil.
I sat down with my companions and watched the lightning and the coming storm.
So wide-spread was the rain that its right end seemed over Quatan,
Yet we could see its left end pouring down on Satar, and beyond that over Yazbul.
So mighty was the storm that it hurled upon their faces the huge kanahbul trees,
The spray of it drove the wild goats down from the hills of Quanan.
In the gardens of Taimaa not a date-tree was left standing, Nor a building, except those strengthened with heavy stones.
The mountain, at the first downpour of the rain, looked like a giant of our people draped in a striped cloak.
The peak of Mujaimir in the flood and rush of débris looked like a whirling spindle.
The clouds poured forth their gift on the desert of Ghabeet, till it blossomed
As though a Yemani merchant were spreading out all the rich clothes from his trunks,
As though the little birds of the valley of Jiwaa awakened in the morning
And burst forth in song after a morning draught of old, pure, spiced wine.
As though all the wild beasts had been covered with sand and mud, like the onion's root-bulbs.
They were drowned and lost in the depths of the desert at evening.
THE POEM OF ANTAR1
Have the poets left in the garment a place for a patch to be patched by me; and did you know the abode of your beloved after reflection ? 2
The vestige of the house, which did not speak, confounded thee, until it spoke by means of signs, like one deaf and dumb. Verily, I kept my she-camel there long grumbling, with a yearning at the blackened stones, keeping and standing firm in their own places.
It is the abode of a friend, languishing in her glance, submissive in the embrace, pleasant of smile.
Oh house of 'Ablah situated at Jiwaa, talk with me about those who resided in you. Good morning to you, O house of 'Ablah, and be safe from ruin.
I halted my she-camel in that place; and it was as though she were a high palace; in order that I might perform the wont of the lingerer.
And 'Ablah takes up her abode at Jiwaa; while our people went to Hazan, then to Mutathallam.
She took up her abode in the land of my enemies; so it became difficult for me to seek you, O daughter of Mahzam.
I was enamored of her unawares, at a time when I was killing her people, desiring her in marriage; but by your father's life I swear, this was not the time for desiring.3
And verily you have occupied in my heart the place of the honored loved one, so do not think otherwise than this, that you are my beloved.
And how may be the visiting of her, while her people have
1 This is the Antar, or Antarah, who became the most noted of Arab heroes of romance.
2 That is, have the poets left any deficiency to be supplied? Have the poets of the former days left any poetry unsaid that the poets of the present day may say it?
3 When there was war between the two tribes, there was little use his wishing to marry her.
taken up their residence in the spring at 'Unaizatain and our people at Ghailam?
I knew that you had intended departing, for, verily, your camels were bridled on a dark night.
Nothing caused me fear of her departure, except that the baggage camels of her people were eating the seeds of the Khimkhim tree throughout the country.*
Amongst them were two and forty milk-giving camels, black as the wing-feathers of black crows.
When she captivates you with a mouth possessing sharp, and white teeth, sweet as to its place of kissing, delicious of taste.
As if she sees with the two eyes of a young, grown up gazelle from the deer.
It was as though the musk bag of a merchant in his case of perfumes preceded her teeth toward you from her mouth.
Or as if it is an old wine-skin, from Azri'at, preserved long, such as the kings of Rome preserve;
Or her mouth is as an ungrazed meadow, whose herbage the rain has guaranteed, in which there is but little dung; and which is not marked with the feet of animals.
The first pure showers of every rain-cloud rained upon it, and left every puddle in it bright and round like a dirham; Sprinkling and pouring; so that the water flows upon it every evening, and is not cut off from it.
The fly enjoyed yet alone, and so it did not cease humming, as is the act of the singing drunkard;
Humming, while he rubs one foreleg against the other, as the striking on the flint of one, bent on the flint, and cut off as to his palm.
She passes her evenings and her mornings on the surface of a well-stuffed couch, while I pass my nights on the back of a bridled black horse.
And my couch is a saddle upon a horse big-boned in the leg, big in his flanks, great of girth.
Would a Shadanian she-camel cause me to arrive at her
4 He knew that her tribe would have to move on, as there was no forage left for their camels.