Ibn Darradj al-Qastalli (1)
From the DIWAN IFRIKIYA anthology, a poet of the early glorious days of al-Andalus (given the limits of blog formatting & text width, the final layout will be slightly different to indicate the hemistiches of the original Arabic lines):
Ibn Darradj al-Qastalli (‘Umar Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Sulayman ibn Darradj al-Qastalli) (958-1030)
Ode In praise of Khaïran al-‘Amiri, Emir of Almeria (Extract)
In the folds of the stranger’s rags
many strange things are hidden
things that have long before settled
in the depths of his hurt heart
kindling an old fire darkens
night despite its blaze —
if the sea should dry up in the heat
he’ll fill it again with disconsolate tears
and when the sea winds die down
low moans remind us of those we love
and will say — as the sea waves rise and fall
amid the immensity of dark misery:
Will we survive or will we have
but the sea as a grave and water as a shroud?
Suppose we spotted land from far away
shall we find refuge there and solace from old friends?
Death took advantage of us being far from home
to beguile and seduce us.
That homeland now out of reach has turned into rubble
under time’s weight or injustice’s swords
as old friends separated by distance
became death’s friends, land and sea —
their women mounted on wandering camels
and roaming desert lands.
O Lord! What happened to their caravan?
Are they now forced into exile on both land and sea?
Like orbiting planets they have become
though driven by reins & bridles, anchors & sails.
When the Maghribian land exiled me
and dear friends rejected me
the land of Iraq warmly welcomed me
and the good news reached Khorassan.
The land that banished me is a backward land
and the life that broke its word to me is a traitor!
Peace on brothers from a hopeless brother
I wish those times – when I had brothers – would return!
No road would now take me to my wife’s
as separation and oblivion had erased all tracks!
Translated by Fetah Chenni & P.J.
(to be continued tomorrow, with another ode & a commentary)