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)


(Visited 81 times, 1 visits today)

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    I have always believed that a great work is one that rings ‘true’ in any period either before or after its creation. This is such a work. You have my thanks for finding it and my gratitude for looking. I was on that caravan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *