Skip to main content

Full text of "The Mufaddaliyat; an anthology of ancient Arabian odes according to the recension"

See other formats


































IN offering to the public the second volume of the Anthology compiled 
by al-Mufaddal, containing the translation and English commentary, I should 
explain that the printing of the first volume was interrupted in 1914 by the 
outbreak of the European War, and that the work of translation had to be 
completed before the Arabic text was fully in type. This, however, applies only 
to the portion from p. 335 of this volume onwards to the end, and I believe that no 
important discrepancies, if any, will be found between the translation and the text. 

The whole of the second volume has been read in proof by my friend 
Prof. A. A. Bevan, to whose valuable criticism and suggestions I owe much. 
The Subject Index, compiled after the matter of the volume was in type, has 
been enriched by many observations dealing with the plants and trees mentioned 
in the poems, supplied by Prof. J. J. Hess of Zurich, whose high authority on 
this subject is generally recognized by European scholars, and to whom my 
grateful thanks are due. It will be seen that the entries in the Index do not 
always agree with the conclusions provisionally adopted in the text, and it will 
be understood that the identifications in the former supersede those in the latter. 

In the Introduction the history of the Collection, and its character as a 
trustworthy compilation of genuine specimens of ancient Arabian poetic art, are 
explained ; and it remains only to commend its study to those interested in the 
development of civilization, and especially in the far-reaching influence which 
the victories of Islam, with Arab thought and culture behind them, exercised in 
the three Continents from the seventh century onwards. No race has ever 
expressed itself more completely, or with greater faithfulness, in its national 
literature, an appreciation of which is therefore indispensable to any adequate 
view of the part played by the Arabs in the history of Mankind. 




APPENDIX . .... 














THE anthology of ancient Arabian poems called the Mufaddaliyat takes its 
name from al-Mufaddal, son of Muhammad, a member of the tribe of Dabbah, by 
whom it was put together. He was not, like many of the early scholars of Islam, 
a client (mauld] of foreign race, but a pure Arab of good lineage, belonging to the 
noble stock of as-Sid.* His father, Muhammad b. Ya'la, is cited in Tabari's 
Annals many times as an authority for events which happened during the wars of 
the Arabs on the Khurasan frontier in the north-east of Persia between the years 
30 and 90 of the Hijrah. The tribe of Dabbah to which he belonged, and a large 
portion of the tribe of Tamlm, with which the Ribab (including Dabbah) were 
usually associated, were at that time cantoned in that region, and Muhammad 
probably held a command there. It seems likely that the son was born during 
his father's residence in those distant lands. His grandfather Ya'la was appointed 
by al-Hajjaj (75-95) to be governor of Rai in Persia, and afterwards of Isfahan. 
The date of al-Mufaddal's birth is not known. He seems to have lived the greater 
part of his life at al-Kufah, and to have occupied himself with the studies of which 
that city was the centre. He appears to have been a partisan of the house of 'All, 
and, after the establishment of the 'Abbasid dynasty in 132, took part in the rising 
headed by Ibrahim b. 'Abdallah b. al-Hasan (b. al-Hasan b. 'All), brother of 
Muhammad, called ' The Pure Soul ', an-Nafs az-Zaklyah, in 145, against al-Mansur, 
the second 'Abbasid Caliph. Ibrahim was defeated and slain, and al-Mufaddal taken 
prisoner, when al-Mansur is said to have pardoned him on the intercession of his 
fellow-tribesman Musayyab b. Zuhair of Dabbah, and appointed him instructor in 
literature to his son Muhammad, afterwards the Caliph (158-169) al-Mahdi, in 
whose train he visited Khurasan. The date of his death is uncertain, the years 
mentioned varying from 164 to 168 and 170.f 

Al-Kufah, the northernmost of the two military colonies founded by the Caliph 

* See p. 159 post, where a poem by Rabl'ah b. MaqrQm (who also belonged to the Sid) will be 
found, addressed to a chief of this house named Mas'ud, son of Salim, who was perhaps a kinsman of 
al-Mufaddal, whose genealogy is given in the Filirist (p. 68) : Ya'la, his grandfather, was grandson of 
Salim b. ar-Kammal. 

t In the Fihrist, p. 69, the date has been left blank. Many anecdotes about al-Mufaddal appear 
in the AgMnl and elsewhere, but no connected biography has been included in the sources as yet 
published. Information regarding him will be found collected in Fliigel, Grammatiscte Schukn, 
p. 142. 

b 2 



'Umar for the domination of the great Mesopotamian plain, was, during the period 
of Umayyad and early 'Abbasid rule, a place where the work of collecting and 
recording the poetry of the pre-Islamic time was pursued with ardour. Both 
al-Kufah and al-Basrah were situated on the borders of cultivation, with the 
healthy high land of the Desert behind them, in the immediate neighbourhood of 
ancient sites which for centuries had been points of resort familiar to the nomad 
tribes. The former was in close proximity to al-Hlrah, the famous capital of the 
Lakhmite kings, which lay three miles to the south, while al-Basrah was only a 
few miles inland from al-Ubullah,* an ancient mart on the united stream of the 
Euphrates and Tigris, commanding the great trade routes east and west, north and 
south, by land and water. These two centres were the places where the armies of 
Islam, drawn from the tribes of the Peninsula, were collected for their annual 
campaigns for the extension of the Faith into the empires of Byzantium and 
Persia, and, when the latter had fallen, into Central Asia. Thus both war and 
commerce brought to al-Kufah and al-Basrah tribes from the remotest parts of 
Arabia, and many of their chiefs took up their abode permanently there. The 
study of the Arabic language, its word-stock and grammar, had, early in the life of 
the new Dominion, become the care of the religious heads of Islam. The Caliph 
'All, who made al-Kufah his head-quarters, is said f to have been the first to insist 
upon the necessity of taking special measures for maintaining the purity of the 
language of the Qur'an, which was in danger of being lost by the deterioration of 
the speech of the Arab settlers among the Aramaic-speaking population of Meso- 
potamia ; and under his direction the earliest Arabic grammar is alleged to have 
been drawn up by Abu-1-Aswad of Du'il, a section of the tribe of Kinanah. After 
this first impulse, interest in the subject spread rapidly. Both al-Kufah and 
al-Basrah became the head-quarters of a school of active grammatical and linguistic 
research, for the supply of which the national stores of poetry, preserved in the 
memory of the tribal traditionists or Bawls, were drawn upon. In the pre-Islamic 
period al-Hlrah (adjacent to al-Kufah) had been the resort of numerous poets who 
composed odes in praise of the Lakhmite kings, and it is said that a volume con- 
taining some of the works of the most eminent poets, and especially poems in 
praise of the last king, an-Nu'man, and his predecessors, had been preserved in the 
family of the Lakhmite princes, and passed into the hands of the Umayyad house 
of Marwan.J It was natural, therefore, that the search after poetry should be 

* See post, p. 246. 

t al-Anbari, Nuehat al-Alibba, pp. 3-4. 

J This statement, apparently quoted from Muhammad b. Sallam, occurs in the preface to 
al-MarzUqi's commentary on the Mufaddtdlyat. It is also cited by as-Suyutl in the Muzhir, i. 121, 


most active at al-Kufah. But at both places the evolution of grammar and lexico- 
graphy was pursued with energy, and considerable rivalry existed between the 
schools of al-Basrah and al-Kufah, each of which criticized the other's doctrines, 
and circulated anecdotes to throw discredit upon the learning of its competitor. 
Eventually, in the early 'Abbasid period, the school of Baghdad, which finally 
became the standard, was built upon the foundations of both, with a leaning 
towards the system of al-Basrah rather than that of its rival. 

Of the school of al-Kufah al-Mufaddal, as a man of learning, was the undisputed 
head. He bore, like his antagonist Hammad, the title of Rawiyah,* implying that 
he was acquainted with, and could recite, a vast store of ancient poetry. The 
anecdotes which are told of him represent him as a trusted scholar and honest 
reporter of tradition, who disdained the arts of his contemporary Hammad. The 
latter, a man of Persian origin, is accused of interpolating verses made by himself 
into ancient poems, of passing off as his own compositions of the pagan time, and 
of putting forward fabricated poems in the names of the ancient poets. A great 
many anecdotes (several of them evidently apocryphal) are told about him in 
the article dealing with him in the Agliam, v. 164-75. f According to Ibn Khallikan, 
he was born in A. H. 95, and died in 165 : some say that he lived to see the accession 
of al-Mahdl in 158. The Fihrist gives 75 for his birth and 156 for his death. These 
dates indicate that his life must have been coincident with that of al-Mufaddal, and 

and ii. 237. There is nothing improbable in it : al-Hirah was a centre where writing in Arabic was 
practised, and in the Peninsula any one who was able to write was said to have been taught the art 
by a man of al-Hirah. The oldest Arabic inscription extant, dated A. D. 828, is on the tomb of 
a Lakhmite king. King an-Nu'man's daughter Hind, widow of 'Adi the poet, was living in al-Hirah 
when it was conquered by the Muslims in A.H. 12 (Agliam, xiv. 141). 

* Raioiyah is an augmentative form of ratvi, like 'allamah of'allam and nassabah of nassdb, 
Euwl (pi. rmcat), originally used of a camel carrying water-skins, is the technical word for a person 
who commits the works of a poet to heart and thus perpetuates them in the memory of men. 

t Hammad's father Shahpur (Arabic Sabur) was a Persian made captive by Ibn'Urwah, grand- 
son of Zaid al-Khail, the chief of Tayyi', at his conquest of the Dailam country in Gllan, in Northern 
Persia. He served as a slave his captor's daughter Laila for fifty years (and apparently received the 
Arabic name Maisarah, meaning ' wealth ', ' comfort ') ; at her death he was sold for 200 dirhams to 
'Amir b. Matar ash-Shaibani, who gave him his liberty. Hammad was thus a client (mauld) of 
Shaiban, a Bakrite stock. There is an impossible story in the Aghanl (v. 171) that he began life as 
a companion of thieves and vagabonds, and that one day he found in a house into which he had 
broken a volume containing the poems of the men of Medina (the Atisdr) : he read this, and was 
attracted by it to the study of poetry and the traditions of the Arabs, in which he afterwards excelled. 
He knew by heart an enormous number of odes attributed to the ancient poets and gathered from the 
Bawls. At his death an elegy was composed upon him by Ibn Kunusuh (123-207), the scholar and 
poet of al-Kufah, who collected the poetry of his tribe of Asad (see Introduction to the Diwan of 
'Abld, p. 9), which gives him a good character. (Fihrist, p. 92.) 


al-Kiifah was also his head-quarters. We shall return to Hammad later, in 
considering the question of the authenticity and genuineness of the ancient poems. 
The story of the inception of the Mufaddallyat is thus told * by Abu 'All 
al-Qiill, on the authority of Abu 'Ikrimah of Dabbah : 

' The Caliph Abu Ja'far al-Mansur one day passed by the room in which al-Mufaddal was 
giving instruction to al-Mahdl, and heard the former reciting the poem f of al-Musayyab 


Hast thou started to leave Salma without any boon from her? 

And al-Mansur stood, held by the beauty of the verses, listening to the recitation, unperceived 
by al-Mufaddal and his pupil, until the poem was finished, when he passed on to his hall of 
audience. Arrived there, he sent for al-Mufaddal and the prince, and told them how the poem 
he had overheard had stayed his steps to listen, and how greatly he had admired it. Then he 
said : " If thou wouldst take in hand the poems of those authors of whom only a few remains 
are extant.J and select for thy pupil the best of each poet's verse, that would in truth be 
a worthy task." Al-Mufaddal acted on the Caliph's suggestion, and the Mufaddallyat is 
the result.' 

According to al-Qall,|| he was told by 'All b. Sulaiman al-Akhfash^j that he 
had heard from Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. al-Laith of Isfahan that he had attended 
the lectures of Abu 'Ikrimah of Dabbah on the Mufaddallyat, and that 'Abu 'Ikrimah 
had alleged that al-Mufaddal had selected only eighty ** odes for al-Mahdi, and that 
afterwards, when the Collection was read before al-Asma'I, the number of odes grew 
to 120. Al-Akhfash added that the grammarian Tha'lab (200-91) had told him 
that Abu-l-'Aliyah al-Antakl, as-Sidrl, and 'Afiyah b. Shablb, all of the Basrah 
school and pupils of al-Asma'I, had informed him that they had read the Mufaddallyat 
with their Master, after which they looked through the works of the poets accessible 
to them, selected from each poet the best of his poems, and added them to the 
Mufaddallyat, asking al-Asma'l to explain anything which they found difficult to 
understand in the sense or language of the poems : in this way the Collection 
greatly increased in size. 

* Amali, DJiail, p. 131. t Our No. XI. J Arabic al-Muqillun. 

Quite a different story is told by Abu-1-Faraj al-Isfahanl in the Maqcitil at-Taliblym (Tihran edn. . 
p. 119, foot). According to him, when Ibrahim, the leader of the rising of 145, and al-Mufaddal 
were both in hiding, the former asked the latter to bring him something out of his stores of litera- 
ture to beguile his gloomy thoughts. Al-Mufaddal thereupon made a selection of seventy odes, 
which he wrote out for him from the books which he possessed. After Ibrahim's death this was 
published by al-Mufaddal, who afterwards added to the seventy a supplement bringing the number 
of odes up to 120. The date of the Maqatil is 313 H. 

|| 1. c., p. 131. 

^f No. 3 of that name, died 315 H. 

* In the Berlin MS. of al-Marzuql's Commentary the word is thirty thalathin instead of thamunin, 
an easy copyist's error. 



It is necessary to examine this statement, for if it is correct, less than two- 
thirds of the Collection can claim the personal authority of al-Mufaddal. 

In the introduction to our commentary on the Mufaddaliyat, Abu Muhammad 
al-Qasim al-Anbarl (died 304) states that he had the groundwork of his commentary 
from the mouth of 'Amir b. 'Imran Abu 'Ikrimah of Dabbah,* who treated the 
whole collection as coming from al-Mufaddal. Abu 'Ikrimah asserted that he had 
the poems directly from Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad Ibn al-A'rabl (died 230 or 231), 
who was al-Mufaddal's (died 170) stepson and transmitter. There are only four 
poems in our collection (Nos. Ill, XIII, XVI, and XIX) which al-Anbarl expressly 
states were not handed down to him by Abu 'Ikrimah, but these he had from 
Abu Ja'far Ahmad b. 'Ubaid b. Nasih, who was himself a hearer of Ibn al-A'rabi. 
In addition to these four, there are two, XXX and XXXII, in which the com- 
mentary mentions Ahmad, but not Abu 'Ikrimah, as the authority for the inter- 
pretations : possibly these two (which are wanting in al-Marzuqi's text) should 
also be included among those which lack Abu 'Ikrimah's certificate of their genuine- 
ness : but they too are vouched for by Ahmad as emanating from Ibn al-A'rabi. 
How are we to explain such a statement as that attributed to Abii 'Ikrimah by 
al-Akhfash, if the whole of the remaining 120 poems were treated by the former as 
transmitted by Ibn al-A'rabl ? During the lifetime of the last-named scholar, who was 
the most celebrated teacher of al-Kufah, and of al-Asma'l, who similarly stood at the 
head of the school of al-Basrah, there was sharp opposition between the adherents 
of these two seats of learning and tradition. It appears extremely improbable that 
Ibn al-A'rab! would have accepted as the work of his step-father and teacher an 
anthology of which only two-thirds emanated from him, and the remaining third 
from the rival school at al-Basrah. It is equally improbable that in al-Anbari's 
commentary no mention should have been made of the statement attributed to 
Abu 'Ikrimah by al-Akhfash, if al-Anbarl was acquainted with it ; and how could 
the last-named have read the poems with his master Abii 'Ikrimah without hearing 
the story ? 

The Fihrist of an-Nadim (date 377) knows only (p. 68) one correct recension of 
the Mufaddatiyat, that emanating from Ibn al-A'rabl and containing 128 f poems. 
This can only be that which we possess : the author knows nothing of the additions 
to the original alleged to have been made by the school of al-Asma'I. On the 
other hand, al-Asma'I (122-213) himself made a collection of ancient poems, known 
as the Asmdlyat (published by Dr. Ahlwardt in 1902). It would be strange if he 
added so many poems to the collection of al-Mufaddal, and omitted them from his 

* Exact dates not known. 

t As to this number, see the observations on p. 363 infra, introduction to App. I. 


own selection, which contains only 77 pieces. Of this collection the author of the 
Fihrist (p. 56 1 ) says that it met with little favour from the learned, because it con- 
tained few examples of remarkable words or phrases (gharib), and was deficient in 
regard to the chain of transmission * of the poems included in it. 

For these reasons it seems very questionable whether we should accept the 
statement of al-Akhfash. The matter, however, does not admit of any certain 
solution ; and as regards the genuineness and proper attribution of the poems, the 
authority of al-Asma'i as a judge of these questions stands almost as high as that of 

Let us now see how the matter stands, as regards the genuineness of the 
poetry handed down as ancient, between al-Mufaddal and his contemporary 
Hammad. The following passage,! which contains the most serious and detailed 
statement of the case against Hammad, has often been quoted : 

' I was told by Muhammad b. Khalaf WakT [the QadI, died 306] that he had heard from 
Ahmad b. al-Harith al-Khazzaz [died 256 or 258], who said that he had the narrative from 
Ibn al-A'rabi [died 231], that al-Mufaddal [died 170] was heard to say : " The influence exercised 
by Hammad the Rawiyah upon the ancient poetry has corrupted it to such an extent that it 
can never be set right again." They asked: "How so? Did he err in attributing a poem to its 
author, or commit faults of language?" "Nay," he answered, "would that it had been only 
that : had it been so, men of learning could have corrected his mistakes and restored the right 
reading. No : he was himself a man of learning, well acquainted with the locutions of the 
nomad Arabs and their poems, the conventions of their poets, and the subjects they treated in 
their compositions ; and he was continually himself composing verses in which he imitated the 
manner of some particular poet, and inserting them into his poems. These forgeries were 
carried about far and wide, and became inextricably mixed up with the compositions of the 
ancients, so that the genuine could not be discriminated from the false except by a man of real 
learning, a ' money -tester of verse ' J : and where is such a one to be found ? " 

This speech of al-Mufaddal's, it will be seen, is reported at third hand, and 
has probably gained something in the course of transmission. But taking it as 
exactly representing what the Master said, it has to be remembered that Hammad 
was al-Mufaddal's (probably somewhat younger) contemporary : that the latter was 
undoubtedly a most learned and competent scholar himself, who was, if any one 
could be, able to apply the necessary tests to a doubtful verse ; and that the Arab 
Rauns, with whom Hammad is alleged to have dealt so corruptingly, were previously, 
before they had been corrupted, able to impart their store of verse to al-Mufaddal. 

' This appears to be the meaning of the phrase li-khtwari riwayatiha. 

t AgMrit, v. 172 16 ; the recorder, Abu-1-Faraj al-Isfahfini, author of the book, lived between 284 
and 856. 

t Naqid. 


Even if we take the statement as to interpolation to be literally true, it amounts to 
this, that Hammad's additions were so entirely in the language and sentiment of 
the original poet that they could not be discriminated from the latter's own work. 
If so, how was it to be shown that they were interpolations at all, except by some 
one who already knew the poem in its uninterpolated conditipn ? and who could 
this be but al-Mufacldal himself? 

This passage in the Aghani is followed by what we may perhaps take as a 
typical example of the mishandling alleged against Hammad in dealing with an old 
poem. The chain of authorities cited by Abu-1-Faraj is very lengthy, and apparently 
reliable ; this is the story : 

' We were at the palace of the Caliph al-Mahdl in 'Isabadh,* where were gathered together a 
number of Rdiuls and persons learned in the traditions, manners, and poetry of the ancient Arabs, 
when one of the Chamberlain's assistants summoned al-Mufaddal the Dabbl, the Rdwiyah, to the 
Presence. He went in, and after a short time the assistant came out again, and in his company 
al-Mufaddal and Hammad together : in Hammad's face there were signs of confusion and dis- 
appointment, while al-Mufaddal seemed pleased and cheerful. Then the official who accom- 
panied them, Husain by name, spoke as follows : " Ye men of learning assembled together here ! 
the Caliph makes known to you that he has given Hammad the poet a present of twenty 
thousand dirhums on account of the excellence of his verses ; but he has exposed his vicious 
handling of tradition, because he has proved that he has added to verses composed by others 
lines of his own fabrication. On the other hand, he has given al-Mufaddal a present of fifty 
thousand dirhams on account of his truthfulness and the honesty of his manner of handling 
the old poetry. Let him who wishes to hear a fine piece of verse of modern date go to Hammad 
for it ; but let him that desires to hear the true traditional text receive it from al-Mufaddal." 
We asked him to tell us what had happened. He said : " When al-Mahdl had summoned 
al-Mufaddal and was alone with him, he said to him : ' I see that Zuhair son of Abu Sulma 
begins one of his odes thus : 

'Leave this, and turn thy speech to tell of Harim.' 

What was it that the poet called upon himself to leave"? " al-Mufaddal answered : " Commander 
of the Faithful, I have no knowledge of anything beyond what the verses say ; but I imagine 
that the poet was turning over in his mind some prelude which he proposed to recite before 
the verses, or to dictate it to his raw, to complete the poem ; and then he passed on to the 
praise of Harim, and said, ' Leave this, &c.' Or he may have been thinking about some other 
matter which affected him, and then called on himself to give over thinking about it, and turn 
to the praise of Harim." The Caliph then called in Hamrnad, and put the same question to 
him that he had put to al-Mufaddal. Hammad at once answered : " Zuhair did not begin his 
poem so, Commander of the Faithful, but thus : 

* 'Isabadh, a quarter of the city of Baghdad to the east of the main city, so called from 'Isa sou 
of al-Mahdl. The Caliph al-Mahdl built himself there a splendid palace (Yaqut). 


To whom belong the dwelling-places on the summit of al-Hajr 
that have been desolate for years and time without limit ? 

Empty are they: they stand by the place where the torrent 

leaps down from the mountain-sides covered with thickets of lote-trees.* 

Leave this, and turn thy phrase to tell of Harim, 

the best of men of mature age and lord of the settled country." 

al-Mahdl cast down his eyes for a time : then he went forward to Hammad and said to him : 
" The Caliph has heard a report about thee which makes it necessary to put thee upon thine 
oath." Accordingly, he made him swear by his oath of fealty, and every other form of oath 
from which no escape was possible, that he would answer truly all the questions he put to 
him. Then he said, " Tell me the truth : who made these verses and added them to Zuhair's 
poem ? " Thus adjured, Hammad confessed that he himself had made them : whereupon the 
Caliph gave orders for the sums I announced to you to be given to Hammfid and al-Mufaddal 
respectively, and for the facts to be made generally known.' 

As to tliis anecdote, it has to be observed that it implies that al-Mahdi was 
already Caliph, both because he is so called by the narrators, and because the 
palace at 'Isabadh was built by him after his accession. But it is doubtful whether 
Hammad lived till 168, in which year al-Mahdl came to the throne : as already 
stated, 155 and 156 are given by Ibn Khallikan and the Fihrist respectively as the 
date of his death. Moreover, the verses he is said to have added to Zuhair's poem 
are of the most ordinary description : hundreds of odes beginning in the same way 
are to be found in the ancient collections. The only interest in such mentions of 
the names of places arises from the indications they furnish that the poet really 
belonged to the country where the places named are to be found. It was, there- 
fore, no great achievement to add to an obviously truncated fragment by Zuhair a 
few lines which take the place of some lost nasib : it certainly does not show any 
unusual skill in interpolation. 

One more anecdote f may be cited in elucidation of Hammad's character : 

' When Bilal son of Abu Burdah was Qadi of al-Basrah (103-IiG), Hammad visited him, and 
recited a poem in his praise. It happened that at that time the poet Dhu-r-Rummah was 
staying with Bilal. The Qadi asked Dhu-r-Rummah what he thought of the poem. " It is 
good ", said he, " but it is not of his making." " Who made it ? " said the Qadi. " I do not know, 
but it is certainly not his." The Qadi, having satisfied Hammad's needs and finished his 
business, said to him, " I have a request to make of thee, Hammad." ' It is granted." " Didst 
thou compose that poem ? " " No." " Who then ? " " One of the poets of the Ignorance : it is 
an ancient poem, and no one can recite it but I." " How then did Dhu-r-Rummali know that it 

* Correct the text of the Aghunl to (Jafaivai uUli-d-dali wa-s-sidri. In Ahlwardt, Dttvdns, p. 81, 
the verses have some other (and better) readings and an additional couplet, 
t Ayhani, \. 172. 


was not of thy composing ? " " He knew the difference between the speech of the people of the 
Ignorance and that of the men of the present day under Islam." ' 

From these characteristic stories whether authentic or not we may form 
some opinion how far, as between Hammad and al-Mufa<Mal, there is any reason 
to think that the poetry collected by the latter is tainted with fabrications due to 
the former. It is submitted that there is no good reason for so holding, and still 
less for treating Hammad as a typical example of the channels through which the 
poetry of the ancient time passed before it eventually reached the comparative 
security of record at the hands of the early collectors. 

Besides Hammad one other person, and one only, is mentioned by the early 
authorities as at once intimately acquainted with the stores of ancient poetry 
handed down by the Rawls, and himself addicted to the fabrication of verse in the 
manner of the ancients which he passed off as genuine. This was Khalaf al-Ahmar. 
His father Hayyan was a Persian of Farghanah, taken prisoner by Qutaibah b. 
Muslim at the conquest of Khwarizm by the Arabs in 93. Hayyan became the 
slave of Bilal b. Abl Burdah, Qadl of al-Basrah, and was married to an Arab girl 
of the clan of Mazin, a branch of the great stock of Tamlm. Either before or after 
his marriage Hayyan was emancipated by his master, and Khalaf was the fruit of 
the union. The date of his birth is not recorded : Dr. Ahlwardt * suggests thai; it 
was about 110 or 115, which would make him much younger than al-Mufaddal and 
Hammad. Khalaf came under the instruction of the early masters of Arabic 
grammar and lexicography at al-Basrah, 'Isa b. 'Umar and Abu 'Amr b. al-'Ala, and, 
like Hammad, attained to an astonishing command of the traditional stores of 
ancient poetry, and of the language and habits of mind of the Arabs. He and 
al-Asma'I were closely allied in this study ; but Khalaf, besides his work as a 
collector and critic, was himself a composer of verse, which al-Asma'I was not. 
At al-Basrah he held a similar rank, as a master of the ancient poetry and an 
authority on Arabian tradition, to that of Hammad at al-Kufah ; and the rivalry 
between these two seats of learning naturally led to the invention of anecdotes on 
both sides, each impugning the good faith of the other : as Hammad was accused 
of perversion and fabrication, so also was Khalaf. On one occasion Khalaf is said 
to have visited al-Kiifah, then the chief centre of collection of the ancient poetry, 
with the object of increasing his store of poems, and to have found the learned there 
unwilling to impart to him the pieces which they knew. He is alleged to have 
thereupon proposed an exchange, and to have communicated to the Kufi Masters 
a number of poems fabricated by himself as genuine works of the ancients, getting 

Chalef elahmar's Qasside, p. 19. 

c 2 


in return from them an equivalent number of veritable compositions of the pagan 
time. Later, it is said, he became religious, reading through the whole Quran 
every day, and, repenting of his fraud, confessed to the Kufls that he had deceived 
them. They, however so the story goes refused to believe his confession, and 
continued to treat the fabricated poems with which he had supplied them as 
genuine works of the Jaliillyah. It is not necessary to credit all the details of this 
story : but we may accept with some confidence the general reputation which it 
attributes to Khalaf. Some of his admitted poetry has survived. A long ode of 
seventy couplets formed the subject of an elaborate study by Dr. Ahlwardt, published 
in 1859 : it is an extremely fine piece of work, put together quite in the antique 
style, and dealing with its material after the fashion of the old poets, but neverthe- 
less betraying a modern origin by various allusions and turns of phrase. It cannot 
be mistaken for an ancient poem, and there is no evidence that Khalaf ever 
intended it to be so taken : if the reading Baghdan ( = Baghdad) in v. 3 is correct, 
it must date from later than 14.5, in which year that city was founded. Two other 
fragments by Khalaf, studies of snakes (a subject which he seems to have enjoyed 
treating pictorially), are cited in Jahidh's Kitab al-Hayaivan ; and in the Hanuisah of 
Abu Tammam is a famous poem (Freytag's edition, pp. 382-5) which is ascribed to 
Ta'abbata Sharril, but is generally believed by native scholars to be the work of 
Khalaf. The present writer agrees with the critics, though others * have expressed 
a different opinion. As to the attribution to him of the famous Lamlyah of ash- 
Shanfara, see infra, p. 68, note ; if he was really the author of that splendid poem, 
he was indeed a wonder. 

Khalaf al-Ahmar is said to have died about the year 180, some ten years after 
al-Mufaddal. He was greatly admired by his friend and pupil, the celebrated poet 
Abu Nuwas (died 190 or 199), who composed odes lamenting his death. 

It would be a great error to take these two men as typical specimens of the 
professional transmitters of tribal poetry. As already pointed out, both were of 
Persian origin. The tribal Bawls were Arabs, chosen by the poets to be the 
channel by which their compositions should be perpetuated in the memory of the 
tribe and the Arab nation in general. It was from them that the collectors of the 
first and second centuries of Islam gathered their harvest of verse. To announce, 
as a recent authority f has done, that the whole of the so-called ancient Arabic 

* Prof. E. G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia, Vol. I, p. 191 ; K. A. Nicholson, A Literary 
History of the Arabs, p. 97. See Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1877, Part I, pp. 455-6. 

t Prof. D. S. Margoliouth in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1916, p. 397 : article 
Muhammad in Hastings's Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol.viii, p.874. In his Mohammed (1905), 
p. 60, Prof. Margoliouth makes the astonishing assertion that ' The early poetry is largely fabrication 
modelled on the Koran '. 


poetry is spurious, on the basis of the stories about Hammad and Khalaf of which 
specimens have been given above, is to make a statement which is opposed to all 
the probabilities of the case. Hammad and Khalaf were imitators of a style of 
composition which was already established long before the preaching of Islam, was 
practised by numerous poets who, having been pagans or other non-Muslims during 
the lifetime of Muhammad, accepted the new faith, and was produced abundantly, 
and recorded in writing,* by poets of the first century of Islam (Jarlr, al-Farazdaq, 
al-Akhtal, and Dhu-r-Kummah, to mention only those who have left the greatest 
body of verse). The chain of transmission is unbroken : the last class of poets 
were living and producing while the scholars were at work collecting and recording, 
and no question of forgery could possibly arise in regard to them, inasmuch as 
their nwils were in the habit of writing down the poems transmitted to them for 
publication and perpetuation. As for the poetry of the Jahiliyah, it may have been 
imitated by Hammad and Khalaf; but the very fact of imitation implies the 
existence of an original. To proclaim that we have only the copy, and nothing of 
the archetype, seems in the circumstances scarcely consistent with common sense. 

What we must conclude from the stories about Hammad and Khalaf is, not 
that the compositions offered as ancient poems should, on a priori grounds, be 
rejected as spurious, but that they must be carefully scrutinized, with all the 
evidence of contemporary tradition, and with due regard to their content, style, and 
individual characteristics, to see if they suggest, in any particular case, interpola- 
tion, dislocation, or fabrication. In the Collection made for us by al-Mufaddal 
(whether added to or not by al-Asma'I) we have a prima facie presumption in favour 
of genuineness in the authority of the collector as a trustworthy and expert ' money- 
tester of verse ', and a contemporary and denouncer of the fabricators. That does 
not, of course, relieve us from the duty of examining each piece with reference to 
its alleged authorship, its age and circumstances, and the condition of the text ; and 
in the introductions and notes to the following translations an attempt is made to 
apply these tests. 

What, then, is the result ? We find that the Collection contains, distributed 
over its 126 pieces, work ascribed to sixty-seven poets, of whom only six ('Amlrah 
b. Ju'al, Jubaiha, al-Marrar, as-Saffah, Shablb b. al-Barsa, and the anonymous 
author of No. XXXVII) lived the whole of their lives under Islam; fourteen 
('Abdallah b. 'Anamah, 'Abdah b. at-Tabib, Abu Dhu'aib, 'Amr b. al-Ahtam, Malik 
and Mutammim sons of Nuwairah, Maqqas, al-Mukhabbal, Muzarrid, Rabfah b. 

* For evidence that in the first century of Islam EUIIHS wrote down the compositions dictated to 
them, see the Naqa'vl, p. 480 12 . 


Maqrum, Saliimah 1>. .Tandnl, Suwaicl b. Abl Kahil, Tha'labah b. Su'air [?], and 
Zabban) were born and reached maturity during the Ignorance, but became 
Muslims before their death. ^The remaining forty-seven lived and died in pre- 
Islamic conditions : at least two Jabir b. Hunayy (No. XLII) and 'Abd-al-Maslh 
(Nos. LXXII, LXXIII, and LXXXIII) professed Christianity. Of the eight 
pieces ascribed to poets of the first century of Islam, all but No. XXXVII are the 
work of Beduins, and show that the nomad life was for them much the same as it 
was before the preaching of the Prophet. Two pieces (Nos. XIV and XXXIII) are 
pleasing genre pictures, the former of an orchard of date-palms, the latter of a she- 
goat of extraordinary qualities as a milker. The two poems of 'Amlrah, LXIII and 
LXIV, are quite like the old utterances of tribal discord, and the piece ascribed to 
Shablb, XXXIV, might just as well have been composed in the days of the 
Ignorance. The lament of as-Saffah for Yahya, No. XCII, is imbued with 
Muslim feeling, but otherwise precisely such a poem in praise of the dead as might 
have come from a mourner of ancient times. The only piece which has noticeable 
marks of its age is No. XVI, the long ode ascribed to al-Marrar. This, which is 
really see the introduction two separate odes, follows entirely the models of the 
Jahillyali in its first half, vv. 1-52, especially in those verses which boast the poet's 
prowess as a satirist, 89-45 : he brings in the court of a king, vv. 38, 43, as in the 
days of the Princes of al-Hlrah, now dead and done with for many decades. The 
second poem which makes up the ode, vv. 53-95, though following pre-Islamic 
models in its description of female beauty, yet in the minuteness of its details goes 
beyond its originals ; it is easily paralleled from Dhu-r-Rummah, a contemporary 
poet of the Desert : but it lacks the reserve and the good taste of the ancient time. 
In all the series there is nothing which in the least degree suggests suspicion of its 

The second series, the poems of the Mukkadrims, or authors who lived both 
before and after the coming of Islam, is of much interest, both for what it contains 
and for what it does not contain. We look in vain for any trace of the compelling 
spirituah'ty of the new Faith. The standards of value are the same as of old. 
Many of the poems of this class were no doubt composed before the authors professed 
Islam : but this cannot be said of such compositions as No. XXVI, 'Abdah's long 
ode of eighty-one couplets, or No. LXVII, Mutammim's great elegy on the death 
of his brother Mfilik, both of which can be precisely dated (see the introductions). 
'Abdah develops the sections of his ode entirely upon the ancient scheme the 
mistress from whom he is parted, the good camel which carries him on his journey, 
the comparison of her speed to that of a wild bull, whose fight with the hunter's 
dogs is told at length, the far-reaching raid, with his companions mounted on 


camels and leading their war-mares by their sides : it is noticeable that the bounty 
of God is invoked to yield good booty to him and his fellows (vv. 54, 55). Then 
follows a description of the horse on which he goes hunting ; and last comes, in 
defiance of the Qur'an, an account, with full enjoyment of the theme, of a drinking \/ 
party with Persian apparatus, and a songstress to add her charm to the feasters' 
delight. As regards Mutammim's elegy, a full analysis is given in the introduction 
to the poem, pp. 206-7, which it is needless to repeat here : it is marked by an 
entire absence of Islamic touches, though the author and his subject both professed 
the new piety, and 'Umar, the most religious of the successors of Muhammad, was 
particularly pressed by Mutammim to do justice to his brother's memory. So it is 
with all the other productions of this class. There are occasional perfunctory 
recognitions of the fact that the authors have renounced the old heathenism : but 
of conversion of outlook there is not a trace. The ancient virtues boundless 

hospitality, lavish outpouring of wealth, generosity to friends and clients, labour on 
behalf of the tribal cause, valour in maintaining its glory and fame, and a mighty 
appetite for plunder these are still the subjects of praise ; and the poems give a 
vivid picture of the men who, at Abu Bakr and 'Umar's call, swept over the empires 
of Byzantium and Persia a picture which accords entirely with the facts of history, 
and carries the evidence of its genuineness in this complete accord. 

Coming now to the forty-seven poets of the pre-Islamic time, of whose produc- ^ 
tions the Collection mainly consists, we find that the majority belong to the period 
immediately preceding the appearance of Muhammad as a prophet. Some, like 
al-Jumaili, al-Harith b. Hillizah, and al-Harith b. Dhalim, go back still earlier, to 
the time before his birth in the year of the battle of Shi'b Jabalah, about A. D. 570. 
The oldest are, no doubt, (if genuine,) the poems ascribed to the two poets called 
Muraqqish, which belong to the period of the war of al-Basus, probably the early 
years of the sixth century A. D. There are ten pieces attributed to the elder 
Muraqqish, besides the two fragments, App. II and III, and these most likely repre- 
sent all that al-Mufaddal was able to gather of this ancient poet. It is very doubtful 
whether all of it is really by him : one piece, No. LIV, for the reasons stated in 
the introduction, p. 181, and the notes following, seems undoubtedly to be ancient. 
Of the other pieces ascribed to him nothing positive can be said: all are mere 
fragments of what once were much longer poems. The short piece, App. Ill, 
seems certainly to be a product of late date, inserted by some story-teller into the 
romance of the poet's love-story. The compositions of the younger Muraqqish, 
Nos. LV to LIX, are better preserved, and appear to be the work of a hand more 
in unison with the poetic manner of a later generation than that of his uncle. 
There seems to be no reason for not accepting the ascription to him of these five 


pieces, which, as pointed out (introduction to No. LV), do not agree with the some- 
what scandalous legend told about the poet's love-affairs. Another ancient piece, 
of which we know to a month the exact date, is 'Alqamah's address to King 
al-Harith of Ghassan, No. CXIX, celebrating that Prince's victory of 'Ain Ubagh, 
in which King al-Mundhir of al-Hlrah was slain : this is beyond doubt the genuine 
work of the poet, and historically of great interest. The companion piece by the 
same hand, No. CXX, is also beyond reasonable suspicion, and in its strange 
vocabulary could not possibly be the production of a later age. 

Many of these ancient poems exhibit dislocations and lacunas which, while 
natural in pieces never committed to writing, but memorized and handed down by 
generations of rawis, absolutely exclude the hypothesis of forgery. Several of them, 
yielding a fairly consecutive text, have at the end detached verses thought to belong 
to them, for which a place could not be found in the poems themselves : this also 
is inconsistent with fabrication. Upon the whole, the impression which a close 
study of these ancient relics gives is that we must take them, generally speaking, 
as the production of the men whose names they bear ; how far this is justified will 
be found discussed in the preface and notes attached to each particular piece, 
where doubtful cases are examined. 

The most striking and extraordinary feature of the poetic art of which our 
poems are specimens is the strength of the conventions by which it is bound. The 
universal obligation (except in elegies lamenting the dead) to begin an ode with the 
nasib, or mention of women and love, the pains of parting, deserted dwelling-places, 
and the like, and the restriction of pictorial scenes to a limited range of animals 
inhabiting the Desert, are in themselves evidence of the long descent of the canons 
of verse. It is scarcely conceivable that these restrictions could have fixed them- 
selves upon poetic composition throughout the north and centre of Arabia except 
in the course of generations. We have no materials for constructing a theory of 
the development of Arabic poetry : its beginnings are lost in the fugitive memory 
of ages when writing was not in use to record it. We may, however, form an idea 
of the antiquity of some of the Arabian conventions by studying the literature of 
the kindred nation of Israel as exhibited in the Old Testament. There we find, in 
the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan, a poem strikingly resembling an 
Arab marthiyah ; and in the triumph-song of Deborah over the defeat and death of 
Sisera, a very close parallel to similar compositions among the Arabs (compare 
No. XII). But the most remarkable coincidence is in the Book of Job. The scene 
of that drama is laid in Northern Arabia, and the personages are by race Arabs ; 
the author, no doubt, was a Jew of the post-exilic period, a man of settled life, and 
steeped in the prophetic and poetic literature and ideas of his nation. The philo- 


sophical and religious problems which he treats deal with universal humanity. 
But in going to Arabia for his scene and characters he seems to have borrowed 
something from the poetic art of the Desert. The Arab, in his odes, illustrates the 
swiftness of his camel or horse by reference to a series of animals, inhabitants of 
the Wilderness, whose habits he has closely studied, and describes for us pictorially 
with the skill of intimate knowledge. The same pictures, on occasion, may serve 
other ends, as in the great ode by Abu Dhu'aib which closes our Collection. These 
animals are the oryx or wild-ox, the wild-ass, the ostrich, and the eagle, and 
occasionally the wild-goat, which is mentioned in connexion with mountain preci- 
pices and lofty peaks. If we turn to Job xxxix, we find precisely the same 
animals mentioned there as examples of the perfections of God's creation and His 
almighty power. The writer of Job idealizes somewhat in his pictures of these 
creatures, as he does in the case of the hippopotamus (behemoth) and the crocodile 
(leviathan) ; and in dealing with the ostrich he does not approach the fidelity of the 
Arab poet in the sketch he has drawn : but that he should have chosen for descrip- 
tion just the same types of the Desert fauna as the Arabian of some 800 or 900 
. years later, leads us to conjecture that in his day, perhaps the fifth or fourth century 
before Christ, there was already some standard of poetic art in Arabia, and that it 
dealt with the same subjects of animal life, in the same pictorial manner, as the 
poetry of the sixth and seventh centuries A. D. 

If we cannot pierce into the mists of antiquity which veil the origins of 
Arabian poetry so far as its subjects are concerned, it is equally impossible to give any 
historical account of its form its prosody and metres. Here, too, the perfection of 
the system is evidence that it must have been born very long ago, and elaborated 
through many generations. It has no connexion with Hebrew or Aramaic prosody. 
The oldest pieces that we possess exhibit for the most part the same metres as the 
latest. It is true that there are here and there marks of the lapse of time. The 
first poem of 'Abld's Diwan, and the fifty-fifth of that of Imra' al-Qais, are in a 
metre which was not understood by the early metrists, and no other examples of 
it are known ; the ancient poem of the elder Muraqqish, No. LIV, already referred 
to, exhibits an exceptional metre which his successors did not imitate, and late 
critics denounced as faulty : in the Tawll of Imra' al-Qais we find anomalies which 
in the work of later poets have disappeared. These are indications of movement 
and progress which negative the hypothesis that Arabic prosody came into existence 
of a piece, ready-made. But we know no more about the inventors of the stately 
Tawll, the resonant Bastt, and the other beautiful measures of Arabia than we do 
of those who invented the Greek hexameter. 

Similarly as regards language : it is tolerably certain that there were wide 


differences of dialect and pronunciation in the Arabia of classical times, as there 
are in the Arabic spoken to-day in different parts of the Peninsula and adjacent 
regions. Dialectic variations appear occasionally in the poetry, but, except in the 
case of the tribe of Tayyi', their extent is small : generally speaking, all over the 
Peninsula the language of verse is the same. The immense vocabulary of the old 
poetry, and the great number of synonyms, must have grown up by the absorption, 
into one language of poetic convention, of the tribal word-stocks ; and that this 
should have happened implies ample time, and a constant common activity in the 
construction of verse by those who laid the foundations of the system. Here, 
again, we have the analogy of the Epic dialect of Greek. It was the poets who set 
the standard of classical Arabic, not the Qur'an : the language of the Holy Book, 
in the form generally current, is largely the provincial idiom of Mecca, and it 
employs verbal forms which we do not meet with either in the poets or in the 
language of secular prose literature. There must, it would seem, be a basis of 
truth in the legends which tell of the annual competitions between poets at the 
fairs held, in the neighbourhood of Mecca, during the sacred months of peace, and 
the elaboration of the motives, methods, and language of poetry in the school which 
thus grew up. 

The Collection made by al-Mufaddal was put together some fifty years before 
the Hamasah of Abu Tammam, the rival anthology which has greatly outstripped 
it in popularity. The latter is described by the native scholars as a collection of 
fragments, Muqatta'at, while the Mufaddallyat is a collection of odes, Qasa'id. This 
difference explains the greater vogue which the Hamasah has attained : in it the 
pieces are selected gems, pruned of all weak and unessential verses, and perhaps 
here and there adapted by the compiler, of whom it is said that the skill as a poet 
which he displayed in his selection was even greater than that which he showed in 
his own poetry, though that is famous among the productions of his age. In the 
Mufaddallyat we have the strong and the weak verses together, the maimed and 
corrupted survivals of centuries, no less than the splendid lines which have given 
* the pieces their immortality. The scholar gave us all he could find of an ode, 
though it was often the case that much of it was irrecoverable. From such materials, 
far more than from the brilliant anthology of Abu Tammam, we are able to estimate 
the general level of poetic achievement which was reached by the authors, and to 
gain an insight into the range of ideas and outlook on life which characterized their 
age. The old poetry was often called by the early humanists ' The public Register 
(Dlwan) of the Arab people ' : in the words of the early writer Muhammad ibn 
Sallam al-Jumahl (06. 231), author of the Tabaqat ash-Shu'ara, l Verse in the days of 
the Ignorance was to the Arabs the Register of all they knew, and the utmost 



compass of their wisdom ; with it they began their affairs, and with it they 
ended them '.* 

The student of the ancient poetry should study at the same time the historical 
records contained in the Kitab al-Agham, which form the basis of M. Caussin de ' 
Perceval's Essai sur Phistoire des Arabes avant I'lslamisme, a work which has not yet 
been superseded, though it much requires to be rewritten. At the end of the first 
volume of Ibn al-Athlr's Kitab al-Kamil fi-t-Tarlkh (Tornberg's edition) there is an 
abridgement of Abu 'Ubaidah's Ayyam al-'Arab, which will be found useful ; and 
the 'Iqd al-Fand of Ibn 'Abd-Kabbihi (several times printed in Egypt) also contains 
material of the same kind. In the commentary to the Naqa'id of Jartr and al- 
Farazdaq (ed. A. A. Bevan) there are long narratives of events referred to in the 
poems which are, generally speaking, more complete and consecutive than any 
other source : but these do not cover the whole field of pre-Islamic Arabia. The 
student will also do well to refer to Julius Wellhausen's Reste Arabischen Heiden- 
thttms (2nd ed., 1897), and will find useful material in Georg Jacob's Beduinenleben 
(Berlin, 1895), as well as the essays of Ignaz Goldziher in his Muhammedanische 
Studien. But the best of all commentaries on the ancient poetry of the Beduins 
is C. M. Doughty's Travels in Arabia Deserta (2 vols., Cambridge, 1888), the narrative 
of more than a year and a half (1876-78) spent in close and intimate companionship 
and travel with the nomads, as well as in residence in important towns Mada'in 
$alih, Taima, Khaibar, Ha'il, Buraidah, 'Unaizah, and at-Ta'if. The unchangeable 
conditions of life in Arabia are such that the modern Beduin is extraordinarily like 
his ancestor of fourteen centuries ago in manners, habits, and moral and social 
standards ; and the reader of Arabia Deserta is reminded almost on every page of 
some phrase or thought in the old poetry which has light thrown upon it by the 
author. Another work of the same kind, but less intimate in its relations with the 
Beduins, is Julius Euting's Tagbuch (vol. i, 1896 ; vol. ii, 1914), which covers part 
of the same ground as that traversed by Doughty (Damascus to Ha'il via the Jauf, 
Ha'il to Mada'in Salih, Taima, and al-'Ula, and thence to the coast at al-Wajh). A 
very interesting account of a journey (in 1880) from Jiddah to at-Ta'if, and in the 
neighbourhood of that town, is contained in the late Prof. Robertson Smith's 
Lectures and Essays, under the title A Journey in the Hej&z. 

Of the translations included in this volume, the great majority are in prose, and 
as close to the original as seemed possible, consistently with the preservation of 
English idiom. Those familiar with the language of the old poems will know that 

* Kana-sh-SMrufi-l-Jahiliyati 'inda-l-'Arabi dlwana 'ilmihim iva-muntaha Aikmatihim : bilii ya'kliu- 
dliwna, tva-'ilaihi yantalmn (Muzhir ii, 236). 

d 2 


they contain a large number of words the exact meaning of which is doubtful, and 
was unknown to the native scholars ; and of these only approximate interpretations, 
or most probable guesses, could be given. The translator is well aware that among 
the renderings there are not a few in regard to which opinions will differ : when 
a choice of significations offered itself, he chose that which seemed to him most 
agreeable to the context and situation, and the notes indicate where he has departed 
from the views of the scholiasts, and the reason why. A certain number of the versions 
(twenty-two in all) have been rendered in metre, in all but two cases (Nos. XXXII 
and XLIV) an approximation to the measure of the original. The principles upon 
which this has been carried out were explained in the introduction to a collection 
of Translations of Ancient Arabian Poetry, published by the present writer in 1885. 
It was there shown that one of the finest of the old metres, the Tawil, is already 
represented in English in Browning's poem entitled A It Vogler; and it may now 
be added that a movement similar to the Basil also occurs in the same poem. The 
translator has found that a combination of these two metres gives a rhythm in 
English which seemed to him a suitable form for expressing the Arabic in our 
language, and in some cases a mixed rhythm of this kind has been adopted, instead 
of pure Tawil or pure Basil : even where the greater part of a rendering is in 
one of these two metres, variety has occasionally been sought by intercalating 
a verse in the other. The following is a list of the metrical renderings : 

Tawil Basil "Tri Kamil Mutaqarib KJiaflf 

* fiYtft rvJ^tf 











'Abdallah b. 'Anamah 
'Abdallah b. Salimah 
'Abd-al-Maslh b. 'Asalah 

'Abd-al-Qais, a man of . 

M. 'Abdah b. at-Tablb . ' *. & | f . 

' A I i r\~:~ u T^I =r 

Abd-Qais b. Khufaf 
'Abd-Yaghuth . 

i Abu Dhu'aib * . 
Abu Qais b. al-Aslat 
al-Akhnas b. Shihab 
'Alqamah b. 'Abadah 
'Amir b. at-Tufail 
.^ < . 'Amlrah b. Ju'al 

M'Amr b. al-Ahtam 
al-Aswad b. Ya'fur 

'Auf b. al-Ahwas 
[see Khidash] 

'Auf b. 'Atlyah . 

Aus b. Ghalfa . 

Bashamah . 

Bishr b. Abl-Khazim . 

Bishr b. 'Amr . 
Damrah b. Damrah 
al-Hadirah . 
Hajib b. Hablb . 
Hanlfah, a woman of . 
al-Harith b. Dhalim . 

al-Harith b. Hillizah . 

CXIV, p. 317, CXV, p. 321. 
. XVIII, p. 64, XIX, p. 66. 

. LXXII, p. 220, LXXIII, p. 22 1 , 
LXXXIII, p. 243. 

. XIII, p. 40. 

. XXVI, p. 92, XXVII, p. 101. 

. CXVI, p. 322, CXVI1, p. 324. 

. XXX, p. 111. 

. CXXVI, p. 355. 

. LXXV, p. 224. 

. XLI, p. 149. 

. CXIX, p. 327, CXX, p. 333. 

. CVI, p. 298, CVII, p. 301. 

. LXIII, p. 199, LXIV, p. 200. 

. XXIII, p. 83, CXXIII, p. 346. 

. XLIV, p. 161, CXXV, p. 353. 

. XXXV, p. 124, XXXVI, p. 127. 

. XCIV, p. 266, XCV, p. 267, 
CXXIV, p. 849. 

. CXVIII, p. 324. 

. X, p. 25, CXXII, p. 344. 

. XCVI, p. 268, XCVII, p. 273, 
XCVIII, p. 278, XCIX, p. 283. 

. LXX, p. 216, LXXI, p. 218. 

. XCIII, p. 263. 

. XXIX, p. 109, XXXI, p. 114. 

. VIII, p. 16. 

. CX, p. 308, CXI, p. 309. 

. LXIX, p. 215. 

. LXXXVIII, p. 250, LXXXIX, 

p. 253. 


XXV, p. 
p. 363. 



al-Harithb.Wa'lah . 

[Head Wa'lah b. al-Harith] 

al-Husain b. al-Humam 

Jabir b. Hunayy 

A Jew ..... 

>. ' Jubaiha ..... 

al-Jumaih ..... . 

al-Kalhabah ....... 

al-Khasafi ........ 

Khidash . . . . . . 

[wrongly assigned in text to ^Auf b. al-Ahwas] 

Khurashah ....... 

K Malik (or Mutammim) b. Nuwairah . 
> Maqqas .... 

al-Marrar ........ 

Mu'awiyah b. Malik ...... 

Muhriz b. al-Muka'bir 

al-Mukhabbal . . 

al-Mumazzaq ....... 

Muraqqish the Elder 

Muraqqish the Younger 

Murrah b. Hammam ..... 

al-Musayyab ....... 

Mutammim [IX, p. 20, see under Malik] . 
al-Muthaqqib ....... 


Rabrah b. Maqrum ...... 

Rashid b. Shihab 

as-Saflah . 

Salamah b. al-Khurshub 
** Salamah b. Jandal 
Shablb b. al-Barsa . 
Sinan b. Abl-Harithah 

XXXII, p. 117. 

XII, p. 33, XC, p. 256. 
XLII, p. 154. 
XXXVII, p. 130. 

XXXIII, p. 119. 

IV, p. 7, VII, p. 14, CIX, p. 306. 
II, p. 6, III, p. 7. 

XCI, p. 257. 
CVIII, p. 302. 

CXXI, p. 341. 

IX, p. 20. 

LXXXIV, p. 244, LXXXV, id. 

XIV, p. 41, XVI, p. 49. 
CIV, p. 293, CV, p. 295. 
LX, p. 195. 

XXI, p. 73. 

LXXX, p. 238, LXXXI, p. 240, 
App. IV, p. 366. 

XLV, p. 166, to LIV, p. 181, 
App. II and III, pp. 364, 365. 

LV, p. 186, to LIX, p. 194. 

LXXXII, p. 241. 

XI, p. 29. 

LXVII, p. 205, LXVIII, p. 213. 

XXVIII, p. 104, LXXV1, p. 228, 
LXXVII, p. 233. 

XV, p. 43, XVII, p. 57. 

XXXVIII, p. 131, XXXIX, 
p. 136, XLIII, p. 159, CXIII, 
p. 314. 

p. 249. 

XCII, p. 261. 

V, p. 9, VI, p. 12. 

XXII, p. 78. 

XXXIV, p. 121. 
XX, p. 68. 

C, p. 286, CI, p. 287. 



Subai' b. al-Khatim . 
t^ . Suwaid b. Abl-Kahil . 
Ta'abbata Sharra 
Tha'labah b. 'Amr 
v-Tha'labahb. Su'air . 

Wa'lah b. al-Harith . 
Yazid b. al-Khadhdhaq 
w\ .Zabbari 

CXII, p. 811. 
XL, p. 139. 

I, P. I- 

LXI, p. 196, LXXIV, p. 222. 

XXIV, p. 86. 

LXV, p. 202, LXVI, p. 203. 

XXXII, p. 117. 

LXXVIII,p.235, LXXIX,p.236. 

Oil, p. 288, GUI, p. 292. 



THE poet was a famous warrior of a tribe which dwelt in the Tihamah between Mecca 
and the sea, and in the mountains skirting the Hijaz in that quarter. To its north were 
the lands of Hudhail, and to its south those of Bajilah, Khath'am, Azd, and Murad, Yamanite 
stocks. Fahm itself belonged to Ma'add, and was constantly at feud with its neighbours 
both to the north and the south. It is not known exactly when Ta'abbata Sharrii, lived, 
but, to judge from the names of contemporaries cited in a poem by him in the Kitab 
al-Aghanl, xviii. 214 19m , he must have nourished about the time when the Prophet was 
living at Mecca. His poems are thoroughly pagan in spirit. His expeditions were all 
undertaken on foot, and he claims to be a runner of matchless speed. The class of 
warriors to which he belonged was called the ' Ravens (Aghribah) of the Arabs ', being 
born of black (i.e. Abyssinian) mothers and Arab fathers (see this word in Lane's Lexicon); 
and Ta'abbata is associated with ash-Shanfara, another celebrated runner of this class, 
in many of his exploits (see post, No. XX). His nickname means ' He carried a mischief 
under his arm ', and there are many different explanations, in the Aghanl and in the com- 
mentary to the Hamdsah, of the reason why it was given, from which we may conclude that 
its origin was unknown. There is a long notice of the poet in the Kitab al-Aghanl, xviii. 
209-18, which brings together all the traditions concerning him, with a number of poems 
attributed to him. Three pieces by him are in the Tfamasah and one in the Asma'fyat, and 
his Diwan was known to the author of the Khizanat al-Adab, and will probably some day 
come to light. There are also pieces by him among the Hudhailian Poems, composed in 
answer to attacks on him by poets of that tribe. 

In the poem before us he celebrates an adventure which he had with two companions, 
'Amr son of Barraq and ash-Shanfara, while making an attack on Bajilah, a tribe inhabiting 

* This name is usually spelled T.-Sliarran ; I follow E. W. Lane in adopting the pausal form, 
which is that in which all proper names appear when cited apart from a context. 

1201.2 B 


the mountains of the country now called 'Asir, south of Mecca. The adventure is thus related 
by Abu 'Amr ash-Shaibani (see commentary to v. 4) : 

'Ta'abbata Sharra, ash-Shanfara of Azd, and 'Amr son of Barraq made a raid upon 
Bajilah. But they found that Bajllah, having had warning of their coming, had planted an 
ambush for them near the water where they would have to drink. And when they approached 
it in the darkness of the night, Ta'abbata Sharra said to his companions : " There is an ambush 
by the water : I can hear the beating of the men's hearts." They answered, " By God ! we 
cannot hear anything: it must be the beating of thine own heart that thou hearest." 
Ta'abbata laid his hand on his heart and said : " By God ! it is not beating, and it is not wont 
to beat." They said : " Well, by God ! we must get to the water, whatever happens." Then 
ash-Shanfara went down the first ; but when the men of the ambush saw him, they recognized 
him, and let him drink without molesting him. So he drank, and returned to his companions 
and said : " By God ! there is no one at the water : I have drunk my fill at the cistern." Then 
said Ta'abbata, " Aye, but they do not want to take thee : it is me they desire to catch." Then 
went the son of Barraq, and drank and returned unmolested ; he, too, said : " There is no one 
at the spring." Ta'abbata answered : " It is me they want, not thee." Then he said to ash- 
Shanfara : " When I bend down to drink at the cistern, the men will surely spring upon 
me and bind me a prisoner : then do thou run as though thou wert fleeing : but double back 
and station thyself at the foot of that hill yonder ; and when thou hearest me cry : ' Catch 
him ! Catch him ! ' then run up to me and release me from my bonds." Then he said to the 
son of Barraq : " I shall bid thee to yield thyself a prisoner to the Bajllah : do not go far away 
from them, but do not put it in their power to catch thee." Then Ta'abbata went forward 
and down to the water ; and when he bent down to drink, the men in ambush sprang upon 
him and took him prisoner, and tied his arms behind him with a bow-string. Then ash- 
Shanfara, darted away to the place where Ta'abbata had bidden him go, and the son of Barraq 
withdrew just so far that they could see him. Then said Ta'abbata : " O men of Bajllah, would 
ye like to gain some advantage ? Will ye be easy with me in respect of the ransom if I per- 
suade the son of Barraq to yield himself a prisoner?" "Yes," said they. Then he shouted : 
" Woe to thee, son of Barraq ! now ash-Shanfara has fled away, and is warming himself at the 
fire of the sons of Such-a-onc: .and thou knowest what a tie there is between us and thy 
people. Wilt thou not yield thyself, and they will be easy with us in respect of the ransom ? " 
'Amr answered, " By God ! not until I have tried my pace in a run or two." Then he began 
to run briskly in the direction of the mountain, and to return again in his tracks ; until, when 
the men of Bajilah thought that he was getting tired and that they could take him, they set 
out to run after him. And Ta'abbata called out " Catch him ! Catch him ! " and they went off, 
running after him as hard as they could. Then he began to allure them by pretending to 
slacken, and then to get still further off. Meanwhile ash-Shanfara had come up from behind 
to Ta'abbata, and cut his bonds. And when the son of Barraq saw that his bonds had been 
cut, he made for him, and the two, 'Amr and ash-Shanfara, joined Ta'abbata where he was 
standing. Then said Ta'abbata to the men : " Did ye admire the running of the son of Barraq, 
O kin of Bajllah ? Now, by God ! I will run you a race that shall make you forget it quite ! " 
Then he and ash-Shanfara set out running, and all three outstripped their pursuers and 
reached home in safety.' 


The poem opens with the usual mention of love, which is, however, very shortly dealt 
with, and used only to introduce the subject of the prowess of the poet as a runner (vv. 3, 4 tf.). 
In v. 9 he reverts to the theme of a broken friendship, and draws for us the picture of such 
a man as he would choose for a friend. No doubt he has some particular person in view, 
whose nickname, 'The Shepherd of two small flocks', appears in v. 15. In vv. 16-19 he 
celebrates again his own activity in climbing a mountain to act as scout or sentinel for his 
fellows. The last section, vv. 20-6, is addressed to those who carp at his extravagance in 
generosity, whom he threatens, if they do not desist from their railing, with the prospect of 
his finally quitting the tribe and betaking himself elsewhere. The language of the poem is 
very characteristic of the poet in its preference for energetic and closely-knit pregnant phrases. 
A peculiarity which it exhibits is the repetition in the following verse of some word or words 
of that next preceding, e. y. vv. 4-5 lailata; vv. 10-11, sabbdq; vv. 23-4, an yau'ala-l-hayyu 
(ttl-qaumu) 'annl. 

The range of various readings which the commentary mentions appears clearly to point 
to some one ivritten original for the poem that is, an original written down by some collector 
who gathered it from oral recitation, probably without some of the diacritical marks ; this is 
particularly evident from the first word of the first verse, in regard to which Marzuqi's note 
(in Thorbecke's edition) should be consulted in addition to the long dissertation in our text. 

(1) O return of remembrance ! how with thee come longing and wakefulness, 

and the passing of a phantom darkling, spite of terrors by the way ! 

(2) Barefooted by night it comes, making nought of fatigue and snakes 

my soul be thy sacrifice what a traveller by night afoot! 

(3) Nay but I, when a mistress grudges to grant me the boon I seek, 

and holds to me but by a bond already weak and frayed, 

(4) I fly from her straight, as I fled from Bajllah, when I put forth 

my utmost speed, on the night of the soft plain of ar-Raht 

(5) The night that they shouted and stirred up their swiftest to run me down, 

in al-'Aikatani, there where raced the son of Barraq. 

(6) 'Twas as though they were hounding an ostrich, scanty of fore-wing plumes, 

or a mother gazelle in the mountains where shathth and tubbaq grow. 

(7) Nothing is swifter than I not the horse with bushy mane, 

nor the eagle that flaps its wings aloft by the mountain peak. 

(8) So was I quit of them, and they stripped of me no spoil : 

I ran as one possessed, light of limb, full of resource. 

(9) Nay, I say not, when a Friend cuts short the bond and departs, 

'Alas, my soul ! ' out of longing and soft self-pitying tears. 
(10) No ! weeping, were I one to weep for him that has gone his way, 
should be for one keen of praise, a striver outstripping all- 

B 2 


(11) Outstripping in all his tribe the racers for glory's goal, 

his voice resounds, strong and deep, mid his fellows bound on the raid : 

(12) Bare of flesh in the shins, his arms backed with sinews strong, 

he plunges into the blackest of night under torrents of rain ; 

(13) The bearer of banners he, the chosen for council he, 

a sayer of words strong and sound, a pusher to furthest bounds. 

(14) For such a one do I care to such goes my call for help 

when help is needed shock-headed, hoarse as a raven's cry; 

(15) His hair like a rough sand-ridge, beaten oft by the feet of men, 

I call him the Shepherd of two small flocks, with the lambs and their 



(16) And many the mountain-peak, like a spear-point standing forth 

in the sun's full blaze through the months of summer burning with 


(17) Have I scaled to its top, outstripping my fellows no laggards they ! 

and there stood I on its summit, just as the sun shone out. 

(18) No shelter there on its peak except the wreck of a hut, 

some sticks still standing, and some strewn broken about the place. 

(19) With sandals tattered I clomb, my toes scarce saved from the rocks, 

though I patched them with double soles, and bound them round 

with thongs. 


(20) Who will help me against the railer, contentious and full of words, 

who burns with his scathing gibes my skin as with tongues of fire? 

(21) He screams 'Thou'st wasted thy wealth would thou hadst held it tight 

raiment of price, fair weapons, and goodly things to be prized !' 

(22) O censurer ! some kinds of blame are harshness that brings no gain : 

if I were to spare my goods, would Time spare them to me? 

(23) Take this for truth if ye cease not to carp and wound with reproof, 

the tribe shall ask of my doings the furthest of folk from us ; 

(24) Yea, ask those men that may know which way it was that I went, 

and none shall tell them of Thabit who met him on his road. 
(26) Yea, then shalt thou gnash thy teeth and rue the day I was lost, 
whenas thou callest to mind some thought of the man I was. 

(25) Use then the wealth thou hast gained to stop breaches round thy stead, 

till come the Day when thou meetest what all mankind must face! 



(1) This rendering follows the reading ya 'idu. If we read i/u 'nln, which is given as an 
alternative (see Marzuqi's note in Thorbecke's edition), the first hemistich should be rendered 

' How again there comes upon thee longing and wakefulness ! ' 
' Phantom,' i. e. of the Beloved. This is a constantly-mentioned convention of these amatory preludes. 

(2) ' My soul be thy sacrifice ! ' This frequent ejaculation, with its equivalent forms, implies 
that the speaker prays that all the misfortunes which would otherwise fall on the person 
addressed may be concentrated on himself. 

(3) The ideal lover of old Arabian poetry is always ready to fling off a love that begins to 
grow cold ; cf. 2Wnt, No. VI. 2, and Labid, Mil allaqah, 20, 21, and 55, 56. 

(6) The ostrich is represented as having lost some of its fore-wing feathers to indicate that it is 
of full age, and able to go at top speed, unimpeded by a bush of plumage. Shathth and tubbaq are 
plants fed upon by gazelles and antelopes (see index of botanical names), growing in the mountains 
of the Sarat, and their mention indicates that the beast is well fed and able to run at its best. 

(7) The rendering adopted follows an interpretation not indicated in our scholion, but discussed 
in that of MarzOqi (for which see Thorbecke's edition). Our commentators take laisa as equivalent 
to ilia, and render ' Nothing is swifter than I, except the horse ', &c. It appears to me that the 
translation given is more poetical and therefore more probable, while it is equally admissible from 
a grammatical point of view. Moreover according to the stories told of him no horse could overtake 
Ta'abbata at his best pace. 

(14) Hamml and gliazm are synonymous. The raven-like voice of the shock-headed comrade is 
to be understood as employed in driving the spoil ; abundant hair is the sign of strength : cf. the 
story of Samson.* 

(15) ' I call him the Shepherd of two small flocks ', &c. : qultu lahu, Dhu tMlataini tea Dhu 
bahmin loa arbaql. It seems clear that these are nicknames given by the poet to the companion 
perhaps ash-Shanfara whom he has in mind. Cf. post, No. XX, v. 19, where ash-Shanfara calls 
Ta'abbata-Sharra Ummu 'iyulin, ' the Mother of the household ', because he looked after the provisions 
of the party. The verse has needlessly perplexed the commentators, who give little help. The 
Abyssinian shepherds and herdsmen from the western coast of the Eed Sea employed by the Arabs 
to look after their flocks and herds of camels are often mentioned by the poets : cf. 'Autarah, 
Muallaqah, 25; Dhu-r-Kummah, JBa'iyali, 112, 115. 

(20) The reading jaddalatin is adopted, as preferable to the MiadMhaMin ('often leaving me in 
the lurch ') of the text. 

(21) The reading daninta is adopted in preference to qani'ta ; the latter would mean ' Would 
that thou wouldst be content with what thou hast gotten (and not continue to involve the tribe in 
trouble by going forth in quest of plunder).' The former word appears to suit better the tenor of 
the passage. 

(26, 25) It is necessary to transpose these two verses, both because their sense requires it, and 
because vv. 24 and 25 both end with the same word, which, in consecutive lines, would be very 
unusual in old Arab verse. 

* Another suggestion that has been made to explain the abundance of the hair of the man 
described is that he was perpetually engaged in the prosecution of blood-feuds : a person seeking 
vengeance for blood shed bound himself by a vow not to cut or dress his hair until he attained his 
end. So ash-Shanfara describes himself in the Lamtyali, vv. 63-4. 



THE poet belonged to a subdivision of the tribe of Yarbu' b. Handhalah, a branch of 
Tamlin; he had taken up his dwelling atZarud with the men of Malik b. Handhalah, another 
branch, perhaps after a quarrel with Yarbu'. While he was there, the tribe of Malik was 
raided by men of Taghlib, headed by Hazimah b. Tariq, who carried off some camels. The 
poem describes how they were pursued by the poet, whose mare, called 'Aradah, ' the Locust ', 
just failed to overtake Hazimah, but succeeded in recovering from him all the spoil he had 
carried away. 

(1) Yea, if thou escapest from her, O Hazimah son of Tariq, 

at least she has left thee bare of all things behind thy back ! 

(2) The Crier of our tribe shouted ' The enemy are upon you ' : 

that moment my mare had drunk the whole of a water-skin. 

(3) I called to Ka's 'Bridle her quick!' for in sooth I came to dwell 

on the hill of Zarud for nought else but to render help at need. 

(4) The arrows that stuck in the sides of her neck and about her throat 

were like stalks of leeks pulled up from a level sandy plain. 

(5) Then lameness beset my Locust, and wrecked her reserve of speed, 

when already a finger's breadth only parted Hazimah from me. 
(6)- I gave you my orders there where the failing sand-edge curves : 

but no authority rests with him who is disobeyed. 
(7) Yea, when a man faces not boldly the ugly things that come, 

the cords of quietness soon will snap, and his peace decay. 


(1) That is, she has recovered from thee all the plunder which thou wast carrying away. 

(2) When it was intended to put their horses to strenuous work, the Arabs were accustomed 
to refuse them water or give them only a little to drink : a horse which has just drunk a full 
draught falls off, as here, in speed. 

(3) Ka's (' Cup ') is the name of his daughter. The women of a tribe were specially charged 
with tending its horses (cf. 'Amr b. Kulth., Huallaqali, 88). 

(6) and (7) These verses do not seem to cohere with the rest : probably there is a lacuna. They 
may perhaps refer to al-Kalhabah's quarrel with his own tribe. 




(1) The Sons of Jusham son of Bakr ask me whether the Locust has a white 
blaze on her forehead, or is all of one colour. 

(2) She is the steed that dashed against them, on her back the wounded old 
warrior like a lion. 

(3) When her charge has taken her through their ranks, she returns to 
charge them again, and the spears hold her back so that she cannot move. 

(4) Three of her legs are like one another in having a white ring round the 
pastern, while one leg is all of one colour. 

(5) She is a bay, of no doubtful hue, but the colour of .sw/into which the hide 
to be dyed has been plunged a second time. 


(1) Jusham son of Bakr was the subdivision of Taghlib to which the poet 'Amr b. Kulthflm 
and the other foremost chiefs of that tribe belonged. 
(5) Sirfis the name of a dye yielding a red colour. 



THE poet complains that his wife Umamah has been set at variance with him by her own 
people ('the folk of Kharrub'), who wish to induce him to divorce her, that they may marry 
her to some one else. But their attempt will be vain : he is too old to be moved by such 
methods (vv. 3,4). He then describes her violence against him, like that of a lioness defending 
her whelps (v. 5), while if the least thing, other than her husband, terrifies her, she is like 
a young child afraid of the wolf (v. 6). Apparently her distaste for him has been caused by 
the disappearance of his wealth in camels, due to their expenditure on hospitality and in 
bearing the burdens of his tribe (vv. 8, 9, 10) : but there may yet be hopes for a life of union, 
if she will only look upon him with a kindly eye ; and they may yet enjoy some measure of 
prosperity together (vv. 11, 12). 


The poem resembles in its theme one by the author's fellow-tribesman 'Ablcl b. al-Abras 
(Dlwdn, ix), who belonged to the previous generation. The author was the son of a contem- 
porary and enemy of Imra' al-Qais, and himself fell at the battle of Shi'b Jabalah, fought in 
or about the year A.D. 570. 

(1) Umamah has become tongue-tied, and will not speak a word to me : is 
she gone mad, or has she been taking counsel with the folk of Kharrub ? 

(2) She passed by the rider of a camel branded in the angle of the lower jaw, 
and he counselled her ' Vex al-Jumaih, and assail him with annoyances.' 

(3) But if she had hit the truth, she would have said for she is a truth- 
speaker ' As for trying to train the grey-headed, trouble not thyself therewith ; 

(4) 'His full age forbids it, and there forbids it the fact that your aged 
husband will never now submit to blows and schooling.' 

(5) But when she attacks me, then is she a [lioness] with whelps, short 
haired, that defends her brake so that it cannot be approached : 

(6) But if anything happens to terrify her, then is she like a child in a smock, 
whom thou chidest all day long, [threatening it] with the terror of the wolf. 

(7) And if her people be dwellers in Qidah, then my folk are they who dwell 
in Malhub. 

(8) [All this happened] when she saw that among my camels were few that 
yielded milk, and every year that passed over them was a year of dried-up udders. 

(9) The changes and chances of things and they follow close upon my 
beasts , and the payment of things due, have left them a little herd with a herds- 
man who is not overwhelmed by his charge ; 

(10) Thou wouldst think our herdsman was driving in them a troop of asses, 
between the pie-bald plains of Makran and the lavas of the Harrah. 

(11) But if thou lookest on us kindly, and abatest thy pride when thou comest 
amongst us, and regardest my valour in fight and my raids carried far abroad 

(12) Then possess thyself in patience it may be that yet shalt thou be 
happy, and milk thy herds into a great milk-skin the skin of a sheep tanned 
with acacia-bark. 


(1) Umamah (v. 1. Umaimah), the poet's wife, is said in the commentary to have been a woman 
of Tamim, of the subdivision of Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat, of the house of Anf an-Naqah ('Camel's nose', 
a nickname).* The marriage was thus one outside the poet's tribe. 

(2) The particular brand of the rider's camel mentioned here doubtless indicates the tribe to 
which he belonged. The seholion gives a long account of the various brands of camels. 

* The genealogy at p. 25, line 10, is wrong in making Qurai' son of Anf an-Naqah. The latter 
was the son of Qurai': see Naq. 714", Mbd Earn. 339', BDur. 156, and text, post, p. 207 u . 


(7) Qidah, a place known in history as the scene of a fierce battle between the brother-tribes 
of Bakr and Taghlib: probably after the termination of the War of al-BasQs and the emigration 
of Taghlib northwards it was occupied by some branch of Tamlm. Malhub was the centre of 
'Abid's branch of the tribe of Asad. This part of the poem is fragmentary : v. 7 does not fit in 
well, and lamina at the beginning of v. 8 has no proper apodosis ; the words supplied in the transla- 
tion give what seems the probable sense, but they are not in the original. 

(10) Makran here is some place within the Arabian peninsula, not the country so called (but 
properly Mukran) north of the Persian Gulf. Lub, plural of Idbah, indicates one of those great 
volcanic uplands (Harralis) frequent in the north of Arabia. Lubah is probably the origin of the 
Italian lava : the volcanic tract of South Italy and Sicily was occupied for centuries by speakers of 
Arabic, and no satisfactory etymology of the word in Italian has been suggested. 

(11) ' Lookest on us kindly', literally 'coolest thine eye with us'. 'Coolness of the eye', 
qurratu-l-'ain, is a common metaphor for happiness and pleasantness of life, as its opposite, 
sukhnatu-l-'ain, ' heat of the eye ', stands for grief or sorrow. 


THE tribe of Anmar belonged to the group called Ghatafan, the lands of which lay south 
of those of Asad and of the mountains of Tayyi', in the partly broken and partly open country 
drained by the upper part of the great watercourse now called the Wadi-r-Rummah. It 
seems to have been a small tribe, closely associated with the more powerful sub-groups of 
'Abs and Dhubyan. The poem relates to a battle which took place, probably in the last 
decade of the sixth century A. D., between the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah and the tribes of 
Ghatafan, of which a summary account will be found in the Introduction (pp. 80-2) to the 
Dlwan of 'Amir son of at-Tufail, who was one of the captains of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah in the fight, 
called the Day of ar-Raqam. The commentary gives a long and somewhat confused history 
of several incidents in the battle, which in some particulars does not agree with our poem, 
and it appears probable that two encounters between 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah and Ghatafan have 
been mixed up in the narrative. From Salamah's verses it is clear that one of the incidents 
of the fight was that al-Hakam son of at-Tufail, brother of 'Amir, who is said in the com- 

* There is some difficulty in admitting Salamah as the author of the poem, arising from 
chronology. 'Amir son of at-Tufail, against whom the poem is directed, was born on the day of 
the battle of Shi'b Jabalah, A. D. 570 : at the battle of ar-Eaqam, or al-Maraurat, or Sahuq, of which 
the poem treats, he cannot have been less than twenty or twenty-five years old. But Salamah, if he 
was the son, and not the grandson, of al-Khurshub, was the maternal uncle of ar-Rabi' son of Ziyad 
of 'Abs, who must have been a very old man at the date of the battle of ar-Raqam : this would throw 
Salamah back to two generations before 'Amir. Either Fatimah, daughter of al-Khurshub, mother 
of ar-Rabi', was much older than her brother Salamah. or we must suppose the latter to have been 
the grandson, not the son, of al-Khurshub, or the poem may have been wrongly ascribed to him. 

1201.2 C 


mentary to have become separated, with a small body of followers, from the main force of the 
Banu 'Amir in their retreat, and, having lost his way in the desert, to have approached a water 
round which ho perceived several men whom he thought to be the enemy, though they were 
in reality his own comrades, hanged himself in despair between the danger of perishing from 
thirst and that of falling into the hands of his foes. It is also clear that 'Amir son of at-Tufail 
escaped on a mare called ar-Rihalah, and the narrative must be wrong in stating that he was 
captured and made prisoner on this occasion. 

The poem, which is addressed to 'Amir son of at-Tufail, begins with a sarcastic reference 
to al-Hakam's end (v. 1). Next comes praise of Dhubyan, the chief division of Ghatafan, who 
are still in the place where they were attacked, and ready to receive a second onslaught if 
'Amir has the spirit to make it (vv. 2-5). 'Amir's flight is described, and the debt he owes to 
the swiftness of his mare (vv. 6-9). Then the poet turns to the leader of Dhubyan, al-Harith 
b. 'Auf, called Abu Asma, whose prowess and bounty are praised (vv. 10, 11). The pursuit of 
'Amir is pictured (vv. 12-14), and the many slain mentioned (v. 16). It seems necessary to 
transpose vv. 15 and 16, making the former the last of the poem, though it is probably only 
the first of more satirical attacks on 'Amir, perhaps directed at his adoption of Asma as 
his mistress to be celebrated in the preludes to his poems (see text, p. 34, line 1) : in this case 
the poem would be unfinished. 

(1) When ye go forth in the morning making for our land again, ye Sons of 
'Amir, stock yourselves well with hangman's ropes ! 

(2) The Sons of Dhubyan know it well ! are stiU where ye found them the 
last time, in the bend of the valley of al-Batll, some pasturing in the wilderness, 
some settled in villages ; 

(3) They block the doors of the lordly tents with well-trained steeds, tethered 
by head-ropes to penfolds [containing she-camels set apart to yield them milk]. 

(4) A mighty concourse are they : no stranger breaks their unity of stock at 
all the waters between Faid and Sajir ; 

(5) Their gatherers of firewood go far away until they reach the woods of 
tamarisk that overhang the barren sands. 

(6) Thou didst escape with a blade that had no scabbard on it, and a saddle 
that was too short to fit the back of ar-Eihalah : 

(7) So praise her well for her service to thee, as is fitting, and be not ungrate- 
ful to her the ungrateful has no prosperity ! 

(8) Had she been galloping on the ground, she had been overtaken : but she 
flew through the air with thee like an eagle 

(9) Dusky of hue, with supple wings, whose feathers have been matted 
together by the rain of a day of heavy and frequent showers. 

(10) May every one in the tribe that falls short of his purpose, whether a 
seeker after vengeance or the inflicter of a blow, be a sacrifice for Abu Asma ! 

(11) Thou hast given in thy bounty camels of full age that have just con- 


ceived, then those in the tenth month of pregnancy ; and thou hast not withheld 
even the she-camel that yields, at a milking, a row of bowls, appointed as a nurse 
for the calves of others. 

(12) He pairs his steeds [for the foray] with riding camels, and they outstrip 
all others in the hurried advance, braving the heat of the noon-day ; 

(13) Then overtook the enemy in the east of al-Maraurat in the afternoon the 
remnant of the offspring of al-Quraqir ; 

(14) And there escaped not of them any save [those that had] mares with 
deep-sunken eyes, that claim to be of noble stock by their long necks, like the 
stallion-camel that challenges and beats all his rivals. 

(16) At Sahuq they poured forth on the ground many hospitable bowls, and 
they made over [to our tribe as booty] others, some full of milk set apart to curdle, 
and some of milk already sour. 


(15) Yea and thou, 'Amir son of the Eider of Qurzul, again thou fallest 
back upon vile and unseemly speech ! 


(3) ' Lordly tents ', qibab, plural of qubbah, a round tent made of leather, the most costly and 
luxurious of Arab tents. Poets boast that their tribes possess many such (cf. 'Abld xxv. 10, xxvii. 5, 
xxix 2). Al-qublah is the origin of the European word alcove. The war-mares are not allowed 
forth to graze, but kept close by the tents in readiness for action. The custom of feeding horses 
with camels' milk still continues in Arabia (see Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 261-2). 

(4) Pureness of stock is a common subject of boasting among poets. 

(5) The persons who gather firewood are usually women-slaves, and it is implied that the terror 
of the name of their tribe protects them in spite of their weakness, however far away they go in 
their quest. 

(6) The commentary says that qutir means that the saddle fitted well the back of his steed, not 
galling it, nor being too little or too big, and this explanation has been copied in the Lexicons 
(LA. vi. 380 15 , &c.). The verse, however, describes the haste and confusion with which 'Amir fled, 
and the explanation does not fit. Qatir, used of livelihood, means ' scanty, insufficient ', and this 
appears to be its meaning here, though it is rare to find it applied to anything but a man's 
possessions. Aba Zaid (LA. I. c. line 17) says it means the smallest of saddles ; another suggestion 
is that it means ' loose, unsteady ', qaliq. The name of 'Amir's mare, ar-Kihalah, does not occur in 
the traditions relating to him, for which see the Introduction to his Dlwan. 

(9) The Eagle is -depicted as having been rained upon, because the cold makes her flight the 
swifter : cf. 'Abld i. 37. 

(10) For the ' sacrifice ' see ante, No. I, v. 2, note. That by the leunydh Abu Asrna is meant 
al-Harith b. 'Auf, the chief of Dhubyan, is stated in the commentary of Marzuql. 

(11) The liberality of the chief is extolled by enumerating the camels he gives away as gifts, or 
slaughters for the entertainment of his guests. They are all of full age (buzl, pi. of bagil) : first, the 
makliacl (singular khalifah), those that are pregnant ; then the 'isMr, pi. of 'ushara, those that are just 
about to bring forth ; then the fafilf, whose milking fills a row (*/') of bowls, and which has such 


a store of inilk that it is used as a nurse-camel (mudha'ir = dlii'r) for a young one which has lost its 
own mother. Each of these is more precious than the one named before. 

(12) The change from the second person of v. 11 to the third in this verse is quite common in 
the old poetry. When the Arabs rode on a foray, they mounted their camels, and led alongside by 
leading-ropes their horses or mares, which they bestrode on arriving at the place of combat. The 
expression ghawalnahum is striking ; the nom. is the steeds, the chief's camels and mares ; and the 
affixed pronoun refers" to those who rode with him. The verb implies ' vying with one another in 
swallowing up the ground that lay before them '. 

(13) Al-Quraqir is the name of a famous stallion. Note that banat does not imply that the 
foals were all females : it is the regular plural of ibn (not of bint) when applied to irrational beings. 

(14) The sunken eyes of the enemy's mares imply the fatigue from which they suffer in the 

(16) This verse, for which a number of parallels are cited in the commentary, puts, for the 
chiefs that were slain of 'Amir, the bowls (for milk or broth) used by them in the entertainment of 
their guests : when the owners were slain the bowls were as it were overturned ; other prominent 
men that were taken prisoners are figured as bowls of milk made over to the pursuers of Dhubyan 
as booty. 

(15) Qurzul is the name of the horse of at-Tufail, father of 'Amir ; see Dlwan of 'Amir, transla- 
tion, p. 125, note 3. For 'Amir's rejoinder to this poem see his Dlwan, Nos. VIII and XXIX. 



THIS poem, from v. 3 onwards, is in praise of his mare. vv. 1, 2, the amatory prelude, 
here very short. 

(1) There comes to him time after time the nightly vision of Sulaima, even 
as the creditor besets with his importunities his debtor. 

(2) If she brings with her that which she knows [i. e. her love in exchange for 
mine] then verily God be praised ! I am one who can give love for love, and 
also one who can cut the bond if love wanes. 

(3) Yea, many the meadow through which one wades [as through a pool], 
wherein the dust-coloured [ostriches] lay their eggs the greenery of it has been 
forbidden to men, and the growth is lush and high 

(4) Have I visited in the morning, carried hither and thither by a swimming 
mare, the splinters of the frogs of whose hoofs are as hard as date-stones fully 

(5) One of those mares that look about them on this side and that [through 
sprightliness], what time the sweat has soaked the saddle-girth. 


(6) When the girth [under stress of galloping] slips back to a place just in 
front of her short ribs, the place where a woman's girdle goes round her waist, 

(7) Sometimes it strikes against the points of her teats, and sometimes the 
galloping brings it back to its proper place and it is straight again. 

(8) She is a bay, of no doubtful hue, but the colour of sirf into which the hide 
to be dyed has been plunged a second time. 

(9) Three of her legs are like one another in having a white ring round the 
pastern, while one leg is all of one colour. 

(10) It seems as though on them [the three legs] were bands of purest silver, 
such as that from which are made earrings uplifted by a dainty ear. 

(11) She is shielded by charms so that she takes no hurt [from an evil eye], 
and amulets are tied on to her neck-gear. 

(12) And when we go hunting, she puts within our power the loudly-braying 
wild-ass, whom the lush herbage has made as strong as a demon, 

(13) With the swoop of an eagle of 'Ardah which has been stirred by the 
sight, in Dhu-d-Dumran, of a hare that trips with short steps. 


(1) 'To him': in these amatory preludes the poet frequently speaks of himself in the third 
person as here, and also often addresses himself in the second person. For the nightly vision 
(Jchayal, taif), see ante, note to No. I, 1. 

(2) Of. ante, note to No. I, 3. 

(3) Poets boast of frequenting such a hunting-ground as is here described, because it involves 
the violation of a ban imposed by some hostile tribe, or taking the risk of danger by going far away 
from the pasture lands of their own tribe : see the citation from Imra' al-Qais at p. 41* of the text. 
The place is a himu, forbidden to be violated by strangers, which accounts (with the help of good 
rain) for its luxuriant vegetation, and for the presence of wild creatures therein. The mare ' wades ' 
in it, because the grass is so thick and high. 

(4) A 'swimmer', sdbuh, sabi/i, is an epithet often used of a swift horse, connoting its smooth- 
ness and easiness of motion. The hardness of the frogs (nasr, pi. nusur) of the hoofs is frequently 
praised. This horny substance is compared to a date-stone here and in 'Alqamah's poem, No. CXX, 
post, v. 54. 

(5) I have followed all texts in taking al-mutalaffitat as the active participle : our commentary 
takes it as a passive, which would involve reading al-mutalaffatat, and understands it to mean that 
the mare is one of those that attract the (admiring) gaze of the beholders on every side. This 
reading would, however, require us to read min janibaiha instead of bijdnibaiha, which would be 
unmetrical. ' What time the sweat ', &c. : i. e. she is sprightly and fresh in spite of the severe 
exertion to which she has been put. 

(6) and (7) These verses continue the history of previous long and heavy galloping, which has 
resulted in reducing the mare's girth, so that the girth-straps become loose and slip backwards. 

(8) and (9) These verses are identical with vv. 5 and 4 of al-Kalhabah's poem, ante, No. III. It 
is not possible to say which is the rightful owner. 

(10) 'Dainty ear': this rendering of Jchadhim is given in the commentary, and seems most 
poetical : but the only meaning of the word known to the Lexx. is ' cut, pierced '. 


(11) 'Charms', ar-ruqa, pi. of ruqyah; 'amulets', at-tamlm, pi. of iamtmah, a translation of 
the late Greek Te'At<r/io, which has also been adopted in Arabic as a loan-word, tilism (with several 
other vocalizations), our 'talisman'. Ruqyah signifies generally a charm uttered or expressed in 
actions (blowing, waving, &c.), while tamimali means something attached to the creature to be 
protected. The scholion mentions a popular notion that the Jinn will not approach, unless they be 
uncommonly audacious (mafid, marid), a place where horses are kept. 

(12) ' Has made as strong as a demon ': lit. 'has turned into a si'tah '. The si'lah is said to be 
the most dangerous of the female demons called ghul, or an enchantress of the Jinn. Horses are often 
compared to one. 

(18) 'Ardah is one of the places mentioned in Abld, i. 8 ; we see here that it was a mountain. 
'ikrishah is a female hare. 


ACCORDING to the commentary on v. 1, Khalid son of Nadlah, a man of Asad, was living 
under a covenant of protection among the Banu Ja'far, a family of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, and was 
treacherously slain by them ; for which reason the poet denounces them in these verses. But 
this does not appear to be the correct story, f According to Agh., v. 29, Khalid b. Nadlah was 
one of the boon-companions of king al-Mundhir son of Ma' as-Sama of al-Hirah, and was put 
to death by him in a fit of anger. The tale, as told by Ibn al-Athir (i. 481) on the authority 
of Abu 'Ubaidah, was in this wise : Asad and the Banu Ja'far of 'Amir had an encounter at 
a place called Dhu 'Alaq, in which the latter were worsted, and Rabi'ah son of Malik, father 
of the poet Labid, slain. The men of Ja'far took to flight, pursued by the Asadls, at whose 
head were Khalid son of Nadlah and his son Habib, and al-Harith son of Khalid son of 
al-Mudallal. The pursuing party followed a long way from the scene of conflict, and did not 
observe that they were being outflanked by a troop of the Ja'faris, headed by 'Amir Abu Bara, 
the ' Player with lances '.J 'Amir called out to Khalid : ' I propose that we make a truce 
together, that we and ye may carry away our wounded and bury our dead.' Khalid agreed. 
Shortly after, 'Amir said to Khalid: 'Knowest thou what has happened to Rabi'ah' (his 
brother)? 'Yes', said Khalid, 'I left him slain.' 'Who killed him?' said 'Amir. 'I dealt 
him a blow, and Samit son of al-Afqam finished him ', answered Khalid. Thereupon 'Amir, 
full of fury, bore down with those who were with him on Khalid and his party, who defended 
themselves valiantly. The Ja'faris succeeded in taking the spoils of Habib son of Khalid, 
but the others rejoined the main body of the Banu Asad in safety. According to this version, 
the ' covenant of protection ' mentioned in v. 1 was the compact of truce. Our poem is con- 

* See ante, No. IV. 

t The confusion may have arisen from remembrance of another poem by al-Jumaih, No. CIX, 
post, where the poet attacks 'Abs for having treacherously murdered Nadlah, father of Khalid, while 
living under their protection. 

I See Dlwan of 'Amir b. at-Tufail, Introduction. 


sistent with the escape of Khalid b. Nadlah as related by Abu 'Ubaidah (though it would also 
be consistent with his death). The al-Harith mentioned in v. 7 may have been the third 
leader of the Asadis named by Abu 'Ubaidah. 
Verses 10 to 14 are unfit for translation. 

(1) Ask Ma'add who were the knights who did not keep faith with those with 
whom they had covenanted, and yet got no booty ! 

(2) Qurzul ran away with them, while men listened [to the battering of their 
hoofs], and the long locks fluttered, streaming in the breeze, 

(3) As they galloped away ; and they had left Rabl'ah lying among those that 
slew him, when the fighters were close together in the press of battle 

(4) In his hand a lithe spear-shaft, well straightened in the clip, on it a spear- 
head kindled to wrath, eager for men's flesh. 

(5) If Khalid son of Nadlah had had any fear of your treachery, there had 
borne him away a swimmer whose reins outstrip [all other steeds that race with 

(6) A mare short of hair, spare like a straightened spear : her back has not 
been wrinkled with the cold, nor has her food been stinted. 

(7) And al-Harith was there, shouting loud his call for help among his 
companions a sure refuge and support : 

(8) There gallops with him a full-grown steed with a deep-toned neigh, that 
leads as their best all the horses of the tribe, stout, the heads of his long bones 
well covered with fat, 

(9) His rider arrayed in a fair coat of mail, woven double, sinning like a pool 
[smitten by a breeze], in the best part of a hollow, kept full by constant showers. 


(1) Ma'add, the name for the aggregate of non-Yamanite Arabs. 

(2) Qurzul was the horse of at-Tufail son of Malik, father of 'Amir: see ante, No. V, v. 15. 
At-Tufail and his steed had a reputation for running away an act that carried no shame with it to 
an Arab warrior when he considered that the occasion called for it. Here Qurzul, as the steed of 
the leader of the party, is spoken of as setting the example of flight. The Beduins wear their hair 
long, especially the braided side-locks called qurun (see Doughty, index, s. v. ' horns '). 

(3) ' Among those that slew him ', fi-l-ath'ar, pi. of tlia'r : a man's tha'r is the slayer of his kin, 
whose blood the avenger must shed ; v. I. fi-l-adbar, ' behind their backs '. 

(4) This verse seems out of place ; one scarcely expects the description of the arms of a slain 
man. The alternative verse given in the commentary (agreeing substantially with Ibn al-Athir) 
describes better the dead Eabi'ah : ' He falls prone on his face once and again, and there drags him 
along by the spear [thrust through him] one burning with thirst [for blood J, grim-faced, eager for 
men's flesh.' 

(5) 'A swimmer': see note to No. VI, v. 4, ante. 


(6) A horse extended at full gallop is often compared to a spear. The second half of the verse 
sets forth the careful tending she has had always covered up with the horse-blanket (fall), and well 
supplied with camel's milk. Cf. post, No. IX, v. 25. 

(8) To have a loud and vehement neigh is a matter of praise in a horse. The word ajasltsli is 
used of a horse's neigh and of thunder. 

(9) The word used for a mail-coat here, raitah, properly means a thin and soft cloth : but the 
verb implies that mail is meant, and the noun indicates that it was of the finest quality. ' Woven 
double ' : that is, with two rings everywhere in place of the one of which ordinary mail is con- 
structed, each pair secured to the next above, below, and on each side. The comparison of a coat of 
mail to the surface of a pool stirred by the wind is exceedingly common. 


THE poet was a member of the family of Tha'labah son of Sa'd, of Dhubyan, a great stock 
belonging to the group of Ghatafan. His father's name is given by other authorities as Qais. 
Al-Hadirah means broad, stout, muscular and compact in the shoulders, and is said to have been 
a nickname given him by Zabban son of Sayyar of Fazarah, who quarrelled with him when 
the two went out hunting together. Qutbah accused Zabban of gluttonously feasting in the 
dark on the roasted flesh of the beasts they had killed, and leaving his companion in the lurch. 
When they came to a pool, Qutbah stripped and plunged in for a swim, and Zabban thereupon 
uttered some verses (p. 49 of Arabic text, lines 14-15) comparing him to a thick-shouldered 
old frog with thin hind legs swimming in a pool, and pelted with stones by the village boys. 
The name stuck, and the poet is always known as al-Hadirah or (dim.) al-Huwaidirah. The 
introduction on pp. 50-1 contains a lengthy commentary on retorts in verse made by 
al-Hadirah upon Zabban. 

As regards the poet's age, he must have lived (as Zabban's contemporary) in the latter 
half of the sixth century A.D. He was most likely engaged in the War of the Huraqah, which 
probably broke out towards the end of that century, after the conclusion of the War of Dahis, 
between the various sub-tribes of Dhubyan, and in which the leading figure was al-Husain b. 
al-Humam of Murrah. Several of the poems in the Mufaddallyat refer to this contest : see 
Nos. X, XII, XC, XCI, and probably Nos. C, CI, Oil, and GUI (the last two poems by Zabban 
son of Sayyar). Little is known of his life : there is a short article about him in the Aghdnl, 
iii. 82-4. His Dluun, containing very few poems, was published at Leiden in 1858 by 
Dr. Engelmann. Hassan son of Thabit, the Prophet's court poet, greatly admired the poem 
chosen by al-Mufaddal, and was fond of reciting it. 

The poem is simple in structure, addressed to his mistress Sumayyah, whose beauty is 
celebrated, vv. 1-8. He then boasts of the glories of his tribe, vv. 9-15 ; next, he describes 
his own hospitality, to his fellows whom he plies with wine, vv. 16-18, and to the hungry 
wanderers whom he feeds, vv. 19-20; then follow descriptions of strenuous journeys, with 


companions (vv. 22-4) and alone (vv. 25-9). At the end of the poem in the Arabic text are 
two detached verses, handed down by Ibn al-A'rabi, of which one, 30, has been inserted in the 
translation, as directed in the commentary, after v. 25, while the other, 31, is without a context 
and contains an unfinished sentence : it does not fit in anywhere in the text as we have it. 

(1) Sumayyah has risen early in the morning : seize thou then the moment to 
win somewhat of her ; she is gone forth at dawn as one goes who means parting, 
and stays no more. 

(2) Then mine eye gat refreshment for the road, on the morning that I met 
her in the sand-skirt of al-Bunainah, in a gaze that could not tear itself away. 

(3) And she turned her face a little, so that she took thee captive with a white 
smooth neck, shining like the outstretched throat of a long-necked gazelle, 

(4) And with the eyes of one whose pupils are deepest black thou wouldst 
think her gaze heavy with slumber one fair in the place where the tears flow 

(5) And when she bandies speech with thee, thou seest that she has a lovely 
smile, and lips most sweet to kiss, 

(6) [As though one drank] of fresh-fallen rain from a night-travelling cloud, 
caused to rain plentifully by the east wind rain, turbid at first, sweet as it settles 
in pools ; 

(7) The rushing-down of a scouring rain has wrought havoc in the hollows of 
the land : then, soon after the rain stops, the water thereof becomes clear ; 

(8) The runnels play with it, and in the morning the water spreads through 
the growth, dividing itself among the roots of the lush greenery. 

(9) O Sumayyah, mercy on thee ! hast thou ever heard of a deed of treachery 
told of us, whereby the warning flag has been raised against us in any assembly ? 

(10) Self-respecting are we, and never give our confederate cause to fear us ; 
and we hold ourselves back from greed when other men yield to it ; 

(11) And we shield our honours by spending the most precious of our 
possessions ; and in battle we leave our spears sticking in those we pierce, as we 
shout our name and lineage ; 

(12) And we wade through all the depths of a day of bitter bloodshed which 
destroys men round us, the booty whereof falls to the most valiant ; 

(13) And we set up our tents in the place where honour calls, and stay there 
steadfast, while other men travel away to richer pasture : 

(14) The place of glory those to whom it belongs do not drive their camels 
to feed abroad, on the day that they have to hold it and pitch tent therein. 

[(15) In the way of the dreaded breach its folk send forth no beasts to 

1201.: D 


pasture : a terror it is to men they point with the finger to that which lies 
opposite to it.] 

(16) Then, Sumayyah, how shalt thou know how many a band of young 
bloods I have delighted in the morning with a black wine-skin full to the spout 

(17) Youths whose eyes were bloodshot after the dawn-draught, in a place 
where they saw and heard life to their hearts' desire ? 

(18) They repaired to me early as the day broke forth, and I gave them to 
drink of old wine like the blood of a gazelle in colour, tempered with water, 

(19) While they lay outstretched by the wine-booth, as though they were 
weeping round a corpse not yet carried away to burial. 

(20) And oft-times have I hastened the cooking of the half-done meat, under 
which the cauldrons bubble, for a party of hungry folk ; 

(21) And there at my door is a shock-headed starveling : stretching forth his 
right hand he swears ' Thou hast cooked it well !' he cannot wait till it be done. 

(22) And oft-times have I pushed on their way men who had no time to sleep, 
wearied out with travel, with camels lean through constant journeying, limping 
with sore limbs : 

(23) Travel has spent all the fat in their bodies : thou wouldst think them 
beasts sick with raging thirst, with the veins of their fore-legs cut to let blood. 

(24) They journey on through the flat wide deserts with the saddles, each one 
carrying on his way a brave warrior in a tattered shirt. 

(25) And oft have I loaded on one camel the saddle of another, lean and 
worn-out, which is kept up from constant stumbling by the cry ' da'da' ! ' 

(80) When her pads touch the stones, she shrinks with pain ; yet if she is 
pushed on by my cry, she rises to better speed. 

(26) And many the inhospitable resting-place, not one to halt in long, have 
I stayed in for the waning of the night a spot meet for evil hap, an uneasy place 
for rest ; 

(27) I lay down there to sleep in the latter night, my pillow an arm stout of 
muscle, with veins not over-full of blood ; 

(28) When I raised my head from it, it was red and powerless : it seemed as 
if it were separate from my body, though it had not been severed ; 

(29) And thou mightest see, where my camel's folded limbs and breast pressed 

upon the sand, small hollows like the nests of sand-grouse there did she sleep. 


(31) And the gear of a swift she-camel that trots with a rider who goes 
straight to his end, whether travelling with a company or alone 



(2) ' Sand-skirt ', Uwa, means the place where the sand-dunes leave off and the hard surface 

(4) ' Heavy with slumber ' : a languorous gaze in a woman is admired by the Arab poets. 

(6-8) The moisture of the lady's lips is compared to pure water of a rain-cloud that has come 
by night, and the occasion is seized to enlarge the picture of the falling rain. To the Arabs in their 
thirsty land rain is so precious and desirable a thing that they are never tired of dwelling on the 

(9) The commentary says that in the days of the Ignorance, when any man had committed an 
act of treachery, a flag was planted at his tent in the Fair of 'Ukadh. This seems scarcely credible, 
and it is best to take the flag, in this verse and in that of Zuhair quoted in illustration, in a figurative 

(14) and (15) are alternative verses, the former being read by Ibn al-A'rabl, and the latter by 
other traditionists. The first, beginning with what seems to be the wdw of rubba (wa-mahalli) is 
really syntactically unsupported. The 'breach' in v. 15 is the point from which the tribe is 
open to attack, which therefore has to be defended by its bravest. 

(16-19) The pleasures of drinking wine early in the morning are celebrated by the poets. Both 
red and white, tawny, wine (sahba') were drunk, imported from Syria and from Persian territory ; 
here (v. 18) it is red ; the wine was generally drunk mixed with water, which was sometimes 
heated ; * from v. 17 we may infer that the drinkers were entertained by girls who sang to them. 
The commentary directs v. 19 (which does not suit the passage very well, and is not read by Abu 
'Ikrimah) to be placed before v. 18 ; it seems more naturally to come after it, as describing the state 
of intoxication to which the revellers were eventually reduced : mutabattihlna implies that they lay 
face downwards, and the maudlin tears ascribed to them can scarcely have preceded the drinking. 

(21) 'Eight hand': an oath is sworn by lifting up the right hand, and thus the same word, 
yamin, comes to mean right hand and oath. Ahmad says that lam yatawarra' means ' he did not 
make the necessary exception to his oath', in order to avoid perjury ; but it is quite clear that the 
meaning is ' he is too impatient to wait ' ; cf. the use of the same word in No. IX, 18. 

(23) The fore-legs of the camels are described as cut and wounded by stones from the long 
journeys they have made, as the disease to which camels are subject called huy&m, of which the 
chief symptom is a raging thirst, is relieved by letting blood in the shanks : him, pi. of aJit/am and 
Jiaima, means suffering from huyam. 

(30) This verse does not suit very well after v. 25 : it describes a she-camel of noble breed, 
which in spite of weariness and exhaustion manages to push on bravely. I understand bihi in the 
second hemistich to refer to the cry da'da', 

(26) The custom of resting in the latter part of the night, ta'ris, is well known to those who 
have had experience of desert travel. 

(27) ' With veins not over-full of blood ', 'uruquhu lam taasa'l : the phrase implies that he was 

* The Hebrews had the same customs as regards wine-drinking : for the morning draught see 
Isa. v. 11 ; for the mixing of the wine, Isa. v. 22, Prov. ix. 2, xxiii. 30, Ps. Ixxv. 8. (It has been 
argued [by Dr. A. E. Kennedy in Encycl. Biblica, [art. WINE] that the 'mixing' of the wine 
spoken of in the O. T. was a mixing with spices, not with water, as the latter would diminish the 
potency of the drink, which is otherwise dwelt on in the passages ; but we know that in post-exilic 
times wine was certainly drunk mixed with water, hot or cold ; and that spices were also used to 
flavour it does not exclude the other mixture. The Arabs also on occasion added other flavours 
to their wine.) 



young and muscular ; the veins of the old are flabby and prominent on the surface of the akin, and 
seem to be fuller of blood than those of the young. 

(28) I. e. his arm was numb or asleep through pressure. 

(29) The callosities of the joints of the fore and hind legs and the breast of the camel are called 
her tJiqfinat : when they make but small hollows in the sand when she is couched, it is a sign of 
her being of good breed. The sand-grouse lays its eggs in such hollows (afuhw, sing. ufAus) in the 
ground, which it scoops out (tafhas) with its feet and breast. 

(31) This verse is evidently the commencement of a separate section of the poem, now lost. 



THE poem is also frequently attributed to Mutammim's elder brother Malik, put to death 
by Khalid son of al-Walid after the fight at al-Butah in A. H. 11 ; for this story see post, 
No. LXVII. The poem is cited under Malik's name in the Hamasah of al-Buhturi, p. 128, 
and in our commentary, p. 719, line 19. The two brothers were chiefs of the important 
branch of Tamim called Yarbu' b. Handhalah, whose settlements and pasture-grounds stretched 
eastwards from Faid and the eastern extremities of the parallel ranges of Aja' and Salma. 
Malik's place in Tamim was so conspicuous that the Prophet, when that great tribe accepted 
Islam in A. H. 9, appointed him collector of the Sadaqah or poor-rate for the whole group of 
Handhalah (BHish., p. 965). The poem evidently belongs to the pre-islamic stage of Malik 
or Mutammim's life. The name Mutammim is properly a title, derived from the national 
game of Maislr, in which the players cast lots (by means of arrows) for the portions of 
a slaughtered camel or camels, and designates a man who, to make up a full number of players, 
takes upon himself the burden of several portions required to complete the game. Presumably 
Mutammim had some other personal name, which, however, has not been handed down. 

The poem opens in the usual way, with the mention of a mistress who has disappointed 
her lover (vv. 1-4), who, to escape the too heavy burthen of memory, betakes himself to 
a journey on a fleet she-camel, which is described (vv. 5-9) : the camel is compared to a wild 
ass, whose sojourn in the wilderness with his mate is pictured in vv. 9-19. Then the poet 
passes on to tell of his horse, vv. 20-7. This is followed by a description of a drinking-party 
(w. 28-30), where perhaps some verses have been lost. The connexion of this section with 
the next appears to reside in the mention of the 'railing women', 'ddhilat, of v. 28, who 
attack the poet for wasting his goods and leading a reckless life. The picture next drawn, 
w. 31-5, is linked up with v. 28 by v. 36 ; to be left dying on the battle-field, with the 
hyaena waiting until the last spark of life is extinguished before she attacks the dead that 
is to make ruin of life, not the wasting of goods in generous hospitality. The last section, 
vv. 37-45, contains reflections on the common lot of man, with examples of mighty ones in 
the past who have been laid low. 

(1) Zunaibah has severed the bond that joined her to one who, for his part, 
cuts not the bonds that bind him to those he loves ; and truly, sore is the wound 
she deals to good faith ! 


(2) And in sooth I yearned for a little kindness from her on that day of 
parting : but [all that I gained was] her eyes swimming in tears unshed. 

(3) Cut then thy bonds, O Zunaibah : as for me, I have been singled out to 
suffer from a tie to one who is wont to break all ties. 

(4) Yea, in sooth I cut the bond on the day when no hope was left for it 
more and he who comes to a quick decision in affairs is the man of purpose and 

(5) With a fleet she-camel, strong and sturdy, whose hump is like a castle 
raised high, built by Nabataeans working briskly thereon. 

(6) She spent the summer in Uthal as far as al-Mala, and the spring she 
passed in the rugged Highland, grazing far afield, becoming plump and round, laid 
aside from all work ; 

(7) Until, when she became with foal, and there had grown up upon her 
a hump covered with matted wool, the steepness of which made the raven fear to 
alight thereon, 

(8) I brought her near to the saddle, what time there came upon me a journey 
I needs must make, and a fixed purpose to fulfil ; 

(9) Then thou wouldst have thought her, after long weary travel through the 
night, a strong wild-ass, by whose side gallops, vying with him, a shy she-ass, with 
marks of pregnancy plain in her. 

(10) He keeps her away from her foal, and she keeps him off from herself : 
verily, the orphan is thrust from one to another ! 

(11) Day-long he watches over her like a scout, erect, upstanding, on the top 
of a rising-ground, and hardly does he graze at all ; 

(12) Till at last she is driven down to water, on the evening of the fourth 
day, by a stout sturdy mate speeding on behind her. 

(13) He gallops, while his lusty mate races with him over the broken moun- 
tainous ground, shooting ahead as the weU-bucket darts downwards when its rope 
is frayed through and gives way. 

(14) When at last the two come down to the springs, .over which are tangles 
of long reeds, some shooting up, and others trampled down, 

(15) He lights upon Safwan crouching down by the side of the pool, in his 
hunter's shelter, all intent on a quarry. 

(16) Then the man shot at the she-ass, and missed her: the arrow struck 
upon a stone, and its point was broken and its shaft splintered. 

(17) When she turned in terror, her mate, braying loudly, made swiftly for 
her, to shield her rear from danger, as a valiant warrior plunges into the fight in 
defence of his kin ; 


(18) Then she smites him on the throat with her hoof and with the hard 
stones [cast backwards as she flies], and gallops away without restraint. 

(19) There is nothing that matches his handling of her, when he mounts her 
back, and his head reaches forward over her. 

(20) Yea, and oft-times have I gone forth in the morning to hunt, my comrade 
a steed stout in the sides, a pourer-forth of running, of mighty frame, 

(21) With bushy hair in his forelock and tail, as though he shook in the air 
a bunch of moist swamp-grass as often as he is checked in his gallop, 

(22) Full of keenness when thou lettest him go, throwing himself forward, 
eager to run heat after heat whenever he is reined in. 

(23) When he gallops in the race past the shouting groups of men, stretching 
his neck and reaching forward his head, he is like an oryx beset on both sides by 
dogs, bending down his head [to pierce them with his horns]. 

(24) I trained him and fed him up with all possible care, and I gave him as 
much attention as a wealthy man gives to his dearest friend. 

(25) He gets the collected milk of many she-camels whose milk [through 
pregnancy] has become scanty all but a small residue; and his blanket is not 
taken off while he is carefully tended in the tent. 

(26) Then, when we race our horses together, he is always the first, out- 
stripping all : his rider goes proudly when he is started in every contest. 

(27) Yea, many the day we have appointed the stakes he has won to be spent 
in gifts and loans for life to friends, and so have we been profitable to them. 

(28) And oft-times have I been beforehand with the railing women by 
draining a deep draught of wine in the morning, while my wine-jug was large and 

(29) A growth of black grapes, pure in colour, deep red like the blood of 
a victim of sacrifice when it is poured forth, mixed with water ; 

(30) I rejoice therein on a day, and I bring joy to a band of friends, causing 
them to forget their troubles what time they have been wrapped up and hooded 

(31) Woe 's me for the long-maned creature, with tufts of hair on her neck, 
that comes to me limping on three legs ! 

(32) She watches me through the day and looks about her : the spark of life 
that is left in me gives her pause, but it is I she craves for ; 

(33) She will spend the day tearing me to pieces and feeding her cubs with my 
flesh, in the midst of her covert and no living soul will lift a hand to drive her off. 


(34) If only my sword were in my hand, I would smite her with it and repel 
her, so that I should not be devoured by her while I lie defenceless : 

(35) Yea, time was when I smote with it, and my stroke used to strike off the 
hands of the warriors as though they were stems of soft wood. 

(36) This it is to perish [ not the wasting of my goods] ! Therefore, railer, 
if I cut off my hand with a knife, say ' What he does is well done !' 

(37) And oft was I envied for a season for the good luck that was my lot 
and then again follows thereon a day that is hateful : 

(38) But after those have gone that Nusaibah bore shall I complain of the 
shears of Doom, or be seen lamenting what needs must be ? 

(39) And of a truth I know and there is no averting it that I am destined 
to be the sport of Fate : but dost thou see me wailing thereat ? 

(40) Fate brought to nought 'Ad, then the race of Muharriq, and has left 
them, and all that they brought together, a bare, desolate plain : 

(41) Yea, Destiny has destroyed both the Hariths, and has reft away the 
Tubba', the master of great fortresses. 

(42) I too count my ancestors back to the root of the Earth : and I summon 
them, but I know that they will not hear. 

(43) They have gone their way, and I cannot overtake them : Destruction 
has called them, and they have betaken themselves to her, and the broad Way 
that all must tread. 

(44) There is no escape from the stroke of Doom : await it then ; whether in 
the land of thine own people or in another thou shalt be laid low ; 

(45) And in due time shall come upon thee a day when there shall be weeping 
over thee, while thou liest in thy shroud and hearest not. 


(1) Zunaibah is the irregular diminutive of Zainab. The second hemistich of this verse has 
several various readings, fully explained in the commentary. 

(2) The rendering adopts the reading mentioned in the scholion fa-dam'ulm-l-mustanqa'u, ' tears 
brimming in the eyes, but not shed '. 

(4) ' The day when no hope was left for it more ', yaunia Jchilajihi, explained as meaning the day 
when the bond became doubtful. The idea of Jchilaj is, however, ' one pulling away from another ' : 
the bond is the subject of contention, and holds no longer. 

(5) ' Castle ', fadan, to which a camel's hump is often compared, is a Persian word borrowed 
through Aramaic : Old Pers. apadana, Aram, appadhna (cf. Dan. xi. 45). The Nabataeans, Nabij, 
were the Aramaic-speaking inhabitants of Mesopotamia, among whom the Persian capital, Ctesiphon 
or al-Mada'in, was situated. ' Working briskly thereon ', tutlfu MM, literally, ' going round about it '. 

(6) Uthal, the name of several different places, is a variant of Uthail, and both mean ' a little 


tamarisk-tree ' (athty ; here it is clearly a valley with a water-supply in summer, somewhere within 
the lands of Yarbu'. The Highland, Hazn, is the stony or gravelly upland, which, under the 
influence of the rains of winter and spring, brings forth a pasture suitable for camels. The Hazn of 
Yarba' is described in Yaqut ii. 261 10 as the best of all pastures of this kind. 

(7) According to the commentary, a she-camel when first she becomes with foal is at her 
strongest and best. The fat of the hump is the store of energy, to be spent in strenuous travel. 

(9) 'With marks of pregnancy plain in her', mulmf: literally, 'with her teats smooth and 
shining ', which is evidence that she is with foal. 

(10) The male wild-ass is said to be the most jealous of animals, and he drives away his own 
foal from the mother. The foal is called orphan, yatlm, because it is harshly treated by a cruel 
parent, being thrust hither and thither. 

(11) Jadhil, 'erect, upright', is incorrectly explained in the commentary, line 16. 
(15) Safwan, the name of some well-known hunter. 

(18) The commentary, which explains the ' stones ' as meaning the hoofs of the she-ass, hard 
like stones, has not been followed. 

(23) In the horse-race, groups of men were placed at critical points in the course, to stimulate 
the galloping horses of their side with their shouts, or to turn away by their cries the horses of their 
opponents. Unfair treatment of the latter kind, in the celebrated race between the horse Dahis and 
the mare al-Ghabra, brought about the ' War of Dahis ', which raged between the brother-tribes of 
Ghat af an, 'Abs and Dhubyan, for many years. 

(25) See ante, No. V, note to v. 3. 

(28-30) Cf. ante, No. VIII, note to w. 16-19. In v. 28, rawuq, which properly means a 
strainer for wine, seems, as the commentary says, to be used for the wine-jug, bound round the 
spout with a piece of linen (fidam, Persian pandam) to clarify the wine when poured out. 

(31) The long-maned creature is the hyaena. 

(35) ' Soft wood ', Jchirwa', which may be either the proper name of the castor-oil plant or 
j)dhna Christi, or stand for any weak succulent growth, as for instance the stem of the banana, mauz 
(Lat. musa). 

(38) Nusaibah was the wife of Nuwairah and mother of Malik and Mutammim, and doubtless 
of other sons who are here spoken of as perished. 

(40) 'Ad, the ancient lost Arabian race, often mentioned in the Qur'an. Muharriq, an ancestor 
of the kings of the stock of Lakhm, rulers of al-Hlrah. By this time the line of Lakhm had been 
extinguished by the death of the last king, an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, probably about A. D. 605. 

(41) The two al-Hariths are the two celebrated kings of Ghassan, al-Harith the Elder, who 
protected the Boman border in the country south of Damascus from A. D. 529 to 569, and al-Harith 
the Less, his successor. See Introduction to the Dlwan of 'Abid, and Noldeke, Ghassanische Fursten, 
p. 34, note 2. Tubba' is the name by which the last national dynasty of Yamanite kings, those of 
Himyar, before the native rulers were supplanted by the Abyssinians after the death of DhO Nuwas, 
was known to the Northern Arabs. Their castles, Ghumdan, Eaidan, &c., solidly built of great 
blocks of stone, made a great impression as a type of strength upon the nomads of Central and 
Northern Arabia. 

(42) ' The root of the Earth ', 'irqu-th-tliara, is a phrase borrowed from Imra' al-Qais, as cited in 
the commentary, which supposes Adam, the Father of mankind, to be meant. This is unlikely, but 
what exactly is to be understood by the words is uncertain : possibly the phrase means no more 
than the Greek avroxOuv or the Latin indigena. 



THE poet, an old man, maternal uncle of the celebrated Zuhair of Muzainah, was a chief 
of that division of the tribe of Sahm headed by Wathilah. The poem relates to the contest 
called the ' War of the Huraqah ', an account of which will be found in the introduction to 
No. XII, post. He and the house of Wathilah were, according to the A ghaut* the only 
supporters in Sahm of al-Husain b. al-Humam in the contest with the brother-tribe of 
Sirmah, the remaining two sections, called 'Udwan and 'Abd-'Amr (or 'Abd-Ghanm), of 
Sahm holding aloof. 

The poem is a striking example of the conventions of Arabian poetry. What the poet 
has to say to his fellow-tribesmen is contained in the nine verses 28-37 : all that precedes is 
a purely artificial prelude, required by the rules of the art, but having nothing to do with the 
subject of the poem. The mention of his mistress takes up vv. 1-9, and then follows an 
elaborate description of his camel, whose points are set forth with great detail (vv. 10-27). 
At the end of this exercise, he comes to the point with some vigorous lines which leave nothing 
to be desired, except in the last two verses, for clearness. 

The pleasant tripping metre, and the agreeable rhyme, give the poem in the original 
a charm which the translation fails to convey. 

(1) Thou hast left Umamah a long leaving: 

and a heavy burthen has absence loaded on thee ; 

(2) And thou hast been haunted, in spite of her distance, 

by her phantom coming nightly and little thy gain ! 

(3) And by the glance of one full of love's pain, 

whensoever the caravans pass on their way. 

(4) She came to us asking what was our grief: 

we told her that we had resolved on departing; 

(5) And I said to her 'Thou hast been well thou knowest ! 

since our folk halted here, disdainful of us'. 

(6) Then her eyes burst forth with a sudden shower, 

that wetted her smooth long cheek as it fell; 

(7) And the promised favour she granted me was but 

to turn her face away with empty words ! 

(8) She pleaded that every man every day 

prepares for himself some new change of mood. 

' Vol. xii, p. 125". 


(9) Now is it as though distance had never become nearness, 

nor ever she had pitched tent with a folk dwelling all together. 

(10) Then I brought up to the saddle a camel hard as a wild ass, 

stout and sturdy, ready to face toil, swift of pace, 

(11) Strongly built throughout her frame, compact in her joints, 

what time the gazelles lie folded together in their mid-day sleep. 

(12) A hump she has, covered with matted wool, its fat rising high, 

[so smooth and round that] the saddle-pad slips down from it. 

(13) She has been wandering at large in a year of good pasturage, 

and no slave has ever called a youngling to suck her teats. 

(14) She remains staid and quiet, watching thee with the outer corner of her eye, 

what time thou gatherest into thy hand the rein to mount her, 
(16) With an eye like the eye of the dealer-out of the gaming arrows, 

when he strives to outwit the players, intending some artful trick, 

(16) And an ear letting fall on either side drops of sweat, 

which sprinkles the rough woolly space behind, densely covered with 


(17) And a breast broad like a highway, [showing so clearly the working of the 

muscles that] thou wouldst think there was upon it a nappy blanket 

of goat's hair. 

(18) Then she passed over Kushub at dawn of day, 

and by the evening she was abreast of Arlk : 

(19) She tramples on the roughest places of its rugged uplands, 

as a strong man, glorying, tramples on a fallen foe. 

(20) When she comes towards thee, thou wouldst say 'A she-ostrich, 

ash-coloured, terrified, overtaking a tall male ostrich that hurries on 


(21) And if thou seest her from behind ' A full-freighted ship, 

to which the wind has made subject a quick-travelling sail'; 

(22) And if she presents her side, the man of skilled eye sees in her 

that which makes it easy for him to judge rightly of her merits : 

(23) An easily-moving fore-arm, with an active upper arm that hurries on, 

' preceding a hind-leg that hurls itself in pursuit, 

(24) And curved ribs that [as it were] butt at one another under her spine, 

joined to which she has in front a sturdy, thick fore-part. 

(25) She outstrips all the other riding camels along the road, 

when the tribe make a journey through the long night: 

(26) Her fore-legs, when she travels swiftly on while [the other camels] had 


gone off the road [through unsteadiness], and then kept closely to it 

[through weariness] 

(27) Move like the arms of a swimmer who has fallen into a deep pool, 

whom Death has all but overtaken. 

(28) I have been told that my people but I have not yet met them 

have renewed their encampment at Dhu Shuwais; 

(29) And if I should perish without attaining to them, 

then carry this message to the foremost men of Sahm: 

(30) '.Your people have been offered the choice of two things, 

and in both they have set before you a manifest wrong 

(31) 'A life of shame, or war with friends 

either course I count a poisonous food ; 

(32) 'And if it must be that ye choose one of the twain, 

then march ye to death with a noble tread ! 

(33) ' Sit not still while strength is in you : 

Time will come soon enough to devour your strength; 

(34) 'And raise high the blaze of War's fire when once 

it is kindled, with long lances and stallion steeds, 

(35) 'And double mail-coats of David's weaving 

see how the sharp swords ring as they smite them ! 

(36) 'Verily ye and the giving of hostages, 

when War has brought great things to pass, 

(37) 'Are like the robe of the Son of Bid, with which he protected his people, 

and stopped the road to those that travelled along it.' 


(2) See ante, No. I, 1, note. 

(3) The meaning appears to be that the poet, whenever he sees riding-camels pass by, imagines 
to himself the parting he describes, and the glance of despair that he cast on his cold-hearted 

(9) The meaning of qauma 'advmin has perplexed the commentators : some take it as implying 
a tribe all encamped together, with one purpose, taking adlm as equivalent to adamah, a limited 
space on the surface of the ground ; others suppose adlm to have the sense of adam, red leather, of 
which tents were made, and by ' the tribe of leather [tents] ' to be meant the nobles or chief men 
of the tribe (see ante, No. V, note to v. 3). The former seems the more probable explanation. 
There is a variant Udaimin, which would be a place-name. 

(10) The language of the poets abounds in words used as epithets of camels, as here 'udhafirah 
and 'antans, of which the commentators did not know the precise meaning, but supposed that they 
meant generally strong, sturdy, big of frame : they are often formed from quadriliteral or quinque- 
literal roots, and are probably loan words from some aboriginal or foreign language, or perhaps some 
local dialect. A translation necessarily suffers when it has to replace a word which doubtless 
carried a definite and vivid connotation by a vaguer and more general term. 

E 2 


(11) The second hemistich means that his camel is active and strong in the time of the day's 
greatest heat, when other beasts are exhausted. Haqif&t, the gazelles or antelope that dwell in the 
Ahqaf, or region of sand-dunes (now called Nufud) : another explanation is ' lying bent together in 
sleep like a hiqf(or horseshoe-shaped dune) of sand ' (see Lane, s. v., and text, p. 83, line 1). Both 
kinds of animal scoop hollows (kinas, pi. kunus) for themselves in the sand under trees or rocks 
where they take shelter from the heat. 

(12) Of. ante, No. IX, v. 7. 

(13) Here, unlike Mutammim's she-camel in the verse just cited, the poet's animal is described 
as barren ; barren she-camels are more often said to be the strongest than those that have become 
pregnant : so 'Antarah's beast in his Mu'allaqah, v. 22 (cited in commentary). 

(15) The reference is to the national game of Maisir, played with arrows by seven players for 
portions of a slaughtered camel (or camels, for the rules of the game frequently involved the slaughter 
and cutting- up of successive victims). The arrows, ten in number, of which only seven carried shares 
in the stakes and three were blanks, bore different names, and were marked with notches denoting 
their value. They were shuffled in a leathern quiver, and the shuffler and dealer (mufwl al-qidah), 
having it in his power to influence the throw, is described as an artful man, meditating some trick, 
and looking about him with eyes askance. For a complete description of the game of Maisir see 
A. Huber, Ueber das Meisir genannte Spiel der heidnischcn Araber, Leipzig, 1883. 

(16) Hadirah here seems to be an active participle, as rendered in the translation : it could 
scarcely have the meaning of 'stout, thick', as in the name of the poet of No. VIII, ante, because 
a well-bred camel should have sharply-pointed fine thin ears, like those of a male oryx : see Tarafah, 
Mu'allaqah, 34, and our commentary, text, p. 94 20 . Apparently a camel begins to sweat in its ears 
and the part behind them, and the fall of the drops on the woolly space behind, called dhifra, is 
often referred to : see 'Antarah, Mu'allaqah, 33-4. 

(17) Slialll means a cloth with a nap, made of goat's hair, used to cover the hind-quarters of 
a camel. The broad breast is here described as looking as if it were covered with a shalll, because 
there is no constriction in it, and the play of the limbs and muscles can be seen working freely 
under the covering of skin. 

(18) Hadhat is form III from Jiadlia (hidha', ' opposite, over-against '), not from Mdlia. The 
distance from Kushub to Arik was no doubt great. Kushub is the name of a hurrah or volcanic 
upland, often mentioned by Doughty under the name Ffarrat el-Kisshub (see Index) : the ' rugged 
uplands ' (khiszan) of the next verse must refer to its broken and difficult surface, which, in the case 
of other Aarrahs, is often described as impracticable for riders of horse or camel (Harith, Mu'allaqah, 
36, harratun rajla'u, 'a Aarrah where one can only go afoot'). 

(20) ' Ash-coloured ', rumd : v.l. ' dust-coloured ', rubd. The she-ostrich is terrified, madh'urah, 
because she and the male are anxious for the eggs in the nest they have left behind, exposed to the 
risks of rain or hail, and they are hurrying from their feeding-ground to it as the shower comes on. 

(21) The rather singular construction of the second hemistich apparently implies that the sail 
is as it were the slave or beast of burden of the ship : when filled by the wind it speeds along the 
bulk. I have taken ata'a as equivalent to taivwa'a, though the lexx. do not mention this sense ; it 
is difficult to understand how the wind can be said to obey the sail : perhaps there is an inversion, 
and it is meant that the sail obeys the wind ; this would not be without parallel, though rare. The 
ship is full-freighted, mashhunali, because a full ship is steadier than one lightly laden. 

(22) The second hemistich literally means : ' that which makes him have no anxiety lest he 
should come to a wrong decision': the commentary compares the proverb inna-l-jawada 'ainuhu 
furaruhu, 'you can tell a thoroughbred horse by merely looking at him, and have no need to 
examine his teeth '. 

(24) The place where the ribs meet below must be intended, for it is continued in front by the 
junction (musJiash) of the breast and the callosity of the sternum (kirkirah). 


(27) The swimmer's danger of course makes him strike out rapidly, and the play of the camel's 
fore-legs is compared to the quick movement of his arms. 

(28) The word ajaddu is ambiguous, and may mean that the tribe of Sahm, to which he belonged, 
' have actively betaken themselves '. The v. 1. mentioned in the commentary, bi-jambi Samlr&'a 
sha{tu hulula, would mean : ' have gone far away to camp by Samira '. 

(30) The nominative to ja'aluha is naturally ' those who offered the choice '. 'Adi is one of the 
most remarkable cases of roots having opposite meanings, for it signifies both justice and (as here) 

(31) 'Poisonous': more literally, 'indigestible'. 

(35) The legend which attributed the invention of coats of mail to David is referred to in the 
Qur'an (Sur. xxi. 80 and xxxiv. 10), where God is said to have taught him, and caused iron in his 
hands to become soft like wax : the story, no doubt of Jewish origin, was widely spread in 
pre-islamic Arabia, and ' mail-coats of David's weaving ' is a stock phrase. The Tubba' or Himyarite 
king (see note to No. IX, v. 41) is also said to have made them. 

(36) and (37) The meaning of these verses is not quite clear. The poet, in the previous lines, 
seems to urge war to the uttermost, but here he speaks of hostages being given by his tribe (the 
commentary mentions that al-Husain b. al-Humam gave his own son as a hostage), apparently as 
a pledge of peace. The story referred to in the last verse is thus told on the authority of al-Mufaddal 
(text, p. 91, line 3 ff.) : ' Ibn Bid was a wealthy merchant of the race of 'Ad, who was protected in 
his trade by Luqman, the king, .in return for which he presented his sovereign every year with 
a present and a robe. When he was about to die, he feared that Luqman would appropriate his 
wealth ; he therefore said to his son: "Go forth into such and such a land, and remain not in 
Luqman's country : this year there is due to him a robe, a present of other things, and a riding 
camel. Go on thy way with thy family and thy wealth, and when thou comest to such and such 
a pass, go through it, placing at the entrance to it that which is due to Luqman : if he accepts it, 
it is his right which we acknowledge, and have purchased our safety therewith ; but if he does not 
accept it, but does thee wrong, then God will punish him for his wrongdoing." The young man did 
as his father had bidden. Luqman heard of it and followed him, but when he came to the pass, he 
found the present set forth, and he took it and returned home.' Three quotations are given from 
the poets in which Ibn Bid's action is referred to. Most likely the story has been put together upon 
the basis of them, and nothing more was known than the references tell us. Perhaps it may be 
inferred that the poet meant that the time to give pledges of peace was after fight, not before (second 
hemistich of v. 36). 


THE poet was the maternal uncle of the celebrated Maimun al-A'sha, of the tribe of 
Qais b. Tha'labah. His tribe, Dubai'ah son of Rabl'ah,* is little heard of in the ancient 
traditions. It seems to have lived in friendly relations with the various branches of Bakr 
b. Wa'il. To it, but to a different family, belonged another contemporary poet, al-Mutalammis, 
maternal uncle of the more famous Tarafah. Al-Musayyab must have nourished during the 
last half of the sixth century A. D. He was older than Tarafah, who was put to death when 
about eighteen years of age, some time during the reign of King 'Amr son of Hind of al-Hirah, 
which extended from A. D. 554 to 569. He seems to have been, like his nephew al-A'sha, a 

* BQutaibah (Shir, p. 82) wrongly counts him as belonging to Bakr b. Wa'il. 


travelling composer of panegyrics upon prominent men, on whose bounty, in requital for his 
praise, he lived. Al-A'sha, who was his ram or authorized transmitter of his poems, probably 
drew from them some of the material for his own work. 

On the present occasion he eulogizes al-Qa'qa' son of Ma'bad son of Zurarah, a chief of 
Tamlm, of the branch of Darim. Ma'bad was the leader of the Tamim at the battle of 
Rahrahan,* when he was taken prisoner by the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. On this occasion 
the 'Amirites refused to accept as ransom for Ma'bad less than the ransom of a king, a thousand 
camels. His brother Laqit offered two hundred and would not give more ; so Ma'bad died, it 
is said of starvation, in captivity. His son al-Qa'qa' is said to have borne the name of 
Tayydru-l-Furdt, ' Flood of the Euphrates ', on account of his generosity (see our commentary, 
p. 98, vv. 20 and 21, and quotation from an-Nabighah, whose verse is in praise of King 
an-Nu'man Abu Qabus). The arrangement of the poem much resembles that of No. X : 
vv. 1-6, the amatory prelude; vv. 7-14, the description of the poet's she-camel; vv. 15-16, an 
interesting passage showing how poets expected their compositions to be spread and per- 
petuated ; and vv. 17-26, the praise of the Chief. 

(1) Hast thou started to leave Salma without any boon from her, at earliest 
dawn before men arose, and hast thou stirred her fears by thy farewell 

(2) Without any quarrel or anger and in sooth the bonds that bind thee to 
her are not decayed nor cut asunder ? 

(3) [They were knit] what time she took thee captive with her smooth soft 
cheek, when she stood up to bewitch the beholder without a veil, 

(4) And with rows of pearly teeth that glisten when thou tastest thereof, 
'tis as though it were wine of 'Anah mixed with pure water drawn from a reed- 

(5) Or the rain of a morning cloud which the east wind has caused to pour 
down, mixed with freshly-drawn wine in a silver flagon stopped with a seal of clay. 

(6) [Nay, the cause of my parting was that] I saw that wisdom counselled 
me to leave youthful folly, and I became sober and staid after love-longing and 

(7) Seek then forgetfulness of thy need of her, now that she has turned away, 
by means of a she-camel great in frame, easy of pace with her fore-feet, long in her 

(8) Like a swift she-ostrich with hocks set close together when thou viewest 
her from behind, like a bier [on which a dead man is carried] when thou viewest 
her from before, keen of heart to go. 

(9) The place where the saddle-frame rests is like a dome : between the places 
where the strings of the plaited girth sink into her flesh the skin is smooth. 

' The fight of Eahrahan preceded that of Shi'b Jabalah by a year or two ; the latter was fought 
in or about A. D. 570. 


(10) When her pads[, as she gallops,] scatter on either side the stones, the 
farthest-flung of them resound as they fall on the surface of the hollow plain. 

(11) Her withers [between the hump and the neck] resemble a high slope in 
front of a precipice : she stretches taut the folded rein [with her neck] as a sail 
stretches the sheet. 

(12) And when thou goest about her to admire her, thou comest to a breast 
which throbs with the quickness of her pulse in the flesh beneath the shoulders, 
large in the space allowed for the ribs. 

(13) Her fore-legs move briskly as she speeds swiftly along, as though they 
were the hands of a player at ball in a court surrounded by a fence, 

(14) Or like the action of a woman weaving quickly, who presses on to finish 
the last threads of her web before the evening closes in, and is urgent in hastening 
her work. 

(16) So shall I surely bring as an offering, on the wings of the winds, an ode 
of mine that shall pass into every land, until it reaches al-Qa'qa' ; 

(16) It shall come down to the watering-places, ever as something fresh and 
new, and it shall be quoted as a proverb among men, and sung by the singers. 

(17) When the chiefs at the courts of kings throng together, thou excellest 
beyond their reach a full cubit's length ; 

(18) And when the wind drives before it from its icy clouds the flakes of 
snow, and compels even the aged she-camels to kneel down in a strait and rugged 

(19) Thou causest thy tent to be pitched in the midst of the whole tribe and 
some there be that withdraw apart, to dwell in places far away. 

(20) Yea, thou art more generous than a brimming canal, with waves surging 
one upon another and dashing against the banks : 

(21) It seems as though with its piebald steeds in its sides it were charging 
the water-wheels of the husbandmen. 

(22) Yea, and thou art more valiant against thy foes than a lion dwelling in 
a thicket, that comes forth to attack again and again : 

(23) He springs forth upon a party that has no lack of weapons, and because 
of him the whole company passes the night in tumultuous fear. 

(24) Thou art the faith-keeper beyond all blame: but some there be with 
whose duty to their plighted word the clutching eagle flies away. 

(25) And when his malignant enemies shoot at him, he shoots them in return 
with long shafts sharpened in the points, and short arrows with broad heads. 

(26) And thereforef, because of all these excellencies which I have enu- 
merated,] does Tamlm affirm that he is the man of liberality, of generosity, and 
of open hand. 



(1) ' At earliest dawn before men arose ', qalla-l-'ittasi. According to al-Laith, 'utds is equivalent 
to subh (LA. viii. 19") : The word ordinarily means ' sneezing ', masdar of 'atasa, and our commentary 
says that the Arabs used to draw unfavourable omens from men sneezing in the morning. Its use 
here, in this case, would mean that the poet started before such omens could be drawn from the 
sneezing of men rising from sleep. 

(2) 'Anah, a town on the Euphrates between ar-Raqqah and Hit, whither wine was brought for 
sale from the Syrian uplands. ' Mixed with pure water drawn from a reed-conduit ', slmjjat bi-ma'i 
yara'i ; this rendering is very doubtful : one commentator explains that yard,', ' reeds ', is used to mean 
any conduit or pipe delivering water ; another that it means a runnel by the sides of which reeds 
grow. One is tempted to render ma'u yara'i 'juice of sugar-cane', but no authority for this 
interpretation is known. 

(3) The affixed pronoun in li-taftinahu (v. I. U-taqtuJahu), rendered ' the beholder ', seems to refer 
to the poet, and to involve a change of person (in the same verse) like that in 'Antarah, Mu'all. 6. 

(6) The words supplied at the commencement of the verse represent the force of the conse- 
quential copula fa- with which it begins. The use of hukm in the sense of wisdom is somewhat 

(7) Our text has bi-kliamisatin, ' with [a camel] thin and drawn-up in the belly' : I have preferred 
the alternative bi-julalatin (commentary, line 10), because a camel should not be described as lean 
until after its journeying has been accomplished, and the other characters mentioned (vv. 9 and 11) 
imply that the animal was fat and well supplied with a reserve of strength in a high hump. 

(8) The simile here differs from that in No. X. ante, v. 20 ; the latter compares the ad- 
vancing she-camel to an ostrich with regard to its head and neck, whereas our poet notes the 
likeness from behind in the approach of the hocks of the hind-legs to one another. The comparison 
of the front view to a bier on which a dead body is carried, high on the shoulders of the bearers, 
does not seem very apt, and perhaps there is some corruption. 

(9) ' Dome ' or ' vault ', qantarah, perhaps from the Low Latin centtum, Greek Ktvrpov, used of 
the centering on which the arch was built * ; Tarafah, Mu'allaqah, 22, compares his camel's hump to 
the qantaratu-r-Kumlyi, ' an arch or vault built by the Romans '. The implication in the second 
hemistich is that her skin is not galled or rendered sore by the girth (made of plaited strips of 

(10) ' Hollow plain ', qa' (Doughty's ga'), ' a clay bottom where winter rain is ponded and after- 
wards dries up ', with a hard surface, on which the stones resound as they fall : the verse implies 
the vigour with which the camel moves her limbs. 

(11) The withers are, in relation to the hump behind, a hollow, but nevertheless in themselves 
high, and therefore called rubawali, a hill. The second hemistich offers a good illustration of the 
perverseness of commentators : they explain that the poet said shira', ' sail ', but meant daqal, 'mast', 
because the ropes are affixed to the mast. They forgot the sheet by which the sail is controlled, to 
which the rein is compared. Cf. ante, No. X, v. 21. 

(13) ' A fenced court ', sa' : a depressed piece of ground surrounded by higher ground, a natural 
fence, in which ball is played. F. I. maqitin for la'ibin seems a good variation : the game described 
consists in striking the ball on the ground ; when it rebounds, it is struck again, apparently as in 
our tennis. The play of the arms in striking the ball is compared to that of the camel's fore-legs. 
(Ahmad's suggestion that sa' here stands for saulajan [Persian chaugan], ' polo-stick ', need only be 
mentioned to be rejected.) t 

* See Ducange, s.v. 

t According to BQutaibah, SMr, 84 8 , the ball is struck against a wall, ha'it, and caught upon 
the rebound ; but here there does not seem to be any wall. 


(14) Here, too, the play of the woman's hands in casting the shuttle (haff) to and fro is 
compared to the active motion of the legs of the beast. 

(17) The commentary takes the view that the kings themselves boast together of their victories, 
and that al-Qa'qa' is represented as excelling them. This is extremely improbable. The Arabs did 
not lightly confer on a subject (sftqah) the rank of a king. Here I think we must take arkan as 
meaning the chiefs and nobles gathered at the king's court ; cf. Labld, Hu'allaqali, 70, 71. Taddfa'at 
may refer to the jostling of one by another, or to the boasting of one against another. 

(18) The aged she-camels are said to be most enduring, and the cold which compels even them 
to couch, in an uncomfortable halting-place, for the sake of warmth, is therefore all the more 
severe. The Arabs detested cold, and the winter is always described as the season of greatest stress, 
when warmth and hospitality are most welcome to the ill-clad starvelings. 

(19) Al-Qa'qa"s tent is pitched in the midst of the collected body of the tribe (al-jami'), so that 
all may find warmth and hospitality there. 

(20) Khallj, ' irrigation canal ', literally means a body of water cut off from the mam river. 
Such canals, in the lower course of the Euphrates and Tigris, were familiar to the Arabs, especially 
to those of Tamim, whose lands adjoined Lower 'Iraq. 

(21) 'Pie-bald steeds', Itulqa-l-Tchaili, are the waves, with white crests and green bodies below. 
The lexicons are uncertain whether daliyah should be taken to mean a Persian wheel, manjanun 
(Greek //.uyyavov), or dulab (Persian), or naur, or a simpler construction, such as is called in Egypt 
shadufand in India dherikll, a lever on a pole, with a bucket suspended from one end, and a weight 
(usually a mass of clay) at the other. The word daliyah appears to be derived from dalw, bucket, but 
the plural dawdll used here may also be shortened from dawalibu, plural of dulab (see Lane, under the 
latter word). 

(24) ' The clutching eagle ', 'uqaliu malai, so explained in commentary : the word maVXi is one 
of those of which the exact meaning was not known to the commentators. It has rather the aspect 
of a place-name, and was so taken by Abu 'Ubaid and other authorities, who think it is a mountain : 
see Tagut, iv. 628. ' Plighted' word ', dhimmah, the duty of protection which a man owes to his tribe 
and friends and strangers admitted to his household. 

(25) The change of person from the second to the third is quite common in old Arabic poetry, 
though not pleasing in our language. The arrows meant in this verse may be arrows of satire 
rather than actual weapons. 



THE author was a celebrated chief of one of the sub-tribes of Dhubyan, the latter 
a member of the large group called Ghatafan ; he lived during the last age of the Ignorance, 
and, according to Abu 'Ubaidah, attained Islam. In evidence of this a poem of his is cited 
(Aghanl, xii. 128), in which mention is made of piety, the revelations of God, and the Last 
Judgement. The poem may conceivably (like the verses in the Mu'attaqah of Zuhair, 27-8, 
a contemporary work) be, at least in substance, genuine, and yet not Islamic, though touched 
up afterwards in an Islamic sense; it is difficult to suppose that so famous a leader as 
al-Husain should have adhered to the Prophet, and the fact not have been recorded among the 
many details of the tribal deputations which visited Muhammad in the last years of his life.* 

* Both our commentary, p. 623 5 , and BQut., SJtir, 410, speak of him simply as a Jahili. 

1201.2 I" 


Al-Husain was called by the proud title of Mdni'u-d-dainn,'ihe Defender against wrong', 
and it is related that a son of his presented himself before the Caliph Mu'awiyah saying that 
he was the son of the Mdni'u-d-daim, and that the Caliph gave him due honour and granted 
his petitions. 

The story of the affair to which this poem, and the others mentioned in the introduction 
to No. VIII, ante, relate, is told in detail in the preface to No. XC, post, and in the Aghani, 
vol. xii, 123 ff. The following is an abridgement of these accounts. There were two branches 
of the tribe of Murrah, called Sahm and Sirmah. The house of Sahm had as confederates 
under their protection a tribe of Quda'ah (Juhainah) called the Banu Humais, who for their 
skill as archers were known as al-Jfuraqah, and the house of Sirmah had under their protec- 
tion another Quda'ite tribe called the Banu Salaman ; in both cases the protected tribe dwelt 
among its protectors. The Banu Sirmah had also among them a Jew of Taima, trading in 
wine, called Jufainah, and the Banu Sahm had another Jew wine-seller named Ghusain son of 
Hanna, from Wadi-1-Qura. Among the families of the division of Ghatafan called 'Abd al- 
'Uzza there was one named the Banu Jaushan, clients of the Banu Sirmah, a house which the 
Arabs thought ill-omened. One of the Banu Jaushan, named Husain (v. I. Khusail), dis- 
appeared, and his brother (or, as others say, his sister) went about inquiring everywhere 
whether he had been heard of. One day the brother of the missing man was sitting in 
Ghusain's shop, asking about the lost one, when Ghusain said (in verse) : 

' Thou askest every caravan about Husain : 
Jufainah is the man who has the certain news.' 

The man went to Jufainah and asked him. He answered that he knew nothing ; and followed 
up the answer with the verse : 

'By thy life! a stone cast by night into a heap of stones 
Is not more utterly lost than is the son of Jaushan.' 

So Husain's brother returned, and killed the wine-seller Ghusain, the client of the Banu 
Sahm. This was reported to al-Husain son of al-Humam, who bade his people kill in retalia- 
tion Jufainah, the client of the Banu Sirmah. Thereupon the Banu Sirmah killed three men of 
the Banu Humais, the tribe of Quda'ah protected by Sahm. Then al-Husain bade his people 
kill the same number of the Banu Salaman, the clients of Sirmah. After this al-Husain said 
to the men of Sirmah : ' Ye killed our client the Jew, and we killed a Jew in requital : then 
ye killed three of our clients of Quda'ah, and we have killed three of your clients of Quda'ah. 
Now do ye bid your Quda'ites depart from among you, and we will bid ours. We are brothers 
together : let there be peace between us.' But the men of Sirmah would not listen, and pre- 
pared for war. In this they were encouraged by a stranger tribe, al-Khudr of Muharib (of 
Khasafah son of Qais 'Ailan), dwelling among them as confederates of Tha'labah b. Sa'd, who 
longed for the plunder of Sahm. Nearly all the divisions of Ghatafan sided with Sirmah 
against al-Husain, because they disapproved of his defending a Quda'ite tribe against his own 
people ; even in Sahm itself there was division, 'Udwan and 'Abd-'Amr (v. I. 'Abd-Ghanm) 
standing aloof, while Wathilah (the family of Bashamah, No. X) adhered to al-Husain. The 
main force of al-Husain apparently consisted of the expert archers called the Huraqah, his 
clients the Banu Humais. The encounter between al-Husain and his enemies took place at 



Darat Maudii', and resulted in a complete victory for his side. This was the ' War of the 
Huraqah '. How peace was eventually made we are not told. 

The genealogical table below contains the names of all the sub-tribes and families of 
Dhubyan who, so far as can be gathered from al-Husain's poem, were concerned in the war. 
No. XC of our collection is another poem by al-Husain, dealing with the same matter, and 
should be referred to. 


Fazarah Haribah al-Baq'a Sa'd 





Mazin Jihash 'Uwal 

1 1 
Eizam Sahm 


'Abd-'Amr 'Udwan Wa'ilah 
(or 'Abd-Ghanm) | 




(No. X) 


(No. XII) 

N.B. In this genealogical tree only those families mentioned in al-Husain's poem are shown. 
There are many others belonging to the stock not less famous. 

(1) May God requite the mixed multitude of the tribe, all of them, in 
Darat Maudu', for their disloyalty and their sin ! 

(2) -The sons of our uncle they, the nearest of them to us, of our own house- 
hold, Fazarah, what time War hurled upon us a mighty mass of trouble, 

(3) Cousins of our cousins, of the same stock by birth, and a cousin knit to us 
by an oath, yet obstinate in wronging us, sworn together against us ! 

(4) So, when I saw that love brought me no profit, and that there was upon 
me a Day that showed the stars at noon, dark as night, 

(5) We stood stoutly our ground and endurance was from of old our inborn 
nature with our swords that sever hand and wrist ; 

(6) They split the skulls of men once most dear but they showed themselves 
most disloyal, doers of foul wrong : 


(7) Faces of enemies, yet in our breasts was but lately love but all love has 
departed, and none is left ! 

(8) Would that Abu Shibl had seen the charge of our horse against theirs 
between as-Sitar and Adhlam ! 

(9) We thrust at them with our spears, taking as spoil the short-haired steeds 
spare as lances, while the spoil that fell to them was the hard lance-shafts 
straightened in the clip : 

(10) That even when the spears sufficed not for our rage of battle, nor the 
arrows nought would serve us but the Mashrafite swords that cut straight 
through the bone. 

(11) From early dawn until night fell none couldst thou see but the warrior 
who knew his own spirit, marked with the blazon of valour, 

(12) And the short-haired steed like a wolf smitten by the chill dew of night, 
and the mare well-knit, like a she-wolf, long-bodied, hard as a rock. 

(13) They trample, the steeds, from the multitude of the slain and the 
splinters of the broken spears, as it were a soft soil full of burrows, and heavy 
is the running therein ! 

(14) Mounted thereon are warriors whom Muharriq has equipped and when 
he clothed any, fair and noble the outfit he gave ! 

(15) Broad blades of Busrh, which its smiths have polished so that they are 
without speck or blemish, and mail-coats unbroken from head to foot, of David's 
weaving, the rings set close ; 

(16) They poise tawny lances, the choicest of Kudainah's store : when they are 
set in motion, their fore-parts drip with blood. 

(17) men of Tha'labah ! if ye had been our comrades in a war like this, then 
would we have defended your cistern from being broken down ; 

(18) And were it not for certain men of Kizam son of Mazin, and the house 
of Subai', or that I should pain thee, 'Alqamah, 

(19) I would assuredly swear that Muharib should not cease to be through me 
in sore distress, until they came to a change of mind, 

(20) And until they beheld a people whose gums water [with desire for 
slaughter], as they brandish their spears, a mighty host ! 

(21) At nought did I marvel but at the Blacks, the Blacks of Muhfirib, who 
went hither and thither about us, some mail-clad, some bare of mail ; 

(22) And Jihash too came, the small and great of them, and the crowd of 
'Uwal how puny and mean were they ! 

(23) And Haribah the pied their host was first of all the hosts, a troop put 
forward in front by common consent, 


[(23 a) Cousins of our cousins, that they might take captive our women. By 
my life ! verily ye came on an ill-omened way !] 

(24) In the close press of battle, wherein were splinters of spears we stood 
firm therein, though it bathed our steeds in blood ; 

(25) And I said to them ' Ye House of Dhubyiln, what has come to you 
may ye perish and find not one another ! that ye advance not boldly ? 

(26) Have ye not in mind to-day the Oath of 'Urainah, and the covenant and 
the words sworn in the plain of ash-Shatun ? ' 

(27) And bear this word to little Anas, the chief of his tribe, that his rule is 
not wholly that which were prudent ; 

(28) And verily, if thou hadst left us [by death] before these things came to 
pass, then had we sent a band of mourners to honour thy funeral ! 

(29) And carry this message to Talld son of Malik, if thou lightest on him 
but is schooling any profit but to him who lets himself be lessoned ? 

(30) ' If thou findest the disposition of thy people so repugnant to thee, then 
take refuge with Dubai', or 'Auf son of Asram.' 

(31) men of 'Abd-'Amr, stand by yourselves, and attach yourselves to 
whomsoever ye will that pitch tent at a water in the midst of Dhubyan, 

(32) And take refuge with the mixed multitude of the tribe : verily the 
abject takes refuge with none but the strong when he needs protection ! 

(33) May God requite with shame in respect of us 'Abd-'Amr and 'Udwan of 
Sahm how mean and tongue-tied are they ! 

(34) And the tribe of Manaf already have we seen its case, and Qurran, what 
time he bridled his horse and galloped to meet us ; 

(35) And the house of Laqlt surely I would never hurt them! Had I 
intended that, I would have clothed their company with a striped robe [of shame]. 

(86) And they said : ' Consider canst thou see between Darij and the pool 
of Akuff any crier for help that is not voiceless ? ' 

(37) Then our horseman joined a folk mean of nature to the meanness from 
which they sprang, and they built up at the same time renown for themselves, 
and happed upon sudden spoil ; 

(38) And they rescued from death those of us whom they saved, having done 
our very utmost unbesmirched our fame, painful though the warfare was ! 

(39) What withholds the Son of Salmil [from baseness] is that he cannot live 
for ever, and must one day face his Doom whithersoever he turns his way : 

(40) Therefore am I not one to buy life at the price of disgrace, or to look for 
a ladder to climb for fear of Death. 

(41) No ! take me whatsoever day ye can lay hands on me, and cut off my 
head to stop my speech : 


(42) For that already I have wounded you to the quick by slaying a knight 
who, when all others blenched, advanced boldly to meet me, wearing a champion's 


(1) ' Mixed multitude ', afna, a plural without a singular. TheLexx. (LA. xx. 24 15 ff.) say that 
it means miscellaneous people gathered together from all quarters, of whom it is not known to what 
tribe they properly belong. But the use of the word here (and in v. 32, below) is clearly against 
this, though the term is evidently one of opprobrium. 

(2) Fazarah was the branch of Dhubyan in which the chiefship of the whole clan resided. To 
it belonged Hudhaifah son of Badr, the chief whose passion and cruelty brought about the War of 
Dahis with the brother-tribe of 'Abs. Hudhaifah 's son Hisn succeeded him as chief; and in 
al-Husain's time the chiefship resided in Hisn's son 'Uyainah, who is said in the traditions about 
the war to have been jealous of al-Husain's eminence, and therefore at enmity with him. In this 
verse rdmat may be either (as rendered) form III of rama ' to throw ', or from rama (yarum) ' to 
seek ' : ' War sought to bring upon us.' 

(3) 'Cousins of our cousins', mawall mawallna, that is, genuine and closely-knit cousins by 
blood. The word maula (pi. mawall) has a great number of meanings, all derived from the sense of 
' nearness ' implied in the root waliya. The two intended here are cousins of the blood and cousins 
by covenant. The last two words of the verse, habisan mutaqassama, are difficult, but are rendered as 
explained by MarzOql, as a Ml of maula. 

(4) A common phrase for a day of terror and disaster is that it was so dark that the stars were 
seen at noon. This could only (in nature) be during an eclipse of the sun, but it is often explained 
by scholiasts as caused by the dust stirred up by battle. 

(8) Abu Shibl is said in the scholion to be the kunyah or by-name of Mulait son of Ka'b of 
Murrah probably a kinsman of al-Husain's. 

(10) ' Mashrafite ' swords : a standing epithet, of the origin of which different accounts are 
given : it is said to be derived from certain villages, MasMrif, either in Syria or in al-Yaman, where 
swords were made, or else from a sword-maker named MasliraJ. 

(11) The word khariji means more precisely one whose worthiness arises from himself alone, 
not from his ancestry or other exterior source. Musawwam (or musawwim) means, like mu'lam (or 
mu'lim) in v. 42 below, one who decorates himself with a token when going into battle, as Hamzah, 
the Prophet's uncle, did with an ostrich feather at the battle of Badr. The verse implies that the 
fight was so hot that all the inferior fighters had given way or shrunk back from it. 

(12) The wolf is described as smitten by the chill of night in order to heighten its activity. 

(13) ' Heavy is the running therein ', literally, ' they do not run except as a heavy, laborious 

(14) Muharriq, as mentioned in the note to v. 40 of No. IX, ante, is a name used of the line of the 
Kings of Lakhm, who ruled from al-Hirah on the Euphrates, and more especially of King 'Amr son 
of Hind (A. D. 554-69), one of the best known of the family to the Arabs. Here the name is used like 
David and Tubba' of mail-coats, and we need not understand that it is meant that the arms were 
really supplied by a king of al-Hirah. 

(15) Busra, the celebrated Eoman capital in the Hauran, Latin Bostra, of which the imposing 
ruins recall its former magnificence. It is not, in spite of the identity of name, the same as the 
Heb. Bosrah, which was an Edomite site further south, identified by travellers with the village of 
Busaira or ' little Busra '. 

(16) Eudainah, another of the stock-names connected with weapons. It is said that she was 


a woman of al-Khatt in the peninsula of al -Bah rain, who sold bamboos brought thither by sea from 
India to be fitted as spears. These are described as 'tawny ', sumr (pi. of asmar), to show that they 
are mature stems, and have not been cut green. 

(17) For the family of Tha'labah son of Sa'd see the genealogical table. It appears from No. XC, 
vv. 9, 10, that the outside tribe Muharib came into the quarrel as confederates of Tha'labah. The 
breaking-down of a man's (or tribe's) cistern is a proverbial phrase for bringing disaster upon him : 
see Zuhair, Mu'allaqah, 53. 

(18) The name Malik in the text has to be corrected to Mazin (see table) : apparently the men 
here named held back from the attack upon Sahm when the rest of Tha'labah took part in it. 
Subai' was a chief with whom, during the early stages of the War of Dahis, were lodged the boys 
who were given as hostages by 'Abs when it seemed that a conflict might be averted. After his 
death his son Malik allowed himself to be persuaded by Hudhaifah, chief of Fazarah, to deliver 
them up to him, when he put them to death. 'Alqamah was another chief of the same family. 

(21) 'The Blacks', al-Khwlr, a family in Muharib so called from their dark complexions. 

(22) For Jihash and 'Uwal, families of Tha'labah, see the table. 

(23) Haribah, see the table : ' the pied ', l>a<fa, mixed black and white. This section of Dhubyan 
is little heard of in the traditions. 

(23 a) This verse, as is noted on p. 113 of the Arabic text, is supplied from Marzuql's recension : 
Haribah stood in the same degree of relationship to Sahm as Fazarah, and is therefore properly 
described in the same words as are used of the latter in v. 3. Ash'am here, as in Zuhair, Mu'all. 32, 
has the sense of sliu'm. 

(26) ' The Oath of 'Urainah ' is explained at great length in the commentary, pp. 113-17, where 
the history of the tribe of Bajilah, in which it was an incident, is given in detail. A branch of 
Bajllah, Qasr b. 'Abqar, was settled in the northern uplands of al-Yaman, and was strong and 
prosperous. But one day it happened that a man of the family of Qasr called 'Urainah b. Nadhlr 
saw a kite flying above him ; he exclaimed, ' I am the protector of this kite ! ' The kite thereafter 
was known by his name, and men feared to molest it. At last one day it was found dead, with an 
arrow belonging to a man of the family of Afsa b. Nadhlr b. Qasr sticking in it. The men of 
'Urainah sought out the man of Afsa, and killed him. Thereupon bloody war broke out between 
the families of Afsa and 'Urainah, until the former were reduced to very few survivors, and the 
latter were expelled from the community of Qasr by the rest of the tribe. The word ' oath ', hftf, 
is used here, it will be seen, of the proclamation of protection which the man of 'Urainah uttered in 
respect of the kite, in the same way as the protection extended by Sahm to the Huraqah is called 
' The oath of the Huraqah ' (hilfu-l-Humqah). This story is pertinently recalled by the poet, as 
a warning of the disasters likely to follow a similar quarrel between Sahm and Sirmah in Dhubyan. 
What the covenant of the plain of ash-Shatun was we are not told. The place was within the 
country of Dhubyan. 

(27, 28) The name of Anas is given in the diminutive form Unais, apparently by way of 
depreciation. He is said to have been a chief of Murrah, Anas b. Yazld b. 'Amir, who probably 
held aloof from the quarrel ; v. 28 implies that if he had died before it, the house of the poet would 
have honoured his funeral, but that now they would not do so. 

(29, 30) Nothing is told us about Talld. V. 30 is supplied from the other texts, having been 
omitted, apparently by accident, from ours : if it is not given its place, the ' message ' of v. 29 
remains unstated. 

(31-3) Here the poet lashes with his scorn those branches of Sahm which refused to join 
him in his action in defence of the Huraqah. In v. 33 the reading in the commentary, ma 'adlialla 
iva-a/dama is adopted in the translation, in preference to repeating the words of v. 22. 

(34) We have no information given us as to these families. 

(35) The name of Laqit does not occur in the extant genealogies of Dhubyan. The verse is 


evidently satirical ; a striped cloth, burdun musahhamun, is conspicuous by reason of its pattern, 
and a satire is compared to it. 

(36) There is some want of connexion in the verses here, pointing to the probability of lacunce. 
' Any crier for help that is not voiceless ', sanKhan ghaira 'a' jama, that is, that has not lost his voice 
by calling for help incessantly without avail. 

(38) ' Having done our very utmost ', Wihuttatin mina-l-'udhri, literally, ' with a case of excuse ', 
that is, in a condition such as to permit us to plead it in excuse against any charge of weakness. 

(39) 'The Son of Salma' is the poet himself: Salma was his mother. 

(40) ' A ladder ' : cf. the similar phrase in Zuhair, Mu'allaqah, 49. 
(42) See note to v. 11 above. 


ACCORDING to the scholion, the unnamed author, who belonged to a tribe occupying the 
southern shore of the Persian Gulf in the tract called al-Bahrain (the modern al-Ahsa or 
al-Hasa, not the islands now so called), was a confederate of the Banu Shaiban, a subdivision 
of Bakr b. Wa'il. Another authority attributes the verses to Yazid son of Sinan son of 
Abu Harithah (of Hurrah 1 ?), who uttered them after an encounter with the Bal-Qain (or 
Banu-1-Qain), a tribe of Yamanite origin who dwelt in the northern confines of Arabia, on the 
borders of Syria. As the poem shows, the fight took place at a spot called Dhat ar-Rimth, 
and the antagonist was named Abu Sakhr son of 'Amr. The fight is not mentioned among 
those celebrated in tradition, and the locality is designated only from the quantity of dwarf 
tamarisk bushes (rvmth) which grew there. If the poem is really by Yazid, it belongs to the 
age immediately preceding Islam. 

(1) As soon as I saw before me the sons of Huyayy, I recognized in them [the 
objects of] my hatred and my vengeance. 

(2) I charged them with Wajrah, what time they shouted to one another to 
shoot from close at hand at her throat and mine. 

(3) When she had gone clean _through them, she turned and dashed against 
them again, as though her foal and my first-born son were in the midst of them, 

(4) At Dhat ar-Rimth, what time they lowered the lances [to receive us], 
whose points shone like glowing coals. 

(5) Then I blenched not, and showed no faint heart, but made straight for 
Abu Sakhr son of 'Amr. 

(6) I burst the joints of his harness with a thrust that went straight through 
him, in spite of haste and nervousness. 

(7) I left the spear-point gleaming in the middle of his back, looking as though 
its blade were the beak of a vulture ; 

(8) And if he recovers, it will not be because I used charms over him ; and if 
he dies, why, that was my purpose. 



(2) Wajrah, the name of his mare. 

(8) ' I used no charms over him ', falam 'anfith 'alaihi, literally, ' I did not blow, or spit (on knots 
in cords), over him '. The practice of puffing, or spitting, on knotted cords was one of the forms of 
magic used in pagan Arabia, and is referred to in the last surah but one of the Qur'an (cxiii. 4) : 
Qul 'A'udhu bi-Ralbi-l-falaq * * * * min sharri-n-naffathati fi-l-'ugad '. Here the magic is employed 
to hurt the object of it ; the story told (Baidawl, in loco) is that a Jew bewitched the Prophet by 
knotting twelve knots on a string which he hid in a well. Muhammad fell sick in consequence, 
and the last two chapters of the Qur'an were revealed in order to protect him from the result. He 
was informed by Gabriel where the magical string was, and he thereupon sent for 'All, who found 
and brought it. The Prophet then recited over it the two surahs, and one knot in the string became 
unloosed with every verse that he uttered, till all were undone and he recovered. The same 
procedure was apparently used in protective magic, the knots here symbolizing the binding of the 
sick man effected by the malevolent powers. See Wellhausen, Heidenfhum', pp. 160, 161. Doughty 
(i. 527, ii. 164) mentions that spitting or sputtering (nafth) is still used as a charm or medicine by 
the Arabs, and conjectures ' that they spit thus against the malicious Jann'. 

For a similar verse see Dlwan of 'Amir b. at-Tufail, xxi. 1. 


THE poet was a contemporary of Jarir, and lived during the first century of Islam. His 
tribe, the Bal-(or Banu-l-)'Adawiyah, was one of the progeny of Malik b. Handhalah b. Malik 
b. Zaid-Manat of Tamim. Malik had eleven sons, the fathers of the most celebrated divisions 
of the great group of Tamim, and of these some, to distinguish them from the rest of the 
family, were called after their mothers. The mother of Darim, Zaid, as-Sudayy, and Yarbu' 
was al-Haram, a woman of the kindred tribe of 'Adi b. 'Abd-Manat, one of the Ribab ; and 
these four were known as Bal-'Adawlyah, that is, ' Sons of the woman of 'Adi '. 

The Islamic character of the poem is evidenced by v. 4 ('ata'a-lldhi Rabbi-l-'alamina), 
a quotation from the first surah of the Qur'an. It is addressed to a woman, who is imagined 
as reproaching him for not being rich in herds of camels. He replies that there are others 
that possess camels and are niggardly with them : but he and his house own palm-gardens of 
bountiful fertility, which he describes (vv. 4-12). Their roots drink the moisture situated far 
below the surface, and they thus endure and bear abundantly when drought kills the camels 
that depend on surface pasture. Verse 12 is evidently out of place : we may provisionally 
insert it between vv. 9 and 10. 

(1) How many a man of evil nature dost thou see, who sticks fast to his 
troop of camels, red and black ! 

(2) He is niggardly with the due he should pay from them, and reaps blame 
therefrom : and yet he must fain leave them to others [when he dies]. 


(3) And sooth, if thou seest camels in the hands of others, while of us thou 
seest not one milch-camel 

(4) Lo, we have in place of them fenced orchards of palm-trees, flourishing, 
the gift of God the Lord of all creatures. 

(5) They seek the great store of water below with their roots, so that they 
drink of its plenty till they are satisfied. 

(6) They vie in tallness with the two precipitous sides of Ushayy which face 
them : they bear abundantly, and care not at all for years of drought. 

(7) Their topmost heads of foliage waving in every wind are like girls that 
pull at one another's hair. 

(8) They are pets of Fortune, and have no fear of drought : when a troop of 
grazing camels dies of starvation, they endure unscathed. 

(9) When the years are deadly with drought and famine, they shoot higher, 
and become not lean under stress of rainless days. 

(12) The daughters of their daughters, while the daughters of others are 
gasping with thirst, are never thirsty, but always fully satisfied with their 

(10) The guest travels, then halts under them in a halting-place of honour, 
until the time comes for him to go his way. 

(11) This, then, is our wealth, and the reward of it remains to us : so remit 
somewhat of thy blame of us, O Lady ! 


(1) A note at the end of the poem says that Aba Hatim as-Sijistam (a well-known disciple of 
al-Asma'l, who died about 255 H.) gives our poem in his Book on tlie Date-palm * with the following 
three verses at the beginning : 

'Umm al-Khunabis begins to rail at me, and how she keeps on at it! I said to her "Let us 

' She saw that I had a little herd of camels in which there was no increase I divided it out in 

payment to those who asked of me, and for debts ; 
' My generosity has broken it down, and every day some rider goes, drawing away with him by 

a leading-rein some one of the herd.' 

In these verses sirmah indicates a little herd not exceeding thirty in number : in v. 1 of our text 
hajmah means one of not less than a hundred. The proper name of the woman, Umm al-Khunabis, 
contains an interesting word ; Jchunabis is said to mean ' strong, mighty ', and is one of the epithets 
of the lion : here it is used as the personal name of the woman's son. 

(2) The ' due ', haqq, incumbent on every Arab owning property is to spend it in hospitality to 
the guest and the poor, and in bearing the burden of bloodwits for his kin. 

* These verses do not, however, occur in the edition of Abu Hatim 's Kital) an-NakMali, published 
by Bartolomeo Lagumena in the Atti della R. Accademia del Lincei, ser. 4, vol. viii. Verse 12 of 
our poem is the only one cited therein. 


(5, 6) The lands of the poet's tribe lay in the lower valley of the great drainage channel of 
North Central Arabia called the Wadi-r-Rummah (or Rumah) : see the poem by his brother Ziyad 
b. Munqidh in the Hamasdh, pp. 608-9 ; this accounts for the abundance of the subsoil water which 
nourished his date-groves. The name Ushayy is that of a valley (Ham., p. 609') opening out into 
the Rummah from the south, itself situated in the mountainous tract of East Central Arabia 
(al-Yamamah) called al-Washm (maps Woshem). 

(7) I. e., although the stems are planted well apart, the foliage of one palm touches that of 
another, and is mixed with it when swayed by the wind. Al-Asma'l charged the poet with making 
a mistake in describing his palm trees in this manner, because, he says, date-palms bear best when 
they are planted so far apart from one another that their foliage cannot touch : in proof he cites the 
saying, put by the Arabs into the mouth of one date-palm speaking to another : ' Keep thy shade 
far from mine : then will I bear my own crop and thine.' 

(8) ' Pets of Fortune ', banat ad-Dahr, literally, ' daughters, or nurselings, of Fortune '. 

(9) This verse is not in two of our texts, and seems to be a doublet of verse 6, second hemistich : 
it is opposed to the laws of verse to repeat the same word (as-sinina) in rhyme after so short an 

(12) Date-palms are propagated by offsets from the roots, which spring up round the parent 
tree and are removed and planted separately. These are here called ' the daughters of their 
daughters'. The scholion on this verse bids us interpret sawddin (plural of sadiyatun) as 'tall, 
long ', which turns the verse into nonsense. It is impossible that the verb sadiya should have two 
different meanings in the same hemistich. The verse can only be properly construed as translated 

(11) 'The reward of it remains to us', al-ajru baqin: i.e., our generosity with the fruit of the 
palms earns for us a reward in the next world which abides ; ajr, ' reward ', is a much-used Qur'anic 
word in this sense. 




THE poet was the eldest of three brothers, the others being ash-Shammakh and Jaz', who 
have all left verses behind them. The second, ash-Shammakh, however, is incomparably the 
most famous, and of him a Dlwan or collection of poems has survived. His two brothers 
have no separate articles devoted to them either in the Agkann, or in BQutaibah's Kitab 
ash-Shi'r, but are treated only in connexion with ash-Shammakh. The three were all 
Mukhadrims, that is, persons born in paganism who became converts to Islam. They lived 
into the Caliphate of 'Uthman, and possibly later. Their mother Mu'adhah came of a famous 
stock, that of al-Khurshub of Anmar (see introduction to No. V, ante), which was celebrated 
for producing men of mark. To judge from the few relics of him that remain, Muzarrid must 
have devoted himself chiefly to satire. Another poem ascribed to him (No. XVII) is con- 
tained in our collection, but is said to be more generally attributed to his brother Jaz'. 

The poem before us treats of the following incident : A man of Muzarrid's division of 
Dhubyan the family of Jihash b. Bajalah b. Mazin b. Tha'labah b. Sa'd b. Dhubyan named 



'Ubaidallah was living under the protection of Zur'ah son of Thaub, a man of 'Abdallah 
b. Ghatafan. 'Ubaidallah's son Khalid, a young lad, who was in charge of his father's camels, 
was induced by Zur'ah to part with sixteen of them in exchange for the quite inadequate 
price of sixty yearling goats and a ewe (na'jah : our poem, v. 9, says two hounds). When he 
returned to his father, the latter raised an outcry, and went to Zur'ah to call upon him to 
restore the camels. Zur'ah refused, and 'Ubaidallah then betook himself to his fellow- 
tribesman Muzarrid, who promised him that he would get the camels back for him. He 
accordingly composed and recited this poem, which had the desired effect. 

At the conclusion of the notes our commentary says that the Banu Thaub complained to 
the Caliph 'Uthman against Muzarrid for satirizing them, and that the Caliph summoned the 
poet before him. Satire between the tribes was severely punished during the reigns of the 
second and third Caliphs, as likely to lead to dissension and quarrels, which impaired 
the fighting capacity of the tribal forces. Muzarrid appeared, and recited poems in which 
he defended himself, but renounced the use of satire for the future ; whereupon 'Uthman 
released him with a caution. 

(1) Help, O my people ! Folly is [hateful] as her name : are the sick-nurses to 
tend me time after time because of my love of Salmk ? 

(2) Suwaiqah of Balbal, as far as its runnels flow and the plain of dwarf 
tamarisk, filled my eyes with tears at the memory of my trysts with Salmk 

(4) Places of meeting where now feed only the black troops of ostriches, dark 
of hue like Indians taking short steps as though they were sore-footed ; 

(5) They feed together, in the raviny ground, in the company of a male . 
ostrich, small-headed and long-necked, looking like a gatherer of acacia-pods in 
Dhu-t-Talh, who culls them without lopping the tree. 

(3) She stood towards the side of the tent-curtain and the passion that was 
in her, but for the eyes of men, had overwhelmed me ; 

(6) And she said 'Wilt thou not stay, and satisfy a desire, O Father of 
Hasan, among us, and fulfil what thou hast promised to me?' 


(7) There has reached me, while my people had their dwelling among 
Juhainah, in Nis', and Radwa, beyond the penfolds, 

(8) The bitter cry of an old man crippled with years, and his aged wife, 
despoiled of their property, in as-Sal'a, the place of black snakes. 

(9) The twain have become poor and thirsty for milk, now that they have 
sold for a few goats and a pair of hounds strong and shaggy she-camels, big as 

(10) She-camels white and red, fat and well-liking, as though they were blocks 
of red ochre, their colour like cloths dyed with saffron : 


(11) Their firm solid thighs shatter to pieces the sticks of every driver who, 
at the water of Yam'ud, tries to repel them from the drinking-troughs. 

(12) O Zur'ah son of Thaub, the women dependent on your house have grown 
lean, while thou pleasest thyself with supping the froth of abundant fresh milk : 

(13) Yea, the women dependent on the Son of Thaub have suffered a surfeit 
of hard usage he roasts them as one roasts strips of dried flesh. 

(14) I have left the Son of Thaub without a rag of defence ; and if I had 
willed it, my handmaids had sung to me songs of derision about [the Son pf] Thaub. 

(15) I should have delivered a smashing blow on the Son of Thaub that would 
have knocked him senseless, at the sight of which every leech and sick-nurse 
would have wailed [in despair]. 

(16) Eeturn then the milch-camels of the Tha'labite to him : to restore them 
is more honourable, and will better shield your good fame, than that more than 
one should suffer pain [from my satire]. 

(17) But if ye return them not, then your ears will have to listen to scornful 
rhymes that will stick to you for ever like collars round your necks. 

(18) And Khalid, though he dwell among you at the two Abans, is not remote 
from us nor far away. 

(19) Thou hast cheated him out of his beasts, when thou sawest that he was 
but a lad, like the branch of a ben-tree, soft and pliable. 

(20) The milch-camels of the Tha'labite whimper with yearning for their 
native land, for Ghaiqah and al-Fadafid. 

(21) And the Son of Thaub cries 'a- a among the herdsmen, as he pastures 
a herd of barren she-camels, and another of camels that have just brought forth 
and have not been put again to the stallion. 

[(21 a) How goodly those milch-camels of famine, whose heavy breathing 
guides the steps of the guest wandering through the night how excellent as 
mounts for a man bested with need !] 

(22) These, [the barren,] or those others with their younglings sticking close 
to them, are like offspring of the white wild-kine wandering together with dust- 
coloured ostriches. 

(23) Nay, ye House of Thaub, the troop of Khalid's camels will be to you like 
a blazing fire no good is there to you in Khalid's troop ! 

(24) In them are infections of the plague of violent cough, and buboes with 
pustules sharp and prominent like the nipples of breasts of young maidens. 

(25) They suffer from mange, and they have been anointed all over with 
ghalqah, a stinking ointment, and the urine of women whose monthly courses have 


(26) No, never saw I a calamity like it, when [Khalid] came to you, nor 
a recompense like the price which was paid him in return for his beasts. 

(27) But oh the pity that they did not join themselves by the cords of attach- 
ment to the all-sufficient protection of the Son of Darah ! 

(28) Then had there restored them a people whose Father was like a lion 
strong and bold, long in the fore-arm, in Blshah. 

(29) Or if al-Lajlaj had been their protector, or the Sons of Ba'ith, then they 
had not leaped into the snare of the hunter. 

(30) Or if they had been women-clients of the House of Musafi', they would 
have been given back easily, without any friction, as camels hasten down to the 

(31) Or if they had taken up their abode in the midst of the Banu-th-Tharma, 
they would have defended them with lances long in the spear-heads 

(32) Keen warriors like drawn swords : then [after battle] they betake them- 
selves to bashful wives slender like reeds that sway this way and that. 

(33) But as it is they are in a conspicuous place against which men warn 
one another, wherefrom in their hides there are as it were the nibblings of crickets. 

(34) Then said I and I could not hold my peace' Rizam son of Mazin, 
ye are parties to a foul deed wherein is the shame of all chaste women ! ' 


(1) This somewhat unusual commencement of the amatory prelude seems to be an outcry 
against the pains of love described as folly which the poet speaks of as not befitting his years. 
As 'Uthman (A.D. 644-50) was Caliph when the poem was composed, Muzarrid must have been 
tolerably advanced in age at the time. The word 'awa'id may be taken also as meaning the recurring 
attacks of his malady ; but for this 'a'id is the usual singular form : 'awa'id is pi. of 'a'idah (which 
also makes the pi. 'uwad), meaning ' a woman attending on the sick'. 

(2) Suwaiqali is the diminutive of sitq, ' a fair or market ' ; the place is said to be in the Hijaz. 
' The plain of dwarf tamarisk ', Dhu-r-Bimth, may also be taken as a proper name. 

(3) It is necessary to transpose this verse to the place which it holds in the recension of Bm ; 
Mz and V put it after v. 6, which is less suitable. 

(5) Ostriches feed on the seeds of desert bushes and herbs. The pods ('ullaf) of the acacia (talk) 
are one of their foods, which they nip off the boughs without breaking them down : hence the 
comparison to a man gathering these pods, which are used for tanning. 

(6) If we adopt the various reading mentioned in the scholion, fa-tablu mawaidl, the rendering 
will be ' and put my promises to the test '. This amatory prelude seems to finish too abruptly, and 
probably some verses have been lost. 

(8) If we take the v. I. in the scholion, instead of ' the place of black snakes ', we should read 
' or in al-Asawid '. 

(9) 'Strong and shaggy': la'banlyah: this may be a proper name, 'camels from La'ba', a salt 
marshy tract on the sea-shore in al-Bahrain. According to Yaqut other places were also called by 
this name, one in the territory of Ghatatan, and the scholion says that the name compares the 
camels to the rugged stony surface of one of these tracts. 


(10) The particular condition indicated by mu'{irSt (rendered 'fat and well-liking") is the result 
of feeding on the lush pastures of spring: the beasts become fat, their old wool falls off, and the 
springing fresh new wool has a brighter reddish colour, with a bloom on it, as though newly dyed. 

(13) The mention of 'strips of dried flesh ' is intended to convey that the women spoken of are 
lean through starvation. 

(14) The scholion contains some interesting parallels relating to the diffusion of injurious verses, 
in an age when writing was not used for such things ; see also post, No. XVII, vv. 58-61. It- is to 
be observed that here the poet expressly says that he does not exercise his powers of satire to the 

(15) The blow is of course the satire. Satirical verses are repeatedly spoken of by poets as 
actual wounds ; e. g. al-Farazdaq says, of a satire by himself : ' When the physicians look into it, the 
whites of their eyes turn up with horror at its rims of jagged teeth.' 

(18) 'The two Abans' are two striking mountains in the Wadi-r-Kummah, the watercourse 
flowing between them. They are now known as ' the Abanat ', and are often mentioned by Doughty. 
One is white and the other black ; the former was included in the lands of the tribe of 'Abs, and 
the latter in those of Fazarah, both branches of Ghatafan. Our poet lived in the western portion 
of Ghatafan territory, in the Hijaz, and the Abans would be far distant from him ; the verse asserts 
that, notwithstanding distance, he honours the claims of kinship. 

(19) Ben or ban, the Moringa aptera, a tree often praised by the poets for its fresh greenery, to 
which young persons of both sexes are compared. The seeds of another Moringa, M. pterygosperma, 
yield an oil known in commerce as ' oil of ben '. 

(20) The wording of the verse leaves it ambiguous whether Ghaiqah and al-Fadafid are the 
places where the camels now are, away from their home, or are that home itself: the meaning 
depends upon the rendering of min, which may be either explicative of autaniha, in which case the 
translation will be as given, or construed with tahinnu 'they yearn for home from Gh. and al-P.'. 

(21) 'a-'a, a cry used for calling sheep and goats : it will be remembered that the beasts 
exchanged for the camels were yearling goats and two hounds. 

(21 a) A verse contained in three of our four texts : see note a , p. 135 of vol. i. 

(22) This verse, omitted by Abu 'Ikrimah, might easily be spared from the poem. The wild 
kine are the white antelope, Oryx beatrix. 

(23-5) The infectious character ascribed to the camels obtained by fraud is of course only 
figurative, and refers to the damage keeping them will do to the reputation of the family. 

(25) GhalqaJi, the juice of some tree used in tanning. Hides are macerated in water containing 
the broken-up twigs of the tree, and kept there till the hair falls off: the water is naturally very 
offensive in smell. 

(27) The camels, here and in w. 29, 30, and 31, are spoken of as if they were intelligent 
creatures, just as the word khail, horses, is often used where their riders are meant. Hdbl here 
means ' protection ', dhimmah, and majid must be read with it, in the sense, probably, of ' abundant, 
all-sufficient '. Salim son of Darah was himself a member of the tribe 'Abdallah b. Ghatafan 
to which' the Banu Thaub belonged, and, after Muzarrid had composed and promulgated his 
poem, he met the poet and asked him whether he thought he, Ibn Darah, could take pleasure in 
being praised while his tribe was being abused. ' What do you want ?' said Muzarrid. ' By God ! ' 
said Ibn Darah, 'You will find that I can carry well the- two great water-skins'. 'Then, by God ! 
you will ply them in a deep old well that will not run dry ', answered Muzarrid. The bystanders 
laughed ' The camel will be worked to death', said they.* The poet then composed some verses, 

* The meaning of this dialogue appears to be that Ibn Darah claimed to be able to stand up to 
Muzarrid in a contest of satire : he compares himself to a strong camel carrying two water-bags. 
Our poet retorts by claiming to have an inexhaustible supply of satirical language to vent upon him. 


[35-9], which are no part of his poem before us, as an attack upon Ibn Darah. These are 
extremely obscure, uncertain in text, and in part obscene. They seem to be meant as an example 
of the mass of recondite words (awabid ash-shir) which the poet could use if he liked. I do not 
attempt to translate them : what can be said as to their meaning will be found in the extract 
from Marznql's commentary on pp. 140-1 of vol. i. 

(28) Bishah, a tract in the northern Yaman, south of at-Ta'if, adjoining Tabalah, inhabited by 
branches of the tribes of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah and Khath'am. There is said to have been here a forest 
region of tamarisk trees (athl) haunted by lions. 

(29) Al-Lajlaj and Ba'ith are said to be names of chiefs of the Band 'Abdallah (properly 
'Abd al-'Uzza, but renamed by the Prophet) of Ghatafan. Lau jaruha-l-Lajlaju, for lau 'ajaraha-l-L., 
is a very unusual construction, and suggests some corruption. The scholion asserts that Sa'id, the 
last word of the line, is the proper name of the man who cheated Khalid out of his camels : but 
we have already learnt that this was Zur'ah son of Thaub ; and it is much more likely that hablu 
sa'idi means simply ' the snare of the hunter '. 

(30) The House of Musafi' is said to have been a family of Muzainah, a stranger tribe dwelling 
in close confederacy with Ghatafan. 

(31) The Banu-th-Tharma are variously said to be a family of 'Abdallah b. Ghatafan (so Naq.), 
and of Qais, i. e. Qais 'Ailan, perhaps Muharib. 

(33) Abu 'Ikrimah ends the poem with this verse. We can only conjecture that some injury 
to the camels' hides is meant by the second hemistich, but its exact bearing is not explained. 
Marzuql thinks that it is a proverbial way of indicating secret mischief and damage done behind 
a veil of concealment, since crickets nibble the surface of leather (and other things) by night ; the 
various readings for TthuriM (furus, furud, gurus, qurud) all mean some kind of cutting or notching. 

(34) Rizam son of Mazin (b. Tha'labah b. Sa'd) was a branch of the poet's own tribe, and also 
of that of the injured couple. The verse seems to blame them for not taking strong action to 
recover the beasts from 'Abdallah b. Ghatafan. The second hemistich is said to mean, not that 
their wives will be involved in shame by reason of their slackness, but that there is in that slackness 
a shame like the shame of chaste women, which is the most extreme of shame. The verse looks as 
if it belonged to some other place, and the poem is better without it. 

As often happens with these relics of ancient poetry, our text gives, after the consecutive verses, 
some fragments detached from their context, the place of which in the text (if they belong to it at 
all) is uncertain. Here at the end of the poem are three such fragments (w. [40-2]) unknown to 
Abu 'Ikrimah, the transmitter of our text ; they do not fit in anywhere. The first (v. [40]) runs 

'And they said to him "Sit down, as one directed aright." He answered "If my milch- 
camels are not restored, then I am not directed aright." ' 

This clearly refers either to the lad Khalid, or (more probably) to his father, when appealing to 
Zur'ah to return the camels, and belongs to a portion of the poem that has been lost. 

The second [41] is entirely obscure : 

' Do there go from the family of al-Wahld, and roam not about in every place, four (/em.) like 
modest women?' 

The third [42] seems to mean : 

' And the last time of my meeting with you was when ye were moistening lips from bowls of 
pure milk with your guests, [bowls] set upon frames [to keep them raised from the ground] ' ; or, 
perhaps, ' while ye reclined upon cushions '. 



FOR the poet see ante, No. XIV. The long piece which follows is really two separate 
poems, which by some accident have been handed down as one. The first poem extends from 
vv. 1 to 52, and the second from v. 53 to the end. Identical in metre and rhyme, they differ 
completely in subject and sentiment. The first poem is the poet's vindication of his freedom, 
and record of his achievements : from vv. 8 to 26 he describes his horse ; from vv. 27 to 30 
his camel, in comparison with which he draws a picture of a wild ass and his mates, vv. 31-7, 
which must have had some more verses, now lost, to complete it. Then follow passages 
(38-52) glorying in his prowess and generous deeds. 

Ibn Qutaibah evidently knew the second poem as a separate piece, for he quotes (Shi'r, 
439) v. 53 as the first verse of a qasulah (though he carelessly says that it is about horses). 
This second piece is entirely given up to the description of women, first in general (vv. 57-61), 
and then of one lady beloved by the poet in particular. The features on which he dwells 
are interesting as showing how different in some respects are the Arab and European ideals 
of beauty. 

(1) Strange, that Khaulah knows me not ! or does she see in me an old man 
worn out with years 

(2) Time has clothed him with a white veil of hoariness, and his back is bent 
and bowed down ? 

(3) Yea, if thou seest hoary hair, yet am I a man still full of vigour for great 
and noble deeds, no bungler ; 

(4) Nor am I, O daughter of the tribe, one to grieve to-day for anything that 
has passed away and gone. 

(5) Already have I tasted, of the various kinds of fortune, every kind that is 
fair and pleasant : 

(6) Often have I dallied, glad of heart, with a gazelle with lustrous black eyes, 
inexperienced in love ; 

(7) And I have plunged into the midst of a meadow richly nourished by the 
rain, far from habitations, with its greenery watered by copious showers, full of 
flowers and lush growth, 

(8) Mounted on a steed that takes long strides in his gallop, with flowing 
mane, fleet, of the strain of al-Munkadir : 

1201.2 H 


(9) With the blaze in his forehead spreading downwards towards the nose, 
having stockings of white half-way up his leg, long in the front of the hoof, thick 
and strong in the pastern : 

(10) Full-grown as to his teeth on one side when his mouth is looked into, 
and on the other side with his fourth-year tooth not yet shed : 

(11) Of a bright yellowish bay when he bristles up his hair, and a dark bay 
when he does not bristle up. 

(12) We send out the fire-wood gatherers if we go forth in the morning with 
him to hunt the ostrich or the wild ass. 

(13) A horse that inclines much to one side -when thou checkest him : but 
when he is let go, he is swift as a bird in flight. 

(14) He rides down the pair of wild asses in their dust: he is quick and 
nimble when he makes his charge, unswerving : 

(15) Then, if he is pulled up at the furthest limits of their run, [through 
impatience] he paws the ground with his fore-feet like the action of one who digs 
for water. 

(16) He has full command of himself as soon as his first shortness of breath 
has passed : we stroke him down, but he will not be still, so eager is his heart. 

(17) Already we have made trial of him in all circumstances, both when he 
was full-fed and fat, and when he was lean and spare after training ; 

(18) When on a day we drive him to full speed when he is fat, his running is 
like the kindling of firewood blazing up ; 

(19) And when we have taken down his fat and sweated him under blankets, 
then is he full of running after running, an unwearied galloper : 

(20) He joins gallop to gallop, even as the long trailing rain-cloud sends 
battering down shower after shower. 

(21) His pace when he ambles is like the running of the fox : when he is put 
to a gallop, he is like a fleet antelope. 

(22) He rears up straight when thou startlest him : he is hardly to be bridled 
unless thou use force. 

(23) As often as we go forth in the morning to hunt, it seems as though 
I were mounted on a falcon swooping on its prey, 

(24) Or a light arrow sped from a bow of shiryanah-vfood, which the archer has 
feathered with thin slips of the inner wing-feathers. 

(25) Full of spirit is he then, when thou hast quieted him down, tractable, 
gentle of temper, easy to control. 

(26) Among the sires and dams from whom he counts his race were the strain 
of al-A'waj, great gallopers and jumpers. 


(27) And oft-times there goes along briskly with me a she-camel of al-'Id, easy 
of pace, bold of heart, ready to face anything : 

(28) The trainer trained her, and then she was put aside [to get fat and 
become strong through not being ridden, to be put to use] to relieve care when- 
soever it might come upon me : 

(29) A nine-year old, or it may be one year older : a barren she-camel never 
has a single drop of milk been drawn from her. 

(30) She puts between herself and the ground and the sharp flinty stones 
a pad hard, compact, its ring of hair not worn away. 

(31) She is like a galloping wild ass in the Sandgrouse-Meadows, when he 
finds the water-holes and the open pools therein dried up 

(32) The mate of a company of slender-waisted she-asses with lean flanks he 
fastens his teeth in their haunches and bites them hard. 

(33) He tramples the dung [on the rich pasture] until he is stirred by a day of 
burning heat from the hand of the Twins, 

(34) Blazing with heat the upland plains are set on fire, and the cicada basks 
therein and fills the air with its din. 

(35) The he-ass spends the day standing straight up on the top of a high hill, 
debating in his mind this course and that, as one who deliberates 

(36) Shall he take his mates to Sumnan and water them there, or shall he 
firmly resolve to visit the wells of Lughat ? 

(37) [Thus reflecting,] he louses the she-asses with dishevelled manes, with 
their eyes fixed intently on the wildings whom they watch [as they graze quietly 
on the plain]. 


(38) Yea, oft have I entered the portals [of palaces] without having to give 
bribes, and a King who is not hard-fisted has bestowed gifts on me. 

(39) How many a man dost thou see who hates and envies me anger burning 
in his breast has already given him a colic ! 

(40) And I stuffed back the anger within his ribs, so that he walks with 
a limping step like a ram that has a sinew twisted in his leg. 

(41) He did me no hurt : but as for him, I had forced him to swallow gobbets 
of wrath seasoned with bitter aloes. 

(42) Yea, as for him, that which is in his soul will not be healed, even as 
a vein gushing with blood cannot be stanched. 


(43) Many the man, mighty in his kingdom, who has threatened me, and 
warnings from him have reached me before I came to him 

H 2 


(44) Choking with rage, his eyes kindle as he looks upon me, even as the eyes 
of a leopard kindle when he is angry ; 

(45) And he sees that before he can reach me which he cannot do he has 
to face the thorns of the tragacanth, sharp and strong. 

(46) Of Khindif am I, of the purest of them in race, where the stock is best 
and most numerous ; 

(47) I am of the trunk of the tree of their foremost, and mine is the headship 
of them, and the greatness ; 

(48) Mine is the fire-stick which yields fire without fail, if the fire-stick of the 
mean fails or comes short. 

(49) I am the one famed among their warriors for generous deeds, if the talk 
falls upon deeds ; 

(50) I acknowledge every rightful claim, and dispute it not ; and my dogs are 
friendly and never bite : 

(51) No, never seest thou dog of mine unfriendly : if there comes one 
wandering guideless in the night, he does not snarl ; 

(52) Many men arrive, but he treats none as a stranger, whether it be a slave 
seeking some boon, or a free man. 


(53) Dost thou recognize the abode, or is it strange to thee the spot between 
Tibrak and the two rugged tracts of ' Abaqurr ? 

(54) The torrent has spread thereover the first of its floods, and the [winds] of 
late night and dawn have effaced it : 

(55) They have smoothed it down one after the other until it has been 
levelled, through the months of summer, with earth swept [into hollows by the 
wind] and broken down from above [by the torrent] ; 

(56) Just canst thou see faint traces almost swept away, like the letter lam in 
the writing of books. 

(57) Once did we see there white women fair as statues : no scathe had they 
suffered from Time that brings all things to decay. 

(58) They indulge themselves with sleep far into the day : surpassing are they 
in gentleness and kindness, with all modesty. 

(59) They walk with short steps, their feet planted close together : they are 
plump and well-liking, like clouds high in the sky. 

(60) They go from one to another's tent tripping daintily like the sandgrouse : 
they taste the sweet of life with no mixture of bitter. 


(61) They obey not the censorious when he bids them sever themselves from 
me, so that in the violence of his reviling he nearly cuts his throat. 

(62) And the longing of my heart, that which fills it with wonder, is a shape 
the fairest of all those that bind on the veil. 

(63) There charms it in her the brilliant white complexion which delights the 
eye, and the long and abundant hair : 

(64) The tiring-pin is lost in its massive coils, and when she lets it down at 
full length it sweeps the ground : 

(65) It is curling, thick, set on a large head, falling on this side and that in 
tresses like the plaited strings of girths. 

(66) Her white forehead is broad, and she is of those who surpass all other 
women in the whiteness of their brow. 

(67) Her eyes are like those of an antelope that has stayed behind the herd 
with its fawn in the early autumn, that stretches its neck to crop the branches of 
the lote-tree and the acacia. 

(68) And when she laughs, the parting of her lips discloses [a row of teeth] 
like camomile flowers, its whiteness set off by stibium, and marked with the lines 
of youth. 

(69) If thou tastedst her mouth, thou wouldst liken it to honey mingled with 
chilly snow. 

(70) Fair and smooth her cheek, long her neck : the nipples of her breasts 
stand out, not yet bruised ; 

(71) Blunt like the nose of an oryx, they thrust forward her shift, in the midst 
of a bosom plump, not wanting in flesh. 

(72) Slender of waist is she, spare in the flank, but full below where the girdle 
goes round ; 

(73) Her hinder parts fill the shift she has donned for indoor service, like 
swelling hillocks of sand ranged one by another ; 

(74) And when she walks forth to visit her women-friends, she is scarcely able 
to reach them without becoming out of breath. 

(75) As she goes, the flesh on her inner thighs on one side knocks against that 
on the other : she sways in her gait like the swaying of [a palm-tree] that is being 
rooted-up : 

(76) She has to keep her legs apart when she comes towards thee : she 
is large in body, heavy in the hips, and sways hither and thither as she 

(77) Seventy miihqals [of silver] are molten for her anklets, but when she puts 
them on by force, they are burst [by the plumpness of her leg]. 


(78) A good and loving mother reared her tenderly, and a father full of 
kindness that could deny her nothing. 

(79) She has all things soft and pleasant in her life : life is cool to her, fenced 
round from harm. 

(80) [Her feet] touch not the ground but there is spread for her to walk on 
a carpet to shield her from the dust ; 

(81) She treads upon silk, and treats it as of no value : long are her skirts of 
it, and she trails them behind her. 

(82) And thou mayst see the costly linen sheets held of no account by her, 
[but cut to make] shifts which she puts on after other shifts [discarded]. 

(83) Then she sinks down upon her soft pile carpets, as a sand-hill sinks down 
when a pit has been dug beneath it. 

(84) The perfume of ambergris and musk cleaves 'to her, and her skin is 
yellow [with saffron] like the raceme of the sugar-palm. 

(87) If the perfume of musk were squeezed out of her sleeves, she would be 
nearly all squeezed away. 

(85) The sleep which comes to her in the late afternoon as the sun inclines to 
setting is a drowsiness which seizes her like an intoxication ; 

(86) And the glowing heat of the forenoon overpowers her, so that she remains 
immovable like the young of an oryx benumbed on a cold day. 

(88) Most lovely of shape is she when thou barest her body all but the two 
strings of pearls upon her breast and her bracelets : 

(89) Yea, thou wouldst think that the sun hidden in her shift had suddenly 
shone forth from clouds that cleared away ; 

(90) Ay, the image of the sun itself is in her shape, as it glows at setting or 
at rising. 

(91) She has left me neither alive, nor yet dead as a man who has come to his 
end and is at rest in the grave. 

(92) Men ask ' Is his sickness a burning fever, or has a hidden phthisis laid 
hold of him?' 

(93) She is my malady, even she, and my healing rests with her : she wills it 
not, and so is its coming liindered and barred. 

(94) And if my brothers were to slay her in requital for my death, my 
avenger would gain his vengeance and attain his end. 

(95) Never in all time will I forget her, so long as a -turtle-dove calls upon 
her mate ! 



(4) This verse implies that the poet is not deeply wounded by his Lady's neglect a condition 
of mind quite different from that depicted in the second poem which has been joined on to this : 
see vv. 91-5 above. 

(8) Al-Munkadir, name of a stallion, and so also al-A'waj in v. 26. 

(11) When he bristles up his hair, the under part, lighter in colour than the extremities of the 
hairs, is seen, and thus the effect is to change his colour from a dark to a light bay. 

(12) The verse implies that the running-down of the quarry is so certain that gatherers of 
firewood, to roast the flesh of the slain beasts, are sent out in advance. 

(13) Notice the alliteration in the Arabic. This grace of verse is late in appearing: it is not 
infrequent in al-A'sha, but rare in earlier poets. After the first century of Islam it becomes 

(14) 'In their dust': i.e., he overtakes them before they have had time to emerge from the 
dust-cloud raised by their galloping. 

(18) 'Kindling', dirdm, small sticks used to kindle a pile of larger logs. The galloping of 
horses is often compared to the burning of firewood or reeds, probably because of the crackling 
noise made by the fire. 

(27) The best camels in Arabia come from Maharah or Mali rah, the tract between 'Uman and 
Hadiamaut, and al-'Id is said to be the name of a tribe in this region. All good camels are called 
Mahn, pi. Maliuri. 

(29) Notice again that the fact that the she-camel has never borne a foal is one of the points in 
the panegyric : cf. ante, No. X, v. 13. 

(31) ' The Sandgrouse Meadows ', Raudat al-Qata, is the proper name of several places, more 
often called Rawl al-Qata. 

(33) The abundance of dung in the pasture argues its richness before the grass of the winter 
and spring has been dried up by the winds of summer, and consequently the vigour of the wild asses 
fed upon it. The heat is said to come from the constellation Gemini (as we say ' the dog-days ' 
from the Dog-star, Sirius), because the period coincided with the heliacal rising of these stars. In 
the older verse al-Jausa' always means Gemini, but by degrees it came to be applied to Orion 
(otherwise called al-Jalibdr, 'the Giant'), and this is its modern use: the name is possibly a 
metathesis of az-Zauja, from sauj (Greek evyos, through the Syriac), ' a pair '. 

(35) Compare the second hemistich, in its use of qasama, ' divide' , applied to the mind, with 
Vergil's (Am. iv. 285) animum nunc hue cclerem nunc dividit illuc (' This way and that dividing the 
swift mind ' Tennyson). 

(37) In all these pictures of the wild ass and his mate or mates, the animals, after the drying-up 
of the pasture, are said to pass the day on some rising ground which commands an extensive view, 
so as not to be surprised by enemies, and to wait for the going down of the sun before they make for 
the water. This tedious time is whilecl away, as the quotations cited by the scholiast tell us, by 
them in lousing one another. The she-asses look on at the other wild creatures pasturing in the 
plain with envy, but the male does not allow them to do the like. 

Here there is evidently a lacuna : the picture of the wild asses should be completed by their 
descent to the spring, the attack of the hunter, and the escape of the asses at the top of their speed, 
which is the point of comparison with the poet's camel : see, e. g., No. IX, ante, vv. 9-19. 

(41) 'Bitter aloes': this rendering of li-fiilin wa-salir omits the word (tab, which is said to be 
the bitter juice of some plant or tree, variously described by lexicographers. Rabir or silr is aloes 
(Aloe socotrina) : of the sub all that is known is that it is a milky juice of an acrid character, the 


smallest drop of which is said to cause a burning sensation when injected into the eye. One thinks 
of the 'tisliar, Calotropis gigantea, but the juice of this is too well known by other names. 

(42) The translation adopts the reading yarqa'u given in the scholion as the alternative to the 
second yabra'u. 

(46) Khindif is the name by which the ancestress of the great tribe of Tamlm (and also of the 
confederate tribes called the Ribab) was known. It is said by the genealogists to be a nickname of 
Lailawifeof al-Yas son of Mudar (father of Tabikhah, father of Udd, father of Murr, father of Tamlm). 

(47) The tree of which the poet claims to come of the trunk is called an-nab'ali, a tree growing 
in the mountains of which the best bows are made, and also arrows from its branches. 

(48) This verse contains a proverbial phrase. The Arabs procured fire by friction, twirling 
rapidly a stick called Hand in a hole or notch in a lower stick called zandah. Consequently, of 
a generous man (and also of one praised for other good qualities) it is said, ' He gets fire from his 
fire-stick ', while of a niggardly and mean man the contrary phrase is used. 

(53) It seems evident that 'Abaqurr in this verse is a real place, as much as is Tibrak with 
which it is yoked : but the geographers and etymologists will have it that it stands for 'Abqar, 
with its form modified to suit the necessities of the verse, and that this 'Abqar is a fabulous land, 
spoken of by Zuhair and other poets as inhabited by the Jinn (see Yaqut iii. 606, Bakrl 643, and 
Lane, s. v. 'abqarl). 

(54) The word ' winds ' is, as noted in the text, supplied by conjecture. We might also read 
' rains ', but as the element of water is furnished by ' torrent ', sail, it seems best to take madaliju 
bukur as referring to winds ; cf. Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 2 ; wind is also implied as an agent by the 
word safin in v. 55. 

(56) Note the use of wahyun in its original old sense of 'writing': so also (pi.) in Labid, 
Mu'all. 2. In the Qur'an it is used in the sense of ' inspiration '. Observe also the unfamiliarity 
with which the alphabet is treated. Our poet probably could not write : his contemporary Ghailan 
Dhu-r-Rummah, also a Beduin, had to conceal his acquaintance with that art, which was not 
thought appropriate to a nomad. 

(57) Women ' like statues ', mithla-d-duma, is a stock phrase of the poets, from Imra' al-Qais 
onwards : so also a horse is praised, in 'Abld xi. 28, for being ' like a picture ', ka-t-timthali : these 
similes from works of art probably came into use from contact with Greek civilization in Syria. 

(58) The poets ascribe to the ladies whom they draw for us the habit of sleeping far into the 
day, to indicate that they do no household or menial work, but are of station too high to be put to 
labour : see Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 37 ; cf. also vv. 85 and 86 below. 

(65) The translation is not strictly literal : ja'dah and far'a are epithets of the woman, who is 
also the agent to tafruqu. 

(68) The Arab women used to rub, or sprinkle, stibium, ithmid, the Greek ori/u/u, <m/xfu8a 
(antimony trisulphide), on their gums in order to set oif the whiteness of their teeth ; the same 
substance is used to paint round the eyes under the name kuhl : for a parallel see Tarafah, Mu'all. 
8, 9. ' The lines of youth ', ushur, are explained as certain markings in the teeth which are only 
found in the case of young persons : or as a serration, or sharpness in the points, of the teeth 
peculiar to the young. 

(76) This verse seems to be a doublet of v. 75 ; in the latter the word ' palm-tree ' is supplied 
from the Qur'anic phrase quoted in the note, where the word munqa'ir is also found : the poet may 
have had it in his mind. 

(77) MitJiqal is the name of a weight equal to a dirham and a halt. 

(82) 'Held of no account', maivadi', plural of mtda', literally, 'used as wrappers for other 
clothes ' more precious : here, however, though treated lightly, they are put to other use, viz. to cut 
up into shifts. The phrase may also be rendered ' used as wrappers for shifts which she puts on 
after other shifts [discarded] ', taking maicddi'a as governing the accusative shu'umn. 


(84) Saffron is used in the East as a perfume, and women rub their bosoms with it. So also 
among the Hebrews (Canticles iv. 14). It was an ingredient in the perfumes called malub, ablr, 
and Jchaluq. 

(87) It seems best to transpose this verse to the place where I have put it, so that the mentions 
of musk may be kept together. The verse, of course, means that the woman is nearly all musk 

(86) Instead of waqdatulm, 'its glowing heat', Ahmad reads raqdaluha, 'sleep [during the 
forenoon] ', which seems better, both because sleep in this part of the day is ascribed to daintily- 
bred women (note to v. 58 above), and also because the greatest heat of the day is not in the 
forenoon, but about three o'clock p.m., before the sun begins to sink to setting. 

(94) I. e., if I were to die of love for her, she would be guilty of my death, and the duty of 
retaliation, by slaying her, would be laid upon my brothers. 

(95) The word saqu-Jmrr is generally explained as the male of the qamarl (sing, qumrlyah) or 
ringed turtle-doves : see 'Abld xix. 6 ; it is probably an imitation of the ring-dove's cry. The pains 
of the lover are stirred as often as he hears the sound (Canticles ii. 12). 


FOR the poet see No. XV ante. The poem is attributed by many authorities to Muzarrid's 
brother Jaz'. It is a piece characterized by many brilliant examples of the poetic art ; 
beyond the exhibition of skill in handling its themes it has no special object in view. The 
amatory prelude (vv. 1-11) has much beauty : then follows the description of the poet's horse 
(vv. 16-27) and mare (vv. 28-37) : he next turns to his armour and arms his mail-coat 
(vv. 38-41), coif and helmet (vv. 42, 43), shield (v. 44), sword (vv. 44-9), and spear (vv. 50-2). 
Then comes a challenge to his enemies to contend with him in satire (vv. 53-62), and the 
poem ends with a striking picture of a miserably poor hunter, with his foolish wife and his 
boys (vv. 63-74), thrown in as a poetic exercise. 

(1) My heart is cured of its passion for Salma, and the railing women are 
tired of their admonitions : yet hardly did the love of Salma drop away no easy 
thing was it to unlove her ! 

(2) [She held] my heart until the foolishness of my youth had flown away, 
and until the beginnings of hoariness invaded my head and spread thereon ; 

(3) The juice of hinna dyes it red, but below the dyed hair are silvery shoots 
sprouting upwards like the white points of thagMm. 

(4.) No welcome to grey hairs ! a fore-runner are they of One that comes 
later : when He knocks, no doorkeeper can bar his entrance. 

(5) Rich rainfall keep green the prime of Youth ! a trusty brother was he in 
the days gone by, the time of my folly, 


(6) When I sported with Salmk : ah ! sweet was her speech to him that 
sought her he had but to ask her bounty, and she freely gave. 

(7) White and fair, in her was lightness to him who tried her wit, and 
playfulness to occupy the heart of him who made that his end 

(8) Those nights when she tempted the staid to folly with her dainty wiles, 
and her walk with a dragging step, and a twist that enticed the gaze ; 

(9) And her eyes like those of an oryx, among a herd whose pasture is the 
meadows where heavy rain-showers have fallen by night, 

(10) And her hair intensely black with luxuriant tresses, resembling the 
black snakes of Kamman, the lithe and long. 

(11) She steps with [a pair of legs smooth and soft like] two stems of 
papyrus, fed by sweet water and springs bubbling up among the roots of trees. 


(12) What man soever there be whose hands are empty of weapons, whose 
place, when War bares her teeth, is obscure and mean, 

(13) Of me at least the warriors of Dhubyan know that I am their knight 
who protects their folk, the champion of my tribe, 

(14) And that I repel the captain of the enemy, full of ardour though he be, 
and that I bring back from the fight my spear after it has been plied with blood 
to drink time after time. 

(15) And I have for use, what time War, stirred up again and again, becomes 
pregnant with mischief, and desperate affairs manifest their beginnings, 

(16) A horse long in the back, which has almost gone wholly into powerful 
withers, full of spirit at the goal and when called upon time after time for speed, 
perfect in shape and make, 

(17) With a loud trilling neigh, of the stock of as-Sarih : his voice is like the 
reed-pipes of a party of revellers to which timbrels with bells attached make 

(18) When he is seen with the rider mounted, men say ' A hunter's falcon ! ' : 
when he is led by a groom, there is in his walk an even smoothness ; 

(19) Thou wouldst say, when thou seest him standing at rest ' The frame- 
work of a tent upon a rising ground, or a wolf standing up to gaze around ' : 

(20) One that stands out conspicuous from a crowd of other horses, and the 
safest of towers of defence, what time only steeds of race can bring safety from 
pursuit ; 

(21) A darter-forth to goals : and if he chase a herd of wild asses, he leaves 
them like a troop of camels which have all been slaughtered by a man boasting 
against another. 


(22) He seems to be gazing upwards with eyes intent, as though he had 
perceived some object of fear, and were striving to catch sound of it with his ear. 

(23) What time thou seest the other horses, after a long day spent in quick 
travel, with their eyes sunken deep, like clefts in a mountain where water lodges, 

(24) And after that I have worn away his flesh by constant work, so that 
his ribs show like palm-leaves laid side by side for a mat, which the weaving 
women part one from another, 

(25) Even then he looks on galloping and trotting as a duty laid upon him as 
he speeds along, though already [from exhaustion] his flanks cleave to his back. 

(26) His ribs are bent round, and the muscles thereon resemble arrows pared 
down by an arrow-maker skilful with his hands. 

(27) Hard are his hoof-rims, so that he cares not, when he gallops, whether 
there He before him a plain of soft even sand, or a tract of flint and stones. 

(28) [And I have, too,] a mare long of body, short of hair, whose spirit is 
unfailing, compactly and firmly built, [slender] as a staff, that has borne no foal, 

(29) A bay, with her back strongly-knit : as-Sarlh and Jafil[, her sires,] have 
lifted her line to the best of strains. 

(30) She is one of those steeds of race that stretch themselves fully in their 
gallop, springing and light of foot, pressing on in her eagerness : her longing is 
the far-extending desert, plain giving into plain. 

(31) She turns her cheeks briskly to right and left, though her gallop has 
lasted long, as an adversary vehement in his contention casts his hands this way 
and that. 

(32) Her noble endurance, and her impetuosity in which is no flagging, carry 
her to the front of the dash of the galloping steeds ; 

(33) And if that which was withheld of the reins is restored to her, she lets 
herself go at full speed like the darting flight of a sandgrouse which hawks pursue. 

(34) A mare kept always close to the tent, never has she been bestridden 
except for a foray, nor have ever foals tugged at her teats. 

(35) When she has been fined down by training, she is like a young gazelle 
fed on hullab, with her muscles and upper parts firmly knit, and her lower limbs 
made nimble and light. 

(36) And in truth she has ever been to me a precious possession, born and 
brought up in our tents : of all possessions that which has been born and bred 
with one's people is the most precious ; 

(37) And I will keep her as my own so long as there is a presser for the olive, 
and so long as a man, barefoot or shod, wanders on the face of the earth. 



(38) [Yea, and I have] also a coat of mail flowing down over the body, wide- 
extending, of the make of the Tubba's, held together with firm pins, from which 
the broad-headed long arrows fall away in disgust [because they cannot pierce it] : 

(39) Glittering scales like the back of a fish no lance has any effect on it, 
much less those wretched little shafts that strive to penetrate it ; 

(40) White is it, marked with streaks of brass-work, with its rows of scales 
closely set : rings it has, which extend [in the sleeves] beyond the fingers. 

(41) Its fame is widely spread abroad, and fingers are crooked to point it out, 
when on a day of mustering for defence the tribes are gathered together, 

(42) And [I have] a coif of mail hanging down from a Himyarite helmet 
glistening in the sun, from which stones fly shattered into small pieces : 

(43) The rays of the sun on its sides send forth a radiance like the lamps of 
hermits, brightly kindled on candlesticks [to guide the wayfarer]. 

(44) And a shield [I have], that looks like the sun in the dust-cloud of the 
dark day [of battle], and a glittering sword, that cuts straight through the thing 
it strikes ; 

(45) Of the best and purest of steel, its edge never ceases to be keen : ancient 
generations forged and fashioned it : 

(46) A smooth blade of India when its edge is raised to smite the tops of 
the helms, the shoulders beneath are not safe from its stroke ; 

(47) When he that wields it rushes towards his foe, already has he addressed 
to it this word ' May all blades be thy ransom ! 

(48) ' Art thou not of finest temper ? The topmost crests [of the helmets] 
cannot stop thee, and thou fallest not short however far be the stroke for the 
hand that wields thee.' 

(49) A sword that makes no sound when it is drawn forth from its sheath : 
its surface has been polished and cleared of all rust by the armourers. 

(50) And [I have] a spear even and regular in its internodes, as though 
a stream of oil, flowing continuously, covered it : 

(51) Solid all through when it is shaken, a vibration runs through its upper 
parts, as a serpent of the sands wriggles when he is making for a place of refuge : 

(52) A point it has, whose keen edges pierce everything, slender and thin like 
the new moon that shines amid the blackness of night. 


(53) Enough of this ! What thinkest thou of the mind of a company from 
whom have reached me insulting and violent words ? 

(64) They snap at my honour behind my back : but before they get at it 
there is for their nibbling a wide space to be eaten through ! 


(55) [They attack me] notwithstanding that I have had experience [in such 
things], when my side was found to be solid and hard, and he with whom 
I contended in shooting the arrows [of satire] was made to bark at me in 
discomfiture and terror ; 

(56) And I have passed the point of forty years [and reached my prime], and 
my spear is found always to be without a rival to meet it in strife. 

(57) Yea, verily they know from of old that when the contest becomes severe, 
I interpose therein [as a master] skilled to deal with it. 

(58) I warrant to him with whom I contend that my words shall be so 
striking that the night-traveller shall sing them as he fares along, and the caravans 
be urged forward by them on their road ; 

(59) Well remembered are they, cast forth with multitudes to bear them 
about : their sound is gone forth in full sunshine into every land ; 

(60) They are repeated again and again, and only increase in brilliancy, when 
the diligent lips of men test my verse by repetition. 

(61) And he whom I attack with a couplet, it sticks to him and is conspicuous 
like a mole on his face and there is nothing that can wash out a mole ! 

(62) Thus is my requital for the gifts men bring ; and if I speak, the sea is 
not exhausted, nor is my voice hoarse with too much use. 


(63) Turn then thy shaping of verse, if indeed thou art copious in song 
and in sooth the copious in song knows how to say whatsoever he wills 

(64) To the picturing of a man of Subah who has suffered long from distress : 
arrows has he of the make of ar-Eaqam, and a yellow [bow of nab'-wood] with all 
the sap dried out of it ; 

(65) These are all that remain to him out of that which he shaped with his 
knife and a few dogs on whose necks the chains tinkle as they move to and fro 

(66) Blackey, the Hunter's Tip-cat, Long-body, Slim, Wolf, and the Gripper, 

(67) The offspring of two hounds of Seleucia that were his livelihood but 
they died, and his frame dwindled to nothing, sunk as he was in misery ; 

(68) He made up his mind, when they died, to hunger and disappointment : 
but his Demon said to him ' Thou hast the charge of a household to meet ! ' 

(69) So he went about among his fellows, begging from them the means to 
live : but returned home with all his prayers encountering nought but stubborn rock, 

(70) To his boys lean as arrows without heads, and a foolish gad-about wife 
and the worst of wives are those that have no sense ! 

(71) And he said to her 'Hast thou anything to eat? As for me, I have 
nought to do but to curse mankind to thee may thy mother lose all her sons ! ' 


(72) She answered him ' Yea, this well and its water, and a bit of skin 
a year old, shrivelled and dried up.' 

(73) Then, when he had eaten all he could of the meat she offered, and he 
lay at even utterly worn out, filled with anxiety that was no vain thing, 

(74) He drew over him, seeking sleep, the skirt of his mantle, but the tumult 
of cares within kept slumber far from his eyes ! 


(I) For Salma there is the alternative reading Rayya : Salma is the name of the lady in 
Muzarrid's other poem, No. XV. 

(3) Hinna, here called by the rarer name yaranna, is Lawsonia inermis, the Indian menhdi or 
meftdhl : the powdered leaves, beaten up with water into a paste, are used to dye the hair and beard 
red. Thaghum, some plant having tomentose shoots, possibly a species of artemisia or edelweiss, to 
which white hair is -compared. 

(4) ' A forerunner to one that comes later ' : wafd means a deputation sent to represent a tribe 
before a ruler or victorious adversary: the 'one that comes later ' is, of course, Death. 

(II) The comparison of women's legs to papyrus stems meets us in the oldest poetry : see 
Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 36, and 'Abld, Diwan, xii. 6. The papyrus is represented as growing in the 
moist ground about the runnels irrigating gardens of date-palms. Theophrastus notes that it grew 
in Syria, and Tarafah mentions (Mu'all. 30) ' Syrian paper ', qirtas ash-Sha'ami, to which he likens 
the cheek of a camel. 

(14) ' Captain of the enemy ', al-Jcabsh, literally, ' ram ' ; the word is frequently used for 
a leader and chief. 

(15) ' Desperate affairs ', al-Tiliutubu-z-zalazilu ; zaldzil is pi. of zalzalah, ' earthquake '. 

(16) For tutvalu-l-qara, 'long in the back', there is a v. 1. qas-iru-l-qara, 'short in the back': 
according to al-Asma'i a well-bred horse should be short, not long, in the back, but long below, 
in the belly. 

(17) The Arabs attached much importance to a horse having a loud and clear neigh ; the sound 
called juslisliali is explained here as a combination of the music of reed-pipes, mazamir, pi. of mizmdr, 
and of the little bells, jalajil, pi. of juljul, inserted in the raised border of a timbrel, such as would 
be heard from the musicians at a drinking-party. 

(18) ' An even smoothness ', tasatul, one foot succeeding another in its step without any 
disturbance of regularity. 

(19) ' The frame-work of a tent ' ; khiba' here seems to mean a booth built of boughs, liliaimali, 
rather than 4he ordinary Arab tent, bait, Of hair-cloth stretched on poles. There is an alternative 
reading Tcliayal, which would mean a scare-wolf, a human figure or something like it, dressed in 
clothes, set up on a rising ground. 

(21) The word for troop of camels here is dhaud, which means a number between three and 
ten. ' A man boasting against another ', mukhayil, means a man who, to show his generosity, 
slaughters one camel after another, to prove himself better than his competitor. 

(25) 'A duty ', literally ' a vow', nadhr. 

(31) Compare No. VI, v. 5, which is here rightly interpreted in the scholion. 

(33) The rendering follows Marznql's scholion rather than that of the text : fadlu-l-'inani is that 
portion of the reins which is gathered up in the rider's hand ; when it is let go (when she ' is given 
the rein ') she darts off at full speed. 

(35) Iftdlab, a pasture-plant which is said to remain green even through the heats of summer. 
The translation adopts Ahmad's reading, khaffa-l-asafilu, instead of the text shudda-l-asafilu. 


(37) ' So long as there is a presser for the olive ', i. e., for ever: the phrase is a striking one in 
the poetry of a Beduin, evidently borrowed from experience in Syria. 

(38) ' Of the make of the Tubba's ' : see ante, No. X, note to v. 85. 

(39) No lance can pierce the mail-coat, and of course not these contemptible little arrows : 
hidlid 1 , singular hwjhwah, are said to be arrows without a point, or with a date-stone in place of one, 
with which children play. 

(41) ' Its fame is widely spread abroad ', musJiahhamtun : the word may also mean ' conspicuous 
to the eye '. 

(42) A coif, tasbighah or mighfar, is a piece of mail hanging down from the helmet to protect 
the neck. The Himyarite helmet, tarkah (a Persian loan-word), has no crest like the qaunas 
(/coVos), the Greek or Eoman helmet with a peak to it. 

(43) The hermit, rahib (the word is also used for a Christian priest or monk), is a notable figure 
in the old poetry, generally mentioned in connexion with the exhibition of a light at night to guide 
the wanderer on his way (Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 72). These hermits probably dwelt for the most 
part in the Syrian desert, where their cells still survive. 

(47) This picture, of the warrior propitiating his sword before going into action, recalls 
similar propitiations of weapons, tools, pens, &c., which may be seen to this day in India.* 

(51) ' Serpent of the sands ', thu'ban ar-rimdl ; Ahmad gives the v. I. thu'ban al-'anm, ' serpent 
of the cultivated places of seed-produce '. 

(52) ' Afpoint ', fdrit, literally, 'a fore-runner'. 

(54) The first word of this verse is doubtful, but the general sense is plain : see the note in 
the original text. 

(57) ' Contest ', literally ' race ', jira'. 

(58-61) Here again we have an interesting passage showing how the compositions of the 
poets were spread : the nightly traveller sings them to beguile the way, the caravan-driver sings 
them to encourage his camels, and the drawer of water sings them at his work. Naturally, poems 
of satire had the greatest vogue. 

(62) 'The sea is not exhausted', i.e., I have an inexhaustible stock of poetical material at 
my command. 

(63) Here we have a clear example of the use of the word qarid for descriptive and pictorial 
poetry. See 'Abid xxiii. 9. Goldziher thought its original meaning was panegyric, but that is 
evidently not the case here, where it is applied to the picturing, na't, of a hunter sunk in poverty. 

(64) Subah is said to have been a family in the tribe of Dabbah ; ar-Kaqam is alleged to be the 
name of an arrow-maker ; for nab'-wooA, see ante, note to No. XVI, v. 47. 

(65) I have adopted the reading tasalsalu instead of the text taqalqalu. 

(66) These are all proper names of dogs, which I have attempted to translate. The 
originals are Sukam, Miqla'u-l-qams, Salhab, Jadld', as-Sir/ian and al-Mutanawil. Miqla' is the stick 
with which tip-cat is played, qulah being the name of the small piece of wood which is tipped up 
and struck : see 'Amr b. Kulthum, Mu'all. 90, with Tibrizi's note. 

(67) Here observe that banat is used for the offspring of animals irrespective of sex : see ante, 
note to No. V, v. 13. Hounds used for hunting are still called Saluqi, from some one of the various 
cities named after the founder of the Seleucid dynasty probably that on the Tigris incorporated in 
the Persian capital al-Mada'in. 

(68) ' His Demon ', ash-Shaitdn, not necessarily the Devil, but rather a familiar spirit, genius. 

(69) ' His prayers encountered stubborn rock ', akdat 'alaihi-l-masil'ilu : akda is the word used 
of well-digging, when one arrives at the Jmdyah or solid rock without finding water. 

(73) The translation adopts the reading ta'amitia. 

* Prof. Be van refers to Habakkuk i. 16 for a similar propitiation in Jewry of implements of 



THE name of the poet's father is variously given as Salimah, Sallmah, and Sallm. 
Nothing is recorded as to his age and history. His tribe was a division of the great Yamanic 
group called al-Azd, widely spread over the Arabian peninsula. The section to which 
Ghamid belonged was called Azd Shanu'ah. Ghamid's country was the northern portion of 
the Sarat, or meridional chain of the Yaman ; it had Daus to the north of it, and 'Anz to the 
south, both divisions of the Azd ; then followed northwards Fahm and 'Adwan, Ma'addic 
stocks. The country of these sections of the Azd was to the south of at-Ta'if, in the tract 
known in modern times as 'Asir. 

The two poems which follow are mere fragments, and the verses which have survived 
only a small part of those of which the pieces originally consisted. They bear no indication 
of date, but probably belong to the pre-islamic age. The sequence of ideas is conventional, 
and needs no special elucidation. 

(1) Alas ! Janub has cut the ties that bound her to us ; and we have come 
away to the uplands, while she has gone down to Qadlb. 

(2) And never saw I any like the Daughter of Abu Wafa on that morning of 
the shingly plain of Thajr nay, I sin not in what I say ! 

(3) And never saw I her like in Unaifu-Far'in : [if any man can prove me 
wrong,] I promise to pay a camel whose blood shall be spilt in sacrifice ; 

(4) And never saw I her like in the rugged black hills of Lubn noble birth 
and sweetness set off her beauty : 

(5) Notwithstanding that she said of me in jest ' O people, is he mad ? he 
was born only the other day ! ' 

(6) Well, and if I am old, there are others about me as old as I ; and Janub's 
time of life is only beginning, fresh and young. 

(11) And if my locks are growing grey, why then, 'tis time ; and the end of 
all that are young is that they grow grey with eld ; 

(12) But Janub her fresh and sappy branch is fair as the streamers of 
summer cloud at sunset. 

(7) And if I am old, yet I swear a solemn oath that never shall leave my 
shoulder a blade of polished steel. 

(8) And many the man of lofty looks, nourished in plenty and sprung from 
a great tribe yea, many were his people and dreaded 


(9) Have I encountered, and taken my vengeance of him and delayed not, 
what time men's sides were locked together in angry conflict ; 

(10) And but for that which I make him gulp down openly [of anger and 
disgust], there should appear in his face scars due to me. 

(13) And many the fleet camel have I urged along a road whereof the white 
track was like strips of linen ; 

(14) When other beasts flag, she presses keenly on, throwing out her fore-legs, 
increasing in swiftness the more she is tried, ever unwearied. 

(15) And many the short-haired steed, like a staff in slenderness, of the strain 
of Sa'id- the lean muscles of his back adorn his spine 

(16) Have I launched against the swift shy wild asses, whose meadows are 
enclosed between low hills of clay and lava crags ; 

(17) And I have left my spear[, after having pierced with it the quarry,] red 
as though its knots had been anointed with 'ablr, and were still moist therewith. 

(18) And many the kinsman and the cheerful witty companion have I 
succoured with my bounty, what time his comrades [through stress of dearth] 
failed him : 

(19) Yea, the loss of my herds by murrain or a year of no rain has never 
weakened the strength of my arm in helping those in distress. 


(1) Qadlb, a valley in Najd. Notice the idiomatic mala biha Qadlbu, ' Qadlb inclined downwards 
with her '. The poet's tribe dwelt in the high mountainous country of the Sarat, overlooking the 
Tihamah westwards and the plateau of Najd eastwards. 

(2) ' The Daughter of Abu Wafa ' is, of course, Janub. 

(3) MudJiarra' atun kltadibu literally means ' a camel whose blood, when it is slaughtered by 
cutting the throat, streams over its forelegs and dyes them red '. 

(5) ' He was born only the other day ', manslm'u dim qaribu : i. e., ' he is a mere boy ' : said in jest 
of his foolish conduct, whereas the poet is really an old man, as the next verse shows. 

(12) This verse and the preceding must be transposed to the place where they stand in the 
translation. Marzuql has done this with v. 11, but not v. 12, which evidently goes with it. 
Notice ' her fresh and sappy branch ' as a figure for youth. Some lost folk-lore lies hid in the word 
for ' streamers of summer cloud ', Banatu Mdkhrin : the scholiast gives us no information. 

(7) ' A solemn oath ', M-atlri 'isrin, lit. ' an oath or obligation which it would be a crime to 
break '. ' Polished ', JcJiashib, is one of those words which carry opposite meanings, for it is also 
used for steel before it is polished. The sword is suspended by a belt from the shoulder, crossing 
the breast. 

(9) As the next verse shows, the encounter referred to here is a contest of satire, not of 
physical violence. 

(15) Said, name of a stallion ; a horse extended at full gallop is often compared to a staff 
(hirawah) or the shaft of a spear (qan&Ji), and is praised for the leanness brought about by training : 
see ante, No. VII, v. 6. 

(17) 'Abir, a red perfume in the nature of an unguent, of which saffron is the principal ingredient. 



SEE No. XVIII for the poet. This piece is even more fragmentary than the preceding. 
The name of the woman celebrated in the amatory prelude has been lost ; there is evidently 
a large lacuna between vv. 4 and 5, and another between vv. 10 and 11. 

(1) Whose remnants of dwellings are these in Taula' and there in Yabus? 
Yea, and the white plain of Kaitah has now no inhabitant ; 

(2) The play thereon of the grinding winds has made them dim and " doubtful, 
even like the [faded] tracery which is being renewed on a woman's arm and 
brought back again ; 

(3) The drawing thereover of the skirts of the burying winds in their 
obliterated courts is like the sweeping-by of the skirt of a bride. 

(4) Turn then from them since she is far away on a fleet she-camel lean 
and spare like the wood of a bow, no biter. 


(5) Yea, and oft-times have I gone forth in the morning to the chase, mounted 
on a long-bodied steed spare like a palm-trunk growing in the midst of a garden, 

(6) With knees and hocks close together, narrow in the upper part of the 
chest, broad in the lower part, strongly-knit in the close-set vertebrae of the back ; 

(7) The points of hair upon him are covered as it were with silver, and the 
first drops of sweat upon him are never dry ; 

(8) He seems to thee like a wild-ass afraid [of the hunters], standing up to 
scan the distance on a high watching-place, [with the beads of sweat upon him] 
like streaks shaped as an acacia-pod, or like strings of pearls, 

(9) [Pods growing] on trees that break forth with new green in the month of 
Safar, with shoots bursting with leaves, not yellow [as in autumn], 

(10) And I reined him in, and it seemed as though the middle of his breast 
and the flat of his forehead, [from the blood thereon of the slain quarry,] were the 
pounding-stone of a bride [covered with perfume of saffron]. 


(11) And oft-times have I companied with a hot-tempered companion, with 
the fellowship of a man experienced and patient in bearing annoyances, skilful in 
dealing with them ; 


(12) And oft-times I return the thrust of him that plagues me with a shoulder 
hard in its sudden attack, difficult to withstand, full of mischief ; 

(13) And oft-times I am soft and gentle to him who seeks of me a favour, and 
oft-times I requite with the like those who strive after my hurt ; 

(14) And oft-times I physic the disease of those smitten with mange, applying 
thereto a lotion that overcomes the most dainty of those I treat. 


(4) This is but the first verse of a description which has been lost, and may have extended 
over several verses. 

(6) The poet uses, for his horse, a word, thafinat, which properly belongs to the anatomy of 
a camel : see ante, No. VIII, note to v. 29. 

(7) The appearance of clear drops of sweat at the ends of his hair is a sign of the cleanness and 
delicacy of his skin, one of the points of a horse : for these see the scholion to v. 6. 

(8) The second hemistich of this verse is difficult : it may refer to drops of sweat, as rendered, 
or possibly to ornaments of beads strung as an amulet round the horse's neck. The want of 
connexion with the preceding verse seems to point to some lacuna. The pod of an acacia is like 
a string of beads, and is usually curved, not straight. 

(9) The month of Safar, in the old calendar before the coming of Islam, originally fell at the 
beginning of the cold season. It is the second of the year, next after al-Muharram, and was 
distributed between December and January: see Lane, p. 1254. Like all the other months, it had 
fallen back by six months from its original place at the time of the Hijrah ; and, since the abolition 
of the intercalation, by which it was attempted to keep the lunar generally in accordance with the 
solar year, has ceased to have any relation to the seasons. 

(10) The Arabs were accustomed to mark the foreheads and breasts of their horses with the 
blood of their slain quarry : see Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 63. The simile of a bride's pounding-stone, 
on which she mixes perfumes, is apparently borrowed from Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 62, but the 
connexion is there different. 

(14) Here again the reference is to a contest of satire. The 'lotion' is composed of urine, 
boiled with burnt hide and the bark of certain species of trees, used as a remedy for camels' 
mange. Compare ante, No. XV, v. 25. Nittls may be rendered ' skilful, subtle ', as well as ' dainty ' ; 
but the latter appears to me to suit the passage best. 




THE author of the following poem is one of the most interesting figures in ancient Arabia. 
If the great La/mriydh, or Z-poem, which goes by his name (which is mentioned in it, v. 43, as 
that of the author) is really his work,* he has produced two masterpieces, one the picture which 
he draws here of the Arab woman, and the other the figure in the Lamiyah of the lonely desert 
warrior, which have certainly not been surpassed by any other poet of his nation. The poem 
before us, having been chosen by al-Mufaddal (died 164 H.), who was a contemporary of Hammad 
and Khalaf, the two persons (both of Persian descent) most notorious for fabricating ancient 
poems, and an earnest opponent of their forgeries, may, I believe, be relied upon as genuine" 
Al-Asma'i's (f 217) opinion of it will be found in the note to v. 11. 

Of ash-Shanfara himself we know little beyond what his surviving poems tell us. The 
stories about him do not always agree closely with the poems, and have rather the appearance 
of popular tales, such as early grew up round heroic figures of the pagan time, than of genuine 
traditions. They are related chiefly by Abu 'Amr ash-Shaibanl (died 205, 206, or 213), 
apparently on the authority of al-Mu'arrij as-Sadusi, a man who also supplied Abu 'Ubaidah 
with information. Al-Mu'arrij had them from 'Abdallah b. Hisham an-Namari. It is certain 
that the poet belonged to a stock of the Yamanite tribe called al-Azd, and probably (see note 
to v. 28) to the section of it called al-Hijr. His father's name is not mentioned, although 
according to a verse attributed to him (Aghanl, xxi. 134 22 ) he claimed to be of noble 
parentage on the side of both father and mother. This seems unlikely ; probably he had 
African (negro or Abyssinian) blood in his veins : one of the interpretations given of his 
name is that it means ' thick-lipped '. It is certain that for some reason he left his own 
tribe and lived in that of Fahm, where Ta'abbata Sharra was his friend and companion in 
his daring expeditions carried out on foot. It is also certain that he pursued a blood-feud 
with another branch of the Azd, Salaman b. Mufrij ; and it is probable that he met his death 
in the course of his attacks on that tribe. In the legend it is said f that the ambush in which 
he was taken prisoner was laid by Asld (or Usaid) al-Gliamidl, which perhaps accounts for 
the insertion of our poem in the collection next to Nos. XVIII and XIX by another man of 
Ghamid : other versions of the story call Asld a Salamani or Salami. The three striking 
verses contained in the Hamasah (pp. 242-3), which are said to have been uttered by him 

* The Lamiyah is ascribed by some (BDuraid [t321] is the authority quoted by al-Qall, 
Amati, i. 157) to Aba Muhriz Khalaf al-Ahmar, a man of Persian descent from Farghanah (died 
about 180). He certainly had an unrivalled knowledge of ancient Arabic poetry ; but it seems very 
improbable that he had the genius and minute realization of local detail which the Lamiyah 
exhibits, and which have attracted to it a crowd of commentators, of whom al-Mubarrad (t 286), 
at-Tibrlzl (t 502), and az-Zamakhsharl (t 538) are the chief. 

t See text, p. 198". 


when a prisoner and about to die, are in manifest conflict with the story in connexion with 
which they are handed down. In them he calls himself ' one delivered up to destruction (by 
his tribe) for his crimes ', mubsalan bi-l-jarairi. Similarly, in the Ldmiyah (v. 44) he speaks 
of himself as ' driven into exile by his crimes ' (or ' pursued by the Furies on account of them '), 
larldu jindyatin: in our poem also (vv. 31-2) he looks forward to dying a lonely death, 
with no mourners of his family about him. From these passages it would seem that he was 
originally driven out from his own stock on account of some deed of violence which they 
were unable to condone, or to pay for by way of bloodwit. He then joined, as a tribeless 
man (khaltf), the stock of Fahm, and became the friend of Ta'abbata Sharra. On his 
death Ta'abbata * composed a poem of lamentation (our commentary, p. 199 4 , AgJtdin, xxi. 
136-7), which shows that good relations remained between Fahm and ash-Shanfara till 
the end. 

The beautiful prelude, vv. 1-14, requires no elucidation. The verses (15-18) that follow 
celebrate our poet's habit on his raids. He then turns to a humorous description of his 
comrade Ta'abbata, and the bloody work in which the raid ended (19-26). Then specific deeds 
of vengeance are mentioned (29, 30). The poet, an outcast from his tribe, looks forward 
to the end (31-2), and claims to be capable of quick response to kindness, though swift to 
resent insult and wrong (33-4). 

(1) Alas! Ummu 'Amr set firm her face, and has flitted and gone: 

she bade no farewell to her neighbours what time she went away. 

(2) She gave us no warning of what she purposed, but suddenly 

the necks of her camels towered above us as forth they sped. 

(3) She dwelt in my eyes at even, at night, and when morning dawned; 

and now has she ended all things, and flitted and passed and gone. 

(4) Alas my heart for Umaimah and all my longing for her!^ 

yea, she was my life's delight, and now all its joy is fled. 

(5) thou sweet comrade ! not one thou to start men's evil tongues : 

not thou, when thy name is mentioned, to draw a word of reproach. 

(8) She dwells in a tent pitched high above all the slandering herd, 

when many a tent stands where there gathers around it scorn. 

(6) She won me whenas, shamefaced, no maid to let fall her veil, 

no wanton to glance behind, she walked forth with steady tread : 

(9) Her eyes seek the ground, as though she looked for a thing lost there ; 

straight forward she goes : if thou speak to her, few are her words 

and low. 

* A thoroughly stupid tradition (KhieanaJi, iii. 532, bottom, and Aghanl, v. 171 22 ) relates that 
Ta'abbata was ash-Shanfara's maternal uncle (khal), and that the fabricated poem at Hamasah, 382-6, 
was composed by the latter on the death of the former. This poem was believed, with good reason, 
by the ancient critics to be the work of Khalaf al-Ahmar. 


(7) At night after little sleep she rises to carry forth 

her supper to wives who have need, when such gifts are few enow. 

(10) Not one is Umaimah for gossip to bring to her husband shame : 

when mention is made of women, pure and unstained is she. 

(11) The day done, at eve glad comes he home to his eye's Delight : 

he needs not to ask of her 'Say, where didst thou pass the day?' 

(12) And slender is she where meet, and full where it so beseems, 

and tall, straight, a fairy shape, if such upon earth there be. 

(13) And nightlong as we sat there, methought that the tent was roofed 

above us with basil sprays, all fragrant with evening's dew 

(14) Sweet basil from Halyah dale, its branches abloom and fresh, 

that fills all around with balm, no starveling of droughty sands. 

(15) Yea, many the warrior band, with red bows, have I led on 

who goes forth to war may prosper, or mayhap rejoice his foes. 

(16) We passed from the valley that winds from Mish'al to al-Jaba 

yea, far did I lead my fellows, distant our end and aim ! 

(17) Time after time do I travel on earth that fails me not, 

to smite my foes, or it may be to meet on the way my doom. 

(18) On foot do I wend, in spite of distance and weariness, 

and darkness and dawn bring me at last to the end I seek. 

(19) And I have watched our House-mother distribute to each his food ; 

when she fed them, she gave not too much, but doled out the 

morsels just ; 

(20) She fears for us famine if she gives us too freely to eat: 

yea, hungry are we, and she right sternly keeps us in hand. 

(21) A comrade of vagabonds she no veil disguises her face : 

no rest by night is to hope for, if she gives not the word. 

(22) A quiver she carries, thirty shafts in it broad of head : 

when first she gets sight of the foe, she bristles in grisly mood : 

(23) She springs towards the enemy swiftly, her leg to the middle bare : 

she bounds like a wild ass guarding his mates from attack on all 


(24) When they blench, she betakes herself to her glittering keen-edged blade : 

she shoots first the shafts she carries, and then she draws the steel. 
(26) The swords, see, flicker like tails of calves as they rise from the pool : 

they have quenched with blood their thirst, and drunken deep again. 


(27) We slew for a pilgrim slain another in pilgrim garb 

by the stones of Mina, in the midst of the shouting pilgrim crowd ; 

(28) We paid what we owed to Salaman son of Mufrij there 

for all the wrong that their hands had wrought in time gone by. 

(30) We cured, by 'Abdallah slain, somewhat of our burning thirst, 

and 'Auf there, beneath in the fight, what time rose the battle-din. 

(29) A tribe was wished joy at my birth, but I brought them no cause for joy, 

and I live now amid a tribe among which I was not born. 

(31) Whenso comes my time to die, I care not what way it comes : 

no woman shall weep for me of mother's or father's kin. 

(32) If sickness assail me, let no friend come to tend my pain : 

my cure shall be to race up the heights of Dhu-1-Buraiq. 

(33) My taste is sweet, if men seek the sweet they may find in me, 

but bitter, if things unmeet are offered to my disdain. 

(34) I scorn to accept wrong done : but swift my response to him 

who offers to do me kindness or bring me a little joy. 


(3) This is how Marzuqi understands bi-'ainayya ff. Iri-mashhadin minn'i wa-suTchnatin min 
'ainayya qasamat attqataJm. It has been suggested that bi-'ainayya ff. should be rendered ' I would 
give my eyes to see her', &c., understanding fudiya or some such word, and taking the sentence as 
the expression of a wish. I think, however, that the first is the more probable meaning. 

(4) Umaimah is the diminutive of Umm, and denotes the same person as Umm 'Amr in v. 1. 
The second hemistich more literally is : ' Grant that she is the delight of my life : she (or it, the 
delight) has now fallen away from it.' 

(5) A verse absent from several recensions of the poem : its insertion here by Aba 'Ikrimah 
makes it necessary to put after it v. 8, which continues the same thought. 

(6) This verse similarly draws to it v. 9. 

(7) The translation adopts the v. I. mentioned in the note, li-jaratihu. 

(11) 'Eye's Delight': lit. 'coolness to his eye'. Cf. ante, No. IV, note to v. 11. Note the 
opinion (of al-Asma'l) expressed in the scholion that these verses are the most beautiful thing that 
has ever been said in describing a woman pure and fair. 

(12) The second hemistich has perplexed the scholiasts (see text, foot-note B). The most probable 
interpretation seems to me to be that adopted in my version : ' If a human being could be 
converted into one of the Jinn (or, endowed with the qualities of a Jinnl) by beauty, such 
a beauty were hers.' The Jinn, and other spiritual beings imagined by the Arabs, such as the 
Ghuls, were supposed to have the power of assuming beautiful as well as .terrible and ugly shapes 
(see the Thousand and One Nights, passim). Not all the Jinn were thought of as evil ; Muhammad 
recognized this, and is said to have preached to them as well as to mankind : Surah Iv. of the 
Qur'an is addressed to both Men and Jinn. Ordinarily junna means ' to be taken possession of by 
a Jinnl ', that is, to become mad ; but evidently it may be understood of the conveyance to a human 
being of some other qualities connected with the Jinn, and here it is clearly beauty that is said to 


be so conveyed. There seems to be no incongruity in using for the Jinn the nearest English 
analogue, ' fairy ', in such a connexion. 

(13) 'Fragrant with evening's dew', rlkat wa-tuUati, lit. 'that has been blown upon by the 
breeze and moistened with the dew (of evening) '. 

(14) Halyah is no doubt here the valley of that name in the stony uplands of the Sarut forming 
part of the lands of Khath'am : its stony character (hazn : see ante, No. IX, v. 6, note) is in accordance 
with the existence in it of aromatic plants, which grow best in such places. 

(15) 'With red bows': the bows, made of 6'-wood, become red with use and exposure to 
sun and rain. 

(19) The ' House-mother ', Ummu-'iyalin, is a nickname for Ta'abbata Sharra, his comrade, 
because he was in charge of the provisioning of the expedition : see ante, No. I, note to v. 15. The 
fancy of describing him as a woman is carried through all the following verses, as far as v. 24, but 
the warrior is manifest in the actions ascribed to him. 

(20) Notice the metathesis of the root 'aul in the word ta'allat for ta'avnvalat. 

(21) The scholion gives an alternative explanation of the second hemistich : ' She is not 
expected to be at home, unless she chooses to return from a raid '. 

(22) Saihaf is one of the words of which the scholars did not know the precise meaning. 
Ahmad says it means ' sharp, ground to a point ' : others, ' broad in the arrow-head '. The 
word 'adly is explained as meaning ' a number of men running ', a quasi-plural of 'adi, not of 
'aduw : but here the men seen are evidently the enemy. ' Bristles ', iqsJia'airat : the verb is used of 
horripilation caused by fear or other emotion. 

(23) ' Her leg to the middle bare ', Mtizan nisfu sagiha, a phrase (inconsistent with the female 
sex) used of a warrior with his loins girt up for the onset : the izar or waist-wrapper ordinarily 
hangs down below the knee, sometimes trailing, but is girt up above the knee when exertion is 
undertaken. ' A wild ass ' : cf. ante, No. IX, v. 10. The wild ass is said to be the most jealous of 
animals, and the attacks from which he guards his mates are those of other male asses, as well as 
the hunters. 

(24) This verse is followed in our text by one, No. 25, which is wanting in two of the 
recensions, Mz and Bm : it has no commentary, and is remarkably prosaic, spoiling the sequence of 
the poem. The following is its literal translation : 

' A blade the colour of salt, fair and bright in its steel, keen of edge, flashing like portions of 
a pool of water described by poets (!).' 

The ratio comparandi between a sword and salt is apparently whiteness, brilliancy. Muna"at, 
' much described, much used as a simile by poets ', is a singular word to find here, though perhaps 
the first verse of 'Antarah's Mu'allaqah (mutaraddam) might be cited as a parallel. It does not seem 
probable that the verse is genuine. 

(26) ' Calves ', hasil, pi. of hasilah, the young of domesticated kine. We hear nothing of horned 
cattle throughout the whole compass of Beduin verse * ; the herds of the desert-dweller consist 
exclusively of camels, sheep, and goats. But in the Yaman milch cattle are kept, and our poet was 
a man of that region ; hence the comparison of uplifted swords to the tails of calves coming up from 
the water and frisking about. 

(27) The story told t is that when ash-Shanfara was a child, he, his mother, and his brother 
were made over by the branch of the Azd to which he belonged, to al-Harith son of as-Sa'ib of Fahm 
(see ante, No. I) in pledge for payment of bloodwit for the murder of a man of their kin whom the 

* The only place in which I can recall the mention of domesticated cattle by a poet of Ma'add 
is in al-A'sha's Mu'allaqah, 55, where they are spoken of as brought as offerings (to Mina near 
Mecca), no doubt by pilgrims from the Yaman. 

t See text, p. 197 10 ff. 


Azd had slain while he was under the protection of al-Harith. The pledge was never redeemed, 
and ash-Shanfara lived and grew up amongst the tribe of Fahm : hence his association with 
Ta'abbata Sharra in the latter's adventures. He seems to have looked upon al-Harith as his father, 
and was a keen fighter on the side of Fahm in the feuds of that tribe with the Azd. The Azd 
killed al-Harith of Fahm in some quarrel or other, and refused to pay the bloodwit for him. Thin 
was, however, eventually paid (and the responsibility for the death of al-Harith thus assumed) by 
an Azdi called HarSm b. Jabir. When ash-Shanfara grew up, he one day visited Mina among the 
pilgrim crowds performing the rites there, and Haram was pointed out to him as the murderer of 
his father. Ash-Shanfara thereupon sprang upon him and killed him, and escaped by means of his 
matchless speed as a runner. This is what is referred to in v. 27. Muhdiyan : one offering the 
beasts, Imdly, which are offered in sacrifice at Mina during the pilgrimage. Mulabbad (or mulabbid), 
a pilgrim who treats his hair with gum (samgli) when putting on the pilgrim's garb (ihram), to 
prevent it from getting dishevelled. Musatmvit, ' shouting Ldbbaik, labbaik ', the pilgrim's cry. 

(28) See preceding note. The origin and parentage of ash-Shanfara are a very obscure question : 
but it seems most probable* that he was born in a family called al-Iwas, of a tribe called al-Hijr t, 
a branch of the Azd settled in the northern Sarat or meridional chain of al-Yaman. Salaman b. 
Mufrij were another division of the Azd living in the same neighbourhood, and the slayers of 
ash-Shanfara's (adoptive) father, and there were, no doubt, many debts of blood between them 
and Fahm. 

(29) See note to v. 28 : ash-Shanfara, originally an Azdite, lived with Fahm, a Ma'addite stock, 
and spilt the blood of the Azd. The text has the last word bi-munyatt, but the scholion tells us 
that bi-manbiti is the accepted reading, and this is followed in the translation. 

(30) The two men named are said to have been of Salaman. The noun to istahallat is al-Harb, 
' War ', understood. 

(32) Nothing is told us in explanation of this verse. 
(34) Two of our texts (Bm and V) add a final verse : 

' Though never I ceased to sit in the midst of my folk at home, 

yea, even between the tent-poles my Doom should strike me down.' 

If genuine, it might come between vv. 31 and 32. The poet, as a man of blood and violence, looks 
upon the wilderness rather than the encampment as his home, and expects to die in the desert or 
among the mountains (v. 32). 



OUR poet's personal name is also given as Ka'b and Rabl'ah. The tribe to which he 
belonged, Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat, was one of the great divisions of Tamlm, and its lands were 
at the western head of the Persian Gulf, bordering on what is now known as Koweit. He 
was of the family of Anf an-Naqah (see ante, No. IV, note to v. 1), and so also was the lady, 
ar-Rabab, celebrated in the poem. No striking incident is related of our poet's life. He lived to 
a ripe old age, and became a Muslim after a long life spent in the Ignorance, being one of the 
class known as Mukhadrims. On conversion he settled in the newly-founded (16 or 17 H. = 
A.D. 637-38) military centre of al-Basrah, not very far from his tribal country. The author 

See text, p. 195". t See Wustenfeld, Tab. 10 12 . 


of the Agluini thinks that he died during the reign of 'Umar, or perhaps early in that of 
'Uthman. His contemporaries were Salamah b. Jandal (post, No. XXII), az-Zibriqan b. Badr, 
'Amr b. al-Ahtam (post, No. XXIII), and 'Abdah b. at-Tabib (post, No. XXVI), all members 
of his tribe of Sa'd. He was celebrated as a satirist (Naq. 1048 19 ), and as such is said to 
have attracted the notice of the Prophet ; al-Farazdaq speaks of him as one of his most 
famous predecessors (Naq. 200 4 ). The Aghdnl in one place (xxi, 174 10 ff.) absurdly makes 
him a contemporary of 'Alqamah b. 'Abadah, who must have belonged to at least a generation 
before his time : the same story is told in another place (xn, 44 13 ff.) without the mention 
of 'Alqamah. 

Our poem has the appearance of being a production of his pre-islamic period, revised 
after he became a Muslim. To Islam is due the pious phrase with which it concludes 
(vv. 39, 40), but the scheme of it is like that of other poems of the Ignorance. Vv. 4-10 describe 
the deserted dwellings, vv. 11-20 the charms of his mistress: in the latter section the image 
of the ostrich's egg (vv. 16-18), and the saying about the lady's abundant hair (v. 20), are 
borrowed from Imra' al-Qais, while the magnificence of the Persian king is referred to in 
v. 13 in the style familiar in pre-islamic poetry. Then follows a lacuna (after v. 21) : and 
then a description of a laborious journey, on a camel whose points are given in some detail 
(vv. 22-34) ; this journey lacks an object : it should have taken the poet to some patron who 
would have rewarded him, and perhaps originally did so. Then follows the appearance of 
the conventional railing woman, who attacks him for not dealing more carefully with his 
possessions : we expect a rejoinder in the spirit of pagan open-handedness (cf. ante, No. I, 
vv. 20 if.), but all we get is the commonplaces of vv. 37-9. 

(1) He thought of ar-Rabab, and the thought of her was his malady : so he 
followed after youthful passion ; and he who does so has no steadiness of judgement. 

(2) And when her phantom drew near, mine eye received a hurt, and from 
their fountains the tears flowed down 

(3) Like pearls let loose : they had been heedlessly strung on a string, and 
the string has failed them [and snapt]. 

(4) And I see an abode of hers at the pools of as-Sldan : still are its traces 
clear and plain, 

(5) [Though they be] only ashes long extinct, from which the black side-stones 
have kept away the winds, 

(6) And the remnant of a trench the sides of which were raised high, so that 
the root of it still abides. 

(7) And that which has been spared of its spaces by the violent north-winds 
and rains is like the tattooing [on a woman's wrist]. 

(8) Now the wild kine seek out therein places of pasture, and the tawny-backed 
oryxes and the white thereof mix together ; 

(9) And the little ones of the antelopes and the young of the gazelles are like 
lambs among the traces, [frisking at ease]. 


(19) And the torrent-beds of Dhu-d-Dal, and 'Uqab, and az-Zukhm none of 
them are without traces still of her sojourn there : 

(10) Yea, time was that ar-Kabab dwelt there : scouting parties in force her 
people had, that broke the might of their foes. 

(11) She is like a papyrus-stem : delicate living has caused her to outstrip her 
equals in age, and her limbs have shot up into tallness. 

(12) She shows thee a face like a sheet of smooth vellum, not wrinkled or lean, 
nor coarse in feature. 

(13) She is like the choicest of pearls, wherewith the Persians light up the 
arch of the throne of their King : 

(14) For a great price [the King] bought it : there brought it for sale a man 
slender of limb, straight like an arrow, 

(15) His breast anointed with oil : he fetched it forth from a billowy sea 
wherein the sword-fish dwells ; 

(16) Or like an ostrich's egg on a sand-hillock, laid gently down on the earth : 
no unevenness has it to the touch ; 

(17) It came before all its fellows, and there warmed it the male ostrich 
with a mass of wing-feathers matted together, like a bundle of old rags ; 

(18) He holds it close to his side with his wing, and the dust-coloured outer 
wing-feathers hedge the eggs snugly round. 

(20) And the tiring-women lose their tiring-pin in the thick masses of her 
curling hair, that are like bunches of [black] grapes. 

(21) Why dost thou not seek freedom from a yearning that hangs round thy 
neck like the cord, too short, that links together two camels yoked one to the 

other ? 


(22) Many the much-beaten road on which he who travels has a loose saddle, 
smooth like a mat woven by a skilful worker, its rising-grounds all of one level, 

(23) In the sides of which, like circles of embroidery on clothes, are hollows 
scooped by sand-grouse to rest in on their night-long way to water, 

(24) Have I passed along, keeping its sides in view, when the darkness was 
closing in, mounted on a she-camel good to answer when called upon in the 
evening for speed, equal in strength to a stallion. 

(25) She leaves behind her the stones in splinters when she storms along, 
while the hills quiver with heat on the margin of the mirage. 

(26) She hurries along when the road descends before her, like the incessant 
plying of the pulley enclosed between the [two] props [that support it at the well]. 



(27) There does not fail her a pair of haunches strongly joined to the column 
of the spine, and withers thick and muscular, 

(28) And legs slightly bent, resembling the pillars of a building, with the 
flesh compact over the bones. 

(29) And when I raise the whip, [a heart] beneath her ribs, keen, easily stirred 
by emotion, sets her to rapid speed. 

(30) And she fills up the gap between her buttocks with a bushy tail : she is 
barren, and her barrenness makes its growth of hair luxuriant ; 

(81) And she has pads as hard as blacksmiths' hammers, not scanty in hair 
above the hoof, and not soft and smooth. 

(32) She seeks her mid-day rest in the shadow of the tent, like as the gazelle 
then seeks its lair under the roots of the wild lote-tree ; 

(33) Then is she like a rock left behind by a torrent, which has been stranded 
on the margin of its bed, while other heaped stones lie apart from it. 

(34) I have worn her out with toil until I have left her with bones crumbling 

to pieces, and the flesh thereon all spent. 


(35) She that rails at me says but no knowledge has she of the morrow or 
of that which comes after it 

(36) ' Verily wealth it is that makes a man live long, while lacking brings 
near to him his death-day.' 

(37) Nay, by thy Fortune ! I shall not be given life for ever by a hundred 
camels, pure white, whose hair flies off [in the wind when they get fat]. 

(38) Yea, though thou shouldst build for me [a second] al-Mushaqqar, on 
a mountain-top so high that even the mountain-goats cannot attain thereto, 

(39) Even there my Doom should track me out : there is no power that can 
withstand God's will ! 

(40) Yea, I have found the straightest way in all things to be fear of God, 
and the worst of all to follow sin. 


(1) Ar-Rabab, as a woman's name, seems to be derived from the meaning of ' white cloud 
forming the fringe of a darker cloud-mass ' which attaches to the word. Note that the poet speaks 
of himself in the third person in this verse, and in those following in the first. 

(4) As-Sldan, a place in the territory of the Band Sa'd near the north-west sea-shore of the 
Persian Gulf by Kadhimah (near the modern Koweit). Here the water-level in the soil is near the 
surface, and wells never fail : as-Sldan itself is said to be a hill rising above the swampy margin 
(vide note to v. 8 below). 

(5) The use of ilia, T except ', at the beginning of this verse has much perplexed the grammarians, 
the Kofi scholars going so far as to say that it must be equivalent to ' and '. It appears to me that 


the poet forgot how he had put the case in the preceding verse (where he said that ' the traces had 
not been obliterated '), and fancied that he had said that they had been almost effaced ; in that case 
' except ' would be a proper beginning for v. 5. It is, I think, impossible to understand illd in any 
other way. 

(6) The trench, nu'y, is the ditch dug round the tent to keep the rain from flooding the 
interior : its ' root ', jidhm, is the part of it from which water flows down to the lower levels. 

(7) ' Tattooing ', waslim : this simile for traces of tents is one of the most common. Cf. 
Mu'allaqaU of Zuhair, v. 2, and of Labld, v. 9. 

(8) Under the generic title of baqar al-icahsli, ' wild kine ', are, as the commentator explains, 
included two species of oryx, one of which lives in the mountainous uplands (jibul), and the other 
in the wide sandy plains (rimal). The former has a tawny or dust-coloured (a'far) back, white 
belly, and long neck : the latter has a white back, and both have black markings on the face and 
forelegs. Here both kinds meet, showing that the site is between the mountains and the plain. 

(9) ' Lambs ', bahm : the word is also applied to kids ; in the herds of the Beduin sheep and 
goats are found together. 

(19) This verse is quite out of place where it occurs, in the midst of the description of the 
beauties of the poet's mistress : it has been transferred to its proper connexion. 

(10) ' Scouting-parties ', salaf, are parties of armed riders sent in advance to see that the road 
which the families of the encampment propose to take to their next halting-place is secure. This 
verse has somewhat the aspect of an intruder here : one is tempted to think that ar-Babab should 
be read ' ar-Ribab ', and that the verse belongs to a poem dealing with that tribal group rather than 
the lady celebrated : this would account better for the pronoun in laM and 'adiiwahd. 

(14) The pearl diver is described in this and the following verse : see a beautiful passage in 
the same vein, probably by al-Musayyab (see ante, No. XI), of which a translation is given at 
pp. 146-7 of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for January-June 1912, and the original text 
at pp. 499-500 of the same volume. 

(15) The scholion to this verse offers a comical illustration of the perversity of cloister-scholars : 
al-Farra, a famous grammarian who died in 207 H., thinks that the word luJchm (sword-fish, xiphias) 
means frogs ! 

(17) The comparison of a young and beautiful woman to an ostrich's egg is found in the oldest 
Arab verse : cf. Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 41 : as in that passage, the egg is the first-born of its mother. 

(18) The male ostrich incubates the eggs laid by his mates, as is the case with all birds of 
the Ratite family. 

(21) After this verse there must be a lacuna, for it should clearly be followed by a statement 
of the means by which the poet escapes from the burden of memory. What comes next, however, 
is a description of his long journey on a she-camel through waterless deserts. 

(22) The traveller has a loose saddle, because the beast he rides loses so much flesh by exertion 
in the long journey that the girth becomes loose ; and the place is so dangerous that he cannot 
delay to tighten it up. ' Its rising-grounds all of one level ', iMmuhu durmu, and therefore offering 
no landmarks to guide the traveller : the words may also be taken as meaning that there are no 
rising-grounds, but only a flat level surface. 

(23) The implication in this verse is that the sand-grouse, qata, which are said to fly all through 
the night in search for water, have so far to go that they are obliged to stop and take rest on their 
way: therefore the poet's journey is through a country where the watering-places are very far 
distant one from another. 

(24) This verse describes a journey by night, and the following verse one by day in the greatest 
heat, when the hills stand out from the mirage : the implication is that the same continuous journey 
is meant. 


(80) Al-Asma'l says that the poet makes a mistake in giving his she-camel a bushy tail, and 
that the best-bred camels have a tail like an adder, free from hair. It seems possible that al-Asma'i 
is mistaken : Tarafah, a poet with a reputation as a judge of camels, gives his beast a bushy tail in 
vv. 15-16 of his Mu'allaijtili. 

(31) ' Not soft and smooth ', Id durmu : ailram (of which dunn is plural) means even and level, 
so that you cannot feel the bones, so well covered are they with flesh. There is a v. 1. Id l~uzmu, 
' not too short '. 

(32) The she-camel, being of the best breed, is the pet of the household, and takes her midday 
rest in the shadow of the tent, as the wild creatures lie in the shade of their holes scooped out 
among the roots of trees (ante, No. X, note to v. 1 1). 

(34) This verse shows how great have been his exertions on his journey : it conflicts somewhat 
with the rest of the description of his camel, as strong and muscular. 

(37) Camels when getting fat lose their old hair by the sprouting of the new, and the old hair 
is carried away by the wind. Of. ante, note to No. XV, v. 10. 

(38) Al-Mushaqqar is the name of a strong castle in al-Bahrain where the Persian governor, 
who in the time of the Sasanian kings controlled that portion of Arabia, had his residence : it may 
perhaps be the same as the modern Hufuf or Hufhnf. It was a place well known to the tribe of 
Tamlm, as the scene of their disaster in or about the year A. D. 611, when a number of the tribe 
were killed by the governor as a punishment for raiding on a caravan sent from the Yaman to the 
Persian king in the 'Iraq. 




FOB the poet's tribe see the introduction to No. XXI. Ibn Qutaibah (Shi'r, p. 147) calls 
him jahill qadim, ' one who lived far back in the Ignorance ' ; but if the poem attributed to 
him in the Asma'lydt (No. LIII) is genuine, he outlived the death of the last king of the 
Lakhmite dynasty of al-Hlrah, an-Nu'man Abu Qabus (vv. 38 ff.), which probably occurred 
some time between A.D. 602 and 607 ; and Prof. Ahlwardt thought, from the mention of 'the 
Merciful ', ar-Rahman, in v. 36 of the same poem, that he must have become a Muslim before 
his death : this, however, is not certain. According to Ibn Qutaibah, he was a contemporary 
of 'Amr b. Kulthum of Taghlib, the author of the Mu'allaqah and the slayer of King 'Ami- 
son of Hind of al-Hlrah (A.D. 569). Though said to have been one of the most celebrated 
warriors of his tribe, as well as a famous poet, there is no article dealing with him in the 
Aghdni. He belonged to the family of Muqa'is, from which Qais son of 'Asim, the chief of 
Tamim on the day of the second battle of al-Kulab (see post, No. XXX), was descended, but 
there is no mention of him in the accounts of that battle (fought about A.D. 612). He was, 
however, associated with Qais in the battle of Jadud, where that chief defeated the Bakrites 
of Shaiban and wounded their leader al-Haufazan (see post, No. CX1V) : two pieces by him 
celebrating this victory are contained in the commentary to the Naqa'id (pp. 147 and 148). 


Qais became a Muslim in the last year but one of the Prophet's life: if Salamah was then alive 
he too must have accepted Islam about the same time. 

Salamah's Dlwan has been published by Prof. Louis Cheikho, S.J., at Beyrout (1910). 
Prof. Cheikho suggests that he may have been an adherent of Christianity, which is known to 
have prevailed to a certain extent among the Arabs dwelling along the north-west shores of 
the Persian Gulf : but this theory is scarcely borne out by his poems ; see, e. g., the reference 
to the (pagan) sacrifices of Rajab in v. 6 of the following piece. 

The poem which follows is one of the masterpieces of our collection ; for this reason 
I have endeavoured to reproduce in the translation something of the beautiful rhythm 
(Baslt) of the original : where this has entailed a departure from the literal rendering of the 
Arabic, the latter is explained in the notes. Almost every verse of it is the subject of frequent 
citation, and our commentary shows how many scholars occupied themselves with it. The 
'Umarah who is several times mentioned as an authority on the poem is, no doubt, the great- 
grandson of the poet Jarir, and a member of the tribe of Tamim (see index to Naqd'id). The 
structure of the poem is simple, and requires no elucidation. The place of the amatory prelude 
is taken by the invocation of Youth at the commencement, and women are not mentioned until 
the last verse, and then only casually. The poem may well be complete : the verses describing 
spears (17 to 20) are disproportionately detailed, and some of them may be by another hand. 
The description of the horse (vv. 5-15) is particularly admired. 

(1) Gone is Youth, gone with praise Youth full of marvellous things ! 

Gone ! and that is a race wherein none may overtake. 

(2) Fled is it swiftly, and this hoary Eld comes on in its track 

ah, would that the galloping steeds could reach it and bring it back ! 

(3) Gone is fair Youth, that time whose gains are fullness of praise : 

in it was delight for us : no delight is left for the old ! 

(4) Yea, two days were good the day of assemblies and moots of the tribe, 

and the day of journeying through light and darkness to fall on 

our foes 

(5) The day we pushed on our steeds homewards the way they had gone, 

with hoofs chipped, jaded and worn by onset again and again ; 

(6) And the galloping steeds came home with streaks of blood on their 

as though their necks were the stones where victims in Rajab are 

slain ; 

(7) Yea, each one fleet, when the sweat soaks through the saddle-pad, clear 

of skin, smooth-cheeked, bright of hair, a galloper tireless of pace. 

(8) Not thin his forelock, nor humped his nose, no weakling of limb: 

preferred is he in the dealing of milk, well nurtured at home. 


(9) Each leg apart in its gallop seems to stream with a rush 

of speed as though from a bucket water poured o'er the field. 

(10) Up starts he briskly, as starts a shepherd who in his sleep 

has left his flock to a wolf to harry, and wakes in alarm. 

(11) His withers rise to a neck far reaching upwards, below 

a breast blood-stained, like a stone on which red saffron is ground. 

(12) The folds of fat on his breast are set close, fold upon fold : 

all kinds of movement are easy to him, gallop and trot ; 

(13) He races down the wild asses, brown, green-lipped with the grass : 

a thousand drop off behind him, easily wins he unspurred. 

(14) To how many wretches have they by God's will brought wealth and ease! 

how many rich have they spoiled and stript of all luxury! 

(15) With such as these do men enter battle with confident heart 

in spite of spear-play : with such, hard pressed, secure is their flight. 

(16) Of late Ma'add thought to do us hurt : but cooled was their wrath 

before our spears, and the stroke of swords not meant but to bruise : 

(17) Yea, swords of proof, and the spear-heads furbished bright, set on shafts 

hard-grained, not hollow, with knots to bind together their length ; 

(18) Their heads gained glitter from hands of men that fight in the van 

no mongrels they, dark of hue, no slinkers puny of build ! 

(19) The clip made even their shafts, and straight they carry the steel : 

no crooked stem canst thou see, but polished well-fitted spears ; 

(20) Blue steel their points, red and straight their slender Indian stems : 

atop they bear after fight the heads of chieftains slain. 

(21) Our men, when battle is joined, ply briskly, skilled in the play, 

lances like ropes at the well, where many drawers combine. 

(22) Both armies led from Ma'add, the men from Upland and Plain, 

both feel the pain of our spears, and cannot hide it with lies. 

(23) For me, I find that the Sons of Sa'd shine before all 

with warriors first in the fight like firebrands kindled to blaze ; 

(24) Tamlm the stock they uphold in wealth of glory and fame : 

whoso bears credit among mankind, he owes it to race. 

(25) A people they, when a year of famine presses, their tents 

bring strength to starvelings, and rest to wandering sons of the Wild. 

(26) When bites Calamity, sharp-toothed, cruel, patience is theirs 

to bear unflinching, and countless men to stand for the lost. 


(27) When wind blows chill from the North, we pitch our tents in the dales 

where drought has left in their bottoms stumps and bushes to burn : 

(28) Their paddocks hoary with frost, their brook-beds trampled and bare, 

their wallowing-grounds nought but dust, rainless, all greenery gone. 

(29) When one conies calling to us for help and succour in need, 

clear is our answer to him forth start we straight in his cause ; 

(30) Swiftly we saddle the camels strong and eager to go, 

and quick we set on our short-haired steeds the gear for the road. 

(31) Men say 'Their beasts are kept tethered close to where they are fed: 

though scant the milk of their camels, spared is it ever for them." 

(32) So stand we, great in men's eyes : our ladies ne'er turn aside 

whenso they travel from Khatt to upland lava plains. 


(2) ' Galloping steeds ', ya'aqib, plural of ya'qub : the scholion notes that the word is used for 
the partridge, and supposes that they are named here for their swift flight ; but it seems pretty 
certain that horses are meant, as the word rakd implies, and ya'qul) must, as 'Umarah suggests, be 
derived from 'aqib, meaning ' a constant renewal of pace, running again and again '. Cf. tafib in v. 5. 

(6) Kajab, one of the sacred months of the old Arabian year, of which it is the seventh : originally 
its place was at the beginning of the hot dry season, May-June, but in the century before Muham- 
mad it had (owing to the loss of time caused by the too short reckoning of the year) come to fall 
in winter (see 'Abld, Ducan, xvi. 3, and xix. 10). While the other sacred months during which war 
was forbidden, Dhu-1-Qa'dah, Dhu-1-Hijjah, and Muharram, come together, Kajab is solitary. Victims 
(especially the first-born) were offered in it at holy places, perhaps, as conjectured by Wellhausen 
(Heidenthum?, 98 ff.), as a thank-offering for the increase of herds and flocks, analogous to the 
Hebrew Pesah ; see also Eobertson Smith, Eeligion of the Semites*, 227 ff. Here the blood on the 
horses' breasts arises from fight, being either their own blood or that of an enemy slain : in v. 11 
it is the blood of animals killed in the chase ; see ante, No. XIX, note to v. 10. 

(8) 'Milk': so I have understood daiva, 'the food given to a horse during training'; see 
scholion, p. 231 13 . For milk as the diet of horses in Arabia see ante, note to No. V, v. 3. 

(9) ' O'er the field : , or, perhaps more suitably for a nomad, into the trough or cistern. The 
comparison of a horse's speed to the rush of water is common in the old poetry : the word jara is 
used both of galloping and of flowing water, and ideas connected with the latter are transferred to 
the former. 

(10) This verse is said by al-Asma'i to be by Abo Du'ad, a contemporary of Imra' al-Qais, and 
not by our poet. The word for shepherd, yarfa'l, means properly an ostrich : here it is transferred 
to a black Abyssinian herdsman (see ante, note to No. I, v. 15), because the ostrich also is most 
commonly black. The word dasl', here rendered ' withers ', appears to be one of those of which 
the exact meaning was unknown to the scholiasts. For the simile of the grinding-stone on which 
perfumes are kneaded, see ante, No. XIX, note to v. 10. 

(12) The mention of folds of fat on the horse's breast is hardly consistent with his perfect 
condition (see next verse) : perhaps the verse is not genuine. 

1101.3 M 


(13) The wild asses are pictured with lips green from eating the lush herbage to indicate that 
they are in the height of their strength and swiftness. The second hemistich refers to a race with 
other horses. ' Unspurred ', more literally ' without being struck ' either with the whip or the 
rider's heel. Spurs (mahamiz, sing, mihmaz) are very seldom referred to in the ancient poetry : 
the only place I can at the moment recall is in ash-Shammakh's poem at p. 48 of his Dlw&n, top, 
where they are used by a horse-breaker in breaking-in an animal : but striking the horse's side 
with the heel is often mentioned. 

(14) 'They' in this verse is the company of horses of w. 5 to 6 : but the riders are really 
intended ; cf. ante, No. XV, note to v. 27. 

(16) ' The stroke of swords not meant but to bruise ', darbun ghairu tadhbibi, a blow not meant 
merely to thrust back, but to kill. 

(17) 'Swords of proof, Mashrafi swords, for which see ante, No. XII, note to v. 10. The 
rest of the verse paraphrased in the translation literally means ' with spears with polished spear- 
heads, not hollow in the operative portion, hard in the internodes '. The Arab spears are made of 
bamboos imported from India, the best being the so-called ' male ' bamboos, which are not hollow. 

(20) The spear-shafts are red, humr, because they are mature : elsewhere and more commonly 
they are called sumr, tawny (ante, No. XII, v. 16). The second hemistich has divided the 
commentators (like v. 2 above), who are puzzled by the phrase maqilun li-l-ya'asrlbi. That adopted in 
the translation seems to be the most probable meaning : but yd sub (of which ya'asib is the plural) 
also means the Queen (or, as the Arabs called it, the King) of a swarm of bees : but why a queen-bee 
should select the point of a spear on which to alight for a noon-tide rest is hard to imagine. 

(21) The thrust and thrust again of spears is frequently compared to the plying of well-ropes 
at a well. Matltib in the original is said to be a well-known watering-place on the road between 
Mecca and Syria. 

(22) ' Feel the pain of our spears ' : this may also be rendered ' are unable to endure our spears '. 

(24) The rendering of the second hemistich here offered seems to me clearly the right one, but 
it is not that preferred in the scholion, which explains that it means ' every one among men who is 
a person of credit (or good reputation) is generally characterized by that reputation '. 

(25) More literally, ' when a year of drought comes, and the sky is bare of clouds [bringing 
rain] '. Kakl is a proper name (fern.) for famine. 

(27) The word ktmna in this and v. 29 is idiomatically used to mean ' our custom is ' to act as 
stated. The valleys with firewood in their bottoms, in spite of the drought, are resorted to in 
order that there may be the means of cooking the meat with which the tribe feed the hungry. 

(28) ' Paddocks ', a rather loose version of mdbarik, the places set apart for couching camels. 

(29) The second hemistich literally rendered is, ' Our answer to his cry for help is the smiting 
of the shins ', a phrase variously interpreted. The Sihah (cited by Lane) says that the poet means 
that a quick reply was given, calling the striking of the whip on the leg of the rider's boot, in 
urging on the horse, ' the striking of the shin ' : but this is inconsistent with the next verse, which 
shows that the warriors did not immediately mount their horses to help the suppliant, but, as 
usual, went forth on their business mounted on camels, leading the horses along by their side till 
they arrived at the scene of action. Another explanation is that the shins struck were those of 
the camels, either when standing up to induce them to kneel down in order that they might be 
loaded or mounted, or, if they were couched, to make them get up. A third is that the phrase is 
a proverbial one : when a man deliberates with himself, and comes to a resolution as to his action, he 
is thought of as striking his shin with a switch, as in the story of Abu Hanbal of Tayyi' cited in the 
scholion. In whatever way the phrase is explained, it is clear that it means that the response to 
the suppliant's cry for help was immediate. 

(31) This verse also has been variously interpreted, as the scholion shows. The translation 


adopts the sense indicated on p. 245 7 ff : the horses are the ' beasts ' referred to ; they are kept by 
the tents ready for action, and fed with camels' milk, in spite of the scantiness of the supply caused 
by continued drought. 

(32) Our ladies are never turned aside from the road on a journey from one camping-place to 
another, because of the terror of our name : no one would dare to attack them. The sawdd al-Khc^t 
is the cultivated coast-land of the Persian Gulf, al-Khatt being the name of a port resorted to by 
traders from India, and especially by importers of bamboos for spears, which are thence called 
Khatli. For the ' Lava plains ', frequent in the western and higher portion of the Upland (Najd), 
see ante, No. IV, note to v. 10. 




OUR poet was a near kinsman of Qais son of 'Asim, the chief of Sa'd of Tamlm who led 
the tribe on the Day of al-Kulab the second (ante, No. XXII, introduction), and was one of the 
deputation of Tamlm which repaired to the Prophet at Medina in the year 9 of the Hijrah 
(Tabari, ser. I, vol. iv, pp. 1710 ff, and Aghanl iv. 8-10), and, after being defeated in a contest of 
boasting in prose oratory and in verse by the followers of Muhammad, accepted Islam. 'Amr 
was then young. Of his subsequent history little is recorded. He no doubt shared the fortunes 
of his tribe, and joined in the general apostasy after the Prophet's death, again conforming 
when the successes of Khalid son of al-Walid showed the dissidents that conformity was the 
best policy. He was celebrated for his beauty ; a daughter of his, called Umm Hablb, was 
married to al- Hasan son of 'All, who expected to find her as beautiful as her father. She turned 
out, however, to be plain, and he divorced her. His father's name was Sinan, but he was called 
al-Ahtam by reason of his having lost his front-teeth in consequence of a blow inflicted by 
Qais son of 'Asim with a bow on the day of the battle of al-Kulab (see post, introduction to 
No. XXX). Another poem by 'Amr, No. CXXIII, is contained in our collection. 

Our poem is probably to be dated after 'Amr's conversion to Islam. The short prelude, 
vv. 1-3, seems to be followed by a lacuna, since the woman called Umm Haitham in v. 4 is not 
the poet's mistress, but one who blames him for too lavish expenditure on hospitality, and 
probably several verses intervened before this subject was reached. The scene of the slaughtering 
of a fine she-camel, vv. 12-17, however repugnant to our tastes, is one often celebrated by the 
old poets ; as noted against v. 12, a Beduin slaughters himself the beast he offers to his guests, 
and has no feeling of delicacy in describing how the work was done upon it. 

(1) Asma's phantom visited me by night, and again and again it comes: 

she left me, and this was her mind, that her vision should cause me 

to yearn. 

(2) She went, taking with her the longing of a sad soul whose heart 

is like a bird's broken wing, that now can do nought but flutter. 

M 2 


(3) And a light thing it is to Asma that her road takes her far away 

while one distraught longs after her, and yearns with all his soul. 


(4) Let me alone ! for miserliness, O Mother of Haitham, 

steals away all that is good in the natures of men. 

(5) Let me alone, and do as I desire: for all my concern 

is for the brightness and lofty place of my good name. 

(6) Yea, honourable am I, and a household fills my heart with care 

for ills that befall, and losses, and calls for brotherly help. 

(7) And many the wanderer who causes my dogs to bark have I called 

to my tent after darkness had thickened, when the winter star-cluster 

was setting ; 

(8) He struggles with the freezing first blackness of the night, what time 

the winds make him draw close his raiment, and lightnings flash 

(9) Out of the depths of a rain-cloud heavy with water, with a fringe 

hanging near the ground, gushing forth in frequent showers ; 

(10) I have entertained him well, and have uttered no unkind word to him, 

nor have I said, that I might dismiss him from my hospitality, ' Sooth, 
there is no room in my tent '. 

(11) I said 'Welcome to thine own people, to a place both easy and broad! 

See, here is the morning draught set ready for thee, and a friend.' 

(12) Then I went to the sleeping line of couching beasts, where the camels 

great and fat in the hump, like towers, the best of their kind, protected 
themselves from slaughter 

(13) By putting in my way a fine white camel, wont to bring forth her young 

in the early spring, great as a staUion when she reared herself in front of 
the other camels ten months gone in calf. 

(14) I made for her with a sword-blow on the shank, or with a wide wound, 

spouting blood, in the stabbing-place with its gash in front of the shoulders ; 

(15) Then two butchers set to work upon her, and mounting atop of her they 

flay away her hide while yet she is breathing in the last gasps of death ; 

(16) And there were drawn towards us her udder and her hump, 

and a white camel-calf that was just trying to stand, of purest breed, 

(17) Cut out of its mother's belly: a brother bound to me by the brotherhood 

of the good, a true comrade, clears away from it with his sword the 
membrane that enwraps it. 

(18) And throughout the night, in the dark hours, there was set before us and 

the guest a roast of her flesh, rich with fat, and abundance to drink ; 


(19) And he passed the night with quilts upon him, and smooth soft bedding, 

as a defence against the east wind and cold it was ! 

(20) Yea, every honourable man wards off blame by good cheer to his guest ; 

and among the good there is always to be found a way to well-doing. 

(21) By thy life ! it is not the lands that become too strait for their people : 

it is the natures of the men that inhabit them that are narrow. 

(22) Strains in me that come down from Zurarah uplift me to lofty height, 

and strains in my blood that come from Fadakl and al-Ashadd 

(23) Glorious ancestry that lifts a man high upon a lofty stock: 

but some men's fathers there be that are puny and mean! 


(7) ' Wanderer that causes my dogs to bark ', mustanbih : a wanderer in the Desert who has lost 
his way is said to bark like a dog. If there be any encampment near, the dogs there bark in answer, 
and the man guides his steps to the place by the sound. ' I have called, or invited ', not by words, 
but by lighting a fire to show the wayfarer where rest and food are to be found. ' The winter star- 
cluster ', najmu-sh-shita', is the Pleiades. 

(8) The scholion to this verse contains a good example of the perverse methods of commentators : 
the verse is not self-contained, but its final word, buruqu, is the nominative to the verb ta'allaqu at 
the beginning of v. 9. The scholiasts, however, insist that it must be taken together with riyahun 
as the nouns to taluffu, and, while the wind naturally makes the wanderer wrap himself closer in his 
cloak, find themselves unable to explain why the lightnings should also do so. This habit of not 
looking beyond the line under discussion is illustrated again and again in our commentary. The 
poem before us has other cases where a sentence is left unfinished at the end of a verse : e. g. 
vv. 12 and 16 ; it is no doubt the rule that a couplet should be self-contained, but it is a rule which 
is frequently broken. 

(9) The variant dani-r-rabab for dani-s-sahab indicates that the ' fringe ', Jiaidab, was thought of 
by some of those who handed down the poem as one of white cloud below the main cloud-mass. It 
is more probable, however since no mention is made of moon- or star-light, which would be necessary 
to give the cloud-fringe its whiteness that the fringe was of falling rain. 

(11) The phrase here is the Beduin's welcome to the stranger, conveying much in few words : 
ahlan = ' [Thou hast come to] thine own people ' ; sahlan = ' to a smooth and level ground ' ; 
marhaban = ' to a broad place with no straitness in it '. The morning draught, sabuh, may be of 
milk as well as wine, and the former seems to be meant here. 

(12 and 13) indicate that the poet slaughtered for his guest the best and most precious of all 
his she-camels. Nomad chiefs are their own slaughterers, as travellers have often testified. The 
she-camel mentioned was one ' wont to bring forth in the early spring ', the best time for the calf to 
be born ; she was, in fact, just on the point of delivery, for the calf in her womb (w. 16-17) was cut 
out alive. For the whole episode compare Tarafah, Mu'allaqah, 87-92. 

(15) The word aufada, 'mounted on the carcase ', indicates the great size of the animal killed. 

(16) The udder, hump, and unborn calf were the delicate parts to be cooked and served. That 
the camel-calf was white indicates its excellence of breed. 


(19) The scholion records an absurd suggestion by al-Asma'l that the ' thin, or soft, smooth 
sheet ', masqftlu-l-kisa'i raqiqu, was the pellicle, dwcayah, on the top of freshly-drawn camels' milk 
which forms when it cools. 

(22) Zurarah was the great chief of Tamim. in the century before Islam, father of Ma'bad (taken 
prisoner at the battle of Kahrahan), Laqit (slain at Shi'b Jabalah in A. D. 570), and Hajib, (com- 
manding the tribe at an-NisSr). 'Amr b. al-Ahtam's mother Mayya was the daughter of Fadakl son 
of A'bad, and her mother was the daughter of 'Alqamah son of Zurarah. Al-Ashadd is the name of 
one of the ancestors of whom our poet boasts in v. 22 of his other poem in our collection, No. CXXIII : 
he was Sinan son of Khalid son of Minqar, grandfather of Qais son of 'Asim, the captain at al-Kulab. 


NOTHING is known of the poet or his age, unless he be the same as the Tha'labah b. Su'air 
who is said to have become a Muslim and to have known Muhammad. In the Isabah of Ibn 
Hajar (i. 406), and also in the Usd al-Ghabah of Ibn al-Athir, this Tha'labah is said to have 
belonged to the tribe of 'Udhrah, a reputed Yamanite stock . On the other hand, the Islah 
al-Mantiq of BSikkit says that the SihaM was Tha'labah b. Su'air al-Mdzinl, also called 
Tha'labah b. Abl Su'air, the father of 'Abd-allah b. Tha'labah to whom traditions are also 
ascribed. 'Abdallah died in A.H. 89, having been six years old when the Prophet died (A.H. 11). 
If this Tha'labah is our poet, then the statement made in the scholion to verse 1 1 of the poem, 
that he was more ancient than the grandfather of Labld, is evidently impossible. Neither in 
the Aglianl, BQutaibah's Shi'r, BDuraid's Ishtiqdq, nor any other book of reference accessible 
to me is there mention of any other Tha'labah b. Su'air. His poem plainly shows him to 
have been a pagan when it was composed (vv. 3, 14). It has suffered somewhat from dis- 
location, but is on the whole a fine example of the old poetry, setting forth the ideals of 
a gallant man as the heathen Arabs understood them. 

(1) Is there with 'Amrah any equipment for the road for a traveller with a 
need, who goes forth on his way at evening or when morning dawns ? 

(2) He is weary of waiting after the long time he has tarried ; and he has 
come to the end of his desire, and will abide no longer 

(3) For the promises of one who is cunning, or for her pledges not meant to 
be fulfilled, though she were to swear by the black [blood of the victims] that 
flows [over the sacred stones]. 

(4) She promised thee, then she failed to perform her promise ; and maybe 
what she denied thee would not have hurt her. 

(5) And I see that with fair ones ties endure not for ever, whether in poverty 
or even in the case of the well-to-do. 


(6) And when the tie of love that binds thee to thy friend abides not to thee, 
then cut off thy desire of him with a fleet she-camel, trained to leanness, 

(7) Hard and strong, large in the middle ribs, a mighty goer, a swift traveller 
in the noon-tide heat, of stout and sturdy frame. 

(8) She goes on steadily through the fore-noon when the strength of the other 
riding-camels is spent, as though she were the castle of Ibn Hayyah which he 
built up with bricks and overlaid with plaster. 

(9) Thou wouldst think that the leather saddle-bags and the corners of the 
leather cover of the saddle[, when she hurries along,] were two prominent bunches 
of feathers on the wings of a male ostrich fleeing in terror ; 

(10) He races alongside of a she-ostrich travelling home in the evening, whose 
feathers her swift course causes to fall out, as the man who fecundates the date- 
palms strips off and throws down the wrappings of the spathe. 

(11) The twain thought upon a nest full of eggs ranged in rows one against 
another, after the Sun had stretched forth her right hand to the covering Night. 

(12) Her feeding-places were far away [from the nest], and her youngling 
twittered to her, in fields where grew the 'a and the succulent colocynth, thick 
and broad. 

(13) So the two took their way together, under the gathering shade of night, 
with a swift even pace like the steady rushing down of an evening shower. 

(14) Then [the she-ostrich] set up, as darkness came on, her tent over the 
eggs, like a woman of the Hums in a black veil who lets it fall off her head. 


(15) 'Umairah, how shouldst thou know how many young warriors, shining 
of countenance, famed for generous and noble deeds, 

(16) Fair in their playful speech, whose hospitality finds none to blame it, 
liberal of their hands [in peace], stirrers-up of battle in war, 

(17) I have anticipated in the early morning by buying a dark-coloured small 
skin of wine, before the dawn, and before the cock raised his clamour. 

(18) Then did I shorten the day to them by means of the wailing voice of a 
tall she-camel [which I caused to be slaughtered to feed them], and the singing to 
us of a songstress in the cloudy air, and liberal gifts to the slaughterer, 

(19) Till the day came to an end, and they returned to their homes, giving no 
heed to the discourse of him who rebuked their wantonness. 

(20) And many the raiding troop like a swarm of locusts have I held back 
before the dawn, mounted on a keen-sighted steed trained to leanness, 


(21) Full of spirit, like a casting-stone [clad in] an ample coat of mail that 
turns all arrows, and armed with a pliant spear that quivers when I brandish it. 

(22) Yea, and many the girl with a fair white brow, simple and inexperienced 
in love, [with large black eyes] like an antelope, that charms the sight of him that 
gazes on her 

(23) I have spent the night teaching her dalliance and removing her fears, 
until the whiteness of the dawning day shone forth. 

(24) And many the adversaries, eager, full of hatred, their breasts vomiting 
forth bitter wounding words, 

(25) Persistent in enmity, have I bowed down to accept that which they 
loathed, and have repelled their empty claims with manifest right, 

(26) By the speech of a man of decision, firm of purpose, who drives his 
enemy headlong, with his roaring to the roarer. 


(3) The objects venerated in the ancient Arabian worship were stones, set up on end, ansab 
(sing, numb or nusb, from the same root <is the Heb. massebMh), before which they performed sacrifices 
in the name of some Deity, daubing the blood of the victim upon the sacred pillar. We often hear, 
in the ancient poetry, of oaths sworn by the blood so poured forth, which, as dedicated to the Deity, 
is regarded as holy : e. g. an-Nabighah (v. 37) swears 

'By the life of Him whose Ka'bah I have stroked with my hand, 

and by the clotted blood poured forth on the standing stones ! ' 
See Wellhausen, Heidenthivm 2 , pp. 116ff. 

(6) Cf. note to No. I, v. 3. The word harf, applied to a she-camel, is interpreted in a number 
of different ways : see Lane, s. v. The most probable meanings appear to be either ' trained to 
emaciation ', or ' keen, swift ', in either case the beast being compared to the edge of a sword ; in 
my version ' fleet ' has been chosen, as the next word conveys the idea of training. 

(8) For the comparison of a camel to a tower, fadan, see ante, No. IX, note to v. 5. No 
information is given in the commentaries as to the Son of Hayyah, the builder of the tower 
referred to. 

(10) Date-palms are dioecious, and have to be fertilized artificially by the transfer of the pollen 
of the male tree to the female, the male spadix being bruised or broken up and sprinkled on the 
female flowers, or a raceme of the former being inserted into the spathe of the latter : the operation 
is called 'dbr or 'ibar, the male spadix being compared to a needle, 'ibrah. ' The wrappings of the 
spathe ', lif, are the membranous fibres which grow at the base of the foliage of the date-palm, which 
are put to many uses. 

(1 1) The translation adopts the dual tadhakkani instead of the feminine tadhakkamt, the former 
reading having the preponderance of authority and suiting the passage best. The Sun is feminine 
in Arabic. This verse is very often quoted, and is said to have been imitated ('stolen ', as the critics 
say) by Labld in v. 65 of his Mu'allaqah ; but see the introduction above : the poet seems to have been 
younger than Labld. The commentary explains and illustrates the use of the root kafara in the 
sense of ' cover, hide ', from which its other applications are derived. 


(12) The ' is variously explained as the fruit of a big tree called sarh, or as that of a low bush 
or shrub. It is often mentioned in connexion with tannum and colocynth as the food of ostriches, 
and the latter explanation is most probable. This verse seems out of place, and interrupts the 
sequence of v. 13 to v. 11 ; moreover, there is little point in mentioning the female ostrich separately, 
and the young ostrich, saqb, is inconsistent with the rest of the picture, which is concerned with the 
anxiety of the birds for their eggs. 

(13) Here, again, we have speed in running compared to falling or flowing water : cf. ante, 
No. XXII, note to v. 9. 

(14) Our poet makes the she-ostrich the incubator, perhaps not knowing the habits of the male 
bird. The ' tent ' is the mass of feathers, compared to a veil which a woman lets fall off her head. 
The Hums (sing. Ahmas) were the Quraish and the other tribes whose lands adjoined the sacred 
territory of the Ka'bah, viz. Khuza'ah, Kinanah, and a portion of the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah which 
descended from a Quraishite mother, Majd ; they observed special austerities on the occasion of the 
annual Pilgrimage : see Wellhausen, Heidentlium -, pp. 85 ff. and 245-6 : opposed to them were the 
Jfillah, who allowed themselves various privileges during the Pilgrimage. 

(15) Our text has Sumayyah for the name of the woman addressed : the translation prefers the 
alternative reading 'Umairah, diminutive of the 'Amrah of v. 1, which is also the reading of the old 
authority Jahidh. If Sumayyah were right the poem would be made up of fragments belonging to 
two separate pieces. 

(17) For drinking in the morning cf. ante, No. VIII, note to v. 16. The word dJuirit is taken as 
explained by Ahmad in the scholion, line 12, not as Aba 'Ikrimah renders it, lines 10-11. 

(18) Rannatu sMrifin is explained by Abu 'Ikrimah as meaning the sound of a lute (ud), com- 
pared to the yearning cry of an old, or big, she-camel : I have preferred Ahmad's interpretation, 
lines 19-20 of commentary ; but there is something to be said for the other : ftanm, the yearning 
cry of a camel, is used for the sound of the lute (Ilamdsali, 506 foot, sliira'a-l-mizlMrirl-hanuni). My 
rendering has been determined by the last words of the verse, jadwd jaziri, and the possibility that 
the piece was chosen by al-Mufaddal by reason of association of ideas with that which precedes it, 
where there is also a scene of slaughtering a she-camel (vv. 13 ff.). 

Singing-girls are often mentioned as called on to sing on a cloudy day (yaum ad-dajn) : Tarafah, 
Mu'aU. 59 ff., &c. ; hence mudjinah alone means a songstress.* 'To shorten the day' is a common 
phrase for making it enjoyable, and therefore passing too soon away. 

(20) The word waza'tu is ambiguous : it may mean, as rendered, ' I have withstood, held back ' ; 
or it may mean ' I have captained ', the function of a captain being to impose discipline on his host 
and restrain independent or self-willed action (LA. x. 270 1 tr -). The latter is possibly its meaning 
here : in No. XXX, v. 18, post, the former is, I think, the sense intended. The dawn is the chosen 
time for raids : hence sabah is used in the sense of an attack at that hour. SJuujyVan, ' keen or far 
sighted '. 

(21) Two doubtful words in this v. are thaqf, explained in the scholion as meaning ' on which 
arrows can make no impression ', and 'dtir, which the commentary will have to be equivalent in sense 
to the preceding 'arras, ' quivering '. 

(26) I have rendered the reading yadha'u-l-'aduwa, ' repels, hurls back, the enemy '. The ' roarer ' 
is the enemy, who roars impotently against the poet his adversary. The scene depicted is one of 
contention for personal or tribal glory, with satire and invective as the weapons. 

* It seems possible, however, that mudjinah may have another meaning, viz. ' trained, educated ' : 
this is certainly the meaning of its equivalent ddjinah, applied to dogs, in Labid's Mu'all. v. 49. 




THE poet was the author of the Mu'allaqah, and therefore a contemporary of King 'Amr 
son of Hind of al-Hlrah (A. D. 554-69), before whom that poem was delivered. Two other pieces 
by him are contained in our Collection, No. LXII and Appendix I, and his short Dvwan exists 
in MS. in Constantinople, and will, it is hoped, some day be published. The tribe to which he 
belonged was a branch of Bakr b. Wa'il, a large and famous group : but Yashkur was not the 
most distinguished member of it. The commentary says that the poem before us was, according 
to Abu 'Amr ash-Shaibani, composed in praise of Qais son of Sharahil. chief of Dhuhl b. Shaiban, 
whose mother was Mariyah daughter of Sayyar of the same tribe, another and more celebrated 
branch of Bakr. Abu 'Amr, as a client of the tribe of Shaiban, should have been in the best 
position to report the traditions of the tribe ; but the verses celebrating the person praised, 
who is called a King, and whose generosity seems to be of a kind beyond the compass of 
a chief of nomad Arabs, suggest that some greater personage was intended. There was a much 
more famous ' Son of Mariyah ', the celebrated al-Harith the Lame (al-A'raj), of Ghassan, whose 
mother, according to Arab tradition, was ' Mariyah of the earrings' (Dhat cd-qurtain), daughter 
of Arqam, of the house of Jafnah ; he was entitled to be called king, and was a prince of the 
Roman Empire and defender of the Roman border against the Persians and their supporters 
the kings of al-Hirah. Al-Harith destroyed King al-Mundhir son of Ma'-as-Sama in June 
A. D. 554, and did not himself die till 569. The poem would suit him better than a tribal chief. 
I am not able to say whether the kunyah Abu Hassan (v. 10) is applicable to al-Harith the 
Lame ; but if he had a son of that name, this would be decisive.* The gifts enumerated in 
vv. 11-12 recall those of al-A'sha's poem (Ma bukd'u) addressed to al-Aswad, also a person of 
royal race, whether in the line of al-Hirah or that of Ghassan, as Abu 'Ubaidah thought (see 
Prof. Geyer's edition, p. 28). 

Little is recorded of al-Harith's personality : the traditions relating to him in the Aghanl 
(ix. 177-81) are entirely concerned with his famous ode included in the Mu'allaqat. He is said 
to have been old, deaf, and suffering from white leprosy or leucoderma (wadah) at the time 
when he appeared before King 'Amr ; but he nevertheless achieved a great success, and saved 
the lives of the hostages of Bakr who were then in the hands of the King, who was minded 
to make them over to the Taghlibites in retaliation for the death of the hostages of the latter 
tribe, who had perished of thirst in the desert during an expedition. His surviving fragments 
show a delicate artistry and a contemplative and somewhat didactic temper. 

* Hassan (diptote, not derived from the root hsn,) appears as the name of another personage 
belonging to the group of Ghassan, the well-known son of Thabit, the official poet of the Prophet : 
it may have been a common name in this Yamanite group. 


(1) Whose were the dwellings, all but faded out, at al-Hubs, the traces of 
which are like the written sheets of the Persians ? 

(2) Nought is to be seen there save the herds of wild kine, black-cheeked, 
[their white backs] shining in the sun, 

(8) Or the foot-prints of the noble steeds in the sides of the higher ground, 
and the marks of their trampling there. 

(4) I stayed my comrades there, as I revolved all my memories of things 
past and I was ever a man to dream ! 

(5) Until, when the gazelles wrapped themselves in the skirts of the shade, 
and sought the noon-tide shelters they had made [by the roots of trees] , 

(6) And I lost all hope of that which I had longed for with pain from her 
and nothing brings trouble of mind to an end like hopelessness 

(7) I betook myself to a she-camel, lean and muscular, as strong as a male, 
who shatters the stones with the blows of her short rounded feet, 

(8) With the leather shoon cut through by long wear the rags of them fly 
about like morsels of fur in the rugged level plains. 

(9) Wilt thou not then direct her course to a King of good judgement in the 
shepherding of his people, glorious of soul 

(10) To the Son of Mariyah, the generous nay, is there any peer to the 
Father of Hassan among mankind ? 

(11) He bestows on thee ample coats of mail, swelh'ng out over the girdles 
that hold them in at the waist, and black horses [tall] as palm-trees, 

(12) And ingots of yellow gold which he gives by twos, and slave-girls, some 
white, others with a violet tinge in the inner lip. 

(13) He gives no thought to his wealth as he deals it around : to him a lucky 
star and an unlucky are all one ; 

(14) And for him goes up the prayer there, never against him, what time the 
noses of men are abased as they stumble in the dust. 


(1) The place here named, al-Hubs, is said to be also pronounced al-Hibs and al-Habs, the 
vocalization with u being the preferable one. ' Written sheets ', maMriq, pi. of muhraq, are pieces of 
silk or cotton stuff which, after being stiffened with size (samgh), are polished with a shell ; the 
surface thus obtained is used for writing on. The word is of Persian origin, muJirah (Pahlavl 
mulirak) in that language being the name of the shell used for polishing the stuff (see LA. xii. 247 6 ff -). 
Al-Asma'i derives it from the words muhrah-kard (' having had the muhrah applied '), and supposes 
that all but the first letter of kard has been dropped : this is unnecessary, for instances abound of 
words where the name of the instrument applied has been transferred to the result produced, and in 

N 2 


old Persian the Jc (or g) still persisted at the end ofmuhrah, instead of h, when the word was borrowed 
by the Arabs. 

(2) The alternative reading fi-sh-shamsi has been adopted. 

(3) Jimad, plural ofjumud, is the higher hard soil (here probably of clay) rising out of the sand, 
which would retain impressions of horses' hoofs. 

(5) For the noon-day shelters of antelopes and gazelles see ante, No. X, note to v. 11. 

(7) The hard short pads of the poet's camel are compared to blacksmiths' hammers, mawaqt, 
pi. of miqa'ah. Here harf is probably used in the sense of lean and sinewy: see ante, No. XXIV, 
note to v. 6. 

(8) Camels are shod, for the protection of their feet from sharp stones, with leather shoes or 
wrappers (naqa'il, sing, nagllah), held on with thongs or straps (sara'ih, sing, sarihah). 

(10) ' The Son of Mariyah ' : see introduction. The name has nothing to do with the Greek 
Mapia : it is Aramaic, fern, of Mar, Lord. 

(12) 'Gives by two's', yu/fifuJia : this may be taken so, or, as al-Asma'l suggested, 'he treats 
them as of no account '. The dark tinge in the gums and inner lips (la'as), such as is seen in most 
Arab women, is admired. 

(13) I. e., he does not consult the astrologers as to days which will be lucky or unlucky for the 
distribution of his bounty, but treats all times as appropriate for it. 

(14) The implication in this verse appears to be that the king celebrated is always victorious, 
so that a chorus of blessing rises from his subjects. Those whose noses are abased in the dust are 
his enemies. 




THE poet was of the same tribe as Qais son of 'Asim, the powerful chief of Tamlm (see 
ante, No. XXIII, introduction), and shared his fortunes. He is remembered only by the two 
poems included in our collection, and by a short elegy on Qais contained in the Hamdsah 
(pp. 367-8 *), which seem to be all that has survived of his compositions. Like his patron, he 
accepted Islam late in life ; but the poem before us, in its scene of wine-bibbing (vv. 66-81), 
shows that the restrictions of the new faith did not weigh heavily upon him. Yet the poem 
must have been composed some years after Tamlm became Muslim. The critical passage is the 
prelude, which is said by Tabari (series I, vol. iv, p. 2118) to have been composed to celebrate 
the victory of the Bakrite chief al-Muthanna over the Persians at Babylon (Babil) in A. H. 13, 
when the Arabs killed an elephant and pursued the flying Persians to the gates of al-Mada'in. 
If this is correct, the poem must have been put together before the founding of al-Kufah after 
the battle of al-QadisIyah in A. H. 15, and we must take the words in v. 7 mentioning 
Kufatu-l-jund as applying to some encampment of the Muslim army other than the city on 
the Euphrates. But this passage in Tabarl's chronicle is taken from the narrative of Saif the 

Translated in my Ancient Arabian Poetry (1885), p. 33. 


Tamlmite, and is, like the rest of the stories from that source, subject to much suspicion. It 
is open to us to put the poem, as its tenor would seem to make more probable, at the time of 
al-Qadisiyah and the subsequent founding of al-Kufah, the military colony which the Caliph 
'Umar planted close by the old Arab capital al-Hlrah. In that case its date must be subsequent 
to A. H. 15 (A. D. 637). 

The poem is long and discursive, and in parts rather prosaic; but it contains much 
interesting matter. The prelude (vv. 1-8) indicates the unwillingness of a nomad Arab to con- 
template abandoning life in the Desert for the town. Then follows an account (vv. 9-23) of 
a long and toilsome journey on camel-back, and of a she-camel, the poet's mount, of finest 
breed. To this succeeds, as a comparison with the camel, a long description (vv. 24-44) of 
a solitary male oryx, and its pursuit by a hunter with dogs ; as usual, it beats them off and 
escapes at its best speed. Then comes another account of a journey through dangerous country 
(vv. 45-53) where the camels are accompanied by horses (v. 51), indicating that the party was 
bound on a raid. Then follows a scene in a champaign inhabited by wild animals, which the 
poet pursues mounted on a horse which he describes (vv. 57-65). The poem ends with the 
drinking scene (vv. 66-81), altogether in the spirit of paganism, with its revelry begun in the 
early morning, accompanied by feasting on roast meat, and cheered by songs sung by a girl. 
The apparatus described has many echoes of Persian customs, such as we find everywhere in the 
similar episodes in al-A'sha's poetry : the embroidered rugs and carpets, the removable table 
(khwan) for the food, the mixing bowl, the costly wine-vessel of silver, and the house of masonry 
in which the banquet is held. 

(1) Is the tie to Khaulah still subsisting now that she and thou are parted ? 
or art thou, far away from her, occupied with some other love ? 

(2) Khuwailah dwells now in an abode where she is neighbour to the folk of 
al-Mada'in, and therein is the cock and the elephant ; 

(3) [Her people] smite the heads of the Persians there in the open plain : of 
them are knights not wanting in weapons nor unskilled in the rider's art. 

(4) And there has stolen through thy heart, from the return of thoughts of 
her, a subtle languor of love, and a sense of being bound by a pledge 

(5) A languor h'ke the languor of one fever-stricken : when it quits him on 
a day, the lingering traces of it come back upon him again by night. 

(6) There are days belonging to loved ones on which thy memory dwells, and 
before the day of parting there is a foreboding of distance to come. 

(7) She who has left the Desert and pitched her tent in the gathering-place of 
the Army Oblivion has passed over her love and caused it to vanish away. 

(8) Turn away then from her, and let her not distract thee from business : 
verily love-longing, after grey hairs have come, is but to wander astray ! 

(9) [Betake thyself] to a sturdy she-camel, hard as a smith's anvil, strong and 
bulky in spite of weariness she has a steady trot and amble 


(10) Firm as a rock : she signals, when she is urged along, with a tail like the 
raceme of a date-palm, on which there remain yet some puny dates ungathered : 

(11) Long-backed, stuck [as it were] all over with lumps of flesh; super- 
abundance of sprightliness takes possession of her when all the other easy-paced 
camels are worn out with weariness ; 

(12) Her run slackens not, while there controls it the bordered rein, made of 
strips of leather tanned with gliarf, close-plaited. 

(13) Whenas the journeying of the party is toilsome along beaten tracks that 
look like the streaks of palm-mats woven in the mountains of al-Yaman 

(14) A plain way, round which thou mayst see the eggs of the sand-grouse 
strewn here and there, as though they were glass bottles in the hollows where 
they lie 

(15) Glass bottles filled with oil and bare of covering, without any sheaths 
upon them of woven palm-leaves ; 

(16) And in the water-skins of the party little water is left, and they are 
pressing on, while in the small water-bags there remain only a few muddy drops ; 

(17) And the pale-coloured camels are urged to the utmost of their strength, 
being belaboured, some with the camel-stick, others with the rider's heels, 

(18) While others [, being spent,] are led along gently, their saddles laden 
upon other beasts, and their furniture distributed between the rest of the party : 

(19) Then there guides the caravan a leading she-camel, not neglectful of the 
way, what time the rugged uplands and the mile-pillars are kindled in the blazing 

(20) One that shakes [through briskness] as she goes along, that holds high 
her head, quick of pace : her elbows are curved so as to stand well away from 
her sides : 

(21) Of full strength the nail of her foot cuts cleanly into the earth, as the 
knife of the shoemaker cuts cleanly into the skin of leather dyed red with sirf; 

(22) She throws her foot forward now, and now brings it back again ; and its 
edge is notched from the continual spring of her pace. 

(23) Thou mayst see the stones fly scattered away from her feet, like as the 
sieves separate and scatter the worthless parts of the grain. 

(24) On the day that she comes down to the water, after drinking none for 
three days, she is like a wandering wild bull with divergent horns, and eyes 
rimmed with a circle of kuhl, 

(25) Clad [as it were] in a new white shirt over his natural colour, with legs 
that seem to have on them drawers of striped khal, 


(26) Marked with brownish black in the face, on his pasterns anklets of white, 
and above that as far as his hocks black rings. 

(27) There came upon him in the morning a hunter who runs with his dogs, 
burnt brown as though he were baked with the heat of the sun ; 

(28) He has at home a railing wife, shock-headed, naked, in her bosom a lean 
babe like a monkey. 

(29) He calls by name his trained dogs, all alike in appearance famished 
hounds that will not hang back when they get an opening to seize the 
prey : 

(30) They follow a shock-headed master, like a wolf, active and wiry, who 
goes along before them about a lance's length in front. 

(31) He gathers the dogs together for a little, then lets them loose on the 
bull black dogs are they, with their ears scratched and torn ; 

(32) Then fear fixes itself in the pupil of the bull's keen-sighted eye an eye 
that had no need of collyrium to clear it of dust ; 

(33) Then he turned to one side, and sped away, and they turned with him : 
each one of them flies, sticking close to him, [with their limbs straightened out] as 
though from leanness they were javelins. 

(34) Then he shook himself, [scorning flight,] casting forward a pair of horns 
ripe and hard wading through the pools of death, depending on himself alone 

(35) A pair, both alike, with their knots close together, and in their sides and 
points smoothness and length ; 

(36) Each of them he intends to use in the press of fight : verily, on the 
morning of fear a man looks to his weapons ! 

(37) He deals thrusts as he finds a chance, not driving them home, in a flurried 
way, with a long horn whose root projects forth from the suture of his skull ; 

(38) Until, when he had planted by his thrusts sore pain in their breasts, and 
his horn had been thoroughly drenched with the blood of their entrails, 

(39) He turned and departed, and they were left lying where they had beset 
him, the most of them mangled with bleeding wounds, and one killed outright : 

(40) While he, when his swift going has brought his full strength into play, is 
like a sword unsheathed, whose surface skilful hands have polished fair. 

(41) Fronting the wind he flies, keeping stedfast on his course, with his tongue 
hanging out on the left side of his mouth. 

(42) He throws up the dust [as he runs] with eight toes on four legs, whose 
touch on the ground is scarcely perceptible 

(43) [Legs] at the back of which, on one side, are horny excrescences that 
seem as though they were warts on the back sinews of the shank. 


(44) There cleaves to him on either side a cloud of dust which he raises as he 
gallops, and the space between his legs is filled with stones which he dashes up 
from the gravelly ground. 

(45) Yea, and many the drinking-place, stinking from long disuse, with 
camels' dung defiling its depths, covered with a scum of rubbish swept into it by 
the wind, 

(46) Which looks, in the buckets of my companions when they draw thereout, 
as though it were the remains of a fat sheep's tail melted down in the pot 

(47) To which I have brought my party down to drink, what time drowsiness 
had taken possession of them ; and I bade them, when they had drunk fully of its 
water, to take rest in the noon-tide, 

(48) Through the extremity of the heat, till they should start again in the 
evening : there was a rent in the waterskin that wanted mending, and the skin 
must be thoroughly soaked. 

(49) When we halted there, we raised above us [on our spears] as a shelter 
our sheets, and the cauldrons bubbled with meat being cooked for the party 

(50) [Meat], some dark-red, some red mottled with white which the cook had 
not thoroughly cooked : as soon as the boiling had changed its colour somewhat, it 
was taken and devoured. 

(51) Then we turned to our short-haired steeds, branded with our device, and 
their manes were the napkins with which we wiped our hands. 

(52) Then we started again on our journey, riding on pale-coloured camels, 
with their legs bound round with strips of leather [that kept on their shoes], the 
jaded and stumbling of which were brought along by gentle leading, rubbing with 
butter and [camels'] dung, and covering the sore part with a shoe. 

(53) They walk heavily with water in broad waterskins provided with loops, 
some of which are hung behind the saddles of the riders, and others slung two and 
two across the camels' backs. 

(54) We hope for the mercies of a Lord whose bounty is never failing : all 
good things are in His keeping, and through Him they come to men 

(55) A Lord who has given us possessions to hold as our own ; and all things 
which God gives to men are a trust to be worthily used ; 

(56) And a man labours for an end to which he does not attain ; and Life is 
a withholding, and an anxiety, and a hope. 

(57) And many the remote pasture, watered copiously in Qafar by the first 
rain of winter, with showers that came upon it by night, and fell in heavy drops, 


(58) Where the wild creatures, the ash-coloured ostriches and the large-eyed 
antelope with their younglings, heard not a sound to stir their fear, 

(59) And where the young of the troops of ostriches were like young lambs, 
[happy and playful,] and mixed with them older birds, and others older still that 
had not yet laid eggs 

(60) I have scattered the wildings from it in affright, for all they were so 
peaceful, as though they were camels driven off in a foray made at early dawn, 

(61) Mounted on a steed lean of face like a wolf, stripped for speed, noble of 
race by sire and dam, perfect both in beauty and height, 

(62) Compact and full in the muscles of the back, bare of flesh in the shanks 
his flesh has been taken down by being constantly ridden in the cool of the 
morning and the evening ; 

(63) The small white star on his forehead, when he stands upright, resembles 
hoary hair slightly dyed with hinna and then washed. 

(64) When his master calls on him by name among a thousand others, his 
wiry compact shanks, and his hoofs like hammers of stone, carry him forth far in 
front of them all. 

(65) He reaches out far with his legs, then bends them inwards he is master 
of both kinds : right quickly does he draw them together when they have been 
stretched out at full length in the gallop. 

(66) And oft-times have I gone forth at dawn, when the limb of the sun was 
bursting forth, while there was still over it a covering from the blackness of night, 

(67) What time the cock stood forth at the whitening day, and challenged 
some one of his folk and a weaponless people are they ! 

(68) To the vintners' booths, while there seconded me in seeking the delight 
of the wine one loose in his waistcloth, keen like a sword-point, alert and nimble, 

(69) Generous-handed when things are grave, he acts with gravity : one who 
mingles sport with pleasure, a rover in search of delight. 

(70) Then we reclined on carpets over which were spread embroidered rugs 
most sumptuous, with work of many colours : 

(71) Thereon were to see the pictures of things manifold fowls of all kinds, 
and lions lurking within the brake ; 

(72) In a house four-square, which its builders had plastered and beautified, 
wherein were lamps with twisted wicks that lit up the night. 

(73) By us was an amphora with the seal broken off, like the runnel of a 
cistern-head which has been broken down by the trampling of the press of camels 
coming to drink, and by it a water-skin with its spout tied up to its neck, 


(74) And a flagon of shining [silver], with its top bound round, above the 
plaster that stopped it, with a wreath of sweet basil ; 

(76) Cooled was the wine by mixing with water, and between the amphora 
and the flagon was a mixing-bowl, like the middle of a wild-ass, pierced with a hole 
[from which to pour the wine when mixed] ; 

(76) And the flagon was full, overfl owing with foam atop, and a roast quarter 
of a sheep lay by, transfixed with a spit ; 

(77) Busy therewith was a servant, active, his garments girt up, above our 
table, and in a wooden dish were all kinds of spicery. 

(78) Then did I quaff the tawny fiery wine, tapped now for the first time, 
sweetest of drinks such delights bring lightness into life ! 

(79) Pure it was, yet soft as though it had been mixed ; and sometimes there 
pleased us a song, brilliant like painters' work set off with gold, borne about [by 
men for its excellence] ; 

(80) A long-necked songstress, friendly in her manners, trilled out its final 
vowels : in her voice was a clear enunciation which charmed our company as she sang ; 

(81) She spent the morning giving us delight, and we requited her with gifts : 
we cast upon her [costly] mantles of burd, and even our shirts. 


(2) Al-Mada'in, ' the congeries of cities ', plural of MadinaJi, is the name by which the capital of 
the Persian Empire on the Tigris, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, was known to the Arabs : it is 
the ancient Ctesiphon and Seleucia, with their suburbs. To a Beduin Arab the presence of fowls 
indicates a country of settled dwellers (haclar) as opposed to the nomads. The elephants of the 
Persian king figure largely in the stories of the early battles of Islam. 

(3) Al-Mada'in was taken by the Muslims under Sa'd b. Abl Waqqas and plundered in A. H. 15 
(A. D. 637) after the decisive battle of al-Qadislyah ; whether the verse refers to this great event, or 
to the earlier battle, dated by Tabarl in A. H. 13, at Babylon, in which al-Muthanna, the chief of 
Shaibfm, worsted the Persians and slew an elephant, is uncertain : see the introduction. 

(7) Muhajiratan : Mjara is the technical term for migration from the nomad to the settled life ; 
in early Islam it was specially used for those who migrated from Mecca to Medina for religious 
reasons, and also for those from the outside tribes who left their unconverted fellows and settled in 
Medina ; by the time of our poem, however, the first meaning had again asserted itself. ' The 
gathering-place of the Army ', Kufatu-l-Jund : whether we are to take this as the proper name of the 
city of al-Kafah, or as a common noun indicating a camp of a host in general, depends on the date to 
which we assign the poem. Al-Kofah was not founded till after the battle of al-QadisTyah in A. H. 15 
(16, 17, and 19 are also given as the dates), some time after the foundation of al-Basrah, the southern 
military colony ; see introduction. ' Oblivion ', ghul, ' destruction, perishing ', not here a person. 

(11) 'Stuck all over with lumps of flesh', maqdhufatun bi-n-naMi; 'Abld, v. 8, has a similar 
phrase (maqdhufatun li-lakiki-l-Takmi). The muscles apparently become prominent when the fat has 
been worked out by training, or by the expense of long journeys, and present the appearance of lumps 
of flesh stuck on the surface. 

(12) ' Bordered ', muharraf; Ihejadll or eimum, the rein which controls a camel, being attached 


to the ring inserted in the animal's nose (called burah if of brass, khizamah if of hair), is made of 
plaited strips of leather, and has a border, harf, on one side. Gharf, a tanning material of which the 
nature is variously explained : see Lane, s. v. 

(13) The apodosis of this verse and those following is not reached till v. 19. 

(14) The mention of the eggs of the sandgrouse has for its object to enhance the distance and 
toilsomeness of the journey ; these birds are said to fly all night over the desert to water : but the 
poet's journey was longer than their nightly flight, and they were compelled to rest en route : making 
for themselves hollow nests, afahte, in the ground, some of them laid eggs therein : see ante, 
No. VIII, note to v. 29. 

(16) ' The water-skins', asaqin (pi. of asqiyah, pi. of paucity of siqa'), are the large bags carrying 
the general water-supply of the party. ' The small water-bags ', 'adawa, pi. of 'idawah, a small water- 
skin carried by one man for his private use. 

(17) ' Pale-coloured camels ', al-'is, pi. of 'aisa and a'yas : camels of this colour are most highly 

(20) If a camel's elbows rub against its sides, a sore is produced, known by various names 
according to its severity (daghit, hazz, naJcit, and masih, the first the worst). 

(21) For sirfsee ante, No. Ill, note to v. 5. 

(24) The wandering male white antelope, Oryx beatrix (called by the Arabs ' the wild bull '), 
drawn here and in the following verses, owes his solitariness to his having been defeated by some 
other male oryx who has driven him away from the females. For the animal see No. XXI, ante, note 
to v. 8. The oryx has a circle of black or brown round the eyes and other black markings on the 
face, compared to the JcuAl or ithmid (powdered antimony sulphide) used to enhance the blackness of 
the eyes by a line drawn round them. 

(25) Khal, a stuff made in al-Yaman, having stripes of black and red. The oryx has black or 
brown rings on its legs, the body being white but for a streak of dark colour half way down the side 
parallel with the belly. 

(27) For the picture of the hunter drawn here and in the following verses compare that in 
Muzarrid's poem, No. XVII, ante, w. 64 ff. 

(28) ' He has at home ', literally, ' he returns home to ', ya'wl 'ila. 

(31) It is explained that the hounds have hanging ears, and that in running fast their heads are 
brought near the ground, when the nails in their forefeet catch the ears and inflict wounds on them. 

(32) ' That had no need of collyrium (kuhl) to clear it of dust ', literally ' into which the needles 
(with which collyrium is applied malamil, sing, mulmul ) had not passed by reason of dust having 
collected therein '. 

(33) Here the dogs, with their limbs straightened out in the chase, are compared to javelins, 
just as horses galloping at full speed are compared to spears (ante, No. VII, v. 6). 

(42) ' Whose touch on the ground is scarcely perceptible ', massuhunna-l-'arda tahlllu. Tahlll is 
the formula for avoiding the guilt of perjury by providing a way out of the obligation of an oath. 
This way is called kill : for this purpose it is sufficient to say in sM'a-llah, ' if God will ' (or, in the 
days of paganism, some equivalent phrase). Hence the expression comes to mean 'in the very 
smallest degree'. The verse, in describing the touch of the antelope's feet upon the ground as 
scarcely to be seen, is hardly consistent with the rest of the picture : feet that scarcely touch the 
ground could not cast up a cloud of dust and stones as described in v. 44. 

(45) The long disused (and therefore stinking, ajiri) water is a symbol of danger : see No. VI, 
ante, note to v. 3. The horrible water with which travellers in the deserts of Arabia and parts of 
Africa have in most places to be content has often been described. 

(51) This imitates a verse of Inira' al-Qais. We have not previously heard of any horses 
accompanying the party, and it must be concluded from their mention here that a raid is intended. 



(54) The translation adopts the reading diyamun in place of hasanun ; the good things hoped for 
are apparently booty of camels in the raid. 

(55) Taklnml, 'making over to possession', is a Qur'anic expression (vi. 94 and xxxix. 11). 
(57) For the month of Safar see ante, No. XIX, note to v. 9. 

(64) A horse-race is here referred to : see ante, No. XXII, note to v. 13. 

(68) ' Loose in his waist-cloth ', rikhwu-l-'ieari. The izar or waist-cloth is trailed along the 
ground when one is at ease and in enjoyment of life : it is girt up tight when serious business is on 
hand : see ante, No. XX, note to v. 28. ' Alert and nimble ' is the rendering chosen for mashmulu, 
of which different interpretations are given : ' showing alacrity in liberality ' ; ' blown upon by the 
north-wind ' (shamaT), supposed to make one alert, or like a cloud smitten by the north-wind that 
descends in showers ; or, lastly, ' of sweet disposition ', hulwu-sh-shama'il. 

(69) ' A rover ', dillll, one that goes astray and will not heed the admonitions of age and wisdom. 
(70, 71) Persian carpets and rugs are evidently described. 

(72) ' A house four-square ' : here we have the original meaning of Tca'laJi, ' cubical house ' : to 
a nomad dweller in tents all details of town life have interest. 

(73) The apparatus of a wine-feast here described abounds in difficult words of which the com- 
mentaries and lexicons give inadequate explanations : it was not creditable for a Muslim to know too 
much about such forbidden matters. The commentary has been followed in explaining a*?f as an 
amphora (damn) with the head broken off, unsealed : if this is correct, ziqq must here mean the skin 
containing the water for mixing ; it generally means a skin containing wine, but there would be no 
point in having wine both in an amphora and a skin. Maghlul, literally, confined by being tied up 
with a ghull, a shackle for the neck made of thongs, here means that the limb of the skin representing 
the animal's fore-leg, through which the contents are poured out, is tied up to the neck so as to 
prevent them from escaping. 

(74) ' Flagon ', Tcub, is the word for the vessel in which the wine is distributed ; it is described 
as having neither handle nor spout, but in other respects resembling a hue or ibriq : the word is used 
four times in the Qur'an (xliii. 71, Ivi. 18, Ixxvi. 15, and Ixxxviii. 14) in describing the wine of 
Paradise. It is unlikely that it is of Arabic origin : one thinks of the Low Latin cuppa, citpa, but it 
was certainly not a cup. The word azhar used of it indicates that the material was silver : see 
'Antarah, Mu'all. 39. The vessel was stopped with plaster or clay (siya') and wreathed round with 
flowers (it is uncertain whether raihan here has its special meaning of sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum, 
or the more general one of sweet-scented flowers). 

(75) Wine was sometimes mixed (as here) with cold, sometimes (as in 'Amr b. Kulth., Mu'all. 2) 
with hot water, and sometimes drunk unmixed (sir/). The mixing-bowl, /iubb, has its name from 
the Persian klvumb : Prof. Bevan suggests that the bowl is compared to the belly of a wild-ass because 
it is constantly being refilled : the ass requires to drink frequently, and the phrase (lliim'u himarin, 
'the thirst-interval of an ass', is a proverbial expression for a very little time (see Lane, p. 19236). 
' Pierced with a hole ', mabzul, to let out the mixed wine without disturbing the lees. (Unfortunately 
there is no commentary to this verse.) 

(77) The ' table ', khiwan (Pers. khwan), is the small low removable table brought in with the 
food, the guests sitting round it on the floor. 

(78) ' Fiery wine ', qarqaf, that causes trembling in the limbs ; kumait, red or tawny, the colour 
of a dark bay horse. 

(79) The interpretation adopted of sir/an mizajan is that given in the commentary, though it is 
scarcely consistent with v. 75, which describes the wine as mixed. We might perhaps take it that 
the poet means that he drank the wine now mixed, now unmixed. The simile for the song, ' painters' 
work set off with gold ', suggests Persian influence. ' Borne about ', i. e. carried abroad, popular, in 
every one's mouth. 


(80) The Arabs (like the Hebrews, Cant. iv. 4) admired long necks in women (ante, No. VIII, 
v. 3, and XVI, v. 70). The singer prolonged the final vowels with a high trill (tudhrl), and clearly 
enunciated the syllables (tartil, a Qur'anic word, sur. xxv. 34), giving each its due measure and value. 

(81) Burd, a striped stuff made in al-Yaman, worn as a luxurious garment. Sarabll, sing, sirbal, 
in Arabic means shirts, and, by extension, coats of mail ; the word comes into Arabic from Aramaic, 
sarbalfi : it occurs in Daniel iii. 21, 27, where it is rendered by the LXX, and by Symmachus 
avafrpiSa ; the former Greek word is found in a fragment by the comic dramatist Antiphanes, early 
in the 4th cent. B. o., and is obviously of Persian origin. In Jewish Aramaic, and in New Hebrew, 
sarbal means 'breeches', bracca, and this, with the Greek, seems to point to the Persian shalvar, 
shilvar (in some more ancient form) as the original. The word has been much discussed (see reff. in 
the Oxford Heb. Lexicon, FrUnkel's Aramtiische Fremdworter, &c.), but I continue to think it most 
probable that the original meaning was ' drawers ', ' coverings for the legs '. Instances abound of 
loan-words (especially those of articles of dress) having their meanings greatly changed by the 
borrowers ; an instance in point is the growing use in English of the word pyjama (Pers. pa'e-jdmah, 
' leg-covering ') not only for ' drawers ', which is its correct meaning, but also for the accompanying 
jacket. Besides sirbal, ' shirt ', Arabic has the form sirwdl (see v. 25 of our poem), in the original 
sense of ' drawers ', probably a direct borrowing from shilvar. The Beduins do not wear breeches : 
their lower garment is the izar (Heb. ezor) or waist- wrapper : see the shifting of meaning in this word 
in modern times mentioned in Lane, 53 a. 



THE poet's testament to his sons : First, he enumerates the four precious possessions which 
he leaves to them a good name, a high rank as champion-orator in contests of prose and verse, 
property gained as gifts by his poetic art, and good counsel in general for cases of difficulty 
(vv. 2-6). Then he passes to precept : fear of God, honour to parents, and avoidance of hatred 
within the tribe are enjoined (vv. 7-10) ; on this last theme, the disastrous effects of hatred, 
he enlarges in picturesque language (vv. 11-18). The great group of Tamlm included a large 
number of branch tribes, which were much divided by enmities among themselves ; a striking 
example is the life-long contest of satire between Jarir and al-Farazdaq (both members of the 
tribe) in the first century of Islam, which has come down to us as the Naqa'id. Then he 
recalls his own achievements, dwelling with special satisfaction on his victories in contests of 
words (vv. 19-22) ; and finally winds up with mournful reflections on the universal doom of 
death. There is little in the poem, except the formal piety of v. 7, to indicate the temper 
of Islam. Death seems still the end of all, and contests of satire, which the Caliphs 'Umar and 
'Uthman rigidly suppressed, are looked upon as the best means of acquiring glory. 

(1) Sons of mine ! I have reached old age, and my sight fails me : yet in me 
there is wisdom to be gained by him that seeks for it ; 

(2) And though I be dying, yet have I raised a building of deeds done, from 
which there will remain to you four matters of fair fame : 

(3) A good name, when the noble are called to mind, shall adorn you ; and the 
inheritance of a reputation beyond that of other men is profitable ; 


(4) And a place as champion in Days wherein victory was won, when passions 
were hot and assemblies bring together all kinds of men ; 

(5) And gifts gained by my labour which shall enable you one day, when 
craving comes upon men [through dearth and famine], to relieve them ; 

(6) And good counsel in the breast welling up to you, so long as I continued 
able to see and hear among men. 

(7) I enjoin on you the fear of God : for He alone gives good things to whom- 
soever He wills, and withholds them as He wills ; 

(8) And kindness towards your parent, and obedience to his command veiily 
the most pious of sons is the most obedient ; 

(9) And the old man, when his own folk obey him not, his hands are 
straitened how shall he manage his affairs ? 

(10) And leave hatred alone let it not be a motive in your lives ! hatreds 
should be laid aside where kinship exists. 

(11) Pay no heed to him who spreads mischievous rumours among you under 
the cloke of sincere friendship : this is deadly poison ! 

(12) He lets loose his scorpions that he may stir up war among you, as the 
cupping-vein sets the other veins at work [to supply blood] ; 

(13) Aflame with hate, there quenches not the burning thirst of his heart 
honey mingled with water in a drinking-bowl. 

(14) Trust not a folk whose boys grow up among the nurses fed with hatred 
as from a feeding-bottle ; 

(15) Their rancour overflows and swamps their good sense, and the malice of 
their hearts refuses to be plucked out ; 

(16) A people who, when the darkness enshrouds them, sally forth like 
hedgehogs, speeding swiftly abroad with their slanders ; 

(17) They are like Zaid when he ruined his house, so that their prosperity was 
broken up and they were rent and divided. 

(18) Verily they whom ye look upon as your brothers it would cure the 
burning heat in their breasts if ye were to be flung to ground ! 

(19) Many the difficult pass in the affairs of a people have my hands opened 
out, and a way of issue was found therein. 

(20) Many the meeting-place of contending parties with their feet fixed firm 
in strife whoso slipped therein, straightway there flew abroad against him a 
shameful report 

(21) I have led them forth from the fray, having straightened their crookedness 
as by the biting of the clip, while they were overcome with hunger and thirst ; 


(22) And I have reduced them to confusion, their chief prop and stay being 
[, before me,] like a child in a cradle, a suckling sucking his two strings of little 

(23) Yea, in sooth I know that the end of all to me will be a grave in the dust, 
whither I shall be borne on a bier ; 

(24) And my daughters will weep in grief over me, and my wife and my 
nearest kin then will they part and go their several ways, 

(25) And I shall be left there in a dusty place which men like not to visit, 
while the wind sweeps over me as I lie, put away from men. 

(26) And when I am gone, look ye out for a man to take my place, a man with 
a keen heart, no scatterbrain. 

(27) In sooth the passing of the days whirls us all away, and a man's life in 
the midst of his people is but a deposit, soon to be given back ; 

(28) He toils and gathers wealth with labour as though possessed yet he eats 
not that which he brings together : 

(29) Until when in due time his doom comes upon him and to every man 
there comes an overthrow which there is no escaping 

(30) They fling to him a farewell of 'Peace!' and he answers none the 
keenest of hearing is deaf to the call ! 


(I) In the second hemistich mudih is explained as ' one who seeks for good counsel ' from me : 
this interpretation is doubtful ; possibly the sense may be ' He who takes care of me, looks after me in 
my weakness, will reap advantage '. The phrase is used by Jarlr in an imitated passage, Naqa'id 963 12 . 
Mustamta' is an infinitive or verbal noun = ' the expectation of profit '. 

(3) For al-muqaddam, ' beyond that of other men ', the w. II. al-mutallad and al-mu'aththal give 
the meaning ' long-established '. 

(4) The second of the four things the poet enumerates is his pre-eminence as a speaker in verse or 
prose in the contests, whether within the tribe or without it, on behalf of himself, his house, or his 
people : such a contest he draws for us in w. 20-2 below. Maqam is a technical word for standing up 
to recite. 

(5) Yughnilcumu might be rendered ' will make you independent of outside help ' : but the sense 
adopted in the translation is doubtless that which the poet would have preferred. 

(10) The rendering of the second hemistich is somewhat uncertain, but on the whole the sense 
given appears to be that intended : this seems probable from the alternative reading tuda'u for the 
tuda'u of our text ; the sense of ' giving over, leaving alone,' is the only one in which the two roots 
^o and tctf coincide. In al-Buhturi's Hamasah, p. 353, this verse is ascribed to an-Namir b. Taulab, 
and tuqdha'u is read for tuda'u, when the sense would be ' Verily hatreds disgrace kinship '. 

(II) 'Deadly poison', literally, 'poison steeped long, or macerated'. 

(12) The cupping-vein, akhda, is said to be either of the two branches of the occipital artery, at 
the back of the neck, where the cupper applies his cup to let blood. The Arabs apparently imagined 
that each vein (or artery) held only a certain amount of blood, but that the cupping-vein set flowing 
into itself all the other veins when it was tapped, so that all were drawn into the expense of blood ; 


the poet compares to this the spread of slanders which involve in the growth of ill-will the 
whole tribe. 

(14) ' Nurses ', literally ' midwives '. The commentary bids us understand yunslia'u as meaning 
that the babe has nourishment administered by the nose (sa'itf) : but the lexicons allow us to take the 
word as referring also to the mouth (tcajftr), which is certainly more natural. 

(15) For ahlamihim, 'their good sense', there is a v. I. ar/idmihim, 'their ties of kinship", which 
would suit the verse well. 

(16) Hedgehogs, qanafidh (sing, qunfudli), are nocturnal in their habits. 

{17) This Zaid who ruined his house or tribe is referred to again, post, No. XLIV, v. 16. He was 
a chief of the branch of Tamlm called Malik b. Handhalah,* who dwelt in Mesopotamia. King 
al-Mundhir b. Ma'-as-Sama of al-Hlrah asked him to give one of his daughters in marriage to a man 
of al-Yaman who was one of the king's boon-companions. The proud Arab refused, and thereupon 
the king drove the tribe out of his dominions, killing many and robbing them of their wealth in 
camels. Apparently the survivors distributed themselves among other branches of TamTm. 

(20) Mag&m here again is used in its technical sense (note to v. 4 above). J)Jialifat are the four 
pieces of wood, two on each side, which form part of the frame of the camel-saddle ; they hang down 
and enclose the camel's body, and when the animal is couched touch the ground. Here the word seems 
to signify the legs of the contending champions. The commentary quotes a saying applicable to one 
who ventures upon these critical contests of words : ' You can guard your brother from the consequences 
of any mistake, except one which he commits when he takes up the orator's wand ' (the stick which 
a speaker in these contests held to make gestures with when speaking). 

(21) The clip, thigaf, with which the shafts of spears are straightened. 

(22) The poet's chief antagonist is rendered as impotent as a child. 

(28) ' As one possessed ', mustahtiran ; this word is variously explained ; I have taken it in the 
sense of ' having lost his reason ', ' madly ', dhaJiiba-Tr'aql. It may also mean ' solely and steadfastly 
addicted to the task before him, giving himself up exclusively thereto ' ; and also ' one who cares not 
what other people say about him '. All these meanings are appropriate to the passage. 




OUE poet was, as his poem shows (v. 14), a contemporary of an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, the 
last Lakhmite king of al-Hirah, whose reign probably began between A. D. 580 and 585, and 
ended between 602 and 607. Another poem by him in our Collection, No. LXXVI, is thought 
by the scholiast to refer (v. 40) to King 'Amr son of Hind, A. D. 554-69 ; al-Asma'I, however, 
did not think from the terms of the reference that the king was meant. There is of course 
nothing impossible in al-Muthaqqib having been a contemporary of both kings. The tribe to 
which he belonged, 'Abd al-Qais, was of Ma'addic stock and nearly akin to the two great tribes 
descended from Wa'il, Bakr and Taghlib (the common ancestor Afsa). It was settled along 
the southern shores of the Persian Gulf as far as 'Uman, where one branch of it, Lukaiz, of 
which al-Muthaqqib was a member, had its lands, while other sections of the same branch 
appear to have dwelt in the peninsula of Qatar and the coast of Bahrain. North-westwards 
they were in contact with Tamim in its various branches, and they were backed in the interior 
of Arabia by the powerful Bakrite tribe of Hanifah. The Lakhmite kings, as our poem shows, 

* B. Malik b. Zaid-Manat b. Tamlm. 


exercised jurisdiction over them, while in their midst was the strong fortress of al-Mushaqqar, 
where a Persian governor kept the tribes in check by controlling the markets of the coast on 
which they depended for grain. This governor, as the story of the death of the poet Tarafah 
shows, was in intimate relations with the Lakhmites of al-^Irah. 

Our collection contains two other poems by al-Muthaqqib, Nos. LXXVI and LXXVII, and 
his Diwan exists in MS. at Cairo and Constantinople (see note to p. 574 of text). The language 
of his compositions has a large number of difficult words, of the meaning of which the scholiasts 
were uncertain : the 'Abd al-Qais probably spoke (as their descendants do still) a peculiar 
dialect of Arabic. 

The poem is a pleading with King an-Nu'man on behalf of the poet's tribe, Lukaiz, which 
had rebelled, and against which a force had been sent by the king. Praise of the king, of 
a very fulsome character (v. 16), occupies the middle portion, vv. 14 to 26. The sequence of 
verses offers no difficulty, and there do not appear to be any lacunae. 

(1) Alas ! yesterday the newly-knit bond with Hind proved to be worn out : 
she grudged her favour, though it would have cost her little to have granted it. 

(2) Would that she had as aforetime remained the object of my desire, 
according to the manner in which she was wont to strive to capture me, while I for 
my part hunted her ! 

(3) But she is of the kind whose love is turned this way and that by the 
bright face of the nearest friendship that they can win for themselves. 

(4) Dost thou then mean it so ? Shall I tell thee how many a land, what time 
in the summer days the Sun stood still thereon, 

(5) And the singing cicadas shrilled in the sunshine, and the shining sun-mist, 
with its white sheets folded and its striped veils, showed its side to me, 

(6) I have traversed on a she-camel with well-knit fore-legs, taking long 
steps as she speeds on, whose swift course in her ceaseless post devours the miles 
before her ? 

(7) Then I spent the night, and my camel too spent the night [couched] like 
a she-ostrich yea, she spent the night with her saddle-trees and my leather pad 
never taken off her back : 

(8) She closed her eyes, and I closed mine, and she slept in the last hours 
before dawn, stayed on her folded legs and breast, with her neck outstretched in 
the sand, 

(9) In tracks by al-Arakah, converging together, that face the Ocean's shore ; 
and there is the land where she has to dwell. 

(10) [She is sprightly,] as though there were [a cat] by her side at the fastening 
of her girth she endeavours to get the better of it, and fiercely it assails her ; 

(11) She casts herself away from it, without exhausting herself, at top speed, 


as one of the dark-coloured sandgrouse puts on its utmost speed when it has nearly 
reached its watering-place. 

(12) And I rein her in, while her feet are still casting about the stones of 
a gravelly plain, varied in surface, whose dust I cannot escape from ; 

(13) And I am sure that, if God will, her limbs, and the marrow within her 
bones, will carry me safe to my journey's end. 

(14) Verily Abu Qabus is the object of her exertions on my behalf, as a requital 
for favours ingratitude for which would be a grievous sin. 

(15) I have seen that the fire-sticks of the good have elevated his dignity from 
of old, as the lucky stars excel all other stars ; 

(16) And if God knew that the mountains disobeyed him, He would bring 
cables and hale them before his feet. 

(17) And if there be a tribe of us in 'Uman that has taken counsel together to 
secede from his obedience, and its stubbornness has lasted long, 

(18) Already the pursuing [punishments] have overtaken it, and its embassies 
are on their way to the best of men beneath the heaven 

(19) To a King who excels all other kings none of them, in good judgement 
and generosity, comes near his achievements. 

(20) Whom among men has he not spoiled with an invading host, whose dust 
rises up like a pillar to the midmost heaven 

(21) A dark-hued host, multitudinous, in their midst the Star of Death the 
tramp of their feet presses on in the wide-extended land ? 

(22) A vanguard they have that gathers booty, as though it were eagles darting 
hither and thither, before which their prey flies in terror, 

(23) And noble horses, long-necked, with cheeks [lean and bare] like old 
water-skins, bring the points of the spears and lances within reach [of the foe] 

(24) Horses whose fore-legs and skins stream with sweat, so that the black of 
them come home [ash-coloured] like the nozzle of the goldsmith's bellows ; 

(25) And splinters of iron fly about [in the clash of swords upon mail-coats and 
helmets] as though they were the chaff of the clay threshing-floors, when the reaped 
harvest is winnowed in the wind, 

(26) [From the hands of warriors] all mounted on crop-tailed steeds, all armed 
with blades the sides of which have been made smooth and even by the armourers. 

(27) Show kindness then mayst thou be saved from cursing! verily thou 
hast in thy hands the whole of Lukaiz, its grey-beards and its boys ; 

(28) And set them free, so that their women may pass to and fro among them 
after their chains have been struck off, among the camel-saddles. 



(2) At-Tosi's alternative reading for lubdnalan, lana bihi, has much to commend it ; the rendering 
would then be : ' Would that she had remained to us therein (i. e. in the bond) as she was wont to be 
aforetime, when she strove to capture me, and I hunted her.' 

(4) Addressed to his lady. Ajiddaki = a-jiddan min-Jci, ' is it seriously meant by thee?' 'Shall 
I tell thee ? ', ma yudrild, literally ' what shall cause thee to know ? ' ; this phrase occurs repeatedly 
in the Qur'an. 

(5) ' The sun-mist ', i. e. the mirage : as is well known, this is not really a mist, but a disturbance 
of the layers of heated air over the soil which gives the appearance of a mist or white surface raised 
above the level of the ground ; an atmospheric phenomenon, it varies in appearance according to 
the nature of the tract, lying here in flat sheets, there in streaks, with points of rock and other 
objects emerging from it. 

(6) ' With well-knit fore-legs ', fatla'i-l-yadaini : this is better rendered ' with fore-legs standing 
well out from the sides, so that there may be no rubbing there to produce sores ' (see ante, No. XXVI, 
note to v. 20). ' Post ', land : this word is most probably derived (through the Persian) from the 
Latin veredus, ' a post-horse or -mule '. The Arabian etymologists derive it from the Persian 
burida-dum, ' crop-tailed ', and there is a verse of Iinra' al-Qais (cited at the top of p. 311 of the text) 
which speaks of ' crop-tailed nags, of the horses of Barbar, habituated to posting by night ', and lends 
some countenance to this theory. The word is most often used in Arabic for the institution of the 
post, rather than for the animals carrying it : it also means a posting stage, between two stations 
where fresh mounts are kept, and thus a distance of about twelve miles. For the second hemistich 
of the verse cf. ante, No. V, note to v. 12. 

(7) ' Leather pad ', safnah, a round piece of leather covering the wood of the saddle, for the rider 
to sit on, and also, by means of a string running through holes round the edge, capable of being 
converted into a bucket or bag for drawing water. It is also used as a mat for food to be served on 

(9) In place of al-Arakah al-Bakrl reads al-Yara'ah. The meaning of shartm, here rendered 
' shore ', is not certain. 

(10) The idea of a camel's speed being stimulated by having a cat, hirr, at her side, which 
attacks her with teeth and claws, is one which occurs in a number of passages in the ancient Arabic 
poetry : several of these are cited in the commentary on pp. 306-7, and the whole question has been 
examined by Prof. Geyer in a paper included in Orientalische Studien (Noldeke-Festschrift), 1906, 
pp. 57-70. Prof. Geyer comes to the conclusion that the animals the attack or presence of which 
is imagined as stimulating the camel (by terror) to unwonted exertions are thought of by the Beduins 
as demonic, as forms of the Jinn. Of these animals the male cat, hirr, is much the most frequently 
mentioned, and it is spoken of as attacking the camel near the girth, on the right side. The passages 
begin (so far as known to us) with a verse of Imra' al-Qais, and one poet after another uses much the 
same language. For my part, I am disposed to doubt the Jinn theory, and to think that the con- 
ventional phrase is rather founded on the observed antipathy between the camel, a beast of the 
Desert, and the animals of the settled country (hadar). Cats, I have been informed, are very rarely 
to be found in Beduin encampments, while they are common in the villages of the Fallahln. A verse 
which seems to me to point distinctly to this explanation is that of Aus b. Hajar quoted on p. 306, 
line 7, of our text : 

'As though there were a cat by her side near by the girth, 
and a cock and a pig were rubbing against her legs.' 

The presence of fowls and pigs seems clearly to indicate animals in the neighbourhood of villages. 



We know that the nomads and their beasts (to which they impute their own feelings) disliked 
the settled country ; Labid (xix. 6 : Khalidi, p. 137), describing a journey down towards the shore 
of the Persian Gulf, says : 

'Then the party were turned away from the direction agreed upon by the voices of fowls [dajaj] 
and the beating of the naqus [the wooden clapper used by oriental Christians to call to 
prayer, in place of the church bell], and these were avoided.' 

The commentary (by at-Tusi) observes : ' Fowls and the naqus are found only in villages, and 
our travellers, when they passed by villages, disliked entering them, and turned away from the 
road to avoid them '. Possibly there may be some special antipathy between camels and cats, as 
there is in India between elephants and dogs. 

There is a difference of opinion regarding the word gharg in v. 10 : our commentary says that it is 
the ' girth ', glmrflah (also ghard) ; but there are places where it appears to mean ' stirrup '. The camel- 
saddle, however, has no stirrup (see description by Euting in Orientalische Studien, pp. 393 -8), nothing 
but a cushion for the foot to rest on. It seems, therefore, that ' girth ' must be the meaning here. 

(11) ' Without exhausting herself ', fi-r-rakha'i : i. e. , this exertion came easily to her, and was well 
within her power ; at-Tusi's reading, fi-n-naja'i, is good ' in utmost speed '. The sandgrouse are said 
to fly all night to their watering-place, and naturally put on speed when they come near to their 
journey's end. 

(12) The last words of the verse, la yuraddu 'anuduha, are of uncertain meaning: I have chosen 
' whose dust I cannot escape from ' as a possible rendering ; another is ' the stones of which [when 
she casts them on either side with her feet] cannot be turned back [so strong is her strength in 
throwing them] '. 

(13) The Arabs supposed that a camel's strength resided in the marrow (qafid) in its bones, and 
that this was exhausted by long travel. 

(14) The various reading bala'uhu (for lald'uha) has much authority. If it were accepted the 
rendering would be : ' I have had experience of [the generosity of] Abu Qabus, in favours which it 
would be unlawful to requite with ingratitude '. Abu Qabus, the kunyah of an-Nu'man, the last 
Lakhmite king of al-Hlrah, patron of an-Nabighah and many other famous poets. 

(15) ' The fire-sticks (zinad) of the good have elevated his dignity ' ; for the peculiar use of zand 
(pi. zinad), 'fire-stick', in the sense of a man's ability and achievement, see ante, note to No. XVI, v. 48; 
the meaning therefore is that his famous and noble ancestors by their great deeds have raised his 
name high. 

(16) I cannot offer a parallel to this preposterous extravagance in adulation. If we were to 
read al-jibalu instead of al-jibala, the words 'allma-l-lahu might (as often) be taken parenthetically, 
and the sense would be : 'If the mountains were to disobey him, then God knows ! he would 
bring cables, &c.' 

(21) ' Dark-hued ', with armour rusted through long wear. The ' Star of Death ', kauJcabu-l-Haut, 
is explained as meaning death in its most certain and overwhelming form ; Tcaukab, ' star ', is used of 
the acme or highest perfection of a thing. Wa'ld is specially the noise of the trampling of feet, of- 
men or beasts. 

(23) The Arabs approved leanness of the face in a horse. For ya'asib, pi. of ya'sub, ' chief or 
prince ' (see ante, No. XXII, v. 20), there is a v. 1. ya'abib, ' long-bodied ', or ' tall ', or ' running 
vehemently ' ; and for the last two words there is a variant Id yuflianna khududuha, ' whose cheeks 
cannot be turned back ' : they carry their riders straight into the opposing enemy. 

(24) The sweat drying on the black skins gives them (by reason of its saltness) a whitened and 
dusty appearance, as the nozzle of the bellows of the goldsmith gets covered with ashes from the 
furnace ; the nozzle is made of a horn (the commentary says, of a wild ox, but the horns of the 
antelope are, I believe, solid : more probably the horn was that of a domesticated ox). 


(25) The commentary says that nukhdlah here means 'dust'; but 'chaff' is a more apposite 
rendering. Qa', a clay bottom where water stands in the rains (see ante, No. XI, v. 10), is well 
adapted when dry for a threshing-floor, and this is indicated by the word hasid, ' the reaped harvest '. 
Our poet, as an inhabitant of the coast-lands of the Persian Gulf, which are to some extent cultivated, 
knew well the features of husbandry. 

(26) Maqasn is a word of which the commentators did not know the exact meaning : ' crop-tailed 
steeds ' is a probable rendering. The second hemistich presents difficulties. The commentary says 
that it relates to the crop-tailed horses, but structurally this seems questionable : the ha in kftududuhd 
should refer to the nearest preceding noun, sajihah. I have rendered it on this basis, but with little 
confidence. If it refers to the horses, then the meaning would be ' Their cheeks are smooth and 
even, after they have been worked with the curry-comb '. There is a variant hududuha, ' their points 
or edges '. The roots hrsh and Jchrsh both mean ' to scratch ', and are more applicable to the curry- 
comb than to the armourer's polishing instrument. 

(27) ' Mayst thou be saved from cursing ', abaita-l-la'na, literally, ' Mayst thou refuse [to do that 
which will bring upon thee] cursing '. This is the conventional greeting offered to the Lakhmite 
kings of al-Hirah. 

(28) I have adopted the reading tamshi (instead of tamshi) as suggested in the note. 



THE tribe of 'Adwan, to which our poet belonged, was a brother-tribe of Fahm, that of 
Ta'abbata Sharra (No. I, ante) ; it was once, according to tradition, very numerous and powerful, 
and dwelt in the mountain tract (Sarat) south-east of Mecca, adjacent to the lands of Fahm ; 
at one time even the important and well- watered town of at-Ta'if, with its surrounding cultiva- 
tion, is said to have been in its hands. To it belonged a famous legendary hakam, ' sage ' or 
'judge', called 'Amir son of adh-Dharib, about whom tradition has a number of stories. The 
tribe also possessed the privilege of giving the ijazah, or signal for dispersion, to the pilgrims 
at the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. But they are said to have fallen from this high estate 
owing to internal dissensions, their numbers being greatly reduced by intestine wars. When 
these events happened it is impossible to say precisely ; our poet is the only chief of the tribe 
(except the hakam before mentioned) about whom anything is related, and the stories told are 
obviously legendary. He is said to have reached an age of 300 years. Caussin de Perceval 
does not attempt any estimate of his probable date, but it is certain that it was long before 
Islam. The two poems by him, Nos. XXIX and XXXI, contained in our Collection, exist in 
a double form, a shorter and a longer. The shorter form is that which our text gives, XXIX 
containing only ten verses, and XXXI eighteen. The longer form, that adopted by Marzuqi, gives 
thirty-nine verses to the former, and thirty-six to the latter. It is evident in the case of 
No. XXXI that the added verses are spurious : the poem, in the longer version, begins with the 
mention of a woman called Rayya, with the kunyah or by-name of Umm Harun, a name 
impossible among Arabs till Muslim times (Harun = Aaron, the brother of Moses). The same 
appears to be the case with the longer form of No. XXIX, and we may commend the caution 
of Abu 'Ikrimah and his authority Ibn al-A'rabi in transmitting as genuine only the ten verses 
of our Collection. Whether even these are really by Dhu-1-Isba' or not it is impossible to 


say ; the author names his tribe in v. 9 : he was aged (v. 7) ; and he was engaged in contention 
with his companions, which suits the legends that ascribe the fall of 'Adwan to intestine broils 
(this is still more conspicuous in No. XXXI). 

The reason why the poet was called Dhu-l-Isba', ' the man of the finger (or toe) ', is 
variously related : one story is that he was bitten by a snake on his great toe, and cut it off to 
stop the spread of the poison ; another is that he had a toe or finger too many on foot or hand. 
His father's name is given as al-Harith by Ahmad and others, as as-Samau'al (the Arabic form 
of Samuel) by al-Asma'i. 

(1) In sooth, ye two fellows of mine, ye will not cease your reviling of me : 
whatsoever I waste [of my goods], ye cannot attain [to my generosity]. 

(2) Verily, in the folly of your understandings, ye will spare me nought of 
your foolishness and foul speech, 

(3) Or desist from speaking lies against me ; and I cannot compel you not to 
speak lies and base slanders. 

(4) If there were a bloodwit to pay for me, ye could not pay of it so much as 
a lamb. I never mishandled a boon-companion, nor ever besmirched my honour. 

(5) If ye say that I am aged, yet am I not found to be a miser or a nerveless 
wretch, nor a holder-back [from any fair enterprise]. 

(6) I expose my wealth as an object of attack to protect me against disgrace, 
and whatever in my affairs shows signs of giving way or splitting off. 

(7) If thou seest that my weapon is now the little spear of Abu Sa'd, time was 
when I carried all the weapons of a warrior together 

(8) The sword and the lance and the quiver and the arrows, goodly with the 
feathers cut evenly, the best of make, 

(9) Whose notches were cut squarely and spliced firmly [with sinews] by the 
most skilful in his art of all the arrow-makers of 'Adwan ; 

(10) Then he clothed them with black, coal-black, bushy feathers the three 
front-feathers of the wing and that which is next. 


(1) The alternative reading, mahma 'adiq (for mahma udt) would mean ' in whatsoever respect 
I am straitened ' (in generosity or the like), and suits well with the following fa-Ian tasa'a, ' ye at 
least have no breadth or scope [therein] '. The second hemistich may also be rendered ' However 
much I may fail [to do my duty], ye will be powerless [in comparison].' 

(4) It is pointed out that sheep and lambs are not used to pay bloodwits, and therefore the phrase 
used by the poet expresses only his contempt for the persons addressed. 

(6) I.e., I use my wealth to shield my honour from disgrace, and to meet the charges of building up 
the prosperity of my house. For ' my affairs ' we might read ' public affairs, the affairs of the tribe '. 

(7) ' The little spear of Abu Sa'd ' (v. I. Aba Zaid) means the stick by the help of which the 
old man walks : Aba Sa'd is said to be the Tcunyah of Luqaim son of Luqman, a legendary prince of 
the tribe of 'Ad. 




THE poet was chief of a numerous and powerful tribe, the Banu-1-Harith b. Ka'b, belonging 
to the group of Madhbij,* an important division of the Yamanite Arabs whose lands marched 
with those of Ma'add in the north. Their headquarters was the region, fertile in comparison 
with the rest of Arabia, called Najran, to the south of at-Ta'if and east of the Sarat or 
meridional ranges of the Yaman. A portion of the tribe were Christian, and had bishops and 
clergy who came to interview the Prophet in the ninth year of the Hijrah (see note on v. 4 
below). In or about the year A. D. 611 the main part of the tribe of Tamlm, as the result of 
an attack upon a caravan sent from the Yaman to the Persian capital at al-Mada'in, which they 
plundered, fell under the displeasure of the Persian king, and after a blockade, which deprived 
them of the grain for which they depended on the coast-lands, were severely smitten by the 
Persian governor of al-Mushaqqar (ante, No. XXVIII, introduction), losing a number of their 
chiefs and fighting-men. After this disaster they and their confederates the Ribab f retired 
to a place called al-Kulab, which is perhaps the same as Qidah or Qiddah in al-Yamamah 
(ante, No. IV, note to v. 7). Here their apparently helpless condition moved the covetouaness 
of the Yamanite Arabs of Madhhij, who hoped to get spoil of camels and women ; and a great 
expedition, comprising all the northern Yamanite tribes, was led against them by 'Abd-Yaghuth. 
The battle lasted two days ; on the first an-Nu'man son of Jisas, leader of the Ribab, successfully 
resisted the Yamanites, but was slain at the end of the day (note to v. 9 below). On the second 
day, when Qais b. 'Asim was leader of the combined forces of the Ribab and Sa'd, the northern 
Arabs were victorious, and the Yamanites took to flight. In the pursuit 'Abd-Yaghuth was 
captured while covering, he says in his poem, the retreat of his tribesmen. He actually fell 
into the hands of a man of 'Abd-Shams, a family of Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat of Tamlm ; but the 
Taim claimed him to do what they would with, in requital for the death of their chief an-Nu'man. 
The dispute became hot, but eventually he was surrendered by Tamlm to Taim. The men of 
Taim then prepared to kill him, and, as he was a celebrated poet, and they feared that he would 
utter satires against them, were at first minded to gag him (see v. 8 and note), but desisted on 
his promising not to attack them, but his own tribe for their desertion of him. They asked 
him what death he preferred to die : he answered ' Give me wine to drink, and let me sing my 
death-song '. So they plied him with wine, and opened a vein ; and as his life ebbed, he 
recited these verses. 

The translation below imitates the metre (Tawll) of the original (with occasional variations), 
and first appeared in the volume of Translations of Ancient Arabian Poetry published by me 
in 1885. It has been slightly revised, and accommodated to the text of al-Anbarl, but not 

* Some genealogists reckon the Banu-1-Harith as outside the group of Madhhij, but allies of 
the latter: so Abu 'Ubaidah in Naq. 946 7 , and LA 216 U ; but the general opinion describes them as 
descended from Malik b. Udad, whose title was Madhhij (Wttst. Tab. 8). Madhhij, however, is 
really a place-name. 

t The Kibab were a group of tribes, considered by the genealogists to be nearly akin to Tamlm, 
named Dabbah, and Taim, 'Adi, and 'Auf ('Ukl), to which Thaur is sometimes added, the last three 
or four being the offspring of 'Abd-Manat brother of Dabbah. 


materially altered. In the same volume, at pp. 84-9, will be found a detailed account of the 
events of al-Mushaqqar and al-Kulab (the latter known as ' al-Kulab the Second ', in contra- 
distinction to the battle fought at an earlier date at another place called al-Kulab, between 
Salamah and Shurahbil, Princes of Kindah, for which see post, No. XLII, note to v. 22). 

(1) Upbraid me not, ye twain : enough is the shame for me 

to be as I am : no gain upbraiding to you or me ! 

(2) Know ye not that in reproach is little that profits men ? 

it was not my mind to blame my brother [when I was free]. 

(3) rider, if thou lightest on those men who drank with me 

in Najran aforetime, say 'Ye never shall see him more!' 

(4) Abu Karib and those twain al-Aiham my boon-fellows, 

and Qais of al-Yaman that dwells in the uplands of Hadramaut. 

(5) May God bring to shame my tribe for [fleeing at] al-Kulab 

both those of unmixed stock, and the others who joined our league ! 

(6) Had it been my will, there had borne me far from my foes' array 

a tall mare behind her flag the black steeds and fall away : 

(7) But it was my will to stand, defending your fathers' house; 

and needs must he fall to the spears who stands as his fellows' shield. 

(8) I said, when they thought to bind my tongue with a leathern thong, 

' Ye kinsmen of Taim, I pray you, leave me my tongue unbound : 

(9) ' Ye kinsmen of Taim, ye hold me fast be ye generous ! 

the brother ye lost owed not his death to our people's spears. 

(10) ' And if ye must slay me, then in me shall ye slay a lord ; 

and if ye will let me go, my substance is yours to spoil.' 

(11) 'Tis true, then, ye servants of God, and ne'er shall I hear again 

the cries as my herdsmen drive my camels to fields afar ? 

(12) The matron of 'Abd-Shams laughed to see me [abased in bonds,] 

as though she had seen before no captive of Yaman stock ; 
[(13) And day-long as I lay there, the women around me watched, 

and some sought of me, full fain, what wives at my home desire.] 

(14) Mulaikah my wife knows well that time was when I stood forth 

a lion in fight, when men beset me or I led on. 

(15) And time was I slew to feast my guests and the poor my herds, 

and time was I rode on quests where none other dared to go. 

(16) Yea, once would I kill to feed my comrades the beast I rode, 

and once would I tear my robe in twain for two singing-girls. 

(17) And when 'neath the stress of spears our horse plunged and broke and backed, 

'twas I that with fingers deft disparted the line of steel. 


(18) And hosts like the locusts' swarm were stopt by my hand alone : 

toward me alone they turned the points of their glittering spears. 

(19) Now is it as though I ne'er had mounted a noble steed, 

or cried to my horsemen 'Charge! give space for our men to 

breathe ' ; 

(20) Or bought the full skin of wine for much gold, or called at night 

to comrades at play ' Heap high the blaze of our beacon fire ! ' 


(2) ' My mind ', sMmaliya, ' my disposition, nature ' : more usually shama'Ul. 

(4) Of the persons named in this verse, Aba Karib was Bishr son of 'Alqamah son of al-Harith : 
' the two al-Aihams ' were al-Aswad son of 'Alqamah, and 'Abd al-Maslh son of al-Abyad ; all three 
were chiefs of the tribe of the Banu-1-Harith of Najran, and belonged to the Christian portion of the 
tribe which, under the persecution of the Jewish king Dhu Nuwas, furnished ' the Martyrs of the 
Trench ' (Askdbu-l-UJchdud, Qur'an Ixxxv. 4). Qais of al-Yaman was the chief or king of the tribe of 
Kindah, father of al-Ash'ath, the head of the tribe when the Prophet summoned it to embrace Islam. 
'Abd-Yaghuth, as his name shows, was himself a pagan ; Yaghuth, ' the Helper ', was a deity named 
in the Qur'an (Ixxi. 23), specially honoured by the tribes of Madhhij : he had a sanctuary at Jurash, 
six days north of Najran on the road from San'a towards Mecca. The idol is said to have had the 
shape of a lion. 

(5) ' The others who joined our league ', al-akharma-l-matcaliya. The word mawali is susceptible 
of a large variety of meanings : here the scholion considers that it means confederates. 

(8) The scholion (p. 317 10 ) says that the men of Taim, who held 'Abd-Yaghuth prisoner, observed 
that he was reciting verses : they feared that he might be composing a satire against them, and 
therefore proposed to gag him ; whereupon he begged them, in the sense of this verse, to leave him 
his tongue free, promising to utter no word against them, but to blame only his own people and 
recite his death-song. On the other hand, another scholiast (p. 316 17 ff.) says that tongues are not 
bound with a leather thong, and that what is meant is ' Treat me kindly, that my tongue may be 
loosed in praise of you ', binding and loosing the tongue being understood figuratively. To me it 
seems that the former interpretation is more probable. 

(9) An-Nu'man b. Jisas of Taim, who led the confederation called the Kibab, was victorious over 
the Yamanite league in his part of the battle, while the Tamlmites, consisting mainly of the clan of 
Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat under the captaincy of Qais b. 'Asim, were on the first day of the fight defeated 
by the enemy. An-Nu'man went to the assistance of Tamlm, but, he being a very heavy man, 
dismounted from his horse, which was exhausted, in order to mount another. While he was thus 
on foot a man came up and thrust him through with a spear, calling out, ' Take that ! I am the son 
of a Handhalite mother'. The man's name is said (in Naq. 151*) to have been 'Abdallah b. Ka'b ; 
the father was a man of al-Yaman, and the mother from a division of Tamlm called Handhalah b. 
Malik b. Zaid-Manat, which lived in a state of enmity with Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat, to which Qais b. 
'Asim belonged (Naq. 156 13 ff.). It is apparently to this that the poet refers when he says that he 
was not responsible for the death of an-Nu'man. But the verse is susceptible of another 
interpretation. The bawa' of a slain man is a man who is equal to him in position and quality, and 
whose slaying will be a proper requital for the slaying of the first killed. The poet may be under- 


stood to be claiming, as chief of the host of al-Yaman, to be a person of more importance than 
an-Nu'man, in retaliation for whom Taim was proposing to slay him. In this case we should 
translate the second hemistich of the verse otherwise : 

' The brother ye lost was not the equal in worth of me '. 

I incline myself to the latter interpretation, but have entered the former in the text in deference 
to the scholion. 

(11) 'Ye servants of God', 'ibada-l-lahi: this may possibly be a reference to the name Taim, 
which has the same meaning as 'abd, ' slave or servant '. The tribe of Taim, one of the four forming 
the Kibab, no doubt had its name originally from the name of some god which followed, like Taim 
al-Lat, Taim Allah: but what the particular god was in this case has not been handed down. 
' Camels ', mataliya, that is, she-camels, some of which have brought forth their young and have their 
calves following them, while others have not yet been delivered : the whole troop is then called 
matalin, sing, mutliyah. ' To fields afar ' : poets boast of the distance from the tribal head-quarters to 
which they send their herds, because it is implied that the terror of their name is sufficient to protect 
them from the spoiler, however distant the herds may be from home. 

(12) Captives taken in war were usually made over to the keeping of the women of the victorious 
tribe while the warriors were still engaged in fight. ' Of 'Abd-Shams ' : note the abbreviated nisbah 
' AbsJiarmyali ; the family of 'Abd-Shams (b. Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat) was that to which the poet 'Abdah b. 
at-Tabib (ante, No. XXVI) belonged. 

(13) This verse is wanting in several recensions of the poem, and seems to me to be spurious : 
it breaks the sequence of vv. 12 and 14. 

(19) ' Our men ' : it is implied in the verse that rijal here is the plural of rajldn or rajU, ' a man 
who goes afoot, a foot-soldier ', rather than (as usually) of rajul, ' a man ' simpliciter. 

(20) The ' comrades at play ', aisaru sidqin, are literally ' trusty comrades playing together the 
game of Maisir' (for which see ante, introduction to No. IX, and note to v. 15 of No. X). It should 
be added that the flesh of the slaughtered camel or camels which formed the stakes in the game was 
not eaten by the winners, but given to the poor. The blaze of the fire is heightened that it may be 
a beacon to attract homeless wanderers. 


FOR the poet see the introduction to No. XXIX. We have here a poem of hatred, addressed 
to one 'Amr, called by the poet his cousin (ibnu 'ammin), but apparently (v. 12 ff.) representing a 
family rather than an individual. There is a striking resemblance to the poem by al-Fadl b. al- 
' Abbas in the Hamasah, p. 110 (Englished in my Translations of Ancient Arabian Poetry, p. 23), 
which was perhaps composed upon the model of this piece. The order of the verses differs 
considerably in the various texts. The version imitates the metre of the original (Bus-it), with 

(1) A cousin I have, and for all the likeness between us in mood, 

we are at odds I hate him, and he in turn hates me. 

(2) What prompts our dislike is that ever between us estrangement grows, 

and he thinks me beneath him, and I think the same of him. 


(3) O 'Amr, if thou leavest not abuse and detraction of me, 

I will smite thee in that place where the owl cries ' Give me to drink ! ' 

(4) By God ! my cousin, thou art not better in stock than I, 

nor art thou my ruler and judge, to order my ways at thy will. 

(5) Thou feedest not my household in days of hunger and dearth, 

nor dost thou come to my help when hard things press me sore. 

(6) For me, my door (by thy life !) is never shut to a friend, 

nor is aught that I expend a boon of burdensome weight ; 

(7) Nor does my tongue wag freely against my nearest kin 

with words unseemly, nor is my stroke one not to be feared. 

(8) I guard my respect without greed, and when in any land 

I fear to be shent, I abide not there to face disgrace. 

(9) Away keep thou to thyself! my mother was not a slave 

to tend the pregnant she-camels, nor canst thou cheat my wits. 

(10) Some day at last comes a man to be known for the man he is, 

though long he may feign a nature that is not the truth of his life. 

(11) Before things base I am stubborn: nought will I yield to the vile: 

unsmirched my honour, the trust of fathers who stood unstained. 

(12) And ye though ye be a kin a hundred in number or more, 

join hands, unite all your strength, outwit me if ye can ! 

(13) Then, if ye know the right way, take it and travel therein : 

or, if ye know it not, then come ye to me and be schooled. 

(14) What care I -though ye be men of ancient and noble stock 

that I love you not, since ye have no love to spare for me? 

(15) If ye were to gulp down my blood, it would not slake your thirst ; 

and if I should drink the blood of you all, I should still be dry. 

(16) Yea, God knows me, what I am, and God knows you, what ye are, 

and God will requite you of me, and me will requite of you. 

(17) Time was I gave you my counsel and lent you the best of my love, 

in spite of that which I knew was fixed in your secret heart. 

(18) Harshness from you will but sharpen the edge of my disdain : 

I shall not be soft but to him who himself is soft to me. 


(2) The first hemistich of this verse may be rendered more literally : ' What causes us to think 
contemptuously one of the other is that we are dispersed, or scattered, one from the other '. The 
proverbial phrase shalat na'dmatuna is not very adequately explained in the commentary or the 
Lexx. The former says it means ' our affairs have fallen apart and gone different ways ' ; it is also 
used of a body of fighting men in the sense ' they were thrown into confusion '. The proverb is taken 



from the female ostrich, na'amah, and the verb sluda, meaning ' to raise the tail ' (said of a camel), and 
hence, of a thing weighed, ' to be light in the balance ' : but how the derived application of the 
phrase is obtained is obscure. 

(8) ' In that place where the owl cries " Give me to drink ! " ' haifhu taqulu-l-Mmatu-' squnl '. 
This phrase refers to the superstition of the ancient Arabs that when a slain man died unavenged, 
there came forth from his skull (Mmah) an owl (hamah), which shrieked isqunl, isqunl ' Give me to 
drink ! ' When the blood of vengeance was shed, the owl's thirst was appeased and it ceased to cry. 
This superstition remains alive to this day among the TigrS race inhabiting the western shores of the 
Eed Sea, in spite of their having been nominally Christian for centuries, and now Muslim for many 
years ; and among Arabs it survived (though denounced by the Prophet as a vain thing) for a long 
time after the promulgation of Islam. Thus, in or about the year 65 of the Hijrah the poet Ibn 'Aradah * 
said, referring to the killing by the Banti Tamim of the son of 'Abdallah b. Khazim of Sulaim in 
Herat, and the vengeance taken upon them by 'Abdallah, who was governor of Khurasan on behalf 
of the anti-Caliph Ibn az-Zubair : 

'If there be an owl screeching in Herat, 

verily thou hast caused to screech many owls in the two Marvs.' 

('Abdallah is said to have killed about seventy of the Tamim. ' The two Marvs ' are Marv ar-Eudh, 
' Marv on the Eiver ', and Marv-ash-Shahijan (Pers. Shahjihan), ' Marv, King of the World ', two cities 
of Khurasan)'. The phrase in our verse accordingly means simply ' I will smite thee on the head '. 

(4) 'By God ! my cousin'. This does not correspond literally to the first words of the verse 
Lahi-bnu 'ammiJca ; Lahi stands for lilldhi, and the strict meaning is ' to God be ascribed thine uncle's 
son ! ' ; it is an exclamation of astonishment, sometimes of praise, often (as here) of aversion (as 
when the Caliph 'Umar, on hearing that a thief had stolen a relic of the Prophet, said ' Lillahi 
abuliu ! ' ' To God be ascribed his father ! ', meaning ' What a monster ! ') This use in Arabic of 
lillaln for wonder or surprise corresponds to the Hebrew lelohim, as in Jonah iii. 3 of Nineveh, 
'ir gedholah lelohim. Notice that the exclamation lahi-bnu 'ammiJca is addressed by the poet to himself, 
while in the next words (la afflalta) he addresses his cousin. ' Stock', hasab, the reputation which 
a man has from the honour gained by his ancestry, or, sometimes, by himself. 

(6) ' A boon of burdensome weight ', mamnun, that is, a gift that brings with it a distressing 
sense of obligation ; the Arabs counted it a great drawback to generosity that the giver should dwell 
upon his gifts to the person benefited, or should expect a requital for them. 

(7) ' My stroke ', fafkl, that is, a sudden and violent attack : the poet says that he is one who can 
be exasperated to violence upon due cause, and then let the adversary beware ! 

(8) 'I guard my respect, &c.', 'affun, ya'usun; 'affis 'self-respecting', ya'us 'one who does not 
hope for, or covet, another man's goods '. 

(9) The commentary observes that this is probably an innuendo against his cousin, who was the 
son of a slave-girl. The tending of pregnant camels is said to be one of the most burdensome kinds 
of service. 

(11) This verse rings the changes on the word ably, 'unyielding, incornpliant ' ; more literally 
it may be rendered : ' I am one who yields not, incompliant, who holds straitly to that which he 
has to defend (honour and the like): the son of one stubborn, one stubborn born of fathers as 
obstinate '. The terminal vowel of the last word is changed from a to i by poetic licence. 

* The verse is cited on p. 322 6 of our text ; cf. the Amali of al-Qali, Dhail, p. 32. 



ACCORDING to our text the author was al-Harith son of Wa'lah ; but the correct name 
appears to be that given above : see note ' on p. 327 of vol. I, and line 9 of the same page, 
where al-Mufaddal is cited as the authority for Wa'lah. Jarm was the name of a Quda'ite 
tribe settled in the northern portion of the Meridional chain (Sarat) of al-Yaman and the lands 
(Tabalah, Najran) sloping down from it eastwards. According to the account of the battle of 
al-Kulab the Second (see introduction to No. XXX, ante) contained in the Naqd'id, p. 151 , 
Wa'lah was the standard-bearer of the confederacy of Madhhij which, under the captaincy 
of 'Abd-Yaghuth, attacked Tamim at that place. On the second day of the battle the two 
parties stood opposite to one another, shouting their war cries : Tamim shouted : ' Ho ! Sa'd ! ', 
and Madhhij replied with the same, both having Sa'ds in their line. Then Tamim shouted 
' Ho ! Ka'b ' ; the Yamanites answered with the same, for they too had a Ka'b. Lastly, 
Qais b. 'Asim shouted ' Ho ! Muqa'is ! ', and to this the Yamanites were unable to reply. 
Apparently taking an evil omen from this, Wa'lah is said to have cast down his standard and 
fled. His horse broke down with him, and he continued his flight on foot. As will be seen 
from the notes below against vv. 9-10, there are two stories told as to what then happened, which 
are not reconcilable one with the other. The most probable appears to be that Wa'lah appealed 
to a man of Nahd named Salit b. Qatab, of the Banu Kifa'ah, to allow him to mount behind him, 
but was refused. The commentary (p. 327, line 12) goes]on to say that the Nahdite was followed 
up by the pursuing Tamimites and slain, while the man of Jarm escaped on his feet, and this 
is the only version which suits the opening verse of the poem. The other version (which our 
text follows) makes the man of Nahd appeal for a lift to the poet, who refused it. It ia 
extremely improbable that the poet would celebrate in his verses so discreditable an action on 
his part. 

The translation offers a rhythm generally resembling the Baslt, with variations. The 
original is in Tawll. 

(1) My mother and aunt bear the ills of you twain, feet of mine, 

for what ye did at Kulab, when the heels were nigh cut off! 
(11) Yea, when I saw the foe's horse charging us troop after troop, 
I knew that the day was desperate, all but life quite lost. 

(2) I saved myself by a flight such as none had seen before, 

as though 'twere an eagle swooping in Taiman down on his prey 

(3) A black eagle brownish of hue, whose feathers a steady rain 

has matted, some day of cold and storm [in the mountain air]. 

(4) It seemed, when at last I put Hudhunnah between me and them, 

we were ostriches all in a string before a horseman's pursuit. 


(5) Let whoso will look for kindness and ruth from men of Tamlm 

no tie of kin nor of friend binds Jarm at least to Tamlm ! 

(6) I heard the horsemen behind shouting Muqa'is their cry, 

and straight there rose in my chest a stifling heat to my throat ; 

(7) Yea, if I can help it, Muqa'is shall not get hold of me : 

I shall not be made the show there of tent or village folk ; 

(8) I shall not be given to guard me a jailoress of Mudar, 

whose daily care is to feed her brood [and leave me to starve] ! 

(9) I said to the man of Nahd ' I pray thee mount me behind ' ! 

but how should a broken man mount thee thy mother weep for her son ! 
(10) I prayed him by all the bonds of kinship between us twain 

but tune was when Nahd and Jarm shunned each the other in hate. 


(1) Cf. ante, No. I, 2, for the phrase ' May this or that be the sacrifice for such a one ! ' : here the 
sacrifice is vicarious, but the phrase is in reality merely an exclamation of admiration. ' When the 
heels were nigh cut off', idh tuhazzu-d-dawabiru, i. e., when the pursuers had gained upon those who 
fled and were so close that the heels of the latter had almost been cut off. The phrase is also used 
in a slightly different sense, dawdbir being taken as the last of a body of fleeing men. 

(11) I follow the text of the 'Iqd in bringing this verse in here, between vv. 1 and 2 ; if left as 
in our text to the end it stands as a fragment, the context of which has been lost. 

(2) For the words ' such as none had seen before ' a v. I. reads ' that slackened not, no not 
a whit ', laisa fihi watlratun. Taiman, name of a mountain. 

(3) Cf.. the similar phrase in No. V, v. 9, ante, and the note there as to the reason for mentioning 
rain. A good v. I. for mina-t-talli is bi-TiMifata, 'in Tikhfah', a mountain (Doughty, ii. 461); the 
mention of dew or light rain, which is the meaning of tall, is inconsistent with the following aharllb, 
which means ' heavy showers ', and I have therefore chosen this v. I. to support my insertion ' in the 
mountain air '. 

(4) Hudhunnah, name of a place. 

(6) Muqa'is, the war-cry of Sa'd of Tamim, was the name of an ancestor of three families in Sa'd 
called Sarlm, 'Ubaid and Rubai' : their progenitor, whose proper name was al-Harith, was called 
al-Muqa'is because he drew back (taqa'asa) from some oath or compact. It was to this line that the 
leader of Tamlm, Qais son of 'Asim, belonged. 

(7) It will be noticed that some of Tamlm are here spoken of as settled in permanent villages, 

(8) For prisoners committed to the guardianship of women see ante, No. XXX, v. 12, note. 
The words added in the second hemistich (' and leave me to starve ') are implicit in what is said of 
the woman attending only to the food of her own children. Mudar (son of Nizar son of Ma'add), the 
legendary father of the branch of Ma'add to which Tamlm belonged. 

(9 and 10) For these verses the text of the Naqa'id and the Khizanali has been preferred to ours, 
which represents the poet as mounted on a horse, and being appealed to by a man of Nahd to give 
a seat behind to him. It is quite clear from the first verse of our poem that the poet fled on his feet, 
either because he was not riding, or because his horse had broken down and he had to dismount. 
It must therefore have been he that appealed to the man of Nahd, not the reverse. The tribes of 


Nahd and Jarm, both descended from Quda'ah, were important Yamanite stocks, at the time of our 
poem settled in the northern Sarat of al-Yaman and the tract to the east of it, and forming part of 
the confederacy of Madhhij. As the numbers of Nahd and Jarm increased, they began to quarrel, and 
the former tribe allied itself to al-Harith b. Ka'b, while the latter joined Zubaid : the feuds which 
arose from these alliances seem to be the alienation referred to in v. 10. 



THE poet, who is also called Jabha, was born and died during the reign of the Caliphs of 
the House of Umayyah (A.H. 36-132). He was a Beduin, and lived all his life in the Hijaz, 
taking no part in the wars of Islam nor frequenting the Courts of Caliphs and great men with 
poems in their praise. Nevertheless he became well known for graceful verse, of which, how- 
ever, little has survived. His famous contemporary al-Farazdaq met him (according to one 
story at Basrah, according to another and more probable version at Medina), and admired 
his compositions. 

His tribe, Ashja', was a not very celebrated division of Ghatafan, the group to which the 
better known clans of 'Abs and Dhubyan belonged : its lands were in the Hijaz not far from 

In the short poem below he describes a she-goat which he had lent to a fellow-tribesman 
for a limited time, and had not received back when its return was due. The rendering imitates, 
with variations, the metre of the original (TawU). 

(1) Thou man of the Children of Taim, wilt thou not render me back 

the beast I lent thee for loans are given to be repaid ? 

(2) And if thou returnest me Ghamrah, thou shalt be paid by me 

all honour, as long as traders seek for their traffic's gain: 

(11) A six-year-old, true Arab stock, well covered with silken hair, 

full of milk, as if Hauran's troughs had yielded their flow to her: 

(12) As if she had fed on the grass of Jaulan, and summered on 

where grows the wadl'ah of Jals, with hips broad .and parted wide ; 

(3) Her hair is set close and long, her neck is uplifted high, 

her body compact and plump, her tooth browses ceaselessly; 
(7) And if on a winter's night the call comes to her by name 

a night when the clouds hang low, with fringes of pouring rain 

(5) She steps forth before the twain who milk her, with udders full 

projecting beyond her thighs, and smiting her parted legs. 

(6) A marvel is she : her milk alone is enough to sate 

the starveling lost all night in dry hills and barren plains. 


(7) The noise of the flowing stream resembles a crackling flame, 

whenas in the pail her milk is drawn by the herdsman's hands. 

(8) And if she has nought to browse but only a knawed old stump, 

whereon drought forbids all sprouts to kindle its bark with green, 

(9) She comes as if dark-green qaswar-twigs full of sap and fruit, 

that stand forth in order down its stem, had blown out her dugs. 
(10) The pail of wwcter-wood fills beneath her, and high the tide 
of cool milk within it rises, topping its sides with foam. 


(1) Taim, a house in Ashja' Taim b. Mu'awiyah b. Sulaim b. Ashja' ; the name of some deity 
has been suppressed (see ante, note to No. XXX, v. 11). 

(2) Ghamrah, the name of the she-goat : v. I. Sa'dah. 

(11, 12) These verses, printed at the end of the piece, are not read by Abu 'Ikrimah, but are 
handed down by other authorities: their place is evidently between vv. 2 and 8. In v. 11 I have 
followed the commentary in taking the duhmu Haurana as meaning 'the watering-troughs of 
Hauran ' (a land famous for its water and fertility among the inhabitants of droughty Arabia) : 
but it would be more natural to take duhm as meaning dark-coloured camels. Sdfih is explained 
as a camel which, in order to deceive the purchaser, is not milked for some days previously 
to being sold, so that its milk may collect in its udders and they may appear to be very 
full (equivalent to mukaffalali). Jaulan is a district in the north of the country east of the Jordan 
and south of Damascus, the ancient Golan ; once covered with oak forest, which has now disappeared, 
it is still rich in grass which springs up in abundance after the rains. Wadl'ah is said (LA x. 282 8 ) 
to be another name for the hamfl, or salt pasture, of bushes and scrub, which camels and sheep 
particularly like. Jals may be a proper name, or stand for any hill or upland projecting above 
an elevated tract (najd). 

(4) ' A winter's night ', lailatun Bajablyatun, ' a night of Kajab ' : here we find Eajab still 
spoken of, by an established poetic idiom, as a name applicable to some particular month in the cold 
and rainy season, although the change in the calendar directed by Muhammad had long deprived it 
officially of any relation to a particular part of the year. For the idiom see 'Abld, xvi. 3 and xix. 10, 
and for Kajab, ante, No. XXII, note to v. 6. 

(5) Two milkers are commonly spoken of in relation to a she-camel. Perhaps here they are 
mentioned to enhance the importance as a yielder of milk of the goat. Sifaq is the part to right 
and left of the udders and before them as far as the navel ; the udders are so big with milk that the 
goat has to walk with hind legs widely parted. 

(6) 'A marvel is she' a free rendering of wailummiM, which is used as an expression of 
admiration : literally it means ' Woe to her mother ! ', but has long lost all sense of imprecation. 

(7) For ajlju-n-nuri, ' the crackling of flame ', a v. I. is azizu-l-lari, ' the wheezing of the smith's 
bellows '. 

(8) Kallh, epithet of jadb, ' drought ', in the sense of ' severe ', properly means ' with teeth 
displayed by drawing back the lips', as with a horse in battle or an angry beast of prey. 

(9) Qaswar, ' a plant growing in plain or soft land, which is said to be like the full and long hair 
on a man's head, and becomes tall and large ; camels are greedily fond of it, and it fattens them and 
makes them plentiful in milk ' (Lane). 

(10) Nwlur, or nidar, a tree from the wood of which bowls, drinking-cups, and pails for milking 
are made. 




THE poet, like the author of the last piece, was a man born in Islam ; his father, Yazid 
son of Jamrah, was a chief of that division of Murrah (for which see ante, No. XII, introduction) 
sprung from Ghaidh, not the stock to which al-Harith son of al-Humam belonged. His mother 
Umamah (or according to the Aghanl Qirsafah, but our commentary says that this was the 
name of his mother's mother) was called al-Barsa, if we may believe the Aghdnl, not because 
she suffered from baras, or leucoderma, but because of the dazzling whiteness of her skin. The 
Hamdsah, p. 500, has an evidently apocryphal story that she had been sought in marriage by 
the Prophet, and that her father, unwilling to give her to him, said by way of excuse that she 
had leucoderma, though this was not true ; when he returned home, however, he found that she 
was actually suffering from the disease. Shabib nourished during the reign of 'Abd al-Malik 
b. Marwan (A. H. 65-86, A. D. 685-705), who admired his poetry. The author of the AgJuini says 
that he remained a Beduin, and did not attach himself to any court, visiting cities only when 
he had some petition to make or expected to receive a gift (wdfidan au muntaji'an). Here, 
it will be seen, he speaks of being on his way to Damascus. He engaged in contests of satire 
with his cousins 'Aqll b. 'Ullafah and Artah b. Zufar, of which there are accounts in the 
Aghdnl, XI, 93 ff. and 140 ff. 

(1) Seest thou not that the tribe has been sundered by the continuous 
journeying in different directions which they began on the day of the plain of 

(2) Journeying which has carried them far from our way, and has stirred up 
in us the thrill of longing ? Verily happenings stir the hearts ! 

(3) Mine eyes streamed not until, as the morning dawned, the camels were 
loaded up with their household gear, and the litters were girded on, 

(4) And until I beheld how the south-wind swept over the empty spaces 
where the tribe had dwelt, raising high into air the dust, with a train of dust 

(5) And there on that morning was one glad at thy departing, full of delight 
and one who wept over the dwelling-places with bitter sobs. 

(6) And if Hind be a garden fenced round by barriers, sometimes hopelessness 
masters a man, and he becomes content therewith. 

(7) Now Hind dwells, having taken up her fixed abode, in ar-Ranqa, and for 
me it is time that I see the towers of Damascus ; 

(8) And I have been given in exchange for her the land of the wormwood, 


while she has been given the water-courses of al-Matall, with their sakhlar-ti-ees 
and clumps of bamboos ; 

(9) And between us are interposed the mountains of Hauran and al-Qunn, 
and ridges of bare sand wherein is intense heat. 

(10) And there is no attaining to her, except that our distance be brought near 
by means of swift young camels that pull upon the reins, bent with leanness, 

(11) And a she-camel whose teeth are full-grown, of the race of Jadllah, round 
whose belly are bound a strap and a plaited girth : 

(12) She has legs nimble to speed along, long as though they were tent-poles 
of pine-wood, with wide spaces between ; 

(18) When she comes down into the hard rugged ground, her pads, wounded 
and bleeding, constrain themselves to bear her onwards. 

(14) Yea, many the desert, dry and dusty to the furthest bound, where the 
mirage floats over the hillocks before the noon-tide, and comes and goes, 

(15) Have I traversed, what time the wildings, pasturing the wilderness with- 
out coming down to water, entering into their holes clothe themselves with the 
shadow of the arta-trees. 

(16) By the life of the Daughter of the Murrite ! I am not one who cries out 
in pain when the changes of fortune beset him ; 

(17) t And the mother of my two boys knows well that I am one who rises to 
serve the guest when others are too drowsy to do so, and goes forth in the night to 
welcome him in ; 

(18) And that I buy meat at a high price when it is uncooked [to feast there- 
with the hungry], while I am of those who hold the flesh cheap when it is cooked 
[by dealing it out to all who have need], 

(19) What time the suckling mother, bent double with leanness, is pressed in 
the night by her babe with its two poor strings of shells round its neck, which 
clings, worrying her for milk, to her dry breast ; 

(23) And there was no scantiness of anything, and my openhandedness and 
attention made the child's mother happy. 

(20) When the guests look anxiously about for one to deal out to them 
hospitality, there furnishes entertainment for me a she-camel whose young dies 
soon after birth in the wintertime, or one which casts her young prematurely 

(21) A she-camel as big as a male : on my sword from the bone of her leg 
[where I have houghed her] is dried blood which I have not wiped away, and 
scratches ; 

(22) In every halting-place in the middle parts of the wilderness the saddles 


of mais-wood are seen to be carrying the gear [of other camels slaughtered by mo 
to feed my companions]. 


(I) For al-GhamTm there are several variants: al-Ghubair, al-Ghumair, al-Ghablr, and 
al-Ghumaim. The place cannot have been well known. The parting described took Hind south- 
wards to ar-Ranqa, in the country of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah (v. 7), while the poet went north to Damascus, 
the seat of Umayyad rule. 

(5) ' At thy departing ' : the Arabic is read with both a masculine and a feminine ending to the 
affixed pronoun bi-baini-ka and bi-baini-ki, thus referring either to the departure of the poet, or to 
that of his mistress Hind ; in either case the rival of the poet in her love is indicated. 

(6) ' A garden fenced round ', jannatun Alia dunahd. Cf. Cant. iv. 12, gan na'ul. 

(7, 8) The description of a country by the trees and plants growing there is very common in the 
old poetry. ' Wormwood ', slflh, the Heb. slab D 1 ^, Artemisia Judaica or herba-alba (the name sMA in 
Najd is applied to another plant, Zilla myagroides, Forsk. , but the poet is speaking of Syria). Sakhbar, 
see botanical index. ' Clumps of bamboos ', wasluj. The vegetation indicates a country with subsoil 
water, evidently the course of the Wadi-r-Eummah (see ante, No. XIV, note to vv. 5-6). 

(9) Hauran : see ante, No. XXXIII, v. 11. al-Qunn is said to be a summit of Aja', the northern- 
most of the twin ranges of the mountains of Tayyi', the modern Jabal Shomer (or Shammar). 

(II) The she-camel described has passed the beginning of her ninth year (buzul), when the 
teeth reach their final form, by one year (mukhlifah). She is of the breed of Jadllah of al-Yaman, 
not the subdivision of Tayyi' that bore that name. 

(12) It seems certain that are in Arabic means 'pine-tree' ; it is the same word as that used in 
Heb. for cedar of Lebanon. 

(15) For the holes into which antelopes and gazelles creep to sleep during the greatest heat of 
the day, see ante, No. X, note to v. 11. These animals, during the spring when pasture is rich and 
sappy, can do without water (jawazf, the same word as Doughty's jezzln, used of camels). Arid, 
a thorny tree of which the bark is used for tanning. 

(16) Murrah was the poet's own clan, and no doubt that of his wife, by whose life he swears. 
(18) The commentary supposes that the poet boasts of his liberality in buying camels to be 

slaughtered for the game of Maisir (ante, No. X, note to v. 15) ; but this form of gambling was 
forbidden by the Qur'an. It scarcely seems necessary to go beyond the words of the verse and their 

(20) Either of the two kinds of beast mentioned is fatter than others, because not required to 
yield milk to her young. 

(21) A camel to be slaughtered is houghed to make it fall, when it is stabbed in the throat. 



THE poet was the son of the old Chief of the group of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah who commanded 
at the great battle of Shi'b Jabalah, fought in or about A. D. 570 (the year of the Prophet's 
birth), when his tribe defeated a confederacy of certain branches of Tamlm and the tribes of 
Dhubyan and Asad which had gathered against them (see the Introduction to the Dlivan of 
'Amir b. at-Tufail). 'Auf himself was one of the captains on that day, and as he was the 
grandfather of 'Alqamah b. 'Ulathah, who was the rival of 'Amir b. at-Tufail and his successor 
in the chiefship of 'Amir after his death in A. H. 9 or 10, he must have- been of mature age at 
the time certainly not less than 30 to 40 years old. 

The poem is said in our commentary, by a very careless mistake, to be a satire directed 
against a man of the tribe of al-Harith b. Ka'b (see introduction to No. XXX, ante). It is 
nothing of the kind. It is a forensic pleading addressed to the brother-tribe Abu-Bakr b. Kilab 
on behalf of the house of Ja'far b. Kilab, relating to some bloodshed which had occurred in the 
former tribe by the fault of the latter, of which 'Auf was a representative chief. The story is 
told, in a somewhat fragmentary manner, in the commentary to the Naqaid, pp. 532-5. 
The quarrel, out of small beginnings, became so serious that the house of Ja'far b. Kilab had 
to leave the brotherhood of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah and take up its abode with its ancient enemies of 
al-Harith b. Ka'b, where it was entertained hospitably for a considerable time ; peace with 
Abu-Bakr was, however, eventually restored (see Introduction to the D^^van of 'Amir, 
pp. 74-5). The stage in the dispute to which the poem of 'Auf belongs was apparently an 
early one, when it was hoped to patch up a peace between Ja'far and Abu-Bakr without more 
trouble than was involved in the payment of a bloodwit. 'Auf promised to be responsible for 
this, and as security for payment offered his son Da'b. This offer is the subject of the poem 
from v. 7 to the end. The obligatory amatory prelude has some interesting references to the 
observances of the Pilgrimage at Mecca (vv. 4-6). The tribe of Kilab, to which 'Auf belonged, 
was one of the Hums (see ante, No.XXIV, note to v. 14) or Amphictyons of the sacred territory, 
who practised special austerities at the Pilgrimage season. As the Pilgrimage was transformed 
from a pagan to an Islamic observance by Muhammad, these references to its pre-islamic 
character have an historical importance. 

(1) The cisterns have been broken down, and there is not left to one of them 
of its coping-stones so much as the stone on which the bucket from the well is 
poured forth. 

(2) Khaulah's were they when her people halted there, and my folk and hers 
dwelt there together, facing each the other. 


(3) Now is it hard to trace the outlines of a dwelling-place, and that which 
the blaze has spared of the sticks of firewood. 

(4) I swear by Him to whose sacred precincts Quraish go on pilgrimage, and 
that which Mount Hira gathers together [of offerings], 

(5) And by the holy month of the Sons of Umayyah, and the victims when 
they are bound [for sacrifice] with the blood soaking into the ground where they 

(6) I will never blame thee so long as tears roll down from mine eyes : if I do, 
then may God wipe me out of being ! 

(7) I acknowledge your authority as long as life lasts, and I accept it, even 
though it should bring the loss of all my goods ; 

(8) Do not therefore show crookedness in your judgement of set design, even 
as the wood of the sara-tree is naturally crooked ; 

(9) And I will not attempt, in dealing with you, to conceal the truth, so as to 
make the judgement vain, even as a contest of cleverness is a vain thing. 

(10) But as for thee, Son of Kalb, thy sitting in judgement upon me would be 
the same as the wrapping of me in my shroud for burial ! 

(11) Take ye Da'b [my son] as a hostage for the damage I have inflicted upon 
you ye have no superiority over Da'b : 

(12) For among those not of royal race none has superiority over us ; and ye 
can find an equivalent for your slain man among [us,] your friends and kinsmen. 

(13) Hast thou any kinship with the race of Hujr son of 'Amr, which thou 
knowest and I know not ? 

(14) Or with al-'Anqa, Tha'labah son of 'Amr the blood of these is a cure for 
dog-madness ? 

(15) And I think not that ye be kings of the race of Nasr kings have a very 
high price ! 

(16) But I have gained glory from the side of father and mother both, and my 
high place reaches up to both of them. 

(17) Thine ancestors were Bujayyid and the man Ka'b ; and thou didst no 
wrong in taking what thou wouldst ; 

(18) But a people from the root of Qais their payments [as bloodwit] are 
camels and herdsmen therewith ; 

(19) And [War] is pierced, when I gain mastery over her, even as a piece of 
broiling meat is pierced by the skewer or spit, 

(20) By a spear with a sharpened head of which I thrust into her a long iron 
point, the knots in which are athirst for blood. 



(2) ' My folk and hers ' : the Arabic has ' My folk and thine ' (i. e. Khaulah's) another sudden 
transition from one person to another : cf. ante, No. XI, note to v. 25. 

(4) Hira is the name of a mountainabout Smiles north-east of Mecca on theway to at-Ta'if, celebrated 
as the place where, in a cave, Muhammad received his first inspiration and saw the vision of Gabriel : 
it is a remarkable conical peak, now called Jabal Nor, ' the Mountain of Light '. Its mention in this 
verse (which is much older than the Prophet's mission) suggests that it was one of the holy places 
about Mecca which were revered and visited at the Pilgrimage in the times of paganism. It 
is not now included in the circuit of the Hajj ceremonies. The words added at the end of the verse 
(' of offerings ') are doubtful : the crowds gathered together may be meant, though in that case we 
should expect man instead of ma. 

(5) Here again we have a remarkable phrase. The month is evidently that of the Pilgrimage, 
Dhu-1-Hijjah, but why should it be coupled with the Banu Umayyah ? The scholiast suggests that 
at the Pilgrimage the heads of the Quraish commemorated their ancestors, and that the name of the 
Banu Umayyah, as the most famous and distinguished of their families, thus came to be attached to 
the month : a poet (Marrar of Faq'as, a subdivision of Asad not our poet of Nos. XIV and XVI) is 
cited, who says that a certain family, the Banu Khafajah, in the tribe of 'Uqail, were like the Banu 
Umayyah in Quraish. Perhaps the relation between the month and the family may have resided in 
the right (nisaah) possessed by the latter to declare the intercalation (nasf) required to keep the lunar 
year reasonably coincident with the solar circuit ; Umayyah is one of the names of persons entrusted 
with this office mentioned in BHisham, p. 30 12 ; he is not the Umayyah son of 'Abd-Shams who was 
the ancestor of the Umayyad Caliphs. On the intercalation would depend the date of the Pilgrimage. 

(6) This verse offers a striking example of the curious idiom of the Arabic language by which, 
in an oath, a negative is understood but not expressed before the verb indicating the action which is 
the subject of the pledge. The sentence is addressed to Khaulah. 

(8) The sara, a tree growing in the mountains of which bows were made : it is said to be 
identical with the shauhat and nab'. 

(9) The word kija', rendered ' a contest of cleverness ', is explained as meaning ' contention or 
vying with another in intelligence, or skill and knowledge, and endeavouring to establish superiority 
over him in these ' : it implies that instead of facts the adversaries resort to artifice and invention 
(hads) ; and for this reason the result of such a contest is said to be vain. 

(10) This is evidently an objection taken by the poet to one of the judges, who, he says, is his 
personal enemy and desires his death. 

(12) In all matters of compensation for injury caused by bloodshed (as here) it was a matter of 
prime importance that the victim offered in place of the slain man should be equivalent to him in rank 
and station (see ante, No. XXX, note to v. 9). Here the two contending parties were two branches of the 
same tribe, Kilab, a section of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, viz. the houses of Ja'far (to which 'Auf belonged) and 
Abn-Bakr (in which the blood had been shed) : hence the poet claims to be one of the asliya' friends, 
comrades, equals of the injured family. In the next three verses he mentions three royal stocks, and 
sarcastically asks his adversaries if they can establish any kinship with them ; the first (v. 13) is that 
of the Kings of Kindah, of the race of Hujr ' the Eater of Murar ' (see Introduction to the Dlwan of 
'Abld b. al-Abras): the second is that of the house of Jafnah, Kings of Ghassan, one of whose 
ancestors was Tha'labah, called al-'Anqa the latter the name of a legendary bird, the S'tmurgh of 
Persia and perhaps the Greek 4>o(Vif (Herod, ii. 73) v. 14* ; and the third that of the Kings of 

We find al-'Anqa used as the personal name of a woman at p. 366 16 of our text. 


al-Hlrah, the race of Nasr v. 15. The recognized blood-wit or ransom for a free Arab was 100 camels : 
that for a king, or one of royal race, a thousand (see ante, introduction to No. XI). 

In v. 14 allusion is made in the second hemistich to the belief which prevailed among the ancient 
Arabs that if a man suffering from hydrophobia caused by dog-bite (kalab) were given to drink some 
of the blood of a man of royal race, he would recover. This superstition is often referred to in the 
old poetry : as to it see Wellhausen, Heidenthum 2 , 162. 

(17) Bujayyid's name does not appear in the genealogies of Abn-Bakr b. Kilab as handed down, 
though found in that of a kindred tribe, Eu'as b. Kilab ; but there is no reason to suppose that the 
genealogies as given (Wttstenfeld, Table E) are exhaustive. There are many persons named Ka'b in 
the table. 

(18) Qais, i. e. Qais 'Ailan, the ancestor of the great group of Hawazin, to which 'Amir b. 
Sa'sa'ah belonged. 

(19, 20) These verses evidently convey a threat, but it is put in inverted and somewhat veiled 
language, which it is not very easy to understand. There seems to be a change of construction in 
putting qanatu in v. 20 in the nominative case, whereas it is the instrument to shajiyat in v. 19, 
answering to bi-mis'arihi in the second hemistich. In v. 20 dkrahtu must have the sense of driving 
a spear into the body of an enemy (see Glossary to Naqa'icj). The word shura'i, applied to a spear-head, 
is of doubtful meaning : I have rendered it ' long ' ; but it is also said to be an adjective derived from 
Shura'ah, the name of a maker whose spearheads were approved by the Arabs. Such stock names for 
weapons are common in the old poetry. The word ' War ' is omitted in v. 19, but is to be under- 
stood as the subject of shajiyat. This is not a very unusual idiom : see ante, No. XX, note to v. 30. 



THIS poem is in reality a collection of fragments, wanting both beginning and end. The 
first verse commences with the wdvj of rubba, implying that something came before it. 
Vv. 1 to 7 contain praise of the author's helpfulness to the poor in time of famine, and have 
some striking phrases. V. 7 amplifies the picture of drought : the absence of pasture causes 
the camels' milk to disappear, and they themselves are slaughtered for food. Vv. 8-11 dwell 
on the care which the poet takes to avoid causes of quarrel within the tribe. V. 10 is a frag- 
ment without a context or adequate explanation. Vv. 12-16 are also obscure in their 
application ; see the notes below. Vv. 17-18 seem to have become attached to this poem by 
mistake : see the note. 

As shown in the note on p. 347 of the Arabic text, parts of the poem are ascribed by early 
authors to a number of different poets. 

(1) Many the wanderer, causing my dogs to bark, who fears the lonely desert, 
while before him are the twin portals and curtains of the darkness of night, 

(2) To whom I have raised my beacon-fire, and when he had guided his steps 
thereby, I have chidden my dogs, that no biter among them should snarl at him. 

(3) Ask not me, but enquire [from others] regarding my disposition, what 
time those who seek to the pot are so many that they turn away him who desires 
to borrow it, 


(4) And they sit round about it watching it [till it be cooked] ; and the 
cherished maiden of the tribe is among those who kindled its cooking-fire : 

(5) Then shalt them see that my pot does not cease to be, to the frozen 
wanderer wrapped in a furry skin, as it were a mother to whom he comes for 

(6) Open for all to see : never is a curtain set before it ; when other- fires are 
extinguished, its message of welcome shines bright. 

(7) When the milkless camels come home at night from the pasture, and 
redeem not their flesh by means of their milk, the barren one among them tastes 
the spear-point. 


(8) As for me, I drop every cause of quarrel the beginning of which makes its 
appearance on the part of my cousin, and I am careful not to stir it up, 

(9) For fear lest its rancour should bring evil things to pass : and verily great 
events are stirred up by very little things. 

(11) When evil speech is spoken, I make over the hearing of it to other ears 
than mine, and I ask not concerning it what the object of it is. 

(10) Suraim bring their sheep from Julajil to me ; and between us is Dhat 
Kahf and its rugged and lofty table-lands. 


(12) Why have ye wreaked your vengeance on sons and lords, whose breasts 
were free from all rancour against you ? 

(13) 'Twas they raised you [by their glorious deeds] to heaven ; and nearly 
had ye attained thereto, if ever mortal man gained access to it. 

(14) Kings were they, though their salutation was that of subjects ; as for their 
oaths and their vows, they were always fulfilled. 

(15) And if the son of Zahr and his kindred be not of my stock, nevertheless 
Kiyah are of my kin, their good and their ill ; 

(16) And Ka'b verily I am the son of the tribe and their sworn friend, and 
their helper whensoever they are hard pressed in strife. 


(17) By thy life ! on the Day of 'Unaizah I should have lighted on my heart's 
desire, if only its purpose had held firm in my soul : 

(18) But it is the destruction of a man's affairs if he do not twist them firm : 
and there is no good in one who twists a rope who does not twist it hard. 



(1) Cf. ante, No. XXIII, note to v. 7. 

(2) Cf. ante, No. XVI, vv. 50-2 ; al-Asma'l observes that the poet did not put his hospitality as 
high as he might have done : for if he had had many guests, his dogs would have been friendly to 
the stranger, and not have required chiding to prevent them from snarling or biting, 

(3) The rendering of this verse which I have adopted is the only one which fits in with v. 4. 
But al-Asma'l interprets the second hemistich quite differently ; he says it means ' What time the 
borrower of the pot returns it with somewhat of the broth sticking to it '. The picture is one of a 
time of famine, and in such a time it is said that it was the custom for one who borrowed a cauldron 
to return it with some of the food he had cooked in it as a fee for its use. Al-Asma'l had a wide 
knowledge of the habits of the people of the Desert, where he had spent several years consorting 
with them ; but he was often inclined to be over-subtle in interpreting the old poetry, and to 
suggest interpretations which are forced and unsuitable. The scholion to the verse discusses the 
matter fully. 

(4) Cf. ante, No. VIII, vv. 20, 21. The coming out of the delicate maiden (fatatu-l-hayyi) from 
her privacy to tend the cooking-fire is a sign of the severity of the famine. 

(5) The stress is on the pronoun in ' my pot '. 

(10) This verse is evidently out of place in our text, and I follow the Krenkow MS. in putting 
it after v. 11. Suraim may perhaps be Suraim b. Sa'd, a subdivision of the tribe of Dabbah, one of 
the Eibab, with which the poet's clan were often at variance. The scholion says that ' Suraim bring 
their sheep to me ' means that they assail the poet with satirical attacks, and that they thereby incite 
him to attack them in reply, and to poini out that they are a family that own neither horses nor 
camels, but only sheep. Julajil is presumably a place in Suraim's country. Dhat Kahf is a high 
plateau near Tikhfah in the country of 'Amir, the poet's tribe. 

(12-16) These verses, in their fragmentary condition without the full context, are difficult to 
understand, and no explanation is afforded by the commentary. Perhaps they may be addressed to 
the brother-tribe Abu-Bakr b. Kilab (see introduction to No. XXXV), and the glorious deeds referred 
to in v. 13 may be the conspicuous victory of Shi'b Jabalah, in which the poet's father and himself 
were distinguished. 

(15) We have no information as to the 'son of Zahr'. Biyah is said to be a division of GhanI, 
a tribe to which the poet's mother belonged, which was generally in subordinate alliance with 
'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(16) Ka'b is said to be another branch of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, sprung from Eabl'ah, and brother of 
Kilab, the ancestor of the poet's branch. ' Whensoever they are hard pressed in strife ', Aaifhu 
'stamarra mariruha, literally, ' where their rope is twisted strongly '. The scholion says that 
this means here fl shiddati amriha, 'when their affairs are difficult and the situation is serious'; 
something of the kind seems to be implied by the fact that help is required (nasiruha). But generally 
istamarra manruhu means 'his condition became strong, after being weak '. 

(17, 18) It is very doubtful whether these verses really belong to the poem ; as mentioned in a note 
on p. 347 of the Arabic text, they are cited in the Aghani, and v. 17 in the Hamdsah, as the composition 
of Shablb b. al-Barsa (see No. XXXIV). It seems to me most probable that they were quoted by 
some commentator in illustration of the phrase istamarra mariruha in v. 16, and, being of the same 
metre and having the same rhyme as 'Auf s poem, were accidentally taken up into it. The Krenkow 
MS. ends the poem with v. 16, leaving out verses 17-18. We have no information as to the ' Day 
of 'Unaizah ', which was a place in the Wadi-r-Eummah, probably the site of the modern town called 
in maps 'Aneyza. 



THE poem is so headed in all our MSS. ; and our text adds that al-Mufaddal himself 
ascribed it to a man of that race. The verses, however, occur in the Aghani (xi. 78), where 
they are said to be the work of a near relative of the Caliph 'All, 'Abdallah b. Mu'awiyah b. 
'Abdallah b. Ja'far b. Abl-Talib, one of the 'Alide pretenders to the Imamate during the 
Umayyad period. There is an article upon him in the Encycl. of Islam, p. 26. He was killed 
in the year A. H. 129 (A. D. 746-7), after a career of two years in which he had some successes. 
The story told in the Aghani is that 'Abdallah b. Mu'awiyah was a suitor for the hand of a 
lady named Rablhah, daughter of Muhammad b. 'Abdallah b. Muhammad b. 'AH b. 'Abdallah 
b. Ja'far, and therefore a cousin of his own, who was also wooed by Bakkar son of 'Abd 
al-Malik b. Marwan. The latter suitor was successful and married Rablhah ; and 'Abdallah is 
said to have composed this poem in reply to the taunts of his wife Umm Zaid (daughter of 
Zaid b. 'All b. al-IJusain) on his failure to obtain his desire. 

In the Krenkow MS. the poem has three more verses than in our text (Nos. 9-11), and the 
Aghani, while omitting our vv. 5-8, has these three and a fourth, v. 12. The verses are 
pleasing, and have been added (in brackets) to the translation. 

Vv. 6 and 7 afford an example of a construction carried on without a pause from one 
couplet to another (see ante, No. XXIII, note to v. 8). V. 8, of course, refers to God's will. 

(1) Ask, ye twain, the Lady of the curtained tent what is her case, and at 
which of those things that we have lost does she wonder ; 

(2) For we are not the first of those who have missed, in spite of skill, some 
thing that they have sought. 

(3) How many a wooer has abased himself [to a woman in pressing his suit], 
and has wedded another than her he wooed ; 

(4) And another than he has been wedded to her in his stead, although it was 
for him that she veiled herself first. 

(5) And oft-times the man who has no skill attains, and oft-times the artful and 
wily is overthrown. 

(6) Seest thou not how *the white-legged goats of the mountain tops, when 
a [destined] hunter comes, are drawn 

(7) Towards him and this not from any skill that the hunter puts forth to take 

(8) But there is One who bids it be and ordains it for them : when He takes 
the matter in hand, none can prevail against Him. 


[(9) Yea, if her abode now keeps her far distant from us, and she is lost to me 
here in this place is there somewhat to ask about. 

(10) Of old were we two bound in sincerest love : we feared no tale-bearers 
or the false rumours that they embroidered ; 

(11) But there came a breach in our linked affections, like the breaking of a 
glass, that cannot be mended, 

(12) Or like the stream of milk which, once drawn forth, can never be brought 
back again to the udder.] 



THEEE are four pieces by this poet in our collection, in all of which he celebrates the war- 
like deeds of himself or his tribe. As al-Mufaddal himself belonged to the tribe of Dabbah, we 
may suppose that he took a special interest in the tribe and its poets. Of Rabi'ah we hear that 
he was one of the prisoners made by the Persian King on the Day (probably) of al-Mushaqqar 
(see ante, introduction to No. XXX) ; how long he remained in confinement is not stated. He 
became a Muslim in due course, and fought at the battles of Qadisiyah (A. H. 15) and Jalula (end 
of 16) against the Sasanians. According to the Khizdnah, Ibn Hajar states that he reached 
a great age over a hundred, but these tales of excessively long lives are seldom substantiated : 
probably they arise from a poet including in his enumeration of the glories of his tribe events 
which occurred before he was bom. Of Rabi'ah tradition tells us of no personal exploit 
beyond those which he himself mentions in his verses. The poems by him in our collection 
appear to be all pre-islamic. 

The tribe of Dabbah, to which he belonged, was the leading member in the confederacy 
called the Ribab, the others being Taim, 'Adi, and 'Auf (or 'Ukl), sons of ' Abd-Manat brother 
of Dabbah. The Ribab were closely connected with the Tamim, who looked upon them as 
their paternal uncles, 'umumah (Tamim, according to the genealogists, being son of Murr, 
brother of Dabbah and 'Abd-Manat). They were generally on the side of Tamim in war, as 
indicated by our poet in vv. 38-9 below, although in at least one instance, that of the battle of 
an-Nisar (see note to v. 31 below), they were opposed to them. Their territory was probably 
close to that of Tamim, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Faid and the modern Ha'il, north 
of the comparatively fertile country called al-Qasim. 

(1) Hast thou recognized the traces of the household of Hind 

in Jumran now void, but they will not vanish? 

(2) Thou Avouldst deem the lines, known once so well, 

now that two years have passed, were patterns tattooed. 


(3) I stayed my camel there while I questioned them 

but to what purpose asked I aught of the traces? 

(4) The marks of her dwelling stirred memories of her, 

and memory kindled to longing a sick heart, 

(5) And my tears flowed fast, though I strove to stay them, 

over my beard and my raiment in streams. 

(6) Then I turned away from the spot a light-coloured camel, fleet as a wild-ass, 

strong and sturdy, that is never tired of pushing on, 

(7) Close and firm of flesh, like a male in strength: 

when other camels whimper with distress, thou seest her silent. 

(8) 'Twas as though I had fastened her belly-girths 

round a slender- wais ted [wild-ass] with a white patch on his flank, 

stout in frame, repellent in aspect. 

(9) He keeps away from the water three mates, lean like lances, 

and prevents them from drinking in spite of raging thirst. 

(10) He pastured them on the dry uplands until the herbage 

of the hollows where water stood had quite dried up, and he 

dreaded the deadly hot wind. 

(11) And they stood day-long with parched throats, watching the sun 

with eyes contracted, in fear lest they should faint from thirst. 

(12) Then, when he was convinced that day had quite departed, 

and he perceived that it was now black unbroken night, 

(13) He threw them into the midst of the darkness, galloping alongside 

a biter, a thruster, snapping at them with his teeth. 

(14) And he brought them down at the first flush of dawn 

to the springs that cast forth from them all rubbish [borne upon 

them by the wind], 

(15) Spouting upwards, deep blue like the sky in colour 

they see therein the glittering points of the stars. 

(16) And by the water is Qais the father of 'Amir: 

he gives them time for a space to stand there ; 

(17) In his hand is a bow of wood grown in the Haram, 

made of a whole branch : [when pulled,] there follows the hiss 

[of the arrow] a resounding twang, 

(18) And a slender arrow, pared down fine, on whose stem 

thou mayst see a stain of blood which has sunk into it. 

(19) But he missed them, and all of them fled away, 

almost bursting their skins in affright. 


(20) And if thou askest of me, know that I am a man 

who holds the mean in contempt, and heaps gifts on the noble. 

(21) I build up high renown by mighty deeds, 

and I feed full the needy, and pour wine to my boon-fellow ; 

(22) And he who seeks for bounty praises my liberality to him, 

what time the seeker blames the mean for his niggardliness. 

(23) And I pay my debts faithfully and fully 

my evil for evil, my good for good. 

(24) And my people if thou doubtest what I say, 

then ask of my people one who knows them 

(25) Whether they are not, when the jaws of Famine 

bite hard upon men, causing them to forget their dignity, 

(26) Folk who hold lightly their goods in the face of claims on them, 

when distress wears away the means of the owner of cattle. 

(27) Long are their spears on the morning of the dawn-attack : 

valorous are they, protectors of their women and babes, 

(28) Children of War on a day when they clothe themselves in mail 

thou wouldst think them stallion-camels clad in iron. 

(29) My house be their sacrifice for what they did at Buzakhah 

when they filled with their hosts the upland plain ! 

(30) And [what they did] when 'Amir at an-Nisar and at Tikhfah 

met at their hands with a disastrous day : 

(31) [At an-Nisar] they forced the whole tribe of Hawazin to yield them 

the half of their possessions, the rich and the poor of them alike. 

(32) And against us Madhhij at al-Kulab led their forces, 

all their confederates as well as their own pure stock : 

(33) There our war-mill whirled, grinding down their horsemen, 

and they became rotten bones, as though they had never been, 

(34) With spear-thrusts wherefrom the spouting blood gushed forth, 

and sword-strokes that clove the skull down to the shoulders ; 

(35) And their bodies in Taiman lay so thickly together, 

that he who saw them would liken them to fallen leaves of trees. 

(36) We left 'Umarah among the spears 

'Umarah of 'Abs, wounded and drained of blood ; 

(37) And but for our horsemen, Tamlm, on the Day of Dhat as-Sulaim, 

had not raised the war-cry of Tamlm. 


(38) It is not to cast shame upon Tamlm that I count up 

the great deeds of my people, or to blame them at all, 

(39) But I am calling to mind only the benefits we conferred on them, 

both those of late date and those of long ago. 

(40) And many the place of indignity we have disdained to dwell in, 

and instead thereof have pitched in a glorious camping-place, 

(41) What time many a man dwelt with Contempt 

as a trusty yoke-fellow and a tender mother. 

(42) And many the dreaded breach where we stood as its defenders, 

when all except us shrank in fear from standing there; 

(43) We made our bulwarks there our swords and our spears 

and the mail-coats of iron rings strung together, 

(44) And short-haired steeds, preferred to our children in nurture 

in the midst of our tents they champ their bits : 

(45) They are accustomed in war not to yield their place : 

when they are wounded, they make no complaint of their wounds. 


(2) Of. ante, No. XXI, v. 7, and note. 

(4) The translation adopts the v. I. ayatuha : ayydmuM seems to make no sense. 
(6) ' Pushing on ', raslm, the name of a particular pace of camels : the sequence above a walk is 
(1) 'anaq, (2) tazayyud, (3) dhamll, (4) raslm. 

(9) ' Raging thirst ', hlma : see ante, No. VIII, v. 23, note. 

(11) 'Watching the Sun', i. e., watching for it to set : cf. ante, No. XVI, v. 37, note. 

(15) The translation follows the reading of the second hemistich given in the scholion, yaralna- 
d-daranya fiJia-n-mtjuma, where the nom. to yaraina is the she-asses. The test may be rendered 
' The brightly-shining [planets] adorn therein the stars '. Ahmad declares this reading to rest upon 
a miswriting (tashlf). The word dararlyu is plural of either durriyun or dirrl'un (in the latter case it 
should be spelt with hamzah, daran'u), meaning the brightest of the stars, or the planets. 

(16) Qais is the name of some hunter. 

(17) Haram, the name of the sacred territory about Mecca, in the Tihamah. Bows are, as 
previously noted, made of nab' wood (also called shaukat and saraante, No. XXXV, v. 8) ; generally 
the bough of which they are made is split down the middle ; but this bow is made of a whole branch, 
not split. The nom. to tu'gibu is, of course, the bow. 

(18) The particular place in the arrow in which the stain of blood is, called the risaf, is the 
part just below that which carries the arrow-head. Miriha, probably for mina-d-dima'i understood 
' from the blood of the beasts it has slain '. 

(20) The questioner is a woman, as required by convention. 

(21) It is best to take Jchalil in this verse in the sense of ' needy ', not in that of ' friend ', as the 
latter meaning is supplied by the following word nadlm. 

(26) ' Wears away the means of, literally, ' skins ', or ' rubs off the skin '. 


(29) ' Sacrifice ' : cf. ante, No. I, 2, and XXXII, 1. Buzakhah : the affair referred to appears to be 
that mentioned in the commentary to the Naqa'id, p. 195, when an attack made by two princes (one of 
them called Muharriq) of the House of Ghassan, aided by the Band lyad and some members of the 
tribe of Taghlib, upon the tribe of Dabbah, was repulsed, and the two Ghassanides captured and 
killed. It is necessary, as noticed in the scholion, to substitute al-hazima for al-Tianma at the end of 
the verse. In the Naqa'id, 1067, the reading is al-QaMtna, ' the tract called al-Qaslm '. 

(30) Of the two battles, an-Nisar and Tikhfah, mentioned in this verse, in which the men of 
Dabbah claimed to have defeated the Band 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, the first was the most important. There 
is a long account of it in our commentary, pp. 364-71, taken from Abu 'Ubaidah's book on the Days 
of the Arabs. On this occasion the BanQ Tamim and the Banti 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah were allied, and 
opposed by Dabbah, Asad, several portions of Ghatafan, and some of Tayyi'. Tamim fled early in the 
day, and 'Amir remained to bear the brunt of the battle. They suffered severely, especially in their 
families, many women belonging to the households of the chiefs being taken captive. Eventually 
they made peace upon the condition that they should halve their property with the victorious tribes, 
and get back their captives. This is what is referred to in v. 31 of our poem. A totally different 
account of the origin of the quarrel which ended in the fight at an-Nisar is given on pp. 370-1 of our 
commentary and in Naqa'id, 1064 ff. ; but this does not appear to involve a difference in the details of 
the fighting. The battle was apparently fought some time after the contest at Shi'b Jabalah, the date 
of which is approximately A. D. 570. 

The battle at Tikhfah offers an interesting problem. The place is within the boundaries of 
'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah (see Introduction to the Diwan of 'Amir, p. 76), and the fight there was between 
the sub-tribe of Ja'far b. Kilab and a tribe called the Dibab, in which the latter were victorious, 
killing twenty-seven men of the former (see Naq. 923 8 ff. and 924 9 ff.). Here the poet claims the victory 
for his tribe, the Dabbah, whereas the Dibab are generally held to be a sub-tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah 
descended from Mu'awiyah b. Kilab (Naq. 927 1S and Wtistenfeld, Table E) ; but Dibab is plural of 
Dabbah, which is the name of a species of lizard, the flesh of which was eaten by the Arabs. It seems 
probable (if the verse is genuine) that the Dibab in the fight at Tikhfah were no other than the 
Dabbah, and that the plural is here used of individuals belonging to the latter tribe. 

(31) The accounts of the Day of an-Nisar speak only of the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah as compelled 
to buy peace by the sacrifice of their possessions (and not even the whole of that tribe, for Ja'far b. 
Kilab was then sojourning elsewhere see Introd. to Biwan of 'Amir, pp. 74-5) : when, therefore, our 
poet claims that the whole of Hawazin was obliged to accept these terms, he is exaggerating : the 
group of Hawazin included several other members besides the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(32) For the Day of al-Kulab see ante, No. XXX. Another member of the confederate group of 
kindred tribes called the Ribab, Taim, is mentioned as prominent in that battle, but our poet takes 
the glory of the victory to his own tribe as a member of the confederacy. 

(33) ' Our war-mill whirled ', darat rahana : this metaphor is well known from the Mu'allaqah of 
'Amr b. Kulthum, v. 26. 

(35) Tairnua or Taiman was a water between Najran (the headquarters of the confederacy of 
Madhhij) and the place called al-Kulab where the battle with Tamim and the Eibab was fought : the 
expedition passed that way to attack the Tamim, and after its defeat no doubt fled in that direction, 
the fugitives being slaughtered by the pursuing enemy. 

(36) The story of 'Umarah is told in Naqa'id, 193-4. He was one of the chiefs of 'Abs, son of 
Ziyad by Fatimah daughter of al-Khurshub (ante, No. V, introduction). A man called al-Muthallim, 
a chief of Dabbah, was gambling with 'Umarah, and lost to him ten young camels : he pledged as 
security for payment his son Shirhaf, whom he left in the hands of the men of 'Abs while he went 
home to fetch the camels. He brought them, and obtained his son's release. While they were 
travelling homewards, the boy asked his father who a man called Mi'dal was. The father answered, 


' He was one of thy cousins, who disappeared, and no trace of him has been found to this day '. 
' I know who killed him ', said Shirhaf. ' Who ? ' said his father. ' 'Umarah son of Ziyad : I heard 
him telling his people one day, when his head was turned by wine, that he had slain him, but had 
never met any one who enquired for him.' After that al-Muthallim and his son waited until the 
latter had grown up, meditating vengeance. 'Umarah, in the meantime, with a party of men of 
'Abs, made a raid upon the herds of Dabbah and drove off some camels. Shirhaf and his father 
mounted and rode after the raiders, and the former, seeing 'Umarah in the distance, galloped after 
him, and, crying out that he was come to avenge his uncle Mi'dal, pierced him with his spear and 
killed him. This must have happened long before the battle of Shi'b Jabalah, and probably before 
the breaking out of the War of Dahis. 

(37) There is no scholion to this verse, and I have not been able to ascertain anything about the 
fight at Dhat as-Sulaim. In YaqOt in. 129 2 , this verse is attributed to Musa Shahawat, a poet of the 
Umayyad period much later than Rabi'ah : possibly it may not belong to our poem. 


SEE the next preceding poem for the author. This poem is one of the ordinary type, 
setting forth the claims of the poet to eminence in his tribe. The succession of subjects offers 
no difficulty. The poet's mount, in vv. 17 ff., is a male camel, which is rather unusual, males 
being ordinarily reserved for the carriage of the women of the tribe. 

(1) Ar-Ruwa' has cast off affection for thee, and determined on separation 
from thee and farewell. 

(2) And she said, ' What is he now but a worn-out old man ? ' and repulsion 
was strong in her, and she sought not to overcome it. 

(3) Yea, and if [through advancing years] I have come back to my senses, and 
a veil of hoary hair gleams white o'er my brow, 

(4) Yet I know how to cleave close to a friend though he be far from me, and 
the fruit, of hating me is an unwholesome pasture. 

(5) And I guard, though they be absent, the cause of my tribe, and it is not 
neglected with me, nor is it lost. 

(6) And through me the poor starveling is made happy when he seeks me : 
but the valiant fighter mislikes entering on a contest with me. 

(7) And it stops the voice of blame that I am [admitted by all to be] noble, and 
that the place of my dwelling is high upon the mountain for all to see, 

(8) And that I am obeyed among the Children of Bakr son of Sa'd, what time 
all their scattered companies are gathered together. 


(9) And many [the host of horse] whose flanks were closely compacted, great in 
multitude, moving along with its spear-heads shining in the sun, 

(10) At whose attack I have been present, and have stood my ground therein, 
what time the pithless weakling quaked with affright. 

(11) And many the stubborn adversary, difficult to handle, ready to distort 
anything from the truth, whose sole object to be grasped at was to hurl at me 

(12) Obstinate like a horse jerking upwards his head, to whom I have been a 
bit to tame him, and a bandage to blind his eyes : 

(13) When he wriggled and struggled, he was straightened out by the force 
of adversity and by crushing blows, so that the raging veins in his neck calmed 

(14) And many the shag-pated waif whose kin have turned away from him, 
a castaway like an old saddle-cloth, with no force of resolve or energy left, 

(15) A wretch full of misery, to whom I have brought happiness once more, 
so that into his life spaciousness has returned again. 

(16) And many the water, its depths corrupt through long loneliness, in a 
solitary wilderness, round whose sides the beasts of prey wander to and fro, 

(17) I have visited, what time the Pleiads had dropped to their setting, while 
under my saddle-pad was a big-framed long-stepping camel, 

(18) Stout and muscular, that moves the upper part of his forelegs to and fro, 
and speeds along upon nimble shanks set in a well-knit frame. 

(19) He has a ring in his nose which, when he presses sideways out of the 
course, pulls his neck round, and the spinal cord of his neck becomes soft in 

(20) It seems as though his saddle were bound upon a sturdy wild-ass, who 
has found the grazing in the water-courses of Ma'qulah to his mind 

(21) Water-courses coming down from upland meadows well soaked by 
successive showers that have fallen under the constellation of the Earn. 

(22) He has become therefrom stout and well knit together, like a cable of 
palm-fibre the loosely-laid strands of which have been rolled close together by a 
skilful Syrian woman. 

(23) He turns hither and thither a long-bodied she-ass, long of neck, whose 
body-hair flies about hi the wind, and in her are streaks of white [like the gores in 
a shirt]. 



(24) When the two came down into the plain, she gained somewhat upon him 
in their running : but in spite of her boldness, he kept closely up to her ; 

(25) He turned away from the drinking-places of the valley of Qaww, and the 
broken nigged path towards the Harrali did away with her superiority in speed ; 

(26) And the nearest watering-place where they arrived, at the setting-in of 
night, was Uthal, or Ghumazah, or Nuta'. 

(27) And he brought her down to drink when the night was one pitch-darkness, 
and the twain were nowise weary when the dawn broke upon them. 

(28) But with the dawn he lighted on a serpent of the Children of Jillan, 
whose only gear was his bent bow and his arrows : 

(29) When he slaughters not for his children fresh juicy meat of the foremost 
of the wildings, they have to go hungry. 

(30) So he let fly at them an arrow, slender, with its head worn down on both 
sides by sharpening but a breaking of the bow-string caused him to miss 
the shot ! 

(31) And he cried Woe upon his mother, while [the wild ass] sped away at 
headlong speed, about him a cloud of dust from his galloping, spreading in 
the air. 


(6) ' Mislikes entering upon a contest with me ', literally, ' dislikes my side ', an expression drawn 
from wrestling. 

(7) ' High upon the mountain for all to see ', al-qabalu-l-yafa'u : qalal is that which faces you on 
a mountain that rises before you : for other meanings see 'Abld, Dlwan iii. 8, and notes thereto. 

(8) Bakr b. Sa'd was the ancestor of that branch of Dabbah to which Kabl'ah belonged : see his 
genealogy on p. 355 3 - 4 of vol. I. The scattered companies, zaivafir (sing, zufirah), are gathered 
together when there is a rumour of an attack by the enemy. 

(9) Here the host which the poet withstands is evidently an attacking body : cf. ante, No. XXIV, 
10, note. 

(10) ' Pithless weakling ', an-niksu-l-yara'u : niJcs is said to mean an arrow of which the notch 
(fuq) by which it is fixed on the string has become broken, and it is consequently turned round and 
a new notch cut at its head, the old place of the notch becoming the point : as used of a man, it 
means ' a weakling, waverer '. Yam' is a hollow reed, and thus a man without pith or courage. 

(11) 'Difficult to handle', yarkabu-l-'ama'a : literally 'one who undertakes the most difficult of 
affairs ' : such an adversary is necessarily a worthy antagonist. 

(12) ' A bandage to blind his eyes ' : the reference is to a bandage, siqa', which is used in inducing 
a she-camel which has lost its calf to take to a young one the offspring of another. The process 
adopted is explained in Lane, s. v. durjah. According to some the siqa' is a bandage put upon the 
camel's nose, not its eyes, the latter being at the same time bound with the ghimamuli. 

(16) The word ta'aqqamu is of uncertain meaning. The rendering adopted is that of Abu 'Ikriinah. 
Ahmad reads ta'aqqama, and refers it to the water, ' has become corrupt and bad '. Another suggestion 
(see commy., line 12, and Lane, s. v.) is that it means that the wild beasts scoop hollows in the ground 


adjacent to the corrupted source, so as to get purer water by filtration. The last explanation is im- 
probable. The visiting of such places is a subject of boasting for the reasons indicated ante, note to 
No. VI, v. 3, and No. XXVI, 45. 

(18) The translation follows the reading of Ahmad, p. 378 1 of the text. 

(19) 'His neck', literally, 'the two muscular bundles on either side of his neck', akliadi'uliu 
(pi. of akhda', the name of the vein [properly the occipital artery] at the back of the neck where 
cupping is applied, used for the locality generally). Apparently the softening of the neck's resistance 
to the rein is what is meant by the softening of the spinal cord, an-nukha'. 

(21) Al-Ashrat are two stars in the constellation of the Earn, a and /? Arietis, which are also 
called, in the dual number, ash-Sharatani. They are one of the amvd (sing, nau'), or twenty-eight 
asterisms into which the Ecliptic was divided, and at their auroral rising rain was expected to fall 
(see the discussion in Lane, s. v. nau'). Asmiyah is here plural of sama' in the sense of ' shower '. 

(23) The she-ass's hair flies about because she has become fat with the rich pasture, and the new 
hair springing up casts off the old. 

(24) The she-ass is said to have better speed than the male where the ground is flat, but inferior 
speed when it is rough (see v. 25). 

(28) ' A serpent ', i. e. a concealed hunter. Jillfin was a branch of the tribe of 'Anazah, celebrated 
for its skill with the bow. 



FOR the poet's tribe see ante, No. XXV, introduction. He was a Mukhadrim who lived 
far into the Islamic age, for it is related that he was imprisoned for uttering satires by 'Amir 
b. Mas'ud al-Jumahi when governor of al-Kufah (Aghanl xi. 173) : 'Amir did not become 
governor till A. H. 65 (Tabari ii. 466). The Aghanl, however, is positive that he lived under both 
dispensations. He seems to have been a professional poet, since no warlike adventures are 
recorded of him. He celebrated the exploit of a champion of his tribe named Yazid b. Harithah 
at the famous battle of Dhu Qar, fought (probably) in A. D. 610 or 611 (Agh. xx. 137), but, if 
he was alive after A. H. 65, can scarcely have himself been present at the battle, 72 or 73 years 
before. He sometimes claimed to be descended from the tribe of Dhubyan, and not from 
Yashkur, on the ground that his mother, after bearing him to a father of the former tribe, later 
on became the wife of Abu Kahil of Yashkur, who adopted him. He was chiefly known as 
a satirist. 

Our poem, like that of al-Marrar (No. XVI, ante), is evidently made up of two odes in 
the same metre and rhyme which have accidentally been combined : the second begins with 
v. 45. The subject of the first ode is the praise of the tribe of Bakr, the great group to which 
Yashkur belonged. The series of episodes which make up the poem is apparently uninterrupted : 
the picture of the lady is given in vv. 1-7 ; that of wakefulness caused by the nightly visit of 
her phantom takes up vv. 8-15 ; then follow more verses addressed to her under the name of 
Salma, vv. 16-22: in v. 1 she is called Rabi'ah, but this may mean only 'the fourth' of the 
family, and Salma may have been her proper name. Next comes an account of the journey to 

T 2 


the land of Bakr, vv. 23-9 ; and the poem closes with a panegyric upon the great tribe of which 
Yashkur was a member (vv. 30-44). 

The second ode is not in good condition, showing lacunae and dislocations. The amatory 
prelude, vv. 45-50, is followed by a gap where must have stood verses describing the poet's 
mount, compared in vv. 51-60 to a bull-oryx beset by dogs. After this follows another lacuna, 
and then a few verses (61-5) in praise of the poet's tribe. Then come two, vv. 66 and 64, 
which are quite out of place and disconnected : they are probably relics of a passage which has 
been lost. Next is a section, vv. 67-74, describing the poet's adversary in a contest of satire, 
and after this another break. In vv. 75-108 he celebrates his victory in the strife in a long 
passage which is fairly consecutive : first he describes himself, vv. 75-9, then his adversary, 
vv. 80-3. Then he appropriates to himself a fine image, used before him by al-Harith b. 
Hillizah in his Mu'allaqah of the tribe of Bakr, of a smooth rock at the top of a lofty mountain- 
peak, unapproachable by men vv. 84-91. After this he draws for us a picture of the actual 
contest, sketched in vigorous language, ending with the defeat of his adversary and his 
ignominious flight vv. 92-101 ; and closes with a boast of his powers as a satirist and poet. 

The piece is interesting not only for its own merits (al-Asma'I says that it was known 
among the poet's contemporaries as ' the unique pearl ', al-yatlmah), but also as showing how 
the poetic material elaborated by generations of artists was used again and again. We have 
in it adaptations of Imra' al-Qais and an-Nabighah of Dhubyan (vv. 12-15), al-Harith b. 
Hillizah (as already noticed), and al-A'sha (v. 90), besides many other borrowings which have 
become the stock-in-trade of all poets, and are no longer recognizable as the property of 
particular owners. 

(1) Rabi'ah extended the tie [of affection] to us, and we for our part remained 
united [in love] with her, so long as the bond held good. 

(2) Free-born is she: she shows [when she smiles] a row of white teeth 
regularly spaced, like the rays of the sun breaking forth from the midst of cloud ; 

(3) She has polished it with a green sappy twig of arak, sweet of savour, so 
that it is perfectly lustrous : 

(4) [A row of teeth] gleaming white in colour, delicious in savour, sweet in its 
moisture, what time the moisture of others changes for the worse. 

(5) She presents to her mirror a shining face, like the limb of the Sun as it 
rises in a cloudless sky, 

(6) Clear of hue, and an eye composed and calm, with its eyelids touched with 
Jcuhl, but without any sign of soreness therein, 

(7) And ringlets of hair, full in their ends, to which she has imparted the 
odour of musk, rich in perfume. 

(8) My longing was stirred by the phantom that visited me by night the 
shape of one Beloved, modest, that checked any thought of wantonness ; 


(9) From a place remote it passed into the midst of our camel-saddles, having 
traversed the close-set thorny thickets darkling without any fear ; 

(10) A sweet companion when it comes to visit me, it interposes between 
sleep and me, and none falls on my eyes. 

(11) Yea, thus is love how bold it is ! it faces terrors and pays no heed to 
him that would hold it back. 

(12) So I pass the night without any sleep, and as each star rises, I see it rise ; 

(13) And when I say ' At last the night has passed away ! ' the first part of 
it turns and comes back again : 

(14) The night draws on its halting stars behind it, and those that follow them 
are slow in coming after ; 

(15) Yet in spite of their lagging there drives them along one white in colour, 
when the hue [of the night] is melting away. 

(16) The love of Salma called me, after that the freshness of youth and its 
prime had passed away from me ; 

(17) She smote me with love-sickness, and has not yet healed me ; and my 
heart is distracted, torn this way and that. 

(18) She called me with her enchantments verily she would bring down 
therewith the white-legged [wild goat] from the mountain top ! 

(19) Fair and sweet are her words to those she talks with : but if they should 
seek aught else, she hears them not. 

(20) How many a desert have I traversed to reach Salma deserts with 
horizons far away, where the sun-mist shone before mine eyes ! 

(21) In a broiling hot wind in which meat might be cooked, wherein a sun- 
stroke like a sudden blow smites him that journeys. 

(22) And in order to reach her I have trodden enemies under foot, with 
a steadfast purpose and a constant care. 

(23) And many the desert with flanks white and fading away like the scattered, 
broken, wisps of cloud [after a storm] 

(24) The mirage of the noontide swims about its way-marks and over its hard 
level stretches when the day mounts high 

(25) Have we entered upon, in spite of its unknown dangers, mounted on 
hard-hoofed steeds, full of spirit, 

(26) [Slender] like light arrows, enduring patiently the journey by night, 
pressing onwards, not girthed with thongs [like those of camel-saddles] that cause 
galls like tattoo-marks. 


(27) Thou mayst see them rushing impetuously along, shod with shoes made 
by the smith that protect their feet from hurt by stones. 

(28) They wrap themselves in the night as they dart with us through it, like 
the darting of the dusky sand-grouse as they make for the drinking-place, arriving 
at dawn ; 

(29) They snatch a hasty draught to stay their thirst, and then make for a land 
to which resort all those in search of pasture [in time of dearth] : 

(30) Therein is a possession of the Children of Bakr : in them is a sight to see 
[for those near at hand], and a hearing to hear [for those at a distance]. 

(31) They stretch out their hands generously when they are asked, and are 
helpful in their gifts, if aught can help ; 

(32) Folk are they in whose natures there is no habit of hasty foul speech, or 
of unseemly impatience ; 

[(33) They recognize what is incumbent on them, and are not weary in doing 
it : but when things are bitter, there is no softness in them.] 

(34) When the wind blows from the north, they deal forth food from full 
cauldrons, crammed with meat, wherein is no starvation, 

(35) And platters like great watering-troughs, filled full with the flesh of fat- 
humped camels. 

(36) He who seeks their protection fears no treachery from them at any time, 
nor dreads aught unworthy of their nobleness. 

(37) Generous are they in giving what other men cling to, and they restrain 
their souls from the stain of covetousness. 

(38) Fair are they of face, light-coloured of skin, lords to see, steady and 
composed when impatience is strong : 

(39) Grave and staid in temper when they are weighed against other men, 
stout of heart to face trouble when trouble flames forth. 

(40) Lions are they of whose fury men stand in awe : calm of spirit, when 
light-witted men fly hither and thither. 

(41) By means of them the enemy receives a crushing blow, and by means of 
them is a rent patched up when the tribe has been torn by discord. 

(42) These things have been from of old their well-known manner of life no 
fashion newly invented. 

(43) When they have burthens loaded on them, they halt not beneath them 
when thou loadest such loads even on the rich, he is lamed by their weight. 

(44) The good among their coevals are their friends, and the noblest of stock 
and root : many and various are the kinds of men ! 



(45) A vision of Sulaima that will not stay with me [, but comes and goes,] 
keeps mine eye wakeful, and my heart is distraught. 

(46) My people dwell where I cannot seek her, by the side of al-Hadr, while 
she dwells at al-Fara'. 

(47) There is no meeting with her for me, though my heart be with her save 
that drawing-near which comes when the eyes are closed in sleep. 

(48) She is like a [pearl] of at-Tu'am : if thou comest in contact with her, the 
eye is cooled, and the rest together is sweet. 

(49) One morning she fixed firm her mind to depart, and the caravan-leader 
led along her camel, and went away ; 

(50) And with her went a noble man a fettered slave, forfeit to her, in her 
train which he is doomed to follow. 

(51) And it seems, when the sun-mist runs over the plain in the forenoon, as 
though I were mounted on a wild bull whose tail sweeps the ground, with dark- 
brown patches on his cheeks : 

(52) His cheeks are [as it were] bordered with brocade, and on his back is a 
wide space of shining white : 

(54) [A bull] which an archer of Tayyi' has alarmed, and trained dogs accustomed 
to await [the twang of] the bow-string [to make an attack] ; 

(55) For he saw them, but not yet clearly and dogs of the chase are ravening 
beasts ! 

(56) Then he turned away, and on either side of him was a wall of dark- 
coloured dust easily he went, not forcing the pace. 

(57) And thou mightest see the dogs, in spite of his easy, negligent going, 
tearing up the herbage with their paws, while the antelope dissembles, 

(58) And they draw nigh to him, but do not venture to beset him, being 
assured of bloodshed if he turns upon them. 

(59) He quickens his pace when they press him close, and when he leaves 
behind him their pack he seems almost to stand still 

(60) A dweller in the wilderness, a brother of the Wild : when he catches a 
sound, straight he pricks up his ears. 

(61) The Merciful praise be to Him ! wrote [in the Book of Destiny] that in 
us should be breadth of character and strength to bear, 

(62) And stubborn resistance to all base things, what time he who is overborne 
by numbers has to accept wrong and bow before it, 


(63) And a building built of lofty deeds God alone raises high, and whom 
He wills He brings low. 

(65) From God are the blessings that we possess : He has disposed them so 
they are the work of God, and God is a skilful worker! 

(66) How is it possible for a free man who is a stranger to abide in a land in 

/hich he has no liberty ? 
(64) He knows no stratagem by which he may ever escape from it, [though 

abiding in it be like] gulps of death : and death has gulps ! (?) 


(67) Many the man whose heart I have roasted in the fire of wrath, who 
longed for my death, but has not had his desire fulfilled ! 

(68) He looks upon me as a morsel sticking in his throat, difficult to thrust 
out, that cannot be plucked away. 

(69) He foams and struts proudly, so long as he sees me not : but when he 
catches the sound of my voice, he shrinks into himself ! 

(70) God has sufficed me hitherto against that which his soul harbours : when 
God takes aught in charge, it suffers no loss ! 

(71) Evil is that which he gathers together that he may slander me therewith 
food hard to digest, and a disease that wraps him round like a cloak. 

(72) He hurts me not, except that he envies me : and he screeches like the 
screeching of an owl. 

(73) He wishes me long life when he meets me face to face : when he is alone 
by himself, he feeds on my flesh. 

(74) Though he hide within him his hatred [when I am there], should he find 

me absent, his mischief would leap to light and gush forth. 


(75) Evil is their thought ! and often before now I have made manifest to them, 
at the furthest target of the contest, how I hit the mark. 

(76) The man who is filled with hatred does not become weary of it: he 
kindles the fire thereof when mischief becomes plain. 

(77) I hit men on the head with a stone that strikes the mark : it is not an 
ineffectual blow, and needs not to be repeated. 

(78) I need no whip to urge me on : I am given no trouble by the old worn-out 
camels, or by the thin and puny. 

(79) How can they expect to bring me to a fall, now that my head shines 
brightly with white hair and baldness ? 


(80) [My adversary] inherited hatred of me from his fathers, and he keeps 
carefully in mind that which he has learned from them ; 

(81) Therefore he works as they worked in his tribe : but he gains no victory, 
nor does he cease from impotence. 

(82) He sows [in his children] the disease, though he himself attained not 
thereby to the vengeance which escaped him, nor did he patch up a single rent 
[which he suffered at my hands]. 

(83) Crouching on his haunches, he delivers his attack upon a smooth rock 
unapproached by men, at the summit of a lofty mountain peak the ascent to which 
is rugged. 

(84) A tower of refuge wherein he who dwells is safe, [this rock] has defeated 
all who before him strove to pluck it up : 

(85) It defeated 'Ad, and those who came after them, and ever stood stubborn, 
not to be humbled or brought low. 

(86) Men see it not save towering above them, and it undertakes, and leaves 
alone, what it will. 

(87) He aims [his stones] at it, but can never reach it after the fashion of the 
fool who is pleased with his doings. 

(88) His eyes are blinded so that they are covered with a white film, and he 
blames himself when he desists from his vain endeavour : 

(89) For he sees that with all his pains he does it no harm, and that it remains 
smooth and fair, unhurt by the spite of men. 

(90) It splinters his horn when he butts at it, and when his slingstone hits it, 
the stone is shattered to pieces ; 

(91) And whensoever he seeks to attack it, he is overcome by his want of 
equipment of old, and his feebleness caused by a starvation diet. 

(92) And many the obstinate adversary I have encountered on your behalf, at 
a time when Fortune held aloof, when men assembled together in groups ; 

(93) And we have given each other to drink long-steeped bitterness, in a place 
[of encounter] to which the coward is not equal ; 

(94) And we have discharged at each other, while our enemies looked on, 
shafts envenomed with poison long infused 

(95) Arrows, each one of them carefully sharpened, whose workmanship is 
beyond the powers of any but the most skilful ; 

(96) They came forth from hatred most clear and plain, in the prime strength 
of Time, when Time was young. 

1201.2 , U 


(97) So we endeavoured to destroy one another, while men said ' It is only 
the weakling who has need of the help of other people '. 

(98) At last he turned and fled, unable to guard his buttocks from my blows, 
with the bird of insolence fallen quite away from him, 

(99) With his nose bent down to the dust he cannot raise it, and with his 
eyes humbly cast down, and his hearing deafened. 

(100) He ran away from before me with his demon routed, unable to help or 
protect him any more ; 

(101) He fled from me when nothing profited him more, with his back weighed 
down [by the load of my victory], humbled in deepest abasement. 

(102) Yea, in me he found a withstander stout of spirit, firm of foot in fight, 
making no complaint of pain, 

(103) And a tongue adroit and nimble, sharp like the edge of a sword what- 
soever it touched it cut through. 

(104) And there came to me a companion with a constant supply of matter 
agile and ready when the bags of provisions have given out ; 

(105) He said ' Here am I ! ' and I had not called on him for help, disdaining 
him that pours forth shameful speech in the sight of men. 

(106) He is a surging sea with foaming waves, with proudly-swelling crests, 
that casts up rocks [upon the shore] ; 

(107) Full are its waters, all-mastering its flood not the most skilful swimmer 
can escape therefrom. 

(108) Is Suwaid aught else but a lion lurking in his lair ? when a land is too 
damp for him, he moves elsewhere in search of prey. 


(3) The beauty of a woman's teeth is often dwelt upon by our poets, who in this connexion 
mention the instrument with which the effect is produced the misicak or tooth-stick, a piece of soft 
wood with the end chewed into a brush, used to scrub the teeth. The wood chosen is always one of 
an aromatic character. Here it is the arak, a shrub or small tree growing in the drier portions of 
India and Persia as well as in Arabia, Salvadora persica, well known in those countries as applied to 
this purpose ; others mentioned by the poets are the liasham or ' balsam of Mecca ', Commiphom 
opobalsamum, the darw or terebinth, Pistacia terebinthus, the ulum or wild olive (perhaps Olea cuspidata, 
said to grow in the mountains of the Yaman), and the isMl, a tree mentioned by Imra' al-Qais 
(Mu'all. 38), and said to resemble the atlil or tamarisk. 

(8) For the phantom of the Beloved see ante, i. 1, vi. 1, &c. 

(15) ' One white in colour ' is the Dawn. For al-lam in the second hemistich the v. 1. al-lail gives 
a better sense ' the night [itself] is melting away '. 

(18) 'Enchantments', ruqa: see ante, No. VI, note to v. 11. 

(20) ' With horizons far away ', naziha-lrghaur : gltaur is here the margin where, owing to the 
convexity of the Earth, the wide-extended plain sinks out of sight : ordinarily it means the low 
country, such as the Tihamah, as opposed to the mountains or upland plateau. 


(23) The desert in this verse has a misty distance, compared to the wisps of cloud left by a storm. 
Ahmad has a v. I. murfatti-l-qara' , which he says means the scurf or scab that peels off the skin of 
young camels which have suffered from small-pox (judar'nj al-fiml). 

(24) A'lum, translated ' way-marks ', may also mean ' mountains ', and this is preferred by the 
commentator : but the verse speaks of a level expanse, lid, pi. of baidd'. 

(26) The translation adopts the form musnifdt, ' pressing forward ', in preference to the reading 
of the text, musnafdt, ' with the breast-girth or sindf on them ', for the reason mentioned by Ahmad 
in line 18 of the commentary, that the sindf is a trapping used with camels, not with horses. 

(28) The sand-grouse are said to fly all night : see ante, No. XXVI, note to v. 14. 

(30) The second hemistich may also be rendered ' among them one may see and hear [what one 
desires] '. 

(33) In this verse the pronouns in the Arabic suddenly change from the third to the first person: 
elsewhere the praise of the tribe of Bakr is all set forth by the poet as an outsider ; here he speaks 
as one of the tribe himself : ' We recognize what is incumbent, we are not weary in doing it, there 
is no softness in us '. But immediately afterwards he reverts to the third person, and continues 
using it for eleven more verses. It would seem that the verse properly belongs to the second division 
of the poem, and forms part of the passage beginning with v. 61, which is in some disorder. As, 
however, the matter is not of much importance, I have in rendering, to avoid harshness, substituted 
the third person for the first. 

(36) 'Aught unworthy of their nobleness', at-taba', literally, 'dirt', 'rust', metaphorically, 
' disgrace ', ' dishonour '. 

(38) The translation adopts what is said in the commentary to be the preferable reading, al-Jiala' 
instead of al-faza'. 

(40) ' Light-witted men ', al-qaza', literally, ' thin wisps of cloud left behind by a storm, that fly 
before the wind ' : see ante, v. 23. 

(43) For ' the rich ', dha-sh-shiffi, ' one who possesses abundant means beyond that of other men ', 
Ahmad reads dha-sh-shakki, explained as meaning one who has a flaw or small crack in the bone of his 
leg: The former reading yields the best sense. 

(44) The last words of the verse ' many and various are the kinds of men ' imply that the men 
of Bakr choose only the best as their comrades. 

(46) Our text has al-Hisn, but the commentary states that the correct reading is al-Hadr. This 
is the celebrated Parthian fortress, the ancient Hatra, in the Wadi Tharthar in the desert south-west 
of Mausil, in ruins long before the poet's time. Al-Fara' is said to be a place between al-Kufah and 

(48) The scholiasts recognize that by at-Tu'dmiyah a pearl is meant ; but they are unable to fix 
with certainty the locality of at-Tu'am. Apparently there was a place of that name on the coast, or 
near the coast, of 'Uman not very far from Suhar ; but diving for pearls is said not to take place on 
that coast, or east of Cape Musandam. The name is not found in modern maps. Prof. Bevan 
suggests that the word may be derived from tu'dm in the sense of twins, a pair, and mean ' such 
a pearl as is worn as one of a pair in earrings ' ; cf. tiimah, ' a pearl or bead ', which may stand for 
tu'mah (see post, No. XLIV, v. 23 : also durrun tawd'im in No. LVI, 9). 

[52 and 54] The text inserts between these a verse, 53, the translation of which is : 

'He stretches out his pace when thou incitest him thereto, even as a young wild bull 

lengthens his steps in going.' 

Aba 'Ikrimah omits the verse, which is evidently out of place and breaks the sequence of the 
narrative : it probably belongs to some other poem. 

(54) The translation follows the text, which reads kunna yublina-sh-shira' ; but the alternative 
reading as-sara' seems better ' accustomed to put forth speed [when called upon] '. 


(56) Of. ante, No. XXVI, v. 44. 

(59) As explained in the scholion, the reading yurhibu must be a mistake, for which we should 
read yurgliibu or yuhdhibu ; another v . I. is yulhibu, all implying increase of speed. 

(60) The translation adopts the reading insama'. 

(64) This verse, according to the commentary, is out of place, and should be read after v. 66. 
Its meaning, however, is obscure, and the construction of jura'a-l-maut very difficult to explain. 
Prof. Bevan suggests that the verse may be interrogative : ' Will he not ever desire, as a means of 
escape from it, gulps of death ' ? This, however, in the absence of indication of a question, offers 
difficulties. Vv. 66 and 64 appear to be fragments of some part of the poem of which the rest has 
disappeared : where they stand they have no obvious connexion with the rest of the piece. 

(66) The translation follows the text, which reads shahit there is a v.l. sdkhit, which would 
mean ' vexed with annoyances '. 

(67) ' I have roasted ', andajtu, lit., ' I have cooked thoroughly '. 

(75) Gliayatu-l-mada ordinarily means the goals of a horse-race : I have taken it here in the 
sense of targets set up for a contest of archery because of the verb aqa', which seems to imply the 
hitting of a mark with an arrow. The former interpretation is, however, possible ' at the furthest 
goal in the race, how I reach it first.' 

(77) The stones with which the poet attacks his foes are strokes of satire. An alternative 
rendering of la bi-l-murtaja' is ' cannot be turned back ', la yuraddu. 

(78) In this verse the poet compares himself to a high-bred camel, and his competitors in the 
contest of satire to other inferior camels. 

(81) It is worth noticing that this verse offers an example of the verb ivada'a in the past tense, 
in the sense of 'leaving off', which is commonly said not to occur, taraka being substituted. 

(83) In the passage which begins with this verse our poet seems to imitate the Mu'allaqah of his 
fellow-tribesman al-Harith b. Hillizah, w. 24 ff. 

(85) 'Ad, the name of the ancient lost people of Arabia mentioned in the Qur'an, about whom 
there were many legends. 'Adi, ' belonging to 'Ad ', is a general word for immemorial antiquity. 

(93) The word for ' place [of encounter] ', maqam, in this verse and v. 102 has been explained 
before, No. XXVII, notes to w. 4 and 20. As mentioned in the foot-note on p. 406 of the Arabic 
text, the explanation of the sentence laisa yathnlhi-l-wara' is difficult and doubtful : that given seems 
to me most probable. Al-Asma'l thought it meant ' a place in which piety cannot be found ', because 
of the evil speech which is tossed to and fro in such contests ; this seems very unlikely. 

(100) The ' Demon ', shaitdn, is the familiar spirit or genius of the opposing poet : a similar 
familiar is meant by the 'companion' in v. 104. The Arabs thought of their achievement as 
poets as aided by spiritual powers, much as we speak of ' genius ' or ' inspiration '. It is not necessary 
to suppose that the poets looked upon themselves as mere conduits for the utterances of these helpers. 
They are fully appreciative of the merits of their own compositions. But the phenomena of the 
sub-conscious memory suggested to them the assistance of some power other than their ordinary 
everyday faculties, providing them with words, images, ideas, and turns of phrase when needed as 
excellently summed up in v. 104. Vv. 106 and 107 refer to this ' demon '. 




NOTHING is known of our poet : he has no article in the Aghdnl or BQutaibah's Shi'r. 
The commentary states that he lived long before Islam, and, from the scanty genealogy of him 
given, this appears probable. The poem is a celebrated one, and occurs in the ffamasah as 
well as in our Collection. The geographical information contained in it attracted the 
notice of Bakri and Yaqut, who quote it largely. Its age may be judged by the information 
it gives regarding the tribes mentioned in vv. 9-17. If v. 16 is genuine (see the note upon 
it below), we may perhaps date the poem somewhere about A. D. 550, after the settlement of 
Bakr and Taghlib outside peninsular Arabia (v. 11), and while lyad had not yet incurred the 
wrath of Chosroes and been destroyed and its remnants dispersed in various directions. It is 
evidently impossible that v. 17, setting forth the might of the Lakhmite kings, should have 
been uttered after A. D. 569, in which year King 'Amr son of Hind, one of the most powerful 
of them, was slain by 'Amr son of Kulthum, chief of Taghlib and author of the Mu'allaqah, in 
retaliation for an affront put upon him by the king (see the next poem, note to v. 26). The 
poem would therefore be earlier than the Mu'allaqah, but breathes the same proud spirit. 

The object of the poem is to magnify the fame of Taghlib, the great tribe whose war with 
the brother-tribe of Bakr, called the War of al-Basus, has given us the oldest mass of traditions 
about Central and Northern Arabia that we possess. Taghlib, at the time of the Prophet, had 
become Christian (see the next piece, No. XLII, v. 21), but was probably still heathen at the 
date of our poem. It is likely that some verses have been lost at the beginning : the amatory 
prelude is a mere fragment, and something must have followed v. 4, and probably also v. 7. 

(1) The Daughter of Hittan son of 'Auf left her dwellings plain 

like lines drawn by skilled hands fair on a volume's opening page. 

(2) Daylong I stood there, while swept me a tremor and burning heat, 

as a vehement hot fit comes on a sick man in Khaibar town. 

(3) All day feed therein dust-coloured ostriches unafraid, 

as though they were handmaids homeward driven with wood at eve. 

(4) My friends there were twain a camel light-hearted, nimble of pace, 

and a blade marked with grooves, a fellow whose company none 


(5) An age have I lived, my comrades vagabonds light of life 

yea, these were my chosen friends of whom I was ever fain, 

(6) A fellow to him whose follies wore out his patient kin, 

at last cast away by his nearest, wearied of his misdeeds. 


(7) But now have I paid off all I borrowed from wanton Youth : 

my herds find in me one bent on husbandry, prudent, wise. 


(8) All men of Ma'add, all tribes that wander our Arab soil, 

have somewhere a place of strength, a refuge in time of need : 

(9) Lukaiz hold the sea-coast and the shore of the twin-sea Cape ; 

but if there should come danger from India's threatening mien, 

(10) They fly on the rumps of beasts untamed to the Upper land, 

as though they were cloud-wisps hurrying home after heavy rain. 

(11) And Bakr all 'Iraq's broad plain is theirs: but if so they will, 

a shield comes to guard their homes from lofty Yamamah's dales. 

(12) Tamlm, too a place lies far between the tossed dunes of sand 

and uplands of rugged rock where safety for them is found. 

(13) And Kalb hold the Khabt and the sands of 'Alij, and their defence 

is steeps of black basalt rock where footmen alone can go. 

(14) And Ghassan their strength, all know, is other than in their kin 

for them fight the legions and the squadrons [of mighty Rome] : 

(15) And Bahra we know their place [in warfare and time of peace] : 

to them lie the ways unbarred that lead to Rusafah's hold. 

(16) lyfid has gone down to dwell in the mid-river Plain, and there 

are squadrons of Persians seeking to fall on their enemy. 

(17) And Lakhm are the kings of men, who pay them the tribute due: 

when one of them speaks his will, all others must fain obey. 

(18) But we are a folk who have no shelter in all our land: 

we spread ourselves where rain falls, and so fares the mighty man ! 

(19) Around where our tents are pitched our steeds roam for all to see 

as goats in the high Hijaz, too many to be penned in. 

(20) At even they drink our milk, at dawn they are fed again, 

and, day after day ridden forth, their bodies are lithe and lean. 

(21) Their riders are sons of Taghlib, offspring of Wa'il's stem, 

defenders, assailers, none among them of doubtful stock. 

(22) They make straight for him who leads the foe in his shining helm : 

his face streams with blood they rain their blows as they press 

him sore. 

(23) A host are they, dark with steel, star-helmeted : he who comes 

to water the first must leave to make for the last a place. 


(24) And if we should find our swords too short to attain the foe, 

we have but to press one step the closer, and strike him home. 

(25) Among men that are not kings our folk are the first of tribes 

when men crowd the Courts and shout their claims to the primacy. 

(26) To them turn the eyes of all in wonder at mighty deeds : 

the chiefest of other stocks attain not to their great fame. 

(27) While others in caution bind the stallion that serves their herds, 

our camel alone goes forth untrammelled whereso he will. 


(1) The comparison of the traces of the former encampments to writing is exceedingly common, 
and not infrequently they are specifically compared to the 'unman, or opening page, of a book (here 
stated to be written on vellum or parchment, raqq or riqq), on which the artist lavishes much 
ornamentation (see 'Abld xxx. 1). The recent discoveries of such illuminated title-pages in ancient 
sites in Eastern Turkistan, once part of the Persian empire, have illustrated the prevalence of this 
custom in pre-islamic times. 'Umvan, also 'ulwan, with various vocalizations, is probably a loan-word, 
but its source has not yet been indicated. 

(2) The fevers of Khaibar, an oasis south of Taima and north-east of Medina, were notorious. 
Nearly all the cultivated oases in Arabia, where water is found near the surface, and mosquitos 
(baqq, ba'itrf) abound, are plagued by fever, and the Beduin stays in them as short a time as possible. 

(3) For the women-slaves who gather fire-wood see ante, No. V, note to v. 5. Their bundles of 
faggots are compared to the bunches of feathers of the ostriches. 

(6) ' Cast away ', qullida hablulvu, literally, ' let go with the reins on his neck ', said of an intrac- 
table camel. When a man's wastefulness or offences against his tribe became intolerable, or when 
he by attacking others brought charges upon them which they were unwilling to bear, he was formally 
outlawed and expelled from his kin, becoming a Mall' (see ante, No. XX, introduction, p. 69). Such 
homeless men, sa'alik (sing. m'luK), who lived as brigands, sometimes attaching themselves to other 
tribes, are often heard of in the old poetry, and generous persons boast of having befriended them 
(see e.g. 'Urwah b. al-Ward in Jfamasah, pp. 207-9, translated in my Selections [1885], p. 29). 

(7) The poet imagines himself as having borrowed a stock of wantonness from Youth, which he 
repays and thus escapes the obligation to be foolish any longer ; cf. our English phrase ' to sow one's 
wild oats'. 

(8) This verse has two readings, 'imaratin and 'imaratun : the former treats the word for 'tribe ' 
as a substitute for ' all men ', and is that followed in the translation : the latter treats the 'imarah as 
equivalent to the 'ariul, ' a place apart ' where a tribe attacked can be secure. If the latter reading be 
adopted, for ' place of strength ' in the second hemistich, read ' strong ally '. 

(9) For Lukaiz, a branch of 'Abd al-Qais, see ante, No. XXVIII, introduction. The ' twin-sea 
Cape ', al-Bahrani, ' the two seas '. This name is probably to be understood of the waters washing 
both sides of the jutting promontory of Qatar. The exclusive use of the word for the islands in the bay 
west of Qatar is quite modern. The 'Abd al-Qais, according to our poet, relied upon the powerful Bakrite 
stock of Hanifah, settled in al-Yamamah, when assailed by sea. That the pressure upon them should 
come from India points to the great antiquity of the coast-trade of the Persian Gulf with that 

(10) The reading of Ahmad and the old MS. Kk, yatiru 'ala a'jazi Mshin, is followed in the 
translation. The use of 'an instead of 'ala in our text is difficult to explain ; the syntax requires the 


jussive tatayar (following in ya'tiha in v. 9), and if this is read 'aid is necessary for metrical reasons. 
For the second hemistich compare the preceding poem, vv. 23 and 40. 

(11) The settlement of the major portion of the tribe of Bakr in the plains of 'Iraq (i.e. the 
wilderness along the Euphrates) followed upon the conclusion, through the influence of al-Mundhir III 
king of al-Hirah, of the peace of Dhu-1-Majaz, which brought to an end the devastating war with the 
brother-tribe of Taghlib which the Arab legends say lasted forty years : this may have been some time 
between A. D. 525 and 530. The settlement of the Bakrite Arabs here endured, and its later extension 
considerably further northwards accounts for the name Diyar Bakr which now designates the Syrian 
town of Amid and its surrounding province. But, though dwelling in these northern pastures, the 
tribe retained its sense of kinship with the portion of it which had remained in the mountainous 
country of al-Yamamah, the chief section of which was the strong tribe of Hanlfah. This is the tribe 
intended by the ' shield', hajib, in the second hemistich. 

(12) The settlements of the various branches of the great group of Tamlm occupied the region 
along the shore of the Persian gulf north of the lands of 'Abd al-Qais to the mouths of the Shatt 
al-'Arab, and thence inland to the neighbourhood of the tract called al-Qaslm, on which they had an 
opening not far from 'Unaizah, Faid, and the modern Ha'il at the north-east, extremity of the twin 
ranges of Tayyi'. They also impinged upon the mountains of al-Yamamah. They thus had a wide 
area of upland and rocky soil, as well as the low sandy stretches in which large bodies of them lived. 

(13) The great tribe of Kalb, the most important section of the large group called Quda'ah 
(generally reckoned as of Yamanite origin, but claimed by some as descended from Ma'add)*, were 
settled in the chain of oases known in the present day as the Wadl Sirhan and the Jauf, on the 
southern borders of the Syrian desert. This low and cultivable country, anciently called the Wadi- 
1-Qura and Dumat al-Jandal, is probably what is meant in our verse by the Khabt, a word here used, 
apparently, as a proper name, but generally meaning any depressed valley. The sands of 'Alij 
probably represent the sand-dunes intervening between the Jauf and Ha'il, and lying generally along 
the north-western margin of Aja', the northernmost of the mountains of Tayyi'. The harrah ar-rajla', 
the region of black basalt or lava rocks, where only foot-travel is possible, is probably the volcanic 
country of the Hauran and Laja', which intervenes between the Wadl Sirhan and Damascus. 

(14) The words in brackets added to the verse in my rendering represent the interpretation of 
the scholiast Abu 'Ikrimah. Ahmad has a totally different reading and explanation of the verse 
'izzuhumflsawalrimin : ' Their strength is in horses which have become black [by reason of exhaustion 
and dust of travel] ' ; and in the second hemistich he substitutes hussamn, meaning ' not wearing 
helmets ', for migndbun. The former word is used frequently for foot-soldiers as opposed to cavalry, 
while miqnab is properly a band of mounted men : as Jcata'ib also means cavalry, hussarun is a good 
reading in this place. Ghassan, of course, here represents the race of Arab Phylarchs of the house 
of Jafnah who held the Roman marches, and were engaged in constant hostilities with the Lakhmites 
of al-Hirah, the champions of Persia against Home. 

(15) Bahra is a tribe of which we hear very little in Arab legend. It belonged, like Kalb, to 
the group of Quda'ah, and seems to have been an early immigrant into the Euphrates region of 
Eastern Syria. Its settlements later on were in the plain of Hirns (Emesa), and it professed 
Christianity : ar-Kusafah, named here as its place of refuge, is Sergiopolis, not far from Kaqqah on 
the Euphrates. It is said to have been at first subject to al-Hirah, moving within the Koman 
sphere during the reign of al-Mundhir III. As Christians, the tribe resisted the armies of Islam, and 
fought on the side of the Byzantine forces at Mu'tah t and in the battles of Aba Bakr's time ; but in 
a comparatively short period after the conquest of Syria they accepted the religion of the Prophet. 

(16) The historical placing of this verse offers considerable difficulty. Having regard to the 

* The question of the descent of Quda'ah from Ma'add is discussed in Agluini vii. 77-8. 
t Tabart i. 1611. 


general argument of the poem, which claims that all the other tribes mentioned have some strong 
place of defence, or strong ally to protect them, it seems clear that the words dunalta barazlqu'Ujmun 
can only mean that Persian cavalry were the defence of lyad. But all that we know of lyad (of which 
tribe the most complete account is given in Prof. Noldeke's contribution to Benfey's Orient und 
Occident [1862], vol. I, pp. 689-718) represents them as turbulent neighbours of the Persians in 
'Iraq, and frequently harrying the cultivators of the settled lands in Mesopotamia.* Their raids 
culminated in the capture of a high-born Persian lady who was being escorted as a bride to her 
husband, which provoked the Persian king (called in the traditions Kisra = Chosroes, but it is 
uncertain whether Khusrau AnOsharvan or Khusrau Parvez is meant) to send against them a large 
force of Persian cavalry. The story says that this force was attacked by the lyad after having crossed 
the Euphrates, and annihilated, the heap of their skulls (jamajim) giving its name to the monastery 
in after times called Dair al-Jamajim. Then Kisra sent a still larger army, under a Taghlibite chief 
named Malik b. Harithah, with 4,000 Persian cavalry, against lyad. The poem of warning sent to 
the tribe by one of their fellow-tribesmen, Laqit b. Ya'mar, is one of the most famous of the ancient 
Arabian compositions (see Agham, xx. 24). His warning was, however, disregarded, and the Persian 
army fell upon the tribe, whom they found unprepared, and entirely broke their power. The 
remnants settled, some in Eoman territory on the upper Euphrates at a place called Anqirah, and 
some in various parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Some attached themselves to the kings of al-Hlrah ; 
a poet named Aba Du'ad, who was master of al-Mundhir Ill's stud, was a member of the tribe, but 
this was probably before the catastrophe ; and a deputation of the lyad visited the Prophet in the 
last years of his life and discoursed to him of the religious teacher Quss b. Sa'idah, who is said to 
have been an lyfidite (Aglianl, xiv. 42), and whom the Prophet met in his boyhood at 'Ukadh. 
If the poem before us is genuine, and if the verse referring to lyad is not a spurious insertion in 
it, it is clear that it must relate to a time before the ruin and scattering of the tribe by the army of 
Taghlib and the Persian cavalry. In the absence of all indications of date in the confused traditions 
about lyad (for which see Noldeke, I.e., and Bakri, Mu'jam,pp. 44-51), it is impossible to say when 
this event happened. lyad, peaceably settled in the cultivated ground of Mesopotamia (the Saivad 
or ' black land ', so called from the thick groves of dark-green palm-trees), and protected by 
Persian cavalry, does not come into the traditions at all. It is not, of course, impossible that the 
conditions described did exist, perhaps during the strong reign of Khusrau Anosharvan (A. D. 531- 
79) : tribal legends naturally dwell almost exclusively on warlike events, and ignore periods of peace 
and quiet, however long. It is an argument in favour of the genuineness of the passage that it 
conflicts with the traditions. The fall of lyad is an event often referred to by the poets (see e.g., 
post, No. XLIV, vv. 8-13), and a forger would scarcely have invented a verse inconsistent with it. 
The word bardzlq, plural of lirzlq, t is obviously of Persian origin ; perhaps it is connected with 
the modern Persian word bircha, barclia, ' a lance '. In Pahlavi this would be barchaJc or birchaJc, and 
a 'lancer' barcluk or birchik. 

(17) The line of kings referred to in this verse is known by its tribe as of Lakhm, by its family 
as of Nasr, and by the name of some prominent ruler as of Muharriq (see ante, No. IX, v. 40, and 
XII, v. 14). 

(20) Of. ante, No. V, note to v. 3. 

(21) 'Taghlib, offspring of Wa'il's stem': literally, ' Taghlib daughter of Wa'il' ; ibnah, 'daughter', 
is often used of this tribe in poetry, perhaps for metrical reasons, instead of ibn. I doubt whether 
any conclusion favourable to the matriarchal theory of Arab tribal groups is to be built on it. 
Plurals, and often collectives, are regularly feminine in Arabic syntax, and a tribe's name is usually 
for this reason construed with a feminine verb or adjective. 

* See for instance al-Harith, Mu'all. 49, and Tibrlzl's note. 

t The word bireiq, in line 17 of p. 417 of the text, is a misprint for birzlq. 


(22) The leader of the enemy in this verse is called al-Tcdbsli, 'the ram', as in No. XVII, v. 14, 
ante ; see note in loco. Al-Asma'T thought that the word might be used collectively, for all the 
foremost of the opposing force : this however appears doubtful. 

(23) ' Star-helmeted ', i.e., their burnished helmets flash in the sun like stars. The host is so 
many that they cannot all be accommodated at a watering-place, and those who have first arrived 
must move on to make room for later comers. 

(24) This is a most famous verse, often imitated, and sometimes ascribed to different persons. 

(25) Here we have again the idiom lilldhi qaumun, used to express admiration : see ante, note to 
No. XXXI, v. 4. 

(26) There is a different reading of the first hemistich : 

'Thou seest, when Distress bears hard, the eyes of all turn to them.' 

I. e., they are the leaders in all times of difficulty and famine. ' The chiefest ', dhawa'ib, pi. of 
dhu'abah, literally, the long locks of hair, sometimes plaited, which Beduins wear, hanging down 
from the temples and the back of the head. 

(27) This verse might more suitably come after v. 18. The stallion camel is tied up at home, 
lest he lead the females far abroad and expose them to the danger of capture ; but Taghlib is so 
mighty that no one would venture to attack herds bearing its tribal brand (tvasm). 


THE author, like that of the last piece, is unknown but for this poem. He belonged to the 
great and warlike tribe of Taghlib, whose glory he celebrates, and to the Christian faith, which 
the tribe accepted after their emigration from al-Yamamah to Babylonia. The poet's genealogy 
shows that he was a remote kinsman of al-Akhnas. The poem must be dated after the battle 
of al-Kulab the First, and probably (see note to v. 26 below) after the slaying by 'Amr son of 
Kulthum of King 'Amr son of Hind in A. D. 569. Our commentary (p. 422) has an obscure 
statement about two tax-gatherers of al-Mundhir b. Ma' as-Sama, and the proud bearing of one 
of them, Marthad b. Sa'd b. Malik, which is said to have offended the tribes of Kabl'ah settled 
in Babylonia, and to have given occasion for the poem (see vv. 16 and 17) ; but this does not 
suit the text, since v. 26 appears necessarily to involve a much later date. The piece seems, on 
the contrary, to be addressed to the poet's tribe, to lament mischiefs that have weakened its 
strength (v. 11) and to recall its former glories (vv. 12-14). Then follow reflections upon the 
unworthy position in which its members stand as taxed subjects of the kings of al-Hlrah 
(vv. 15-17), and disposed to accept composition for blood shed rather than to avenge it. The 
rest of the piece is a retrospect of great deeds done in times past, which should maintain and 
keep alive the desire for martial renown. 

(1) Help, O my people! help for Youth that has passed away, 

for Wisdom that comes too late to mend errors gone before 

(2) For the man who returns again to yearning for loves gone by, 

although there has sped since then a twelvemonth of peace of mind ! 


(3) O dwelling of Salma that lay in Sarlmah and al-Liwa, 

where empties the torrent-bed from al-Mutathallim's plain ! 

(4) Daylong I stood there, sunk in thought, the guest of a dreary waste, 

to sate me with memories stirred by sight of it, lingering : 

(5) 'Twas there she abode summer through, and then she bethought herself 

of places for winter meet, 'twixt 'Aiham and al-Jiwa' ; 

(6) She turned with the rein her lean camel, joining the hastening throng 

of women who urged their beasts among the well-straightened spears. 

(7) The camel goes, quickening pace, and proudly she speeds along 

as though by her girth there lurked an ugly big-headed cat. 
(9) She turned from the full fount, while the water she drank within 
her belly resounded, like the timbrel a singer strikes. 

(8) As oft as beneath her feet and throat fell a crest away, 

another arose in turn before to be overpassed: 

(10) She mounts up the vale of 'Irq, as though in her upland way 

she rose by a ladder's rungs to where hangs Arik on high. 

(11) For Taghlib I mourn, whose spears have stirred up an evil brood 

of mischiefs to plague her, breaking forth to bring low her strength. 

(12) Before their dissension, great the pile they designed to build 

who coats not his building well with plaster, one day it falls : 

(13) A tribe like a rudder steering safely the ship, whose might 

went back to ancestral stock beyond praise, surpassing fame ; 

(14) When holding the breach of dread, its steeps bowed before their post, 

and lay smooth and open for the foremost of men to guard. 

(15) I liked not to hear men say 'These beasts were the bloodwit gained 

for Qais, or for Marthad, or for Eumh' at the watering-place. 

(16) A day, too, I mind when one, delaying to pay his due, 

was buffeted, torn his clothes, misused at the taxer's door. 

(17) In all of 'Iraq's marts some new tax is imposed to-day, 

and everything sold therein pays somewhat to sink the price. 

(18) Are we not the men whom kings treat warily, and mislike 

to touch those we shelter, lest blood have to be spilt for blood? 

(19) We deign to grant peace to kings so long as their ways are straight 

in handling us : not unknown the slaying by us of kings ! 



(20) How many a prince acclaimed have we sent to look an death. 

when lightly he dealt with us, or ventured to do us wrong ! 

(21) Yea, Bahra, it seems, think scorn of us and our spears they say 

' The lances of Christian men pierce never to draw the blood '. 

(22) Yet our spears it was that thrust, that black day of al-Kulab, 

Shurahbil from off his horse, in spite of the oath he swore 

(23) To pluck from our hands our lances : him Abu Hanash cast 

to ground from the back of a steed the tallest of all his stud ; 

(24) He reached him with following shaft again did he couch the spear, 

and down fell the prince, prone-stretched with hands out and face 

in dust. 

(25) Who wrongs us, his dogs are wont to whine when they hear the tramp 

of hosts beyond 'count that march to ask for the justice due. 

(26) And 'Amr son of Hammam, him we dealt on his brow a blow 

unseemly but him it cured at once of his tyrant's mood. 

(27) Yea, men see in us the shape of a serpent, the changeful skin, 

a lion's bright fur and the teeth of a render of limb from limb. 


(6) The spears are borne by the warriors of the tribe who ride as guardians of the households 
moving camp : cf. ante, No. XXI, note to v. 10. The word for spears, wasMj, properly means the 
clump of bamboos growing close together of which the shafts were made : from which it appears 
that, though most of the bamboos required in Arabia were brought from India, the Arabs must have 
had some growing in their own country, perhaps along the Persian Gulf or in Hadramaut, and thus 
knew the character of the plant (see ante, No. XXXIV, v. 8, and note). 

(7) The swift pace of the camel is indicated by the mention of the cat : cf. ante, No. XXVIII, 
note to v. 10. The word translated 'big-headed', mu'awwam, is the same as that used in the 
Mu'allaqah of 'Antarah, v. 29. 

(9) It seems advisable to transpose this verse, so as to bring w. 8 and 10, which clearly refer to 
the same subject, together. 

(8) The camel is drawn as making a journey up a valley broken by transverse barriers 
sloping down from the mountains on either side (ra'n) : as soon as she gets to the top of one of these, 
another to be surmounted rises before her. In v. 10 these successive ridges are compared to the 
rungs of a ladder : the valley is called 'Irq, and her ultimate destination, at the end of it, Ank, said 
to be the name of a mountain. In spite of the number of place-names in vv. 3, 5, and 10 of the 
poem, it is difficult to locate it ; most of them appear to be in al-Yamamah, the mountainous part of 
Eastern Central Arabia, while undoubtedly the tribe of Taghlib to which the poet belonged was at 
the time a wanderer in the plains of Mesopotamia, 'Iraq, and the Syrian desert. But it retained 
memories of its former localities in al-Yamamah, which it left after the termination of the war with 
Bakr called the War of al-Basfis : see 'Amr b. Kulthum, Mu'all. 16. It is not improbable that the 
poets of Tnghlib used the names of these old settlements in the preludes to their qafidahs as part of 
the old poetic convention. 


(11) Sharnm mutathaUimun perhaps means 'an old cause of quarrel of which (after settlement) 
the surface gives way and it breaks forth again '. 

(12) The pile or building is the glory of the tribe, treated metaphorically : cf. ante, No. XL, v. 63. 

(13) I take the bi- in bi-kayyin to be redundant, or, more properly, explicative or indicative (as 
in kafa billdhi shaJndan, or ni'ma-l-fata . . . bi-Thabiti-bniJabiri-bni Sufyan). The translation is based on 
the explanations of 'Odin and murzim given by MarzQql, cited in the note m at foot of p. 425. The 
verse is difficult, and the translation somewhat uncertain. 

(14) The 'place of dread', ath-tJiaghr al-makhuf, is a frequently-used metaphor to denote that 
part of a tribe which is open to attack : it is imagined as a gap or breach (thaghr) in a mountain 
bulwark : hence here the mention of ' steeps ', makharim, the precipices which surround it, which 
are supposed to be borne down by the multitude of foremost warriors who defend it. 

(15) It was deemed dishonourable to accept a bloodwit for slain members of a tribe, instead of 
exacting blood for blood. The poet reproaches his tribe with admitting a huckstering spirit to 
tarnish their renown as fighters. In the translation I have been obliged, for the sake of the rhythm, 
to omit the name of Kumh's father, Hartham. 

(16) ' I mind ' is supplied, as often in the Qur'an. The maltreatment by the tax-gatherer of one 
who is late with his dues is again cited as inconsistent with the martial character of the tribe. 

(17) The literal meaning of the second hemistich is ' on everything that a man sells he has to 
pay a dirham as tax ', thus diminishing his profits. 

(18) The second hemistich of this verse should have been further elucidated in the scholion. 
I have rendered it as indicated in LA i. 30 15 . It appears to be a case of the omission of 'an, which 
is very rare. See Tarafah, Mu'all. 54, and Tibrlzi's note : also post, No. LIX, v. 2. According to the 
best authorities, when 'an is omitted, the verb after it is put in the indicative, not the subjunctive. 
The note at foot of p. 426 shows what a variety of vocalization the various texts give for yabtvu'u. 

(19) The implication in the form of the verb in nu'ati-l-muluka-s-silma is that the Taghlib treated 
on equal terms with kings for peace (expressed in the translation by ' we deign to grant ', &c.). This 
verse is related to have been read by an ancient philologer, Abu 'Amr b. al-'Ala, with the poet 
al-Farazdaq (A. H. 20-114 = A. D. 640-1 to 732-3), who instructed him in the right reading of it : the 
poem was then presumably well known. 

(20) The number of kings or princes killed by Taghlib, as generally known, was really two,* 
viz. Shurahbll of Kindah and 'Amr son of Hind of Lakhm ; but poets are fond of exaggeration in 
the manner of this verse. ' Acclaimed ', dhu tahiyah, one who received the formal salutation offered 
to kings : cf. ante, No. XXVIII, note to v. 27. 

(21) We see from this verse that Taghlib, like other tribes which settled in Syria and Babylonia, 
had become nominally Christian, and also that Bahra (see No. XLI, note to v. 15) had not adopted 
that faith when the poem was composed, though it afterwards did so. This is an interesting 
indication of time. Taghlib for the most part held stoutly to its faith after the conquests of Islam, 
but measures taken by the Caliphs to prevent the children from being brought up as Christians 
gradually extinguished the prevalence of that religion in the portion of the tribe which refused to 
surrender it. 

(22) Our commentary contains a long and most interesting account of the First Day of al-Kulab, 
a famous battle which led eventually to the downfall of the supremacy of the kings of Kindah over 
the Arab tribes of Central Arabia. This account has been published and discussed by me at 
pp. 127-154 of vol. I of Orientalisclie Studien (Noldeke-Festschrift), Giessen, 1906, and only a brief 

* In Ayliam, ix 183 12 mention is made of one Murrah son of Kulthum, brother of 'Amr, who is 
said to have killed al-Mundhir son of an-Nu'man and his brother, who were presumably princes of 
the house of Nasr ; but of this adventure nothing further is recorded. 


summary of it can be given here. The chief of Kindah, al-Harith, of the house of Hujr Akil al-Murar 
(ante, No. XXXV, 13), had established his power throughout the northern tribes, whom he ruled 
from a centre called the Ghamr Dim Kindah, somewhere in the comparatively rich country of 
al-Qaslm. He divided the government of the tribes between four of his sons, Hujr (who ruled over 
Asad and other tribes), Shurahbil (who was entrusted with Bakr b. Wa'il and some sections of the 
Tamlm), Ma'dl-Karib (who had Qais-' Allan), and Salamah (who had Taghlib, Namir b. Qasit, and 
other sections of the Tamlm). After the death of al-Harith dissensions arose between Shurahbil and 
Salamah, and eventually the two brothers took up arms against each other. They met at a place 
called al-Kulab, a water in the north of Arabia belonging to Taghlib, and not the place of the same 
name where the second battle of al-Kulab (see ante, No. XXX) was fought. In the battle which 
ensued the sections of Tamlm deserted from both sides, and the two brother-tribes and old enemies, 
Bakr on the side of Shurahbil and Taghlib on the side of Salamah, were left as sole champions in 
the field. Shurahbil was defeated and fled, pursued by a Taghlibite named Hablb b. 'Utbah. 
Shurahbil, with a blow of his sword, cut off Hablb's foot. Abu Hanash, Hablb's brother by his 
mother's side, who followed in the pursuit, overtook the flying Shurahbil, and after some parley, 
during which the Prince tried to buy his life by promise of ransom, thrust him through with his 
spear, then gripped him by the body and tore him from his horse and cut off his head. The head 
was sent to Salamah, who on receiving it showed signs of repenting of his violence against his 
brother. Abu Hanash, being warned of this change of temper, thought it expedient to refrain from 
rejoining the prince, and went off to 'Iraq with the tribe of Taghlib, and there joined al-Mundhir 
b. Ma' as-Sama king of al-Hlrah. This battle may perhaps have been fought somewhere about 
A. D. 550, but no precise date can be assigned to it. 

(26) It is probable that by 'Amr son of Hammam is meant the King 'Amr son of al-Mundhir III, 
generally called 'Amr son of Hind after his mother, a daughter of al-Harith, king of Kindah ; 
Hammam may be understood as a title, ' the man of great undertakings '. As will be seen from 
note on p. 441 of the Arabic text, the verse is cited in the Naqa'id with 'Amru-bnu Hindin instead 
of 'Amru-lmu Hammamin. Unfortunately the commentators are silent about the verse. The story 
of the killing of King 'Amr is thus told in Agliam, ix. 182 : 

" King 'Amr said one day to his boon-companions ' Do ye know any one of the Arabs whose 
mother would be too proud to wait upon my mother ? ' They answered ' Yes, the mother of 'Ami- 
son of Kulthum would disdain to do so '. ' Why ? ' asked the king. ' Because her father was 
Muhalhil son of Kabl'ah, her uncle Kulaib of Wa'il the most glorious of the Arabs, her husband 
Kulthum the most famous cavalier of the Arabs, and her son 'Amr the chief of his people.' Then 
King 'Amr sent a message to 'Amr the chief inviting him to visit him, and asking that his mother 
Laila, daughter of Muhalhil, would be pleased to visit the king's mother Hind. So 'Amr son of 
Kulthum travelled from Mesopotamia to al-Hirah with a band of warriors of the Taghlib, and his 
mother Laila travelled with a suite of the ladies of the tribe in his company. King 'Amr ordered 
his pavilion to be pitched between al-Hirah and the Euphrates, and a sumptuous tent by the side of 
it to be set up for his mother Hind. Then he called together the chief men of his kingdom, and 
they gathered to receive the chiefs of Taghlib. And 'Amr son of Kulthum entered the pavilion of 
'Amr the king, and his mother Laila the tent of Hind the queen. Now Hind was the aunt of 
Imra' al-Qais son of Hujr, the poet, while the mother of Laila daughter of Muhalhil was the daughter 
of the brother of Fatimah daughter of Rabl'ah, the mother of Imra' al-Qais : this was the tie of kinship 
between them. 'Amr the king had bidden his mother to send away her servants, and when he, the 
king, called for the presents to be brought, to make Laili wait upon her. Then King 'Amr 
called for a banquet to be brought in, and afterwards for the presents. Thereupon Hind said to 
Laila ' Laila, reach me hither that tray '. Laila answered ' Let her that has a need rise herself 
to satisfy it.' The queen repeated the request, and was urgent with her. Then cried Laila ' the 


shame ! Help, men of Taghlib ! ' 'Amr son of Kulthflm, in the king's pavilion hard by, heard her 
cry, and the blood rushed into his face. 'Amr the king looked at him, and saw there the mischief 
that he was meditating. Then 'Amr the chief sprang forward and seized the sword of 'Amr the 
king, that was hung up in the pavilion and was the only sword there, and drew it and struck 'Amr 
the king upon the head and killed him. Then he shouted to the men of Taghlib, and they 
plundered the vessels of the banquet and the rich hangings of the pavilion, and the camels of noble 
breed that belonged to the king, and departed to the Mid-river Country." 

(27) That is, men stand in dread of us as they do of the serpent and the lion. 


FOR the poet see Nos. XXXVIII and XXXIX. In this short piece he praises his fellow- 
tribesman Mas'ud son of Salim (or son of Zuhair), chief of the division of Dabbah called 
as-Sid, ' the Wolf ' : this was Rabi'ah's own section (see v. 11). The Aghanl (xix. 91) says that 
Rabi'ah had been taken prisoner, and his camels plundered, by some hostile tribe, and that 
Mas'ud caused him to be released and his property restored. 

The amatory prelude, vv. 1-4, is very short, and some verses have probably been lost. 
The poet goes on to describe his journey to Mas'ud. The rendering imitates the metre of the 
original (BasU). 

(1) Su'ad is gone, and thy heart lies sick with fever of love ; 

the freeman's Daughter has left her pledges all unfulfilled. 

(2) A young gazelle is she like, unmated, grazing her fill 

where torrent-channels are green in hollow Haumal or Ud. 

(3) That morning we parted, she stood, her tresses fallen unbound, 

that hung like clusters of black grapes all adown her back : 

(4) Her [ruddy mouth] cool and fair, most sweet to kiss, with a row 

of ordered teeth, not too close, all lustrous, honey to taste. 

(5) Yea, many a strong camel, spare of frame, lean, bleeding her pads, 

have I pushed on without stint to bear me over the wastes ; 

(6) I laid this load on her well she bore it, as but her due 

to face a fierce melting heat that burnt like blazing flame : 

(7) A desert waterless, wide, wherein is death to be feared 

all night unwearied its owls hoot on with never a break. 


(8) When she complained of sore travel, this my word in reply : 

' Thou shalt not rest till I come to see the face of Mas'ud 

(9) Until I look on the man whose gifts are boundless, his tent 

open to all who have need, his arm long, praised of all men. 

(10) Yea, many men have I heard lauded above all their kind, 

but never heard of thy like in gracious bountifulness, 

(11) Nor yet in temperance, nor in patience when trouble fell 

nay, no vain words do I use to tell the Sid of thy fame ! 

(12) Thy gracious manner is not the grace that stirs men's ire, 

nor is thy bounty refused to any seeker that comes. 

(13) Thou readiest, foremost of all, the goals set up for the best, 

and thou resemblest thy fathers, high-headed lords of men. 

(14) This is my praise for the fair gifts showered by thee on me : 

mayst thou ne'er cease to be happy and envied by all men ! 


(1) ' The freeman's Daughter ', ibnatu-l-hurri : the Arabs, as was natural, attached the highest 
value to liberty, and were fond of calling themselves al-Akrar, ' the Free ', or ' Free-born ', as 
distinguished from the offspring of slaves. The word hurr thus takes on the general meaning of 
ingenuous, generous, good, the best of anything, applied to other objects than men. 

(2) ' Grazing her fill ' : this is implied in the words ata'a laha, ' became subject or compliant to 
her, fulfilled all she desired '. The torrent-beds, tala'at, naturally afford the best herbage, from the 
water remaining in pools. Haumal is one of the places mentioned in the beginning of the Mu'al- 
laqah of Imra' al-Qais, and was in the region of the Hazn or gravelly highland (see ante, No. IX, note 
to v. 6). Ud was in the Hazn of Yarbu', one of the best of these favoured pasture-grounds. Jamo, 
rendered ' hollow ', signifies a wide or depressed part of a valley : it is possibly contracted from jauf, 
which has the same meaning (in modern Arabic juwa, used as a preposition = 'in, inside of, is 
undoubtedly shortened from jauf). 

(9) ' His arm long ', rahib (or tawil) al-ba', is a common phrase for generosity. 

(11) The Sid, the division of Dabbah to which both Mas'ud and Kabl'ah belonged. 

(12) Here (as in v. 10) I have chosen ' grace ', ' graciousness ', as the best rendering for the difficult 
and comprehensive word hilm (see Lane, s. v.) : ' the grace that stirs men's ire ', al-Jiilmu maujudun 
'alaihi, is of course the false favour which raises expectations that are not fulfilled. 

(13) ' High-headed lords of men ', as-sjdu-f-sanadidu : observe the alliteration. Sid, plural of 
asyad, originally means ' afflicted with the disease called sayad, a malady affecting camels which 
causes them to raise their heads and makes their necks stiff '. ' Stiff-necked ' thus, unlike its use in 
Hebrew, becomes an epithet of praise for a proud and resolute-looking man, and is often used to 
describe the mien of a king. 



THE author of the celebrated and much-admired poem which follows lived his whole life 
in the Ignorance. He was a contemporary and boon-companion of an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, 
the last Lakhmite king of al-Hirah, and suffered from weak sight. In his old age he became 
quite blind. Not much verse by him survives, and probably all that we have is contained in our 
Collection and in the article upon him in the Aghanl, xi. 134-9. The poem evidently dates 
from a time subsequent to the fall of the Lakhmite dynasty and the destruction of lyad by 
Chosroes (vv. 8-11). Its movement offers no difficulties. The translation imitates the Baait: 
the original is in Kamil. 

(1) The care-free sleeps, but I feel no sleep come nigh to mine eyes : 

Care is my fellow, at hand always to pillow my head. 

(2) It is not sickness, 'tis Care that thus has wasted my frame : 

Care fills my vision, and grips my fainting heart with its pain. 

(3) A heavy burthen it is, whereso I venture my steps, 

there rises ever in face a barrier not to be passed ; 

(4) No way lies open to me between 'Iraq and Murad 

not even where the wide torrent stretches broadly its bed. 

(5) Yea, surely well do I know, and need no lesson from thee, 

the path I travel was traced for those who bear forth the dead. 

(6) Death and Destruction have climbed atop of cliffs where I wend, 

and watch my shape as I totter [through the narrowing pass] ; 

(7) No wealth of mine, whether old or newly got, shall redeem 

the pledge they hold of me nought but life itself shall avail. 

(8) What can I hope, when Muharriq's house have gone to decay 

and left their palaces void ? what better, after lyad ? 

(9) The folk who dwelt in Khawarnaq and Bariq and as-Sadlr, 

and the high-pinnacled castle that stood beside Sindad 

(10) A land which Ka'b son of Mamah chose and Abu Du'ad 

to be the place where their fathers' stock should prosper and grow. 

(11) Now sweep the winds over all their dwellings : empty they lie, 

as though their lords had been set a time and no more to be. 

(12) Yea, once they lived there a life most ample in wealth and delight 

beneath the shade of a kingdom stable, not to be moved. 


(13) They settled after in Anqirah, and there by their stead 

flowed down Euphrates, new come to plain from mountain and hill. 

(14) Lo ! how luxurious living and all the ways of delight 

decline one day to decay, and pass therefrom into nought ! 
(16) And if thou seekest examples, look at Gharf and his house : 
in them shalt thou, if it list thee, many find to thy hand. 

(16) What hope for us after Zaid whose kin were lost for a maid, 

scattered and banished and slain, for all their goodly array ? 

(17) They chose the broad open land because of strength that they had, 

and best of helpers were they beyond all bountiful hands. 

(18) If now thou seest me a wreck, worn out and minished of sight, 

and all my limbs without strength to bear my body along, 

(19) And I am deaf to the calls of love and lightness of youth, 

and follow wisdom in meekness, my steps easy to guide 

(20) Time was I went every night, hair combed, to sellers of wine, 

and squandered lightly my wealth, compliant, easy of mood. 

(21) Yea, once I played, and enjoyed the sweetest flavour of youth, 

my wine the first of the grape, mingled with purest of rain 

(22) Wine bought from one with a twang in his speech, and rings in his ears, 

a belt girt round him : he brought it forth for good silver coin. 

(23) A boy deals it to our guests, girt up, two pearls in his ears, 

his fingers ruddy, as though stained deep with mulberry juice, 

(24) And women white like the moon or statues stately to see, 

that softly carry around great cups filled full with the wine 

(25) White women, dainty, that shoot the hearts of men [with their eyes], 

fair as a nest full of ostrich eggs betwixt rock and sand. 

(26) Kind words they speak, and their limbs are soft and smooth to the touch, 

their faces bright, and their hearts to lovers gentle and mild. 

(27) Low speech they murmur, in tones that bear no secrets abroad : 

they gain their ends without toil, and need no shouting to win. 

(28) Yea, oft at dawn would I ride afar in dangerous meads- 

dark grasses clothing the runnels, joyful sight for the herds ; 

(29) Thereon the clouds of the night had loosed their burthens, and clumps 

of safra, juicy and fresh, and zullad, thickened the grass, 

(30) In Jaww and al-Amarat, around Mughamir's sides, 

and Darij, and in Qasimah, choicest land for the chase : 


(31) My mount a steed, ever prompt to yield the whole of his speed 

to ride the wildings to bay, a racer not to be beat ; 

(32) The lonely bull that exults in fleetness he courses down 

by running skilful in turns, now swift, now slackened as meet. 

(33) And oft have I followed after friends departing, my beast 

a stout she-camel, well-knit, that yields nor calves nor milk, 

(34) Strong as a wild-ass : the Spring has filled the chinks of her frame 

smooth now the surface, whereon no tick can find room to lodge. 

[(35) All these it boots not to tell of things so utterly gone : 

Time's work is nought but to turn all lovely things to decay I] 


(3) The rendering omits specifically to translate Id 'aba laJca, lit. ' mayst thou have no father ! ' 
This is, however, a mere expletive to strengthen the phrase, or fill a gap in the verse ; and it is best 
turned in English by increasing the weight of the language used. The ' barriers ', al-asddd, are those 
raised by his blindness : he dare not trust himself to advance in any direction, not even (v. 4) where 
a torrent-bed (tatah) makes a wide sweep offering an easy passage. 

(4) Murad, otherwise called Yuhabir, the name of a Yamanite stock which we shall meet again 
in the story of Muraqqish the Elder (No. XLV ff.) ; its lands were in Najran, in the far so,uth, and 
thus ' between al-'Iraq and the land of Murad ' means the whole length of Arabia from north to south 
(see a similar phrase in the poem of Imra' al-Qais on p. 437 of vol. I, line 2). 

(5) The person addressed here and in the following verses is a woman. In rendering the second 
hemistich I have chosen the interpretation of sabllu dhi-l-a'wadi attributed in the LA to al-Mufaddal, 
viz. : that ' the boards ', al-dwad (pi. of 'ud), are the pieces of wood making up the bier on which the 
dead are carried forth to burial. Abu 'Ubaidah has a story that Dhu-l-a'wad was the name given to 
one Mukhashin son of Mu'awiyah, grandfather of Aktham b. Saifl, of the section of Tamlm called 
Usayyid, who is said to have lived, in great wealth and power, for 350 years : he had a throne, sarir, 
made of planks, a'wad, under a costly tent, qubbah, which was the general refuge of every one that 
was in need. With this interpretation the verse would mean that the poet knows that he must die, 
even as died so great a man as Dhu-l-a'wad, after so long a life. 

(6) This striking picture of Fate and Death looking on from the top of precipices, mdkMrim, at 
the dark figure (sawad) of the poet below, has been completed in the translation by words which seem 
to be implied in the general situation, and in the mention of maJcMrim, which requires that the road 
through them shall be a pass, manqal or tliamyali. 

(8) ' Muharriq's house ' is the kingly line of Lakhm that held its court at al-Hlrah on the Euphrates 
(ante, No. IX, note to v. 40) : their palaces are the places mentioned in v. 9. The commentary has 
gone strangely wrong here, from the inveterate habit of not looking beyond the verse itself, and 
devising an explanation quite inconsistent with the context.* For the tribe of lyad see ante, 
No. XLI, v. 16, and note. 

* See ante, No. XXIII, note to v. 8. 


(9) Al-Khawarnaq, a palace famous in Arab legend, said to have been built during the reign of 
the Sasanian King Yazdegird I (A. D. 399-420), for an-Nu'man son of Imra' al-Qais king of al-Hirah, 
to whom the Persian monarch entrusted his son Bahrain, afterwards the celebrated King Bahrain Gor 
(420-38), for education, since al-Hirah was a healthy site on the borders of the desert. The architect 
is related to have been an 'Ilj a name which may indicate any non-Arab, and by some who tell the 
story is rendered Koman (or Byzantine) named Sinimmar. The building when finished was splendid 
in beauty and workmanship, and, according to the legend, while the king was admiring it, Sinimmar 
observed ' If I had known that ye would have given me my full charges and dealt with me as 
I deserve, I would have raised here a building that would have rivalled the sun in splendour '. 
' What ! ' said the king ' wast thou able to build me a palace more splendid than this, and didst not 
build it ? ' and he gave command that he should be cast headlong from the topmost tower. Thence 
arose the proverb ' He reaped the reward of Sinimmar ', for a benefactor treated with ingratitude.* 
Khawarnaq was still standing in the thirteenth century, and the ruins are even now imposing. As-Sadlr 
is a place of which the authorities (cited in Yaqut iii. 59-60) give very discrepant accounts : it lay 
out in the desert westwards of al-Hlrah (YaqQt ii. 375). Some say it was a palace with three domes, 
others one with three gates. Bariq is said to be the name of a water between al-Qadisiyah and 
al-Basrah, in the jurisdiction of al-Kufah. Bakrl says it was a mountain near al-Kufah ; but since it 
is named with three other places that are certainly buildings, it is probable that it was one also. Sindad 
is also said to have been a canal, somewhere between al-Hirah and al-Ubullah ; our verse shows that 
it had by it a palace with pinnacles. 

(10) Ka'b son of Mamah, chief of the lyad, is one of the persons famous for their generosity, 
coupled in proverbs with Hatim of Tayyi' and Harim son of Sinan of Murrah. Abu Du'ad of the 
same tribe was a celebrated poet, considered to be the best of all in his descriptions in verse of the 
horse : he was master of the stud to al-Mundhir III of al-Hlrah (A. D. 505-54). 

(12) ' Stable, not to be moved ', lit. ' with its tent-pegs firmly planted ', thabitu-l-autddi, a metaphor 
drawn from the nomad life. The kings of al-Hirah were probably half nomads themselves, and ever 
ready to move out with their camps. Their rivals of Ghassan were altogether nomad, and had no 
one centre like the capital on the Euphrates. Hirah is indeed a Syriac word (herta) meaning a 
standing camp. 

(13) The Anqirah here mentioned, a place on the Euphrates near its exit from the mountainous 
country, and probably within the Eoman jurisdiction, is of course not the Anqirah in Anatolia, the 
modern Angora, ancient Ancyra, the place where Imra' al-Qais is said to have died on his return 
journey from Constantinople. The remnants of lyad settled in the former place after the tribe had 
been nearly destroyed by Khusrau Parvsz (see No. XLI, v. 16, and note). 

(15) Gharf is said to have been the by-name of Malik b. Handhalah b. Malik b. Zaid-Manat b. 
Tamlm, the progenitor of an important branch of that great tribe, including the poet's own line, 
Nahshal b. Darim : the house of Zaid, mentioned in the next verse, belonged to this clan. For the 
story of their destruction see ante, No. XXVII, note to v. 17. 

(19) Literally, ' If I pay no heed to followers after their passions and the desires of youth, and 
obey my admoni tress, and leading me is an easy thing.' The ' admonitress ', 'adhilali, is the stock 

* The tale is told in Tabarl i. 851, AgJtdni ii. 38, Yaqut ii. 491, and in many other places. 
Another version of the story of Sinimmar (that in Yaqut) makes him say to the king : ' I know the 
place of a certain brick if it were withdrawn, the whole edifice would tumble into ruin.' 'Does 
any one else know it ? ' asked King an-Nu'man. ' No other man.' ' Then I will leave the secret 
with none to know it,' said the king, and gave orders for Sinimmar to be thrown from the tower. 
This tale, to which there are many parallels in international folk-lore, is of course not historical ; but 
the proverb is widely spread in old Arabian verse, in which al-Khawarnaq is often mentioned. 


figure which poets introduce to bring into greater relief their generosity and recklessness in giving 
away their goods. She is generally a woman, but sometimes a man takes her place, e. g., in No. I, 
w. 20 ff. 

(21) 'Wine the first of the grape', sulafah : the word means wine made from the juice that 
exudes from the grapes when gathered into the wine-press without their being pressed or trodden 
(Germ. Ausbrucli}. 'Mingled with purest of rain', lit. 'with the rain of morning clouds', which 
come after the stillness of night has cleared the atmosphere of dust. For the custom of mixing wine 
with water see ante, No. VIII, note to v. 16. 

(22) ' With a twang in his speech', agliannu : the Persians in the poet's time (and for centuries 
after) pronounced final n after a long vowel like the French final n. This pronunciation (like many 
other features of ancient Persian) still survives in the Persian of India, Afghanistan, and Turkistan, 
though lost in the modern literary Persian of Iran. It is a sound strange to the Arabs. Sellers of 
wine in the 'Iraq were generally Persians or Jews. In the second hemistich, the rendering 'he 
brought it forth for good silver coin ', represents wafa MM li-darahimi-l-'isjadi : the dirhams given in 
exchange are said to have borne the likeness of the Persian king, to which when looking at it the 
beholder offered obeisance (asjada) : this is al-Asma'l's explanation. Others read al-Asjadi, and say that 
the Asjad were the Christian and Jewish population of the 'Iraq, who paid the poll-tax to the Persians 
and were held in subjection by them. As Lane observes, the verse evidently means ' wine of a 
foreigner [to the Arabs], sold by him for foreign money '. 

(23) ' With pearls in his ears ', dhu-tumataini. Tumah may also mean a silver bead shaped like 
a pearl ; see ante, No. XL, note to v. 48. The boy is also, from the description given, a foreigner to 
the Arabs. 

(24) In this verse, if al-arfad be taken in its obvious sense as plural of rafd, a great cup or bowl 
in which wine is given to a guest to drink, the women are, like the boy, attendants at the feast, and 
the verb yas'd in v. 23 refers to them also. But Ahmad reads the nouns in the genitive, wa-lrbidi, 
nawa'imin, and connects them with lahautu . . . bi-sulafatin : he says that arfad is put by metathesis 
for ardaf, meaning ' the posteriors '. In that case the meaning would be ' And [I have dallied with] 
white women that walk like full moons and like statues, soft ones whose gait is heavy with their full 
hips '. For the standing comparison of women to statues see ante, No. XVI, note to v. 57. 

(25) Ostriches' eggs is another simile constantly used for beautiful women (ante, No. XXI, vv. 
16, 17). Udhiy is properly the nest only, but it is understood to be full of eggs. The eggs are said to be 
most brilliant when the nest is made between a sand-strip, sarimaJi, and rugged rocky ground, jamdd. 

(26) The rendering takes akbad, pi. of Jcalid, jecur, in the sense of ' disposition, heart ', as recom- 
mended by Ahmad. The word may however also mean ' the sides ', the part of the body outside of 
the liver, which would give a different sense. 

(28) ' Afar in dangerous meads ', li-'azibin mutanadhar'm, lit. ' to a distant [meadow] , about which 
men warn one another of the danger they incur in visiting it '. See ante, No. VI, note to v. 3. ' The 
herds ', ruwwad, herdsmen wandering with their troops of camels in search of pasture. 

(29) Safra, ' a certain herb that spreads upon the ground, the leaves of which are like those of 
the lettuce, and which the camels eat vehemently '. Zubbad, ' a plant growing in the plains, and 
sometimes in hard ground : it is eaten by men, and is pleasant. Some say that it is the psyllium' 
[a species ofplantago or plantain] (Lane). 

(30) Darij, like Haumal (No. XLIII, 2), is one of the places mentioned in the Muallaqali of 
Imra' al-Qais (v. 73), and it and the others are probably in the Hazn or upland pastures between the 
mountains of Tayyi' and al-Qaslm. Qasimah, in fact, is most likely a part of al-Qasim, which is the 
specific name of the tract in this locality which has growing on it large quantities of the gJiada, 
a species of shrubby tamarisk (according to the description and drawing in Euting's TagbmJi, 
vol. ii, 176-7). 


(31) 'That rides the wildings to bay', qaidu-l-'arvabidi, lit. 'a chain to the wild creatures', that 
hems them in and captures them : a phrase taken from Irnra' al-Qais (Mu'all. 53). 

(32) The rendering fails to give the full sense of this verse, which literally means ' He causes 
to be cooked for us the solitary (bull) that exults in his speed, [overtaking him] by a mixed running, 
now at full speed, now at a slower pace '. The solitary bull, or oryx, is often drawn by the poets : 
see ante, No. XXVI, v. 24. The last word of the verse, irad, is to be taken as equivalent to irwad. 

(33) As usual, the poet's she-camel is drawn for us as barren, having neither young nor milk, 
this being the best for her strength (ante, No. X, v. 13). 

(34) ' The Spring ', that is, the spring-pasture brought on by the winter rains. 

(35) This verse, not found in our text, but given as the final in three other recensions, and also 
occurring in the LA, makes a suitable close to the poem. It also contains an old word, mahah, of 
which the scholars did not know the precise meaning, which is a strong argument in favour of its 



THE group of ten poems that follow are all attributed by al-Mufaddal to one poet, who 
belongs to the ancient circle of traditions which relate to the War of al-Basus (see No. XLI, 
introduction). His personal name is said by some to have been 'Amr ; but he is always known 
as Muraqqish, or al-Muraqqish, meaning ' the embellisher, or illuminator ', a name which he is 
said to have gained from v. 2 of No. LIV, post, but which was probably given for his skill as 
a poet generally. He belonged to a family of poets, as will be seen from the following 
genealogy : 

Qais b. Tha'labah 

Dubai' ah 



'Auf, called al-Burak and al-Khusham 







1 1 1 1 1 
Tha'labah Asma Anas Marthad Harmalah 


(Nos. LXX and 
LXXI, post) 

Muraqqish Sui 
the Elder 

yan Qami'ah 

the Younger 


Tarn fall. 

The names in italics are those of whom poems have come down to us. Sa'd, his father, was the 
author of the piece in the Hamasah, pp. 248-51 (rendered into English in my Translations, 
p. 31). Of 'Amr b. Qami'ah and Tarafah b. al-'Abd we possess Diwans, and the latter was the 
celebrated author of the Mu'allaqah. Al-Mufaddal appears to have brought together in his 


Collection all he could find handed down of the Elder Muraqqish, irrespective of poetic merit. 
In Appendix II and III two more pieces attributed to him are given, which are found in some 
recensions of the Mufaddallyat ; and the only other fragments ascribed to him, so far as known, 
are those in the Aghanl v. 192 26ff- and x. 128-9. Similarly, of the Younger Muraqqish all 
that has survived is in this Collection, Nos. LV-LIX. Besides being poets, the family were 
distinguished warriors, and their exploits are celebrated in the stories about the War of 
al-Basus. Sa'd b. Malik was the leader of the house of Qais b. Tha'labah in that great contest. 
'Auf, his brother, was called al-Burak, because he couched (abrafca) his camel in the midst of 
the great fight of Qidah (ante, No. IV, note to v. 7), and threatened to slay any man of his 
side who drew back from the battle. 'Amr b. Malik was the chief who took Muhalhil, the 
leader of Taghlib, captive, and in whose custody he was when he died. 

As a poet, the Elder Muraqqish interests us chiefly on account of his age. The native 
critics speak of him in rather slighting terms, and say that his nephew, the Younger Muraqqish, 
was a much better poet. That may be so : the few fragments that we have do not display 
much originality or command of varied language, though it may be said that in the poet's time 
their themes were probably not so hackneyed as they afterwards became. They show that he 
used a variety of metres, and one (see No. LIV) which later poets did not think fit to adopt. 
His language is often difficult, including words of which the exact meaning is not known, and 
the verses are occasionally so fragmentary that the syntax is obscure. It cannot of course be 
alleged with confidence that all the pieces ascribed to him are really of his composition ; but 
we may at least say that most of them appear to be really old, especially No. LIV, and that 
there seems to be no good reason for refusing their authorship to him, except on the unfounded 
assumption that such things could not be preserved by memory, without the aid of writing, for 
some two hundred years. 

But if his fame as a poet was not of the highest order, he is more celebrated as a lover. 
He was one of those who are said to have died of love. The following is the tale, as told by 
al-Mufaddal and Abu 'Amr ash-Shaibam : ' As a boy he was brought up with his cousin Asma, 
daughter of his uncle 'Auf al-Burak, and when she grew up he sought her in marriage. His 
uncle said that he could not betroth her to him until he had shown his valour as a chief, and 
had frequented the courts of kings ; but he promised, when he had made a name for himself, 
to give her to him in marriage. Thereupon Muraqqish went away, and attached himself to 
the court of a king of al-Yaman, whom he praised in verse and received gifts from him in 
return, and stayed there for some time. Meanwhile his uncle 'Auf and his house suffered from 
a year of drought, and he and his people were in danger of starvation. A man of Murad, 
a Yamanite tribe settled in Najran, of the family of the Banu Ghutaif, offered him a hundred 
camels if he would give him his daughter in marriage. 'Auf accepted the offer, and the man 
of Murad carried away Asma to his home as his wife. When the time of Muraqqish's return 
to his home approached, his brothers and cousins feared to tell him what had happened. They 
arranged, therefore, to slaughter a ram, and after eating its flesh buried its bones in a grave, 
and told Muraqqish on his return that Asma had died, pointing out the grave as hers. 
Muraqqish thereafter was accustomed to go daily to the grave, and spend his time lying there, 
pining for his lost loved one. One day while he was there, wrapped in his cloak, seeming to 


be asleep, he heard two boys, his brother's sons, near by, quarrelling over an ankle-bone,* 
which each claimed as his. One said to the other, " This is the ankle-bone of the ram 
which they killed and buried, and told Muraqqish that the grave was Asma's : father gave 
it me ". Muraqqish started up, and questioned the boys, until they told him the whole story. 
By that time Muraqqish had become very weak with his malady of love : nevertheless he called 
a handmaid of his and her husband, a man of Ghufailah, and bade them saddle a camel and 
start at once with him for the house of the man of Murad. They did so, and journeyed for 
some days, Muraqqish becoming daily more and more ill, until they arrived at a cave called 
Khubban in the land of Murad in lower Najran. There they laid Muraqqisb, who seemed 
now in a hopeless state. He heard the man say to his wife "He is going to die, and we 
cannot stay here with him : let us leave him and go home ". At first she refused, but he 
succeeded in persuading her. Now in his youth Muraqqish and his brother Harmalah, whom 
their father loved best of his sons, had been taught writing by a man of al-Hlrah whom Sa'd 
had engaged to teach them. On hearing the slave of Ghufailah speak thus to his wife, 
Muraqqish managed to write on the leather covering of his camel saddle the verses which 
follow. The two attendants carried off the saddle and returned home with the camel, and 
reported that Muraqqish had died on the journey. But Harmalah, seeing on the saddle what 
Muraqqish had written, questioned them, until they confessed their treachery. He then, after 
getting from them exact particulars of the cave, punished the slave with death, and started to 
find Muraqqish. 

Meantime Muraqqish lay there, nearly dead, when he was roused by a shepherd who was 
in the habit of resorting to the cave. Muraqqish asked liim whose man he was, and found 
that he was the shepherd of Asma's husband. " Dost thou ever see her ? " he asked. " Far from 
me be that ! " answered the man. " I see her not, nor does any one else : but every evening 
a maid from her comes to me when I drive home my flock, with a vessel into which I milk a 
she-goat, and she takes the milk to Asma." Then Muraqqish gave him his ring from off his 
finger, and bade him cast It into the vessel when he filled it that night for Asma, promising 
him that he would get a good reward. The man did so ; and Asma as she drank the milk felt 
the ring strike against her teeth : she called for a light, and recognized it as her lover's ring. 
She summoned the maid, who said she knew nothing. Then she sent for her husband, who 
questioned the shepherd, who told him of the man who lay at his last gasp in the cave of 
Khubban. " That is Muraqqish ! " said Asma. " Hasten, hasten ! " So he rode his horse and she 
went with him on a camel, until they i-eached the cave, where they found Muraqqish still alive. 
They brought him back with them to their house, and tended him with all possible care ; but 
his life was spent, and he died there in Asma's presence. So when Harmalah arrived in 
Najran he found him dead and buried, and returned home without seeing Asma.' 

There are weak points in the story upon which it is needless to dwell : it takes its place 
with other tales of recognition by a ring, in which folk-lore is rich. It is curious that the 
narrative has not found a personal name for Asma's husband. 

If we date the period when Muraqqish flourished about the beginning, or near the beginning, 
of the sixth century A. D., we shall probably come as near to the fact as is possible. 

* The Arabs used the ankle-bone, astragalus or os tali, of a sheep to throw in games of chance, 
like a die. 


(1) Ye two comrades of mine, stay awhile, hurry not on so fast : in sooth the 
departure [which is at hand] is a guarantee that ye will not be blamed. 

(2) And perchance your delaying may send on ahead some evil thing [so that 
it will not affect us] : or it may be that, if ye hurry away, ye may miss some good 
that is coming to you. 


(3) camel-rider, whoever thou mayst be, bear this message, if thou lightest 
on them, to Anas son of Sa'd, and Harmalah : 

(4) ' Great will be the virtue of you twain and your father, if the man of 
Ghufailah escapes being slain ! ' 

(5) Who shall tell my people how that Muraqqish has become to his com- 
panions a troublesome burden ? 

(6) The beasts of prey have bitten off his nose, and have left him in the moun- 
tains with the thick-maned [male hyaena] and his mate waiting for him to die, 

(7) As though in his mangled limbs the beasts had come down to a water- 
spring since the whole of the kin of Dubai'ah are far away. 


(1, 2) In v. 1 I have preferred the reading of Ahmad and others, an tu'dhala, to that of Abu 
'Ikrimah. These two verses, the fragment of a prelude of the usual amatory type, scarcely suit the 
story with which they are connected. They agree in substance (though not in form) with the 
opening of a poem by "Amr b. Qami'ah, nephew and contemporary of Muraqqish, which stands first 
in his Dlwan, and will be found in Agh. xvi. 164.* The following is a translation of 'Amr's verses : 
' (1) O my two friends, be not in a hurry to take provision for the journey, and to gather 

together my belongings [for departure], and appoint to-morrow [for the start] ! 
' (2) My staying here for a day longer will not bring us any nearer to spoiling, nor will my 

hurrying away a day earlier cause me to outstrip Death.' 

(4) ' Great will be the virtue ', &c. : here we have the expression lillalii darruJcmia, explained 
ante, No. XXXI, note to v. 4. Darr, which may be rendered ' fruitfulness in good ', originally 
means 'abundant flow of milk', used of a she-camel. Lillahi darruhu is an extremely common 
phrase for admiration. The ' man of Ghufailah ' is the servant who accompanied Muraqqish, and 
deserted him in the cave. The name occurs in the genealogy of Qasit, father &f Wa'il (Wiist., 
Tab. A, 11), and as a Yamanite family of as-Sakun (id., Tab. 4, 22). Aflata hatta yuqtala, ' escapes being 
slain ', is an unusual construction : apparently there is an ellipse of the negative la before yuqtala. 

(6) The construction ofjai'ala, ' the female hyaena ', in the accusative is an interesting example 
of the use of wa prefixed as the waw al-ma'lyali (see Wright, Grammar ", vol. II, p. 84). Ibn as-Sikklt 

* The same poem, with slight alterations, is attributed in Agh. xii. 126 to al-Husain b. al-Humam 
of Murrah, a much later poet (see No. XII, ante) : in both cases the piece is connected topically with 
the life of the alleged author. Whichever is the right owner, it is evident that the idea is a standing 
one for the prelude to a qa&daJt. 


had an altogether different reading for the second hemistich yuncd 'alaihi li-l-hibali mujadclala 
' lying tied down with ropes to the ground '. This, however, is disapproved by Abo Ja'far : the 
beasts of prey could scarcely be said to have tied Muraqqish with ropes, except figuratively, meaning 
that they had rendered him incapable of resisting them. 



THIS piece is said to have been composed by Muraqqish while lying sick in the cave in the 
land of Murad. It has no appearance of such an origin. The woman celebrated, Sulaima, is 
not the beloved Asma, and the turn of the piece after v. 8, where the poet boasts of his many 
past love affairs, does not suit the circumstances in which Muraqqish spent his last days of life. 
It is, in fact, a fragment (including the naslb) of an ode of the ordinary type. 

(1) There came to me by night a phantom of Sulaima, and kept me awake 
while my companions were sleeping ; 

(2) And I passed the night turning over in my mind my case in every fashion, 
and watching for her people, that were far away, 

(3) Although mine eye had already "mounted [in imagination] to a point 
[whence it could gaze] at a fire in Dhu-1-Arta, with much wood heaped to heighten 
its blaze. 

(4) Eound about it are wild-kine full in the bosom, and white antelopes and 
gazelles lying asleep ; 

(5) Delicate are they, having never had to face the hardships of life, kind in 
their ways they are not brought home at evening [after having spent the day 
gathering firewood], nor do they wander abroad [tending the camels in the 
pasture] : 

(6) In the evening they come home together, slow of pace, with heavy hips, 
clad in saffron-coloured shifts and striped stuffs of al-Yaman. 

(7) They Tlwell in one country and I in another ; and pledges and promises 
have all been broken. 

(8) What is the use of my being faithful, when the covenant made with me 
has been flouted ? What is my case ? I am the hunted prey, I hunt not. 

(9) And many the smooth-cheeked maiden, brought up in luxury, long-haired, 

(10) With rows of teeth serrated, set at intervals one from another, sweet to 
taste, clear white in colour, shining with lustre, cool to kiss 


(1 1) Have I toyed with for a time in my youth, and thorough-bred she-camels 
have visited her [with my messages], and odes have been made by me in her praise. 

(12) Those were people ! As oft as I wore out one tie [of love], there occupied 
me a new one among them in its place. 


(2) A better reading for the second hemistich is Ahmad's wa-'adhfairu 'ahlaM 'Thinking of her 
people, that were far away '. 

(4) The wild-kine, antelopes, and gazelles are all intended to be understood as meaning women 
and girls asleep in the camp round the fire. 

(5) These women do no menial work. The additions in the translation seem to be implied in 
the verbs used. 

(8) For the idiomatic use of ma balu (fulari) exemplified in this verse see the verse of Dhu-r- 
Rummah cited in Lane, p. 139 c, and the verse of Abu-l-'Atahiyah intheKdmilof al-Mubarrad, 231 6 . 

(10) Cf. ante, No. XLIII, 4. The serrations, usliur, in the teeth indicate youth : the sharp 
points wear down with the progress of years. 

(12) ' Those were people ! ' : this rendering of unasun is suggested by Marzuql's note (see foot 
of page). 



THIS fragment contains some difficult passages, and may very possibly be ancient. The 
description of the night journey, vv. 6-18, is interesting and fine. The piece has the usual 
opening of a qasldah, with the double rhyme. The lady celebrated is the poet's mistress 
Asma, and some verses have probably fallen from this part, vv. 1-4, which is unusually short. 

(1) Are they of Asma's folk, these vanishing traces of tents, where the birds 
leave prints of their feet on the surface, desolate, void ? 

(2) Therein dwelt my thoughts on Asma would that her abode were near ! 
but hindrances have come between us and block my way. 

(8) Many the strait resting-place, not a spot I desired for a night's lodging, 
[have I occupied,] making myself at home there perforce through stress of fear, 

(4) That mine eye might see her abode if once she would look on me, while in 
my soul, even if the way was free, were forebodings of ill. 

(5) [I came thither,] travelling fast, now slackening, now hastening, until the 
pale-coloured camels were worn out, while their leader was without sure knowledge 
of the way. 

(6) And many the echoing desert, full of dust, long untraversed by man, 
through which the company of thirsting camels press at top speed, while the riders 
sit drowsily on their backs, 

z 2 


(7) Have I passed through, making from its unknown wastes to parts known, 
mounted on a she-camel strong and bold, that goes along deliberately, while about 
us is pitch-dark night. 

(8) Therein have I left behind a long length of the night, and a halting-place 
where a fire was kindled which no one visited to take fire therefrom. 

(9) There mightst thou hear about us the cries of the owls, like the sound of 
wooden clappers beaten in the stillness of night ; 

(10) And the place where my camel's saddle was cast, where she rested 
through the latter night, over it the creeping things of the darkness had crept. 

(11) In the morning she was like a swing, of which unwedded girls had 
attached the ropes to branches of trees, in that [fearsome] place. 

(12) When we lighted the fire to roast our meat, there came to us a wolf, ashen 
in colour, in evil case ; 

(13) I flung to him a slice of our roast, ashamed [to send him empty away] : 
I like not discourtesy towards one with whom I sit at meat ; 

(14) And he turned and went away with it, glad at heart, shaking his head, as 
returns home with spoil a stout fighter steadfast in battle. 

(15) And the way-marks appeared at our sides as though the heads thereof 
were the heads of mountains plunged in a great watery gulf : 

(16) When I left behind one cairn built to mark the way, there appeared 
another, grey and dun in the midst of the sun-mist. 

(17) I pressed my camel to her last reserves : I mean not that I drew her last 
milk to what end seeking for milk when the udder is dry ? 

(18) With a tawny [whip], the end of it bare of the plaited strips of leather 
with which the rest (i.e. the handle) is covered, dangling by the loop from which 
it hangs. 


(2) The metrical anomaly in the second hemistich (<-> ^ instead of w in the second foot), 

which is very rare, and never found in later poems, suggests antiquity. 

(4) The second hemistich has been rendered as if the reading were 'in kJiala-t-(anqu : it is not 
apparent what can be the nominative to khalla, unless it is the ar-rau' of v. 3. 

(5) This verse suggests a lacuna before it, as some verb is required to which wajlfan is the hal, 
The verse would come better between vv. 7 and 8. ' Pale-coloured camels ', 'is, pi. of *aisa', camels 
of a reddish white, or white inclining to yellow, considered to be of good breed. 

(9) The ' clappers ', namlqis, pi. of naqus, are the instruments used by Syrian Christians to call 
to prayer : see note to No. XXVIII, v. 10, ante. 

(11) This is a difficult verse, where the commentary gives little help. Daudali is explained as 
a see-saw, a plank put across a fulcrum, used by children to ride upon ; but a see-saw has not ropes, 
eimam, and the verb ndta indicates that something is hung up to shuab, which seems to mean here 
branches of trees growing out from the parent stem. This suggests a swing, and so I have taken it. 


The commentary says that sliu'db means clefts in mountains, which seems to yield no sense here. 
Marzuqi suggests that the camel is drawn as in a state of disturbed mind, owing to the terrors of the 
night, and that this is compared to the motion of the swing (or see-saw). The verse must, I fear, be 
left to conjecture : it does not seem to refer to the motion of the camel in travelling, for the following 
verses show that the poet is still in the place where he has halted : he does not start again till v. 15. 

(12-14) The visit of the hungry wolf to the poet's fire, and his entertainment there, as here 
described, is a celebrated passage, imitated (as noted at the foot of the page) by al-Farazdaq about 
200 years later. 

(15) The commentary takes a lam as meaning ' mountains ' : v. 16 indicates ' way-marks ' as the 
preferable rendering. 

(17) The word ta'alaltu has a double sense : it is used for taking the last milk in the udder, 
'ulalah, and also for pressing the camel to the last reserves of her power to travel. The verse goes 
on to explain that in using it the poet did not mean milk, for the camel he rode was, as usual, barren, 
and had no milk. 

(18) There seems to be something wrong in this verse : the translation is not syntactically in 
accordance with the text, and it is difficult to see how sa'inihu, ' the rest of it ', i. e. of the whip, can 
be hanging, dangling, na'is, and not the whole of it. Sa'ir is indeed by some authorities held to 
mean occasionally ' the whole ', but this is condemned by the majority : see Lane, s. v. I understand 
the whip to be made up of a handle, covered with plaited strips of leather, jilaz, and the thong, 
sadr or front part, which is not plaited ; the whole is hung by a loop, 'ildqah, from the wrist. 



THIS little fragment consists of a few verses (1-5) belonging to a naslb or amatory 
prelude, followed by a lacuna, and then of an address (apparently) to King al-Mundhir III 
(6-11), the exact bearing of which is not explained. It has survived, probably, because it 
contains the poet's description of himself (vv. 8-11). There are obscurities in it (v. 7) which 
are natural in a piece so ancient. 


(1) To whom belong the camels bearing women's litters, that float [on the 
sun-mist] in the forenoon, like dom-palms or great sea-going ships 

(2) Setting the Valley of the Hyaenas on their left, and the stony strath of 
an-Ni'af on their right, 

(3) Uplifting broidered curtains, at whose beauty the eye is amazed, on the 
back of each eight-year-old camel, tractable and submissive, 

(4) Or [hard as] an anvil, trained to all the paces of going, lean and sinewy, 
like a wild-cow [in swiftness], brisk and alert, 

(5) Making for the track of Samsam mid the stretches of sand they tarry not 

to heed the voice of one calling in love-longing and sorrow ? 



(6) Cany, ye twain, this message to al-Mundhir, who seeks carefully for news 
of ine, while I ask not for his favour nor seek his help 

(7) 'This is not the time [for thy desire to be fulfilled]. Would that I were 
on the way to az-Zujj, and my people in Syria, the land of the long-locked [Greeks] ! 

(8) ' Thou hast to deal with a man self-respecting, who does not pine for things 
he cannot get, whose desires realize themselves in due time 

(9) ' Not one who gives up the game, what time the weakling takes refuge in 
silence, under the shadow of abasement ; 

(10) ' Who gives work to the eight-year-old she-camel, speeding swiftly along 
with the saddle on her back, complaining of the burden of the uplands after the 
rough stony plains, 

(11) 'Carrying a warrior lean of frame and a quick business, and a sharp 
sword, bright as salt, that obeys his right hand.' 


(1) The dom or daum is a, palm with fan-shaped leaves, HypJiaene tJiebaica, which grows wild in 
the gullies of the Arabian uplands : it is well known in Upper Egypt and the Sudan. The last 
simile, comparing the ladies' litters to ' great sea-going ships ', Malaya safini, has been appropriated 
by the poet's great-nephew Tarafah in v. 3 of his Mu'allaqah. 

(2) We may take ad-Diba' (' the Hysenas ') as a proper name, or translate an-Ni'afas ' the sloping 
sides of the mountain '. 

(4) This verse appears to describe a she-camel, that preceding referring to a male. ' Brisk and 
alert ', dhaqun, may also be rendered ' with a long hanging chin '. 

(5) This verse was probably followed by several others which have been lost. 

(6) As indicated in the note, this and the next verse are by some ascribed to the younger 
Muraqqish, nephew of our poet ; the al-Mundhir mentioned is probably the well-known al-Mundhir III, 
King of al-Hirah, A. D. 505-54. 

(7) The exact meaning of the phrase lata hanna is uncertain : the verse is rendered according to 
the interpretation given in the scholion, but with some hesitation. The Greeks are said by the 
commentator to plait their hair in long locks : but this is rather a Beduin habit than a Greek one. 

(8) Here we have the same phrase, 'affun ya'usun, as in No. XXXI, v. 8. 
(11) For the comparison of a sword to salt cf. ante, No. XX, note to v. 24. 



THIS little fragment contains nothing remarkable, except a few unusual words. It is the 
customary prelude to a qasulah, breaking off where the poet reaches the comparison of his 
camel to a wild bull which has spent the night in a luxuriant pasture. The unusual words are 
iram (arim, aram) for ' any one ' in v. 3 : mijdaf (or mijdhaf), variously interpreted as ' whip ', 


' goad ', ' leg ', in v. 10 ; and takhylf, wrongly given in Abu 'Ikrimah's text as takhnlf, ' variety 
of colours', in v. 11. 

(1) Knowst thou the abode whose traces have become effaced all but the 
stones where the pot was propped and the places where the huts built of boughs 
were set up ? 

(2) Yea, I know it : 'tis Asma's abode ; and the tears pour in streams down 
my cheeks. 

(3) It has become a solitude since its folk went away empty of all, there is 
not left in it a single soul 

(4) Nought but the large-eyed wild-kine that pasture therein, like to Persians 
stalking abroad in their high-peaked caps, 

(5) After the multitude that once I saw there : tents of leather had they, and 
they wore delicate raiment. 

(6) Canst thou be made to forget her love by an eight-year-old she-camel? 
Nay, forgetfulness comes not so easily ! 

(7) A camel high in the neck, like a stallion, as big as a male ; full of brisk- 
ness, she complains not of weariness. 

(8) (She did not bear a young one in the summer, nor did I bind her teats with 
the sirar, while she brought home the lambs of the flock ; 

(9) Nay, but she went far afield to pasture among the other she-camels that 
have no milk, until she became fat and filled out her flesh, so that her hump was 
mottled like a cairn of stones. 

(10) She gallops along when the whip is shaken, as runs a wild-bull four years 
old, alone in the wilderness, compact like an arrow ; 

(1 1) Dazzling white is he, like a robe of al-Yaman, and on his legs are bands 
of black the colour of charcoal. 

(12) He spent the night in a hollow rich in grass, the hurbuthah of which is 
mixed with yanamdh. 


(4) The long straight horns of the wild-kine or oryxes are compared to the tall straight caps or 
hats worn by Persians, Jcummah or qalansuivah. 

(5) For gilal, costly tents of leather, see ante, No. V, note to v. 3. The last words of the verse, 
wa-'alailiim na'am, may also be understood as meaning ' camels in great number [came home] to 
them [at night] '. 

(8) The sirar is a cord used to bind up the udders of a she-camel when sent out to pasture, so 
that she may not be sucked by her young one. This camel, as usual, is described as barren without 
milk ; she is not put to menial uses. 

(9) Her hump is here described : she has abundance to eat and fattens thereon (suwlgliat), so 


that the hump becomes streaked or mottled (dim huliukin, pi. of hdbikali) like a pile of stones (iram) 
built for a way-mark. 

(12) For ghaib, hollow, there is a v. I. gliaith, a pasture enriched by frequent showers. The two 
plants named are celebrated for their fattening effects on camels and sheep. 


THIS poem consists of a na&b, vv. 1-10, the peculiarity of which is that in it not one 
lady, but the whole company of maidens belonging to the dwellers in tents with whom the 
poet had associated is celebrated. Then follows praise of the generosity of his people, and 
their active liberality in time of dearth, vv. 11-15. And the fragment ends with two verses 
describing a she-camel, which no doubt once were followed by more. 

(1) Yea, gone are my neighbours, and no diviner am I, that I should tell 
whether the chances of travel will bring them near again or carry them far away. 

(2) And in the kin are maidens who have taken captive my heart, as a mere 
trifle in the provision with which they have furnished themselves for the way ; and 
Love has inflamed my being. 

(8) Slender of waist are they : their tresses have never been defiled with dust 
by reason of any distress, nor have they ever dwelt in the fever-haunted villages of 
the low-lands : 

(4) Virgins, brought up in luxury, the choicest of their kin, well covered with 
flesh, lovely of face, soft of neck, 

(5) Each of them hangs from her ears golden ear-rings with jewels therein, 
trembling to and fro : no words can do justice to their beauty. 

(6) When the tribe in a body started on their way, I kept apart from them as 
far as a boon companion keeps from his comrade and helper. 

(7) Then they drew to themselves the gaze of a distracted one to whose 
frenzy they gave no heed, as they turned the necks of their camels aside towards 
the halting-places. 

(8) They dispense friendly speech, talking in low tones, so that no passer-by 
may intrude therein. 

(9) And when the company had set up their tents, the ladies brought up their 
beasts and descended [from their litters] into the arms of hand-maidens : 

(10) They came down from [litters like] dam-palms, the backs of which fluttered 
in the breeze, adorned in their sides with embroidery. 


(11) By thy God Wudd ! What men were my people though I have left them 
now what time folk were vexed by the wind that blows [chill] from Udha'if ! 

(12) Then was help granted by one to another by means of the gaming arrows 
marked with a notch by the teeth, and the main body of the tribe was the point to 
which the scattered companies gathered together. 

(13) Men are they not to keep waiting those that resort to them for the boon 
of meat, and not to reject the arrow of him who comes too late [when the game is 
made up]. 

(14) Their bowls [to hold the meat and the broth] are great at eventide and in 
the forenoon : they slaughter many camels [and give their flesh to the hungry] : 
they are not men who pamper themselves. 

(15) When they play Maisir, their play does not lead to foul speech in their 

company, such as is talked about in the meeting-places of men during the summer. 

(16) Shall there bring me to the abode of my people a stout she-camel, having 
the habit of bending her fore-feet slightly to the right when going at a rapid pace, 
strongly built, compact, not worn-out with age, 

(17) In her eighth year, but looks to be older, as though she were beginning to 
be nine, powerful as a male in her pace she seems to be casting herself headlong ? 


(2) ' My heart ', lit. ' his heart ', with the very common change of persons : the first person is 
reverted to in the last word, sha'ifl. 

(3) To cast dust on one's head is the common Semitic method of expressing grief. Notice the 
ascription of fevers to the villages of the lowlands : cf. ante, No. XLI, v. 2 and note. 

(6) The poet says that he withdrew himself from the people about the ladies he celebrates, so 
as to give no colour to slander, but only so far as one boon-companion separates himself from his 

(7) Mawdqif, according to the scholion, may also mean bracelets of tortoise-shell (masak), in 
which case the second hemistich should be rendered ' they (the ladies) turned the necks of their 
camels [towards the encampment], and in so doing displayed their bracelets of tortoise-shell '. 

(11) Wudd or Wadd, one of the ancient gods of the pagan time: for him see Wellhausen, 
Heidenthum 2 , 14-18. The wind from Udha'if (a place-name) is the North wind, whose blowing 
marks the severest cold of the year, when famine presses sorely. 

(12) As noted against No. X, v. 15, ante, the game of Maisir is played with ten arrows, which 
are shuffled together and drawn from a kind of bag : they bear each a different name, and are marked 
with notches, here said to be impressed by biting with the teeth, indicating the portions or no 
portions of the slaughtered camel attributed to each. The game is played in the winter, the time 
of hardship, and the portions of the camels slaughtered are cooked and given to the poor, not taken 
by the winner for himself. In v. 13 mention is made, as a subject of praise, of the willingness of 
the Jfawir-players to admit to their circle even one who comes too late, and thus to enlarge the field 
of their game and the number of camels to be slaughtered. In v. 15 the ' meeting-places of the 

1:01.2 A a 


summer', tnasayif, are contrasted with those of the winter, which is the time when Maisir is 

(14) The rendering is that of the text, ghairu-t-taicarifi : at;.?, is 'inda-t-tawazufi, said to mean 
either ' sharing the cost equally among themselves ', or ' distributing the cost by means of the game 
called muJcharajah or munaJiadah, the Italian morra or mora, Lat. micare digitis ' ; the game consists 
in guessing correctly the number of fingers held up quickly, and as quickly withdrawn. To use it 
for distributing the cost of a feast is equivalent to ' tossing-up ' with us. I have taken mashaylf as 
directed in the scholion, as equivalent to nahharuna, ' great slaughterers of camels ' : in this case abdan 
must be a plural of budn, itself pi. of badanah : another sense suggested in the scholion is ' They 
exhaust their strength in doing service ', taking abdan as plural of badan, ' body ' or ' limbs '. 



A naslb, addressed to a woman named Khaulah (dim. Khuwailah). The poet recalls to 
her his former successes (vv. 5-6) and his prowess as a raider (vv. 7-9) ; and winds up with 
praise of his tribe (vv. 10, 11). 

(1) What said I moved his eye to its weeping wearied therewith it spent 
the night in fitful, broken slumber ? 

(2) 'Twas as though in his eye were a grain of pepper, from the morning 
without intermission until eventide. 

(3) Folly it is for him to dwell on the thought of Khuwailah, now that the 
villages of Najran stand in the way of a meeting with her, 

(4) And my people dwell in al-Kathib, while hers are in the circuit of Kalb (?), 
its land and its sky. 

(5) Khaulah, how shalt thou learn how many a free-born dame, tender and 
delicate, noble in her tribe, attended by many women, 

(6) I have passed the night with, in possession of her, and drinkin flowing 
wine before the morning dawned wine precious and dear of price ? 

(7) And many the raiding party, gathered together as the south-wind weaves 
into one the scattered clouds, have I joined a party whose vanguard passes on in 
high pomp and pride, 

(8) [Mounted] on a stout mare, strong in the backbone, that crushes the flies 
by closing her eyelids, with her joints all fashioned on the mightiest plan ; 

(9) She is like a strip of the silk stuff of al-Yaman called siyara : she has large 
reserves of speed [when others flag] : she takes the lead of the thoroughbred steeds 
on the morning after the encounter. 

(10) Why dost thou not ask about us the horsemen of Wa'il ? verily we are 
the speediest of them to reach our enemies ; 

(11) And we are the most numerous of them when the pebbles are counted, 
and to us belong their excellences and the glory of their banner. 



(I) In the first three verses the third person refers to the poet : this is apparent from 
vv. 4 and 5. 

(3) Najran, a large and relatively fertile country in the east of al-Yaman. 

(4) Nothing is told us about al-Kathlb. It seems probable that for Kalb we should read Ka'b, 
that is, the tribe of Banu-1-Harith b. Ka'b, which dwelt in Najran. The land of Kalb was a very 
long way off, in the extreme north of the peninsula : see ante, No. XLI, note to v. 13. In 'Amir's 
dlivan, No. Ill, v. 2, and Frag. 22, v. 2, Kalb seems to be written for Ka'b, and the corruption 
is easy. 

(5) Kanmati . . . nisa'iha may possibly mean ' noble in respect of her ancestresses '. 

(7) The fine phrase nasja-l-janiib, ' the weaving of the south-wind ', reminds us of Imra' al-Qais, 
Huall 2. 

(8) Aba 'Ikrimah (comm. line 12) understands a camel to be meant ; but it seems clear that 
a mare is intended, as the other commentators say : v. 9 makes this certain. 

(9) Siyara, a striped stuff made in al-Yaman in which silk is part of the texture ; the comparison 
of the mare to it may be either in softness and smoothness of going, or in the fineness of the texture 
of her skin. ' The morning after the encounter ', when other horses are exhausted. 

(II) 'When the pebbles are counted ', a manner of taking a census followed in many parts of 
the world where writing is not in use (the Greek ^</>i^v). Each man is given a pebble which he 
produces when called upon, and at the end the heap is counted and gives the total of men. 



THIS fragment is in praise of a family of Bakr b. Wa'il called the Banu-1-Wakhm, of the 
house of the Banu 'Amir of Dhuhl b. Tha'labah, who distinguished themselves in the fight at 
Jumran, when Bakr, led by al-Mujalid b. ar-Rayyan, inflicted a severe defeat on the tribe of 
Taghlib, killing a chief named Usamah b. Taim, and taking captives and booty. The affair 
seems to have happened not long after the great defeat of Taghlib at Qidah, the decisive 
battle of the War of al-Basus. Jumran is a place in the upper Qasim (the encounter is referred 
to in Agh. v. 192-3, and Caussin de Perceval, Essai, ii. 283-4). 

(1) There has reached me the message of the Sons of 'Amir, and its news has 
cleared away dimness from my sight 

(2) How that the children of al-Wakhm went forth together, with a host like 
the shining stars of the morning, 

(3) All mounted on stout mares, swift to gallop through the night, and bay 
steeds, tall, with a blaze on the forehead. 

(4) And the tribe [they beset] knew nought of their coming, until they saw 
the peaked helmets' sheen over the horses' blaze. 

A a 2 


(5) The cavalry came upon them from the front, then assailed them from 
behind : and they left them and returned before they had time to be sated [with 

(6) Ah many the mangled corse of a noble man they left lying there, in the 
place of the foot-fight or where the horses charged ! 

(7) And many another with staring eyes, whose skin thou mayst see swollen 
like the bark of the tragacanth after rain ! 

(8) How many were there in Jumran of men slain on the spot, bodies lying 
with their faces covered with dust ! 


(2) ' The stars of the morning ' seem to be brighter than other stars because in the stillness of 
night the atmosphere has cleared itself of dust. 

(4) 'The peaked helmets', qawanis, pi. of qaunas, the KWVOS or peaked or crested helmet of 
the Eoman pattern. 

(5) The sense of hum in fa-asdarna-lium offers some difficulty : it must refer to the hostile tribe, 
as in aqbalna-hum and adbarna-hum, but ordinarily asdara requires an accusative of the animals taken 
back again from the drinking, here the cavalry, Jchail, which is the nominative to the three verbs. 

(6) Takhatrafa in this verse is a word of which the scholars did not know the exact meaning. 

(7) SMsin in the commentary is explained as ' with arms and legs uplifted ' : also as ' swollen '. 
I have preferred to take it in another possible sense, ' with fixed, staring eyes '. The bark of the 
tragacanth swells when soaked with rain. 



(1) If I dye my locks, will dyeing bring them back to their condition as they 
were before they became grey ? 

(2) She saw the camomile of white hair about a bald space when it is rained 
upon, the nits thereof find no cover. 

(3) And if hoariness causes Youth to take his departure, yet time was when my 
locks were to be seen [black and glossy], before the raven was cast out therefrom. 


These verses were no doubt preserved because of the unusual turns of phrase. The locks, 
limmah, are the long tresses whichaBeduin wears, usually plaited, two in front and two (sometimes 
more) behind. 'A bald space', Matttah, properly a patch of ground on which no rain has fallen, 
and therefore no plant grows on it. Nits, su'ab, are the eggs of the louse, or the insect itself in 
a young form. BiJii in the last verse may have the sense of ' instead of that ', viz. hoariness : 
cf. 'Abld, xi. 16. 




THIS interesting poem gives a strong impression of antiquity. In the first place, its metre 
does not conform to the established canons of Arabic prosody. It is a form of the Sari', but, 
so far as known, other specimens are not extant. Among the fragments ascribed to Muraqqish 
is another, No. XLIX, also in the Sari? metre, but in its normal form. The poem also exhibits 
irregularities of metre, apart from the general scheme, as noted against vv. 16, 18, 21, 25 (note) 
and 29 (note) in the Arabic text. Next, it has several ancient words, the most remarkable 
being 'amm in v. 34, and others, like al-aqwarina in v. 35, of which the exact meaning is 
unknown. Finally, it refers to historical events which the commentators are unable to explain, 
as they had passed out of the memory of the traditionists of the tribe. These seem to be good 
reasons for considering the poem to be ancient. Our collection calls it a lamentation (marthiyah) 
over the poet's cousin Tha'labah, and part of it, vv. 7-14, answers this description. But it is 
very unusual for a poem bewailing the dead to commence, as this does, with an amatory 
prelude, vv. 1-6; and the portion succeeding the section lamenting Tha'labah, vv. 18 to end, 
has also no apparent connexion with it. The poem is, in short, a succession of fragments, 
each part quite independent in substance. 

The encounter at Taghlam (v. 7) probably came before the great battle of Qidah, when 
Bakr inflicted a severe defeat on Taghlib (ante, No. LII, introduction) : but no precise date can 
be suggested for it. Probably the poem belongs to the first or second decade of the sixth century. 
All the conventions of Arabic poetry are already fully established. For such indications of 
the circumstances as the piece exhibits, see notes to vv. 19-21. 

(1) Are the abodes deaf, that they give no answer ? Yet, if a tent-trace had the 
gift of speech, much could it tell. 

(2) The place is desolate, and the remnants of habitation like the tracery which 
a pen draws on the surface of a piece of leather. 

(3) 'Tis the home of Asma, who has smitten my heart with love-sickness, and 
from mine eyes falls a stream of tears. 

(4) Void is it now : its plants are moist and rank, flowering freely its many- 
coloured herbs, growing close and thick. 

(5) Nay, but is not thy grief due to the departing litters that started in the 
morning, looking as though they were date-palms of Malham ? 

(6) About them floated odours of musk : the faces [of those who sat in them] 
were like bright gold, and the tips of their fingers were tinged pink as it were with 


(7) Not all the chances of fortune brought to my heart such a pang as the 
death of my comrade who was left lying in Taghlam. 

(8) O Tha'labah, smiter of helmet-crests with the sword, leader of the kin 
when ways were dark around ! 

(9) Go then ! may thine uncle's son be a sacrifice for thee ! Nought abides 
for ever but Shabah and Adam. 

(10) If any living thing could escape its fated day, then would escape the 
light-limbed mountain goat, banded with white streaks on its fore-legs, 

(11) Among the lofty peaks of 'Amayah, or where Khiyam lifts it up just 
short of the heaven. 

(12) Below it are the eggs of the white vulture, and above it the tall-shouldered 
mountain-summit, soaring high. 

(13) It roams thereupon wheresoever it will ; and if Destiny gave it but 
a respite, it might live until it grew decrepit : 

(14) But the guile of changeful Fortune wrought its destruction, so that it 
slipped from the mountain ledges, and was dashed to pieces. 

(15) No cause for grief is it to a man that he has missed length of days : there 
in the darkness before him is what he knows ! 

(16) The sire perishes and the son remains behind every one born of a father 
must one day be orphaned ; 

(17) And mothers get gain from their pains [of travail and tendance] then 
comes the time when the barren is in as good a case as they. 

(18) What is our crime, that a king of the race of Jafnah, prudent, the humbler 
of his foes, led an attack ? 

(19) Noble of lineage on both sides, sprung from the 'Awutik and the Ghullaf, 
no weakling, not born a twin, 

(20) He waged war, and summoned to his aid the roving bands, who have no 
camels of their own to guard and defend : 

(21) Fair and white their faces, bare for all to see : the waters of their seas 
are no deceptive pool that sinks into the ground and disappears (?). 

(22) Then he swooped down like a hawk, while there went before him a host 
like the valley-bottoms of as-Shuraif, thick with trees, that devoured all things on 
its way ; 

(23) If they are wroth with aught, he is angry too therewith, [flashing forth in 
armour] as the spotted snake emerges from his slough. 


(24) But we are of thy mother's kin by thy life ! and to the mother's brother 
are due respect and defence for his honour. 

(25) We are not like some folk whose daily food is earned by foul speech and 
the rending of reputations : 

(26) If they are in a state of plenty, they know not how to use their abundance 
well ; and if they are famine-stricken, then are they viler still 

(27) In a year when thou seest the birds of their own accord enter the tents 
of men, seeking food to eat together with them, 

(28) And the smoke comes forth from the holes of the curtain [that veils the 
women] yellowish-brown like the colour of a pack-mule : 

(29) Until, when the earth was adorned afresh by the herbage, and the 
meadows were thick with greenery breaking forth in buds, 

(30) They tasted of repentance ; and if they had eaten of colocynth, they 
would not have noticed its bitterness. 

(31) But we are a folk to whom self-respect and nobleness appeal in the midst 
of our tribe ; 

(32) As for our possessions, we guard therewith our souls from all things that 
might bring near to them blame. 

(33) May God not put away from us the girding with weapons and the riding 
forth on raids, what time the host cries ' Camels ! ' 

(34) And the hurrying [of the servants, or of the entertainers] between two 
entertainments, when the evening falls, and the people have gathered themselves 
into groups ! 

(35) Youth must come in the end to decay : envy not then thy brother that 
men say of him ' Wise is he [and old] ! ' 


(6) ' Bright gold ', danantr, pi. of dinar. In Arabic this word always means a gold coin, 
ultimately the denarius aureus of Kome. In the East the Syvdpiov xpvo-ovv gradually monopolized the 
use of the word denarius. Bright faces are often compared to gold in this form, e. g. in Hamdsah 640, 
bottom, of warriors in the glow of battle. 'Anam, a plant to the red fruit of which the fingers of 
girls, tinged with Mnnd, are oftened likened. As usual, the lexicons differ much as to its nature, 
but the description most often given suggests that it belongs to the mistletoe family, and is a species 
of Lorantlms, growing on acacias and other thorny trees. 

(8) It is typical of the ignorance of commentators on these fragments of ancient poetry that 
Abu 'Ikrimah tells us that Tha'lab, not Tha'labah, is the name of the person whom the poet laments, 
while all others declare that Tha'lab is shortened for Tha'labah, the poet's first cousin, son of "Amr 
(or 'Auf) son of Malik son of Dubai'ah and brother of Asma, who fell in an encounter with the 
Taghlibites under Muhalhil at a place called Taghlam or Taglaniani. Muraqqish was with him in 
the fight, but escaped. 


(9) ' Thine uncle's son ' is the poet himself, 'Auf (or 'Amr) son of Sa'd son of Malik. Shabah 
and Adam (v. I. Irani and Aram) are said to be the names of mountains, whose everlasting duration 
is often contrasted with the fleeting life of man. 

(10) ' Light-limbed ', mugallam, slender like an arrow, zalam or zulam. 

(11) 'Amayah and Khiyam, names of mountains, the latter mentioned by 'Abld, Diw. xxii. 12. 
(13) The rendering adopts the reading yartadu instead of yarqalm. 

(15-17) The proper place of these verses seems to be where they stand, after the mournful 
reflections upon Tha'labah's death ; but in that case it would be best to prefix to them v. 35, the last 
of the poem, which evidently belongs to the same order of ideas. 

(17) The rendering adopts Abu Ja'far's reading 'ana', ' pains [of travail and tendance] ', for 
the ghinan of the text : it is difficult to find an intelligible sense for the latter. 

(18) There seems to lurk an error in the ' king of the race of Jafnah ' of our text. The next 
verse says that he belonged to the stock of the 'Awatik and the Ghullaf, which, whatever they may 
mean, are names occurring in connexion with the kings of Kindali, not the Jafnides of Ghassan : nor 
does it appear how the latter come into the history of the wars of Bakr and Taghlib, whereas Kindah 
was intimately connected with them.* I suggest, therefore, that Jafnata should be corrected to 
Kindata.t The verb gkaza has no object, and it is not clear who was attacked, or to whom the poet 
is excusing himself. But see note on the next verse. 

(19) .The commentary on v. 72 of the Muattaqah of al-Harith b. Hillizah says that the 'Aivatik 
(sing. 'Atilcah) is the collective name of the princesses of the House of Kindah, mothers of the kings 
of that family : and our scholion says that by the Ghullaf are meant the race of Ma'dl-karib, called 
al-Ghalfa, and his brother Salamah : these two were sons of al-Harith, the conquering chief of 
Kindah, who raised that line to its highest power : see the Introduction to the Diwan of 'Abld. 
'Atikali may, as an appellative, mean ' pure and unmixed ', and also ' red ', specially used of a woman 
applying saffron to her skin as an unguent or perfume. J Ghullaf may mean ' uncircumcised ', and 
Ghalfa used of Ma'dl-karib appears to have this sense. I suggest that the key to this passage is to 
be found in al-Harith's Mu'allaqaJt, vv. 70-5, where the poet describes an attack made by Qais son 
of Ma'dl-karib of Kindah upon some herds of camels belonging to the king of al-Hirah. The leader 
is said to have had a mixed following, li-kulli hayyin liwa'u, which agrees with our qaradibah ; and 
the attack is said to have been repelled by the men of Bakr. The passage of Muraqqish's poem may 
then possibly refer to this or a similar raid, and the poem may be addressed to the kings of al-Hirah, 
either to al-Mundhir or 'Amr ; the former, if the elder Muraqqish is really the author, would be most 
probable in point of time. The picture of the raiders drawn in vv. 20-3 need not imply that the 
poet was on their side : to magnify the power and prowess of one's adversaiy is an ordinary method 
of enhancing one's own claims to valour. 

' Not born a twin ' : this phrase implies that he had not to share with another the strength and 
milk of his mother : see 'Antarah, Mwallaqah, 58. 

(20) The people described are brigands who live by preying upon others. They own no herds, 
but take what they desire by pillage. 

* See 'The First Day of al-Kulab' in the NoldeJee-Fcstschrift, p. 129, foot. 

t If instead of Kindata we were to read Hujrin (i. e., Hujr Akil al-Murar, the ancestor of the 
Kindite kings see ante, No. XXXV, v. 13, and note), the metrical defect noticed in note d on p. 489 
would be cured. 

I Prof. Noldeke in his ' Ftinf Mu'allakat ', commenting on the verse of al-Harith, takes 'airulik 
to mean ' red-coloured horses '. Our verse in Muraqqish's poem seems to be decisive against this 


(21) The meaning of the second hemistich of this verse is very doubtful: I have provisionally 
adopted Aba Ja'far's reading bi-ghumum in my translation. 

(22) Ghullan are valleys thick with trees, having water-springs at the bottom. As-Shuraif and 
ash-Sharaf are said to be the names of two mountains in Najd, enclosing a valley named at-Tasrir, 
having much water and forest growth. 

(24) If, as suggested, the poem is (in this part of it) addressed to al-Mundhir III, king of 
al-Hirah, the claim made here implies that the king's mother or other ancestress was of the tribe 
of Bakr ; and it is not impossible that the mother of al-Mundhir, generally known to history by the 
by-name Ma' as-Sama, ' Rain of the Heaven ', may have been a Bakrite. The king was called by 
the Greeks o Soci'm^ (or SOKKIK^S), which represents the Arabic ' Son of Shaqlqah ', by which name 
he appears to be spoken of in a poem of 'Amr b. Qaml'ah's, Due. xv. 17, 18. The Arabic traditionists 
say that this Shaqlqah was the mother of Nu'man I, and wife of Imra' al-Qais II, but this is 
apparently an error. It is interesting to note that the later Bakrite poet al-Harith b. Hillizah, 
addressing King 'Amr son of Hind in his Mu'allaqah, makes the same claim on behalf of his tribe to 
kinship with the king on the mother's side (v. 84) : in this case the claim is made through King 
'Amr's mother Hind, daughter of al-Harith of Kindah, son of 'Amr, son of Hujr : the wife of the 
last named, and mother of 'Amr grandfather of Hind, was Umm Unas daughter of Dhuhl b. Shaiban, 
ancestor of a famous division of Bakr. 

(25) ' Rending of reputations ' : we may also translate nahkatu-l-ma/tram by ' the baring of things 
secret and veiled ' ; the poet accuses the unnamed adversaries of w. 25-30 of living by blackmail. 

(28) The picture of a year of famine is heightened by drawing for us the tender and delicate 
women attending to the fire of camel's dung within their screened portion of the tent, with the acrid 
smoke coming through the holes in the curtain. Kaudan, ' pack-mule ', is a loan-word from the 
Aramaic kddhanya, Assyrian htdinnu. 

(30) The exact situation is not clear : these enemies of the poet are attacked by innuendo, which 
our scholia do not explain ; but the last words of this verse seem to mean that they are themselves 
so full of bitterness that if they ate of the colocynth (the typical bitter food) they would not notice 
its savour. 

(31) The word aMba, used for calling an animal, especially camels, but rare in its application to 
mankind, is found again in Tarafah's Mu'allaqah, v. 15. 

(32) The reading of Abti Ja'far and Bm, yudn'i 'ilaiJia-dh-dhamm, is followed in the translation, 
in place of the somewhat harsh construction of the text. They avert blame by lavish spending of 
their possessions. 

(33) ' Camels I ' na'am, must be understood as the cry of the raiding party when it comes in view 
of the herds it intends to capture. 

(34) The use of the old word 'amrn (identical with the Hebrew and the Aramaic) in the sense of 
' people ', ' community ', is noticeable as indicative of the age of the poem. 

(35) Al-aqivaruna, one of the many words for calamities, ad-dawahi, of which the precise 
signification is unknown. This verse, as our commentary notes, coincides in sentiment and language 
with two verses by the poet's nephew 'Amr b. Qaml'ah at Hamasah, p. 504 (rendered in my 
Translations of Ancient Arabic Poetry, p. 62). 






As shown in the genealogical table at p. 166, the poet was the nephew of the Elder 
Muraqqish, and paternal uncle of the more celebrated Tarafah. He is reckoned a better poet 
than his uncle, and was longer-lived. He, like him, took part in the war of al-Basus, and, also 
like him, is chiefly celebrated as the hero of a love-story. This, which will be found summarized 
at pp. 340-3 of M. Caussin de Perceval's Histoire des Arabes avant I'lslamisme, connects him 
with a princess Fatimah, daughter of King al-Mundhir III of al-Hirah, who is said to have 
lived in a tower near Kadhimah at the head of the Persian Gulf, which was guarded and 
watched by her father's soldiers. How he attracted the attention of the Princess, by what 
means he gained access to her, and what was the catastrophe of his love-affair, will be found 
related in the work referred to. But we need hardly dwell upon these details, because they are 
totally inconsistent with the poems attributed to him preserved in our Collection. Only one 
of these, No. LVI, is addressed to Fatimah, and in it she is called, in v. 2, ' the Daughter of the 
Bakrite ', and therefore not a princess, but a member of the poet's own tribe. There is nothing 
in the poem which distinguishes it from the ordinary somewhat conventional love-pieces of the 
ancient poetry, except perhaps the fact that love is the whole of its theme, not used merely as 
an introduction to another subject of greater importance, and that several of the verses seem 
to betray a genuine passion. Of the four other pieces ascribed to him, two, Nos. LV and LVII, 
are addressed to Bint 'Ajlan, who in the legend is said to have been a handmaid of the princess 
and a go-between in introducing Muraqqish to her. But in these poems she is a free-born 
Arab lady (LVII, vv. 7, 8), and addressed by the poet for her own attractions, not as a go- 
between on behalf of another. The other two fragments have nothing to do with the 

No. LV consists of two portions, vv. 1-11, celebrating the poet's mistress Bint 'Ajlan (the 
name 'Ajlan is the Arabic equivalent of the Heb. 'Eglon), and vv. 12-19, describing his horse : 
both are interesting and pleasing, and perhaps justify the judgement of the old critics that he 
was a better poet than his uncle. The rendering imitates (with variations) the metre of the 
original (Tamil). 

(1) Is it for a home now void that the tears stream forth from thine eyes 

an abode whence its people have passed in the morning and 

journeyed away ? 

(2) The flat-nosed gazelles therein lead about their younglings to feed, 

and the fawns in the open valley are bay and bright red in hue. 

(3) Was it of Bint 'Ajlan that the shade cast itself our way 

by night, while my saddle lay by, where we slept a little removed? 


(4) And when I started awake at the phantom, and terror grew, 

lo! 'twas but my saddle, nought else, and the country was white 

and bare. 

(5) Nay, but 'twas a visitor able to wake from his sleep a man, 

and pierce him again with anguish that rends his heart in twain. 

(6) At each of our nightly halts she comes to trouble our rest 

ah! would that she stayed not only by night but when dawns 

the day! 

(7) She turned and departed, leaving behind her a gnawing pain, 

and sore was my torment when her eyes seemed to gush with tears. 

(8) Not wine of the white grape, fragrant as musk [when the jar is broached], 

and set on the strainer to clear, and ladled from cup to cup 

(9) A captive it dwelt in the jar for twenty revolving years, 

above it a seal of clay, exposed to the wind and sun, 

(10) Imprisoned by Jews who brought it from Golan in lands afar, 

and offered for sale by a vintner who knew well to follow gain 

(11) Is sweeter than is her mouth when night brings me near to her 

nay, sweeter her lips than the wine, and fuller of pure delight. 
******* ** 

(12) At dawn I went forth on a steed clean-skinned, as a palm-branch lean: 

I trained him until his flesh was worn down and fined away : 

(13) His cheeks long, perfect in shape, none finds in him aught to blame ; 

a bay of a bright red tinge, one leg ringed, a star on brow: 

(14) A proud man I ride on his back to where sit the chiefs in moot. 

I ponder within which course to take with the most of gain : 

(15) Pursued, he outstrips all speed : pursuer, he wins with ease : 

he knows how to thread all straits, and gain for his master spoil. 

(16) Behold how he gallops, gay, on his back a full-armed knight: 

when all of the troop are spent, he prances from side to side. 

(17) On him have I ridden, one of raiders in far-stretched line, 

who meet in the folk they raid a spear-play to match their own. 

(18) He bounds like a young gazelle that springs from the covert, tall 

and head-high he answers when thou callest on him for speed : 

(19) He gushes, as forth spouts fast the flow of a pent-up fount 

beneath in the sand, where gravel and bushes lay bare the spring. 

B b a 



(7) The rendering here adopted does not agree with the note ] at foot of p. 494. I now think 
tarn to be addressed to the listener to the poem, and tahduru to be said of the lady. 

(8) NftjOd here seems to mean strainer = rawuq, or perhaps the vessel into which the wine is 
strained. The word is Syriac, in which language it means a chased cup or bowl. The jar, dann, is 
the amphora in which wine is stored. 

(9) It was the custom to set the amphoras containing wine on the roof of the vintner's house, 
exposed to sun and wind, in order that the wine might mature quickly. 

(10) The rendering here adopts Prof. NOldeke's suggestion of Golan (Jaulan), the reading of Bin, 
in preference to the Gllan (Jllan) of the text. The latter, a northern province of Persia bordering on 
the Caspian Sea, seems too far for the wine to be fetched from it to Arabia. For Golan see ante, 
No. XXXIII, note to v. 12. Wine from the Jordan valley, on the east side of which Golan lies, is 
often mentioned. Wine-sellers in ancient Arabia were mostly Jews, and this is still the case in the 
present day in the Yaman ; see ante, p734, introduction to No. XII. In Babylonia ('Iraq) they were 
often Persians and Aramaeans (ante, note to No. XLIV, v. 22). 

(12) One word in the original, mujallal, has had to be omitted to bring the rendering within the 
compass of the metre ; it means ' covered with a horse-blanket ' (jull), and refers to the training by 
which the animal has been rendered thin and lean, all superfluous fat and flesh being worked off. 
The palm-branch, 'aslb, is the branch of a date-palm stripped of its leaves. The commentary here has 
an interesting summary of the points of a horse, given by Abu Faq'as, an old authority. He should 
have three things broad, three things long, three things short, three things sharp, three things clean, 
three things wide : the three broad things are the forehead, the upper breast, and the haunch ; the 
three long are the belly, the neck, and the fore-arm ; the three short, the back, the bone of the tail, 
and the shank (of the hind-leg) ; the three sharp, the heart (in the sense of ' keen '), the ears (i. e. pointed), 
and the shoulder ; the three clean (or clear), the skin, the eye, and the neigh ; the three wide, the 
nostril, the side, and the opening of the mouth (shidq). 

(13) Our horse here, like that in No. Ill, 5, and VI, 8, is a bay of the colour of sirf, a red dye : 
see the note to the first verse cited. The scholion here (and also MarzuqT, who copies) says that arjal 
means having a white ring on three legs, one having none (see III, 4) : but the Lexx. are unanimous 
in explaining rujlah as meaning a white ring on one, with none on the other three, and this has been 
followed in the translation. The ' star ', qurhah, is a small white spot on the forehead, the size of 
a dirham : a large blaze is called ghurrah. 

(14) The second hemistich of this verse appears to relate to the following couplet : the two 
courses the poet considers are flight or pursuit ; cf. ante, No. XXII, 15. 

(19) For the comparison of a horse's speed to rushing water see No. XXII, 9, and note. Here 
the word for ' fount ', hisyun, is of interest : it denotes a formation of the soil where a layer of sand 
overlies rock or clay impermeable to water : the result of rain is thus to store the water in the lower 
strata of the sand, and, the upper layer of the sand being removed, it gushes forth in a spring. The 
verse makes the orifice of the spring narrow (' pent-up fount '), which increases the force of the jet. 
This word liisyun is the singular of ahsa', which, as al-Ahsa, or al-Hasa, is the name of the country 
behind the coast-line of the Persian Gulf from Koweit to the peninsula of Qatar, or even as far as 
'Uman (maps usually Lahsa). The v.l. larradahu, 'keeps cool', for jarmdahu, 'lays bare', gives 
a better sense. 




SEE what is said of this piece in the introduction to No. LV. The verses appear to be in 
some confusion, and there are probably several lacunae. It is difficult to trace a consistent 
thread of meaning running through the piece, which may be made up of fragments from more 
than one poem. The notes to each verse below make some suggestions on this subject. 

(1) Ah, be thou safe from harm ! No parting for me to-day, Fatimah, nor 
evermore, so long as the tie of thy love endures ! 

(2) The daughter of the Bakrite shot thee [with an arrow] from [a bow made 
of] the top branch of a lote-tree, while [our camels,] with eyes sunken [from long 
travel, sped by] with us [so swiftly that] they seemed to be ostriches [hurrying 

(3) She showed herself to us on the day when the tribe set forth, with [her 
long hair] hanging down, and [her mouth] sweet with its rows of teeth set not too 
closely together, 

[Here a verse seems to have been lost, comparing Fatimah 's white teeth to camomile 
flowers : cf. Tarafah, Mu'all, 8-9.] 

(4) Which a cloud-mass full of rain, lighted-up by the sun, has watered well 
from streaming white clouds [below the dark masses above]. 

(5) In Dhat ad-Dai she showed thee wrists of hers, and a cheek smooth 
and long, and bright like a silver mirror, soft. 

(6) His heart is cured of its intoxication with her, notwithstanding that when 
there comes into it a recollection of her, the earth swims about him as he stands. 


(7) Look forth, friend : seest thou aught of ladies camel-borne, that go forth 
swiftly on their way, seated in litters broad ? 

(8) They moved away from the wide strath of al-Warl'ah after that the day had 
risen high, and they crossed the detached strips of sand. 

(9) They have decked themselves out with rubies, and gold beads between, 
and large balls of molten gold, and onyx from Dhafar, and pearls two and two. 

(10) They took their way among the villages, and crossed the bend of the 
valley, their camels stepping out swiftly ; and they left behind them Qaww, and 
passed forth along the mountain paths. 

(11) Ah, how lovely is the face whose brightness she shows us, and the tresses 
of hair long as cables, coal-black ! 


(12) As for me, I feel shame before little Fatimah when I am hungry and lean, 
and shame before her also when I eat ; 

(13) And I feel shame before thee, though the wide desert be between us, lest 
thou meet a brother of mine who has severed himself from us [and may tell of my 
evil qualities]. 

(14) And verily I, though my young camel be spent, batter the ground with it, 
and with myself, O Fatimah, with the batterings [of recklessness]. 

[(14 A) O Fatimah, verily love grows in spite of [the Beloved's] hate, and 
imposes on the noble soul difficulties to be overcome.] 

(15) Hail to thee ! mayst thou have a mild and genial constellation, Fatimah, 
even though the turning of thy way be not united with mine ! 

(16) Good greetings to thee ! and know thou that my need is of thee : so 
return to me somewhat of thy favour, Fatimah. 

(17) O Fatimah, if all other women were in one land, and thou in another, 
I would follow after thee, distraught. 

(18) When the Beloved one wills, she cuts the bond that binds her to her 
lover, and is wroth with him without a cause, casting him off without appeal. 

(20) And whoso lights on good, men praise his enterprise, and whoso goes 
astray, shall not lack one to blame his error : 

(21) Seest thou not that a man will cut off his hand, and take upon himself 
the severest tasks, from fear of the blame of his friends ? 

(22) Is it by reason of a dream that thou hast become one that writes upon 
the ground in extremity of grief? And sometimes dreams visit one who is asleep: 
[may not this be one ?] 


(19) Janab swore an oath, and thou didst obey him : so turn thy blame upon 
thyself, if thou must have some one to revile ; 

[(23) And he is as though he were wearing the crown of the House of 
Muharriq, for that he has wronged his cousin, and come off safe himself.] 


(2) In this verse many words in English have to be supplied to bring out the meaning ; but 
they are all implied in those which make up the Arabic text. The verse shows that the lady 
addressed was a member of the tribe of Bakr, and therefore could not have been a princess, daughter 
of King al-Mundhir of Lakhm. The lote-tree, from the topmost bough of which the bow is said to 
have been made, is the rlalali (collective ilal : see the proper name in v. 5), explained as that kind of 
sidraJi or lote-tree which grows wild in the mountains, without artificial irrigation : the sidrah is the 
Zizyphus (Rhamnus of Linn.) or jujube-tree. 


(4) It seems necessary, as indicated, to postulate a lost verse comparing the teeth to flowers of 
camomile watered by a copious shower : Tarafah, who gives the key to the phrase, was the nephew 
of our poet, and may have copied him. 

(5) The exact meaning of wadMlah is not known : it is explained variously as an ingot of silver 
and a mirror of that metal. 

(6) ' His heart ' may be an instance of the very frequent change of person, of which many 
examples have already been noticed : but it seems more probable that this verse, which is scarcely in 
accord with the rest of the poem, is an interpolation from some other piece, or at any rate out of 
place. The verses 11-13 which follow would come in appropriately after v. 5. 

(7) Compare Zuhair, Mu'all. 7, and the use of muf'ani (sing, of our mafd'im) in v. 10. This phrase 
recurs repeatedly in the old poetry. 

(9) ' Rubies ', ydqut, a loan-word from the Greek vdiwflos (through Syriac ydqentd) : this word is 
also used for sapphires and other gems, but most often means rubies. Onyx, jaz', from Dhafar : this 
place was a very old capital of the Himyarite kings of the Yaman, in the mountains not far south 
from San'a, now a ruin. There was another Dhafar on the sea-coast of Hadramaut, which is often 
confounded with it ; but Yaqut (iii. 577) states that the onyx which goes by the name came from the 
inland site. 

(10) The translation adopts Marzuql's reading takhdt, as more descriptive than the tukda of 
our text. 

(12) In this and the following verse the diminutive form Futaimah is used instead of Fdtimah, 
to express endearment. 

(14 A) This verse is added from Marzuql's text (it is also in the Vienna codex) : its second hemistich 
resembles that of v. 21 of our version. Perhaps its best place would be between vv. 16 and 17. 

(15) The constellation, TcauJcab, here mentioned, seems to mean one of the asterisms (aniod) which 
bring bountiful rain and a cool mild air. The word has many meanings (see Lane), but this appears 
to suit the passage best. ' Hail to thee ! ' (v. 15), ' Good greetings to thee ' (v. 16), ' Be thou safe from 
harm ' (v. 1) are all renderings of the same Arabic phrase aid ya-slwmi, 

(18) The verb 'dbida in this verse is a very rare expression for being angry or disdainful. It is 
noticeable that the poet here uses the masculine dhu-l-wuddi for the object of love, as though he were 
laying down a general proposition, but his lady is evidently intended. ' Without appeal ' is meant 
to convey the sense of Id mahalata. 

(19) This verse is clearly out of place where it occurs: it and v. 20 have the same rhyme-word, 
Id'imd, which is against all the laws of verse ; it is the only one in the poem which can in some 
measure be interpreted in accordance with the story told of the occasion upon which the poem was 
made ; but as there are other reasons for holding that story to be inapplicable, it seems best to take 
it in conjunction with the last verse (23), added from other recensions, together with which it is 
linked in the quotation in YaqOt iv. 926. From these two taken together, it would appear that Janab 
was the poet's cousin, that he swore an oath to Muraqqish which the latter accepted foolishly, as 
he asserts in v. 19 ; and that Janab broke his promise and wronged him, himself winning, perhaps, 
the favour of the lady and supplanting Muraqqish (v. 23). The scholiou says that by Janab we must 
understand 'Amr b. Janab. This would not be unexampled : see, for instance, ante, No. XV, v. 14 ; 
but it is not very likely. Janab is said on p. 499' to have been a son of 'Auf b. Malik, al-Burak (see 
the genealogy on p. 166, ante). 

(22) The action denoted by the word tarikutu is described as making marks on the ground with 
a stick or switch (or with the finger) while one is sitting plunged in thought ; Lane compares it to 
the action of Jesus as related in St. John viii. 6 and 8. The words added in the translation ('may 
not this be one ? ') are an attempt to interpret the verse in its connexion with the rest of the poem ; 
but the suggestion is not offered with any confidence. 


(23) ' The crown of the House of Muharriq ', i. e. the kings of al-Hirah : Janab has prospered by 
his treachery, and gone away rejoicing as though he were a king. This conclusion is evidently 
inconsistent with the story told of the part of 'Ami- b. Janab in the relations between the ' Princess ' 
Fatimah and Muraqqish. 



THIS short piece again celebrates the Daughter of 'Ajlan. Its unusual metre, so little 
known that the text handed down by tradition is often metrically imperfect (see the notes to 
the Arabic text), like the similar phenomenon in the case of the Elder Muraqqish (No. LIV), 
suggests antiquity. The deserted dwelling-places (vv. 1-4), reminiscences of the Beloved 
(vv. 5-8), visits of her wraith by night while her lover lies wakeful watching the stars 
(vv. 9-12), are all in the ordinary style of love-poetry. Vv. 14-15 are addressed to some male 
questioner of the poet's conduct ; and vv. 16-20 have some reflections on the vicissitudes of 

(1) In al-Jaww there are traces of Bint 'Ajlan that have not vanished, though 
the time was long ago 

(2) Of Bint 'Ajlan, what time we abode there together : and where do things 
ever remain the same ? 

(3) Desolate are they now : time was when therein were the lords of many 
hundreds of camels. 

(4) They have perished, and I remain after them, seeming to myself one that 
abides and shall not pass away. 

(5) O Bint 'Ajlan, how patient am I under troubles that cut me like the 
cutting of an adze ! 

(6) Her mouth, methinks, is like potent wine, that bubbles forth from the jar, 
while the cup runs over. 

(7) She has, every evening, a censer [to incense her] full of sweet aloes, and 
hot water [to bathe in]. 

(8) She is not one that has to rise in the night to light the fire, nor is she 
aroused to prepare the food : unskilled [in household work], she sleeps as long as 
she likes. 

(9) To-night the lightning has wearied my eyes with watching it as I lay awake, 
and no comrade has helped me to bear its burden. 

(10) Who shall aid me against a phantom that weighs upon me as an incubus 
in the early night, that makes anxiety cleave to me as an innermost garment, so 
that my heart is sick ? 


(11) Many the wakeful night I have passed through, which anxieties brought 
back again and again upon mine eyes : 

(12) I did not close mine eyelids throughout its length until it was ended : 
I watched its stars long after the care-free had fallen asleep. 

(13) Thou weepest over Fortune, and Fortune it is that has made thee weep ; 
and thy tears stream like a worn-out water-skin full of holes. 


(14) God grant thee long life ! dost thou know, when thou blamest me for 
loving her, what it is thou art blaming ? 

(15) Thou vexest a friend, and thou engenderest suspicion : thou hast one 
arrow in thy keeping, and another thou hidest away in the quiver. 

(16) How many a master of abundance have I seen, on whose possessions 
tyrannous Fortune has laid her hands ! 

(17) How many a man, strong in his defence, lord of power, bears in his body 
the scars of the wounds she has dealt him ! 

(18) While one is in prosperity, lo! it is gone, and to another misery is 
changed to prosperity ! 

(19) One man is starting on a journey to an end far distant, when lo! he 
ungirds his saddle and stays where he is : another, abiding, has to hasten away. 

(20) A man has a Destroyer to bring him to destruction, Bint 'Ajlan, from 
the falling of the decrees of fate. 


(3) ' Hundreds of camels ', al-hujum, plural of hajmah, meaning a troop of not less than a hundred : 
see ante, No. XIV, note to v. 1. 

(6) ' Potent wine ', 'wqaran qarqafan, lit., wine that causes the drinker to tremble as he drinks it. 

(7 and 8) These verses show that the woman addressed is high-born, accustomed to luxury, and 
one that does no menial work : they are therefore entirely opposed to the story of Muraqqish's 
amours with the Princess Fatimah, in which Bint 'Ajlan figures as the go-between and is a maid- 
servant. The poets often speak of well-born women sleeping far into the day : see ante, No. XVI, 
note to v. 58. 

(11) ' Brought back again and again ', Jcarrarat-ha : the long wakeful hours seem to return again 
with the full burden of the night when the sufferer thinks that it is on the point of departure : see 
Imra' al-Qais, Mu'all. 44-8 for a splendid passage expressing the same thought. 

(12) The word salim in this verse is taken by the commentator to mean ' one bitten by a serpent ', 
which is one of its senses (by way of euphemism, tafa'ul) ; but it seems best to take it in its direct 
meaning of ' free from care, with a mind at peace ', which is how Marzuqi understands it. 

(13) The poet here changes the person and addresses himself: probably a lacuna follows. In 
v. 14 the person addressed is some gainsayer. 

(15) The scholiasts differ as to the meaning of sahman ma tashim. Generally the verb shama 
is said to have opposite significations 'to draw forth ', and ' to sheathe' (a sword) : so in iheAddad 
of al-Asma"l, Abu Hatim, Ibn as-Sikklt, and Ibn al-Anbarl ; but the only evidence of the first meaning 
1101.1 c 


is a verse ascribed to al-Farazdaq (LA, Aba Hatim), which is not to be found in his Diwun or m the 
Naqaift, and this meaning has been doubted by good authorities. I have therefore preferred to take 
it in the second sense, which is well vouched for : it is so used in Abn-Bakr's speech about Khalid 
cited post, p. 206. 



THE two verses that follow are ascribed by some to the Elder Muraqqish : see Arabic text, 
p. 485 3 > *. They relate to the slaying by the men of Taghlib of Tha'labah son of 'Auf (called 
ul-Khushdm, ' the Big-nosed ', as well as al-Burak), uncle of Muraqqish the elder : see the 
genealogical table on p. 166, ante. This Tha'labah is the subject of lamentation in No. LIV, 
vv. 7 ff. 

(1) I slew in requital for Tha'labah son of al-Khusham 'Arnr son of 'Auf; and 
an end was thus put to distress of mind : 

(2) Blood for blood wiped out were the wounds ; and those who had gained 
a start in the race profited not by their advantage. 



THIS short fragment, in the Khafif metre (of which the only other example in our whole 
Collection is No. XLVIII, by the Elder Muraqqisfi), is in praise of the generous spending of 
one's means the cardinal virtue of the Arab. 

(1) My neighbour gave me notice of her early departure : in the morning she 
disclosed to me the heavy matter ! 

(2) She resolved on parting as soon as she saw that I squander my possessions 
so that my guest blame me not. 

(3) Stay yet a space! what causes thee disquiet in me is nought but an 
inheritance of glory and the active striving of a noble heart. 

(4) Greatly do I marvel at him who piles together riches, while the guile of 
Time is full of disasters ; 

(5) It destroys him against whom it directs its attack, whether he be in misery 
or in kingship like Paradise, ample and rich. 

(6) Live then a fair life thy provision will come ! carefulness will not avert 
so much as a thread of destiny. 


(1) ' Neighbour ', jarah : this word, used of women, often means wife or mistress : either of 
these may be its signification here. The Arab wife enjoyed much freedom in respect of divorce, if 
she fell out with her husband : see the situation depicted in 'Abld, Dnnm xi and xiii. She is often 
introduced as objecting to her husband's lavish generosity. 


(2) 'Guest', dakliil: any one who casts himself on the protection or hospitality of another. The 
word survives with all its ancient implications in the modern language of the Desert : see Doughty, 
index to Arabia Deserta. 

(3) The translation follows the reading of Abu Ja'far, jidd, instead ofjadd, that of Aba 'Ikrlmah. 

(5) Prof. Bevan suggests that yudl'u in this verse refers to the miser, and that it means that 
' he is careless of the goal towards which he is journeying, whether poverty or riches ' ; but this 
could scarcely be said of the miser, and the verse seems to be better taken as referring to Fortune 
or Time, as in my rendering. 

(6) ' A thread of destiny ', fatil, literally, ' the thin pellicle which fills the cleft of the date-stone ', 
used to express the most insignificant thing. 


THE poet in these verses celebrates the victory achieved by his tribe, one of the Ribab, in 
conjunction with divisions of Tamlm, over the united forces of Madhhij in the second battle of 
al-Kulab : see ante, Nos. XXX and XXXII. The author was not himself present at the battle. 
There are two pieces by him in the Hamdsah, pp. 284 and 639, the latter of which is rendered 
in my Translations, p. 3. The battle here mentioned was probably fought in A. D. 611 or 612 : 
the poet was then a pagan, but may have become a Muslim later in life. Little is recorded 
about him. 

(1) May all that I have amassed of substance be a sacrifice for my people, when 
War wraps together tribes with tribes ! 

(2) What time Madhhij were told of us and falsely were they told ! that no 
defender would stand forth to protect our honour. 

(3) Our war-mill whirled but a little : then there fell on our foes a crushing 
blow wherefrom the great owls screech without ceasing. 

(4) Day-long the hyaenas of Mujairat visit them as they lie, and they give them 
to eat of their flesh what a feasting ! 

(5) They advanced towards us with their heads uplifted high in air, and we 
had prepared for them a Day that seemed as though it were days : 

(6) So that Hudhunnah we left not a single hyaena there who had not for 
herself a carcase, the mangled remnants of a mighty chief. 

(7) All day long [War] crushed down the Sons of Ka'b with her breast, and 
the Day of the Sons of Nahd bethought itself of turning to darkness. 


(1) For the 'sacrifice' see ante, notes to No. I, 2, and XXXII, 1. 'To wrap together tribes with 
tribes ' is a phrase for bringing them into violent conflict, like our colloquial ' to knock their heads 
together '. 

(3) For the war-mill see ante, No. XXXVIII, note to v. 33. For the screeching of the owls see 
No. XXXI, note to v. 3. The great (or old) owls screech for great men slain for whom no vengeance 
is taken. 



(5) ' With their heads uplifted high ', sidun ru'fisuhum ; the word ?ld is explained ante, No. XLIII, 
note to v. 13. The word 'Day', yaum, has in Arabic several significations: first, the natural day; 
second, a day of battle, or any battle whether it lasts one day or more ; and third, the fortune of 
a man. In this verse the first ' Day ' means battle-day : the ' days ' are the spaces of time so called : 
the battle of al-Kulab lasted for two days. The third meaning occurs in v. 7 further on 'the Day 
of the Sons of Nahd '. 

(6) Hudhunnah, the name of a place, one of the stages by which the host of Madhhij advanced 
to attack Tamlm and the Kibab, and through which, after the rout, the beaten fugitives fled 
homewards : see ante, No. XXXII, v. 4. 

(7) The Sons of Ka'b are the Banu-1-Harith b. Ka'b of Najran, the tribe of 'Abd-Yaghath (ante, 
No. XXX). For the ellipse of War (always feminine in Arabic) see ante, No. XX, note to v. 30, and 
XXXV, note to v. 19. Daus usually means to trample with the feet : but here War is depicted as 
pressing down its victims with its breast, bi-JcalkaliM, as a couching camel. 

For Nahd see ante, No. XXXII, note to v. 9. 




FOR the poet's tribe see ante, No. XXVIII, introduction : that he belonged to a branch of 
the 'Abd al-Qais is the statement of Abu 'Ubaidah ; al-Asma'I, on the other hand, asserts that 
he was a man of Shaiban, a division of Bakr b. Wa'il, settled as a confederate (hallf) among 
the 'Abd al-Qais He is also known as the Son of Umm Haznah. I have not been able to 
ascertain anything about his life or date. There is another poem by him in our Collection, 
No. LXXIV. The poem before us is well-known and frequently quoted, especially v. 4, and 
has the evident stamp of the pre-islamic time. It was handed down by Hammad (ante, No. XX, 
introduction) and al-Asma'i, and has a number of various readings which testify to its antiquity. 

It describes the poet's preparation for an encounter with some enemy whose name is not 
mentioned, and the actual fight, in which Tha'labah inflicts on his flying foe a severe wound 
from behind. He does not know whether or not it is mortal ; but if the enemy survives, the 
nature of the wound in the back will cover him with shame whenever he meets his 

(1) Asma! askest thou not after thy father? and the tribe in sooth grave 
matters have happened among them. 

(2) Verily ' Arlb, although he vexed me, is the dearest of friends and the nearest 
of kin ; 

(3) I will make of myself a shield for him against evil, a man bristling with 
weapons, valiant, skilled. 


(4) The colt of thy father has perished for want of the training-food ; no share 
has he had in the diet, 

(5) Save only that they, when they watered their camels, would give him to 
drink a bowl of thin milk with a bucket of water poured thereon. 

(6) Now [ as thou seest ] are his eyes sunken in, and there are deep hollows 
in his crupper and about the bones of his rump. 

(7) Then I prepared 'Ajla for excellent training there was no need for a 
skilled man to feel about her bowels. 

(8) Thy brother and mine in the valley of an-Nusair there was not beside us 
any man of Ma'add. 

(9) Then he swore by God that he would not fall short, and I swore that, if 
I reached him, he should not return. 

(10) Then he advanced towards me with a show of boldness : but when he 
drew near, his lying [soul] told him truth for once : 

(11) He turned his mare with his left hand to flee but shall her utmost 
speed deliver thee, then ? 

(12) I followed him up with a spear-thrust that made a wide gash, from which 
the blood rushed in a stream over his back : 

(13) And if it slew him, I did not fall short therein : or if he escapes, it was 
at least a gaping wound. 

(14) And if he meets me thereafter, he will meet me with a garment of 
shame upon him, ever renewed. 


(3) The ' man bristling with weapons ' is the poet himself : the preposition is the explicative 
M (ante, No. XLII, note to v. 13). 

(4) This verse is very often quoted as an example of the ellipse of tark, ' want of '. The training 
food is a course of milk. The poet says that his colt got only an insufficient allowance of diluted 
milk, mixed with an excessive quantity of water, and became lean and weak in consequence. 

(7) 'Ajla, the name of a mare or filly, which he put forward for training in place of the colt of 
v. 4 ff. The second hemistich means either that there was no bodily defect in her, or, more probably, 
that no horse-doctor had had to feel her belly to ascertain whether she was pregnant or not. War- 
mares are always described as barren. 

(9) ' Eeturn ', i. e., should not return home in safety. 

(12) The text has al-ivajhi in the second hemistich, which makes no sense: we must read with 
al-Asma'l al-matni (so my rendering), or as-sadri as in another version. 



FOR the poet see ante, No. XXV. This short piece consists of three fragments (1) vv. 1-3, 
the opening verses of a qasidah, describing the nightly visit of the phantom of the Beloved to 
the encampment of the party of which the poet was one : (2) vv. 4-6, some verses from that 
part of the ode celebrating the author's exploits as a feaster and a hunter : and (3) vv. 7-10, 
some verses in praise of his tribe. 

The rendering imitates the measure of the original (Kamil). 

(1) Darkling the wraith came flitting by what a wonder-night! 

and it glided on to where lay our saddles, but would not stay. 

(2) How didst thou find to our camp the path? never strong afoot 

wast thou, and we through Sagsag's ridges had pushed our way, 

(3) And our train was slow at the journey's end, and their beasts were spent, 

save one swift-foot for the women's litter was set apart. 

(4) Full many cups have I quaffed of wine when the feast was spread : 

full many deer have I frighted, riding a long-backed steed: 

(5) White they as pearls in the valley-bend, and my horse a hawk 

driving before him a pack of doves to the box-thorn bush 

(6) As a hawk that hunts with his talons, deft on the wing to strike : 

when he clutches once in his swoop a dove, she moves no more ! 

(7) Yea and if thou ask they will tell thee how when the host falls back, 

and the coward bears in his face the sign of his shrinking heart, 

(8) Our swords rain down on their heads a torrent of shattering blows, 

as the hail-storm batters the leather tent stretched taut with ropes. 

(9) And when afternoon brings home the camels in winter days, 

tripping short steps as they hurry in to the wattled booth, 
(10) Thou shalt find our cheer for the guest the best that the tribes can show : 
if milk there be not, we sit down straight to the arrow-game. 


(1) 'What a wonder-night !', a paraphrase of la ka-lailati tnudUji, which means literally 'never 
was there a night like that of [this] night-traveller ! '. ' Would not stay ', lam yata'arraji : there is 
a v. I. lam yata'aivwaji, ' it turned not to right or left, but went straight to its end '. 


(2) Sagsag : in so writing the name, instead of the spelling as-Sajsaj, I have preferred the older 
and Yamanite pronunciation for metrical reasons. This Sajsaj seems to have been approached by 
a journey over rocky ridges, mitan: the only Sajsaj known to the geographers was a well in the flat 
plain between Mecca and Medina called ar-Kauha. As the poet's tribe were settled in Babylonia or 
lower 'Iraq, the name here must be of a different place. The poet dwells on the difficulty of the way 
and the length of the journey (v. 3), and asks how a tender woman could have accomplished it afoot 
(cf. No. I, 1, 2). 

(4) The energetic expression qarra'tuha is difficult to render 'I have thrust, or struck, one 
draught of wine on the top of another.' The ' deer ' in the second hemistich are the dliibu, antelope, 
white oryxes or gazelles. 

(5) ' Box-thorn ', 'ausaj, a species of Lycium : the doves take to the thorny thickets for shelter 
against the hawk. 

(7, 8) These verses seem to be incomplete in the Arabic : the phrase la'in sa'alti has no proper 
apodosis, and there must be a lacuna after it. 

(9) The time described is the season of cold and famine, when the camels return early from the 
dry pasture because there is nothing there for them to eat, to take shelter in the enclosure surrounded 
with wattled walls, kantfal-'arfaji, to protect them from the bitter wind. 'Arfaj is a shrub with soft 
pliant withies like a willow, and is also mentioned as a brushwood that flames up quickly and soon 
burns out. At this season the camels are naturally short of milk. 

(10) The word for ' tribe ', 'imarah, is one that connotes size and power. The second hemistich 
refers to the game of Maisir, the slaughtered camel or camels that form the subject of the game 
being used to entertain the guests. The poet probably describes the entertainment in this way, 
rather than as the hospitality of some leading chief, in order to indicate that there are many who 
take part in it and bear the cost (for Maisir see ante, No. IX, introduction, X, note to v. 15, and 
No. XXX, note to v. 20). The word mudmaj for the gaming-arrow indicates that the stem is well- 
rounded, smooth and compact. 


THE poet was a man who lived under Islam. Ibn Qutaibah makes him and his brother 
Ka'b contemporaries of Yazid I (reigned A. H. 60--64 = A. D. 680-683). He seems to have been 
a Muslim, since the anecdote at Shi'r 411 clearly shows that his brother was one. For what 
reason he satirized his tribe we do not know. Ibn Qutaibah says that he afterwards repented 
of having done so, and cites the verses in which he deplored that it was impossible to 
recall the injurious lines, after they had been picked up by reciters and carried about every- 
where ; the second of these verses has the same proverbial phrase about milk and the udder 
as is found in v. 12 of No. XXXVII, ante. 

(1) May God fix in the two tribes of Taghlib daughter of Wa'il claws of vileness 
that shall be slow to relax their grip ! 

(2) It is not the case that they have not a good strain on the mother's side : 
it is the stallions that have abased them to the dust. 


(3) Thou seest the chaste woman with a bright fair face among them wedded 
to a worn-out old man who has stolen his ancestry, and of him is the child she bears. 

(4) Thou seest her desire nought of stallion's business but from him, what time 
the Jinn and the Ohiils of a land become changed to demons. 

(5) When they journey forth from a place where they are oppressed, one blames 
another for the move, and they send back their deputation [to their oppressor] to 
ask pardon for it ! 


(1) ' The two tribes ' of Taghlib are perhaps that part of it which remained Christian and that 
which accepted Islam (see No. XLI, introduction, and No. XLII, note to v. 21). For ' Taghlib 
daughter of Wa'il ' see ante, No. XLI, note to v. 21. 

(3) ' One who has stolen his ancestry ', akhu sallatin, means one who claims to be the son of a 
father who was not his begetter. The scholion seems to be wrong in its last words : salihilia must 
mean the child of the woman, and cannot be connected with sallah. 

(4) The second hemistich means that the Jinn and the Ghuls of the country have become changed 
into Si'lahs, that is, the most wicked and guileful of demons : when this happens, the condition of 
the land is the worst possible. The poet appears to blame the women of his tribe for cleaving to 
their worthless and worn-out husbands at such a time. 



IN this piece, after a prelude describing a camping-ground deserted many years ago 
(vv. 1-6), a passage follows addressed to two of the poet's enemies containing hostile and 
injurious language (vv. 7-12). No information is given us as to the occasion or the cause 
of quarrel. 

(1) Ah, the abodes of the tribe in al-Baradan ! eight years have passed over 
them since I saw them last ; 

(2) And there remains of them nought but a broken-down trench, and the 
places where the horses were stalled, trodden down and buried in sand, like 
[ruined] wells, 

(3) And handfuls of firewood brought in by the handmaids, which the wind 
and the rain have strewn and scattered all around ; 

(4) Deserted, smooth and bare are the places : even the sand-grouse cannot 
find his way therein ; and all day long two beasts of prey struggle together there : 

(5) The two stir up, of the weaving of the dust upon them, two shirts made of 
a single piece, and clothe themselves therewith. 


(6) And in the highest uplands of the place are wildings, looking like thorough- 
bred she-camels with their younglings following them in the sides of the valley. 


(7) Now who will carry from me this message to lyas and Jandal the brother 
of Tariq ? and words scatter themselves abroad like drops of spray : 

(8) ' Threaten me not, ye twain, with arms ! for verily I have gathered together 
my weapons as a precaution against the spite of Fortune : 

(9) ' I have gathered a spear of Kudainah's store, with a point bright as a 
glowing fire that has no part with smoke. 

(10) ' [I brought them together] in nights when ye were slaves to my kin, in 
Kamman, when the two Harams were smitten with drought, 

(11) ' When they had but a handful of lean camels and a few boys, and when 
ye had not even two flocks of sheep. 

(12) ' Your two grandfathers were slaves of 'Umair son of 'Amir, and your two 
mothers slave-girls born of a singing-girl.' 


(1) Al-Baradan is said by Bakrl to be a place in the 'Hasn of Yarbu' (see ante, No. IX, note to 
v. 6), a locality which does not suit very well the settlements of the poet's tribe in Upper Babylonia : 
but see the suggestion made in the note to v. 8 of No. XLII, ante. 

(2) ' Trench ', nu'y, dug round a tent to keep the rain from flooding the interior. ' The places 
where the horses were stalled ', aivarin, pi. of anyun, the same word as the Heb. onvah, orawoth 
(2 Chron. xxxii. 28, in Aramaic form wrawoth), and the Aramaic urya (Luke ii. 7, 12, 26) [A. V., 
' stall ', ' manger '] : we must imagine, in these encampments in the Desert, little more than a couple 
of pegs and a tethering-rope, with perhaps a tent-cloth or wattled shelter to keep off the wind : the 
trampling of the animal would hollow out the place, and thus give it the semblance of a water-hole, 
rakiyah, that is, a well not cased with brick or stone, but dug in a spot where water is not far from 
the surface : such a well, of course, very soon falls in. Prof. Bevan draws my attention to a passage 
in al-Qutaml's Diwan, xiv. 6, which makes this comparison clear. Al-Qutami and our poet were 
probably contemporaries, and belonged to the same tribe of Taghlib, both being Muslims. 

(4) The sandgrouse, flying by night in search of water, is perplexed there : although the place 
has signs of former occupation, she can find in it no water to drink. The two beasts of prey (probably 
hyaenas) struggle together, one striving to kill and eat the other, because there is there nothing else 
to eat : in their wrestling they get covered with dust, the place being utterly dry. All these things 
are features of drought and famine. 

(9) ' Of Kudainah's store ', a stock-name for a good spear (ante, No. XII, note to v. 16). 

(10) Kamman, said to be a place in the neighbourhood of the cultivated land of Mesopotamia, 
in the territory of Taghlib. 

(11) The word for ' a handful of camels', dhawd, means a number from 3 to 10. 

(12) ' A singing-girl ', qainali: the word may also mean any woman who works with her hands, 
but most usually it means a singer ; the masculine, %ain, generally means a smith. A v. I. is qinnaJi, 
said to mean the slave-girl of a slave. 

uoi.a D d 





THE poet lived before the promulgation of Islam, probably while his tribe was settled in 
'Iraq, but precise indications of time are wanting. He may have been a Christian (see No. XLII, 
introduction). His poetical name Ufnun is of uncertain meaning (LA xvii. 205), and is said 
(as usual) to have been given to him from a verse which he composed, which will be found in 
Khizanah iv. 460. The story told by al-Mufaddal regarding the first of the two pieces 
included in our Collection is that Ufnun had been warned by a diviner (kdhin, the Heb. 
koheri) that he would die in a place called Ilahah. In the course of time Ufnun made a 
journey with a party of his tribe to Damascus (or Syria, ash-Sha'm), and, after doing their 
business there, set out to return. In crossing the desert between Damascus and the Euphrates 
they lost their way, and asked a man whom they met to direct them. ' Go forward ', he said, 
' and when ye come to such and such a place, the road will be plain to you and ye will see 
Ilahah '. Now Ilahah is the name of a low hill in as-Samawah, the steppe between Damascus 
and the Euphrates. When they reached Ilahah, Ufnun's companions dismounted and prepared 
to camp for the night ; but Ufnun refused to get down from his camel, and, still riding her, 
took her to feed on the bushes about the place. While she was browsing on a bush of 'arfaj 
(see No. LXII, note to v. 9), a snake bit her and hung on to her lip. She turned round her 
head and tried to rub it off on her rider's leg, when it bit him also. Thereupon Ufnun said to 
his brother Mu'awiyah ' Dig for me a grave, for I am a dead man ! '. Then he raised his voice 
and recited these verses : 

(1) Alas! nought can I avail Mu'awiyah, go thy way!- 

nor yet the fond women who follow the rede of the soothsayers. 

(2) No profit is there to a man who strives to deceive his soul, 

who wails over Fate and cries: 'Ah, would that my lot were thus!' 

(3) So tread forward : many the ways by which a man's death may come, 

and all thou canst give will not redeem thee a single life. 

(4) Yea, no man there is who knows a shield for his soul from Doom, 

unless it be God himself that stands as his Lord and Shield. 

(5) Ah, sorrow enough, that my kin will journey to-morrow on, 

and I shall be left for aye to lie in Ilahah's ground! 


(1) ' The soothsayers ', al-hawaziya, plural of huzin, identical with the Heb. hozeh, ' seer 
of visions'. (The Lexx. generally give haivazin as pi. of the masc. form, which also has the 
pi. huzat ; but in the Asas it is said to be pi. of haziyah, the fern., and this is confirmed by Naq. 373 6 .) 




THIS poem is very insufficiently glossed in our commentary, and we are told nothing of 
the transaction to which it relates. Some amends for this is found in the Khizanah, iv. 455-60, 
but even there we do not get much light. The situation appears to be that the poet had slain 
some member or members of another tribe, and had asked his own people to help him in 
bearing the blood-price. This, in spite of the great number of camels which they possessed 
(v. 6), they refused to do, and expelled him from the tribe (v. 2). 

There seems to be reason for doubt whether the poem is really by Ufniin or any other 
poet of Taghlib, The names used in it suggest a more southern origin, for Taghlib was settled in 
Mesopotamia, and can have had, before Islam, little or nothing to do with as-Sakun, a tribe 
of Southern al-Yaman or Hadramaut (v. 5), or with 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah (v. 8). The names of 
powerful rulers mentioned in v. 4 are Yamanite, and the places named in v. 6 in describing the 
great herds of camels which the poet's tribe possessed, if Ruhbah is as stated in the territory 
of Sulaim, and if al-'Adan is the same as 'Adan (generally without the article), the modern 
Aden, also strongly suggest the south as the locality of the tribe. 

(1) Carry my message to Hubaib, and drive into the minds of their chiefs, that 
my heart is estranged from them and full of sadness. 

(2) I used, aforetime, to outstrip easily those who raced against them of the 
Sons of Adam, so long as they did not cast away my halter. 

(3) They were foolish in their treatment of me, and I did not control their 
foolishness, until I withdrew myself down to the pasterns and the hair above the 
hinder parts of the hoofs. 

(4) If I had been of the race of 'Ad and of Iram, brought up among them, and 
of Luqman and [Dhu] Jadan, 

(5) They would not have redeemed in place of their brother from a threatening 
danger a man of as-Sakun, and they would not have departed in respect of him 
from the trodden tracks. 

(6) I asked my people [to help me] and their camels had filled full the space 
between Kuhbah of the thickets and al-'Adan 

(7) What time they offered their camels to the Son of Sawwar a splendid 
gift, forsooth, to be thrown away on a folly ! 

(8) How did they requite [the tribe of] 'Amir with evil for their doings, or how 
are they requiting me with evil in return for good ? 

D d2 


(9) Or how profits what a camel that smells a young one, but refuses to yield 
her milk to it, gives, showing affection with the nose, when there is niggardliness 
with the milk ? 


(1) Hubaib was the name of the sub-tribe in Taghlib to which Ufnun belonged. 

(2) The phrase ' Sons of Adam ' for mankind may point to Christianity. The contest figuratively 
spoken of as a race may be a contest of satire, or boasting against another tribe. The second hemistich 
means that the poet's tribe rejected and expelled him, casting his reins on his neck, as with a camel 
that is sent forth to wander in the wilderness. For the phrase and the occasion see ante, No. XLI, 
note to v. 6. 

(3) The second hemistich here seems to mean that the poet retained only the slight remains of 
a connexion with his tribe. The commentary in the KMzunah however thinks that the vagabonds 
(al-aradhil, ' base fellows'), to whom the poet on his expulsion from his tribe resorted for comrade- 
ship, are intended by the pasterns and the hair over the hoof. 

(4) Tor 'Ad see ante, No. IX, note to v. 40. Irani, a name commonly joined with 'Ad, used in 
the Qur'an as the name of the capital of that race. Luqman, a king of 'Ad (No. X, note to v. 36). 
Dhn Jadan, the name of a legendary king of Himyar, whose fortress was called Jadan, his own name 
being 'Alas son of al-Harith. ' If,' says the poet, 'I had been of royal race, then my fellow-tribesmen 
would not have refused to help me, while they helped in place of me another.' 

(5) As-Sakun, the name of a branch of the Yamanite tribe of Kindah : perhaps the person 
intended is the same as the son of Sawwar, spoken of in v. 7 ; or he may be a person slain by another 
of the poet's tribe, for whom the blood-price was paid without objection. 

(6) The poet says that his people had abundance of camels with which in payment of the 
blood-wits due he could have been helped. They are described, of course by hyperbole, as filling 
the space between Aden in the south and ' Kuhbah of the thickets ' in the north ; what is intended 
by this latter name is uncertain : Yaqttt takes it (iii. 753) as the name of a place in the territory of 
the Banu Sulaim, who lived between Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz. Kuhbah (Yaq. ii. 762) is the 
name of a number of different places. 

(7) The word qarrabu suggests the sense of ' offering ', qiirban ; but in the absence of information 
as to the circumstances we cannot be certain what is meant. 

(8) That 'Amir is the name of a tribe or family appears from the plural pronoun in U-fi'lihimu. 
The commentators cited in the Khizanah think that the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah (No. V, introduction) 
was meant ; but we know nothing about the transaction referred to. 

(9) This verse has exercised a multitude of commentators, whose expositions (chiefly of points of 
grammar) occupy three pages in the Khizanah. 'Aluq is a word used for a she-camel that is made to 
incline to a young one not her own, and only smells at it with her nose, but will not yield it milk. 
Here the poet compares to this the action of his tribe, which pays him with empty words, and 
refuses to do him the favour he asks. 



FOR the poet see ante, No. IX. This poem is perhaps the most famous elegy in ancient 
Arabian verse. The story of the slaying of Malik by Khalid son of al-Walid, the great captain 
of the early conquests of Islam, is a theme on which much has been written,* and, after the 
fashion of such themes, it has been embroidered with a multitude of details, often very 
discrepant one from another, and most of which are of a highly doubtful character. Besides 
the anecdotes invented to heighten the colour and life of the story, others have been deliberately 
fabricated to save the reputation of Khalid, to whose sword Islam owed so much : one of these 
is the explanation put forward by Tabari, that the killing of Malik and his companions was 
due to a misunderstanding of an Arabic word used by the Commander.f The following are 
the bare facts. When the Prophet died in the eleventh year of the Hijrah, many of the tribes of 
Arabia who had announced their conversion in the last two years of his life refused, in whole 
or part, any longer to render the taxation which, under the names of sadaqah and zakat, had 
been imposed by him. This secession, known as the Riddah or apostasy, was not everywhere 
the same in degree : in several tribes there were some of the chiefs who were willing to pay the 
tribute of camels, while in most the Arabs professed that they continued to observe the religious 
ordinances of Islam (especially the daily prayers), though unwilling to bear the burden of taxes. 
Some of them were led astray by adventurers who, inspired by the example of Muhammad, set 
up as prophets themselves : such were Tulaihah among the Asad and Ghatafan, the woman 
Sajah, of Taghlib, among the Tamim, and Maslamah among the Hanifah. Abu-Bakr's first 
task, on succeeding to the Caliphate, was to deal with these secessions. In the north his chief 
instrument was Khalid ibn al-Walid, the most famous general of Islam. Malik son of Nuwairah, 
who had been placed by the Prophet at the head of his section of Tamim, called Yarbu', appears 
to have joined in the defection in two ways: first, he plundered a herd of camels which had 

* The tale has been told in French by M. Caussin de Perceval, Essai, iii. 366-70 ; in English 
in De Slane's translation of Ibn Khallikan's Biographies, iii. 648-56 ; and in German by Prof. Noldeke, 
Beitriige zur Kenntniss d. Poesie (I alien Araber, 87-97. See also my Translations, p. 35. The original 
sources are Tabari, ser. i. 1908-1928, reproduced with much additional matter in Agliani xiv. 66-72, 
Aba Kiyash in the Comm. to the Hamasah, 370-72, and the Kitab ar-Riddah of Wathlmah al-Washsha, 
cited in Ibn Khallikan, I. c. Other authorities are secondary, and need not be referred to. 

t The story (Tab., p. 1925 ; Agh., p. 67) is that Malik and his companions having been taken 
captive, and the night becoming very cold, Khalid ordered that the prisoners should be given warm 
clothes to cover them : his words were adfi'ft asraJcum, from the root df. His hearers, however, 
thought that he said adfu, from the root dfiv, meaning ' Despatch your prisoners ', used of finishing 
off a wounded man. The absurdity of this story is clear from the action of the Caliph 'Umar in 
demanding the punishment of Khalid from AbQ-Bakr, and in himself removing him from his 
command when he succeeded to the Caliphate. 


been gathered at Rahrahan, on the outskirts of his territory, representing the levy of taxes on 
the neighbouring population ; and secondly, he adhered to the preaching of Sajah, and actually 
engaged in hostilities on her behalf with branches of Tamim which did not accept her claims. 
Sajah, however, passed on into al-Yamamah, and Malik and his companions soon abandoned 
her cause. Khalid at al-Buzakhah had meanwhile overthrown Tulaihah and his adherents, 
and then defeated the confederacy of Hawazin, and was ready to call Tamim to account. The 
various heads of this tribe thought it was time to come to terms with the victorious general of 
the Caliph. So one by one they sent in their tribute and professed submission. Only Malik 
was left, repenting bitterly of his dallying with Sajah. He warned all members of his tribe 
to disperse to their homes, and remained himself with a few adherents at al-Butah, a place in 
the Hazn of Yarbu' (ante, No. IX, note to v. 6) on the borders of the territory of Asad. Here 
he is said to have observed, with his followers, the regular times of prayer prescribed by the 
Prophet. Khalid sent scouts ahead, among whom was Dirar son of al-Azwar of Asad, an old 
enemy of Malik's, to ascertain how the men of Yarbu' were disposed. There seems to have 
been some fighting, but Malik and his few companions were soon made prisoners. They were 
brought before Khalid, in whose presence Malik professed himself a Muslim. What happened 
next is one of the points in regard to which tradition most differs : but it is certain that Khalid 
ordered Malik to be executed, and that the son of al-Azwar struck the blow which killed him. 
Khalid thereupon treated Malik's wife Laila as a prisoner of war and made her his concubine, 
returning with her and some other captives to Medina. There the news of Malik's death had 
come before his arrival, and 'Umar was greatly shocked at the cold-blooded murder of a man 
who professed himself a Muslim, and especially at the action of Khalid in regard to Laila, and 
urged Abu-Bakr to treat his officer as a criminal and punish him with death, or at any rate to 
remove him from his command. But Abu-Bakr, in his difficult position, was unable to dispense 
with Khalid, and refused, saying, ' I will not sheathe a sword which God hath drawn against 
the infidels '. He ordered Khalid, however, to give up Laila and the other captives he had taken, 
and himself paid the blood-wit for Malik. Two years later, when Abu-Bakr died and 'Umar 
became Caliph, one of the latter 's first acts was to remove Khalid from his command. He 
refused, however, to reopen the decision of Abu-Bakr that he should not be treated criminally 
as the murderer of Malik, in spite of the urgency with which Mutammim pressed his claim. 

Mutammim made a number of elegies upon Malik, but the poem which follows is the first 
and most famous of them. It begins with restraint (v. 1) : the dead is praised in the set terms 
which embody the Beduin's ideal of a gallant man, including good-fellowship over the wine 
(vv. 2-10). Then follows a more poignant strain : Malik will be missed in all his activities, 
and surely his loss is a thing to weep for (vv. 11-14). Especially will he be missed when the 
game of Maisir is played, and the poor are feasted with the flesh of slaughtered camels 
(vv. 15, 16). Then follows the passage in which sorrow finds its most passionate expression : 
everything which the poet sees around him reminds him of the lost one, and his patience breaks 
down (vv. 17-22). He watches the clouds, and prays that plentiful rain may fall and keep 
green Malik's grave (vv. 23-8). 

The next passage (vv. 29-39) may perhaps, for the reasons stated in the note to v. 29, be 
an accretion to the poem from an elegy of older date, upon the men slain at al-Mushaqqar (see 


introduction to No. XXX, ante). Then follow verses (40-44) expressing the overwhelming 
character of the poet's sorrow ; and this concludes the elegy properly so-called. The verses 
which are appended (45-51) set forth the general indignation at the conduct of a fellow- 
tribesman and enemy of Malik, al-Muhill, who left his dead body uncared for. 

The poem as a whole is a striking example of the small extent to which acceptance of 
Islam had modified the ideals of the unconverted Beduin. Yet the pious Caliph 'Umar is said 
to have had the highest admiration for it. 

The rendering imitates the metre (Tatvtt) of the original. 

(1) It is not my wont to chant the praises of one who dies, 

or utter the cry of woe beneath pain that Fortune brings : 

(2) But, sooth, he whom al-Minhal enshrouded as dead he lay 

no glutton at eve was he, a warrior keen of heart! 

(3) No niggard, to whose wife bring the women their offerings, 

what time in the winter wind the tent of stiff leather creaks : 

(4) A wise man, but one whose wisdom hindered not generous hand : 

a pasture of plenty to which in famine the starvelings flocked. 

(5) Thou sawest him, keen as a sword, most eager and quick to give, 

whenas men of dull cold heart spent nothing to stay thy need ; 

(6) And if on a day thy foes beset thee with stifling press, 

if he was thine aid, thy cause was not that which lost the fight ; 

(7) And if mid the roystering band thou earnest on Malik there, 

no foul speech or cross-grained word he uttered, nor stirred up strife ; 

(8) And if on the tribe a raid fell sudden and sharp, 'twas he 

that stood in defence as keen, a glorious chief of men. 

(9) Not he to hold back, what time the cavalry wavered and blenched : 

no weakling in fight, none thrust him aside as of no account. 

(10) Not blunt were his weapons when the enemy met his steel 

in light-equipped ranks on foot, or clad in full panoply. 

(11) Nay, why weep ye not, mine eyes, for Malik, when howls the wind 

and casts down the wattled screen that shelters the cowering herds: 

(12) When drinkers assemble : when the need comes for one to stand 

a champion fit to face the bravest of all our foes : 

(13) When seeking for tents at night the guest makes his camel roar : 

when captives have lain in bonds till shrunken and stiff then- limbs : 

(14) When brings in her need the widow her starveling shag-pate child, 

its head like a bustard's chick with feathers all disarrayed? 


(15) When forth from their bag men brought the arrows, and heaped the fire 

with faggots, 'twas he that bore the charge when the partners failed ; 

(16) And so, when the game went on, not he one to stint the meat, 

or sit by the offal where the butchers cut up the joints. 

(17) Whereso falls my gaze, I see what thrills me, and shatters all 

my patience with Malik gone, an end of all bonds for me! 

(18) I call thee no answer comes ! ah, when did I call before 

upon thee for help, and missed the cheer of thy quick reply? 

(19) Ay, goodly our twinned life! yet before us the stroke of Doom 

has fallen on mighty kings, on Kisra and Himyar's Lord. 

(21) Long fared we like those twain, King Jadhlmah's two boon-fellows, 

so close-knit that none could think that parting would ever come: 

(20) But now are we sundered, and it seems as though Malik's hand, 

for all the long days of love, had ne'er lain a night in mine ! 

(22) And if now between us Fate has set up the wall of Death, 

at least, when my brother went, he carried with him fair fame ! 

(23) I say, while the flashes light the cloud-fringe below the black, 

and down from the dark mass pours the rain in a scattering flood : 

(24) ' May God grant the land where lies the grave of my brother dear 

the blessing of showers at dawn, and cover the ground with green, 

(25) ' And bring to the Twin Dales' torrent water to fill its stream 

shall feed the first sprouting grass, and lift it up lush and strong! 

(26) ' May floods stand about the skirts of Shari', and may the rain 

soak well all the mountain-sides of Dalfa' and Qaryatan ! ' 

(27) It is not because I love the land that I pray this boon, 

but only that rain may quicken the earth where my Darling lies. 

(28) A greeting from me to him, though his body lies far away 

and crumbles to dust, while above the waste stretches void and bare. 

(29) The Daughter of 'Amrites asks ' What ails thee, thou who but now 

wast cheerful and glad of heart, and tossedst thy flowing hair?' 

(30) I answered her : ' Long grieving, the burning of loss within 

what wouldst thou? has left my face dark, stript of all comeliness: 

(31) 'The loss of my mother's sons who trod one the other's steps 

to death: yet I stoop not after them, nor abase myself. 


(36) 'Not I one, when Fortune strikes some new stroke of bitter loss, 

to burden my kinsfolk, humbling myself to beg for their help ; 
(39) ' Nor, if on a day some turn of Fate brings prosperity, 

exult I, nor, when it goes, mourn I or lament the change. 

(32) ' No ! straight do I tread my path and forward press on my way, 

though many there" be who shrink and cower in face of fight. 
(35) 'Yea, though thou canst jest, and I answer lightly, a weight of woe 
has stricken me, well might bring the hardest to melt in tears. 

(33) 'The change which thou seest was wrought by that which destroyed 

my kin- 
together they fell Qais, Malik, 'Amr, on Mushaqqar's Day 

(34) ' And that which destroyed Yazld, my comrade and boon-fellow 

ah, would that with wealth or kin I could buy back his company ! 

(37) 'So prithee, in God's name, stay the burthen of thy reproach, 

and strip not the half-healed skin to torture again my heart. 

(38) ' Enough ! I was present there but nought could I find to do 

whereby with my hands to turn from them the assault of Doom.' 

(40) If that which I suffer had befallen Mutali"s mount 

or Salma's far-spreading base, they surely had crumbled down ! 

(41) And no, not the bitter pain when three foster-camels find 

the place where their nurseling, dragged to ground, was devoured 

by wolves 

(42) They call to the mourner's mind the grief that lies hid within : 

one leads with her cry, then all join voices in wailing loud ; 

(43) The oldest of them stands plaining, triUing her yearning cry : 

her grief makes the whole herd weep, and spreads through the 

couching line 

(44) No greater that than my pain the day that my Malik died, 

and one clear of voice proclaimed our parting for evermore. 

(45) Has nought reached your chief men's ears of the doings of al-Muhill 

a tidings, in sooth, to anger any with heart to feel! 

(46) How evil his joy when death fell sudden on Malik's head, 

how there he stood by, and left uncared-for the thing he saw? 

(47) Thou broughtest thy ragged clout and stuffed camel-cushion home, 

and couldst not spare them for Malik's corse, but didst haste away. 
oi,2 E e 


(48) One day mayst thou have no joy with that which befalls thyself! 

for Death, see, impends o'er all, and most o'er the valiant man. 

(49) Mayhap an Event one day shall draw nigh to thee, a Thing 

shall leave thee with nose cropped, earless, facing the scorn of men. 

(50) Thou toldest us of his death who, had it been thy flesh lay 

before him, had given it rest, whole were it or mangled sore. 

(51) May Malik's decease bring no good luck to the back-biters ! 

Who hated him, safe came home, and left the dead lying there. 


(2) Al-Minhal son of 'Jamah, of Kiyah, a sept of Yarbn', is said to have cast his rida', the wrapper 
or sheet covering the upper part of his body, as a shroud over the corpse of Malik as he lay dead, and 
then to have seen to his burial. ' At eve ', i. e., at supper-time. 

(3) ' Niggard ' : baram, a word generally used of a man who refuses through penuriousness to 
take part in the game of Maisir, but here apparently meaning a stingy person generally, since he 
allows his wife, whom he starves while able to provide for her, to live upon gifts of food from other 
women. The leather tent shows that a person of consequence is intended, //ass is the proper word 
for cold nipping the herbage here stiffening the leather of the tent. 

(4) ' Starveling ', raJcibu-l-jadbi : the word raktb does not here seem to mean that the person 
referred to was mounted only that he was suffering from famine, just as, in the v. I. in the scholion, 
line 11, rakibu-l-jahli means one who gives way to folly. 

(6) This verse may possibly refer to a contest of satire rather than of blows : the verb kadhdha 
means to oppress, stifle, fill one with wrath so that one cannot speak. 

(10) ' In light-equipped ranks on foot ', Msir ; ' clad in full panoply ', muqanna'. The former 
word, generally rendered ' wearing no helmet ', is used for lightly-equipped foot-soldiers : see its 
plural hussar in No. XLI, ante, note to v. 14. Muqanna', on the contrary, means one who wears 
a mail-coat and a helmet with a coif (mighfar) depending over his neck : it is equivalent here to 
mudajjaj, ' heavily-armed '. 

(11) The shelter, Itanif, of wattled screens raised to protect the camels from the wind, is explained 
in the note to No. LXII, v. 9. The time intended is the dearth of winter, caused by drought and 
cold, when camels' milk, the Beduin's staple food, is scarce. 

(13) When a guest seeking harbourage for the night approaches an encampment, he is said to 
make his camel roar, either to discover the way by the answering voices of the beasts there stalled, 
or to give notice of his coming. 

(14) The translation adopts the v. I. rishuliu for ra'suhu. 

(15) The reference is to the gambling with arrows over the joints of a slaughtered camel or 
camels. When partners were wanted to complete the number (seven) required to make up the game, 
Malik was always ready to take upon himself the burden of the additional players required : see 
explanation of the name Mutammim in the introduction to No. IX, ante, and note to No. X, v. 15. 
In the next verse it is said that he did not insist on scrutinizing closely the disposal of the meat of 
the slaughtered camel or camels, which was given to the guests or the poor. 

(17) Literally, 'the memorials [ayat, "signs"] of thee that I see all around make patience 
impossible, and also that I see that, now thou art gone, all bonds are severed for me '. 

(19) Kisra = Khusrau, Chosroes, the Persian Emperor. ' Himyar's Lord ', Tubba' : see ante, 
No. IX, note to v. 41. 


(20) Literally, ' Then, when the parting came, it seemed that I and Malik, for all the long time 
of our converse together, had never been united for one whole night '. 

(21) The two boon-fellows, nadmanai, of King Jadhlmah are characters in old Arabian folk-lore. 
Jadhlmah was, it is said, the first ruler of al-Hirah in 'Iraq, somewhere about the time of Ardashlr 
Babakan (A. D. 226-41), the founder of the Sasanian dynasty. One story says that his two boon- 
fellows were the two stars called al-Farqadani, ft and y of Ursa Minor, which revolve round the Pole, 
and of which it is proverbially said that they can never be separated : that may be the sense here. 
The other story is that the two were Malik and 'Aqll, brothers, of the Bal-Qain, a tribe belonging to 
the group of Quda'ah, who restored to Jadhlmah his nephew 'Amr who had been carried off by the 
Jinn, and were rewarded by being made the king's boon-companions. He afterwards, according to the 
tale, put them to death.* The second explanation is that adopted in the scholion. I have transposed 
vv. 20 and 21, with al-Mubarrad and the Khizanali, as this gives the best sense. 

(23 if.) The Arabs liked the neighbourhood of a grave to be kept green, and their laments 
frequently contain passages like this, invoking rain upon it. 

(25) Al-Wadiyani, 'the Two Valleys', may be a proper name, probably of a place in the 
mountainous region about the skirts of Salma, the southernmost of the ranges of Tayyi'. 

(26) Shari', Dalfa', and Qaryatani, all names of mountains or hills in this region. 

(29) ' The daughter of the 'Amrite ' may perhaps be Mutammim's wife. Malik was famous for 
his abundant and thick hair, and Mutammim was probably like him in this respect. The verses 
which follow, as far as v. 39, seem to refer to the slain of al-Mushaqqar, and to be a portion of 
a lament over them which has by some accident been incorporated in this poem : the dead mentioned 
in it are not one, but many : see vv. 31, 33, 34, 38. For the catastrophe of al-Mushaqqar see ante, 
introduction to No. XXX : it took place some twenty years before the death of Malik. The verses 
contemplate (v. 32) conflict and wars to come, as actually happened : whereas after Malik's death the 
apostasy of the Beduin tribes ceased, and they were united in the conquering armies of Islam. In 
this section of the poem I have, for the reasons stated in the note to p. 539, vol. I, adopted the order 
of MarzQql's text in preference to that of al-Anban's, which stands alone in its dislocations. 

(31) 'Trod one the other's steps', tada'au, a finely-descriptive word literally, 'called one to 
the other [to follow] '. 

(33) In the second hemistich a name, Jaz', has had to be omitted in the English : Qais, Malik, 
'Amr, and Jaz' are all said in the verse to have fallen together at al-Mushaqqar. Yet our scholion 
says that they were members of the tribe killed at Uwarah, the site of a massacre of the Tamlm 
perpetrated by King 'Amr b. Hind of al-Hirah, who died (see ante, No. XLII, introduction) in A. D. 569, 
probably long before our Malik and Mutammim were born ! This does not prevent the commentator 
from saying (line 7) that the Malik mentioned was the poet's brother. The word 'alma'a at the end 
of this verse has perplexed the grammarians, as will be seen from the scholion and the notes at the 
foot of the page : I have taken it as explained by Aba 'Amr b. al-'Ala, al-Kisa'l, and Khalid b. 

(34) Yazld is said to have been the poet's cousin, ibnu 'amm : apparently he fell on some other 

(35) The words ' and I answer lightly ' are an addition to the text, but are demanded by the 
reciprocal sense of the verb Mzaltini, implying that the woman jested with him, and he with her. 
My rendering adopts as preferable the v. 1. al-jallda for al-hazlna. 

(37) 'Prithee, in God's name' is intended to render the adjuration qa'idaki : the Qa'td, 'sitter-by', 
' watcher', ' keeper ', is explained in the Lexx. (see Lane, s. v.) as meaning God. 

(38) The commentary explains that the poet says that he was present at Malik's death, but could 

* For this story see Aghanl xiv. 72-3. 
EC 2 


not oppose the Amir, Khalid b. al-Walld, by whose order he was slain. It is however quite evident 
that this verse, with its plural pronoun 'anhum, refers to the slain men mentioned in vv. 33 and 34, 
who fell at al-Mushaqqar ; it is also pretty certain that Mutammim was not present at Malik's 
killing : in v. 50 he speaks of the news of the bloody deed being brought to the encampment where 
he was by al-Muhill ; and in v. 2 al-Minhal is said to have shrouded Malik's corpse with his mantle, 
which Mutammim himself would surely have done had he been present. V. 44 also implies his 
absence from the scene. 

(40) Mutali' is the name of a mountain in al-Bahrain or al-Ahsa (ante, note to No. LV, v. 19). 
For Salma see above, note to v. 25. 

(41-3) A very characteristic picture drawn from nomad life : when a camel-calf has lost its 
mother, it is made over to the charge of two or three old she-camels, whose milk has become scanty, 
to suckle. The fostering of the calf produces strong affection between them and their nurseling, and 
their grief at its loss is often used as a comparison for human emotion : see for instance the Mu'all. 
of 'Amr b. Kulthtlm, v. 17, and Duraid b. as-Simmah in the Hamasah, 379 5 . In v. 43 the word bark 
is said in the commentary to mean a thousand camels, but probably it means only the whole company 
of couching beasts belonging to the encampment, whatever their number : so in Tarafah, Mu'all,, 87. 

(44) For basirun in our text ('clear of sight') my rendering adopts the v. I. saml'un, 'one who 
makes his voice heard '. 

(45) This al-Muhill, represented in the poem as a fellow-tribesman and enemy of Malik, who was 
present at his execution, but did not, like al-Minhal (v. 2), cover his dead body decently with his rida, 
belonged to a house in Yarbu' called the Band Tha'labah, and is said to have been the ancestor of 
a family who were celebrated for treating hydrophobia produced by dog-bite (Jcalab). 

(47) The passage from this verse to v. 50 is addressed to al-Muhill. The contemptuous term 
hidm, ' rag, clout ', is applied to the wrapper which al-Muhill wore and did not use, like al-Minhal, to 
veil Malik's body. Sawiyah is a cloth stuffed with grass which is put in a ring round the camel's 
hump to prevent galling by the saddle-frame : it is also called hawlyah. Perhaps the poet implies 
that this should have been used as a pillow to lay out Malik's body for burial. Bodies were buried 
in the grave with a pillow beneath their heads : see 'Abld, Dnv. xxiv. 17 : 'Amir, Dlw. xxix. 5. 

(48) 'The valiant man', man tashajja'a, used sarcastically 'one who gives himself out for 
valiant '. 

(49) Ajda' means either ' with nose cut off ', or ' with the ears cropped ' : the rendering takes 
a liberty with the text in inserting both meanings. 

(50) In the first hemistich the emphasis (both for sense and metre) is on ' his ' and ' thy '. The 
v. I. tarakta, ' thou didst leave ', for na'aita, ' thou didst announce the death of ', is good. 




A PORTION of another elegy by Mutammim upon Malik : see the introduction to the piece 
next preceding. 

(1) I lay awake, while those free from care slept ; and there stirred up with 
the coming-on of night a painful grief in my heart ; 

(2) And the thought of Malik wakened again my sorrow, and I slept not but 
with a disturbed heart. 

(3) Time after time, when I restrained my tears, they refused to be held back, 
but gushed forth, tears upon tears, 

(4) Like the overflowing of a great water-bag between the side-pieces that 
confine the pulley, the water of which irrigates the small channels, and the crops 
[drink it in] 

(5) A water-bag with patches [over the loops] lately sewn on, with its leather 
full of holes, kept off from the side of the well-shaft by a protuberance in the barrel 
of the shallow well 

(6) At the remembrance of a loved one which holds me when a good portion 
of the night is gone, and already is near the coming-forth of the late-rising stars. 

(7) When mine eyes are dried of their tears, memory of him is revived in me 
by the doves that call to one another, alighting on the branches over my head : 

(8) They call on their youngling lost, and I am plunged into grief for Malik, 
and in my breast is a heart cloven with anguish at the thought of him : 

(9) It seems as though I had never sat by his side, never seen him by me of 
a night, never found him there when the morning dawned ! 

(10) A man he who never lived a day under reproach, and never ceased to 
have about him encampments of those who sought his bounty ; 

(11) A following he always had, for men knew that to those who drew nigh 
to him he was like the showers of summer and spring 

(12) When the milch-camels of the tribe come home at night famine-stricken, 
driven in by a north-wind that wrinkles the faces and blackens the skin. 

(13) When one who had on him the burden of guilt made for the tent of 
Malik, there stood surety for him a protector high-nosed, a stout defender. 


(14) By my life ! goodly was the man when a guest arrived in the late darkness, 
when there had sped of the longest winter's night something less than a half, 

(15) Ready to give freely all that he had in his possession, no niggard, what 
time hunger bared to day the white-skinned women that thrill men's hearts with 
their beauty, 

(16) What time the Sun in the heaven, in the droughty air, looked like a 
yellow [disc] with streaks of saffron drawn across it. 


(4) It is remarkable what discrepancies there are among commentators as to the names of the 
various parts of the well-gear. Here qamah is variously explained as meaning (1) the pulley round 
which the well-rope works, and (2) the cross-piece of wood on which the pulley is supported, with 
two pieces of wood at right angles to it to keep the pulley in its place, called the aqrun or ' horns '. 
Later, in No. XCVI, v. 5, we shall find still more confusion in the explanations. Similarly, the 
word aqrun, ' horns ', is explained both (1) as above, the side-pieces confining the pulley, and (2) as 
the pillars of masonry on either side of the well supporting the wooden cross-piece to which is fixed 
the pulley. 

(5) The patches have been lately sewn on to the water-bag, and have not yet had time to swell, 
so that the holes made for the stitches may close up. The idea conveyed by making the shaft of the 
well crooked appears to be that the protuberance in its barrel serves to keep the water-bag out in 
the midst of it, away from the sides, so that the water may drip freely, instead of running back down 
the well-side without making any noise. 

(6) ' The late-rising stars ', tali-n-nujum, is also explained as meaning ' the follower of the stars ', 
I, e., either the Sun or the morning star ; but this is inconsistent with the word had' in the first 
hemistich, which implies that only the first third of the night had passed. My rendering agrees 
with Naq. 992", and Mbd, Kam. 382". 

(8) Our commentary interprets hadil as the male dove ; but the verse in 'Abld, Dlw. xix. 6, seems 
to show clearly that it should be taken to mean the young bird, as yet scarcely fledged. 

(9) Qf. No. LXVII, v. 20. 

(12) Safu', as an epithet of the north-wind, may be taken either as meaning ' blackening the 
faces by its nipping cold ', or as referring to the sharp slap or buffet with which the gusts of the 
wind strike upon the face. 

(13) AbQ 'Ikrimah, Marzuql, and the Krenkow MS. all end the poem with this verse, and read 
idha ma-(J-daifu holla bi-Malikin, ' when the guest alights at Malik's tent '. I have preferred the v. I. 
idha-l-jani ta'ammada MaliJcan, (I) because the following verses sufficiently deal with the ordinary 
guest, and (2) because the words tadammanahu and mani in the second hemistich imply that a special 
kind of protection is required : the arrival had upon him some guilt for which Malik had to stand 
surety, and was in danger of some vengeance against which he had to defend him. The word 
ashamm, ' high-nosed ', is used also in a metaphorical sense : ' disdainful of mean things ', ' high- 
minded '. 

(14) There are a great many words (see the scholion) for portions of a night. Haz'i is said to 
mean somewhat less than a half. The layuli-t-timam are explained in the scholion as the thirteen 
nights before and the thirteen after Christmas Day (al-Mllad), being the longest in the year : but the 
Lexx. disagree considerably with this : see Lane, s. v. 

(15) Rahl here seems to have the sense of ' abode, habitation ', rather than ' saddle or saddle- 
bags '. Hur may be, as I have taken it, pi. of haura in the sense of white-skinned, or of the same 


word in the sense of having intensely black eyes, like those of gazelles and antelopes. I have 
preferred the former, because the protected and veiled woman of high descent, whose exposure to 
the daylight is caused by famine, may be supposed to be fair of skin (see V.'s commentary cited 
in the note). 

(16) ffuss, to the colour of which the disc of the Sun, seen through the haze of dust and heat, is 
compared, is said to be the same as the dye called tears, which, according to Watt, Diet, of the 
Economic Products of India, iii. 400 ff., is the produce of a shrub growing in the Yaman and the 
opposite region of Africa belonging to the Flemingias, probably F. rhodocarpa, or F. congesta : the 
pods are covered with a resinous powder which yields a yellow or reddish dye. (Wars has often 
before been referred to Mallotus philippinensis [formerly Eottlera lincloria], yielding the kamela or 
Tcarmla dye of India : so in Encycl. Britann., llth edn., s. v. Kamala ; but the Kew investigations 
cited by Sir G. Watt seem to put the matter beyond dispute.) The word huss occurs in v. 2 of the 
Mu'all. of 'Amr b. Kulthum, for the colour of wine mingled with water. 


THE poetess bewails Yazld son of 'Abdallah son of 'Amr, chief of the Banu Hanifah. This 
may possibly be the Yazid son of 'Amr, belonging to the family of the Banu Qurran, who took 
prisoner 'Amr b. Kulthum as related in Aghanl ix. 172-3, and was praised by him in a poem 
for his chivalrous treatment of him. I have not been able to ascertain when he died. The 
piece occurs in the small collection of elegies attributed by Tha'lab to Ibn al-A'rabi, printed by 
Dr. Wright in his Opuscula Arabica, 1859. 

The function of composing dirges on the dead was in ancient Arabia very largely exercised 
by women, and some of the finest elegies are of their composition. Indeed it may be said that 
the great bulk of the poems composed by women consists of lamentations for the dead. The 
official mourners at funerals were always women. 

(1) Ah, dead is the Son of Qurran, the praised of men, the man of mighty 
deeds, the father of 'Amr, Yazld ! 

(2) Ah, dead is a man many men die and none misses them, but woefully 
missed is he ! 

(3) Ah, dead is a man whose camels were ever tethered before his tent in all 
circumstances, a free spender, a helpful friend ! 

(4) Ah, dead is a man by reason of whose death [women like] wild kine, in the 
skirts of 'Unaizah, are awake through sorrow ! 

(5) They heard of his decease, and they spent the day in mourning, standing 
opposite one another, and perfumes were no longer lawful to them. 


(3) The implication in the words halibasu malin, ' a great tyer-up of camels ', is that the dead man 
kept his camels always tethered at hand, in readiness to slaughter them to entertain a guest, to pay 
them out in aid of a blood-wit, or to be saddled and used to ride forth on an expedition. 


(4) For the use of the word for wild kine (Oryx Beatrix) in the sense of women, without any 
particle of comparison, cf. ante, No. XLVI, v. 4. For 'Unaizah see No. XXXVI, note to v. 17. Hujud 
is one of those words which have contrary significations, for it means both awake and asleep here 
evidently the former. 

(5) See the note at foot of page 551 in the original. I have, as there suggested, taken 'fid as 
meaning perfume of aloes-wood. This (which of course has nothing to do with the medicinal aloes, 
the juice of Aloe socotrina or other species) is a sweet-scented wood imported from India, the tree 
being Aquilaria agallocha, a native of the moist forests of trans-Gangetic India : the wood is used for 
fumigating, being burned in a censer, mibkharah. 



THE poet belonged to the illustrious house of Sa'd b. Malik, the family of the two men who 
bore the name of Muraqqish, and of the poets 'Amr b. Qami'ah and Tarafah. Maimun al-A'sha, 
the greatest of the poets who were contemporaries of Muhammad, was also his kinsman : see the 
genealogical tree in the introduction to No. XLV, ante. Very little regarding him is to be 
gathered from the usual sources. In Aghani viii. 79, it is said that he was a contemporary of 
an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, the last Lakhmite king of al-Hlrah, from whom he fled to al-Yamamah, 
the headquarters of his tribe, with two singing-girls, Khulaidah and Hurairah, the latter of 
whom is the woman celebrated by al-A'sha in his Mu'allaqah. Reference is made in the 
commentary to the f[amasah (p. 67) to his death at the hands of a man of Asad at a place in 
the territory of that tribe called Qulab (Yaqut iv. 155). He therefore belonged to the latter 
part of the sixth century A. D., and may have lived into the seventh ; but he was certainly a 
poet of the Ignorance. 

The fragment before us is not easy to interpret. We have little material illustrating 
the relations between Bakr (to which the tribe of Qais b. Tha'labah belonged) and 
Taghlib after the death of 'Amr b. Hind (ante, No. XLII, note to v. 26). The notice of 
'Amr b. Kulthum in the Aghanl, however, mentions (ix. 183) a raid by him on the tribe of 
Qais b. Tha'labah, when he took some booty and prisoners. The raid ended in an attack on 
the Banu Hanlfah, in which the men of Taghlib were worsted, 'Amr himself taken prisoner, 
and the captives and spoil recovered, by Yazld son of 'Amr, chief of Hanifah. If this is the 
Yazld whose death is the subject of No. LXIX, and if the present poem relates to the attack of 
'Amr b. Kulthum upon the tribe of Qais b. Tha'labah, and was composed either before or after 
Yazid's victory, that would explain the association of ideas which led al-Mufaddal to cite 
Bishr's poem here. 

For the probable meaning of the various parts of the poem see the notes below. 

(1) Say to the Son of Kulthum, the stalwart in defence of his own ' Greet 
joyfully a War that shall choke the [experienced] old man with his spittle ! ' 

(2) And [the like] to his two companions : may their morning not be pleasant, 
when War bares her long fangs for all men to see ! 


(3) He sends not forth his caravan except after certain proof of the way to 
glorious deeds : and some folk are scattered hither and thither ! 

(4) Nay, but seest thou ladies camel-borne, led along in a string, one following 
another, with some lagging behind, and a driver not outstripped by any ? 

(5) They take a side way [between mountains] from the main road, with 
evenly-coloured [coverings to their litters], [ruddy] like the upper sides of ripening 
clusters of dates, smooth. 

[(6) They are disobedient therein to Ma'add, and fortify themselves therein, 
since faith has become a faith not to be depended on.] 


(1) 'The stalwart in defence of his own', as-set'* bi-dhimmatiht : literally, 'the one who exerts 
himself on behalf of that which it is his duty to defend ' : the title is apparently given by way of 
sarcasm. ' Greet joyfully, &c.' This sentence also must be understood as sarcastic. ' To choke 
a man with his spittle ' (as in the last stages of dying) is a common phrase for putting him in extreme 
straits. If the old and experienced, then how much more the young and unskilful ! 

(2) We are not told who the two companions were. The usual greeting in ancient Arabia was 
'im sabahan ! ' May thy morning be pleasant ! ' The morning was the time of attack, the raiding 
party marching through the night and falling on its foes at dawn (ante, No. XXII, 4). War is 
always feminine in Arabic ; for the baring of her fangs, cf. Uamasah, i. 3, and post, No. LXXIV, 
v. 96. 

(3) Marzuql suggests that this verse contains a sneer at the caution and deliberation of 'Amr b. 
Kulthum, and that by his ' caravan ', 'lr, is meant his army, jaish : but the verse is very obscure. 
Marzuql and Bm take al-mafafiq as the name of a place, which however does not occur in the 
geographical dictionaries. 

(4) If it be the case that the ' caravan ' of v. 3 means the army of the enemy, then possibly in 
the mention of the ladies in the litters, rlhu'un, we may have a continuation of the sneer, the poet 
affecting to look upon the warriors as veiled women travelling in camel-litters, not over-eager to 
meet the foe, and therefore loitering on the way, with a driver, hadin (meaning the captain), not 
outstripped by any of the line. 

(5) This verse is altogether baffling, and the translation offered merely sets forth what the 
commentary says. Yaqut (iv. 576) takes mu'dham ( ' main road ') to be the proper name of a place, 
but he does not say where it is. The only point in favour of this is that it has not the article, which 
one would expect if it were a general noun. The exact sense of bi-nvus-ldlatin is quite uncertain, and 
it is also uncertain whether we should read zuhluqi or zulilHuju,. The commentary thinks that what 
is meant is the coloured cloths spread over the women's litters, compared to the reddening dates in 
the ripening clusters (busr, dates full-grown, but only just beginning to get yellow and red). If this 
is so, and if I am right in the interpretation I put above on v. 4, v. 5 would be a continuation of the 
same idea, making the women (= the warriors) turn aside out of the way, instead of continuing 
straight on to meet the foe. The pronoun in li-saliwi-lii seems to refer to fajj, ' the side-track ', and 
zghw must mean 'colour, brightness". The construction with zuhliiqii in the nom. seems to be 
preferable, in spite of the bad rhyme. 

(6) This verse is contained in all the texts except the Cairo (al-Anbarl) MS. If the interpretation 
above given of the two preceding verses is accepted, we may suppose that the women (I.e., the 

1201.! F f 

218 LXXI. B1SHR B. 'AMR 

warriors) are in this verse drawn as refractory and mutinous, refusing to advance to the attack. 
Thus v. 3 depicts 'Amr's army as a caravan, an unwarlike body : v. 4 suggests that the warriors may 
be compared to women in litters, showing no eagerness to advance ; v. 5 suggests that they are 
ready, in order to escape from facing the enemy, to take a side road to avoid them ; and v. 6, that 
they flatly refuse to obey when ordered to attack. But the whole piece is very enigmatical, and 
evidently puzzled the commentators as much as it does us. In v. 6 ' therein ',fiJiu, apparently refers 
to the litters. Din, ' faith ', is a word with many meanings, at least three separate sources having 
been conflated in the root : here the sense may be ' obedience, faithful service, discipline '. 



THIS poem appears to be in praise of the Banu Khafajah, a noble family belonging to the 
tribe of 'Uqail, a branch of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, whose pasture-lands were adjacent to those of 
Qais b. Tha'labah, the poet's tribe, in the southern Yamamah. According to Marzuql, al-Asma'i 
ascribed the piece to Hujr son of Khalid al-Marthadl, probably another member of the family 
of Bishr b. 'Amr b. Marthad, and a poet otherwise unknown to us. 

(1) Carry this message to thy home, to Wa'il father of Khulaid ' Verily I 
have seen to-day a sight that made me marvel 

(2) ' How that the Son of Ja'dah has driven [his camels] far away to al-Buwain, 
while the Sons of Khafajah are busy following the tracks of a fox. 

(3) ' And in sooth I see a tribe there other than them, belonging to the folk 
that inhabit al-Amll, the rich in herbage. 

[(2 a) 'And I felt disgust at what I saw, and it revolted me; and I had been 
angry, if I had seen any advantage in anger.'] 


(4) I humbled not myself through fear among them, and when they drank, 
I was invited to drink with them ; 

(5) And when they played at their appointed times for play, I did not with- 
draw myself to pass the night apart, but played with them. 

(6) And all night long a skilled songstress sang antiphonally with another 
like her, young and fair, brought up in luxury, and struck the resounding lute, 

(7) Among brothers who join together generous heart and hand, who break 
up their possessions [to give them away] when the bite of Winter nips men sorely. 


(8) Thou seest the best of their raiment full of holes : but their Mashrafite 
swords they dress up in gold brocade. 

(9) 'Amr son of Marthad is the noble in all his doings : and his sons he was 
the generous, and he begat generous seed. 


(1) According to Marztiql, Wa'il, father of Khulaid, was son of Shurahbll the poet's brother. 

(2) The thing that made the poet marvel was, according to the same commentator, the wanton- 
ness of Fortune in bringing a noble stock to ruin and an unworthy one to prosperity. The two 
tribes mentioned here, the Banu Ja'dah and the BanQ Khafajah, are both sub-divisions of the great 
group of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, of the line of Ka'b son of Kabi'ah : Ja'dah was son of Ka'b and a small 
tribe, while Khafajah belonged to the larger stock of 'Uqail son of Ka'b, and is always spoken of as 
a noble race (ante, No. XXXV, note to v. 5). These sub-divisions of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah were neighbours, 
in al-Yamamah, of the tribe of Qais b. Tha'labah of which the poet was a member. Al-Buwain, to 
which place Ja'dah is said to have driven away its camels in search of pasture, is a water in the 
territory of Qushair, another 'Amirite stock, brother of 'Uqail. Khafajah are said to be engaged in 
hunting foxes, to eat in time of severe famine, indicating that they are reduced to absolute destitution. 

(3) Who the other tribe, the people who dwell in al-Amil, are is not told. Amll is said to be 
a long mountain of sand, which is hardly consistent with its being rich in herbage, musliib. 

(2 a) This verse seems to come in best after v. 3, though the texts that have it make it 
follow v. 2. 

(4) This verse and the four following, describing a courteous and magnanimous people not 
apparently the tribe of the poet himself, can hardly be consecutive with v. 3, if the commentary of 
Marzuql * is right in thinking that that verse refers to the upstarts who took the place of the noble 
and generous stock that was ruined probably the Khafajah. We must, I think, suppose a lacuna, 
and treat these verses as relating to the Khafajah themselves. 

(8) ' Mashrafite swords ' : see ante, No. XII, note to v. 10. 

(9) 'Amr son of Marthad was the name of the poet's father ; this verse is therefore one of 

It is followed in other recensions (text, p. 555, note r ) by five more verses, which appear to 
continue the picture of the gallant and generous people described in w. 4-8, and should therefore 
come before v. 9 and not after it. It is however possible that the poet is celebrating the praise of 
his own house. The following is their substance : 

(8 a) And thou seest them with the sweat covering their skins : full of mocking jocular 
talk, they are plied with far-sought tawny wine. 

(8 6) Their open-handedness and the multitude of their herds overcome the distresses of 
evil fortune, and cause it to pass away. 

(8 c) Thou seest him who seeks a gift at their hands with his wants fully supplied he 
even expects to receive a beast to ride 

(8d) A beautiful white she-camel, or a male full-grown, or a horse in the prime of strength, 
long-bodied, trained to slenderness like a staff, 

(8 c) Or a mare of full age, slim like a lance, bounding along in her gallop, wide in the 
mouth, that hunts to his death the wild ass with a white patch on his back, proud of his 
flying speed. 

P. 553 of text, note''. 

F 2 


(8 o) The sweat, ar-mfir], is a metaphor for generosity : a liberal man is said to exude his bounty 
from his skin : hence the expression ' moist-handed ', nadi-l-kaffaini, for a free giver. 

(8 d, 8 e) For the comparison of a horse, trained down to leanness, to a lance or staff see ante, 
No. VII, note to v. 6, &c. The word sJiauM, applied to the mare in v. 8 e and rendered ' wide in 
the mouth ', is one of which the exact meaning is uncertain : see Lane s. v., where many widely 
divergent significations are given for it. It sometimes and most often means ' ugly ', and 
Prof. Noldeke thinks (Neue Beitmye [1910], p. 91) that it is used (in the opposite sense) by way of 
defeating the evil eye. Ahqab, said of a wild-ass, is explained by MarzuqT as above : the Lexx. 
generally interpret it as ' white- bellied '. 




THE poet, whose name shows him to have been a Christian, belonged to the powerful 
branch of Bakr b. Wa'il called Shaiban, which was strong in Mesopotamia. Murrah b. 
Hammam was the name of his family. We have no information as to his date or history. 

The poem describes a drinking-scene, in which a man of the tribe of an-Namir b. Qasit 
(a brother-tribe of Bakr b. Wa'il, and long settled in Mesopotamia) named Ka'b, overcome by 
wine, behaves in a foolish manner. 

(1) O Ka'b ! would that thou wouldst restrain thyself to good wine-fellowship, 
and cease to give offence to thy company, 

(2) And be content to listen to the singing-girl who delights us on a cloudy 
day, so that we go home to rest [well pleased,] as Persian kings are lulled to sleep ! 

(3) Then wouldst thoii be sober [, not drunken as thou art now]. But the man 
of Namir thinks her [nothing short of] the uncle of Spica Virginis, or the aunt of 
the Pleiades. 

(4) Hold back Ka'b, now that she has given him a buffet on the forehead with 
a plump wrist ! 

(5) On his brow are streaks of blood, caked and dry, as the fingers of him 
that gathers grapes are dyed purple. 

- (6) Nay, the wine is not thy brother : sometimes it betrays him that trusts too 
much to his self-command, 

(7) And tempts him with foolish counsel, what time the gust of its intoxica- 
tion rises to the brain. 

(8) I am a man of the house of Murrah : if I wound you [with my satire], ye 
will not be able to stanch the wound. 



(2) I have followed the commentary (line 10) in giving the usual translation of nmdjinah, ' a girl 
singing on a cloudy day (ynum nd-dqjni) ' ; but its occurrence here, after that of dajinah, its equivalent, 
in v. 6 of the next preceding piece, leads me now to think that we should almost certainly render it, 
as suggested in the foot-note to p. 89, ante, ' well-trained '. As there pointed out, this is undoubtedly 
the meaning of dajinah in Labld's Mu'allaqah ; it is the only suitable meaning for dajinah in No. LXXI, 
v. 6 ; and it seems certain that in this piece mudjinah must, in view of the context, have the same 
meaning as ddjinah. The latter part of the verse refers to the custom of the Persian kings and nobles 
to be lulled to sleep by soft music. Al-Asma'l is the authority for this statement, which agrees with 
what is said of King Darius in Daniel vi. 18 (according to one explanation of that passage). 
Another reading of the verse substitutes tana'uma, with liamzah, for tandivuma, with waiv, and 
renders ' the crowing of the cocks ' : i. e., ' we do not go home till cock-crow '. This seems 
improbable : a' jam (pi. 'ujm) may mean an animal that has no articulate voice, but examples of 
its use for the domestic cock are wanting. 

(3) The whimsical phrase of the second hemistich refers to the singing-girl. The drunken Ka'b 
is lost in admiration for her, and is pictured as using these terms of endearment : as we see from the 
next verse, she receives his advances with a cuff, when her bracelet wounds his forehead. 

(6) ' The wine is not thy brother ', al-Wiamru laisat min dkhika : Prof. Bevan suggests that the 
last two words mean ' one of thy brethren ', and refers to the examples of the regular plural of akli, 
brother, akhiina, in LA xviii. 21, foot ; this seems very probable. 

(7) The translation adopts the reading tuzayyinu for the tubayyinu of the text, as better vouched 
for : ' Wine adorns, and makes to seem desirable, foolish counsel '. 

(8) This verse appears to convey a threat against the use of reprisals by Ka'b and his friends. If 
they venture to retaliate with injurious verses, the poet is ready to compose against them a satire 
which will be carried about everywhere, and never cease to be quoted in mockery of them. 



THIS short fragment describes a hunting scene, in which the poet, mounted on a tall steed 
(his ' comrade ' of v. 2), visits a meadow rich in lush flowering plants, and rides down the 
wild creatures pasturing therein. 

(1) Often into a far distant meadow, where the many-coloured bloom tops the 
quick-growing greenery, and in its glistening dewy brightness the boot profits not 
the [wearer, who is as good as] bare-footed, 

(2) Have I plunged at early dawn with a comrade like a wolf, who rears him- 
self on high, whose breast [from the pollen of the flowers] is like a perfume-pounder 
of mother-of-pearl. 

(3) So early did I visit it that its sparrows had not yet begun to twitter my 
companion striving to conceal himself : but others may be hidden not he ! 


(4) But it helps not the wildings that they have warning of his coming : he is 
as it were suspended over them with a grapnel [to clutch them]. 

(5) When I endeavour to restrain him, he pushes on, making for them, like 
the pushing-on of a torrent over the papyrus-stems standing in the way of the flood. 


(1) For the reason why the hunting-ground is described as distant see ante, No. VI, note to v. 3. 

(2) The commentary prefers to assume that the horse is a bay, Jcumait, and that the colour on 
its breast is the redness of its hair and fell. It seems to me necessary, however, to take the colour as 
variegated, this being demanded by the iridescent surface of mother-of-pearl, and as such it can only 
be derived from the pollen of the many-coloured flowering shrubs and herbs (taJnvll of v. 1). 

(4) The grapnel, kJiuttaf, is a hook from which the water-drawing apparatus at the head of a well 
is hung. The word is also applied to the side or cheek pieces which are pierced by the pin on which 
the pulley turns. Another use is for the talons of a bird of prey. 

(5) For papyrus (lardiy) in Arabian waters see ante, No. XVII, note to v. 11. 


FOR the poet see No. LXI, ante. This fragment is a vigorous piece of verse, with some 
striking phrases and points of interest. One that is noticeable is that in the description of the 
author's mare and arms in vv. 4 to 9, eacli subject is indicated only by an epithet, the thing 
itself being never mentioned by name. The verses, 10-11, describing the inevitableness of 
Death have been attributed to other poets, and imitated by many ; but there seems to be no 
good reason to refuse them to our author. 

(1) To whom belong the traces of dwellings like sheets of vellum covered with 
writing long deserted, where al-Kathlb and Wahif lie empty of their folk, 

(2) And [the flowers and greenery] which successive showers have brought 
forth therein glow like streaks of bright colour, painted with pigments, playing on 
a surface 

(3) Over which a scribe has bent himself, working with his ink-pot in his 
hand, sometimes moving his fingers straight forward and sometimes moving them 



(4) And many the [mare], wide of mouth and nostrils, whose forelegs have 
never been fired, nor has she ever been put to mean work, or spent the summer 
with a slave, being galloped about on his errands 

(5) She gives thee without touch of the whip the utmost of her speed, and flies 
like a gazelle which the hunter's arrows have missed 


(6) Have I had in hand, when the sore-beset cried for help while another 
was borne about in the tribe by an ash-grey worn-out old camel ambling along, 
[and could give no useful aid] 

(7) Clad in a bright [mail-coat], like the surface stirred by the wind of a pool 
swelled by heavy showers of the summer that pare down the hills, 

(8) With a [spear] smooth and regular in its length, which satisfies thee when 
thou testest it, and pierces straight through that which it is aimed at, and is not 
bent back, 

(9) And a yellow [bow] of wai'-wood these are the arms I have ready with 
a gleaming [blade] that cuts through all it smites, and cleaves a man down to his 

[(9 a) The preparation for war of a man who is not soft in his strands, nor one 
that turns away from that which God has ordained ; 

(9 I) Therewith do I face the battle renewed again and again, when War bares 
her hindmost teeth, and red are her hands and feet, 

(9 c) As a man fights who knows right well that he shall not escape Death, nor 
will Death turn aside from him.] 

(10) Yea, though I were in the Castle of Ghumdan, with its gate guarded by 
Abyssinian infantry and a black serpent, tame to my will, 

(11) Even then, wheresoever I might be, my destined death would reach me, 
a guide tracking out my footsteps and ambling along with my doom. 

(12) Shall I face dangers with a faint heart from excess of wariness ? In what 
land are there not pitfalls unnumbered of death ? 


(1) Al-Kathlb is said to be a village in al-Bahrain, the country of the poet's tribe, 'Abd al-Qais. 

(3) This interesting picture of a scribe engaged on an illuminated MS. shows that the poet, like 
his fellows, was familiar with the methods of writing and with books : at the same time he was 
probably himself unable to read or write (ante, No. XVI, note to v. 56), and the details he mentions 
seem to show that the art of writing had a curiosity for him as an outsider rather than as one who 
practised it. The second hemistich might be rendered alternatively ' sometimes writing in straight 
lines, and sometimes in lines not straight '. Cf. what is said in the note to v. 1 of No. XLI. 

After v. 3 two of the recensions have an additional verse : 

' He gazed fixedly at his work so long as he was engaged upon it : then he would raise 

his eyes from the scroll and look at it askance.' 

See note at foot of p. 561 of the text: this version involves a conjectural emendation. The 
picture is good and life-like. 

(4) Here again we have the word shauha used of a beautiful mare : see ante, No. LXXI, note to 
v. 8 e. As her forelegs would have been fired for disease, the verse asserts that she has never had 
any such defect. 

(5) ' The utmost of her speed ', mil' a 'inanihu, lit. ' the fullness of her reins ' : when she is given 
the reins, she darts forward at the height of her speed. 


(6) ' I have had in hand ', baliltu bilia, lit. ' I have laid hold of her ', tlhafirtu liha. Ash-grey 
camels, wurq, pi. of auraq, are said to be the worst of all. 

(9) For wib'-wood, of which the best bows are made, see ante, No. XVI, note to v. 47. The 
tree is also called sliauliat. 

(9 rt-9 o) Though this passage, contained in three of our recensions, is omitted in our text, it is 
evidently necessary as an introduction to v. 10, which would otherwise be preceded by a lacuna. 

(9 b) 'Renewed again and again ', 'aicdn, a word used of a woman or a beast that, after the first 
birth of offspring, goes on bearing : it is very frequently said of a long-continued and obstinately- 
contested war. 4 The word tawaiffor the extremities, the hands and feet, is rare and deserves notice. 

(10) The Castle of Ghumdan in the Yaman is one of those strong places which made a great 
impression on the dwellers in tents of hair-cloth : see ante, note to No. IX, v. 41. The Abyssinian 
guards imply that the Yaman at the date of our poet had not yet been recovered by the Himyarites 
under Saif b. DhT Yazan and the Persian general Waliriz. We have no exact information as to the 
date of this event, which probably occurred some time between A. D. 570 and 579 (the latter the year 
of the death of Khusrau Anosharvan who despatched the expedition). For ' a tame black serpent ', 
astvadu alifu, there is a variant aglujafu alifu, ' a tame (mastiff) with hanging ears '. 

(11) Prof. Geyer, in rendering these verses in his edition of Aus b. Hajar (see note h on p. 563 of 
text), takes qa'if in the sense of a hound that follows the tracks of a man by scent. But the use 
of the verb qafa is different : it applies to the art of the tracker by knowledge of the character of the 
footprints of the person followed up. This is to be inferred from the other sense in which the verb 
is used, to determine paternity by an examination of a child's feet compared with those of his 
putative father. I am not aware of a case of tracking by scent with the aid of dogs in old Arabian 
literature. Here the guide, Mdin, is drawn as riding an ambling camel, so that he can keep his eyes 
fixed on the footprints he is following. 

(12) ' With a faint heart ' ; so I take sadiran, which is said properly to mean ' dazzled, distracted, 
confused ' : the word is also used for an old and weak camel. 


THE migration (hijrah) of the Prophet from Mecca to the Ghassanite town, or aggregate 
of villages, called Yathrib, in the year A. D. 622. was brought about by the necessity which the 
two tribes, called al-Aus and al-Khazraj, inhabiting that settlement felt for having in their 
midst a person of wisdom and authority who could compose the quarrels which had proved 
a scourge to their community. From this migration sprang the Muslim State, Yathrib became 
the ' City of the Prophet ', Madlnat an-Nabl, and the capital of the first three Caliphs during 
the great conquests of Islam, and the Aus and the Khazraj became the Ansar, the 'Helpers' 
of the Prophet and the force with which he gained his earliest victories. 

The poem before us relates to a stage in the quarrels of the Aus and the Khazraj before 
Muhammad was called in as arbiter and eventually as Prophet-Prince. The whole story of 
these disputes, which, beginning with little causes of offence and small differences, gradually 
became more and more passionate and bloody, is set forth in Wellhausen's Medina vor dem 
Islam, in Skizzen u. Vorarbeiten, IV, which should be carefully studied by any one who 
desires to understand early Arabian society. They culminated, shortly before the Hijrah, in 


the sanguinary and exhausting battle of Bu'ath, which determined the recourse to Muhammad ; 
but our poem refers to a feud which preceded this, called the ' war of Hatib '. A certain man 
of the Banu Tha'labah b. Sa'd of Dhubyan (ante, p. 35), who was a client of Hatib b. Qais, 
a chief of the family of Mu'awiyah, of the Aus, visited the bazar of the Banu Qainuqa' (a Jewish 
tribe inhabiting Yathrib) to make some purchases. A man of the Khazraj called Yazid b. 
al-Harith, known from his mother's name as Ibn Fushum, seeing him there, promised a certain 
Jew his mantle if he would give the Tha'labite a slap on the face. The Jew did so and received 
the mantle : the slap was heard by every one in the bazar, and the Tha'labite shouted ' Help 
house of Hatib ! your guest is buffeted and disgraced ! ' Hatib came at the call, and inquired 
who had given the blow. On the Jew being pointed out, Hatib split his skull with his sword. 
Ibn Fushum was told, and came forth and pursued Hatib till the latter reached his house and 
was safe: but Ibn Fushum killed another man of the family of Mu'awiyah in his place. 
Thereupon bitter war broke out between the brother-tribes, the Aus and Khazraj, gradually 
extending until it brought within its circle all the various families of both. 

Saifi, called Abu Qais, son of al-Aslat, was one of the chief leaders of his tribe, the Aus, 
in this war, and also in the final contest which ended in the battle of Bu'ath ; according to the 
story in our commentary (said to be derived from Ibn al-Kalbi) and in the Kdmil of Ibn al-Athir, 
the poem relates to the war of Hatib : according to the Agham (xv. 161 9 ), it was composed 
with reference to the later war ended at Bu'ath. In the former the Aus suffered more than 
the Khazraj : in the latter they were victorious and inflicted serious losses on their enemies. 
Abu Qais is said to have absented himself from his home for a long time in the prosecution of 
this warfare, giving up to it his whole mind. When after many months he knocked at his 
own door, it was opened by his wife Kabshah. He put out his hand to clasp her, but she 
repulsed him, the hardships of war having so altered his appearance that she did not recognize 
him. He called her by name, and when she heard his voice she knew that it was her husband. 
It is with this incident that the poem opens. Abu Qais does not seem to have survived until 
the general adoption of Islam by the non-Jewish population of Medina. He was, according to 
Ibn Hisham (p. 293), one of those seekers after a purer religion called Hantfs,* and verses 
ascribed to him are cited which make this plain. He and Abu 'Amir, called ar-Rdhib, 'the 
Monk ', who were the chief leaders of the Aus at Bu'ath, in fact resisted the new faith with 
some vehemence. We do not know when he died. His son 'Uqbah became a Muslim, and was 
killed fighting on the side of the Caliph at the great battle of Qadisiyah in A. H. 15 (Ayhanl, xv. 
161). Abd Qais had a reputation as a graceful poet, and verses of his are cited in the Ayhdni, 
xv. 166-7, which bear this out. Our poem is frequently quoted. 

(1) She said but she had no mind to say aught unseemly ' Stay ! but now 
hast thou reached to my hearing.' 

(2) Thou didst not recognize my face when thou didst scan its features ; and 
War is a destroyer that changes men through her pains. 

* See a paper by me entitled ' The words Uamj and Muslim ', in the Journal of the Royal 
Asiatic Society, 1903, pp. 771 ff. 

1201.3 g 


(3) Whoso tastes of War, finds her flavour bitter, and she stalls him upon 
rugged lying. 

(4) The helmet has rubbed the hair off my head, and I taste not of sleep save 
as a brief doze. 

(5) I labour on behalf of the more part of the Children of Malik : every man 
labours for the cause that is his ! 

(6) I have made ready for my enemies a mail-coat of double weaving, full and 
ample, like a silvery pool in a clay bottom ; 

(7) I hook its skirts away from me by hanging them on the sheath of a shining 
sword, an Indian blade, clear of grain as salt, a keen cutter, 

(8) Of hard steel, sharp, its edge thirsting for blood (?) ; and [I carry] a curved 
shield, tawny, strong and hard 

(9) The arms of a man accustomed to look Death in the face, wary, hard against 
Fortune's blows, not easily fluttered in spirit. 

(10) Prudence and firmness are better than dissimulation and weakness and 
a wavering mind. 

(11) The [full-grown] sand-grouse is not like her nestling, and the herded folk 
among men are not like the herdsman. 

(12) We lament not at slaughter, but we requite it upon our enemies, full 
measure, peck for peck ; 

(13) We repel them from us with a host full of alacrity, well furnished with 
captains and champions, 

(14) As though they were lions standing over their whelps, roaring in the 
thicket and the valley sides, 

(15) Until [our warfare] clears. And a flag we have in the midst of a host 
[of one stock], no medley of men drawn together. 

(16) Why askest thou not the cavalry, what time [War] girt up her skirts [for 
the battle], what was my slowness and my swiftness therein 

(17) Whether I deal out freely among them my goods, in spite of my need of 
them, and whether I answer the call of him that shouts for help ? 

(18) I smite the crests of men's helmets with my blade on the day of battle, 
and my arm is not shortened in wielding it ; 

(19) And I traverse the wide desert wherein Death lurks, mounted on a white 
she-camel, greedy to go, 

(20) Full of various paces, strong as a male, her gear a saddle of al-Hlrah and 
mats spread thereon. 


(21) She gives [good speed] in spite of weariness, and has no need of blows to 
make her go : safe is she from stumbling, no limper ; 

(22) It seems as though the sides of her saddle-pads were bound on the North- 
wind, sweeping along, tearing all things before it. 

(23) I deck her saddle with a rug from al-Hlrah woven of divers colours, or 
made of patches sewn together. 

(24) With her do I accomplish my desires. But a man is the sport of a 
double-coloured hidden Fate ! 


(1) This verse offers difficulties : I take it to mean that the poet, whose wife, not recognizing 
him, at first repelled him no doubt with some hostile phrase when the door was opened, suggests 
that her conduct might have appeared unseemly (kltana) ; but she did not mean it so : it was only 
when he spoke that she recognized his voice and knew it was her husband. The second hemistich, 
in this interpretation, is her reported speech. MarzuqT, on the other hand, takes qalat in the sense 
of takallamat, ' she spoke ', without any sentence following, and thinks that the second hemistich is 
not the wife's but the husband's speech (he reads ablaghti). In this version we should render ' She 
spoke, and she did not hit the mark in her violent speech Stay ! thou hast exceeded the limit in 
attacking my ears with thy outcry '. Marzuql similarly reads in v. 2 arikartulm hina tawassamtuhu, 
and makes the verse express the poet's dismay at his reception. I cannot think this view correct : 
it does not tally with the following verses, which dwell upon the change in his appearance caused by 
the hardships of war, which naturally made it difficult for his wife to recognize him. And according 
to the tale, she did recognize him as soon as he spoke. This must be the meaning of laqad ablaghta 
asmdi, ' Thou hast got the message through to my hearing, [although my eyes could not recognize 
thee]'; and the words must be those of the wife. 

(2) In arikartihi we have an example of the common change of person, the poet speaking of 
himself in the third instead of the first person. 

(3) ' She stalls him upon rugged lying ' : the metaphor is taken from camels, forced to couch 
upon jagged rocks or rough stones. 

(5) Malik is the name of the patriarch of the tribe called al-Aus, of which Aba Qais was the leader. 
Al-Asma'i, according to our commentary, considered the second hemistich of this verse ' one of the 
soundest things said by the Arabs ' a singular judgement. 

(7) Al-Asma'l says that the Arabs had upon the scabbard of their swords a hook, and when 
a mail-coat was too heavy in the skirts they were accustomed to hook it up with this device and so 
lighten the weight. For the comparison of a sword to salt see ante, No. XX, note to v. 24. Muhannad, 
rendered ' an Indian blade ', is also used in the sense of ' sharpened, whetted '. 

(8) The meaning of wadiq in this verse is uncertain : the scholion gives no assistance ; the 
rendering ' thirsting for blood ' is based on the meaning of waduq applied to a mare or she-ass 
desiring the male.* The shield is tawny, because made of leather of camel's hide ; it is qarra', ' able 
in the highest degree to sustain blows '. 

(11) I.e., experience, age, and capacity for leadership mark a man out for command. 

" The suggestion in LA xii. 253 4ff - that icadiq means ' sharp ' appears to be merely a guess : 
sharpness is already asserted of the sword in other epithets. Another suggestion is that the word 
means ' causing a burning pain ' : cf. the phrases Aarru-s-saifi and hararatu-s-saifi. 



(12) ' Peck ', *', a measure of capacity properly equal to four times the quantity (of corn and the 
like) that fills the two hands of average size : otherwise said to be equivalent to four mudd (Lat- 
modius) or 5 riil (or pints, Gk. AiVpa), but varying much from place to place and age to age. 

(15) Here, as frequently before, 'War' is to be understood as the nom. to tajallat: so also in 
the next verse, to qallasat. Tajalla is used in the sense of ' clearing up, coming to an issue'. 

(17) This verse is decisive for the meaning of 'ulit //ulbiJii in Qur'an ii. 172. I have rendered 
htibb ' need ', as equivalent here to ' love '. 

(22) This vevse and no. 23 are wanting in Abu 'Ikrimah's text, and also in the JamJmrah. V. 23 
is evidently a duplicate of v. 20, and both can hardly stand. 


FOR the poet see No. XXVIII, ante. The poem before us has several points in common 
with that, especially in the long description of the camel, vv. 19-33, which suffers from over- 
much detail. There are several places where the verses suggest dislocation, and it would be 
possible to set them in a better order ; but it is undesirable to depart from the arrangement of 
the original without overwhelming reasons. 

The poem is understood by our commentary to be addressed to King 'Amr of al-Hirah 
(A. D. 554-569), but see the note to v. 40 below for some reasons for doubting this. In any case 
the object of the qasidah, so far as it has one, is contained in the last five verses, 40-44. It 
may however perhaps better be taken as a poetical meditation, set forth in the usual 
conventional scheme, rather than as a work with a definite purpose. 

(1) O Fatimah, before thou goest grant me some delight ! and thy withholding 
of what I ask is as though thou wert already gone ; 

(2) And cheat me not with lying promises, which the winds of the summer 
shall sweep from me far away. 

(3) In sooth, if my left hand were to oppose me as thou opposest, I would no 
longer let it pair my right : 

(4) Instantly would I cut it off, and say to it ' Begone ! thus do I requite with 
dislike one that likes not me'. 

(5) Whose are the women's litters that mount upwards from Dubaib, as soon as 
they issue slowly from the Valley ? 

(6) They passed along over Sharafi and then Dhat-Eijl, and left adh-Dharanih 
aside to the right ; 

(7) And thus did they show when they cut through Falj, as though their 
burdens were laden upon ships : 


(8) Yea, most like to ships are they Bactrian camels, broad in the back and 
the sutures of the skull. 

(9) And there sit the ladies, nestling in the litters murderous to the most 
valiant, though he humble himself before them, 

(10) Like gazelles that have lingered behind the herd in a place of wild lote- 
trees, that draw clown to themselves the nearest of the branches. 

(11) Above them they have spread a thin curtain, and let fall over it a 
bi-oidered covering ; and they have pierced in them peep-holes for their eyes ; 

[(11 a) Some of their charms they display, others they hide away the white- 
ness of their necks and their daintily-tended skins.] 

(13) Gold glitters upon their bosoms the colour of ivory, with no wrinkles to 
mar their surface. 

(12) In spite of their tyranny, they are the objects of men's ceaseless quest : 
long are their ringlets and their side-locks ; 

(14) When on a day they leave [their slave] behind, carrying off as a pledge 
all that he values most, never will that pledge return to him again. 

(15) With a jest I feather my arrows for them : they excel all the long-necked 
[gazelles] of the herd that stand at gaze. 

(16) They mounted a ridge, and descended into a hollow that hid them, and 
they hardly took any mid-day rest. 

(17) And I said to one of them and my saddle was bound on my beast to 
face a noon-tide to which I had steadfastly set my brow 

(18) ' It may be, if thou cuttest thy bond and leavest me, that even so I shall 
endure, with my soul in my own power.' 

(19) So then bring forgetfulness of care to thee with a strong she-camel, mighty, 
hard like a smithying hammer, 

(20) One to be trusted in her steady swift pace, as though a cat were vying 
with her and aiming [with its claws] at her girth ; 

(21) She has been clothed with a towering hump, with matted wool thereon, 
by a diet of bruised date-stones of the Sawdd, together with ample fodder. 

(22) When her gear becomes loose, I bind upon her the breast-strap in front 
of the breast-bone, on account of the slackness of the fore-girth. 

(23) The hollows in the ground where [, on couching,] she sets her [five] 
callosities are [in smallness] like the settling-places of the black-backed sand-grouse 
that come in the early dawn to drink. 

(24) When she takes a deep breath and so fills her chest, it almost cuts through 
the plaited strands of unsoftened leather with ridges on them [, forming the girth]. 


(25) She strikes, as she hurries along, the two great veins in her inner thighs 
with pebbles cast up by her feet, that resound with a dull thud as they fall again 
to ground ; 

(26) The stones which her forelegs throw up as she gallops along are like those 
which the hired herdsman pelts at a strange camel [trespassing on his cistern]. 

(27) She blocks with a bushy tail in constant motion the aperture of a womb 
that has borne no offspring, [with dugs] that yield not a drop of milk ; 

(28) And thou hearest the buzzing of the flies thereabout, when they hum, as 
it were the moaning of doves over their nests. 

(29) I cast the reins to her [and dismounted], and she composed herself to 
sleep, as her custom was, on the first appearance of dawn. 

(30) The place where she couched, upon a piece of stony ground, rough and 
rugged, was like the place where one throws down a bridle. 

(31) It seems as though the saddle and the plaited thongs of her girth were 
upon a long-keeled ship, well smeared with oil and grease, that sails the seas ; 

(32) The prow of it cleaves the water, and mounts high on the topmost crests 
of all the swelling far-extending billows. 

(33) She has grown up long-necked, [fat] so that the sciatic vein is apparent 
between the lumps of flesh on her thighs, and is stout and fleshy in the parts about 
the back-vein and the aorta. 

(34) When I approach her to saddle her at night, she moans like the moaning 
of a melancholy man : 

(35) She says, when I spread out the fore-girth to fasten it upon her ' Is this 
to be for ever his way and mine ? 

(36) ' Is the whole of time to be unloosing and binding-on of gear? Will he 
never spare me, or save me [from being utterly worn out] ? ' 

(37) Yea, my frivolity and her earnestness have left of her a frame like a door- 
keeper's hut plastered with clay. 

(38) I gathered in my hand her rein, and set-to my saddle, and under my right 
hand I placed a cushion to support it ; 

(39) Then I started at nightfall with her, she keeping the side of a long- 
extended track, over its level plain and its saddle-backs [as they met us], 

(40) To seek 'Amr and from 'Amr ske came to me the man of valiant deeds 
and steadfast deliberateness. 

(41) Be thou to me either a brother in truth, so that I may know, in respect 
of thee, my lean and my fat : 

(42) Or, if not, then cast me off and hold me for an enemy, so that I may 
beware of thee and thou of me. 


(43) Yea, I know not, when I make a matter the end of my action, desiring 
good therefrom, which of the two will draw near to me 

(44) Whether the Good for which I myself am seeking, or the Evil which is 
looking out for me. 


(2) ' The winds of the summer ', because the situation depicted in the preludes to qamdalis brings 
the poet and his lady to the end of the pleasant season of Spring the time of fresh herbage and 
abundant pasturage, to be succeeded by the heat and drought of Summer, with its winds sweeping 
over the bare deserts. At that time comes the parting of associates, with the return of the tribes to 
their summer quarters. 

(5, 6) The places named are in the lowland of al-Bahrain, backed by the mountains leading up to 
al-Yamamah. In v. 5 the feminine verb Jcharajat with the relative ma is a possible construction : 
but a better reading is that of Bakrl and Yaqdt, Ttama for fama, arid the second hemistich has been 
rendered accordingly. 

(8) Bactrian camels, Bukht, a collective noun of which the singular is Bukhti, Bukhtiyah. The 
camels so called by the Arabs were the produce of Arabian she-camels by stallions from Khurasan 
of the two-humped breed. The word is interesting as preserving the old-Persian form (Bdkhdhi, Zend : 
Bakhtri, inscrip. of Darius) of the name of the country in later Persian called Balkli* 'Broad in 
the back ', 'urafldt al-abdhir : abaliir, plural of abhar, means the parts of the back of a camel through 
which (on the inner side of the back-bone) passes the aorta, called abhar. ' Sutures ', shu'iin, plural 
of sha'n ; there is a v. I. tnu'un, plural of ma'nah, the mass of fat in the inside of the flank, taflafah. 

(9) ' Most valiant ', aslija' : this may also be rendered ' tall '. 

(10) ' A place of wild lote-trees ', dJtfitu r/dlin : this may be a proper name. 

(11) The version renders the v. 1. iva-sadalna raqman. The litters are covered with a thin muslin 
veil, killah, and over that with a thicker embroidered cloth, raqm. 

(11 a) It will be seen from note" on p. 579 of the text that this verse, which is not a mere 
variant of v. 11, is given separately with that in several of the recensions. 

(14) The ladies leave behind the lover when they move away, but carry off with them his heart, 
which they never return. The lover is the slave, the heart the pledge. This verse is not read by 
Abu 'Ikrimah, Ahmad, or at-Tusl, and is therefore of weak authority. 

(15) It is uncertain whether lalm (to be substituted for the Uiha of the text) refers to one of the 
ladies mentioned, or to all collectively. MursMqdt is used of gazelles standing at gaze, and thus 
lifting up and stretching out their necks. 

(20) For the imaginary cat, brought in to enhance the swiftness of a camel's pace, see the note 
to No. XXVIII, ante, v. 10 (another poem by al-Muthaqqib). 

(21) The Sawud is the cultivated country of 'Iraq, so called ( = ' blackness ') because of the dark 
colour of the groves of date-palms (ante, p. 153). Camels are fed on date-stones crushed in a mortar 
or mill (see note to v. 26 below). The lajln ('ample fodder ') is said to be a food made of the leaves 
of trees beaten off with staves, then dried and ground, and then mixed with barley flour and 
moistened, being kneaded into a dough and administered in balls to the camels (Lane, s. v., khabt). 

(22) The gear becomes loose by the expense of the camel's fat, which is the store of energy on 
which she draws. The breast-strap, sinaf, is attached to the fore-girth, tvadln, to prevent the latter 
slipping backwards. 

The form Buglidi is that which is best known in India ; it is used in the A'in-i-Akbari in 
describing the Emperor Akbar's camel-stud. 


(23) See ante, No. VIII, note to v. 29 : the black-backed sandgrouse (juni) is the smallest of tlu< 
two (or three) kinds. 

(24) The version adopts the v. 1. yafutlrlu for the text yajudhdhti, because the former verb does 
not mean that the girth is quite cut through, as the latter does. The verse apparently sets forth the 
strength of the camel's lungs. 

(26) There is an alternative rendering of the second hemistich 'like date-stones that jump out 
of a mortar (or mill) worked by n labourer ' : this takes gJianbah (rendered by me ' a strange camel ') 
in the sense of a mortar or handmill used to crush the date-stones given as food to camels : it is said 
to be so called because it does not remain with its owner, but is always being borrowed (gliarib = 
' stranger, alien '). Mu'tn, a free labourer or ' help ', as distinguished from a slave : this is said to be 
a word (in this sense) peculiar to al-Bahrain. 

(27) The sense assigned to dahin is taken from the commentary of Bm : see note b on p. 584. 

(28) The rendering takes dhuMb as a collective = flies. Al-Asma'l will have it that by the 
noise made by the flies is intended the grating of the camel's canine teeth, safif; this seems 
improbable. Another suggestion, referring to 'Antarah, Mu'all. 18, is that the camel is supposed to 
be passing through a luxuriant meadow, where the winged creatures hum in the midst of the greenery : 
this (which also originates with al-Asma'l) seems likewise to be far-fetched. 

(29) Abu 'Ubaidah's reading for the first hemistich, wa-'alqat bi-l-jirani ma'i fa-namat, ' She cast 
down her neck by me in the sand, and went to sleep ', corresponds closely with the picture drawn 
by the same poet in No. XXVIII, v. 8, ante. 

(30) The camel's long neck outstretched in the sand suggests the idea of a bridle thrown down : 
and the small impression made by her thafinat (above, v. 23) is to be inferred from the description 
of the ground as stony and rugged. 

(33) When a camel gets fat, the muscles on her thighs are said to separate in parcels so as to 
disclose the sciatic vein, nasd : the Arabs thought it was the continuation of the aorta, watm. When 
the animal becomes lean again, the flesh sinks to a level surface in which the nasu ceases to be 
apparent. The ' back-vein ', nuJcha, is described as ' a white vein ('#) leading from the neck through 
the vertebrae of the spine to the tail ', from which it would seem that the spinal cord is meant : it is 
taken so, ante, No. XXXIX, v. 19. 

(37) The strange comparison of the camel's frame, made gaunt and lean by constant journeying, 
to a hut before the door of a great house in which the doorkeepers live, brings in two Persian words, 
dukkan (for Pers. dukari) and darabinali, pi. of durban, Pers. darban or darvan, a doorkeeper. DuMn 
ordinarily means a shop. 

(40) Our commentary thinks that King 'Amr son of Hind of al-Hirah is meant ; but al-Asma'l 
(see note * at foot of page) justly observes that the familiar language used scarcely suggests that 
a king is intended, much less so ruthless and dreaded a ruler as King 'Amr.* For, the poet's 
obsequiousness to 'Amr's successor an-Nu'man see ante, No. XXVIII, 14 ff. 

(41) ' My lean or my fat ', i. e., my loss or profit, whether thou wilt be of use to me or not. 
(44) The v. I. la ya'talini (for huwa yabtaghlni), ' does not cease to dog my steps ', is a good 


* His nickname among the Arabs, MudarrH al-Mjarah (for the meaning of which see Lane. 
1787") indicates the estimation in which he was held. 




THE poem which follows really consists of two separate pieces, in the same metre (ramal) 
and rhyme. According to Marziiqi, al-Mufaddal attributed vv. 1-10 to a poet of 'Abd al-Qais 
called al-Hajhaj, ascribing only the last five verses, 11-15, to al-Muthaqqib. The two sections, 
the junction of which, under al-Muthaqqib's name, is due to al-Asma'I, do not appear to cohere 
together, though there may have been some connecting link in parts of the poem which have 
been lost. 

The portion unquestionably due to al-Muthaqqib, vv. 11-15, is in praise of Khalid, a chief 
of his tribe, Lukaiz of 'Abd al-Qais, who procured the release of the poet's nephew (sister's son) 
Sha's, called al-Mumazzaq, from captivity. Al-Mumazzaq was himself a poet, represented in 
our collection by Nos. LXXX and LXXXI. His fragments have been brought together by 
Prof. Geyer in the Vienna Oriental Journal (WZKM), vol. xviii (1904), pp. 1 ff. -In al-Buhturi's 
Hamasah, p. 214, vv. 1 and 3 of our poem are ascribed to al-Mumazzaq. For more about him 
see the introduction to No. LXXX. 

(1) Say not, when thou hast not in mind to fulfil thy promise, ' Yes ' ! 

(1 b) A fair word is ' Yes ' after ' No ' : but an ugly word is ' No ' after ' Yes '. 

(2) Ay, ' No ' after ' Yes ' is unseemly indeed : therefore begin with ' No ' when 
thou fearest to repent ; 

(3) And when thou hast said 'Yes', then abide by it, and give thy word 
fulfilment : to break a promise will surely bring blame ; 

(4) And know that blame is a loss to the man of mark : if he shields himself 
not against blame, it falls upon him. 

(5) I honour the stranger and regard his right : acknowledgement of what is 
due is true nobility in a man. 

(6) Thou shalt not see me in an assembly greedily devouring the flesh of men 
like a ravening beast of prey. 

(7) The worst of all men is he who smiles upon me when he meets me, and 
when I am absent, spends his time in reviling me. 

(8) Many the evil speech to which my ear has been deaf ; and yet there is in 
me no hardness of hearing ; 

(9) And I bear it patiently, for fear lest the fool should think that I am really 
as he said. 

(10) And in sooth some turning away of the face and ignoring of the evil- 
speaker is the safest thing, even though he be a wrong-doer. 

* * * * * * * * #* 

1101.9 H h 


(11) Verily Khalid acted generously in respect of Sha's, after there had beset 
him a grievous calamity 

(12) From the Fates that bring on a man troubles one by one they hasten 
to seize the shape of flesh and blood. 

(13) [Khalid's] platter is full, his generosity is of the foremost : his session is 
seemly, no place of buffets ; 

(14) He makes his process of giving a rich abundance : yea, to spend part of 
one's possessions in defence of one's honour is a just economy ; 

(15) He cares not, being happy of soul therein, for the perishing of his wealth, 
so his honour be safe. 


(I) and (1 6) According to the commentary these are alternative verses for the beginning of the 
poem. Abu 'Ikrimah, however, seems to have given them both, and they appear to be both required 
to complete the idea. 

(5) 'The stranger', ul-jar, the Heb. ger : the word is used in its Biblical sense of protected 

(6) ' To eat the flesh of men ' is a figurative expression for defaming them in their absence : as 
we say 'to backbite'. The phrase occurs in the Qur'an, xlix. 12, 'AyuAibbu 'ahadukum 'an ya'kula 
lahma 'dkliihi maitan, ' Would any one of you desire to eat the flesh of his brother when he is dead ? ' 
i. e., to speak evil of him. Cf. also ante, No. XL, v. 73. 

(9) ' The fool ', jaJiil, in the Biblical sense. 

(II) Khalid, a man of the family of Anmar, a division of Lukaiz, is said to have approached 
' one of the kings ' probably either an-Nu'man Abo Qabus of Lakhm, or the Persian governor of 
al-Mushaqqar and by his intercession obtained the release of Sha's, surnamed al-Mumazzaq, who 
was al-Muthaqqib's sister's son. 

(12) ' Bring on a man troubles one by one ', yatakhasaina bihi : the verb means to count by units. 
For ash-shaJchsa, ' the shape ', there is a v. I. az-zaula, which probably has the same meaning : it is a 
little-known word, and the scholiasts have guessed at its signification. 

(13) ' Platter ', jafnah, the broad flat dish into which the mess of meat and rice is emptied from 
the pot, and round which the guests sit. ' His generosity is of the foremost ', rib'iyu-n-nadd : rib'iy 
means a camel-calf born in the early spring, and therefore at the best time of the year, for its mother, 
having abundant pasture, is able to afford it plenty of milk, so that it grows fat and soon becomes 
strong : opposed to it is faifiy, born at the beginning of the summer, when the pasture is dried up and 
milk is scarce, and the offspring therefore starved. Here Khfilid's liberality is praised as being of 
the most vigorous kind. ' His session ', majlisuJiu, that is, the place where he sits to receive those 
who desire to speak with him : Khalid was, of course, a chief, and as such had a place of audience ; 
his courtesy and dignity are expressed by the verse. 

(14) The version, as directed by the scholion, renders amam as equivalent to qasd, which 
here has the sense of a judicious mean between extravagance and parsimony (see LA iv. 353 19 ff -) : 
but another meaning of the word, ' easy ', ' light ' (Ar. hayyiri), would suit very well. Cf. the verse 
of 'Amr b. Qaml'ah in llanwsah 504, 3, where lam afqid bihi idh faqadtuhu amama is rendered ' when 
I lost it (i. c. youth) I lost in it no light, insignificant thing'. So here, wealth is said to be a light 
thing when spent in defence of honour. This rendering, in fact, suits better the transition to the 
following verse. 



THE piece is sometimes ascribed to Yazid's brother Suwaid. The author was a member 
of the great division of 'Abd al-Qais called Shann, which held the north-western shore of the 
Persian Gulf, as Lukaiz held the shore from Hajar eastwards to 'Uman ; northwards it was in 
contact with Tamim. Both this piece and the next are addressed in defiance to an-Nu'man 
Abu Qabus (circa A. D. 582-605), king of al-Hirah, who attempted to establish his sovereignty 
over the tribe and to levy taxation from them (No. LXXIX, v. 10). It may be conjectured, 
from al-Muthaqqib's poem, No. XXVIII of our Collection, that the king was successful in this 
enterprise. Certainly he could not have reached the part of the 'Abd al-Qais settled in ' Uman 
(v. 17 of No. XXVIII) without subduing the sections living between 'Oman and the lands 
of Tamim. 

(1) I have made ready Sabhah for action, now that she has attained her sixth 
year, and I have clad myself in the armament of a man of good judgement who 
endures hardship patiently. 

(2) Ye cannot join together love of me and anger with me unless two swords 
can be brought together in one sheath. 

(3) Nu'man ! verily thou art a traitor and a cheat : thy inward mind hides a 
purpose other than that which thou showest forth. 

(4) And if thou thinkest of stripping the bark off our tamarisk-tree, try it, 
then, if thou art obstinate in thy purpose ! 

(5) That we are proud, and draw our origin from a glorious stock, forbids us 
[to abase ourselves before thee]. 

(6) If thou in thy folly attackest our kinsmen, thou shalt find squadrons of 
horsemen galloping to defend us. 

(7) Didst thou fancy that we were flesh set forth on a board, or think that we 
should not defend ourselves in time of trouble ? 

(8) Thou didst practise deceit, trampling on our faces ; and the deceit in thee 
was a sign of thy purpose ; 

(9) And thou didst brandish thy sword as though thou wouldst bring war upon 
us. Look to thy sword ! whom dost thou mean to slay with it ? 

(10) Thou tookest in hand a task suited only to a prudent warrior, whilst 
thou wast distraught, a man destroyed by what he plotted ; 

(11) And now in sooth the way is light before thee, and the paths for thee to 
tread are manifest, and guidance helps thee on. 

u h 2 



(1) Sabhah, the name of his mare. 

(4) ' To strip the bark off one's tamarisk-tree ', a proverbial phrase for attacking one's honour or 
reputation. The athl (now called ithl) or tamarisk is one of the commonest and finest of the trees 
found in Arabia. 

(6) Instead of bi-l-kharqa (' in thy folly ' so Abo 'Ikrimah) there is a v. 1. bi-l-Matta, the 
name of one of the squadrons of horse maintained by the kings of al-Hirah. The name means 
' of a mixed white and black colour ', referring to their dark armour and glittering weapons ; other 
such troops were called asli-Shaliba, meaning ' the grey ', and Dausar, perhaps meaning ' strong and 
bulky ', or possibly from the Persian do-sar, ' having two heads '. Prof. Bevan thinks it probable, 
from the v. I., that al-kharqa is here an epithet of an-Nu'man's army, meaning ' clumsy, awkward, 
unskilful '. 

(7) ' Flesh set forth [for sale] on a [butcher's] board ', a proverbial phrase for that which is 
utterly helpless ; toadam may also mean a mat, on which meat is set to protect it from contact with 
the ground. 



THIS is another piece in the same vein as the last, dwelling on the preparations made by 
the poet and his clan, the Shann of 'Abd al-Qais, to oppose the extension of authority which 
King an-Nu'man endeavoured to effect over them. The metre is different from that of the 
preceding piece, but the scheme is the same, and the same expressions recur. The unusual 
rhyme brings in a number of strange words at the end of the verses, some of which may be 
peculiar to the tribal dialect. 

(1) Have the tidings not reached her that I have ready the armament of a man 
of good judgement, and that I have already trained ash-Shamus for war ? 

(2) I gave her the training-food, so that in the course of the winter her colour 
grew darker, as though there were upon her a veil of brocade and a sombre-hued 
hood ; 

(3) We set apart for her support during the summer our milch-camels, those 
in the seventh year of age, and those of the ninth and eighth year. 

(4) And she became finally like the wild-goat fed on the herbage that does not 
fail in drought ; she springs, when she gallops, on nimble legs that rise high in air, 
having a large reserve of speed. 

(5) We keep ready for the day of alarm a smooth coat of mail, ample, polished 
and shining, and a keen-edged sword, light and quick in its stroke, evil-natured 
[to its foes]. 

[(5 .) We carry upon her our arms nobly in every fight, when the closely- 
serried host stands face to face with the [enemy's] line.] 


(6) Guard thine oath with a reserve mayst thou be saved from cursing ! 
the word of a sinful man, [which thou didst swear] against our goods, that they 
should surely be divided [as booty] into fifths ! 

(7) Whensoever we have traversed one sandy tract and its border, we have an 
affair in another, quick to put through, into which we plunge. 

(8) Turn away from us, ye Sons of an-Nu'man, your breasts: if ye do not so, 
ye will have to turn away your heads against your will. 

(9) Shall every mean man among you, every base-born wretch, count up 
against us a raid and spoiling ? 

(10) Dost thou think and imagine us to be like the Son of al-Mu'alla, sea-faring 
men, that we should pay dues to the tax-gatherers ? 

(11) If ye will send a spy to search us out, he will find around my tents the 
whole tribe sitting. 


(1) Ash-Sham as (meaning 'a horse that- will hardly remain still'), like Sabhah in the preceding 
poem, is the proper name of a mare. 

(2) For the training of the war-mare cf. ante, No. LXI, 4 ff. and notes. The mare was probably 
a bay, kumait, and her colour would gradually darken with the thickening of the coat of hair during 
the winter. Sundus is explained by the Lexx. as a thin brocade, dibaj raqlq, but if derived, as is 
probable, from the Greek o-ivSuv (ace. pi. in Hesychius crtv^ovi), it should rather mean cambric or 
muslin. Sadus is also probably a foreign word : the commy. says that it is a dark-coloured hood, 
tailasan aklular. It has been suggested that it is the Greek lo-ans, woad, also used for indigo 
(Fraenkel, Aram. Fremibc., 46). 

(3) Cf. ante, No. V, v. 3 and note, No. XXII, v. 31,. &c. The various words for the milch- 
camels indicating their ages are rdbui, in their seventh year, sadls, in their eighth year, and basil, in 
their ninth year or more. 

(4) ' Herbage that does not fail in the summer ', ' ar-rabl, apparently a general name for such 
pasture, not the specific name of a particular plant ; v. I. ar-ramli, ' of the sands '. The exact meaning 
of khunus is doubtful : I have followed the explanation of the Lisan our scholion is not clear as to 
what is intended. 

(5) The first word of the verse is taken as nu'iddu, not yu'iddu : see foot-note. ' Evil-natured ', 
flarus, properly the word for a vicious she-camel that bites her milker : the word is also used as an 
epithet of War. 

(5 a) is read by three of our recensions, not by al-Anbari. 'Upon her', i. c., upon the mare 
described in vv. 1-4. 

(6) For the custom of making u reservation with an oath see ante, No. XXVI, note to v. 42. 
' Mayst thou be saved from cursing ', abaita-l-la'na, the standard form of greeting to the Lakhmite 
kings of al-Hirah (ante, No. XXVIII, v. 27). Here we have, in the last words of the verse, which 
is certainly pre-islamic, mention made of the division of spoil taken in battle into five parts. This is 
commonly said (e. g., in Lane, s. v. Jchamls) to be a matter laid down for the first time by the Prophet 
(in the Qur'an, Stir. viii. 42) after the battle of Badr, whence the expression Jchumsu-llah, ' God's fifth ', 
for the part reserved for the necessities of the theocratic State. In the Ignorance the proportion of 
the booty taken by the chief who led the victorious army was generally said to be one-fourth (LA vii. 


372 12 ff -) : hence the saying of 'Adi son of Hatim of Tayyi' : Raba'tu fi-l-Juhiliyati wa-Miamastu 
fi-l-Islam, ' I led armies both in the Ignorance and in Islam, in the former case taking one-fourth, in 
the latter one-fifth, as my share of the spoil '. 

(8) The second hemistich may possibly mean that, if those addressed do not desist from their 
attempt to coerce the 'Abd al-Qais (' turn away their breasts from us '), they will have to suffer 
decapitation when taken prisoners, for the man whose head is to be struck off is placed so that 
the sword takes him on the back of the neck, and this may be hinted at in the words ' ye will have to 
turn your heads aside against your will '. 

(9) ' Count up ', i. e., as a subject of boasting. 

(10) The reading rendered is 'a-Jca-bni-l-Mu'alk't. There is no information given us as to the Son 
of al-Mu'alla. The nomad Arabs regarded sailors and fishermen with some contempt ; here, however, 
the resistance is to taxation, which seafarers had naturally to pay on being admitted to the king's 




THE poet was the nephew (sister's son) of al-Muthaqqib (ante, Nos. XXVIII, LXXVI, 
and LXXVII). Very little of his work has survived nothing, in fact, except the two pieces 
which follow, a poem in the Asmalyat (No. 50), and a few fragments and single lines. 
Ibn Qutaibah calls him a Jakill qadlm, ' one who lived far back in the Ignorance '. But if it 
is true that he was al-Muthaqqib's sister's son, he cannot have been very ancient, since his 
uncle was a contemporary of, and addressed poems to, an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, the last king of 
al-Hlrah (ante, No. XXVIII), and he himself, in v. 3 of No. LXXXI, mentions the same king.* 
Nothing special is recorded of his life. The traditions of the tribe of 'Abd al-Qais, on which 
Abu 'Ubaidah wrote a book, have not come down to us. 

The poem before us, according to Abu 'Ubaidah, is not by al-Mumazzaq, but by Yazld b. al- 
Khadhdhaq (ante, Nos. LXXVIII.LXXIX); and if the verse which the Vienna and BritishMuseum 
recensions contain, following our No. 6, where this poet's name is mentioned, is a genuine part 
of the poem, there can be no question that Abu 'Ubaidah was right. But al-Mufaddal (text 
p. 602') did not know this verse, and his recension of the poem contains only our vv. 1-5. 
I have therefore rendered the poem twice over, first, according to al-Mufaddal's text (which 
Tha'lab apparently took as authoritative), and again according to the arrangement of Abu 
'Ubaidah, represented by the Vienna MS. and the 'Iqd of Ibn 'Abd-Rabbihi. The poem 
describes the poet's funeral, imaginatively foreseen by him as he lies on his sick-bed (rf. ante, 
No. XXVII, vv. 23-30). 

* In view of v. 14 of No. XXVIII, it is impossible to accept Prof. Geyer's suggestion (WZKM 
xviii. 5) that he was a contemporary of an-Nu'man II. whose reign falls circa A. D. 499-503. 


(1) Is there for a man any protector against the Daughters of Time? or is 
there any magician who can charm away from him the fated doom of Death ? 

(2) They combed my hair but it was not combed because it was dishevelled ; 
and they clad me in clothes that bore no signs of wear ; 

(3) And they lifted me up and said ' What a man was he ! ' and they wrapped 
me in a winding-sheet as though I were a folded napkin [with which children play] ; 

(4) And they sent young men of their best in general regard, to dispose in a 
seemly way my limbs in a grave in the dust. 

(5) Moderate thy grief: be not excessive in thy pity for me: for verily our 
property goes to the heir that comes after us. 


(1) The ' Daughters of Time ', banatu-d-Dahri, are the changes and chances of Fortune. 

(3) A better reading for wa-rafa'unl is that of the 'Iqd wa-tayyabwni, ' they perfumed me '. 
Bodies prepared for burial were perfumed, among the Arabs as among the Hebrews (Mark xiv. 8). 
' A folded napkin ', mikhraq, a kerchief or turban folded up into a long shape, with which children 
play, beating one another therewith : see Mu'all. of 'Amr b. KulthOm, v. 37. The corpse is tightly 
wound round with cere-cloths so as to look like such a mikhraq. 

THE following is the other shape of this poem, as ascribed to Yazid b. al-Khadhdhaq. 
The metre (Baslt) of the original is imitated. The numbers of the verses in the Arabic text 
are retained. 

(6) I lie as though Time had shot my shape with darts unawares 

winged sure to pierce me, unfeathered, sent from no bow-string. 

(1) What man can hope for a guard against the Daughters of Time? 

what spells avail to defeat the fated onset of Doom? 

(6 a) They closed my eyes but it was not sleep that held them from sight : 
one said who stood by ' He 's gone, the Son of al-Khadhdhaq ! ' 

(2) They combed my hair but it was not because it hung unkempt, 

and then they clad me in clothes that bore no signs of wear. 

(3) They sprayed sweet odours on me, and said ' How goodly a man ! ' 

then wrapped my form in a white sheet closely folded around ; 

(4) And then they sent of their best, young men of gentle descent, 

to lay my limbs in a grave dug deep out there in the dust. 

(5) Grieve not for me overmuch : let sorrow pass as it will : 

the wealth I left shall rejoice why not ? the heart of my heir. 



THIS piece is unfinished, the ' when ' (fa-lammd) of v. 8 having no apodosis. It is in 
great confusion, and, as it stands, almost unintelligible. But a somewhat more consecutive 
version of it (though still fragmentary), with eight additional verses, is contained in the texts 
of Marzuqi and the Vienna MS., and has been given in Appendix IV, of which a translation 
will be found in its place. Reference should be made to that for such elucidation of the 
matter as is possible. 

(1) The heart that was smitten with longing is sobered of its youthful passion, 
and the time has come for the scattering of the whole tribe collected together ; 

(2) Then was he as though not the showers that fall from the clouds, nor the 
far-sought wine strained from the lees could cure the burning thirst of his heart. 

ft # * * * * # * 

(3) Now who will carry to an-Nu'man this message, that his sister's son repairs 
constantly to as-Safa above the 'Ain, and sings ; 

(4) And that Lukaiz are not the owners of a skinful of clarified butter, what 
time their pilgrims rose high [to the Upland] and dispersed to their several lands ? 

(5) [God (?)] decreed for the whole of the men, when his commandment came 
to them, that they should lead their horses alongside [of their camels] and then 
should overtake their foes. 

(6) A generous, noble chief makes with them for the rugged Upland one 
keen and swift to strike like the edge of an Indian blade. 

(7) And the whole concourse said ' Whither tends our way ? ' and Mumazzaq 
hid within from them the evil guile of his mind. 

(8) And when the [fields of the] rimth and the ghada covered them from view, 
and when the fires of both the parties shone before them, 

(9) And he [the leader (?)] diverted them westwards away from our country 
and those about us had been glad'if he had gone eastwards 


(2) ' Far-sought wine ', rahw[, an Aramaic word which has this meaning, used in the Qur'an 
(Ixxxiii. 25) : the Arabian philologers did not know its real sense, and have put forth many 
conjectural significations for it. The rendering adopts the reading gltalila fu'ddihl for lahu, min 

(3) The place called as-Safa. is said to be a fortress, Aisn, in the district of Hajar in al-Bahrain 
(the country of the poet's tribe), in the neighbourhood of the 'Ain, the latter being a copious spring 


which feeds a distributing channel called the canal of al-Muhallim, and sends its water to irrigate 
fields and palm-gardens in Hajar. Who is intended by an-Nu'man's sister's son is unknown : the 
other version reads, for Una likMilii, Usayyidan, which is the name of a section of the tribe of Tamim, 
the neighbours of 'Abd al-Qais on the north. Yumarriq, ' he sings ', is an unknown or rare word, 
probably interpreted by conjecture. 

(4) 'A skinful of clarified butter', 'ukkah, a small skin used for storing sarnn, ghee or clarified 
butter, the only article of commerce produced by the nomad Arabs except hides, camels and horses. 
The verse is said to mean that Lukaiz are not traders in savin, but warriors. 

(5) It is not clear who is the agent to the verb qarla, whether the leader of v. 6, or God : perhaps 
the latter is the best assumption : ' We are not traders, but warriors : God decreed for us that we 
should go on expeditions (gliazawut), leading our war-mares by the side of our riding camels '. 

(6) ' Kugged Upland ', al-Ifazm : this is said to be the same as al-Ifaen, for which see ante, 
No. IX, note to v. 6. 

(7) Mumazzaq apparently represents himself as the leader of his tribe in the affair described. 

(8) For rimth, the dwarf tamarisk, see ante, No. XIII, v. 4, and for the ghaf/d, another species 
of tamarisk, No. XLIV, note to v. 30. ' Both the parties ', al-fanqain, apparently the two parties 
into which the enemy were divided. 




WE have no information which would enable us to fix the date or the circumstances of 
this short poem. The author, member of a branch of Bakr long settled in al-'Iraq, and in close 
relations with the royal house of al-Hlrah, appears to have possessed a herd of camels which 
grazed in the desert not far from that capital, and had been raided by a man named 'Auf. He 
explains why he did not immediately lead a party to recover the spoil because his people were 
scattered in different directions. The last verse is somewhat enigmatical, since it seems to 
accept defeat. Marzuql thinks that it is sarcastic, and really means the opposite of what it 
says. The poet is not mentioned in any of the ordinary books of reference : his tribe, Shaiban, 
was one of great military prowess. 'Abd al-MasIh, the poet of Nos. LXXII, LXXIII, and 
LXXXIII, belonged to his house, and this shows that he lived before Islam. 

(1) my two comrades, saddle the camels and hasten : for verily the time has 
come for the starter on his way to feel heart's pain ! 

(2) Long has been the stay here : so bring near to me a full-grown she-camel, 
strong and sturdy, fit to carry two through the desert lands. 

(3) She has eaten of the barley of as-Sailahun and its clover, and out of it she 
has stored up for me fleetness ; 

1101.9 I 1 


(4) And she is like a she-ostrich in the sand-margin of Mulaihah, with her legs 
dyed green with the herbage, tall, vying in speed with a black-plumaged male. 


(5) O 'Auf, woe to thee ! what has emboldened thee to take possession of my 
troop of camels ? It was my custom from long ago to send them forth to feed far 
afield in thy direction. 

(6) By God ! were it not that the folk who owned them were all scattered far 
and wide and the worst of things that a man can say is a lie ! 

(7) I had sent in the direction of the cry for help the rushing of a multitude (?), 
and I had mounted a short-haired steed, spare and lithe like a palm-branch stripped 
of its leaves ; 

(8) And ye should have left my camels feeding peacefully for I am one of 
those who drive away from my herds a host disappointed of their booty. 

(9) A goodly warrior is 'Auf when he clothes himself in his armour : and woe 
is me, the yoke-fellow of defeat ! 


(2) 'Fit to carry two, &c.', taqta'u bi-r-rudufa-s-sabsaba : the nidafu is the taking up of a second 
rider, radif, behind the principal one. 

(3) As-Sailahun (also without the article, and Sailahln) is the name of a place in the neighbour- 
hood of al-Hlrah (Yaqut, iii. 218-19, has several quotations from the poets in which the name 
occurs). ' Clover ', 'ufld, said to be the same as gatt (clover), but otherwise explained as equivalent to 
fisfisah, which is lucerne (Pers. aspest, ' horses' food '). The line shows that the poet was an 
inhabitant of the cultivated territory of al-'Iraq. ' Stored up ', a paraphrase of tahallabat, which 
literally means ' She flowed (with fleetness) as with milk '. 

(4) ' Sand-margin ', liwa, the margin where the sand-dunes leave off and the hard surface, jadad, 
begins : for the connexion of ostriches with such a locality see ante, No. XLIV, note to v. 25. 
Niqniq, fern, niqniqah, a name (onomatopoeic) for ostriches, derived from their cry or cackle. The 
male ostrich is generally black, with white bunches of feathers on the wings, the female usually 
brown or dun-coloured. Mulaihah, a place in the upland territory (kazri) of Yarbu', site of a battle 
between that tribe and the Shaiban of Bakr (Naq. 580 ff.). 

(7) ' Bushing of a multitude ', mufarlatan : this seems the best sense to give the word ; tfadah is 
a technical term used to describe the rush of pilgrims from Mink after the Day of Sacrifice, or from 
'Arafat (Qur. ii. 194), to Mecca ; an alternative, favoured by the scholion, interprets mufaddh as 
meaning a long mail-coat allowed to hang down. 

(9) Another example of the use of lillaM with a man's name, in praise. 



THE poet is called by Abu 'Ikrimah in this place a member of the tribe of 'Abd al-Qaia ; 
but he can hardly be other than the author of Nos. LXXII and LXXIII ante, who is there 
said to belong to the house of Murrah b. Hammam b. Murrah, of Dhuhl b. Shaiban, and this 
accounts for the appearance of his piece in the Collection next to a poem by the head of that 
house, No. LXXXII. The fragment relates to a fight which apparently took place at 'Unaizah, 
a well-known site in the Wadi-r-Rummah. The antagonists of Shaiban were probably of 
Tamlm (Yarbu'), but we have no details of the affair. 

(1) Mayst thou be safe from the changes of Time, O Fatimah : and if thou 
askest me of them, thou askest in me one who knows them well ! 

(2) We went forth in the morning to meet our foes, and the swords were our 
staves in our right hands, wherewith we test and try the skulls [of our enemies]. 

(3) By my life ! we fed full the hyaenas of 'Unaizah for a year with them, and 
the old and feeble vultures. 

(4) [The hyaertas] suck out the marrow from the ends of the long bones in the 
early morning ; and we print [with our swords] an abiding mark on the noses [of 
our foes] ; 

[(4 a) And many the man despoiled of his mail-coat and his weapons have we 
left with the wolf standing over him, tearing his flesh.] 

(5) But as for the brother of Qurt, I am not jesting say to him : ' Be thou 
safe, so long as Murrah is safe ! ' 


(2) The transition by which the verb fain, which properly means ' to search with a comb the 
hair of the head for lice ', is used for the plying of swords on the adversaries' skulls, is illustrated by 
the idiomatic use of the French ptigner for the same purpose (Bevan). 

(3) 'Unaizah (ante, No. XXXVI, 17) was probably the place where the battle referred to was 
fought. Arab tradition, so far as known to us, speaks only of one ' Day of 'Unaizah ', viz. the first 
battle between Bakr and Taghlib in the War of al-Basds, which must have been long before the time 
of our poet (see Agh. iv. 143, and xi. 172) : it was also an inconclusive action, and could scarcely be 
spoken of as a victory as described here. Some other battle of 'Unaizah must be referred to. The 
word qasJi'am, used here and in 'Antarah, Mu'all. 80, of vultures, is of uncertain meaning. Prof. 
Noldeke ( Fitnf Mu'allakdt, ii. p. 48) thinks it means ' big, stout'. Calamity is called Ummu Qash'am 
in Zuhair, Mu'all 41, apparently as providing a supply of food for vultures. 

(4) The print on the nose is a figurative way of saying that we stamp them with shame. The 
print referred to is one of the tribal marks of camels. 

(5) Although the poet says that he is not jesting, the commentators are of opinion that he 
is. They say that Murrah was really already slain, and that in promising the brother of Qurt safety 
so long as Murrah was safe the poet was speaking ironically. We know nothing further of the 
circumstances to which the poem relates. 

I i 2 




THE poet, whose proper name was Mus-hir, is mentioned in the Naqii'id as an adherent 
(hallf) of Shaiban just before the tribe of Bakr accepted Islam (pp. 1020-23). He was, there- 
fore, a contemporary of the Prophet. His tribe or family was a division of the Quraish * 
descended from Lu'ayy, of the branch of Khuzaimah, but called after their mother 'A'idhah, 
who is said by BHisham to have been a woman of al-Yaman. They apparently emigrated 
from their parent stock, and attached themselves to Shaiban (to the family of Abu Babi'ah 
b. Dhuhl) as clients or subordinate allies. The verses are in praise of Shaiban. 

(1) Ho ! carry this message from me to the Sons of Shaiban ' May this not 
be my farewell from my last meeting with you ! 

(2) ' Goodly was life to me while I abode among you : and a man's life wears 
him down little by little. 

(3) ' When dissensions bring down the shape and stature of a people, may God 
exalt still more your shape and stature ! 

(4) ' In my time I have been the protected stranger of many a tribe, but never 
have I seen one like you in prudence and generosity.' 



A REMARKABLY vigorous poem, celebrating the victory of the Bakrite tribe of 'Ijl, at a place 
called Falj, over the Kalbites (ante, p. 152). Nearly every verse contains a bitter scoff. As 
'Ijl was not nearly connected with Shaiban, the subject of praise in the preceding poem, we 
must assume that Maqqas was accustomed (as indeed he says in v. 4 of No. LXXXIV) to visit 
other tribes than that in which his family of 'A'idhah was settled, and to praise them in 
his poems. 

(1) Woe to thee, woe to thee, Imra' al-Qais, after that [the horses] have placed 
their feet in the footprints of the riding camels ! 

(2) And if thou hast once been saved from the depths [of destruction], beware 
that thou assail us not ever again in thy reckless folly ! 

See scholion, p. 60S 4 , BDuraid 67 18 , and BHisham 62'. 


(3) [Your] horses remembered the barley they were wont to champ in the 
evening : but we are men accustomed to feed our steeds on cut dry fodder. 

(4) And by God ! if Imra' al-Qais had not been able to outstrip our horsemen 
at Falj, 

(5) He had spfent the summer a prisoner, or had had to treat a wound from 
a spear from which thou mightest have seen behind him blood sprinkled and 
oozing in drops. 

(6) May I be a sacrifice for men who made [their foes] think hard upon their 
past luxurious life, when thou mightest have seen their nostrils snorting with their 
exertions over a meal of dark-red thand ! 

(7) Verily the Sons of 'Ijl administered to you a morning draught that caused 
you to forget [all past things], delicious, hot ! 

(8) Do ye come to us to seek for the poor remnant of our possessions, striving 
in your folly to thrust upon us discomfiture ? 


(1) According to a note in the British Museum codex, the Imra' al-Qais addressed is the son of 
Bahr son of Zuhair b. Janab of Kalb.* The last-named was a celebrated personage in Arabian 
legend, but it is difficult to find a certain place for him in history. He is said to have lived a very 
long life, and to have wielded great power over the northern Arabs : one statement made about him 
is that he was appointed by Abrahah, a viceroy of the Abyssinian king in the Yaman, to control the 
tribes of Bakr and Taghlib (Agh. xxi. 95 10 ) : this Abrahah does not appear to have been the last 
Abyssinian viceroy of that name, the invader of Mecca in the year of the Prophet's birth, circa 
A. D. 570, but a predecessor. That Zuhair was a real personage seems certain, for his descendants are 
enumerated in the, xxi. 102-104, and include many persons well known in historical times. 
A grandson of Zuhair's named Imra' al-Qais is mentioned in the Aghani, 1. c., p. 104 1 ' 2 . The great 
tribe of Kalb, descended from Quda'ah, of which he was the chief, dwelt in the relatively fertile 
region of the Wadi-1-Qura and the Jauf. The conflict of Kalb with the tribe of 'Ijl, celebrated in the 
poem, is not, so far as I have been able to ascertain, mentioned elsewhere. Palj is the name of a place 
where a battle was fought between Shaiban and Tamim, otherwise called the Day of al-Ghabit 
(Naqu'iil 313), in which the former tribe was defeated : but a Day of Falj between Kalb and 'Ijl is 
not recorded. 

The verse refers to the custom, often mentioned before, of leading the horses of a party intending 
to attack an enemy alongside of the riding camels, and mounting them on arrival at the place of 
action. The led horses, lagging behind, are said to place their feet in the footprints of the camels, 
and the implication is that they were not eager to meet the foe : the horses of Imra' al-Qais's party 
are evidently intended. 

(3) This verse carries on the irony of v. 1. The enemy's horses, accustomed to feed on barley 
(which would be grown in the oases of the country of Kalb), did not show any eagerness to meet the 
horsemen of the Desert, whose hardy steeds were accustomed to less succulent fodder. 

* On p. 38 s of the Arabic text (vol. I) this verse is quoted, with the name Ibn Baibata, ' son of 
Baibah ', in place of Imra' al-Qais : the only person of this name known to me is al-Harith b. Baibah, 
who was a man of the Mujashi' b. Darim, of Tamim. He was a contemporary of al-Mundhir III of 
al-Hlrah (Naq. 298 13 ). 


(5) /. e., he would either have been taken prisoner, or would in his flight have received a shameful 
wound in the back from his pursuing enemy. 

(6) Another scoff at the enemy. Tltand is a mess of bread crumbled into broth, and stewed 
meat added thereto. For natcakhira, ' snortings ', there is a v. 1. 'bawakhira, which would mean 
' steaming platters '. 

(7) This also is a scoff : the attack in the morning is figuratively spoken of as a morning draught 
of hot spiced wine (?abuA). 'Ijl, a division of Bakr b. Wa'il : 'Ijl, according to the genealogists, was 
brother of Hanifah, but nevertheless took part in the exodus to al-'Iraq. 

(8) Another sarcasm, again pointed at the contrast between the luxurious and well-fed tribe of 
Kalb and the hardy desert warriors of 'Ijl. ' Poor remnant ' is of course ironical. 


ACCORDING to some authorities the poet's father's name was Sihab. This and the next 
piece must be taken together. They relate to an angry contention between two branches of 
Bakr b. Wa'il, Yashkur, headed by the poet, and Shaiban, headed by Qais son of Mas'ud. The 
subject of the quarrel appears to be ' the mail-coats of the Son of Taibah ', referred to in v. 11, 
but we are not informed more particularly on the matter. In this piece the poet, evidently 
a chief of his tribe (since in the commentary to the Hamdsah he is said to have borne the 
burden of numerous ransoms of prisoners, apparently in the time of King 'Amr b. Hind), 
challenges Qais to act justly in the matter in dispute, and threatens him with warfare if he 
does not, and with disgrace at the gathering of Arabs of Ma'add during the Sacred months 
at the Fair of 'Ukadh. Of Rashid very little is recorded. Qais b. Mas'ud is better known. 
After the deposition of an-Nu'man Abu Qiibus, the last king of al-Hirah, about A. D. 605, the 
Arabs bordering on Mesopotamia, being no longer held in check as they had been by the 
Lakhmite kings, took to raiding the cultivated lands of the Sawad, and even approached the 
neighbourhood of Ctesiphon itself. In order to control them Khusrau Parvez appointed Qais b. 
Mas'ud to the charge of al-Ubullah,* an ancient commercial town on the Shatt al-'Arab, not far 
from the site of the later al-Basrah, assigning to him its revenues and those of the district 
depending on it on condition that he maintained peace along the desert frontier. It was while 
Qais held this office that the celebrated battle of Dhu Qar was fought, when the men of Shaiban, 
'Ijl, and Yashkur, the sections of Bakr settled in 'Iraq, defeated a large force of Arabs subject 
to the Persian king, with two thousand Persian cavalry added to them. This affair happened 
approximately in A. D. 610. Khusrau, enraged at the failure of Qais to control the Arabs, 
before the battle cast him into prison at Ctesiphon, where he died. Another version is that 
he accompanied the Persian host to the battle, and fled away during the rout : a verse attributed 

* The Greek 'ATroAoyos of Seleucid times. It is now occupied by the site of New Basrah (Le Strange, 
Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, p. 47). 


to al-A'sha (Naq. 644 14 ) is cited to prove this ; according to this story he was imprisoned by 
Khusrau afterwards. That he died a prisoner appears certain. He was the father of Bistam 
b. Qais, a well-known chief of Shaiban in the early years of the seventh century, who professed 

The date of our poem must be before the deposition of an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, probably 
somewhere about the end of the sixth century. 

(1) I lay awake, and there came upon mine eyes no particle of drowsiness ; and 
by God ! my condition was not due to love or to sickness : 

(2) But tidings had reached me from a certain man and my provision for my 
journey is not evil, as he falsely said : 

(3) No ! I hold far away my garments from foul speech : but some people's 
garments are defiled with treachery. 

(4) Hold then, Father of al-Khansa ! revile me not, lest thou gnash thy teeth 
with repentance in the days to come ; 

(5) And threaten me not ! verily, if thou meetest me face to face, [thou shalt 
find that] I have with me a Mashrafite sword, with notches on its smiting-edge 
from long use, 

(6) And arrows, alike in length, smooth and slender like leathern thongs, and 
a bow that twangs, made of the topmost branch of a hard-wood tree, not growing 
by water, and not of nasham-vfood, 

(7) And a spear quivering continuously in the joints, tawny, hard, and a mail- 
coat studded with pins, smooth and even in the seams, 

(8) Double in its weaving, compact, or of the workmanship of Hutamah, that 
covers a man's fingers and palms and feet. 

(9) All these I borrow from stores of weapons going back to 'Ad and in you 
aforetime used to be poverty in respect of treachery, or a total absence of it. 

(10) Yea, till but lately was I the protected guest of a house and the companion 
thereof : but now has Qais hardness in his hearing ! 

(11) O Qais son of Mas'ud son of Qais son of Khalid, wilt thou deal faithfully 
with the mail-coats of the Son of Taibah, or art thou purposed to draw upon thee 

(12) Blame that will cover with shame the man and his family, by the sarhah- 
tree with slender branches, in the shade of which is pitched the tent of leather ? 


(1) Wa-ma daliri may here mean, as in No. LXVII. 1, 'it is not my wont (to suffer from love or 
sickness) ' : but the wide meaning of dahr, ' any indeterminate space of time ', is also compatible with 
the rendering of the text. 

(4) The ' Father of al-Khansa' is presumably Qais son of Mas'ud, named in v. 11. 

(5) ' Mashrafite sword 1 ', see ante, No. XII, 10. Swords are often described as having notches in 


their edges, indicating the many combats in which they have been used before ; thus an-Nabighah 

In them no defect is found, save only that in their swords 
are notches a many, gained from smiting of host on host. 

(6) ' Smooth and slender ', saljam, a word of uncertain meaning. For far', the topmost branch 
of the tree of which the bow is made there is a v. I. filq, meaning that the- branch is cleft so as to make 
two pieces from which bows can be fashioned (see No. XXXVIII, note to v. 17). The tree is that 
(according to the Lexx.) variously called nab' ah, slwuhat, sara'ah, and shiryanah: it grows in the 
mountains of the Sarat, and should be fed only by the rain, not by water of irrigation (saqii/), which 
would make its wood soft. Lastly, it is not a bow of was/jam-wood ; the Lexx. show that this wood 
was by some highly approved for making bows, a verse of Imra' al-Qais and another by a poet of 
Hudhail being quoted in which it is referred to with praise. 

(7) The use of the dual (al-ka'baini) for the knots or joints in the bamboo spear is curious : 
Marzoql suggests that it means the two extremities, i. e. , the knots in the upper and those in the 
lower part. ' Pins ', qatlr, the pins which hold together the various portions of the mail-coat. 

(8) Hutamah son of Muharib, of the tribe of 'Abd al-Qais, was a celebrated maker of mail-coats. 

(9) 'Ad : see ante, No. XL, note to v. 85. 

(10) The rendering adopts Ahmad's reading zumainan for zamanan. 

(12) The reference here is said to be to the gathering of the tribes at the Fair of 'Ukadh, held 
in the Hijaz above Mecca during the pilgrimage month, when war was forbidden. The Sar/tah-tree 
was a large tree in the camping ground, underneath which the tents were pitched. 

The poem in the British Museum and Vienna recensions has three more verses : but they are 
not consecutive with v. 12, and express the poet's praise of himself. The following is their 
translation : 

(13) I have built me in Thaj a tower of stone, that I may make it a stronghold against him 
who seeks to abase me : 

(14) Proudly it rises, tall the birds slip down before attaining to its height : it is built of 
blocks of stone which Irani quarried for it of old ; 

(15) To it seeks for refuge the wretch in terror of death, and to it repairs the starveling 
who hopes for plenty in place of utter want. 

(14) Irani, the son of 'Ad : the name is used here, as 'Ad in v. 9, to indicate immemorial 
antiquity. The building is, of course, not a real tower, but the glory and prestige of the tribe, as in 
Suwaid's poem, No. XL, v. 63 ; hence the reference to its antiquity, which would be out of place if 
only the poet's own life were intended. For the phrase about the birds slipping down before they 
attain its height, cf. Imra' al-Qais xx, 60, tazillu-t-tairu 'an qiidhufatihl ; the same expression is used 
by Bishr b. Abl Khazim in a verse cited LA xi, 185". 




SEE the introduction to the preceding piece. Here the quarrel between Yashkur and 
Shaiban has resulted in bloodshed, the death of one 'Amr, apparently a kinsman of the chief 
Qais b. Mas'ud of Shaiban, and the wounding of Qais himself (v. 6). It would seem, from the 
oath by the Ka'bah in v. 7, that the poet's tribe was still heathen when the poem was 

(1) Who will carry this message for me to the young men of Yashkur, that 
I see coming upon us a time that will give many occasions for stout endurance ? 

(2) And I counsel you in respect of the tribe of Shaiban verily they are 
a people who build up great deeds to boast of : 

(3) In spite of that Qais said, Qais son of Khalid ' Verily Yashkur is sweeter 
to eat than dates, if we should encounter them ! ' 

(4) I saw thee, when thou didst recognize our faces, turn away and become 
content in spirit, O Qais, in respect of 'Amr ; 

(5) Thou didst consider the blood which our spears had spilt mere gushes of 
spring showers, or like purple dye about the throat ; 

(6) And we brought thee to a bed whereon thou layest all the summer long, 
with thy wounds tended within the curtain by thy women. 

(7) Think not that we and our company are like the 'Amrs nay, we, by the 
House of God ! are nearer to Bakr than ye, 

(8) The whole body of us, and we are not well thou knowest a mixed crowd, 
but are far removed from base qualities and treachery. 


(2) The reading 'ibna', preferred by Ahmad in place of 'abna', has been followed in the translation. 

(3) The idiom ' to eat up a people ', in the sense of spoiling and destroying them, is common ; 
for another example see No. LXXXVIII, v. 7. 

(4) In spite of the boast of v. 3, Qais is afraid to face Yashkur, and is content to allow the blood 
of his kinsman 'Amr, who had been slain by them, to go without vengeance being taken for it. 

(5) ' Purple dye ', urjuwan, Pers. argliawan, Aram, argwana, Heb. argaman, a very ancient word, 
going back to the Assyrian argamannu. 

(6) From this verse it appears that, in spite of the evasion mentioned in v. 4, some encounter 
took place between Yashkur and Qais, in which the latter received wounds. 

(7) In this verse I have adopted the reading of the British Museum recension in preference to that 
of our text, ' nearer to 'Amr than ye ' : the latter seems to have no sense. The verse, taken with v. 8, 
claims for Yashkur that they are of the purest stock of Bakr, without any admixture of outsiders, and 


faithful to the great reputation of the tribe and the ties of common blood not people like Qais's 
kinsman 'Amr (' the 'Amrs '), of no account, whose blood can be safely left unavenged. ' The House 
of God ' is the Ka'bah of Mecca. 


THE two pieces which follow are ascribed to one of the most famous and picturesque 
personages of old Arabian legend, the man of blood and violence called al-Harith son of, Dhalim. 
He was a member of the house of Murrah (ante, No. XII, introduction), a subdivision of Dhubyan, 
but not of the same branch of it as that to which al-Husain b. al-Humam belonged : his ancestor 
was Yarbu' son of Ghaidh son of Murrah. In his youth his family had been attacked by the 
men of Ja'far b. Kilab, of the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, and his father Dhalim and other 
members of his house slain. The duty of avenging this shedding of blood lay upon him, and 
this was the beginning of his adventures when he grew up. 

When the sway of the Kings of Kindah passed away in Northern Arabia (see ante, No. XLII, 
note to v. 22), about or shortly before the middle of the sixth century A. D., the supremacy over 
the great central group of Qais 'Ailan (which had under the Kindites been held by Ma'clI-Karib 
son of al-Harith al-Kindi) came into the hands of a powerful chief named Zuhair son of 
Jadhimah, of the tribe of 'Abs. The two great confederacies which made up nearly the whole 
of Qais 'Ailan were called Ghatafan and Hawazin respectively : 'Abs belonged to the former. 
Zuhair had the countenance and support of the Lakhmite kings, to one of whom he had given 
a daughter in marriage. Hawazin chafed under his harsh and oppressive rule, and eventually 
he was assassinated by Khalid son of Ja'far b. Kilab, of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, the most powerful 
of the confederate clans. After Zuhair's death the unity of Ghatafan and Hawazin broke up : 
his son Qais retained the chiefship only of the tribe of 'Abs in Ghatafan, and became dis- 
tinguished later as the head of that tribe in the long fratricidal war, called the War of Dahis, 
which was waged between the brother-tribes of Ghatafan, 'Abs and Dhubyan. Hawazin broke 
off altogether from the other Qaisite tribes, and for many years maintained an active feud with 
Ghatafan under the captaincy of the House of Ja'far b. Kilab (for this see the Introduction to 
the Dlwdn of 'Amir b. at-Tufail). Khalid, the slayer of Zuhair, was now the chief of Hawazin, 
and in favour at the Court of al-Hlrah : he had also, it is said, been the leader of the raid 
against Murrah in which al-Harith's father Dhaliiu had been killed. Al-Harith, now grown 
up, visited al-Hirah during the reign of a prince whom the legend calls an-Nu'man Abu Qabiis 
(circa A. D. 580-602), but who according to chronology (see below) must have been one of that 
king's predecessors, perhaps King Qabus (569573). There injurious words passed between 
al-Harith and Khalid, and, notwithstanding the protection of the Prince, al-Harith slew his 
adversary one night when asleep in his tent. This outrage for at the King's Court all tribal 
visitors to his precincts were under sanctuary (jiiudr), and bound to abstain from violence 
against one another greatly shocked public feeling in Northern Arabia. Al-Harith had to flee, 
and found that no tribe to which he appealed not even his own was willing to grant him 
more than temporary protection against the pursuit of the Lakhmite king. His adventures in 


the life of vagabondage to which this led are the subject of the main part of the legends con- 
cerning him, and are illustrated by many pieces of verse by himself and other poets. The 
story is told at considerable length in the Ayhawl, x. 17-29, and is summarized in Caussin de 
Perceval's Essai, ii. 443-53 and 489-94. At an early stage in the pursuit the king of 
al-Hirah, being unable to lay hands on al-Harith himself, confiscated the property of certain 
women-clients of his, consisting of camels and their attendants. Al-Harith's answer to this was 
another deed of blood. His cousin Sinan son of Abu Hilrithah of Murrah, who was married to 
al-Harith's sister Salma, had in his family for fosterage a son of the king named Shurahbll. 
Al-Hiirith presented himself before Salma, and told her that her husband Sinan had com- 
missioned him to bring the boy to him. Having thus obtained possession of the child, he took 
him away into the wilderness, and killed him. Our poem No. LXXXVIII relates to this 
murder, while No. LXXXIX deals with the slaying of Khalid. 

As regards the date of these occurrences, one certain fact is that the killing of Khalid took 
place before the battle of Shi'b Jabalah, for there the group of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah was commanded 
by Khalid's brother al-Ahwas (see Introduction to the Dwuan of 'Amir). There are good reasons 
for dating this battle (approximately) in A. D. 570. Khalid's murder must have preceded it by 
more than a year, for it was previous to the battle of Rahrahan (AgJi. x. 26), when Ma'bad b. 
Zurarah was taken prisoner by the men of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. But an-Nu'man Abu Qabus, as 
already stated, did not become king in al-Hirah till A. D. 580 at the earliest: he cannot there- 
fore have been the king whose son was assassinated by al-Harith, and v. 3 of our poem must 
either be spurious or refer to some one else. It is probable, as already stated, that the king 
of al-Hlrah at the time was an-Nu'man 's uncle Qabus, who may possibly have had a son also 
called Qabus, and thus have been entitled to the tecnonymic Abu Qabus.* Abu 'Ubaidah refers 
the relations between al-Harith and the Court of al-Hlrah to a certain al-Aswad, perhaps 
a brother of Qabus and al-Mundhir IV, who never reigned. This al-Aswad is however probably 
too late, if (as is implied in Agh. x. 24, bottom) he be the same as the prince praised by 
al- A'sha in his poem entitled Ma buka'u ; for al- A'sha died about A. D. 629, nearly sixty years 
after al-Harith's time. 

Our poem is characteristic of the age and the man. The killing of a poor young boy, the 
King's son, is magnified as a great exploit (v. 4), worthy to be set side by side with the slaying 
of the powerful Khalid (v. 6). Pride and violence lead the speaker to attack the King in 
insolent and obscene language (v. 7), and to threaten what he had small chance of carrying 
out (v. 8). The practice of sending out town-born children to be fostered among the Beduin 
under the more strenuous and healthy conditions of desert life, here exemplified, is mentioned 
in several other cases during the Lakhmite dynasty ; it will be remembered that the Prophet 
Muhammad himself was given out to be fostered in the tribe of Sa'd b. Bakr, one of the 
families of the Hawazin, and remained with them till he was five years old (BHisham 103 ff.). 

(1) Tarry, ye twain, and listen : I will tell you, since ye ask : [I am] a man who 
wages war against his cousin, while [the King is] a man bereaved, repentant sore ! 

* BAthir in Kamil I. 415 absurdly makes the king an-Nu'man son of Imra' al-Qais, great- 
grandfather of an-Nu'mfm Aba Qabas : this is some seventy years too early. 



(2) And I swear that had it not been for those who stood in the way, this 
keen sword, bright in its steel, had mingled the blood of both together. 

(3) Thou thoughtest, Abu Qabus, that thou wast safe ; and thou hadst not 
yet met with abasement, thy nose pressed down to the dust. 

(4) And if there be a few parcels of camels seized, and a few boys here is the 
son of Salma ! his head is a notable thing, not to be made light of. 

(5) I assailed with my serpent-sword the top of his head and do any but 
noble men take on themselves desperate deeds ? 

(6) I burst upon him as I burst upon Khalid : and my weapons are greatly 
loathed by the heads of men ! 

(7) Thou limb of an ass * that has spent the night cropping the short grass ! 
Shalt thou eat up my clients, and thy client be safe ? 

(8) I began with that one : then I make a second with this : as for the third, 
men's temples shall whiten with the horror of that deed ! 


(1) The scholiast considers that the two persons mentioned in the second hemistich are (1) the 
poet himself, whose ' waging war against his cousin ' refers to the wrong he did to Sinan son of 
Abu Harithah (the cousin) by slaying when under his protection the young prince Shurahbil, and 
(2) the king of al-Hlrah, the bereaved and mourning father, whose son has been slain ; on the 
whole this seems the best interpretation, though others are possible. 

(2) I. e., but for the guards that surrounded the king, I would have slain himself as well 
as his son. 

(3) This verse is omitted by those who deny that the slain boy was the son of an-Nu'man Aba 
Qabas. Al-Asma'l used to assert that the prince was the son of 'Amr son of al-Harith (?), grand- 
father of an-Nu'man : Abo 'Ubaidah, on the other hand, said that the boy was son of al-Aswad son 
of al-Mundhir III. There are chronological difficulties in holding the king to be an-Nu'rnan Abu 
Qabus, for which see the introduction. 

(4) ' If, on the one hand, thou, King, hast taken advantage of me in seizing the camels of my 
clients with the slaves attending to them, on the other, my killing thy son is a much more important 
matter.' The boy is said to be called ' son of Salma ', because he was given over for fosterage to 
Salma, al-Harith's own sister, and wife of Sinan son of Abu Harithah. It is not impossible that by 
Sal niii the king's own mother may be meant, and the boy be called ' son of Salma ' by suppression 
of a generation, t 

(5) ' Serpent-sword ', Dhu-l-hayyat, the proper name of al-Harith's sword, so called because it had 
a serpent figured on either side. In some of the poems which al-Harith made upon his adventures 
his sword is called Ma'lub, which probably means ' with its hilt bound round with the sinew taken 
from the neck of a camel '. Another famous sword was called Dhu-n-nun, because it had on it the 
figure of a fish : it belonged successively to Malik son of Zuhair of 'Abs, to Hamal son of Badr of 
Fazarah, and to al-Harith son of Zuhair of 'Abs, each getting it by killing its previous possessor. 

(7) ' Clients ' : certain women who were the clients of al-Harith had their possessions confiscated 

* Paraphrase. 

t See AgJi. ix, 166 2 : an-Nu'man's mother was Salma, daughter of 'Atlyah, a goldsmith of Fadak. 


by the king of al-Hlrah, when he was unable to reach al-Harith himself: see the introduction. It 
was in retaliation for this that al-Harith slew the king's son. 

(8) ' That one ', i. e., Khalid son of Ja'far b. Kilab, Chief of Hawazin ; ' a second ', the king's son ; 
' the third ', a threat to assassinate the king himself. The feminine noun to be understood with 
Itaclht, hadhihi, and thalithah is JchuttaJi, ' case', 'affair', 'matter'. 



SEE the introduction to No. LXXXVIII. The first six verses of this poem dwell upon 
the slaying of Khalid, chief of the Banu Kilab of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, which the poet conventionally 
speaks of as the cause of the severance from him of his mistress Salma. Khalid's successor in 
the chiefship, al-Ahwas, is mentioned in v. 4. For the rest of the poem dealing with the 
legendary kinship of the House of Murrah, the poet's family, with the Quraish, see the note to 
v. 7. The contrast between the hardships of nomad life and the imagined ease and security 
of town society in Mecca, dwelt upon in vv. 20-23, is interesting. 

The poem belongs to a series relating to the poet's adventures among the various tribes to 
which he appealed for protection after the mortal offence he had given to the king of al-Hlrah 
by killing Khalid and the king's son : of this series there are several fragments in the Aghanl. 
He was no more fortunate with the Quraish than with others. Eventually he obtained protec- 
tion from a king of Ghassan, the hereditary enemies of the Lakhmites (see ante, No. XLI.note 
to v. 14), another an- Nu'man. But here too his violence and recklessness led to his death, as 
will be found related in Ayhdm, x. 28-9. 

(1) Far away has Salma gone, and taken up her abode among enemies, 
towards whom thou urgest on the unbroken young she-camels ; 

(2) And my people inhabit the mountain-side of Qanawan, while she dwells 
in the meadows of Blshah and ar-Rubab. 

(3) And my sword it was that cut the tie between me and her, when I dealt, 
with full purpose, a sudden blow upon Kilab by killing Khalid, 

(4) And when al-Ahwas and his son took charge of her : already were they 
wroth with me, but they hit not the mark. 

(5) Yea, of set purpose I clothed those twain with a robe of shame, even as 
I clothe their women with mourning garb ; 

(6) And in sooth on the Day of Ghamrah this is no vain boast ! I left 
the booty and the many captives to others. 

(7) Nay, never will I revile Quraish, let whomsoever it may concern take 
offence thereat or no ! 

(8) My people are not in truth Tha'labah son of Sa'd, nor the men of Fazarah 
with hairy necks : 


(9) My people, if thou askest, are the Sons of Lu'ayy in Mecca, they who 
taught mankind how to smite with the sword. 

(10) Foolish were we when we followed the Sons of Baghkl, and left those 
nearest to us as men count kinship, 

(11) Like the folly of one sent on ahead [to arrange for watering the herds], 
who, when he has drunk his fill, pours the water on the ground and follows the 

(12) By thy life ! verily I love Ka'b and Samah my brothers as I love wine ! 

(13) Ghatafan was no father to me, but Lu'ayy was my begetter in very truth ; 

(14) And when I looked on the Sons of Lu'ayy, I felt in me the glow of 
affection due to close ties of kinship. 

(15) I raised my spear when they cried ' Quraish ', and I recognized the like- 
ness in disposition and in lofty rank. 

(16) My company is a piece split off from them [and planted] in Najd, who are 
a torment to those who war against them. 

(19) Every day they hold opposed to the [enemy's] hosts their Mashrafite 
swords and their javelins. 

(18) Yea, by God ! I never incurred the guilt of any crime, nor did I ever rend 
the veil of one of my own kin. 

(20) And if I had wished, I had been one of them, [a settled townsman], and 
had not wandered [over the wilderness], following the clouds [for pasture] ; 

(21) I had not spent the summer in ash-Sharabbah, every day keeping the flies 
away from their waters 

(22) Brackish waters in an evil lodging, where their camel-calves pass the 
night shivering and hungry. 

(23) It is as though a crown were bound on [my tribesmen's] brows, when 
their camels, lean and emaciated, come down to the water to drink. 


(17) And Kawahah the Quraishite filled my camel-saddle with his own camel, 
and looked not for requital 

[(24) A beast on which the saddle-trees, the girth, and my keen sword [in its 
bag], seemed as though they were bound upon a slender-waisted sturdy wild-ass.] 


(1) The Salma here mentioned is evidently, from the places named in v. 2 and the tenor of v. 3, 
a woman of Kilab, a sub-tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, the most powerful tribe of the confederacy of 

(2) Qanaw&ni, ' the two spears ', dual of qana, is the name of two mountains in the upper course 
of the Wadi-r-Rummah in the country of Ghatafan, where the homes of the Band Murrah were 


situated. Bishah, a country to the south of at-Ta'if, where there were settlements of 'Amir b. 

(4) ' Al-Ahwas and his son 'Amr ', in the original al-AAwasani, ' the two al-Ahwas '. In Arabic 
such duals are very common; e.g., al-'Umarani, the Caliphs Abu-Bakr and 'Umar : al-Hasanani, 
al-Hasan and al-Husain, the two sons of 'All, &c. 

(6) ' The Day of Ghamrah ', evidently an encounter with the tribe of Kilab, is not mentioned in 
the legends related about al-Harith b. Dhalim. Apparently w. 4 and 5 refer to this encounter. . 

(7) From this verse onwards the poem is an attempt to get the tribe of Quraish, the well-known 
and powerful occupants of Mecca, to take the poet under their protection as one of themselves. The 
story told (which will be found set forth at great length in pp. 101-103 of the Arabic text) is that 
a woman named al-Baridah, of the tribe of 'Abd al-'Uzza (renamed by the Prophet 'Abdallah) b. 
Ghatafan, was the wife of Lu'ayy son of Ghalib, a celebrated chief of the Quraish, and bore him 
a son named 'Auf. When Lu'ayy died, she returned to her own tribe, and married Sa'd b. Dhubyan, 
to whom she bore Tha'labah b. Sa'd. 'Auf, then a child, went with her and was adopted and brought 
up by Sa'd with his own children. On Sa'd's death Tha'labah repudiated all connexion with 'Auf, 
and excluded him from the inheritance. As he was left, in distress at this treatment, by the road- 
side, Fazarah son of Dhubyan passed by, and took him into his own family, marrying him to his 
daughter Hind. His son by Hind was Murrah, the patriarch of al-Harith's tribe (see the genealogy 
on p. 35, ante). This claim that 'Auf, the father of Murrah, was really of the tribe of Quraish is said 
to have been admitted by the Caliph 'Umar, who offered, if the Band Murrah desired it, to incorporate 
them again in the Quraish. But upon reflection they are said to have replied that they preferred to 
be lords and chiefs in Dhubyan to being inferior members of the tribe of Quraish. 

(10) Baghld, son of Raith, son of Ghatafan, and father of Dhubyan, Anmar (ante, No. V), 
and 'Abs. 

(12) Ka'b and Samah were two sons of Lu'ayy. 

(15) ' To raise the spear ', equivalent to ' presenting arms ' at the salute, when the war-cry of the 
tribe its tribal name is cried. 'Lofty rank', qibaba, literally, 'in respect of leather tents', such 
tents being only used by chiefs and great men : see ante, No. V, note to v. 3, and No. XLIX, v. 5. 

(19) Our commentary says that this verse refers to the Quraish : it appears, however, better to 
take it as a continuation of v. 16, and descriptive of the valour in war of the poet's house of Murrah : 
Ahmad, it will be seen, reads aqamna for aqamu, which would make this arrangement certain. 

(18) ' Rend the veil ', i. e., attack the honour of the women of his clan. 

(20) ' Of them ', i. e., of Quraish. He contrasts the imagined comfort and competence of town 
life with the precarious existence of the Beduin. 

(21) Ash-Sharabbah, a country often mentioned in the old poetry among the possessions of 
Ghatafan ; it is said to be the coldest part of Najd during the winter, and therefore presumably 
among the highest : it lies between the upper part of the torrent called the Wadi-r-Rummah * on the 
west and the torrent called al-Jarlb on the east : the Jarlb falls into the Rummah. It is said to have 
been covered with trees, and we see from this verse that it was the summer quarters of the tribe, and 
therefore possessed a water-supply which did not fail at that season. But, as v. 22 shows, the water 
was brackish, and probably issued from springs at the junction of the lava fields (karralis) with the 
underlying rock, limestone, granite, or sandstone. Such water is generally brackish and bad 
(Doughty, ii. 472 ff.). The second hemistich, ' keeping the flies away from the waters of the tribe ', 
is interpreted by the scholiast as meaning that he kept away enemies ; there are two interesting 
variants : one reads adh-dhi'aba for adh-dhubabd, ' wolves ' for ' flies ', which would be another word 
for enemies ; the other has quite a different phrase a'udclu 'aid miyahi-himu-dh-dlunabd, ' I count at 

* See No. V, introduction. 


their waters the number of the buckets drawn ', which implies that the water is scanty and must be 
sparingly used. 

(23) This verse implies that the water available is barely enough for- all, and that the men of 
Murrah count themselves lucky when they get even an insufficient share of it : it therefore supports 
the second variant of v. 21 mentioned above. 

(17) This verse, in the place where it stands, breaks the sequence, and evidently belongs to 
a different section of the poem. It appears that the Quraish refused al-Harith the protection he 
sought ; but a man named Rawahah, of the family of Jumah gave him a good camel to speed him 
on his way northwards. V. 24 is added from the Agliani, x. 28 : it is the conventional praise of 
a swift-riding camel. 


FOB the occasion of this poem, and an account of the author, see ante, No. XII, introduc- 
tion and notes. The piece evidently wants a beginning. Vv. 1-4 are al-Husain's reported 
speech to the men of Sirmah, and must have been preceded by some verses setting forth the 
circumstances, and mentioning that the poet did his best to prevent bloodshed and compose 
the quarrel : ' these were the words I addressed to them '. He then passes to the battle which 
followed, when they would not hearken to him (vv. 5-8) ; and winds up the poem with an 
outburst of horror at the bringing of aliens Muharib into their quarrel (vv. 9-12).- The 
shame of inviting strangers to come in to capture and enslave the free-born women of the tribe's 
own stock naturally appealed strongly to the proud Arab. 

(1) ' O ye two brothers of mine, of our father and mother, let our two clients 
of Quda'ah take themselves away ! 

(2) ' And if ye will not do that, then, I adjure you, do not fasten upon us a 
burthen which we reject with anger ! 

(3) ' For we are the children of Sahm son of Murrah : we find for ourselves no 
other descent but theirs, and no one else who claims kinship with us. 

(4) ' When we count up our ancestry, ye see that our father is your father : 
and ye certainly shall not find us prone to evil speech against you.' 

(5) But when I saw that patience brought me no profit, and that the day was 
all darkness, showing the stars at noon, 

(6) We burst upon them there in the hollow plain ' May ye have no mother ', 
we cried, ' and no father ! ' 

(7) We set on them with our swords, thin in the smiting edges, whetted keen, 
and with tawny spears that quiver when they are brandished, stubborn. 


(8) And they blenched not, what time our host dashed into theirs, but they 
looked full-face at Death unmixed, the dusky. 

(9) No wonder ! But when Muharib came upon us with a thousand horsemen, 
eagerly pressing on, in a host together 

(10) They, the clients of our clients, to take captive our women ! Tha'labah, 
verily ye have brought here a hateful thing, Tha'labah ! 

(11) I said to them 'Ye house of Dhubyan, what has come to you may ye 
perish ! that this year ye walk not in the right way ? ' 

(12) Their chiefs invited one another to the worst of deeds, and Maudu' has 
become thereby a place to which that [shame] will cleave for ever ! 


(5) Compare No. XII, v. 4, and note. 

(6) ' The hollow plain ', al-Jaimv : this may be a proper name : for the meaning of the word see 
ante, No. XL III, note to v. 2. In this verse the expletive la lakumu 'umman iva-la aba is no longer 
a mere strengthener of the phrase, but an imprecation charged with meaning. 

(7) ' Whetted keen ', multannad : this may also mean ' (a sword) made of steel from India '. 

(8) The words firf, ' unmixed ', and ashdb, ' reddish-brown ', are both commonly used of wine ; 
and the metaphor here may have reference to that. ' Draughts of death ', ' wine of death ', are 
phrases often occurring in the old poetry : e.g., Nabighah I. 17; Hassan, Dnv. xx. 1. 

(9) ' No wonder ! ' because our foes were our own stock, and it would have been unworthy to 
charge them with cowardice : but the bringing in of the alien Muharib is another matter altogether, 
a horrible treason against the unity of the tribe. 

(10) Tha'labah, i. c., Tha'labah b. Sa'd : see the genealogical tree at p. 35, ante. Muharib was 
descended from Khasafah son of Qais 'Ailan, the common ancestor of Ghatafan and Hawazin, but 
appears generally to have adhered to the latter. The tribe came into the quarrel as a confederate or 
client, mauld, of Tha'labah b. Sa'd. 

(11) Compare No. XII, v. 25. 

(12) Maudu', or Darat Maudu', was the place of the battle in which al-Husain defeated the 
coalition against him : see No. XII. 


A REJOINDER to No. XC by a man of the tribe of Muharib : see the introduction to Nos. XII 
and XC. We hear very little about this tribe, and no famous man belonging to it is mentioned 
in Arab legend ; it had its lands to the south of Jabal Salma, in upper al-Qasim, between 
Tayyi' and Hawazin. This does not prevent the poet from making extravagant claims to 
ancient glory (vv. 15-27). The leader of Sahm in the War of the Huraqah is mentioned by 
name in v. 28. 

(1) Who will carry a message to Sa'd son of Nu'man, and Sa'd son of Dhubyan 
who binds his turban so pompously 

1201.2 L 1 


(2) The two branches of the Children of Dhubyan, since their judgement is 
perverted, and they have been given a drench of bitterness against us ? 

(3) Ye wrongfully stirred up war against us : then ye inclined to peace after 
that the affair had become embroiled and difficult. 

(4) And we were not with you at your debauch, when ye drank down, bereft 
of reason by God ! an ill-omened draught ; 

(5) Nor did we put far away from us your two standards on a mountain-peak 
wherefrom the nimble kid of the wild-goats slips and is dashed to pieces ; 

(6) Nor did we post our footmen in the narrow pass and say to them ' Let 
him who is most cautious shoot at the horsemen '. 

(7) And many the day of which a man would wish that he had died before it 
have we faced, steeling our hearts thereto, terrible though it was ; 

(8) We called the Children of Dhuhl thereto, and our people the Children of 
'Amir, what time [through darkness and distress] the Sun looked for no place of 

(9) And on the Day of Rujaij our horse brought early in the morning on the 
host of Tayyi' an attack long-necked steeds bearing a forest of spears ; 

(10) We sent their heads tumbling down on the hard rock, what time our 
swords of Grecian steel gathered notches from blow on blow. 

(11) And we bend our horses, lank in the belly and lean, upon the danger- 
point, and cause them to overwhelm the warrior who attacks us as he lies wounded 
there : 

(12) We strike our steeds until we conquer their reluctance to go forward and 
on through that which the soul shrinks from in aversion. 

(13) Tha'labah, were it not that your claims upon us from the oath of 
alliance have been strengthened in warp and woof by a covenant, 

(14) Verily the she-camels whose milk has dried up had found on the two 
sides of Buwanah long grass thick and dark like the tangled manes of baggage- 

(15) Our fathers left to us as an inheritance pillars of glory conspicuous in the 
sight of men, 

(16) And we make fast to a root stock that has reached maturity amongst us 
new and ancient glory in abundance ; 

(17) Those of them who built raised a building and set firm for us an abode 
thereof, lofty, with a stair to mount thereto. 


(18) These are my people : if one smitten by calamity seeks refuge in their 
tents one day, safe is he there from all scathe. 

(19) Among them how many are there of terrible lords, dreaded greatly 
what time the forerunner of War sets light to the pile ! 

(21) 'Tis they that keep firm and steady the Earth : were it not for them, it 
would cast hither and thither [as by an earthquake] those upon its surface, whether 
articulately-speaking or barbarians. 

(22) 'Tis they who support their people in every place where men meet, with 
speakers every one of whom leaves all other men struck dumb ; 

(20) Stubborn might is ours : with it we muzzle our enemies, while we our- 
selves refuse to be muzzled by any. 

(23) Our speaker stands up and is never at fault for words, what time distress 
makes the tongue-tied forget all he had to say. 

(24) A series of constellations are we : as often as one of them sets, another, 
brightly shining, appears, with no dust to dim its rays ; 

(25) A bright star shines forth among them to which its constellations gather 
round, what time the tangle of thick-growing evil darkens the heaven. 

(26) thou that askest me for tidings ! thou hadst not asked of our Days in 
warfare were it not that thou desiredst to know : 

(27) No other men are able to undo a knot that we tie, while we can undo any 
knot of theirs, firmly tied though it be. 

(28) Husain sings to his daughters songs [of boasting] in the Hijaz : but 
boasting is impossible for him except as a mockery [of truth]. 

(29) Nay, sooth ! we heal the fury of a he-goat with the like of it, and we beat 
him until his hinder part is wet with blood. 


(1) Sa'd son of Nu'man is not given in the extant genealogies of Ghatafan ; the other Sa'd, son 
of Dhubyan, was the ancestor of the houses of Salmi and Sir man (Table on p. 35, ante). The Arabs 
do not ordinarily wear turbans ('amd'im, sing, 'imamah), but cover their heads with a kerchief, held 
on by a bandage wound round the head called 'iqal : but turbans are worn by chiefs and prominent 
men on ceremonial occasions. 

(2) 'Have been given a drench of bitterness' : lit., 'have had administered through the nose 
a draught of fab and shubrum ' ; these are the names of trees or shrubs having a bitter or acrid juice. 
For sab see ante, No. XVI, note to v. 41. Shubrum (mentioned by Doughty, ii, p. 468) is a species 
of Euphorbia. 

(5) The idea of this verse seems to be that, although Muharib had nothing to do with the 
original cause of quarrel between Sahm and Sirmah, they could not, in view of the close covenant 
of alliance with Tha'labah b. Sa'd which bound them, refuse to make the cause taken up by the 



latter their own. The mountain-peak is sketched as distant and far out of reach by the feature of 
its being so high and precipitous that even the mountain-goats cannot scale it. On the other hand, 
v. 6 affords some indication that the metaphor may possibly be drawn from a horse-race, in which 
gMyah (rendered above ' standard ') is used for ' the goal ', inasmuch as it seems to suggest an 
ambush, such as that referred to ante, No. IX, v. 23, note, in a narrow part of the course. In that 
case Muharib may be imagined to mean ' It was not we who placed you in a position in which 
neither of you could reach the goal of his ambition, in a hopeless quarrel ' (Bevan). 

(8) Dhuhl is given in the genealogies as one of the families of Muharib : 'Amir does not appeal- 
in them. The second hemistich is another way of saying that the day was turned into night : cf. the 
phrase ' to see the stars at noon ', explained ante, No. XII, 4, note, and recurring in No. XC, 5. 

(9) Nothing is recorded regarding the fight called the ' Day of Eujaij ' : the number of variants 
of the name (see scholion and note at foot) shows that it cannot have been well known. 

(10) Literally, ' we caused their heads to alternate between the swords and the hard rock '. The 
word QaJly, here shortened to Qala', is often used for swords. The word in modern times means tin 
or solder (a mixture of tin and lead) : but it seems to have anciently meant steel brought from some 
place called Qal'ah ; where this was is uncertain : here the swords are called Efiml, coming from 
ar-Rum, the Greeks of Asia Minor. 

(12) ' That which the soul shrinks from ', ma takraliu-n-nafsu, is the trampling by the horses of 
the bodies of men ; the verse accordingly implies that Muharib wrought great slaughter among their 
enemies, so that the horses had to be driven to advance over the dead bodies which covered the 

(13, 14) In these verses Muharib profess again (above, v. 5) that, but for their covenant with 
Tha'labah b. Sa'd of Dhubyan, they would have had nothing to do with the quarrel. The verb suddd 
has the form which it bears in the dialect of Tayyi' (for suddiya) : but this variation often occurs 
sporadically in the poems of tribes, like Asad and 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, which were neighbours of Tayyi'. 
In v. 14 it is said that their camels would have been pasturing on the sides of Buwanah, a hill in 
their territory, instead of being used to carry them to the place of conflict. Grass, nasty, mentioned 
by Doughty under this name as abundant on the high plateaus of Najd bordering on the Hijaz on the 
east fti. 462, 468). ' Baggage-hacks ', kaivadin, pi. of kaudan : see ante, No. L1V, note to v. 28. 

(15) ' Pillars ', da'd'im, props or posts that uphold the roof of a tent or building. 

(17) 'Thereof, i. c., of glory. The figuring of the glory of a tribe as a lofty building is very 

(19) ' Fore-runner ', ra'id : one who is sent before a party of Beduins to seek for pasturage, or 
water, or a suitable site for an encampment ; synonymous with farit. 

(20) As the ' they ' of vv. 21 and 22 refers to the lords mentioned in v. 19, it is better to trans- 
pose v. 20 to between vv. 22 and 23. 

(24) Observe the use of the past tense Jcunna in the sense of habit, wont, including the present 
and future : as before in No. XXII, vv. 27 and 29. 

(29) The readings in this verse vary between mithlaliu and mithlihi, ; the former, in the accusative, 
is probably to be understood as put for bi-mithlihi : when the preposition is omitted the ace. is often 
substituted for the genitive ; in the latter the affixed pronoun must apparently refer to al-Husain 
' a he-goat such as he ', which is very harsh, especially with the article before tais. The masculine 
affixed pronoun in mithlahu is possibly due to attraction from at-fais : otherwise we should expect 
mithlaha, referring to saurah. The phrase ' to cure a man's folly, or violence, or insolence, by 
treating him to the like ', is of common occurrence, and this must I think be the sense here. Tais, 
' he-goat ', is often used as an abusive epithet. 



THIS piece is of much historical interest. It can be precisely dated as composed in 
A. H. 72, A. D. 691. It is an elegy, by a fellow-tribesman, on his chief Yahya son of Shaddad, 
head of the family of Tha'labah b. Yarbu' (ante, No. LXVII, note to v. 45), who was one of 
the adherents of Mus'ab, brother and governor of the 'Iraq on behalf of the Caliph 'Abdallah 
ibn az-Zubair. The career of this last representative of the circle of the early Companions of 
the Prophet, who wielded a power which was for a time very extensive, between A. D. 683 and 
692, may be found related in any history of the Caliphate. His strongest man was his brother 
Mus'ab, whom he made governor of the 'Iraq. When the Marwanides succeeded to the 
Umayyad Caliphate, and 'Abd al-Malik came to the throne after his father's brief reign, the 
first task that confronted him was the re- establishment of the authority of the Damascus 
Caliphate in the 'Iraq. Mus'ab had had to contend there with a rising of the adherents of the 
House of 'All, headed by Mukhtar, whom he succeeded in overcoming: this had to some 
extent weakened his power, and he was always in difficulties with the Kharijites ; but for 
more than six years 'Abd al-Malik was held at bay. At last the Caliph, having disposed of 
his enemies on the Syrian side, advanced in person against Mus'ab, and encamped at Dair al- 
Jathaliq ' the Monastery of the Catholicus ' or Primate o the Christians in Babylonia and 
Assyria, not far from the site of the later Baghdad. There, during several months of military 
inaction, 'Abd al-Malik set himself by secret negotiations to detach Mus'ab's adherents from 
him. In this he was extremely successful. Mus'ab's best troops were away at al- Basrah with 
his general al-Muhallab, confronting the Kharijis, and he had with him chiefly levies from 
al-Kufah, and Arabs of the group of Tamlm. When the Caliph had arranged matters to his 
satisfaction, he made an attack on Mus'ab, who was immediately deserted by the main body 
of his troops under 'Attab b. Warqa of Tamlm, and bore the brunt of the assault almost alone, 
with a few devoted followers, of whom Yahya of Yarbu' was one. These were slain with him, 
and 'Abd al-Malik became master of al-Kufah, and very soon of the whole of the 'Iraq. In the 
following year, after a long siege of Mecca by al-Hajjaj, 'Abdallah ibn az-Zubair was slain and 
the opposition Caliphate brought to an end. 

Our poem is thoroughly Muslim in spirit, and in this a contrast to several others in our 
Collection belonging to the first days of Islam. It exists in two forms, the second being given 
on pp. 632-3, but both are stated to have been handed down by Ibn al-A'rabi, al-Mufaddal's 
stepson and transmitter. In the translation an attempt has been made, in part, to combine 
these two editions. 

(1) May a forgiving Lord and an Intercessor who is listened to pour blessings 
upon Yahya and his followers ! 

(13) A folk were they to whom God decreed that the call [to die] should go 
forth : and setting aside God's command is a thing that may not be. 


(2) The Mother of 'Ubaid-allah is plunged in sorrow : now that thou art gone 
her sleep is nought but a troubled doze : 

(3) As a young she-camel yearns, distraught, she yearns with a pitiful 
moaning, and a mighty longing calls her. 

(4) O Knight ! what a knight wast thou, with thy tent trodden by crowding 
guests, thy generous arm ever stretched to help ! 

(5) The sayer of kind and friendly things, and the doer of them : the 
slaughterer of she-camels, mothers of calves born in the Spring, one after 
another ! 

(6) He joined together calmness and gentleness : then when the moment 
came he sprang to the attack like the uncoiling of a serpent : 

(7) He burst forth, and his onset did not belie his promise as the wolf 
springs on the prey in the valley of wild beasts. 

[(7 a) When Mus'ab's friends all deserted him, he paid his duty to him in 
fullest measure.] 

(8) He filled the walnut-wood bowl for his guests, as though it were the raised 
border of a cistern in a clay bottom that holds the water fast. 

(9) Never did his guests go forth from his tent without being fully sated with 
meat and drink. 

(10) And many the horseman, keen to follow, mounted on a stalwart steed, 
coming with a rush in his gallop with the lance, his shock hard to withstand, 

(11) Didst thou withstand, and beat him back, when nought could check his 
course but sword-blows, mighty in force, painful to feel. 

(12) Whomsoever it may not grieve, me at least it grieves to see thy little 
sons left to those that are no shepherds 

[(12 a) To Abu Talhah or to Waqid yea, we know that that is their sure 


(1) Here, as befits the time, we have the fully-developed doctrine of the Prophet as the Inter- 
cessor whose intercession is accepted by God Sli-afiun mutd'. The use of the verb ?alla for invoking 
a blessing on persons other than the Prophet is noticeable. 

(13) This verse seems naturally to fall into its place after v. 1 : at the end of the poem it stands 
solitary without context. 

(2) The ' mother of 'Ubaid-allah ' is evidently Yahya's wife. 

(5) Camels that bring forth their young in the Spring the best time are naturally most 
precious : but Yahya is lavish with them, slaughtering them one after the other. V. I. wahhab, 
' giver-away ', for 'aqqar, ' one who houghs a camel previously to slaughter '. 


(7) For the wolf, dhi'b, there is a v. I. faith, ' lion '. 

(7 a) This verse stands here in the text of Kk : it is valuable as contemporary evidence of the 
desertion of Mus'ab by his chosen friends at the battle of Dair al-Jathallq in which he fell. 

(8) Yahya's bowl or platter is as full of meat and broth offered to his guests as a drinking-trough 
in a clay bottom, qa'.(ante, No. XI, v. 10), where the water is held up so that it cannot escape. 

(10, 11) The other version of the poem (p. 633 of the Arabic text) substitutes for these verses 
the following : 

There galloped with him in War a horse swift in its charge, just attained to its full 

strength, compactly knit, or turned four years old; 
Thou didst treat thy horse with naphtha till, when winter came, the two sides of his back 

shone like hides polished by a skilled work-woman. 

Here the description of the horse ridden by Yahyii's adversary, as given in the first version, is 
transferred to Yahya's own horse. The words quivairih (dimin. of qarih) and raba' mean respectively 
a horse that has just completed five years of age, and one just turned four. The use of naphtha or 
petroleum for giving a gloss to a horse's skin is interesting. 

(12 a) This verse, giving the names of the children's unkind uncles to whose care they were left, 
is probably part of the original poem. For the names in our text the version in Wright's Opuscula 
has Abu Nadlah and Wafid. 

We may add from the other version one more verse (No. 11) describing the auction of Yahya's 
property after his death : 

Lo ! his precious things and all his herds of camels, sold among his possessions at 

a heavy loss. 
(Wright's version has ' his riding camels and his horses '.) 


THE original name of the poet is said to have been Shiqqah (so BQutaibah) or Shiqq 
(BDuraid) : the story is that a king of al-Hirah,* before whom the boy appeared, thinking he 
looked puny and miserable, after inquiring his name, said to him ' It is better to hear about 
a wretch of Ma'add than to see him '. Shiqqah retorted with the proverb ' A man's worth is 
measured by his two smallest things, his heart and his tongue '.f The king exclaimed ' Verily, 

* According to BQutaibah, 405, this was an-Nu'man b. al-Mundhir, but this puts the event 
much too late if we can rely on other points indicating date ; according to al-Mufaddal ad-Dabbl, 
cited by Maidanl (Freytag, i, p. 223). the king was al-Mundhir b. Ma' as-Sama, who died in A. D. 654. 

t For this proverb see Zuhair, Frag. 19, 5 (Ahlwardt, p. 192). The verse is sometimes in- 
corporated in the Mu'alfaqaA, but is absent from an-Nahhas and Tibrizi's recension, and also from 


thou art Damrah son of Damrah ! ' meaning ' Thou art equal to thy father, [who was a poet 
and a noble man,] in spite of thy mean appearance '.* 

The poet's house, Nahshal, was an important family in the tribe of Darim, a section of 
Tamim in which, during the poet's lifetime, the headship of the group resided, viz., in the house 
of Zurarah, father of Ma'bad, Laqit, and Hajib (see ante, No. XI, introduction, and No. XXIII, 
note to v. 22). It was to Nahshal that al-Aswad son of Ya'fur (ante, No. XLIV) belonged. 

Damrah is renowned both as a warrior and a poet, and is said to have been also a hakam, 
'judge or sage ', to whom the great confederacy of Tamim referred its disputes for decision : it 
is alleged that he allowed himself to be influenced by bribes while acting as judge (Hamdsah, 116). 
As a warrior, he took part in the fight against the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah at Dhu Najab, in 
the year after the great battle of Shi'b Jabalah, and therefore circa A. D. 571 ; the verses he 
made referring to the occasion are cited in the Naqa'id, 1080 17 . He also fought against the 
Banu-1-Harith b. Ka'b in Najran, when he slew 'Amr, Yazld, and Malik, sons of al-'Uzayyil 
al-Harithi. His name is likewise connected with the horrible vengeance which King 'Amr son 
of Hind of al-Hlrah took upon the tribe of Tamim for the slaying of his son As'ad by a man 
named Suwaid of Darim. f The king swore that he would burn alive a hundred men of Darim. 
The tribe was warned of his expedition, and the greater number of them succeeded in escaping ; 
but 98 men were taken prisoners. The king ordered a great trench to be dug and filled with 
faggots. These were kindled, and the men of Darim cast bound into the flames. Two were 
still required to make up the tale of the vow, when a traveller appeared riding on a camel. 
He was seized, and on being questioned said that he belonged to the Barajim, quite a different 
stock in Tamim : he had seen the smoke of the fire in the distance, and, thinking that a feast 
was being prepared, he made for it. ' Truly a wretched man is the guest who comes from the 
Barajim ! ' said the king, and ordered him to be cast into the fire. One more was still wanted, 
when the king's people brought in a woman with red hair. Asked who she was; she said she 
was the sister of Damrah son of Damrah, and wife of Haudhah son of Jarwal. Her sex did 
not save her from the flames. Her last words of proud defiance to the king will be found in 
Naq. 1086. 

These indications of time make it probable that Damrah flourished in the second half of 
the sixth century A. D. Fragments of poetry by him are found in various places in the ancient 
collections. His grandson Nahshal son of Harriy was also a poet (BQutaibah). 
The piece before us is one of self-praise of the usual character. 

(1) Many the host of horse, far-spreading like birds in flight, have I stayed on 
its way down to battle, what time the faint-heart shouts his name and lineage, but 
turns aside himself from the fight 

* Probably the king's speech was a play upon the name Shiqq or Shiqqah, which means 
'a half. It was not the custom in Arabia for a son to be called by the same name as his father, 
unless he came late in the family, after other names had been exhausted. 

t This is the account given by Abu 'Ubaidah in Naq. 653-4. Ibn al-Kalbi says (Naq. 1084 ff.) 
that the young prince killed by Suwaid was a brother, not a son, of King 'Amr, and that his name 
was Malik. 


(2) Mounted thereon warriors clad in iron some of them the hunted of the 
spear-points, others the hunters thereof : 

(3) In knots dispersed they dart upon the pasturing herds, as though, when 
they came down into the low hollows, they were pursuing hounds. 

(4) I give my friends to taste of my gentleness and my guarding care : but 
oft-times my enemies, though they be far away, plain sorely over my doings. 

(5) And many the seeker for vengeance on whom I have dealt a grievous blow, 
and have outstripped his pursuit : though he sped after me with his utmost speed, 
he could not overtake me ; 

(6) He looks upon me, when I meet him face to face, with terror, and he turns 
away his eyes from the sight of me, with a face changed in colour [through fear]. 

(7) And well do men know that my stock is exalted high, what time the 
heights of glory are recounted among them. 

(8) And many the adversary round whom I have left the ravens hopping, with 
the blood of his belly drying upon him in a red stain ; 

(9) The spear-head stuffed his body, then he fell prone on his nose, as the 
growing boy throws on its side the sharp-edged ankle-bone. 

(10) And many the night- wanderer has bent his steps to me for a lodging, 
what time in all the tribe other helpers were few indeed ; 

(11) And I said to him 'Thou hast come to thine own folk, to a level and 
broad place ! ' and I entertained him nobly, so that in the morning he went forth 
loud in my praise. 

(12) And I am not one who strives to shield himself from harm, but I stand 
forth in defence of the tribe where its bulwark is weak. 

(13) And if there be in Tamlm any glory, it is Nahshal and 'Utarid, the lofty, 
that lift me high, 

(14) And the joint stock which they have begotten among the race of Sa'd and 
Malik : but some of the fire-sticks of the tribe fail to light and are nothing worth. 

(15) And whoso attains to fame among men, verily he is one who has observed 
the truth of all that I have said, and can bear witness to it. 


(1) The word mush'ilah 'far-spreading troop' is, in the context, best taken so : the scholars 
did not know its exact meaning, but the addition of Jca-t-tairi, ' like a flock of birds ', is strongly in 
favour of the version chosen, and does not suit the alternative mush'alah, ' kindled to fire by the glint 
of its weapons '. The word yadda'i is specially used of a warrior going into fight who shouts his 
name and lineage : see ante, No. VIII, v. 11. Here the coward does this, but his heart misgives 
him, and he turns and flees. 

(2) The second hemistich of this verse offers difficulty : the picture drawn in the first verse is 


that of a body of enemy cavalry attacking the poet's tribe, whom he withstands (nahnahiu) ; how 
then does he come to speak of them the horses as ridden by warriors some of whom are hunted 
by the spear-points, others the hunters ? We must apparently understand him in this part of the 
verse to describe the defence of the assailants. The attack does not wholly fail : some of the horse- 
men are repelled mamd, 'hunted down': others continue to carry their foray through, a'id, 'the 
hunter ' ; and in v. 3 we have this part of the picture, the attacking host broken up into small 
parties, darting after the herds of camels like pursuing hounds. 

(7) Bawalin, rendered ' heights of glory ', may also mean ' eminent or distinguished men '. 

(8) ' Ravens ' is chosen to render at-tair here because of the verb takjul, which describes their 
gait, and is inapplicable to vultures, the other birds of prey. 

(9) The adversary is described as pierced from behind with the spear, and falling forward on 
his face. For the sheep's ankle-bone, used as a die in games of chance, see ante, p. 168, note. 

(11) The Beduin's greeting to a stranger : see ante, No. XXIII, v. 11, note. 
(18) The 'Utarid (a name of the planet Mercury) mentioned here was the poet's ancestor on his 
mother's side : see Aghani xn, 41' 6 . He was 'Utarid b. 'Auf, of the race of Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat. 

(14) Sa'd son of Zaid-Manat was one of the patriarchs of the group of Tamlm, ancestor of an 
important branch of that tribe. Malik son of Zaid-Manat was his brother, ancestor of Darim (see 
introduction to No. XIV). The use of the verbjama'a is here genealogical, indicating that in the 
person or persons named a family had a common ancestor or ancestors. For the phrase about fire- 
sticks, zinacl, see ante, No. XVI, note to v. 48, and No. XXVIII, note to v. 15. 

(15) ' Attains to fame among men ', yataballagh li-l-kadlthi, lit. ' attains to being talked about '. 
The poet says that those who are themselves famous recognize in him one of themselves. 


THE poet was one of the chiefs of the tribe of Taim, belonging to the group called the 
Ribab: see No. XXX, introduction, and notes to verses 9 and 11 of that poem. Our poet was 
a leader of his tribe at the time of the battle of Rahrahan, the year before the battle of 
Shi'b Jabalah, and was also present at the defeat inflicted by the Ribab and Asad upon 'Amir 
b. Sa'sa'ah at an-Nisar (see Naqd'id, and post, No. XCVI). Another indication of time is 
given by v. 6 of our No. XCV. He lived, therefore, during the second half of the sixth 
century A. D. His tribe was one of those bordering on al-Qasim, probably established next 
to Yarbii' and Darim of Tamlm. 

The fragment which follows is a vivid picture of a raid delivered in the morning upon 
some hostile encampment. A longer piece by the same poet will be found in No. CXXIV. 

(1) Goodly, in sooth, were the young warriors of the morning raid whom ye 
met, what time the women with heads bare were [pale with fright] like the white 
root of the papyrus 

(2) One of them casting off her veil, and her sister running with her girdle 
slipped down to the place of the izar : 

(3) While we drove the foremost of their men back upon those behind, as the 


strange camel is driven back from mixing with the throng of camels at the 

(4) Three kinds were they : first, he that swam with the spear piercing his 
body, stumbling in the red gore that poured from his wound ; 

(5) Then, the captive in chains, to be ransomed by payment of the best 
of his wealth, whether he was owner of a herd of a hundred camels, or only of 
a cloth for holding grass ; 

(6) And, lastly, he to whom and his people mercy was shown, whether he was 
thankful therefor or thankless. 

(7) And whole tribes come to pitch behind our tents for protection against 
the morning raid, while we ourselves abide in the open unsheltered plain. 


(1) 'Unqur is explained in the Lexx. as the white root of the papyrus, of reeds, of long grasses, 
in fact of any plant that has a white and succulent root. The comparison implies that the women, 
surprised by the raid, were pale, whether from fear as the rendering has it, or because they were of 
noble stock and shielded from all exposure, and therefore fair-complexioned. 

(2) The verse does not imply that there were only two women : there may have been a large 
number, but all were in confusion as to their clothing hastily donned. 

(4) The figure here drawn is that of a man pierced with a spear, with the spear-point still 
sticking in him, pulled forward by his assailant, with his arms outspread as though swimming. The 
act of pulling a man along by a spear with which he has been transfixed is called ijrar, and is often 
referred to : e.g., in No. VIII, v. 11, ante. 


Another brief fragment of self-praise. 

(1) By thy life ! I am a man who defends stoutly his folk, no fighter unskilled 
in the day of trouble ; 

(2) I give generously to strangers who come from afar to seek my bounty, 
and I withhold it not from those who are my kin or bound to me by covenant ; 

(3) And not in me will ye find know it well ! grovelling before any, nor 
am I puffed up with arrogance. 

(4) Seest thou not that we are the sling-stone of wars ? we flow in a flood 
[over our foes] as though we were the surge of a sea. 

M m 2 


(6) When we face the enemy, we clothe ourselves in the fells of lions, the 
skins of leopards. 

(6) We pasture where we choose in the lands of 'Abs and Tayyi' her ally, and 
in the lands of Bakr, 

(7) Though each of them be our unsparing enemy, smarting from a fresh 
wound, bent on vengeance. 


(4) ' Sling-stone of wars ', mirda hurubin ; mirda may be taken either as a missile, or as a stone 
used to crush anything, e. g., date-stones. 

(5) As indicated in the note in the text, it is possible that actual wearing of lions' and leopards' 
skins in warfare may be meant ; the Quraish, when they came out to meet the Prophet at Hudaibiyah 
in the sixth year of the Hijrah, are said to have put on leopards' skins ; and in a poem on the battle 
of Badr at BHisham 534 18 there is another allusion to wearing leopard-skins in fight. But on the 
whole it is more probable that the words are figurative. Lions were certainly very rare in Arabia 
during the century before Muhammad, though leopards were more plentiful ; and it is unlikely that 
any large number of lions' skins could have been obtained. Warriors are often spoken of as lions, 
in language that may have been the convention of centuries ; and tanammara, ' he turned himself 
into a leopard ', is said, in the quotation (from a poem by 'Amr b. Ma'dl-karib, a contemporary of the 
Prophet) in note e on p. 640 of the text, of warriors clad in mail-coats held on by leather thongs. 

(6) Ghatafan. Asad, and Tayyi' had a league together in the sixth century A. D., and were 
known as the Ahlaf or confederates (see Dlw. of 'Abid, transln., introd. to Poem ii, and references) : 
this accounts for the affixed pronoun in wa-Tayyi'i-ha, 'her Tayyi", i. e., her ally : tribes, spoken of 
as a unity, are of feminine gender (ante, No. XLI, note to v. 21). The mention of 'Abs as dwelling 
in its own lands and in league with Tayyi' is a useful note of time, as it indicates that peace must 
have been made and the War of Dahis (ante, No. IX, note to v. 23, and post, No. CIII) brought to 
a conclusion perhaps about A. D. 575 or 580. 


THE author of this and the three following pieces was the most considerable poet of his 
tribe during the century before the appearance of the Prophet. He was a contemporary of 
Hatim of Tayyi', Aus b. Harithah of the Banu La'm of Tayyi' (see tlie introduction to the 
translation of the Mu'ullaqah of Zuhair in my Translations, pp. 107 ff.),an-Nabighah of Dhubyan, 
and King an-Nu'man Abu Qabus of al-Hirah.* As points of time in his career may be men- 
tioned the Battle of an-Nisar (see ante, p. 135), probably fought some four or five years after 
Shi'b Jabalah, and therefore about A. D. 575, and the second War of the Fijar, or Breach of 
the Religious Peace, which began about A. D. 585. There are many references to the former, 
in which his tribe and that of Dabbah inflicted a severe defeat on the confederate tribes of 

" The mention, in Agh. xvi. 98, of 'Abid b. al-Abras as a contemporary involves a gross 
anachronism : see Introd. to Dlw. of 'Abid, p. 8. 


'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, in his poems. In the latter, he carried to Harb b. Umayyah and 'Abdallah 
b. Jud'an of Quraish the news of the murder, by al-Barrad of Kinanah, of 'Urwah ar-Rahhal, 
and thus enabled the Quraish to withdraw from 'Ukadh towards the Sacred territory before the 
Hawazin became aware of the outrage (Agh. xix. 75). He was also, according to Ibn Qutaibah 
(Shi'r 145), a party to the Oath or treaty by which Tayyi' and Asad, who had previously been 
hostile, made a league of peace together, some time before the battle of Shi'b Jabalah, when 
Hisn son of Hudhaifah was chief over Dhubyan (our commentary, pp. 364 6 ff.). Perhaps we 
may put his activity as a poet and warrior from about 560 to 600. He met his death, as 
related in the Mukhtarat of Hibatallah ash-Shajari,pp.80-l, in a raid against a tribe of Hawazin 
called Wa'ilah b. Sa'sa'ah, one of the so-called Abna, having been shot by a lad with an arrow. 
He lived long enough, after receiving the wound, to compose an elegy on himself which has 

Bishr was counted by the ancient critics among the Fuhul, or principal poets of the 
Ignorance.* Besides the four poems by him contained in our Collection, there are six in the 
Mukhtarat. 'Abd al-Qadir, the author of the Khizanah (died A. D. 1682), was acquainted with 
his Dlwan and its commentary (perhaps by al-Akhfash) see Khiz. iv. 317, top ; and it will 
probably some day come to light. Besides the ten complete poems which we possess, a large 
harvest of fragments of others might be culled from lexicons, commentaries, and works on 
Adab. His compositions display a striking preference for the Wafir metre : of the ten known 
poems, seven are in Wdfir, and that metre also seems to preponderate among the fragments. 

The poem before us, after the nasUb (vv. 1-7), deals with the Battle of an-Nisar (vv. 8 to 
end), represented as a bloody defeat for 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(1) Ramah and its hill no longer bear traces of Sulaima, and her journeyings 
and their divergencies have carried her far away from thee ; 

(2) There has changed her that which has changed men before her : she is 
gone, and the longings of my heart seek her out. 

(3) Has it not reached her that tears flow ceaselessly from an eye whose 
Beloved visits it only in dreams 

(4) [Dropping] like the dripping of well-water from [the labour of] a camel of 
Jurash over seed-beds, whose great water-skins gush forth into the channels 

(5) [A camel] drawing a great water-bag by a rope of four strands over a cross- 
piece, kept straight by a pulley with suspending irons the orifices of which creak 
as it works? 

(6) She went by the upland road no other objective had she than Muhajjar 
and the Harrah of Laila, its level spaces and its black lava rocks. 

(7) She saw me with my temples bald and smooth as the place where the 

Al-Farazdaq, in the first century of Islam, enumerates him among his great predecessors 
(Naq. 201"). 


sand-grouse lays : but their baldness is not due to a captor who showed grace in 
view of ransom to be paid having cut away the locks. 


(8) We answered the sons of Sa'd of Dabbah when they called to us for help : 
and a wonderful friend were he who when called on did not answer ! 

(9) It came about that, whenever we cried ' Hawazin, advance in the straight 
road ! ' their orator hit not the mark aright. 

(10) From al-Mal& we gripped them with the grip of the biting she-camel, with 
a gleaming [body of horse] the scouts of which do not walk under coverts ; 

(11) And when they saw us in an-Nisar as though we were high-reaching 
clouds brought by the Pleiades, driven on before the south-wind, 

(12) Then were they like a woman boiling cream in a pot who, when it boils 
up, knows not what to do, whether to take it off the fire [before it is cooked] and 
so incur blame, or to let the butter be melted [and thus perhaps be lost]. 

(13) We cut their forces in twain one half was in al-Yamamah, while the 
other took the way of Autas, where their dogs howled [at their strange surroundings]. 

(14) We drove them as we would from place to place, as bitches carry about 
their puppies, on every track stretching like a scar in the desert, with its dust 
rising high in air. 

(15) We stripped the bark off them as a man peels staves, and they reached a 
state in which the despoiled one whimpers over his misery 

(16) From early morning until the night came between us and them, and 
weariness overtook the running of our most enduring steeds. 

(17) Our cavalry singled out Qushair, and went straight for them, as the well 
straightens out the ropes of the buckets that ply therein. 

(18) Whensoever we overtook any band of their horsemen, we remembered 
their rancour and their wrongs done against us, [and dealt bloodily with them] ! 

(19) Ye Sons of 'Amir! ye know how we left your women snatched off 
captive in haste, with their hinder-parts bleeding [from the roughness of the 
cushion-less saddles] : 

(20) Yea, our sutlers and hirelings had their will with white women fair as 
statues, with their bosoms perfumed with saffron. 

(21) Your suckling women passed the night [hid away] on a hill, with their 
hearts trembling with fear of that which the darkness might hide. 

(22) Leave alone the pastures of the Shlqani ! both of them belong to us, what 
time wars blaze up among Ked Mudar ! 



(4) Jurash, an agricultural tract in the Yaman, where irrigation from wells was practised, 
a camel drawing up a water-bag by walking down an inclined plane. 

(5) In this verse the word 'aud offers difficulty : Abu 'Ikrimah thinks it means (as usually) an 
old camel ; but this is unlikely. The camel has been mentioned already in v. 4, and the place of 
'aud in the sentence indicates. that it is some part of the well-gear. At-Tusl's explanation (though 
probably a guess), that it is the mihivar or pin upon which the pulley revolves (whether of wood or 
iron), seems best. Ma/ialah is the pulley (also called bakrah) itself. Khuttaf is apparently the two 
side-pieces, of iron, which enclose the pulley, and are pierced by the pin, mihwar. It is probable that 
there were different ways of arranging the well-gear, and that in some wells the pulley was hung 
from above between the forks of an iron grapnel suspended by a hook : see ante, No. LXXIII, note 
to v. 4, where such a grapnel is called Jchuttaf. The well here described is evidently one of settled 
cultivation, hadar, not a well for watering herds and flocks in the Desert. There is an illustration 
of such a well in Euting, Tagbuch, i, p. 89, with a list of the present-day names of the parts of the 
gear: this list, as to spelling, &c., has been revised by Dr. Hess in Der Islam, vol. iv (1913), 316-17. 
Other illustrations of wells, at Ha'il and Taima, will be found in the Tagbuch, ii, pp. 22-23 and 146. 
For the passage compare Mutammim in No. LXVIII, vv. 3-5. 

(6) Muhajjar (also vocalized Muhajjir) is said to be the name of a mountain surrounded (Aujjira) 
by an expanse of sand. It is mentioned in v. 18 of Labld's Mu'allaqali. The Hurrah, or volcanic 
plain, of Laila is part of the territory of the Band Murrah of Dhubyan, not far from Medina. 

(7) ' Temples ' : the word dhu'abah properly means the lock of hair hanging down from the 
forehead on either side, but it is used here for the place where that hair grows, which the poet 
(putting concave for convex) compares to the smooth round bareness in which the sandgrouse lays 
her eggs (ante, No. VIII, note to v. 29). He is bald in these places from the friction of the helmet 
(ante, No. LXXV, 4), not because he has been taken prisoner and his captor has cut off his forelocks 
(dhu'abah or nasiyah) to carry off, letting him go free and keeping the locks to form the subject of 
a ransom or of a boastful ode later on. 

(8) It is noticeable that lillahi is used in this verse to indicate blame : generally it implies 
admiration and praise. See ante, No. XXXI, note to v. 4, and XLV, note to v. 4. 

(9) This verse seems to imply that the battle was preceded by a contest of words, the orators or 
poets, Kliatib, of the opposing hosts beginning the encounter with some speeches or odes of defiance, 

as in the case of Homer's warriors in the Iliad. Kunna is used here for continuing habit, as in 
No. XXII, vv. 27, 29; but the first person is employed instead of the third, which would be the 

logical construction, on account of the attraction of the following qulna. 

(10) ' Under covert ', ad-dara, a thicket of trees or bushes that conceals the scout's approach. 

(11) ' High -reaching clouds brought by the Pleiades ', nasham-th-Thurayyd : nashas are heavy 
cumulus clouds full of rain, reaching up high into the sky. They are said to belong to, or bo 
brought by, the Pleiades, because this constellation is one of the 28 anwa' (sing, nau') into which 
the heavens are divided. In each nau', which lasts for 13 days (except one, the tenth, with a period 
of 14), some particular asterism rises * just before dawn. The ancient Arabs used to ascribe rain 
falling during this period of 13 days to the influence of the asterism dominating it. The 
Pleiades is the third of the anwa', and said to be the most excellent of all in bringing rain. Gf. Heb. 

* See Lane s. v. nau' for a discussion of the question whether the word means the auroral 
rising or setting of the asterism : the native lexicographers explain it in both senses, but Lane shows 
good reason for holding that it means rising, not setting. 


ma'adlwnnoth Kimah ' the sweet influences of the Pleiades ', A. V. in Job xxxviii. 31.* For the part 
played by the south wind in determining the fall of rain from clouds cf. 'Abld, Diw., transln. of 
Nos. vi. 7, and xxviii. 14. 

(12) The commentators appear to have been much perplexed by this verse, and their interpreta- 
tions do not seem to me to be correct. The verse relates to the preparation of samn (ghee or clarified 
butter), which is made from goats' and ewes' milk. The preparation is described in Doughty. Arabia 
Deserta ii. 67 and 229, and if we attend to his description the meaning of the verse becomes quite 
plain. First, the ewes are milked, and the milk rocked by a woman on her knees in a small skin-bag 
called semileh (anciently tliamilali) half-full of milk, until the butter comes, mixed with curd for the 
semlleh contains a remnant of sour milk. Then the milk, with the formed butter, is transferred to 
a pot, and boiled ; the butter melts and rises to the top, and a little meal is then thrown in, which 
unites with the coagulated or curded portion of the butter-milk, and falls to the bottom. The melted 
butter, now become samn, is poured off the top, and is stored, and the butter-milk with the meal in 
it is served to the guest, ' and is the most pleasant sweet-meat of the poor nomad life '. If, then, the 
pot is allowed to boil over, the samn may be lost from the top : on the other hand, if it is taken off 
the fire too soon, the formed butter may not separate properly from the curd and be collected at the 
top, and the process may be spoiled in another way. The commentators imagine that the woman 
is interrupted in her operations by the arrival of a guest or guests, and that the verb tudhib relates 
to the dividing out of the samn between them. But there is no reason to make any such supposition, 
and no trace of a foundation for it in the plain language of the verse. Al-Asma'l, who spent some 
years in the Desert, appears, from LA i. 382 20 , to have understood the verse correctly, having often 
seen the process : t the other commentators, mere cloister-scholars who probably never saw samn 
made, were quite astray. The verse compares the confusion of the enemy on being faced by the host 
of Asad to the confusion of the woman whose fire is too hot, causing her cauldron of cream with 
formed butter (znbdah) to boil over. 

(13) The host of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah is here described as broken in the centre, and driven in two 
opposite directions, one part towards al-Yamamah, the mountainous tract to the east, the other towards 
Autas, far to the west on the margin of the Hijaz. The latter was a famous place, being the ground 
on which the tribes of Hawazin assembled before the celebrated battle of Hunain in the eighth year 
of the Hijrah (see my Translations, p. 46). 

(15) A metaphor often used for maltreatment is 'stripping off the bark', la/no or qashr or naht; 
the verb is frequently used with athlah, ' a tamarisk tree', representing the honour or prosperity of 
a tribe : cf. ante, No. LXXVIII, 4 and note. 

(17) Qushair, an important division of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, belonging to the line of Ka'b b. Kabl'ah, 
and brother of 'Uqail : like the latter, its lands were in al-Yamamah adjacent to the Bakrite tribes 
of Hanlfah and Qais b. Tha'labah. 

(21) 'Hill', rahwah: this word may also have the opposite sense of 'hollow, depressed place' : 
see the various treatises on the acldad, or words of opposed significations ; the commentary thinks 
that here it means the latter. In the second hemistich I have followed Marzuql in taking janan to 
signify the ' darkness of night ', since to interpret it as meaning ' heart ' or ' mind ' would 
duplicate the sense of qulub, which comes next. 

* Modern critics take ma'adJiannoth in this place in the sense of ' bond, chain ', following the 
LXX. ScoyAos : but the Arabian analogy gives some ground for thinking that the A.V. is right. 
The word is not a atra Xtyo^vov, and elsewhere connotes pleasantness and ease. 

t The verse is also explained correctly on pp. 368 3 ff. of our commentary, in Aba 'Ubaidah's 
account of the Battle of an-Nisar. 


(22) I have preferred to follow at-Tosl's reading ash-Shlqaini, because that form seems best 
attested by the citations in Bakn and Yaqfit. Al-Asma'l's suggestion that as-Slfaini means ' the two 
sea-coasts ' is singularly inept, since both Asad and Hawazin were essentially inland groups, hundreds 
of miles distant from the sea. What the two places called ash-Shlq are is uncertain. Ibn al-A'rftbi 
said that they were two valleys, others that they were two mountains. Manbit probably means 
A region where vegetation of some sort serving for pasture grows. Why Mudar son of Nizar (son of 
Ma'add, son of 'Adnan), a patriarch of the Arabs, was called ' the Red ' is unknown : one solution 
suggests that it was because his father gave him a tent of red leather ; Jauharl says that in the 
inheritance of Nizar Mudar obtained the red gold, and his brother Rabi'ah the horses of his father ; 
others that in battle the tribes descended from Mudar wore red turbans and carried red standards, 
while the Yamanite colours were yellow : all these are mere guesses. 



THIS poem was considered by the ancient critics one of the finest in its measure and rhyme 
of the pagan age. It is not in very good condition, having two inconsistent openings (see notes), 
and a lacuna after the nasZb (v. 14). The poem is a general panegyric on his tribe, starting, 
apparently, with some disagreement with the Banu Sa'd of Dabbah (whom Asad had previously 
helped at an-Nisar), and going on to enlarge on the strength and readiness for warfare of the 
men of Asad. The last section, vv. 33-8, dealing with a hostile section of the tribe, is some- 
what detached from the rest, and perhaps something has been lost between vv. 32 and 33. On 
the difficulties which the passage offers from the point of view of the genealogists, see 
the note below. 

(2) Ah, gone on her way is Idam ; and every tie to a fair one must one day 
wear out and snap ! 

(3) Thou hast been her lover in earnest and in jest, until now that thou hast 
grown old, and men say ' Verily thou art distraught ! ' 

(4) Once was she well content with us for a space, and we with her : but time 
has no abiding ! 

(5) The nights when she took thee captive with her rows of pearly teeth, whose 
moisture, when a third of the night had sped, was potent as heady wine, 

(6) And a bright face with shining cheeks, sleek, and a nose on and about 
which beauty had been showered. 

(7) [She turns her head aside] as turns an antelope with hard smooth horn, 
that has been left behind by the herd, in Sahah, where the acacia-trees line its moist 

(8) Her companion a fawn, brownish in colour, with languishing eyes its 
bleating disquiets her motherly heart. 


(9) Yea, many the wide desert where the drumming of the Jinn resounds, and 
in its waterless spaces the hot wind whistles shrilly, 

(10) Where I have startled its gazelles as they took their mid-day rest, what 
time the hills pierced through the glistening stretches of the mirage, 

(11) Mounted on a fleet she-camel whose frame has been worn down by 
constant journeyings until I have reached to her ultimate nature, and her hump 
has vanished away. 

(12) She is like a flat-nosed wild bull that roams from one region to another, 
over whom has passed, in Harbah, a night set thick with rainclouds : 

(13) He stood night-long, crying ' Turn to morning, O Night ' ! till the dark- 
ness cleared away from his strip of sand, 

(14) And he emerged therefrom in the early dawn, as a pearl shows forth 
when let fall from the string. 


(15) Ho ! carry a message to the Sons of Sa'd and to their cousin the last 
drops in the udder have been drawn ! 

(16) ' We offer you the way of uprightness : and we are a people whose 
affection if one quits, he will have no praise in war. 

(17) ' Then, since your vessels of love are empty, and there is not in them any 
tie between us of mutual affection and aid, 

(18) ' Therefore the valley-sides of 'Uraitinat and the gravelly plain of 'Aiham 
are forbidden to you. 

(19) ' We will close them against you, though they be lands wherein the 
flanks and humps of the camels grow fat and swell : 

(20) ' There the eyes of men's milch-camels are well content, and the clouds untie 
thereon the spouts of their water-bags.' 


(21) Yea, many the rich pasture from which the seekers for grazing refrain in 
fear, wherein grow luxuriantly the nafal and the JiaudMn, 

(22) Its greenery rises high and is tangled together, and the places where the 
'alajan grows stand out in it like moles 

(23) Have we made free with for the use of a tribe great in multitude : when 
their herds are beset with an alarm, they [flee not, but] stand and defend them. 

(24) The meeting-place of council cannot hold them all : they must part into 
companies wheresoever they make a halt ; 

(25) Their men have no need to run afoot : they have spare horses in plenty 
standing ready bridled 


(26) Steeds that stood the whole night and the first part of the day at al-Mimha, 
where thagham was cut for their fodder. 

(27) Then, when they came down into the plain from Dhu Sabah, and the 
torrent-beds and the hills streamed with them, 

(28) They stirred up a cloud of dust and emerged therefrom, as the arrows 
pierce through and come forth from the target. 

(29) In every place of soft soil where they wheeled about is a well-like foot- 
print of the hoof, with the sides crumbling in. 

(30) When the foremost of them emerge, dishevelled, rushing headlong with 
their forelocks standing out, 

(31) With bundles of mail-coats bound to their cruppers, with their colts in 
the evening looking [, with their long thin legs,] like pairs of shears, 

(32) Then do they race with the spear-heads, bending downwards their heads, 
as doves race with one another as they fly towards the scanty pools left by the rain. 


(33) Seest thou not that length of time brings forgetfulness and oblivion, even 
as Judham is forgotten ? 

(34) They were of our tribe, but wrought wrong against us : and we led them 
forth to the country of the Syrians. 

(35) We had been in defence of them a strong fortress : ours was the supreme 
headship and the foremost place. 

(36) And they said to us ' Ye cannot abide where ye are if we go forth from 
you ' : yet we abode in our place though they had gone 

(37) Stone blocks of Khuzaimah, firmly fixed in the soil : to us belong the ways 
through the mountains, whether free or forbidden. 

(38) And sooth, the day when we stood up to curse you in the valley of 
Dhu-1-Majaz shall bring its fruit in your punishment ! 


(2) This ode has two beginnings, each marked by the double rhyme : but only the second verse 
;oheres with the rest of the poem. The first runs thus : 
(1) Is it truth that I see, or but a dream ? or do terrors come what time my comrades 
lie asleep ? 
Evidently this couplet belongs to a naslb which went on to describe the nightly visit of the 
wraith of the Beloved, while the poem before us deals with the ordinary incidents of a parting after 
a period of association. 

Idiim, the lady's name, means 'seasoning', that which renders food pleasant and savoury. 
' Fair one ', glulniyah, ' one whose charm is such as to give her power (ghind, avrdpKfia) over men ' : 
this is the only true interpretation, though others are suggested by the lexicons. The word is 
significant of the influence of women in the nomad life ; such charm as it connotes is inconsistent 
with wantonness, and a married woman attached to her husband may be called ghuniyah in an ode 

as well as the poet's- own mistress. 

N n 2 


(7) A verse seems to have fallen out here, describing the lady's neck, the length of which is seen 
when she turns her head : the cognate accusative ta'arrurta, at the beginning of v. 7, describing the 
antelope turning towards her fawn, postulates a verb before it which is wanting in the text. 

Sahah, the name of a tract in the territory of Asad : see 'Abld, Duo. xii. 1. ' Moist ravines ', 
asirrah, sing, sirr, sarar, sararah : the word means the streaks or lines of depression in a valley, which 
are the moistest parts of it, containing verdure, bushes, and trees. The rendering adopts the reading 
silam for the last word of the verse, pi. of salamah, the Arabian acacia : the alternative salam, pi. of 
saUimdh, is a different kind of tree, bitter, and not eaten by gazelles or camels. 

(9) 'The drumming of the Jinn', ta'sifu-l-Jinndnu filii. The phenomenon here mentioned, the 
sound heard at night in the desert sands resembling the continuous beating of distant drums, was 
ascribed by the Arabs to the Jinn. The physical explanation of it, given in more critical times by 
al-Asma'l, is that it is caused by the friction, or falling, of particles of sand driven by the wind over 
the wrinkled surface of the Desert. Dhu-r-Rummah compares it to an accompaniment on the drum 
to singing, ka-tadrabi-l-mughannma bi-t-tabli. 

(10) The rendering adopts the v. I. wa-qacl hafazat: the text, icOia-ddara'at, means that 'the hills 
had clad themselves, as in a shirt, with glistening sheets [of the mirage] ' : but the mirage is a level 
sheet of heated air that covers the desert surface, and the hills are not clothed with it but emerge 
from it, piercing through and standing out above it : cf. ante, No. XXVIII, note to v. 5, No. XL. 
v. 24, and No. XLVII, v. 15. 

(11) 'Her ultimate nature': this rather prosaic expression represents the Arabic nurlamha. 
Nwlar means ' pure, without admixture of anything else '. The poet says of his camel that he has 
worn down her frame by getting rid of everything that can be removed, until what is left is the 
residuum without which she could not be at all. In fund for fanlya the verse uses a dialectic form 
generally attributed to the neighbouring tribe of Tayyi' : but see ante, No. XCI, note to v. 13. 

(12) Harbah is said to be in the territory of Hudhail in the Hijaz, and is a place often mentioned 
by the poets as a resort of wild kine (Oryx Beatrix) : the quotations are in Yaqut ii. 233-4, and 
Bakrl 277. ' Eainclouds ', jaham : this word is usually rendered ' clouds having no rain in them ', 
or ' clouds that have discharged their rain completely': but the conventional situation drawn for us 
in this section of the poem is that of an oryx who has been rained upon all night, and whose fleetness 
is enhanced by the cold ; cf. 'Abld xi. 35 and xix. 10. The comparison of the camel to a wild bull 
breaks off with a lacuna at v. 14 ; what has been lost must have corresponded more or less to the 
picture in Labld, Mu'allaqaJi, vv. 47-52, of the oryx pursued by hunters with dogs. 

(15) We are not told who the Band Sa'd are : perhaps the branch of l>abbah, neighbours of the 
poet's tribe, mentioned in No. XCVI, v. 8 : the context indicates that there had been friendly 
relations between them and Asad. But see below, note to v. 33. The exact meaning of maula 
(' cousin ') is uncertain : as the commentary shows, it has a number of different significations. 

(17) ' Vessels of love ', 'iyabu-l-ivuddi, i. r., their hearts. We may also render ' Our vessels of love 
(hearts) are empty of you ' ; but this does not suit so well the tenor of the passage. 

(20) ' The eyes of men's milch-camels are happy ', lit. ' are cool ' : see ante, No. IV, note to v. 11. 
For ' the spouts [of the water-bags] of the clouds ' cf. 'Abld, vi. 7. A picture of such 'azalin (sing. 
'azla'u) delivering water will be found in Euting's Tagbucli, ii. 23. 

(21) For the reason why seekers of pasture refrain from trespass on this rich grazing-ground 
see ante, No. VI, note to v. 3, &c. The plants named in this verse and the following are all noted as 
good pasture. 'Luxuriantly', tit'amu, lit. 'twinned ', i.e., with double shoots. 

(26) For tJiagham see ante, No. XVII, 3. 

(29) This verse is repeated in the next poem, v. 42, with a slight change of phrase : the intention 
is to indicate that the horse's hoofs were long, and made deep prints in the soft soil ; length of hoof 
is a subject of praise. 


(31) The steeds used in war are generally mares, and hence the mention of their long-legged 
colts. I have preferred the reading bi-uhqiibi-ha to that of the text : the mail-coats were carried in 
a bundle or bag fastened behind the saddle. It seems, however, not impossible that this verse may 
be an interpolation : verse 32 would follow v. 30 better without any such interruption ; and the 
bundles of mail-coats would in fight have already been opened and the contents put on. Moreover, 
these bundles, Aaqd'ib, sing, haqibah, are generally borne by the camels on which the warriors ride 
until they come to the place of action, when they put on their armour and mount their mares. The 
newly-born camel-calves might equally well be intended in the second hemistich. 

(33) This passage, to the end of the poem, appears to have been misunderstood by the commenta- 
tors, who take Judham as the name of the tribe against which it is directed. But Asad was a leading 
member of the Ma'addic stock of Central and Northern Arabia, while Judham was a clan of Yamanite 
origin brother of Lakhm, son of 'Adi, and descended eventually from Kahlan b. Saba, brother of 
Himyar : it had thus no kinship with Asad. But it is not necessary to understand the passage in 
this sense : the words ' even as Judham is forgotten ' may be merely an example, and the persons 
aimed at may be a section of Asad itself which, in consequence of a wrong done to its brethren or 
for some other cause of disagreement, had left the tribe and gone north into Syria. Evidently the 
severance was recent when the poem was composed, whereas Judham had been long settled in the 
Syrian Balqa, in the neighbourhood of Ma'an, a town five days' journey south of Damascus, and had 
also become nominally Christian. Marzuqi, as mentioned in note y on p. 653 of the text, inserts the 
passage between vv. 14 and 15 of the poem, which would make it probable that the Banu Sa'd, 
mentioned in v. 15, were the separating branch of Asad : Wlistenfeld's Table M shows three families 
in the tribe headed by a Sa'd, one of which may be the stock intended, and not the Banu Sa'd of 
Dabbah, as suggested above against v. 15. 

Vv. 33-4 are cited by ancient authorities as offering an example of the false rhyme called iqwa 
(JudMmu rhyming with ash-Sha'arm), which is in favour of the authenticity of the passage. 

(37) The poet likens the strength and solidity of his tribe to stone blocks, atJtafin, sing, uthfiyali, 
used to support the cooking-pot over the fire. Khuzaimah is the name of the father of Asad and 
Kinanah. Through Kinanah he was the ancestor of Quraish, and this is the matter to which the 
commentary, p. 659 2 , refers as the explanation of the claim to be lords of ways both open and 
forbidden, meaning by the forbidden the roads through the sacred territory, Haram, of Mecca. This, 
however, appears to be doubtful. The poet seems to be claiming command of the territory traversed 
by caravans for his tribe, which was placed in the region south of Taima to the east of the great 
trade-route now represented by the pilgrim way from Ma'an to Medina and on to Mecca. 

(38) Dhu-1-Majaz was the site of one of the fairs held by the Arabs during the sacred months. 
The fair lasted eight days, from the 1st to the 8th of Dhu-1-Hijjah, and its place was behind the 
sacred mountain called 'Arafat near Mecca (see Wellhausen, Heidenthum*, 88). Apparently the 
celebrations there (of which we hear much less than of those at the neighbouring fair of 'Ukadh, held 
during twenty days from the beginning of Dhu-1-Qa'dah) were of a religious character : hence the 
solemnity of the curse uttered, at a sacred place, in a sacred month, against the dissident section of 
the tribe. Atham, punishment the consequence of ithm, sin, is used in this sense in the Qur'an, and 
v. 38 was cited by Yunus (A. H. 90-182) in illustration of the Qur'anic phrase (LA xiv, 271 ff .) : this 
is another proof of the antiquity of the passage. It was at Dhu-1-Majaz that King al-Mundhir III of 
al-Hlrah is said to have brought about the peace between the tribes of Bakr and Taghlib which ended 
the long war of al-Basus (ante, No. XLI, introduction): see al-Harith 1). Hillizah, Mu'all. 41.* 

' The commy. of at-Tibrizi, apparently by an error, speaks of the peace having been made by 
the influence of King 'Amr b. Hind, al-Mundhir's son. Al-Mundhir himself is clearly indicated in 
the Mu'allaqali : and see AgMnl, ix. 178-9. 




THE naslb here extends from the beginning to v. '21. The lady celebrated (whose name is 
not given) belongs to the tribe of 'Uqail, a branch of 'Amir, and now hostile. The journey of 
the 'Uqailis towards their own land, after the peaceful months during which they had been 
associated with Asad, is described. Then the poem goes on to recall the warlike achievements of 
the author's tribe : with Tayyi' presumably before the league of peace referred to in the intro- 
duction to No. XCVI in vv. 24-5 : with a family of Dhubyan called Subai' (v. 26) : with Dariin, 
a section of Tamlm (vv. 27, 28) : with the Ribab [ante, p. 1 11, note] (vv. 29-30) : with Sa'd b. 
Zaid-Manat of Tamim (v. 30 a) : with sundry tribes of 'Amir (vv. 306, 31, 32): with Sulaiui 
(v. 33) : with Ashja' (v. 34), and Murrah (v. 35) of Ghatafan. The poem ends with a greeting 
to the brother-tribe of Kinanah (v. 36), and a much-admired description of the war-mares 
(vv. 38-42) and stallions (vv. 43-9) belonging to Asad. 

(1) Ah, our partners have departed and cannot be reached, and thy heart is in 
the keeping of the ladies as they journey away ! 

(2) The drivers make their way with them towards the waters of Nakhl, and 
they turn aside from the twin peaks of Aban. 

(8) I question my companion and yet I think that I can myself see clearly 
whither the ladies are taking their way : 

(4) I fear lest the Sons of 'Uqail should depart with my Beloved one : and 
verily justified is fear ! 

(5) Therefore hardly did I turn my eyes away from them in Qaniyah, what 
time the day had risen high. 

(6) In the night they came upon Arum and Shabah, with Ti'ar to the left 

(7) In the litters were girls like gazelles of Asnumah resting in their holes, the 
coverts too short to hide them fully. 

(8) As they smile, their lips part to show a row of camomile-flowers, washed 
bright by rain after a night-travelling cloud has passed over them. 

(9) And among the dames in the litters is one kind and playful, whose people 
are making for their own land and have started on their way 

(10) One of those nurtured far from all hardship ; her dwelling-places have 
been al-Qaslmah and al-Uwar ; 

(11) Her diet is milk slightly soured, flowing to her in abundance, and pure 
milk what time the milch-camels are sent forth [to bring in grain] ; 


(12) She is plump where the anklets go round, soft and tender, and in her 
flanks and belly is slendemess ; 

(13) Heavy are her after-parts whenever she essays to rise, and when she 
hastens, she is soon out of breath. 

(14) Then I passed the night wakeful, without sleep, as though strong wine 
were coursing through my joints, 

(15) Watching in the heavens the Bearers of the Bier, as they revolve like the 
moving on of a herd of wild kine ; 

(16) And the Pleiads incline to setting after the first part of night is spent, 
while Capella stands out as their neighbour. 

(17) Help, O ye people, for the man oppressed with misery by the slow length 
of Time, for his dui-ance has lasted long ! 

(18) Yea, if distant regions have taken away from us the fair ones of 'Uqail, 
and the hearts which they carry away captive with them, 

(19) Yet, until War turned us away one from the other, we and they had 
aforetime many days together that were but too short 

(20) The nights when I paid no heed to him that would hold me back, and my 
waist-wrapper flowed down over my ankles, 

(21) And I disobeyed him that chid me, and I achieved delight, and vexed, by 
my visits, one stirred by jealousy. 

(22) But when we saw that the men had become our enemies, with no opening 
left to agreement between them [and us], 

(23) Our vanguard moved on, until we pitched camp in a land which Nizar 
had placed under a ban among themselves ; 

(24) And Tayyi' of the twin mountains kindled a war from the pain of which 
distant Suhar shrieked out. 

(25) They blocked the passes when they saw us coming : but creeping into 
their burrows did not save them from us. 

(26) And the tribe, the tribe of the sons of Subai', dwelt in Quradiyah, and we 
encompassed them about in a ring ; 

(27) And 'Amr son of 'Amr counselled his people not to fight like a man who 
should cut off his own nose while he had still power to defend himself : 

(28) At Dhat Kahf they offered peace : but the taste of it to them is as bitter 
as sola' or pitch. 

(29) And the Eibab fled away to the Upland, and there remained not of them 
in Sarat or al-Hubs a single fire ; 


(30) Then they kept at a distance from us, though in sooth they thought us near, 
in a place where secret talk could be overheard. 

[(30 a) And fear of us brought Sa'd down to dwell in a land there where they 
used to grant protection, not to seek for it ; 

[(30 fc) And the nearest tribes of 'Amir to us were 'Uqail in al-Miranah, and the 

(31) And the valley-bottoms were given, in exchange for Nurnair, the hoofs 
of steeds by which the dust was raised high in air. 

(32) And the tribe of the Sons of Kilab, though they fled, flight did not save 

(33) And Sulaim kept silence over their cud through fear of us, even as the 
ass keeps silence. 

(34) And as for Ashja' the man-woman, they turned tail like goats in ash- 
Shatjhl, bleating as they fled. 

(35) And we met not our deaths from Hurrah, for they turned and took the 
road taken before them by Haribah, and went down into the lowland. 

[(35 a) Ancient glory and renown undimmed forbid the Sons of Khuzaimah to 
yield in aught : 

[(35 1) They excel all Ma'add in noble qualities, wheresoever they dwell, 
whithersoever they wend ; 

[(35 c) Faithful are they to their word when once it is pledged, and straight 
they turn to the gaming-arrows when men long for the smell of roast meat.] 

(36) Carry then a message, if thou touchest upon us in discourse, to Kinanah 
our brethren, wheresoever they be : 

(37) We take the place of those who have gone away, and we occupy at will 
the highest region of Najd when the rains fail [and famine comes], 

(38) With led mares, all pressing on, frisky, prancing out of the road in 
wantonness, made lean and spare by constant duty in places of danger and in 
distant raids, 

(39) Striving against the reins, unquiet as though in each of them there were 
a locust in a cloud of dust, yellow in colour, 

(40) Thrusting back with their elbows the girth, with the space between their 
teats stopped up with dust ; 

(41) Thou mayst see them gray from the sweat dried upon them here a 
plentiful flow, there only a little ; 

(42) In every place of soft soil, wheresoever they wheeled about, is a well-liko 
footprint of the hoof with the sides crumbling in : 


(43) And with many a noble stallion the sheath of whose yard is like a folded 
wine-skin which the vintners have hung up on a peg : 

(44) The noise of his nostrils, when other horses cannot breathe freely, is like 
the working of a bellows borrowed from a blacksmith. 

(46) He is trained in the evenings, and is strong and sturdy, slender- waisted, 
tall on his legs, with no superfluous flesh. 

(47) What time other horses have their coats dishevelled and rough after a 
brisk gallop in the morning, his back is like a hard well-twisted cable. 

(48) All day, by the side of the riders on camels, he speeds swiftly along, the 
white blaze on his forehead looking like a woman's veil. 

(49) Yea, there will not save from disaster, when battle presses closely, aught 
but firm steadfastness in fight, or flight. 


(1) ' Partners ', Jchallt, the standing word for members of another tribe or family who have 
shared, during the season of plentiful pasture, the grazing-ground of the poet's tribe or family. 

(2) For ' the twin peaks of Aban ' see ante, No. XV, note to v. 18. Nakhl, ; date-palms ', the 
name of many places in the Peninsula : here perhaps it may be the Nakhl of the Banu Murrah, two 
days' journey east of Medina. 

(3) The commentary suggests that in asking his companion regarding that which the poet knew 
very well himself the intention was to conceal the pain he felt, or to prevent his attachment to his 
mistress from being made the subject of gossip. 

(4) ' My Beloved ', jaratuna : for the use ofjarah for a mistress see ante, No. LIX, note to v. 1. 

(5) Qaniyah is said to be a water belonging to the Banu Sulaim, but it is doubtful whether this 
suits the other geographical indications given. Another interpretation takes qaniyah as an epithet of 
nafs understood : the verse would then mean ' Hardly could I turn my eyes away from them, though 
restrained by a sense of shame, or bashfulness (from gazing at them too long) '. 

(6) Arum, Ti'ar, and Shabah (ante, No. LIV, 9) are names of mountains. 

(7) -Asnumah, variously vocalized as Usnumah or Asnimah, said to be the name of a hill near 
Falj in southern al-Yamamah, or of a ridge, or of sands near Tikhfah. Probably more places than 
one were so called, as the word (in the form asnimah) is pi. of sanam, ' a camel's hump '. 

(8) Compare No. LVI, vv. 3-4. 

(10) For al-Qaslmah see No. XLIV, v. 30 : a variant is al-Qusaimah. Al-Uwar is only known 
from its mention here. The places must have been those in the land of Asad (part of Upper Qaslm) 
where the lady's tribe, the Band 'Uqail of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, had companied with Bishr's kinsmen 
during the season of rich pasture. 

(11) 'Milk slightly soured', qaru, the well-known laban, the staple food of the nomads. 'Pure 
milk ', mahfl, freshly drawn, with only its froth removed. The scholiasts differ as to the reading 
and meaning of tubta'ath : other pointings are tabta'ith and tariba'ith, which may mean that the milch- 
camels yield a gushing stream of milk. The version adopted implies a time of dearth, when milch- 
camels have to be sent as beasts of burden to bring in grain. The woman spoken of is well and 
abundantly provided for both in times of prosperity and in times of straitness. 

uoi.j O 


(15) The 'Bearers of the Bier', Banatu Na'shin, are the stars of the Great Bear: their slow 
motion round the Pole is compared to the scarcely perceptible movement of a herd of oryx cropping 
the grass and moving on as they feed. There is a v. 1., ka-ma 'atafa-dh-dhu'aru, ' as a nurse-camel 
moves on her young camel-calves ', i. e., at their places of pasture : the nature of the simile is the 
same in both cases. 

(19) ' Days that were too short ', because of the delight that was in them. 

(20) The flowing iear or waist-wrapper is a symbol of ease and luxurious living, as girding it up 
is of the undertaking of serious or dangerous work. 

(23) Nizfir, the patriarch of all the Ma'addic Arabs. The land which Asad occupied was 
considered by all the other tribes to be too dangerous to dwell in. 

(24) Tayyi' is always spoken of in the ancient poetry as inhabiting the twin ranges of Aja' and 
Salma in Northern Najd and the valley between, now known as the Jabal Shammar. Suhar is the 
capital of 'Uman, on the sea-coast in the centre of the great bay whose extremities are Ras Musandam 
to the north and Masqat to the east. The verse is an extravagant exaggeration, since distant 'Uman 
could have nothing to do with a war waged among the mountains of Tayyi'. The situation, and the 
actual parties to the warfare of which the poet speaks, are not sufficiently known to us for the verses 
to be clear, and apparently the old scholiasts were unable to explain them. 

(26) Subai' is the name of one of the families of Dhubyan : whether the poet means that he 
protected them by encircling them with his tribe, or besieged them, is not clear. The place Qaradiyah 
or Qaradibah is also not known except from this verse. 

(27) The 'Amr son of 'Amr here mentioned is said to have been a chief of Darim, a great branch 
of Tamlm. The reference is perhaps to the battle of Dhu Najab, in the account of which in the 
Naqa'id the speech of 'Amr is reported, p. 587 12 ff> 

(28) Sala', a tree or shrub described as bitter and nauseous. 

(30 a) The Sa'd mentioned here is Sa'd b. Zaid-Manat, another great branch of Tamlm (see ante, 
No. XXI, introduction). 

(30 b) Of 'Uqail we have already heard. The Wibar are the descendants of Wabr b. al-Adbat 
b. Kilab, another branch of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(31) Numair, another division of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(32) At-Tasl reads here Baghid, one of the patriarchs of the group of Ghatafan, instead of Kilab, 
divisions of which have been dealt with already in the poem. 

(33) Sulaim, according to the genealogists, was brother of Hawazin, of which latter 'Amir b. 
Sa'sa'ah was the strongest tribe. ' To keep silence over the cud ' is a proverbial expression for 
enduring insult and ignominy in silence. The camel is an animal which chews the cud : when 
interrupted in doing so by fear, he closes his mouth and ceases to chew the contents. The ass does 
not chew the cud, but, like the camel, is said to keep silence when in fear of maltreatment. 

(34) Ashja', a branch of Ghatafan : see ante, introduction to No. XXXIII : it is often referred 
to with contempt by members of other tribes. 

(35) For Murrah see ante, introduction to No. XII, and introduction to No. LXXXVIII. 
(35 c) I. e., when famine threatens. Cf. No. LXII, vv. 9, 10. 

(36) ' Kinanah our tribe ' : the poet goes beyond Asad to his father Khuzaimah, the parent also 
of Kinanah ; 'see No. XCVII, note to v. 37. 

(37) ' The highest region of Najd ', sanam al-'ardi, lit. ' the hump of the land ' : possibly the 
expression sanam may connote fatness, a tract where pasture remains abundant in spite of drought, 
as a camel's hump is a mass of fat. According to Ahmad, the tract intended is that called later 
Dariyah, a tract held by the Band Kilab in the Prophet's time, and made a hima or reserve by the 
Caliphs 'Umar and 'Uthman for the maintenance of the camels paid in as sadaqali or taken in war 
as the State's share of the booty. The relative richness of this tract (previously the headquarters of 
the Kindite princes) as pasture was proverbial. 


(38) The rendering adopts the reading musnifah in preference to musnafah, for the reason 
mentioned in the note to v. 26 of No. XL, ante. 

(39) The full-grown locust is yellow in colour, having before been dark-brown. 

(40) ' Thrusting back with their elbows the girth ', nasufun li-l-hizami bi-mirfaqaiha : as in 
No. VI, ante, vv. 6, 7, the girth becomes loose as the mare sweats, and is thrust back by the action 
of the elbows of the fore-legs : this is Ibn al-A'rabl's explanation. Another is that nasuf means 
' fraying, or cutting', the girth with her elbows : but this is (justly) condemned by at-Tdsl, as the 
result would be to set up a sore at the points of the elbows, and also to render the saddle insecure. 

(42) Cf. No. XCVII, v. 29. 

(44) 'Cannot breathe freely': literally, 'hide their breathlessness ' : i.e., they hide it within, 
and cannot get rid of it. A good horse should have wide nostrils, so as to be able to breathe easily 
when going at full speed. The noise of the horse's breathing is compared to that of a borrowed 
bellows, because so says the scholiast the borrower is in a hurry to return it, and therefore works 
it the more energetically. . But a more cynical reason is suggested by the interpolated verse 45, 
which evidently crept in here from some commentary as a parallel : 

(45) We have found in the book of the Sons of Tamlm that the fittest horse to be 
galloped hard is one that is borrowed ! 

This verse is attributed by Aba 'Ubaidah (and in the Lisan) to the post-Islamic poet at-Tirimmah. 
As a part of Bishr's poem it is entirely irrelevant, and it is characteristic of the commentators that 
they admitted it (see the scholion) without objection. 

(46) ' Tall on his legs ', muqallis, literally, ' girt up ', showing long legs as though the izar were 
tucked up to the waist. 

(49) It is common for an Arab warrior to mention, in boasting of the merits of his horse, that 
in flight he ensures the safety of his rider: see note to No. VII, v. 2, and, for examples, XXII, 15, 
and LV, 14-15. On the other hand the word contrasted with flight, buraka', means steadfast 
holding of one's place in battle until one is slain : for an example see the story of 'Auf al-Burak, ante, 
p. 167. 


AFTER a short amatory prelude (vv. 1-7), the poet turns to the achievements of his tribe 
in their war with Tamlm, following upon the victory over 'Amir at an-Nisar (vv. 8-15). 
Tamlm was led on this occasion, as at an-Nisar, by Hajib son of Zurarah, who was beaten 
and fled. Then he recalls the killing of Hujr, Prince of Kindah, long before (vv. 16-17) : see 
the Introduction to the Diwan of 'Abid. Finally, wars with three sections of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, 
Numair (vv. 18, 19), Kilab (v. 20) and Ka'b (vv. 21, 22), are mentioned. The poem is probably 
very incomplete. 

(1) To whom belong the dwellings thou hast lighted on at al-An'um, the traces 
of which stand forth like the markings of a spotted snake ? 

(2) The East wind has played with them, and they have become unrecognizable, 
but for a remnant of their trench with its sides broken in. 

oo 2 


(3) They were the abode of a girl with white side-teeth, soft and tender, 
slender in the flanks, plump in the fore-arm where the bracelet goes round. 

(4) She listened to the talk of the tale-bearers about us, and has severed the 
bonds that bound her to thee, and gone with thy former partners on their road 
towards Syria ; 

(5) And thou hast become, from excess of longing and desire of love, stricken 
at heart like one smitten senseless. 

(6) Why dost thou not bring forgetfulness to thy grief with a strong she-camel, 
brisk as a wild ass, like a stallion-camel scarred with bites, 

(7) One that goes proudly with the saddle upon her, trustworthy in the night 
journey one that slaps her thighs with her tail, and breaks the stones with her 
chipped hoof? 


(8) Ask Tamlm of their wars with us, and 'Amir and is the experienced like 
him who does not know ? 

(9) Tamlm were wroth because 'Amir were slaughtered on the day of an-Nisar : 
so they were brought in the end to calamity themselves. 

(10) Our wont was, when they shouted' loudly for war, to cure the fume in 
their heads with a band of warriors that shocked them hard ; 

(1 1) We batter the tops of their helmets with our swords, and we shout our 
names and our fathers', while our horses are marked about their throats with blood. 

(12) [Our steeds] come forth from the dust-cloud with bared teeth, dashing 
along like beasts of prey, mounted on each a warrior like a lion dusky brown of hue, 

(13) Warriors long in the baldric, that leap down to engage on foot, that 
long to reach their adversaries, not clipped in their claws ! 

(14) So they broke their host, and Hajib fled away beneath the dust-cloud, 
enveloped in dusky mirk ; 

(15) And they saw their eagle, the triumphant, attacked by a lion, buff-coloured, 
sharp-clawed, mighty in his grip. 

(16) Aforetime our men slew Hujr all' the spears were pointed at him, and 
prone he fell on his face : 

(17) He strives to rise but into his body have passed the shafts of the spears, 
all pliant and supple, fitted with sharp spear-heads. 

(18) And the Sons of Numair we have met of them cavalry whose gums 
watered for spoil : 


(19) But our riders came upon them unawares every. prancing mare, and 
horse that in his bounds cuts through the girth-rings of the light saddle, battering 
the ground mightily with his hoofs. 

(20) And they trampled on the Sons of Kilab with a vehement trampling, and 
drove them to take refuge by the tent-poles of their camping-place. 

(21) And before that they brought disaster to Ka'b, with lances well straightened, 
which the hands ply nimbly to and fro, 

(22) Until we gave them to drink of a bitter cup, the sips of which were 
as nauseous to the taste as colocynth. 


(4) Mush'im may mean, as rendered ' taking the way to Syria ', or ' taking the way to the North '. 
A v. I. is ash'am, from slm'maji, meaning any direction one is pleased to take ; so in the scholion : but 
sha'mah ordinarily means the left hand, not any direction whatever. 

(5) For ' stricken at heart ', tarifan fu'aduJca, there is a v. I. a'mu-l-jallyati, ' blind to the most 
evident things'. In this rendering of tori/ 1 have followed al-Akhfash (see line 21 of commy.). 
Another meaning of the word is ' unquiet, restless, unsatisfied ', as an animal that wanders constantly 
from one pasture to another. 

(6) For mukdam, ' scarred with bites (inflicted by other stallions) ', there is a v. I. muqram, ' set 
apart for covering '. 

(9) For u'qibu there is another reading, more often found, u't'ibu, ' they were made contented ' (in 
an ironical sense). The word for ' calamity ', sailam, probably means ' an extirpating or overwhelming 
onslaught '. 

(11) The meaning of mush'alah (rendered 'marked') is uncertain. It is used for the burning of 
the skin caused by smearing tar over it (as a cure for camels' mange), and perhaps it is transferred 
to markings of blood by analogy. 

(13) ' Long in the baldric ', mustarkhi-n-nijad : the nijad is the belt going over the right shoulder 
on which the sword is hung ; those who have to wear long belts are necessarily themselves tall. 

(14) Hajib son of Zurarah was the leader of Tamlm on the Day of an-Nisar. 

(15) ' Their eagle ', i. e., their banner : the use of the word in this sense seems to be borrowed 
from the Romans. 

(16) Hujr, the Prince of Kindah and father of Imra' al-Qais : as to his slaying see the introduction 
to the Dm><ln of 'Abld. 

(17) This verse is not only modelled on one (cited in the footnote) by Bishr's predecessor and 
fellow-tribesman 'Abld, but contains an old word for spears, malcharig, sing, kltars, Tdiurs or Jdtirs, 
much used in the latter's Diwan. 

(18) Numair, a branch of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(20) Kilab and (21) Ka'b, the principal branches of that portion of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah descended 
from Eabl'ah. The former verse means that the attacks of Asad kept Kilab bound to its principal 
camping-place, afraid to venture out for fear of attack. 




WE have already made the acquaintance of the poet in connexion with the story of 
al-Harith son of Dhalim (see ante, No. LXXXVIII, introduction), for it was to him that 
the young prince of al-Hlrah, whom al-Harith slew, was entrusted for education. Sinan 
was the foremost chief of the branch of Murrah descended from Ghaidh during the latter 
half of the sixth century A. D. He was celebrated for his magnanimity and generosity, and his 
sons, Kharijah and Harim, were among the prime movers in bringing the long and disastrous 
war between 'Abs and Dhubyan, called the War of Dahis, to a conclusion : see the story as 
told in my Translations, pp. 107-110. 

We do not know to what affair the fragment before us relates. The house of Ghaidh in 
Murrah apparently remained aloof from the parties to the ' War of the Huraqah ' (ante, 
No. XII, introduction). 

(1) Say to al-Muthallam and Malik son of Hind ' If thou desirest to assail 
our strength, come on ! 

(2) ' Thou shalt find among us what our enemies have to face, and thou shalt 
be given a morning draught from a cup the dregs of which are bitter as colocynth. 

(3) ' We will present to the [enemy's] troop, what time the spears meet in 
conflict, a thrust like the blazing of a flaming fire. 

(4) ' Of us are horsemen in Shajnah, and adh-Dhinab, and 'Uta'id, like the 
blackness of thick darkness ; 

(5) ' And in Darghad and on as-Sudairah are they ready, and in Dhu Amarr, 
where their women-kind have never been divided as spoil [among a victorious foe] '. 


(1) It is not clear to which of the two persons named in this verse the rest of the poem (which 
assumes a singular addressee) is directed : nor have we any information as to the circumstances. 

(4, 5) The places named in these verses are all localities in the country of Ghatafan, and no 
doubt in the lands of the Band Murrah. Darghad is still so called, and gives its name to an 
extensive lava tract (harrah). Hadir in v. 5 may also mean ' settled folk '. 




A RETROSPECT of life from the point of view of old age. The poem is said to be also 
attributed to Kharijah, son of Sinan, one of the peace-makers at the end of the War of Dahis. 

(1) If now I complain not to any of my pain, and if I cannot direct my steps 
unless I have one to guide me, 

(2) Yet time was when I have brought at dawn upon the pasturing camels of 
a tribe a host of raiders, far-spreading, one following another, besetting them 
suddenly from lowland and upland alike ; 

(3) And time was that I have taken my part in the arrow-game when the 
milk-less camels were driven home at evening by the cold, rain joined with chilling 
wind : 

(4) Then was I wont to give of my provision, without reserve, to all the folk 
of the encampment, whether protected strangers or seekers for bounty. 

(5) And time was that I prevented, without causing injury to any, a breach in 
the tribe yea, all my equals in age are my witnesses ! 

(6) Well do my people know how, when their long-continued raid has carried 
them far, and they have spent all their provision, I have lavished upon them all 
of mine. 

(7) And I do not hide within me qualities for which I shall be reviled no, 
not till the son of Mayyad return again from the grave ! 

(8) Give me praise ! How many a door of noble deeds prepared for you, how 
many a valley [leading thereto], have I opened to you ! 


(2) The word mush'ilali has been rendered as in No. XCIII, 1, ante : the various adjectives used 
of the raiding party must cohere together, and the combined picture which they present is of 
a numerous band of mounted men, coming suddenly upon the pasturing camels from all sides 
(mm ghaurin wa-anjadi), widely dispersed over the country (mush'ilatan), and one following another 
so as to give the impression of reserves behind (rahivan). The last word is one of which the scholiasts 
did not know the precise meaning : see the extraordinary variety of interpretations in Lane, s. v. 
The sense adopted is that given in LA xix. 69* for a raid, gharatun raliwun. 

(3) Compare ante, No. LXII, vv. 9-10 and note. 

(7) ' I do not hide within me qualities ', lastu gMshiya 'akhldqin : the words may also be rendered 
' I do not adopt habits ' : ghashlya often means ' to engage in, to plunge into '. ' The Son of Mayyad ' : 
no information is afforded us as to this personage, but similar phrases are common to express some- 
thing that will never happen. Thus Aba Dhu'aib says (LA ix. 335) : 

' Until the two gatherers of acacia-leaves come back again, 

or Kulaib is brought again in life to Wa'il from among the slain.' 
The ' two gatherers of acacia-leaves ', qaradh, used for tanning, were two men of the tribe of 'Anazah 


who went out into the wilderness to collect them, and were lost and never heard of again. Kulaib, 
the great chief of Wa'il whose slaying brought about the War of al-BasQs between Bakr and Taghlib, 
brother tribes. 



WE have already met our poet, who was a contemporary of al-Hadirah : see introduction 
to No. VIII, ante. He must have belonged to the latter half of the sixth and first quarter of 
"the seventh century, for his son Mandhur was a contemporary of the Caliph 'Umar (A. D. 634- 
44), and is remembered because he, after his father's death, married his stepmother Mulaikah, 
widow of Zabban. She lived with him long enough to bear him two sons and two daughters, 
of whom one, Khaulah, eventually married al-Hasan son of 'All, and the other, Tumadir, 
married the Caliph 'Abdallah b. az-Zubair (Agh. viii. 187 6 ). Mandhur was forced by 'Umar to 
put away Mulaikah, after having solemnly sworn that he did not know that such a marriage was 
unlawful (Agham, xxi. 260-61). He was, therefore, a Muslim when he contracted it, since 
'Umar said that but for his oath he would have put him to death for incest. Mulaikah was 
a daughter of Kharijah son of Sinan of Murrah, the last-named the poet of Nos. C and CI. 
Presumably she was young when Zabban died, and her first husband must have been living up 
to the time of the Hijrah and probably for some years later. 

The two poems before us, CII and CIII, are evidently to be read together. They relate to 
some quarrel between Zabban, who was chief of his section of Fazarah, and the House of Badr, 
represented by either Hisn or 'Uyainah, at the head of the main part of the tribe. It has been 
suggested that the fragments may be connected with the ' War of the Huraqah ' (see ante, 
No. VIII, introduction, and No. XII), but this is very uncertain ; and in that war Zabban and 
'Uyainah appear to have acted together against al-Husain of Murrah. Here it is evident that 
there was bitter contention between the two houses. Zabban (CII, 7) is ready to take up arms 
against the Sons of Badr, and in No. CIII he sternly warns them to remember how wrong-doing 
was punished in the person of their ancestor Hudhaifah at the Cistern of al-Haba'ah. This is 
a famous tale, finely told in the Aghanl, xvi. 30-2, and I give a summary translation of the 
passage below. 

The war of Dahis, between the brother tribes of 'Abs and Dhubyan, arose out of the race 
between Dahis, the horse, of Qais son of Zuhair chief of 'Abs, and al-Ghabra, a mare belonging 
to Hudhaifah chief of Dhubyan.* In the race Hudhaifah had placed an ambush of men who 
were charged, if they saw Dahis winning, to spring up and with shouts and blows to break 
him off in his running. They did so, and thus caused him to lose the race. Qais protested 
against this unfairness to Hudhaifah, but could get no redress. This started the quarrel, which 

* There is another version of the story which makes both Dahis and al-Ghabra the horses of 
Qais, while Hudhaifah ran another pair for which different names are given. But the poetical 
fragments dealing with the race mention only tivo competitors. 

Oil. Z ABB AN 289 

Aj // 

for some time was confined to petty conflicts and raids. In one of these 'Auf, brother of 
Hudhaifah, lost his life, and 'Abs paid for him with a bloodwit of a hundred camels. Later, 
Malik, brother of Qais, visited the country of Fazarah to celebrate a marriage, and was 
murdered there by Hudhaifah's orders. Thereupon 'Abs claimed the return of the bloodwit 
which had been paid for 'Auf, since Malik's blood was a sufficient atonement for the other'a 
Four years had passed between the payment for 'Auf and the killing of Malik, and meanwhile 
the camels of the bloodwit had produced young. 'Abs claimed that the camels should be 
returned with their offspring, but this was refused by Fazarah, and no arrangement could be 
come to. While the contention was going on, Malik son of Badr, brother of Hudhaifah, while 
searching for some lost camels, was shot by a man of the house of Rawahah (Qais's ancestor) 
and slain. After this, peace was again patched up by the efforts of al-Asla', a chief of 'Abs, 
who arranged that a number of boys, sons of chiefs of 'Abs (three of his own included), should 
be given as hostages into the charge of Subai', a chief of the tribe of Tha'labah b. Sa'd of 
Dhubyan.* So things continued for a time until the death of Subai', who, when he felt his 
end approaching, called his son Malik (whose mother was a woman of the House of Badr, 
sister of Hudhaifah), and said to him : ' Thou wilt gain a fame for nobleness that will not pass 
away if thou keepest safe these boys. But I seem to see thee after my death, when thine 
uncle Hudhaifah will come, squeezing tears out of his eyes and saying " Dead is our lord " ! 
Then he will wheedle thee into giving them up to him, and he will slay them, and all honour 
will be gone from thee for ever ! But if thou fearest to be unable to resist him, restore the boys 
to their own people.' Things happened as Subai' had foreseen. Hudhaifah lamented his death 
to his son Malik, and so touched his heart by his grief and his sympathy that the latter made 
over to him the hostages, whom Hudhaifah carried off to Ya'muriyah where he lived. When 
he had got possession of them, he used to bring out each day a boy and set him up as a tai'get 
to be shot at : as he shot, he would bid the boy call upon his father, until an arrow cut short 
his cries. This abominable deed of cruelty stirred up war again, and 'Abs set upon Fazarah 
and the men of Tha'labah b. Sa'd at a place called al-Khathirah, where they killed many of 
the leaders, including Malik son of Subai' who had given over the hostages to Hudhaifah. On 
this occasion Hudhaifah himself was absent; but he immediately set himself to assemble 
a great host of all the tribes of Ghatafan, to fall upon 'Abs and crush them utterly. Qais, fore- 
seeing this, resolved that 'Abs must leave their settlements and seek an asylum in some other 
part of Arabia. He gathered together the herds of the tribe, and the women and families with 
their household gear, and started them off while it was still night, he and the fighting men 
intending to follow them at dawn. But when dawn came, they saw from the ridge of 
al-Mu'niqah, over which the baggage-train had passed, the army of Hudhaifah coming on in 
pursuit. Qais then advised his people to take a side route, not the same as that by which the 
others had gone, and let the men of Dhubyan decide whether to follow the baggage or the 
fighting men. When Hudhaifah came to the parting of the ways, he decided to follow after 
the baggage division, and did so, soon coming up with it. Then he and his people fell upon 
the herds of camels and the women and followers of 'Abs, and the whole host was scattered in 

* For Tha'labah b. Sa'd see the genealogical table on p. 35. For Subai' and his house see No. XII, 
v. 18 and note, and No. XCVIII, v. 26. 

itoi.t P p 


search of booty. In this attack Hudhaifah speared and killed Tumadir, the mother of 
Qais. Meanwhile the fighting men of 'Abs had come up behind, and found their enemy thus 
engaged. Qais fell upon them with a furious onslaught, and met with scarcely any resistance, 
so occupied were the men of Dhubyan with securing their plunder. A great slaughter ensued, 
which was only put a stop to by the family of Ziyad, leaders of 'Abs, exhorting their people to 
remember that after all the men were their kin. But Hudhaifah and his brother Hamal and 
some others of the family of Badr escaped, and Qais and his comrades sent out scouts in all 
directions to find out whither they had fled. Shaddad son of Mu'awiyah (the father of 
'Antarah) and his companions eventually came upon the traces of Hudhaifah. That chief had 
dismounted to tighten up the girth of his saddle : when doing so, he had set his foot upon a 
stone, that there might be no print of it in the sand ; but in mounting again his toes slipped 
and left a mark on the ground. This was recognized, as also a twist in one of his horse's fore- 
feet ; so the party headed by Shaddad followed his track. The day was one of intense heat, 
and Hudhaifah and his companions rode until they came to a well called al-Haba'ah, with a 
great open cistern, and there they stripped their saddles off their horses, cast down their 
weapons and clothes, and plunged into the cistern. The party consisted of Hudhaifah, his 
brother Hamal, Hanash son of 'Amr, Warqa son of Bilal, and his brother. As they splashed 
about in the water, their horses rolled over on the ground, glad to be free of their saddles. 
They had sent out a scout to keep watch and warn them if any one seemed to be pursuing, and 
this man came and said ' I see a shape like an ostrich, or a bird perched on a tragacanth-bush, 
in the direction from which we have come '. ' Maybe it is Shaddad mounted upon Jirwah ' (his 
mare), said Hamal. ' Don't talk to me of Shaddad and Jirwah on this side and that ! talk of 
something else ', said Hudhaifah. But while they were yet speaking, there was Shaddad over 
their heads, between them and their horses ; and then came up 'Amr son of al-Asla', and 
Qirwash, al-Harith son of Zuhair, and Junaidib, five persons in all. Junaidib drove away the 
horses of Hudhaifah's party, and 'Amr son of al-Asla' and Shaddad attacked the men in the 
cistern. Hudhaifah tried to parley ' Ye men of 'Abs, where are your wits ? have ye lost all 
sense ? ' ' But Hamal struck him between the shoulders, and said ' Beware of what men will 
say after this day ! ' and his words became a proverb. Then Qirwash son of Hunayy killed 
Hudhaifah, and al-Harith son of Zuhair killed Hamal, and took from him the famous sword 
Dhu-n-Nun, which had belonged to Malik son of Zuhair.* Hanash escaped. Qais was not 
present at the killing of Hudhaifah and Hamal ; when he heard of the death of the latter, he 
uttered some touching verses, printed on p. 694 of the Arabic text, which are celebrated : 

Know that the stoutest man I ever knew 
lies dead at al-Haba'ah, and stirs no more! 

But for the wrong he wrought, I had not ceased 
to weep his death, so long as stars rise and set. 

But the good warrior Hamal son of Badr 

wrought wrong : and wrong is a poisonous pasturage ! 

For the sequel, and the final securing of peace, see the introduction and notes to the Mu'allaqah 
of Zuhair, in my Translations, pp. 107 ff. 

* See ante, No. LXXXVIII, note to v. 5. 


(1) Ye Sons of Manulah ! in sooth I obeyed your chiefs, hoping that there 
might be a way to avoid war with friends ; 

(2) And the Sons of Umayyah all of them would be leaders and captains, 
and the Sons of Kiyah the same, when a matter is debated in council. 

(3) Go thy way ! Verily companies of the House of Murrah dwelling in the 
Hijaz shall surely defend their herds of camels 

(4) Groups of men whom they have settled there in the spacious plain, as 
though they were princes ruling between Manbij and al-Kathlb. 

(5) And when I move in reply to a cry for help, there gallops with my 
weapons a stout mare, short-haired, high in the withers, taking short steps 
[through sprightliness], 

(6) Beautiful of shape, one that gallops hard when I push her on, very speedy 
when her girth is wet with sweat, an excellent canterer : 

(7) I have made her ready against the Sons of al-Laqltah : she carries my spear, 
and a keen sword, and a small coat of mail, 

(8) And a man experienced in distressful cases, who does not flinch when 
tribes meet tribes in conflict. 


(1) Manalah (Abu 'Ikrimah ignorantly reads MathQlah) was the wife of Fazarah and mother of 
the families descended from him. Zabban himself was of her line, but the ' chiefs ' of whom he 
speaks were, no doubt, the family of Hudhaifah, the chief of Fazarah in the War of Dahis. 

(2) The situation depicted is one in which the leaders in council all differed one from another, 
and could come to no common agreement. Umayyah does not appear in the genealogical table of 
Fazarah (WUst. Tab. H) as head of a family. Eiyah (b. 'Auf b. Hilal b. Shamkh) is found therein. 

(3) The person addressed is a woman. The mention of Murrah in this verse apparently misled 
Aba 'Ikrimah into the belief that the poet was himself a member of that family. The house of 
Murrah was that to which al-Husain b. al-Humam (ante, No. XII) belonged, and the quarrel to which 
the poem relates may perhaps be the war of the Huraqah (see introduction to No. XII). According 
to the Aghanl, xii. 124-5, however, in that contest Zabban joined 'Uyainah son of Hisn, Chief of 
Fazarah, in opposing al-Husain. 

(4) Manbij, Syriac Mabbogh, Greek Ba^/Jvio?, and later Hierapolis, a large town on the Euphrates 
above Eaqqah, where a bridge of boats crossed the river on the eastward route from Aleppo. 
Al-Kathlb, perhaps the place in Bahrain mentioned ante, No. LXXIV, 1. In this case 'from Manbij 
to al-Kathlb ' would be a phrase for a vast stretch of country inhabited by Arabs. The word for 
'princes', quyul, is one specially used of the rulers of Himyarite principalities in the Yaman. 
Marzuqi (see footnote on p. 691) thinks that the word is used here in derision of the men of Murrah : 
but our knowledge of the nature of the quarrel is insufficient to determine this. 

(5) The special sense attributed in the commentary to fazi'tu should be noted ' When I answer 
a cry for help '. 

Pp 2 


(6) 'Beautiful of shape', shauM: see what is said as to this word ante, No. LXXI, 8e and 
LXXIV, 4. The rendering adopted here is that favoured by Prof. Noldeke. 

(7) The ' Sons of al-Laqltah ' are the house of Hudhaifah, whose wife she was : the passage from 
the Aghani cited against v. 3 above indicates that 'Uyainah, grandson of Hudhaifah, was head of the 
family when the war of the Huraqah occurred ; but if the next piece, as is probable, refers to the 
same quarrel as this, it seems likely that the poems should be dated earlier, during the time when 
Hisn son of Hudhaifah was chief : the reference therein to the event which happened at al-Haba'ah 
suggests that it occurred not very long before, and that its memory was still fresh. 


SEE the introduction to No. GIL 

(1) Does not their knowledge of Zabban suffice to restrain the Sons of 
al-Laqitah, that they attack him with lampoons, while he sleeps [and gives no 
heed to them] ? 

(2) They go about with the Weak-eyed one, while there is poured forth upon 
them a tongue keen like the edge of an Indian sword. 

(3) Yet in al-Haba'ah there is a slain man lying, in whose hinder part is stuck 
a writing that should warn the wrong-doer from returning to wrong ! 

(4) When ye read it, it will bring you guidance out of your error, and well 
shall it be known when the seals are broken away ; 

(5) There where the horses were tethered in the place where your Father lay, 
a man of sound judgement, hard in his enmity, left it as a gift for you. 

(6) And if ye ask about it the riders of Dahis, there is one of the house of 
Kawahah who knows and can give you tidings. 

(7) Sharlk son of Malik swore, lighthearted and full of spirit, that when we 
met in battle, never would he make peace with his foe : 

(8) He swore that never willingly would he accept the position of a defeated 
man. Yea, thou shalt come to that, and thy nose be rubbed in the dust ! 


(2) ' The Weak-eyed one ', alrA'slid : it seems not impossible that Maimun al-A'sha, the celebrated 
poet of the time who was accustomed to carry about his art, for praise or satire, from tribe to tribe, 
may be meant : yet if this were so, we should have expected the commentators to notice the fact. 

(3) See introduction to No. CII, and note * at foot of p. 694 of the Arabic text. 

(5) 'Your Father': i.e., Hudhaifah son of Badr. The 'man of sound judgement ', hazim, is 
perhaps Qais son of Zuhair, who however was not actually present at the slaying. 


(6) Kawahah was the grandfather of Zuhair father of Qais: Dahis, the name of the horse 
belonging to Qais which ran in the famous race. 

(7) We have no information regarding the Shank son of Malik here mentioned : a Shank 
appears in the genealogy of the house of Badr, but he is shown as son of Hudhaifah, not of Malik. 

(8) Another example of the ellipse of the negative after an oath : see ante, No. XXXV, 
v. 6 and note. 



THE poet was a member of a famous family in his tribe of 'Amir, being one of the sons of 
Malik b. Ja'far and Umm al-Banin, ' the Mother of the Sons '. See the Introduction to the 
Dlwdn of 'Amir b. at-Tufail (where, however, Mu'awiyah has been omitted from the genea- 
logical table). Among his brothers were at-Tufail and 'Amir called Abu Bara, ' the Player with 
Lances '. He was one of the sons of Malik who took part in the deputation to King an-Nu'man 
early in that king's reign, when the 'Amirites were opposed by the king's boon-companion 
ar-Kabi' b. Ziyad, the chief of 'Abs. It was on this occasion that the young Labid (our poet's 
nephew), then a lad of some 18 or 19 years, making his first appearance as a poet, discomfited 
ar-Rabl' in the verses quoted at p. 74 of the Introduction to 'Amir, and caused the king to 
dismiss him from his place at Court. 

The poem before us is somewhat fragmentary, and has lost a good many verses. It makes 
boast of the virtues of the poet's tribe in the ordinary manner. 

(1) Umamah came to me by night, and far was the distance she had to travel 
in the darkness, when all my comrades were sleeping by their camel-saddles. 

(2) ' How didst thou find thy way hither ? and never wast thou strong afoot ' : 

and of the people some were awake and some plunged in slumber. 

* * * *.# * * # # 

(3) A man am I of a famous company, active in all good works, whose glory is 
high of head, inherited from our fathers : 

(4) They found their father a lord already, and their own nobility helped them, 
and their uncles and their ancestors, to add to their renown. 

(5) Since every living thing grows from a root, as the great thorny trees grow 
from theirs, one man abounds in noble deeds, while another is mean and of no 

(6) We render to the tribe all that is due and fitting : and we pardon its 
offences against us, and are [admitted by all to be] its chiefs. 

(7) And when the tribe loads its burdens upon us, we stand up therewith and 
bear them : and when it repeats the load, we bear it yet again ; 


(8) And whensoever we meet with the need of valour and resource, our wont, 
O Sumayyah, is to outwit with this art our foes. 

(9) Yea, we say not, when strangers seek shelter of us for the night ' The 
way to our halting-place is not to be trodden without much toil ' ; 

(10) When some folk forbid to the stranger the path to their tents, the way to 
ours is a well-marked road. 

(11) Sumayyah said 'Thou hast gone astray!' for that she saw that claims, 
and embassies to kings, one after another minished our store : 

(12) Yea, straying it may be -never will I cease to do the like again and again, 
so long as we have left to us any store at all ! 


(1, 2) The first two verses are a mere fragment of a naslb : they do not, moreover, cohere 
together, since in v. 1 the poet's companions are asleep, while in v. 2 some of them are awake. The 
lady celebrated, Umamah, is not the one mentioned later. on, in vv. 8 and 11, who is Sumayyah. And 
the first hemistich of v. 2 is taken over bodily from al-Harith's poem, No. LXII, 2. For these reasons 
it seems probable that the verses are not the original introduction to the poem. In any case there is 
a lacuna between w. 2 and 3. 

(3) Hushud, pi. of hashid, has the special meaning of actively using in good works all the property 
or means that a person possesses : see al-Akhtal, dvw. 104*, hushdun 'ala-l-haqqi, and Hamasah 714 15 , 
al-hashiduna 'aid ta'ami-n-naeili (Bevan). ' High of head ', ashamm, lit. ' high-nosed '. The ' famous 
company ', 'usbatun mashhuratun, are the ' sons of the " Mother of the Sons ",' the house of Malik son 
of Ja'far, all of whose sons were famous in one way or another : see the Introduction to the Ditvan of 
'Amir b. at-Tufail. 

(5) 'Great thorny trees', 'idah, a general word for many kinds found in the Arabian peninsula, 
such as the various species of acacia, the tragacanth, the box-thorn, the lote-tree, &c. 'Mean and of 
no account ', JcaSld, lit. ' unsaleable in the market '. For the sentiment of the verse, compare 
Salamah b. Jandal, ante, No. XXII, v. 24. 

(6) Observe the distinction between ' due ', haqq, and ' fitting ', Aaqlq, the latter word connoting 
more than the former, not merely that which is strictly owing, but that which it is seemly and 
proper to give in addition thereto. Flha presumably means fi-l-'ashirati ' that which is our duty 
towards our tribe.' 

(7) The metaphor is, of course, taken from the loading-up of camels, on which the burdens are 
fastened while they are couched, and after being loaded they have to stand up. 

(8) Nmvqfiqu may also be taken to mean ' have to encounter [on the part of our enemy] ' : but 
the rendering given appears on the whole preferable. 

(9) The ' strangers ', firatun, must be understood as at large in the wilderness, and meeting the 
poet's kin, of whom they inquire whether they can be accommodated (tabawwa'a) in their encamp- 
ment, not as already arrived there. The word for ' way ', shfb, implies a rugged and troublesome 
(makdud) path, as for instance among mountains : it is contrasted with the open and easy, well-trodden, 
road of v. 10, sdbllu-na maurudu. 

(11) For the anomalous construction (see note k on p. 696 of Arabic text) compare ante, 
No. LXVIII, v. 4. The ' embassies ', tvufud, are the ceremonial appearances of Arab tribes before the 
rulers of al-Hlrah (in one of which, of some celebrity, the poet himself took part), or, in later times, 
before the Prophet Muhammad at Medina. Such deputations involved heavy expenditure in gifts 
(and probably also in bribes). 




THIS piece is more complete than that before it. Vv. 1-10 are the naslb or amatory 
prelude, which has some points of instruction as to the relations of the sexes in the old nomad 
life. Then follows self-praise for labours undertaken to heal a breach in the brother-tribe of 
Ka'b ; in the course of this comes the verse, 15, which caused the poet to be styled Mu'awwid 
al-^ukamd, ' the Habituator of Wise men ', he that sets a fashion for wise men to follow. As 
in many other cases, a poet has been given a name drawn from a striking verse of his com- 
position. Such poetical names are Muhalhil, Muraqqish, Muthaqqib, Mumazzaq, Ufnun, Dhu-r- 
Rummah. In the poetic world of ancient Arabia such by-names were affixed to poets by their 
fellow-tribesmen, and in this respect differ from the conventional takhallus or poetical nom-de- 
plume which Persian poets assume for themselves. The piece concludes with a boast of the 
power and valour of the tribe, which enable it to take possession of any pasture-ground which 
it may come upon in its wanderings (vv. 23-5). 

(1) My heart settled firmly upon quitting Salma, and cut short its desires, after 
that she and I had both grown grey ; 

(2) And grey too are now my contemporaries, and they turn away from me, 
as thou strippest off garments and wearest them no more. 

(3) But if her arrow and mine both fail now to hit the mark, yet in the past 
for a long time we shot with them unerringly : 

(4) She made prey of men what time she shot them, and I made my prey the 
veiled maidens with breasts beginning to be rounded. 

(5) And if to-day she wins no game, and her hunter returns from the chase 
resigned to failure and disappointment, 

(6) Yet there are dwellings, now empty and desolate, where once she abode 
at Namala I stayed my caravan among them, 

(7) On the valley sides, below Numail, [and pondered] as thou goest over a 
faded writing again with the pen 

(8) The writing of a skilled scribe, one who spells correctly, having a good eye : 
ic adorns his text, and is careful that he be not blamed. 

(9) I stayed therein my young she-camel, but the place gave me no answer : 
had there been there any living thing, it would have answered. 

(11) I thought there upon my return home : and whoso journeys as I journeyed 
will let his thoughts dwell on his return. 


(10) And many the swift camel I have sent on a journey [when she sweats,] 
it seems as though the folds of her skin were covered with malab. 


(12) I repaired the breach in Ka'b, and it passed away : and the breach was 
one that gave no promise of being reparable ; 

(13) And the tribe's Ka'b became one Ka'b again, after that from internal 
hatreds it had been pronounced to be many Ka'bs. 

(14) I bore the bloodwit of the man of Quraish in their stead, and would have 
no wrongdoing or outwitting one another. 

(15) Thus do I accustom the wise men after me to do the like, whensoever just 
claims come upon the various groups [that make up the tribe]. 

(16) By so doing I was beforehand with Qudamah or Sumair : but if they had 
been called to do the like, they would have answered ' Gladly ! ' 

(17) And I stand as the sufficient protector of people against trouble which 
has allowed them to see only patches of sky overhead ; 

(18) And [other] people shrink in dread from me and my helpers, as the old 
she-camels shrink when they fear the cord [which is tied round their thighs to make 
them yield milk]. 

(19) Yea, I will bear the burden of the bloodwit : Ghani shall pay it, and I will 
cause Kilab to inherit the glory of it for ever. 

(20) And if I praise myself for this [great deed], verily I did therein on that 
morning a thing that was most right. 

(21) And my wont has always been, when a great matter overwhelmed my 
people with its difficulties, to rise to the height of it, not to creep like a coward 
before it. 

(22) First I praise God, and next the bounty of those men who make it their 
business to redeem plundered herds and captives. 

(28) When the clouds descend in rain on the lands of a people, we pasture 
therein our herds, though they be wrathful : 

(24) [We send to feed there] all our long-legged horses, stout in their limbs : 
when the reins of other steeds are slackened [because they are quite worn-out], they 
are still fresh and full of running 

(25) And mares that thrust the girth backwards with their elbows, fleet like 
a deer of the leafy pastures that has caught sight of the hounds. 



(2) In rendering this verse I have substituted the first person for the third : the Arabic has ' its 
contemporaries ' and ' from it ', the pronoun referring to the heart of the poet mentioned in v. 1. 

(6) The implication is that in the place mentioned he and she were once young enough to enjoy 
love and life together. 

(7) It has been suggested (see LA ix, 473* ff.) that the word rajja'ta, causal ofraja'a ' to return ', 
may mean, not going over faded writing again, but the movement to and fro of the pen in the 
original act of writing (or of the hand in tattooing). This would certainly improve the rendering 
in many places : but it is scarcely possible to separate the phrase in this verse from that in Labld, 
Mu'dll. 8, where the action of torrents upon tent-traces is compared to guburun tujiddu mutunaka 
aqlamulia ' lines of writing of which the text is renewed again by the pens ', which is unambiguous. 

(10) Malab, a thick unguent of which saffron is said to be the principal ingredient : a foreign 
word, which Prof. Bevan suggests may be connected with the Greek ii.aXaj3a.6pov, 

(11) The transposition of this verse to before v. 10 seems to be called for by the second word in 
it, biJia, which must refer to the dwelling-places of v. 6. V. 10, on the other hand, begins a new 
section, all but the first verse of which has been lost. 

(12) Ka'b was the name of an important branch of the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, brother of 
Kilab, the branch to which our poet belonged. To Ka'b were assigned the divisions of 'Uqail, 
Qushair, and Ja'dah : see ante, No. LXXI, note to v. 2. 

(13) 'The tribe's Ka'b': I understand the feminine affixed pronoun in Ka'bulid to refer to the 
parent tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(14) Nothing is told us about the circumstances of the death of the man of Quraish here referred 
to : but evidently it was the matter that had divided the tribe of Ka'b. 

(15) This verse is the source of the poet's by-name Mu'awwid al-hukama, ' he that sets a rule for 
the wise to follow '. 

(16) Qudamah and Sumair were presumably other notables in the main tribe of 'Amir b. 
Sa'sa'ah who might have been expected to come forward had not our poet anticipated them. The 
names do not occur in the genealogical tables of the tribe. 

(18) The cord here referred to, 'imb, plural of 'isabah, is used to tie round the thighs of a camel 
that will not yield her milk freely unless this treatment is applied : such a camel is called 'asub. The 
poet says that he and his helpers are comparable to camels that yield milk freely without pressure, 
while others have to be squeezed to make them do so, and are like this camel, called 'a#ub. The 
application of the cord no doubt causes some pain. 

(19) Ghani, a small tribe allied to 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah by marriage on the mother's side. I under- 
stand the verse to mean that the formal payment is made by Ghani, but that the beasts forming the 
bloodwit were found by the poet and his companions (associated with himself in v. 22). 

(23) The last three verses of the poem belong to a different section, and have probably lost 
something which connected them with the rest. They make boast of the strength of the poet's tribe, 
which enables it to pasture its herds and horses wherever falling rain causes green things to spring 
up : compare ante, No. XLI, v. 18. 

(24) ' Fresh and full of running ', thaba : this verb is used of the collecting again of water in a 
well after it has had much already drawn out of it : the original meaning is (as of the corresponding 
word in Heb., shabh), 'it returned'. 

(25) Compare ante, No. XCVIII, v. 40. The word for ' deer ' (meaning gazelle or antelope or 
oryx) is shah, properly a sheep, but often used for the antelope kind: c/. Tarafah, Mw'all 24, 
and 'Antarah, Mu'all. 59. ' Leafy pastures ', rdbl, bushes or shrubs that keep their leaves when other 
kinds are dry : see ante, No. LXXIX, note to v. 4. 

iioi-t Q q 





THE poet, nephew of the last, is the famous cavalier, the contemporary of the Prophet and 
chief of the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, whose Dmuan was edited by the present writer in 
1913. In the Introduction to the Dlwan is collected all the information regarding him to be 
gathered from the ordinary sources. This poem is No. XI of the Dlwdn, where the readings 
are not quite the same as those of our text. 

The poem relates to the fight at Faif ar-Rih, where a combination of Yamanite tribes 
belonging to the groups of Madhhij and Khath'am met the various sub-tribes making up the 
aggregate of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, and a stubborn battle was fought. This was, however, in- 
conclusive, and 'Amir appears to have lost some spoil to the Yamanites. 'Amir son of at-Tufail 
was in command of his tribe, and received many wounds, among others one from Mus-hir 
(see v. 7) which gashed his cheek and cost him the sight of an eye. There can be no question 
that in the piece we have the actual composition of one who was at once warrior and poet, and 
knew well the experiences he describes. It is noticeable that the verses show very little 
exaggeration in their language. 

(1) Of a truth the Chiefs of Hawazin know well that I am the knight who 
defends the cause of the House of Ja'far ; 

(2) And al-Maznuq too knows well that I urged him again and again against 
the enemy's host, as one puts back into the bag again and again the blank arrow, 
denounced by the gamers. 

(8) When he flinched and turned aside from the thrust of the spears, I pressed 
him onwards and said ' Get thee on, straight forward never turn thy back ! ' 

(4) And I admonished him that to fly were a disgrace for a man so long as he 
has not put forth his utmost strength and done all possible to him : 

(5) ' Seest thou not that their spears are all couched straight at me ? and thou 
art a charger of noble stock : so bear it bravely ! ' 

(6) I desired that God might know that I endured patiently : and in truth 
I dreaded a day like the Day of al-Mushaqqar ! 

(7) By my life ! and my life is no light thing to me verily the spear-thrust 
of Mus-hir has spoiled the beauty of my face ! 

(8) And a wretched man shall I be if I be one-eyed, unsteady on my legs, 
a coward and what shall be my excuse in all assemblies ? 

cvi. 'AMIR B. AT-TUFAIL 299 

(9) And sooth, they know full well that I dashed again and again against 
them, on the evening of Faif ar-Rlh, as one circles time after time the standing 
Pillar ; 

(10) And I ceased not until my throat and my charger's breast were covered 
with streaming blood, like the fringe of a striped silken cloth. 

(11) I say to a soul the like of which is not poured forth [in death]: 'Cut 
short thine exulting ! verily I fail not in carrying out my purpose : 

(12) 'Yea, if they had been a host like ourselves in number, we had not 
cared for them : but there came upon us an overwhelming mass, full of boastful 

(13) 'They came upon us with the cavalry of all the broad plain, and the 
whole of Aklub, clad in leather cuirasses.' 


(1) HawSzin, the whole group of kindred tribes of which 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah was the most 
distinguished and powerful member : Ja'far, the family in Kilab to which 'Amir himself belonged, 
and which then held the chiefship of the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(2) Al-Mazntlq, the name of his charger : the word is a participle meaning that the horse has 
had a ring, called the einaq, put through the soft flesh of the lower jaw, a cord passing through which 
is used to control refractoriness. The dictionaries connect the word chiefly with mules. ' The blank 
arrow ', al-manlh, is the name given to three of the ten arrows used in the game of Maisir (see ante, 
No. X, note to v. 15), which carried no shares in the slaughtered camel. When, after shuffling, one 
of these came out of the bag, it was reviled by the gamers (whence called mushahliar, ' marked with 
the stamp of disgrace '), and forthwith put back into the bag. The repeated charges which 'Amir 
makes with his horse are compared to the constant return of this arrow. 

(3-5) For another example of a warrior in fight conversing with his horse see 'Antarah, 
Mu'all. 72-4. 

(6) This verse, as it stands with Aba 'Ikrimah's reading in our text, is sheer nonsense : it is 
necessary to read li-kaima, with the Diwan, for li-Jcai la ; but a better reading altogether is that of 
al-Kilabl (a ram of the poet's own tribe) as given in the scholion, which makes ya'lamu-l-laliu (' God 
knows') a parenthesis, as it almost always is (cf. ante, No. XXVIII, note to v. 16). The verse would 
then run : 

' I stood valiantly holding my ground : God knows, I was dreading a day like the Day 

of al-Mushaqqar.' 

The commentary gives an interesting account of the Day of al-Mushaqqar, a severe disaster which 
befell the tribe of Tamim at the hands of the Persian Governor of that fortress, the capital of Hajar 
in al-Bahrain (ante, No. LXXXI, note to v. 3) : the story is however in substance identical with the 
version to be found in my Translations, pp. 87-9, and need not be repeated here. The affair 
probably occurred in or about A. D. 610 or 611, and this reference to it fixes the date of our poem 
as circa 613 or 614 : see Introduction to the Dlwan of 'Amir, p. 83. 

(7) 'Spoiled the beauty of my face ', shana hurra-l-wajhi: lit. ' disfigured the open part of my 
face, that which is not covered with hair'. Mus-hir, son of Yazld, son of 'Abd-Yaghath, the 
chief of the Banu-1-Harith b. Ka'b of Najran (ante, No. XXX), had committed some crime against 

Q q 2 


his own tribe, and had taken refuge with its enemies the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. On the Day of 
Faif ar-Rlh, when 'Amir met the Bal-Harith in battle, he was fighting on the side of the former, 
who were commanded by our poet, 'Amir b. at-Tufail. During the battle 'Amir, while encouraging 
his men to distinguish themselves against their enemy, was wont to examine their swords and 
spear-heads to see if they bore blood-marks. As he was doing this, Mus-hir came up and offered his 
lance for inspection. As 'Amir bent down to examine it, Mus-hir thrust forward the spear, and 
with it gashed 'Amir's cheek and pierced his eye. Having done him this injury, Mus-hir left his 
spear behind him and galloped away, rejoining his own tribe, with whom he hoped to make his peace 
by this treacherous attack on 'Amir. 

(9) ' The circling of the Pillar ' is a reference to the old pagan rite of circumambulation, tawaf, 
which the heathen Arabs performed round sacred stones, generally upright (ansab, see ante, No. XXIV, 
note to v. 3). Such a stone is called dawar or duwar, and the worshipper, as here, mudawwir, because 
he goes round the stone a number of times. The rite is perpetuated in the Islamic tawaf round the 
Ka'bah at Mecca. 

(10) ' Silken cloth ', dimaqs : this is an interesting word, since it is in all probability the origin 
of our word damask, the account of which given in the Oxford English Dictionary requires to be 
supplemented. If dimaqs is the original of the silken fabric called damask, that has nothing to do 
with Damascus, as the Dicty. alleges, but is a metathesis of the alternative form midaqs, which 
occurs as a variant reading in the 12th verse of Imra' al-Qais's Mu'allaqah (see Tibrlzl's Commy.). 
Midaqs is a loan-word in Arabic (through Syriac) from the Greek jueVafa, the special meaning of 
which is floss or unwoven silk (Fraenkel, Aram. Fremdworter, 40). With //.erafo. we find, in the 
Latin languages, madascia (see Du Cange, s. v.) in the same meaning, used also for wool and cotton in 
the ball, spun and gathered round the distaff. This last word is perhaps the origin of the French 
meche and the cognates in the other languages. In modern Arabic mushaq, mushdqah, a ball of floss 
silk or wool, is probably connected with madascia. 

(11) This is a difficult verse. Who is the ' soul the like of which is not poured forth [in death] ' ? 
It cannot apparently be himself, since the words used imply that the person addressed exults at his 
discomfiture: for al-miraha, 'exultation', there are variants al-mizaha, 'jesting', and al-mira'a, 
' contention, dispute '. If we take the second, al-mizaha, we may imagine some one bound to him by 
affection perhaps a mistress to be addressed, who has treated lightly his exertions in the battle. 
To this person he excuses himself in vv. 12 and 13, pointing out that his tribe had been overwhelmed 
by numbers, and had done their utmost with the means at their disposal. 

(12) The Dlwan, and al-HirmazI in the scholion, read, for lam nubalihim, lam yabuzzana, ' they 
had not spoiled us, had not gained the victory over us '. The rendering adopts the variant tharwatun 
(also thuitratun), ' an overwhelming mass of men ', for usratun, ' a kin or tribe ' : the latter word does 
not seem strong enough for the phrase. 

(14) The Dlwan has bi-Shahrani for our bi-fursani : Shahran and Aklub are both Yamanite tribes, 
divisions of the great stock of Khath'am (Wilst., Tab. 9), whose settlements were in Blshah, a part of 
the country east of the Sarat or meridional range of the Yaman, and immediately south of those 
of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 



THIS poem, No. XXIX of 'Amir's Dlwan, is a rejoinder to Salamah's poem, No. V of our 
Collection, and deals with the disastrous Day of ar-Raqam or al-Maraurat, when 'Amir b. 
Sa'sa'ah suffered severe losses : see the account of the battle given in the Introduction to the 
Dlwan, pp. 80-1. The affair happened early in the poet's career, while he was not yet old 
enough to be the leader of his house in war, and probably long before the battle of Faif ar-Rih, 
dealt with in the preceding piece. Like most of 'Amir's remains, the piece is a mere fragment, 
but has every appearance of being authentic. 

(1) Now let Asma ask for she is kind and cares for our fortunes let her 
ask her counsellors whether I was driven away or not. 

(2) They said to her 'Yea, we drove away and scattered his horsemen'. 
The yellow-toothed dogs ! it was not I that was wont to be driven away ! 

(3) And I will surely proclaim your disgraceful doings at al-Mala and 'Uwarid, 
and I will bring my horses down upon you at the Lava of Darghad 

(4) The horses that stumble among the broken spear-shafts, looking like kites 
following one another in the straight way ! 

(5) And I will surely take vengeance for Malik, and for Malik, and for the 
man of al-Maraurat whose head was not propped in his grave ! 

(6) And the man whom Hurrah slew will I surely avenge truly he was a 
noble chief : their brother [for whom they slew him] was not killed. 

(7) Asma, thou child of the House of Fazarah, a fighter am I, and no man 
can hope to live for ever ! 

(8) Get thee gone to thine own ! No peace can there be between us, after the 
knights that lie dead in the place of ambush, 

(9) Save by the help of black, tall, swimming steeds, and the comfort that 
comes from the thrust of a tawny spear ! 

(10) A child of War am I : I cease not to heighten her blaze by night, and 
light her up to burn whensoever she is not yet kindled. 


(1) Asma, whom 'Amir chose as the lady to be addressed in his preludes (perhaps with the object 
of annoying his enemies her kinsfolk), was daughter of Qudamah, of the house of Fazarah, and wife 
of Shabath son of Haut : see end of the introduction to No. V, ante. 

(2) The poet resents being described as having been put to flight : that he withdrew from the 
battle-field could not be questioned, but he claims that he retired of his own free will. 


(8) The Dlwan reads fa-la-abghiyannakumu, ' I will surely seek you out ', forfa-la-ariayannakumu, 
'I will proclaim your misdeeds'. Al-Malii, said to be in the territory of Kalb (scholion to v. 11), 
has been mentioned before in No. IX, v. 6 ; it must be somewhere in the watershed of the Wadi-r- 
Rummah. 'Uwarid, a mountain between the countries of Asad and Dhubyan. For the Lava (labah) 
or Hurrah of Darghad see ante, No. IV, note to v. 10. It is the modern Harrah of Khaibar. 
Darghad still bears that name (Doughty's ' Thurghrud '). 

(4) For the first hemistich various readings are, 'that gallop with warriors on their backs', and 
'for which we cut leather thongs [to protect their feet]'. For horses to gallop over the rugged 
volcanic plain of Darghad without some protection would be difficult. 

(5) Who the two Maliks were we are not told. The 'man of al-Maraurat ' was the poet's 
brother al-Hakam, who hanged himself at the place so called : see ante, No. V. ' Whose head was 
not propped in his grave ', alladhl lam yusnadi, i. e., who was not honourably buried, but left lying 
dead in the wilderness for beasts of prey to mangle. 

(6) In the Dlwan it is said that the slain man intended here was Amir's brother Handhalah, 
who seems to have been taken prisoner and put to death in retaliation for some chief of the enemy's 
side who, the poet says, was not killed and therefore should not have been avenged. 

(9) For ' swimming steeds ' see ante, No. VI, note to v. 4. For another possible rendering of 
'ulalatin see the note to this verse in the Dlwan, p. 117. 

(10) In our text another verse stands after this, of which the following is the translation: 

(11) Then, when the country ceased to yield pasture and was smitten with famine, the 
way she passed was by Taima or in al-Athmud. 

For ' the way she passed ' another rendering is ' her watering-place '. This verse has nothing to do 
with its context, and is not in the Dlwan or other recensions of our Collection : a place cannot be 
found for it in the opening of the poem as it stands, although it seems to belong to the prelude 
of a qaxidah. 


THE heading of this poem in the Arabic text attributes it to 'Auf b. al-Ahwas, the poet of 
Nos. XXXV and XXXVI ; but the commentary mentions that it is also ascribed to Khidash, 
and it appears under his name in the Aghdnt, xix. 80. There can be little doubt that this is 
right. Khidash was the poet who sang the prowess of Hawazin in the War of the Fijar between 
that group and Kinanah, including Quraish, and it is to that war that the poem relates. 'Auf, 
who belonged to the house of Ja'far b. Kilab, took no part in the war after the first battle, that 
of Nakhlah (Aghanl, 1. c. 77 6 ff.), while the other sections of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, except Ka'b and 
apparently Numair, maintained the contest to the end. This poem relates to the fourth battle 
of the war, called the Day of 'Ukadh. It takes its place with the other compositions of the 
same poet cited in the Aghanl, I. c., pp. 76, 78, and 80, and it agrees with the traditions relating 
to the warfare, which lasted for more than four years. 

The Fijar,* or Sacrilegious War, was so called because it broke out during the Sacred 

* The story of the Fijar is told at length in the Aghanl, xix, pp. 73-82, closely followed by 
Caussin de Perceval, Essai, i. 300-18. 



Months of peace connected with the Meccan Pilgrimage and the fairs subsidiary thereto. Arab 
tradition commonly speaks of tivo sacrilegious wars : but the first was merely a succession of 
brawls, and did not involve any serious fighting. The second, with which we are concerned, 
was very different. It arose out of the murder, by a dissolute drunken vagabond named 
al-Barrad, belonging to the tribe of Kinanah, of 'Urwah son of 'Utbah, called al-Rahhal, of the 
house of Ja'far b. Kilab, whose daughter Kabshah was the mother of "Amir b. at-Tufail. 
Al-Barrad had made himself so intolerable to his sub-tribe, Damrah b. Bakr, that they had turned 
him out made him a khall' or outlaw (ante, p. 69). He then sought the protection of a chief 
of the Quraish, Harb son of Umayyah, who accepted him as a client, hallf: soon afterwards 
al-Barrad's habits became so offensive to the society of Mecca that Harb was minded to with- 
draw his protection. Al-Barrad, however, succeeded in persuading him not to make a formal 
rupture, on the condition that he, al-Barrad, should go away and cease to create scandal at 
Mecca. Al-Barrad thereupon went to al-Hirah, and attached himself to an-Nu'man's court. 
The king was in the habit of sending to the fair at 'Ukadh every year a caravan bearing 
articles for sale, to return with wares of al-Yaman bought at the fair, and for this venture he 
sought for some one who could give the caravan a safe-conduct. Al-Barrad offered to do so for 
his tribe of Kinanah ; but this did not suit the king, who wanted a man of influence who could 
guarantee the safety of his party through the whole of Najd. 'Urwah ar-Rahhal agreed to do 
this, and was accepted. The caravan started, and was followed by al-Barrad, who sought an 
opportunity to murder 'Urwah. This he found at a place in the territory of Ghatafan. After 
killing 'Urwah during the sacred season, al-Barrad appropriated the caravan and its freight, 
and led it along in the direction of Mecca. On the way he met Bishr son of Abu Khiizim of 
Asad (ante, No. XCVI), whom he charged to travel swiftly to 'Ukadh, and warn there Harb 
son of Umayyah of what had happened before the news reached the tribe of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah 
and the rest of Hawazin. Now the brawls between Kinanah and Hawazin, above referred to 
as the First War of the Fijar, had had this result, that in order to obviate bloodshed an arrange- 
ment had been made that all those coming to the fair should give up their arms into the custody 
of a chief of the Quraish named 'Abdallah b. Jud'an, to be returned when the visitors dispersed. 
Accordingly Harb, when told of the trouble that was in prospect, attempted to persuade 
'Abdallah b. Jud'an to give back to Kinanah and Quraish their arms, but to detain those of 
Hawazin until the others had gained their own territory. 'Abdallah honourably refused to 
have anything to do with this treachery. He sent a proclamation through the fair inviting all 
who had deposited arms with him to come and take them, and saying that Quraish had had 
news of trouble at home which made it necessary that they should return at once to Mecca to 
see to it. Quraish and Kinanah thereupon started to leave 'Ukadh, and had got as far as 
Nakhlah, some ten miles away, when 'Amir Abu Bara, the chief of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, first heard 
of 'Urwah's murder. Immediately Hawazin, in battle array, followed up the retreating tribes, 
and overtook them at Nakhlah, where they fell upon them with fury. But the night was near 
at hand, and so was the boundary of the sacred territory (Haram), within which bloodshed was 
looked upon as a horrible crime. So the progress of the battle was stopped, and the combatants 
promised each other to meet to fight out their quarrel at 'Ukadh in the course of the fair of the 
following year. 

I An 



When the next year's fair fell due, Kinanah and Quraish on the one side, and Hawazin on 
the other, prepared for battle. But, strangely enough, seeing that the murdered 'Urwah was 
a chief of Kilab, the two most important sections of 'Amir, Ka'b and Kilab, withdrew from 
the contest and took no further part in the war. This was perhaps because they belonged to 
the brotherhood of the Hums (see ante, No. XXIV, note to v. 14, and No. XXXV, introduction), 
who had special rules for observing the sacred season. The two antagonists met at a place called 
Samtah, and Hawazin had the best of the fight. 

The third battle was fought at the beginning of the next year, some two or three months 
later, at al-'Abla, a place near 'Ukadh. Here, owing to the flight of Kinanah, fortune again 
turned in favour of Hawazin. 

The fourth battle, that of 'Ukadh, to which our poem relates, took place a year later, and 
in it the leaders of Quraish, Harb and his brothers, the sons of Umayyah, are said to have put 
themselves into chains so that it might be impossible for them to flee, to show that they were 
resolved to conquer or die where they stood. For this act of determination they received the 
name of al-'Andbis (sing, 'anbasah), ' the Lions '. The struggle was long and fierce. According 
to the tradition, Bakr of Kinanah, as on the previous occasions, showed signs of giving way, 
but was supported by the Banii Makhzum of Quraish, who led them again to the encounter, 
when they prevailed over Hawazin. It is noticeable, however, that our poem (vv. 2 and 5-6) 
appears to represent the matter otherwise, making out that Bakr reinforced Quraish. The 
result of the battle, which lasted all day, was a victory for the men of the Haram and a scattering 
of the forces opposed to them. 

A fifth battle, that of al-Hurairah (' the little Harrah '), followed, in which the Hawazin were 
victorious ; in this Abu Sufyan son of Umayyah (uncle of the man of the same name who was 
the Prophet's chief antagonist in the wars between Mecca and Medina) was slain. After this 
no general engagement took place, but a few individual assassinations were perpetrated : among 
these was the slaying of Zuhair son of Rabl'ah, the father of our poet, by Ibn Mahmiyah of 
ad-Du'il of Kinanah. Eventually peace was made, upon the usual condition that the slain 
should be counted up, and when it was found that the number of the dead of one side exceeded 
that of the other, the blood-price of the excess number should be paid by the side which had 
slain them. This number was twenty, and Quraish and Kinanah paid for them to Hawazin. 

The traditions regarding the War of the Fijar are very detailed, and the memory of the 
fights and the leaders in the various encounters evidently survived with some freshness into 
times of record. Muhammad, according to Abu 'Ubaidah (Agh. xix. 81), was present at all the 
battles of the war except that of Nakhlah : he is said to have acted as supplier of arrows to his 
uncle az-Zubair son'of 'Abd al-Muttalib, who was the only one of the house of Hashim who took 
part in the war. As to his age, the accounts vary between fourteen and twenty, which would 
put the approximate date A. D. 584 to 590. As the war lasted over four years, it is impossible 
to say which of these is more probable, except that we should expect that if Muhammad was 
twenty, he would have taken a more active part in the fight than merely handing ammunition 
to the fighters. He is said (Agh., I.e. 81, bottom) to have asserted that the Quraish offered 
Hawazin to give up al-Barrad, the murderer of 'Urwah, but this offer was refused. 

Khidash appears to have belonged to the house of 'Amr b. 'Amir b. Rabi'ah b. 'Amir b. 


Sa'sa'ah. It is not likely that he survived to become a Muslim. Abu 'Amr b. al-'Ala, one of 
the first collectors of ancient poetry, has an. interesting passage (reported by BQutaibah, 
Shi'r 409) comparing him as a poet with his fellow-tribesman Labid. He says that Khidash 
excelled in the essence ('adhm, ' bone ') of poetry, while Labid was the greater master of 
pictorial description (sifdt). Not much of his verse appears to have survived. 

(1) When we drew near to the leather tents and their folk, there was ordained 
to us a wolf, crafty and dangerous when night comes on : 

(2) Bakr were ordained to us, and under their banner were troops of horse 
which the strong, glorying in his strength, would look upon well pleased ; 

(3) And Quraish too came, assembling together in their host : of old time were 
they known to have a Helper ! 

(4) And Quraish, if we should gain the victory over them, would be a medicine 
for that which was in our breasts a hatred that was plain to see. 

(5) Bakr approached in their defence, and we were not able to lay hold of 
them ; they played with their swords as though they were a party [of boys] at play 
at night [with the knotted kerchiefs]. 

(6) And Bakr did not cease to swarm and shout battle-cries, and the first and 
the last of them pressed on together, 

(7) From morning until night came on, when the cloud cleared away of a day 
whose evil was manifold, layer upon layer ; 

(8) And this manner of things continued until Hawazin withdrew from the 
fight in flight, and Sulaim and 'Amir were scattered hither and thither ; 

(9) And Quraish were as though their keenness would split a rock, when 
stumbling fortunes sap the strength of other men. 


(2) Bakr was the leading tribe of that part of Kinanah which was not absorbed in the Quraish : 
Bakr b. 'Abd-Manat b. Kinanah ; its branches Damrah, ad-Du'il, Laith, 'Uraij. 

(3) This verse, under the influence of Islam, has in some of the recensions taken on another 
form, for which see the text, p. 715, note 8 . It may be questioned whether even as it stands the 
phrase has not been affected by the new Faith. I do not however think that it is necessary to assume 
this. As possessors of the Ka'bah and its collection of idols, the Quraish might naturally be spoken 
of by a pagan poet as having some kind of divine Helper. In the account of the battle of Uhud, 
Abu Sufyan is said * to have taken al-Lat and al-'Uzza (presumably their images) into the scene of 
conflict ; and after the defeat of Muhammad's force Hind, Aba Sufyan's wife, who by the verses 
which she chanted had not ceased to encourage her side during the fight, shouted aloud ' Hubal has 
triumphed ! ' t There can be no doubt that the Ka'bah and its contents commanded a widespread 
veneration from the Arabs of Ma'add : and if Hubal, as has been conjectured, was in a special sense 
the God of Mecca, he might easily be spoken of by our poet as the Helper of Quraish. 

* Tabarl, Ser. i, p. 1395. 

t According to Tab. i. 1410" and 1417' 6 , and BHisham 582 18 , Abu Sufyan himself raised this shout. 


(5) For the folded and knotted kerchiefs or napkins, makhaflq, with which boys play, see ante, 
No. LXXX, note to v. 3. This is a stock comparison for sword-play. 

(6) ' Swarm ' : here again we have the verb thaba, yathtibu, used of water rising again in a well 
that has nearly been worked dry : cf. ante, No. CV, note to v. 24. ' Shout battle-cries ', tadda\ 
i. e., shout name and lineage on plunging into the fight or challenging to single combat : cf. No. VIII. 
v. 11. 



FOR the poet see ante, Nos. IV and VII. In this piece he bewails a chief of the tribe of 
Asad, Nadlah son of al-Ashtar, of the branch of Faq'as, who was slain, in spite of a covenant 
of protection, by men of the tribe of 'Abs. Ibn al-Kalbl has a story that when he was killed, 
men from each subdivision of 'Abs were gathered together and made to hold the spear with 
which his body was pierced, so that all sections might be involved in the common guilt. But 
it appears doubtful whether this tale has not been constructed out of v. 2 of the poem, taken 
as a sarcastic utterance in a sense the opposite of its face-meaning. The sarcasm of vv. 1-3 is 
obvious, but it does not necessarily involve the arrangement suggested. Nadlah was the father 
of the Khalid mentioned in No. VII, and, according to Marzuqi's authorities, the great-grand- 
father of the poet of Nos. CX and CXI. As al-Jumaih fell at the battle of Shi'b Jabalah in 
A. D. 570, the poem must be older than that, but how much older we cannot say probably 
several years. 

(1) O thou protector of Nadlah, the time, truly, has come for thee to bestir 
thyself in defence of thy friend among the sons of Hidm ! 

(2) Ye that range yourselves one to another to shelter Nadlah ugly your 
faces in that chain of protecting hands ! 

(3) And the Sons of Rawahah look on, what time the assembly gaze at him 
with their thick fleshy noses : 

(4) Except Abu Thauban in sooth Abu Thauban is not dumb or tongue-tied 

(5) 'Amr son of 'Abdallah verily he is a man who holds himself aloof from 
reviling and foul abuse. 

(6) Give me not to drink if I bring not on Ghatafan by night the marching of 
a mighty and numberless host, 

(7) Clangorous when [its enemies] beset its companies on both flanks, like a 
lofty mass of cloud on the day of the setting-in of the heavy autumnal rain 

(8) A host so vast that the wide plain is too strait for it, huge, with a vanguard 
whose dust floats hither and thither : 

CIX. AL-JUMAItf 307 

(9) They shout the name of Nadlah as they thrust with the spears, bestriding 
short-haired steeds that spring with the gait of mountain goats 

(10) All tall steeds and mares firmly knit, like a well-twisted cable, some bay, 
some black 

(11) Until I requite upon 'Abs the wickedness they wrought with the worst 
that such a crime deserves. 

(12) O Nadlah ! [Alas] for the stranger guest, for the man under covenant who / 
is wronged, and for him who bears the burthen of heavy debt ! 

(13) Who now will succour the shag-pate wretch who cannot sleep for hunger, 
the starveling clad in worn-out rags, lean as the camel tied to die at its master's 
grave ? 


(I) The rendering reads li-jarika instead of bi-jarika : see note ' in text. Marzuql's commentary 
says that, according to al-Asma'l, the family mentioned here were the BanQ Hidm b. 'Aun (sic) 
b. Ghalib b. Sa'sa'ah (sic) b. 'Abs. This family appears in Wiist. Tab. H as Harim b. 'Audh b. Ghalib 
b. Qutai'ah b. 'Abs : evidently Harim in WUst. is a misreading for Hidm. 

(3)' The ' Sons of Kawahah ' were the family of the chiefs of 'Abs Qais b. Zuhair b. Jadhlmah 
b. Kawahah : see ante, No. LXXXVIII, introduction, and No. Oil, introduction. 

(4, 5) The man here excepted, 'Amr son of 'Abdallah, Abu Thauban, is not mentioned in the 
genealogies as a member of the house of Kawahah, as the verse seems to imply ; he appears as 'Amr 
b. 'Abdallah (b. Nashib, b. Sufyan, b. Harim [i.e. Hidm], b. 'Audh) in the collateral line of Ghalib. 

(6) ' Give me not to drink ', la tasgim : the natural sense of this would imply a vow by the poet 
not to drink wine until he had attained to his vengeance ; and such vows were the ordinary accompani- 
ment of the burden laid upon the avenger of blood. But Marzoqi, perhaps relying upon some 
tradition handed down by a previous commentator, thinks that the words mean ' Invoke not on me 
the blessing of abundant rain, la taffu ll bi-s-suqya, whether I be alive or dead ! ' 

(7) ' The day of the setting-in of the heavy autumnal rain ', yaumi-l-Mirzami-s-sajmi : there is 
a v. 1. nau'i for yaumi ; al-Mirzam is the name of one of the anwa (see explanation, ante, No. XCVI, 
note to v. 11) or asterisms thought to bring rain in the autumn and winter. It is the name of a 
star, probably y Orionis or Bettatrix, though others are mentioned by the Lexx. (see Lane, s. v.). 

(8) For ' floats hither and thither ', yamuru, there is a v. 1. yarnuju, ' rises in waves '. 

(II) 'Until I requite', &c. : this is the continuation of the imprecation on himself uttered by 
the poet in v. 6, interrupted by the description of the vast host with which he proposes to attack 

(12) I. e., the persons mentioned will find none to help them, now Nadlah is gone. 

(13) The reading adopted is man li-ash'atha la yanamu iva-'armalin: but the best version is that 
of the British Museum MS. man li-'aitumin wa-'armalatin : ' Who now will help the orphans and the 
widow ', clad, &c. ? This alone explains the fern, word samlah, ' old and worn out ', which must refer 
to the widow. The reference to the camel tied up to die at its master's grave, al-baliyah, is 
drawn from a custom of the heathen days. When a man was buried, his riding-camel was tethered 
by his grave, her eyes were plucked out, her rein fastened to the cushion under the saddle, and her 
fore-shank bound to the upper arm, so that she might not attempt to leave the place ; and there she 
was left to starve to death. Muslim commentators suggest that she was intended for the dead man 
to ride upon to the place of gathering on the Eesurrection Day : but MarzQql justly expresses 

Rr 2 


scepticism as to any such idea being held in the time of paganism. In fact the practice takes its 
place with burial usages in all countries and ages, the beast so sacrificed being intended for the use 
of the dead in the World of Shadows. 


THE commentators differ as to the poet's tribe ; Marzuqi, as noted in the introduction to 
the preceding poem, makes him out to be the grandson of Khalid son of Nadlah, of the Faq'as 
division of Asad : another genealogy (p. 721 2 ) makes him grandson of another Khalid, of the 
division of Asad called after al-Harith b. Tha'labah ; a third ascribes him to a clan called 
Subah, or as-Subah, a division of Dabbah. This short piece sets forth the merits of his horse 
Thadiq, which the poet's wife is represented as urging him to sell, no doubt because the family 
was suffering from dearth. 

(1) She spent the night reviling me and pressing me to sell Thadiq, and her 
rebellion against me was violent. 

(2) [I said :] ' Verily thy talking in secret about Thadiq is all one to me as if it 
were shouted abroad ! ' 

(3) She said ' Bring help to us by selling him : I see that the price of horses 
has risen in the market.' 

(4) I answered 'Knowst thou not that he is a noble horse hi the attack, 
becoming strong for it upon but little fodder, 

(5) ' A bay, built firmly and strongly as though he had drawn in his breath 
[and been shaped while in that condition], long in his limbs, with no superfluous 
flesh thereon ? ' 

(6) Thou seest him bold against all other steeds, when their competitors are 
all broken to pieces [with exhaustion and. thirst] : 

(7) They come down with a rush like the swoop to water of the sandgrouse in 
'Uman, with their spears all laid straight for the thrust. 

(8) He stretches far the rein, and never trips in his stride : compact is he in 
the line of the back, well covered with flesh thereon. 

(9) And I said 'Knowst thou not that he is beautiful in all his proportions, 
reaching the utmost of comeliness therein ? 

(10) ' He abounds in copious power to gallop when stirred by the rider's leg 
after an exhausting run, and it (i. e., the leg) gains the utmost of its desires from the 



(1) Thadiq, the name of the poet's horse, is one of those words which connect the animal's pace 
with rushing water (ante, No. XXII, note to v. 9) : it is used of a heavy fall of rain from a cloud, or 
the rushing of a torrent in a valley. The LA (xi. 316), quoting our poet, interprets the last word of 
the verse, 'isyanulia, as equivalent to 'isyani laha : according to this explanation we ought to render 
the phrase ' and strong was my opposition to what she proposed '. 

(3) ' Has risen in the market ', qad thaba : another example of the use of this verb in poems 
following one another ; see ante, No. CV, note to v. 24, and CVIII, note to v. 6. There is reason to 
think that al-Mufaddal was influenced in his choice of pieces for his Collection by a desire to illus- 
trate the use of some peculiar word or phrase : we often find examples of this in adjacent poems. 

(5) This verse is illustrated in the commentary by parallel passages which leave no doubt as to 
its meaning. The poets speak of a horse well covered with flesh and muscle as one that has taken 
a full inhalation (safrah), and been arrested therein so that he did not return to slenderness when the 
breath was emitted again. 

(6) If the pronoun in aqranuha refers to al-khail, as seems certain, we must understand the 
' competitors ' as the main body of horse, while a few emerge whom Thadiq easily overcomes ; 
perhaps a preferable rendering would be to take 'aid as meaning not ' against ', but ' at the head of ', 
and al-khail as the body of horse of which Thadiq is the foremost. 

(8) The horse stretches the rein because he is long in the neck, one of the points of a horse 
(ante, No. LV, note to v. 12). 

(10) 'Abounds', yajummu, another of the words connecting a horse's run with the water of 
a flood (above, v. 1). 



AFTER a short naslb, vv. 1-2, the poet describes his camel, comparing her to a wild ass 
(vv. 3-8), and then turns to the praise of a tribe which, during a season of drought, has allowed 
his people to feed their camels in its pastures and to use its water-springs : in particular he 
mentions two chiefs called al-Harith, noted for their generosity (vv. 9-12). 

(1) I have revealed my love for Juml what a revelation ! and her case with 
me has come to light after being long kept hidden ; 

(2) And tale-bearers have been busy between us, and carried their stories 
abroad, until I had to avoid her, though I meant not to break the bond. 

($) Shall there carry me to her a fleet camel, good as a stallion, strong, bulky 
under the saddle, tractable, easy in hand ? 

(4) She is like a [wild ass] white in the flanks, whom an archer has driven 
away from the water of Mawan [by missing him] after he had him in his power ; 

(5) And he speeds swiftly through the stony deserts, [extended] like a spit of 
iron, while on either side of him is a cloud of dust : 

(6) The hoofs of his slightly-curved hind-legs fall on a place little liked (?), a 
plain of hard flat land covered with crumbling stones. 


(7) He tries for the water of Qutayyat, but it fails him, and the place where at 
last he finds drink is a water in Hauran : 

[(7 a) Daylong the waterfowl swim therein in little groups together, with eyes 
alert, bright like black moles on the face.] 

(8) He feared no hunter there, but plunged at once into its depths, and 
slaked his thirst with sweet water, no oozings of salt earth. 


(9) How noble the people whose chiefs we saw but yesterday the best of 
protectors when calamities lour around ! 

(10) [Our camels] pasture, watering every second day : and if they break the 
compact by coming down to drink the next day at noon, generous men deal gently 
with the transgressor's fault. 

(11) The two al-Hariths easily outstrip all others in the race to the goal, as two 
thoroughbred steeds keep the running entirely to themselves : 

(12) The pair deal their wealth abroad, seeking thereby fair fame : and praise 
is not to be bought save for a goodly price. 


(4) Mawan, a water in the land of 'Abs. 

(5) ' A spit of iron ', saffudu-l-hadld : this comparison is a variant of the more common one which 
likens a horse extended in his gallop to a spear (No. VII, note to v. 6, and XVIII, note to v. 15). 
For the cloud of dust on either side cf. ante, No. XL, v. 56. 

(6) The meaning of fl mukrahin is very doubtful. 

(7) Bakn (p. 740) has this verse with Hurran instead of Hauran ; as Qutayyat is a water near 
Darlyah in Najd, the Hauran here mentioned cannot be the country so called in Syria, but must also 
be a water in the same neighbourhood (see Yaqut ii. 358 22 ). 

(7 a) This verse is found in the British Museum recension and in Yaqut : it adds a pleasant 
stroke to the picture. 

(8) ' Oozings of salt earth ', midddn, shortened for imiddan, probably a loan-word : as previously 
pointed out (No. LXXXIX, note to v. 21), such water is common at the junctions of the basalt or 
lava formations and the underlying rock. 

(10) The rendering follows the commentary of MarzOql cited in the footnote. For the scantiness 
of water in summer cf. the passage in No. LXXXIX just cited. Here the tribe whom the poet 
praises has succoured his own tribe by allowing them to feed and water their herds at the tribal 
summer reserve, very possibly in the Sharabbah. Since Asad and Ghatafan were neighbours and 
confederates, it is not improbable that the 'two al-Hariths' mentioned in v. 11 were chiefs of 
Murrah of Ghatafan, one of them perhaps one of the peacemakers at the end of the War of Dahia. 

(12) ' For a goodly price ' : bi-athmani, i. e., with payment after payment, not one payment only. 
The wo- at the beginning of this verse shows that something before it has dropped out. 




THE poet is mentioned in Naqa'id 1068 3 as one of the chiefs of Taira, one of the 
confederate tribes called the Ribab (ante, No. XXX, introduction) : he was a contemporary of 
an-Nu'man b. Jisas, the leader of Taim in the second battle of al-Kulab (ante, I. c.). The piece 
is fragmentary, with several lacunae, and ends with an unfinished sentence. The geography 
of the places mentioned in it suggests that verses from different sources have been brought 
together in the poem, as they are apparently situated in the lands of mutually hostile tribes. 

(1) Saduf has departed, and her lover's heart has been reft away : far off is 
Saduf, and alienated from thee. 

(2) She has left in thy keeping a crippling disease her phantom to visit thee 
nightly in thy sleep and possess thy dreams. 

(3) She has taken another lover instead of thee, and her people have severed 
themselves from us : verily the wealthy is ungentle with him that hath no goods ! 

(4) Yea, if thou seest my camels [moaning with home-sickness,] as though 
their breasts were hollow reeds in the hands of flute-players, 

(5) Yet did I chide them, when I was afflicted by their moans and there 
followed upon the whimper of yearning a braying and a grating of teeth. 

[(6) [I said to my beast ] ' Shame to thee ! verily thy master's purpose is to 
hasten to the land between Hazrah and ath-Thuwair '.] 

(7) And she returned no answer, but the tears followed one another down from 
her eyes : verily the noble spirit is patient under whatsoever befalls ! 

(8) And there came back to her, what time the water for her drinking became 
scant, the memory of days of spring and summer spent in the sand-skirt of 
Nawadir : 

(9) But when she came to the late-summer heats, her abode was the hills of 
al-Qallb, then 'Ardah and then Afuf. 

(10) But when winter came upon her, then her habitation was in a land which 

the spears dare not come nigh, a country of sown fields. 


(11) And ofttimes have I come down into a rich pasture, far away from any 
dwelling, the first of men to visit it, wherein were wild kine bending over their 
younglings newly born ; 

(1 2) Quickly did they fly to their covert, there in al-Faruq and Thabrah, when 
I came into view, [white and shining] as though they were sword-blades ! 


(13) And time was I followed with the horsemen, while my weapons were 
borne by a short-haired mare, high in the withers, an outstripper : 

(14) She casts ahead rapid glances from her eyes, with an eyeball sunk deep 
in the socket, protected by a lofty ridge of bone above. 

(15) And [I have sat in] assemblies of men fair of face, mighty, red in the 
gums, whose speech is acceptable to all 

(16) The lords of Nakhlah and al-Quraidh and Sahim : yea, thus am I, a familiar 
friend, easily accepted by all as a companion : 

(17) [Yet with all this] I am obedient to thee ; and next, I ask of my people 
help and all of them are confederate against me ! 

(18) Without any crime committed by me among them and I am not, if my 
lineage is traced out, to be rejected from their stock. 

(19) And many the secluded pool with fresh cold water, that lies in a land 
where men wander astray when the winds set it in motion, its wavelets dance 
along ; 

(20) The south wind, while men slumber, has loosened its girdle, and, easily 
brought to birth, [has cast thereon its rain] with a thunder-clap ; 

(21) While the east wind holds back the firstling of its rain, and clouds rising 
up, heavy with water, their retaining-strap weak [and ready to give way], draw 

(22) Its sides [, brimming over with water,] thrust back the stones, and it 
seems [, from the effects of the rain on the herbage and flowers,] in the morning 
to be set round with [embroidered] camel-saddles of Himyar 


(6) This verse, addressed to the poet's camel, is found in all recensions except our text, and is 
required both as an apodosis to v. 4 and as a transition from the camels (pi.) of that verse and 
v. 5 to the single camel of v. 7 ff. Of the two places named, Hazrah and ath-Thuwair, the former 
is said to be a water, but nothing more is given in Yaqut. The latter is said to be a whitish stretch of 
gravelly plain in the territory of Abu-Bakr b. Kilab, afterwards included in the Caliph's reserve 
(hima) of Dariyah (see ante, No. XCVIII, note to v. 37). 

(7) Camels are often said to weep. 

(8) ' Sand-skirt ', liwa, the junction of sand and hard plain. Nawadir (v. I. Bawadir) is only 
known to the dictionaries as mentioned in this verse : no indications of locality are given. 

(9) Al-Qalib is said to be a water in ash-Sharabbah (ante, No. LXXXIX, note to v. 21), in the 
lands of Ghatafen. 'Ardah is a mountain with a spring at the foot of it in the lands of Aba-Bakr b. 


Kilab ; and if for Afaf (not in the dictionaries) we substitute the v. I. Yanaf, that also is the name of 
a mountain (and probably a spring) in the land of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah. 

(10) ' The spears do not dare to come nigh ', taJiamahu-r-rimahu, a phrase borrowed from Imra' 
al-Qais. ' A countiy of sown fields ', rlf, the regular word for settled cultivation. There is a certain 
amount of this, maintained by well-irrigation, in the channel of the Wadi-r-Rummah, at Buraidah, 
"Unaizah, and ar-Eass, not only date-orchards, but fields of corn (see Doughty, Arabia Deserta, 
under these names). 

(12) Al-Farttq is vaguely described in Yaqut as between Hajar and Najd, presumably in the 
broken hilly country sloping down to al-Bahrain. Thabrah is the name of a wadl in the territory of 

(14) The Arabic of this verse is difficult. Ahmad's reading an-nadhirina for an-nadhiraini is 
perhaps to be preferred, in which case the poet's mare will be described as quick of sight ' before all 
other gazers '. A high protecting ridge of brow to the eye-socket is approved in a horse. 

(15) If we take this verse as governed by the waw of ruVba, in the oblique form, it wants an 
apodosis : it is therefore best to take it, with Ahmad, in the nominative as equivalent to wa-lana 
majalisu, etc. ' Red in the gums ', that is, eager for booty. Their gums water for plunder, and 
even, in their eagerness for it, exude blood. 

(16) Of the names in this verse Sahim is not known to the dictionaries. Nakhlah may be the 
Nakhlah Yamaniyah of Yaq. iv. 770, where Hawazin encamped before the battle of Hunain ; and 
al-Quraidh is said to be a place in the Yaman. , 

(17) 'To thee ' : the person addressed is feminine, presumably Sadaf, the lady of the naslb. The 
transition to the complaint against the poet's tribe is abrupt, and v. 18 is evidently followed by 
a lacuna. 

(19-22) This passage, beginning with the waw of rubla, has no apodosis, and the poem is there- 
fore unfinished. After the description of the pool which is contained in it, the poet must have gone 
on to describe the occasion on which he visited it, and probably the camel he rode. 

(20) The rendering follows Marzuqi's explanation (cited at foot of the page) : I read with this 
scholar rajuf, used of clouds shaken by a thunder-clap, instead of the text zahuf, which would mean 
' going slowly along'. The verse, as noted at the foot of p. 731, has a word mis' or nis', of which 
the scholars did not know the precise meaning. It is probably the south-wind. 

(21) Here again Marzuql helps our comprehension. I read with Bm 'isamuhunna 'isam, 'the 
cord or strap that ties up the spout of a waterskin ' instead of the text 'idhamuhunna, ' their bones ', 
which would be a very strange expression to use of the clouds. The rendering also reads rai'anaha 
as in the v. I. 

(22) It is not necessary to suppose that the poet meant that the rising water in the pool really 
carried away or forced back the stones : that it hid them from sight would sufficiently explain the 
phrase. The effect of rain in bringing forth herbage and flowers is often proleptically dwelt upon by 
poets. The whole passage may be compared with the verses at the end of the Mu'allaqah of Imra' 
al-Qais describing a rain-storm, and with the following passages in the Diivan of 'Abld : vi ; 
xxviii. 6-15. 

B s 



FOB the poet see No. XXXVIII, No. XXXIX, and No. XLIII. The piece before us depicts 
the author as grey-headed, and recites his achievements in the past, as a champion of his house 
in a contest of satire (v. 5), as the helper of his kin (v. 6), as a master of hospitality (v. 7). and 
as a leader of his people in warfare (vv. 8-10). He boasts of his entertainment of his fellows with 
wine (vv. 11-13), of the raids he has repelled, as captain of a troop for whom he has watched 
through the night on a commanding height (vv. 14-20). And in a final section he refers 
briefly to the successes of his tribe against Tayyi', Dhubyan, and Ghassan, or possibly Shaiban 
(vv. 21-25). The poem appears to belong to his pre-islamic period. 

(1) Thou callest Zainab to mind, and the thought of her stirs thy heart : but 
all the remnant o