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THE HANGED POEMS

"They stand at the summit of the eminence of old Arabic literature."

VOL. V.-2.

- FAIZ ULLAH BHAI

THE HANGED POEMS

THE POEM OF IMRU-UL-QUAIS 1

Stop, oh my friends, let us pause to weep over the remembrance of my beloved.

Here was her abode on the edge of the sandy desert between Dakhool and Howmal.

The traces of her encampment are not wholly obliterated even

now;

For when the South wind blows the sand over them the North wind sweeps it away.

The courtyards and enclosures of the old home have become desolate;

The dung of the wild deer lies there thick as the seeds of pepper.

On the morning of our separation it was as if I stood in the gardens of our tribe,

Amid the acacia-shrubs where my eyes were blinded with tears by the smart from the bursting pods of colocynth.

As I lament thus in the place made desolate, my friends stop their camels;

They cry to me "Do not die of grief; bear this sorrow patiently."

Nay, the cure of my sorrow must come from gushing tears. Yet, is there any hope that this desolation can bring me solace?

1 This is supposed to be the oldest of the "hanged" poems. Like the others it shifts abruptly from theme to theme, and is full of poetic comparisons. Indeed, its author is said to have started this fashion, winning for himself the name of "The creator of images."

So, before ever I met Unaizah, did I mourn for two others; My fate had been the same with Ummul-Huwairith and her neighbor Ummul-Rahab in Masal.

Fair were they also, diffusing the odor of musk as they moved, Like the soft zephyr bringing with it the scent of the clove.

Thus the tears flowed down on my breast, remembering days of love;

The tears wetted even my sword-belt, so tender was my love.

Behold how many pleasant days have I spent with fair

women;

Especially do I remember the day at the pool of Darat-iJuljul.2

On that day I killed my riding camel for food for the maidens:

How merry was their dividing my camel's trappings to be carried on their camels.

It is a wonder, a riddle, that the camel being saddled was yet unsaddled!

A wonder also was the slaughterer, so heedless of self in his costly gift!

Then the maidens commenced throwing the camel's flesh into the kettle;

2 The poet in this and the following lines refers to an incident which is thus told us: during his wooing of Unaizah he followed her and the other maidens when they rode on camels to the pool Darat-i-Juljul. The women bathed in the pool and he captured their clothes and would not surrender these until each one came out of the water in turn and asked for hers. They held back so long before they yielded to this, that afterward they complained of being faint with hunger. Thereon he lavishly slew his camel so they could have it immediately for food. When they had eaten, they would not leave him stranded in the desert, so divided the trappings of his camel, each carrying home a part upon her beast, while the carrying of the poet himself fell to Unaizah. She jestingly protested that the howdah on her camel's back was too small for them both.

The fat was woven with the lean like loose fringes of white twisted silk.

On that day I entered the howdah, the camel's howdah of Unaizah!

And she protested, saying, "Woe to you, you will force me to travel on foot."

She repulsed me, while the howdah was swaying with us; She said, "You are galling my camel, Oh Imru-ul-Quais, so dismount."

Then I said, “Drive him on! Let his reins go loose, while you turn to me.

Think not of the camel and our weight on him. Let us be happy.

Many a beautiful woman like you, Oh Unaizah, have I visited at night;

I have won her thought to me, even from her children have I won her."

There was another day when I walked with her behind the sandhills,

But she put aside my entreaties and swore an oath of virginity.

Oh, Unaizah, gently, put aside some of this coquetry.

If you have, indeed, made up your mind to cut off friendship with me, then do it kindly or gently.

Has anything deceived you about me, that your love is killing

me,

And that verily as often as you order my heart, it will do what you order?

And if any one of my habits has caused you annoyance,

Then put away my heart from your heart, and it will be put

away.

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