ترجمة معلقة زهير بن أبي سُلمى

معلقة زهير بن أبي سُلمى

الترجمة: محمود عباس مسعود

The Mu'allaqa of Zuhair Bin Abi Sulma

Translated by: Mahmoud Abbas Masoud

أَمِنْ أُمِّ أَوْفَى دِمْنَـةٌ لَمْ تَكَلَّـمِ
بِحَـوْمَانَةِ الـدُّرَّاجِ فَالمُتَثَلَّـمِ

These ash-covered ruins, that did not talk to me, in Hawmanat Al-Darraj and Mutathallam, where they ever the dwelling place of Um Awfa? 1

وَدَارٌ لَهَـا بِالرَّقْمَتَيْـنِ كَأَنَّهَـا
مَرَاجِيْعُ وَشْمٍ فِي نَوَاشِرِ مِعْصَـمِ

The traces of her abode in Raqmatain resemble fresh tattoo marks on wrist veins.2

بِهَا العِيْنُ وَالأَرْآمُ يَمْشِينَ خِلْفَـةً
وَأَطْلاؤُهَا يَنْهَضْنَ مِنْ كُلِّ مَجْثَمِ

Lo! Wide-eyed cows and white, swift antelopes, successively roam; their calves and fawns awaken and get up from their resting places

وَقَفْتُ بِهَا مِنْ بَعْدِ عِشْرِينَ حِجَّةً
فَـلأيَاً عَرَفْتُ الدَّارَ بَعْدَ تَوَهُّـمِ

There I stood after being away for twenty long years, and recognized the abode with difficulty, after some exertion and uncertainty

أَثَـافِيَ سُفْعاً فِي مُعَرَّسِ مِرْجَـلِ
وَنُـؤْياً كَجِذْمِ الحَوْضِ لَمْ يَتَثَلَّـمِ

I discerned the darkened stones that once supported the metal pot, and noticed that the little stream, dug up around the tent, still holding together, with no cracks. 3

فَلَـمَّا عَرَفْتُ الدَّارَ قُلْتُ لِرَبْعِهَـا
أَلاَ أَنْعِمْ صَبَاحاً أَيُّهَا الرَّبْعُ وَاسْلَـمِ

As I recognized the abode, I said to the abandoned place:
May your morning be blessed O dear place, and may you be protected from harm

تَبَصَّرْ خَلِيْلِي هَلْ تَرَى مِنْ ظَعَائِـنٍ
تَحَمَّلْـنَ بِالْعَلْيَاءِ مِنْ فَوْقِ جُرْثُـمِ

Look closely my friend, do you see women carried on howdahs atop camels, crossing elevated tracts, above the Jurthum brook

جَعَلْـنَ القَنَانَ عَنْ يَمِينٍ وَحَزْنَـهُ
وَكَـمْ بِالقَنَانِ مِنْ مُحِلٍّ وَمُحْـرِمِ

They traveled, Qanan Mountain and rugged land to their right; many are the Qanan days, where rituals are at times observed and, at other times, people are of them absolved

عَلَـوْنَ بِأَنْمَـاطٍ عِتَاقٍ وكِلَّـةٍ
وِرَادٍ حَوَاشِيْهَـا مُشَاكِهَةُ الـدَّمِ

They threw costly ornate covers on the howdahs, with decorative borders, deep vivid red in color, like blood.4

وَوَرَّكْنَ فِي السُّوبَانِ يَعْلُوْنَ مَتْنَـهُ
عَلَيْهِـنَّ دَلُّ النَّـاعِمِ المُتَنَعِّــمِ

They mounted the posterior portions of their camel backs, as they sallied forth over the Soban land; their features disclosing luxurious living, contentment, and pleasurable ease

بَكَرْنَ بُكُورًا وَاسْتَحْرَنَ بِسُحْـرَةٍ
فَهُـنَّ وَوَادِي الرَّسِّ كَالْيَدِ لِلْفَـمِ

They got up at the break of dawn and headed for the Rass Valley, certain of reaching it, as the hand is certain of reaching the mouth

وَفِيْهـِنَّ مَلْهَـىً لِلَّطِيْفِ وَمَنْظَـرٌ
أَنِيْـقٌ لِعَيْـنِ النَّـاظِرِ المُتَوَسِّـمِ

With them, there is entertainment for the pleasing in manner, and a charming spectacle for the eye of discerning onlooker.5

كَأَنَّ فُتَاتَ العِهْنِ فِي كُلِّ مَنْـزِلٍ
نَـزَلْنَ بِهِ حَبُّ الفَنَا لَمْ يُحَطَّـمِ

Tufts of wool scattered in every spot where they stopped, resembling whole, unbroken wild berries.6

فَـلَمَّا وَرَدْنَ المَاءَ زُرْقاً جِمَامُـهُ
وَضَعْـنَ عِصِيَّ الحَاضِرِ المُتَخَيِّـمِ

As they reached the pure water, a portion of which with blue hue, they decided to set up camp, as if taking residence therein

ظَهَرْنَ مِنْ السُّوْبَانِ ثُمَّ جَزَعْنَـهُ
عَلَى كُلِّ قَيْنِـيٍّ قَشِيْبٍ وَمُفْـأَمِ

They emerged out of the Soban then traversed it, occupying every new and broadened howdah

فَأَقْسَمْتُ بِالْبَيْتِ الذِّي طَافَ حَوْلَهُ
رِجَـالٌ بَنَوْهُ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ وَجُرْهُـمِ

Thereupon, I swore by the Sacred House, around which its builders, men of the tribes of Quraish and Jurhum, moved in a circle

يَمِينـاً لَنِعْمَ السَّـيِّدَانِ وُجِدْتُمَـا
عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ مِنْ سَحِيْلٍ وَمُبْـرَمِ

Yea, I swore, affirming the integrity of the two masters, whom I found to be the noblest ever, in every situation, in prosperity and adversity alike. 7

تَدَارَكْتُـمَا عَبْسًا وَذُبْيَانَ بَعْدَمَـا
تَفَـانَوْا وَدَقُّوا بَيْنَهُمْ عِطْرَ مَنْشَـمِ

You have let alone the affairs of both Abs and Dubian, after they had wiped each other out, to the very last one, permeated with fragrance sweet.8

وَقَدْ قُلْتُمَا إِنْ نُدْرِكِ السِّلْمَ وَاسِعـاً
بِمَالٍ وَمَعْرُوفٍ مِنَ القَوْلِ نَسْلَـمِ

You said, if we endeavor to make broad peace with them, whether by giving money or by good deeds, in action and in word, we will be safe

فَأَصْبَحْتُمَا مِنْهَا عَلَى خَيْرِ مَوْطِـنٍ
بَعِيـدَيْنِ فِيْهَا مِنْ عُقُوقٍ وَمَأْثَـمِ

Thus you placed yourself in a most favorable situation, far removed from being accused of ingratitude and transgressions grave

عَظِيمَيْـنِ فِي عُلْيَا مَعَدٍّ هُدِيْتُمَـا
وَمَنْ يَسْتَبِحْ كَنْزاً مِنَ المَجْدِ يَعْظُـمِ

You have attained the eminence of Maad, may you always be rightly guided. Greatness belongs to him who falls upon a glorious treasure of high distinction

تُعَفِّـى الكُلُومُ بِالمِئينَ فَأَصْبَحَـتْ
يُنَجِّمُهَـا مَنْ لَيْسَ فِيْهَا بِمُجْـرِمِ

Wounds are healed by proffering scores of camels; wrongs committed are paid for by one who himself is not murderous

يُنَجِّمُهَـا قَـوْمٌ لِقَـوْمٍ غَرَامَـةً
وَلَـمْ يَهَرِيقُوا بَيْنَهُمْ مِلْءَ مِحْجَـمِ

One group pays to another group as a penalty, even though not a thimble-full of blood was ever shed between them.9

فَأَصْبَحَ يَجْرِي فِيْهِمُ مِنْ تِلاَدِكُـمْ
مَغَـانِمُ شَتَّـى مِنْ إِفَـالٍ مُزَنَّـمِ

Thanks to your generosity, they became prosperous, enjoying numerous rewards, consisting of young camels and older ones with marked ears

أَلاَ أَبْلِـغِ الأَحْلاَفَ عَنِّى رِسَالَـةً
وَذُبْيَـانَ هَلْ أَقْسَمْتُمُ كُلَّ مُقْسَـمِ

Do relay a message from me, alike to the allies and to the Dubian tribe, and ask them whether they have taken a solemn oath.10

فَـلاَ تَكْتُمُنَّ اللهَ مَا فِي نُفُوسِكُـمْ
لِيَخْفَـى وَمَهْمَـا يُكْتَمِ اللهُ يَعْلَـمِ

Do not hide whatever you harbor within your bosom from God, thinking thereby of obscuring it from His view; verily God knows that which is concealed

يُؤَخَّـرْ فَيُوضَعْ فِي كِتَابٍ فَيُدَّخَـرْ
لِيَـوْمِ الحِسَـابِ أَوْ يُعَجَّلْ فَيُنْقَـمِ

It will be delayed, placed in a book and kept therein until the Day of Judgment, or hastened so that punishment is exacted

وَمَا الحَـرْبُ إِلاَّ مَا عَلِمْتُمْ وَذُقْتُـمُ
وَمَا هُـوَ عَنْهَا بِالحَـدِيثِ المُرَجَّـمِ

War is nothing-different form that which you have known and tasted, talking about it is no mere speculation

مَتَـى تَبْعَـثُوهَا تَبْعَـثُوهَا ذَمِيْمَـةً
وَتَضْـرَ إِذَا ضَرَّيْتُمُـوهَا فَتَضْـرَمِ

When you ignite it, it will horrifically flare up, and will rage out of control if you ferociously feed it.11

فَتَعْـرُكُكُمْ عَرْكَ الرَّحَى بِثِفَالِهَـا
وَتَلْقَـحْ كِشَـافاً ثُمَّ تُنْتَجْ فَتُتْئِـمِ

Indeed, it will pound and crush you as a millstone grinds the grain and the chaff alike, and will ever perpetuate itself, like a ewe that gives birth to one, followed by twins

فَتُنْتِـجْ لَكُمْ غِلْمَانَ أَشْأَمَ كُلُّهُـمْ
كَأَحْمَـرِ عَادٍ ثُمَّ تُرْضِـعْ فَتَفْطِـمِ

And it will present you with urchins, exceedingly ugly, each and all, like the Ad’s blood-stained murderous one; it will nurse them then wean

فَتُغْـلِلْ لَكُمْ مَا لاَ تُغِـلُّ لأَهْلِهَـا
قُـرَىً بِالْعِـرَاقِ مِنْ قَفِيْزٍ وَدِرْهَـمِ

It will produce for you abundance, far greater than villages in Iraq ever produced, measures (of grain) and dirhams. (12

لَعَمْـرِي لَنِعْمَ الحَـيِّ جَرَّ عَلَيْهِـمُ
بِمَا لاَ يُؤَاتِيْهِم حُصَيْنُ بْنُ ضَمْضَـمِ

I swear upon my life, that a noble tribe had been subjected to a grave harm, inflicted by Hussein Bin Dhamdham

وَكَانَ طَوَى كَشْحاً عَلَى مُسْتَكِنَّـةٍ
فَـلاَ هُـوَ أَبْـدَاهَا وَلَمْ يَتَقَـدَّمِ

He held a deep grudge in his heart; he neither revealed his ill intentions, nor went ahead to accomplish his plans

وَقَـالَ سَأَقْضِي حَاجَتِي ثُمَّ أَتَّقِـي
عَـدُوِّي بِأَلْفٍ مِنْ وَرَائِيَ مُلْجَـمِ

He said: I will fulfill my objective then shield myself from my enemy with a thousand horses at the back of me, bridled all

فَشَـدَّ فَلَمْ يُفْـزِعْ بُيُـوتاً كَثِيـرَةً
لَدَى حَيْثُ أَلْقَتْ رَحْلَهَا أُمُّ قَشْعَـمِ

He charged them but caused no alarm in many houses; in the vicinity where death had encamped.13

لَدَى أَسَدٍ شَاكِي السِلاحِ مُقَـذَّفٍ
لَـهُ لِبَـدٌ أَظْفَـارُهُ لَـمْ تُقَلَّــمِ

Near a fully armed, lion-hearted, mane-crowned, battle-hardened knight, whose talons had not been clipped

جَـريءٍ مَتَى يُظْلَمْ يُعَاقَبْ بِظُلْمِـهِ
سَرِيْعـاً وَإِلاَّ يُبْدِ بِالظُّلْـمِ يَظْلِـمِ

When wronged, he turns valiant and displays courage; he inflicts swift retribution upon his oppressor. Even if not wronged first, he cruelly exercises his powers just the same

رعَـوْا ما رعوا من ظِمْئهُمْ ا تَمَّ أَوْرَدُوا
غِمَـاراً تَفَرَّى بِالسِّـلاحِ وَبِالـدَّمِ

They grazed their animals then led them to a vast body of water, split only by weapons and blood.14

فَقَضَّـوْا مَنَايَا بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ أَصْـدَرُوا
إِلَـى كَلأٍ مُسْتَـوْبَلٍ مُتَوَخِّـمِ

They massacred each other, departed the water, and sought out ominously thick, distress-inspiring grass

لَعَمْرُكَ مَا جَرَّتْ عَلَيْهِمْ رِمَاحُهُـمْ
دَمَ ابْـنِ نَهِيْـكٍ أَوْ قَتِيْـلِ المُثَلَّـمِ

I swear upon your life that their spears neither shed the blood of Nahik’s son, nor killed Al-Muthallam

وَلاَ شَارَكَتْ فِي المَوْتِ فِي دَمِ نَوْفَلٍ
وَلاَ وَهَـبٍ مِنْهَـا وَلا ابْنِ المُخَـزَّمِ

Nor participated in the spilling of the blood, and the death of Nawfal, Wahab and Ibn Mukhzam

فَكُـلاً أَرَاهُمْ أَصْبَحُـوا يَعْقِلُونَـهُ
صَحِيْحَـاتِ مَالٍ طَالِعَاتٍ بِمَخْـرِمِ

To prevent further bloodshed, I see the blood of everyone who had been killed being compensated for with healthy, wholesome she camels, vigorously traversing raised tracts

لِحَـيِّ حَلالٍ يَعْصِمُ النَّاسَ أَمْرَهُـمْ
إِذَا طَـرَقَتْ إِحْدَى اللَّيَالِي بِمُعْظَـمِ

This they do for a law-abiding tribe that protects people’s affairs, when unexpected grave afflictions strike

كِـرَامٍ فَلاَ ذُو الضِّغْنِ يُدْرِكُ تَبْلَـهُ
وَلا الجَـارِمُ الجَانِي عَلَيْهِمْ بِمُسْلَـمِ

Endued with noble qualities, never permitting the hate-filled, the revengeful to accomplish their objectives on their turf; but when wronged, they see to it that the wrongdoer is denied peace

سَئِمْـتُ تَكَالِيْفَ الحَيَاةِ وَمَنْ يَعِـشُ
ثَمَانِيـنَ حَـوْلاً لا أَبَا لَكَ يَسْـأَمِ

I have grown tired of life’s burdensome circumstances; anyone who has lived eighty years will feel as I do

وأَعْلـَمُ مَا فِي الْيَوْمِ وَالأَمْسِ قَبْلَـهُ
وَلكِنَّنِـي عَنْ عِلْمِ مَا فِي غَدٍ عَـمِ

I know the happenings of today and have knowledge of yesterday’s events, but as for what tomorrow might bring, I am in total darkness

رَأَيْتُ المَنَايَا خَبْطَ عَشْوَاءَ مَنْ تُصِبْ
تُمِـتْهُ وَمَنْ تُخْطِىء يُعَمَّـرْ فَيَهْـرَمِ

I see that death haphazardly strikes; it kills the ones it directly hits, the ones it misses live long and become senile and decrepit

وَمَنْ لَمْ يُصَـانِعْ فِي أُمُـورٍ كَثِيـرَةٍ
يُضَـرَّسْ بِأَنْيَـابٍ وَيُوْطَأ بِمَنْسِـمِ

He who does not act tactfully under many circumstances, will be bitten and crushed by teeth and beaten down by the feet

وَمَنْ يَجْعَلِ المَعْروفَ مِنْ دُونِ عِرْضِهِ
يَفِـرْهُ وَمَنْ لا يَتَّقِ الشَّتْـمَ يُشْتَـمِ

And he who does gracious deeds to protect his honor, will surely save his honor; and he who does not refrain from treating others with contemptuous rudeness will himself be contemptuously regarded

وَمَنْ يَكُ ذَا فَضْـلٍ فَيَبْخَلْ بِفَضْلِـهِ
عَلَى قَوْمِهِ يُسْتَغْـنَ عَنْـهُ وَيُذْمَـمِ

And he who has the means to help his people, yet does not share his bounty with them, will be utterly disregarded and demeaned

وَمَنْ يُوْفِ لا يُذْمَمْ وَمَنْ يُهْدَ قَلْبُـهُ
إِلَـى مُطْمَئِـنِّ البِرِّ لا يَتَجَمْجَـمِ

And he who abides by his promise will not be abused; and he whose heart is led to serene righteousness will not falter

وَمَنْ هَابَ أَسْـبَابَ المَنَايَا يَنَلْنَـهُ
وَإِنْ يَرْقَ أَسْـبَابَ السَّمَاءِ بِسُلَّـمِ

And he who fears death’s causes, death will overtake him, even if he should ascend to the skies upon a ladder

وَمَنْ يَجْعَلِ المَعْرُوفَ فِي غَيْرِ أَهْلِـهِ
يَكُـنْ حَمْـدُهُ ذَماً عَلَيْهِ وَيَنْـدَمِ

And he who does good deeds to undeserving individuals; his praise will be blame directed at him, and he will regret

وَمَنْ يَعْصِ أَطْـرَافَ الزُّجَاجِ فَإِنَّـهُ
يُطِيـعُ العَوَالِي رُكِّبَتْ كُلَّ لَهْـذَمِ

And he who revolts against the lower ends of spears, must obey their top portions, in which long shafts are fitted.15

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَذُدْ عَنْ حَوْضِهِ بِسِلاحِـهِ
يُهَـدَّمْ وَمَنْ لا يَظْلِمْ النَّاسَ يُظْلَـمِ

And he who does not guard his well with his weapons, his well will be destroyed; and he who does not treat others unjustly, will be himself unjustly treated. 16

وَمَنْ يَغْتَرِبْ يَحْسَبْ عَدُواً صَدِيقَـهُ
وَمَنْ لَم يُكَـرِّمْ نَفْسَـهُ لَم يُكَـرَّمِ

And he who goes abroad deems his friend his adversary; and he who is lacking in self-respect will not be honored by others

وَمَهْمَا تَكُنْ عِنْدَ امْرِئٍ مَنْ خَلِيقَـةٍ
وَإِنْ خَالَهَا تَخْفَى عَلَى النَّاسِ تُعْلَـمِ

And whatever trait an individual may harbor within, will not be hidden from people, even if he should think so

وَكَاءٍ تَرَى مِنْ صَامِتٍ لَكَ مُعْجِـبٍ
زِيَـادَتُهُ أَو نَقْصُـهُ فِـي التَّكَلُّـمِ

Many a silent man may impress you; his true worth will be (revealed and) either increased or decreased when he does speak

لِسَانُ الفَتَى نِصْفٌ وَنِصْفٌ فُـؤَادُهُ
فَلَمْ يَبْـقَ إَلا صُورَةُ اللَّحْمِ وَالـدَّمِ

A chap’s tongue is half of him, and his heart is the other half; nothing beyond these two organs is left save flesh and blood

وَإَنَّ سَفَاهَ الشَّـيْخِ لا حِلْمَ بَعْـدَهُ
وَإِنَّ الفَتَـى بَعْدَ السَّفَاهَةِ يَحْلُـمِ

An old man’s insolence will not be followed by discernment, whereas a young man may gain true insight after his foolish behavior

سَألْنَـا فَأَعْطَيْتُـمْ وَعُداً فَعُدْتُـمُ
وَمَنْ أَكْـثَرَ التّسْآلَ يَوْماً سَيُحْـرَمِ

We have besought your favors and you bestowed them; we asked again and again you gave us; he who insistently asks, his request will someday be denied

1. Hawmanat Al-Darraj and Mutathallam were the habitual abodes of his beloved: Um Awfa.

2. The Raqmatain are two regions near Basra.
3. The Arabic word used for stones is athafi: three stones used to support a cooking utensil.
4. The howdahs are merely hinted to in this line, not expressly mentioned.
4. That is to say, the women described suit men’s diversified temperaments.
6. The tufts referred to can be of wool, hair or cotton. The berries mentioned are close in description to huckleberries.
7. The masters referred to, I believe, are the two chiefs of Quraish and Jurhum.
8. The literal translation of the last sentence in this line is (and they pounded the perfume of mansham amongst themselves.) Some scholars interpret it to mean the killing of the last fighter of either party.
9. The thimble-filled of blood referred to is blood surgically let out, using the method of hijamma, or cupping, an ancient traditional method used for removing the unclean blood from the body.
10. The solemn oath referred to is to bury the hatchet and abandon enmity.
11. I.e. if you stoke the fire of war and feed it with fresh acts of belligerence.
12. An abundance of trouble.
13. Death is referred to as Um Qashaam or Mother Vulutre.
14. Water split only by weapons or steel, perhaps refers to bloody battles fought around scarce water sources.
15. The meaning of this line is very involved; perhaps it urges one to be astute and well prepared for all situations.
16. the original word used is hawdh, a water basin, which I rendered a well