Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
[On comparing the following translation of the famous poem of Et-Tugrā‘ī, which Mr. Redhouse has obligingly made for this volume, with Dr. Carlyle's rendering (pp. 153-161), it will be observed that, in a few instances, the true meaning of the original is lost in the metrical version. Some particulars regarding the author, &c., are given in pp. 433-435.]
FIRM-ROOTEDNESS of view has protected me from precipitancy; and the ornament of excellence has embellished me when void of trinkets.
2. My honour at the last, and my honour at the first, are equal; for the sun that inclines towards a fair altitude in the morning resembles the sun in its decline.
3. In what might consist a residence in Bagdad?—I have no home therein; I have neither she nor he-camel there.
4. Distant from my friends; empty-handed; isolated: I still am as a sword-blade, the two flat sides of which are bare of sheath-coverings.
5. There is no sincere friend unto whom to make plaint of my sorrow; nor a companion unto whom my joy may be communicated.
6. My absence from home has grown long; so that my saddle-camel has moaned, and her saddle, and the heel of my limber spear.
7. My famished beast has shrieked from fatigue, and has groaned for what my saddle-beasts have thrown off; and the riders have been contentious in blame of me.
8. I wish for the open hand of wealth, that I may have its help to pay off debts that I owe, as a point of exalted feeling.
9. But Fortune inverts my wishes, and makes me contented with a return home, instead of riches following on earnest endeavour.
10. And then, that well-proportioned man, like the upper part of a spear, holding his like between his leg and his saddle: not pusillanimous, and not depending on another;
11. Pleasant in his jesting; bitter in his earnest; in the firmness of whose valour there is mixed the tenderness of amatory converse;
12. From the watering-places of whose eyeballs I had driven away the flocks of drowsiness, though the night incited the herds of sleep to men's eyeballs;
13. The riders being inclined over their saddles, through heaviness, [some] coming to themselves, and others fuddled with the wine of drowsiness.
14. Then I said: “Shall I call thee to a momentous event, that thou mayest succour me, and wilt thou refuse me in the great misfortune?
15. “Dost thou sleep, leaving me, while the eye of the Pleiades is sleepless? And dost thou turn away from me, when the dye of night turns not?
16. “Then wilt thou help me in a folly I have taken into my head? (for at times folly scares away from cowardice).
17. “Verily I wish to visit the tribe by night at Idzam; whereas the archers of the tribe from Thu‘al have already shielded it:
18. “They shield therein, with bright swords and brown pliant lances, [maidens] with black tresses, yellow trinkets [of gold], and crimson vestments [of silk].
19. “Then march with us under the safeguard of the night, at random; for a fragrant puff shall guide us to their dwelling-places.
20. “For the beloved one is where the enemies and the lions are crouched down around the lairs of the antelopes, the thickets of which are shafts of spears.
21. “We are bound towards a growing damsel in the bend of the valley, the spear-heads of whose eyelashes have been tempered with the waters of coquetry and of the darkness of her eyelid borders.
22. “The commendatory conversations of generous men have
already multiplied concerning her, as to the noble qualities [in a woman] of cowardice and avarice.
23. “The fire of love rises by night in feverish hearts [livers], through their women; and that of hospitality, on the hill-tops, through their men.
24. “Their women slay the emaciated of their lovers, who struggle not; the men slaughter noble steeds and camels [as food for guests].
25. “Those stung with their spears are cured in their tents with a draught of the pond of wine and of honey [of the lips of their maidens].
26. “Perhaps a second visit to that bend of the valley [see v. 21] will cause to creep along a breath of cure for my ills.
27. “I do not dislike the gaping spear-thrust, when paired with a shot from the arrows of wide eyes.
28. “Neither do I fear the glancing blades [eyes] that help me to flashes from the interstices of blinds and curtains;
29. “Neither do I part with does [women] with whom I hold tender converse, even though lions of the thickets menace me with evil.
30. “The love of safety turns the effort of its possessor from high objects, and incites man to sloth.
31. “Therefore, if thou incline to it, then take thou to thyself a burrow in the earth, or a ladder to the atmosphere, and isolate thyself;
32. “And leave the broad ocean of ambition to those who dare ride thereon; contenting thee with some slight moisture.
33. “The contentment of the lowly, with a sorry livelihood, is abjectness; the glory of docile she-camels is in their most accelerated pace.
34. “Drive thou them, then, at a swift pace, into the very throats of the deserts; they emulating with their nose-bands the doubled bits [of horses].”
35. Verily, all grave matters have given me to understand that glory resides in migrations [and they speak truly in that respect].
36. If in the glory of a repair there were an attainment of desire, the sun would never move from the sign of Aries [his house of exaltation].
37. I would cry out to Fortune, were I in company of a listener; but Fortune is occupied in [other] matters, and ignores me.
38. It may be that, if my superiority and the defectuosity of those [others] should appear to its eye, it would sleep in respect of them, or would awake in respect of me.
39. I amuse my soul with desires which I entertain. How narrow is life, were it not for the expansion of desire!
40. I was not pleased with my livelihood when the days were fortunate. How, then, can I be satisfied, when they are retrograding in haste?
41. My knowledge has risen in my own estimation to a degree of preciousness in value; therefore have I protected it from the cheap rate of an every-day commodity.
42. It is a customary thing in a sword to be [esteemed] beautiful through its damaskeening; but it will not act, save in the hands of a hero. [I am such a sword-blade, with my knowledge; but, to show this, I must be used.]
43. I should not have chosen that my time should be lengthened unto me, until I should see the prosperity of ragamuffins and the vile.
44. People have, however, got before me whose run was behind my paces when I walked with leisure.
45. This is the reward of the man whose fellows have passed away before him, and who still has craved a long respite of his doom.
46. And if they who are inferior to me have risen above me, no wonder!—I have a precedent in the lower position of the sun than that of Saturn [in the Ptolemaic system of the spheres].
47. Then be patient therewith, without hatching stratagems or feeling vexed. In the forthcoming event of time there is that which will make thee independent of stratagems.
48. Thy most virulent enemy is the nearest of those to whom thou hast trusted. Then beware of men, and associate with them upon [terms of] distrust.
49. For verily the lord of the world, and the unique one thereof, is he who leans not for support upon any man in the world.
50. And thy good opinion of the days is a weakness; then, hold a bad opinion, and be in fear of them.
51. Honesty has sunk into the earth, and dishonesty has spread abroad; while between word and action an interval as wide as perjury has opened out.
52. Thy truthfulness hath the falsehood of mankind shamed with men; for can the crooked be fitted to the straight?
53. If there were anything useful in their firm adherence to their promises, the sword would outrun the chider.
54. O thou, who comest to drink of the remnant of a life, the whole of which is turbid!—thou hast expended thy clear and pure water in thy pristine days.
55. Wherefore inconsiderately rushest thou into the depth of the sea on which thou ridest, whereas one sip of a trickling spring would suffice thee?
56. The possession of contentment is not feared for; neither therein is want felt for auxiliaries or for attendants.
57. Dost thou seek for permanency in an abode that has no durability? Hast thou ever heard of a shadow that did not pass away?
58. And, O thou who art aware of the secrets informed thereof! be silent!—for in silence is there an escape from mistakes.
59. They have fostered thee for a matter which, if thou hast comprehended it, should make thee beware of pasturing among the loose cattle.