When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

A Slippery Father

Poem composed by Ḳantōrī Belḥāf (no information available), recited by ʿĪsā ʿAlī Raʿfīt, and recorded by Sam Liebhaber in Damḳawt, March 2004. Translated with the help of Muḥammad Sālim Āmr Ǧīd and ʿAbdullāh ʾAḥmad Āmr Ǧīd in Ṣalālah, February 2012.

In this poem, Ḳantōrī Belḥāf complains that love brings discomfort, like sitting cross-legged for too long. His discomfort is the result of his beloved’s (Wśēr’s) father, who will not acquiesce to his marriage proposal. Instead, he avoids answering Ḳantōrī one way or the other and leaves him with nothing “to grab hold of.”

1) w-ʾāǧēb ḏe-wśēr // medd we-ġźawfLove for Wśēr // [is like] stretching your legs comfortably and then sitting cross-legged.
2) hwēlī aḳayr // w-fōn awḳawfAt first I concealed [it] // and then afterwards I was silent
3) tōlī źheyr // we-hnafh ḥḳawfFinally it revealed a bit [of itself] // and then revealed itself completely.
4) ʾār ḥaybes ḫzoh // šāḏōr we-nźōfBut her father refused // he made excuses and “washed his hands” of the matter.
5) w-ḳatleb hayr // el-ʾād beh meltəḳawfHe became “slippery” // and there was nothing on him to grab hold of.

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  1. A Slippery Father Recitation