When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

A Three-Way Conflict

Poem composed by Ṭannāf bir Saʿd Ḥamtōt, the muqaddam of Ḳamṣeyt. This poem was read and sung to me by Ḥājj Dākōn, who dictated it from an elderly acquaintance of his, Saʿīd Slīmān, who was visiting al-Ghaydha from the interior of al-Mahra in March 2004. Transcribed and translated by Sam Liebhaber in his home, al-Ghaydha, March 2004.





The transliteration and translation of "A Three-Way Conflict" is previously published in Liebhaber, 2013 and reprinted here by permission of the publisher.  All rights reserved..

 
PoemTranslation
1) ʾōdī we-krēm krēm // śōbī ṭ̱eyr eǧižwəlūtI begin with the Noble and Generous: climbing to the top of a hill
2) ke-mǧawnī ḏe-ḥyōm // ġsīreyyen ettəhūtWhen the sun sets in the evening and its light fades,
3) we-hlats ṭamḥeyt // sebḥawt ekkerdəfūtDarkness spreads, swimming over the wādī’s edge,
4) we-mdīt men emṭəlā // emhawǧes enkəśūtThen the sea breeze from the South stirred up strong feelings
5) heǧs lād yġōwī šīs // wel ʾaynī haġfūtThat do not subside when the wind dies, my eye cannot sleep.
6) efṭōn eǧeyyədīn // men ḥrō ḏ-āl hmūtI remember the fighting men, the very best of Āl Hmūd:
7) ṣebyīn šeḥḳabk sād // hēs swīyet beh ǧrūtO Young Men, I am grieving for Saʿd whose hour befell him!
8) emṯōr ḏ-ḫarbeyn // we-śśərāt mhelwūtThe deed of his killers violated the truce between us.
9) bālī men thārūź sʿīd // we-ṭlat heydənūtO Lord who stands in the way of Sʿīd, he’s from this new generation;
10) ʾāymel haṭf w-maḥzēm // we-b-reḳm yeśtūtHe got himself a rifle and a bandolier and in an embroidered thawb, he strutted around.
11) reyte heh w-lū leḳā // mōret šeh ḏ-šeḏrūtIf only there had been a legitimate cause with him that would excuse it,
12) bnēdem men eśśawf // yeǧsūd w-yeḥḥənūtThen [his] people in their need could explain themselves and swear by it.
13) ḏ-er sʿid ḫrub eśśawr // w-ṭerḥeys mhemšūtBut Sʿīd trampled advice and left everything confused.
14) weḏ lād efōker lā // hel effāmeh haġdūtSometimes a person doesn’t think and forgets where [he puts] his foot
15) wet ṭwōren yaġdōl // ṯēkel ṭ̱eyreh yertəbūtAnd endures it, time and again, until the burdens are piled on top of him.
16) we-ġbawter has ġziw // ḥams bīhem w-ḥentūtWhen those heedless youth attacked, there was energy in them, and battle-lust
17) bīhem mfōser lā // wel hād yšebhūtThere wasn’t a thoughtful one amongst them, not a single one who lets himself be persuaded.
18) yetwīwen l-maġtēk // le-mǧebbet ʾālūtThey set out for Wadi Maġtēḳ, at the very end of the mountains before the sandy desert
19) tē wrūd hṭ̱eyr ḥmō // emehṣat mheġġerbūtUntil they reached the water hole, a shallow pit that is well known.
20) bīt āmr ġafleyn // ke-ʾazzūbet we-šwūtThe people of Bīt Āmr were unaware, alone with their flocks and their sheep
21) wudʾam be-bdīyet lā // we-swīyet eḏ-ǧərūtThey didn’t know about the raid, that their time had come
22) hebṣeyr ewaġdeyn // w-šelwīġ ebhīrūtUntil they saw them sneaking up on them and heard a voice crying for help.
23) we-ḥmēd bheź w-fir // we-ḥmīleh šeṣwəbūtḤmēd woke suddenly and jumped up, his right arm was struck by a bullet
24) we-dlūf hṭ̱er ʿaweź // lād ʿaynet efetlūtHe leapt over ʿAwaź and didn’t even consider flight for a moment.
25) w-ḥebrē ḏ-bir kākeyn // hās elōbī hebtūtThe son of Bir Kākeyn responded and cut them to pieces,
26) ṭerḥeyhem hīmrēt // we-ṣrūbṣfūtLeft their bodies piled up and “harvested” them until the end of the fight,
27) we-mġōren šewǧūś // wōlem berh we-ṯbūtAfterwards, he set out in the afternoon, readied himself once more and was steadfast.
28) tbeśśīren beh mābūr // we-mhawfī ḏ-mehrūtWadi Mābūr rejoices in it, and so do the ends of Wadi Mahrūt.
29) w-bir āmer yeḥmōl // wet eśśōret lebdūtThe son of Āmr is steadfast when evil befalls him,
30) ekdeyr brek eṣawl // we-ṭ̱mōnet tekkərfūt[Even] muddy water in a ravine, the thirsty drink it.
31) w-šūmīt w-heǧzā // seh w-fōrī hal ḥǧūtWadi Šūmīt and Wadi Haġza, whenever they and Wadi Fōrī are assembled,
32) bīsen emderrəkīn // we-kkəwesseb ḏe-ṣmūtIn them are men who shoulder their responsibilities, victors in raids who stick together.
33) w-bir ǧawn emettəwī // le-flēk yšemtūtThe camel bull, while recovering, prepares to set out and look for vengeance
34) ḏe-kmūt brek eǧawf // t-ʾāḫrān blūḳ ḥmūtSuppressing its anger inside until finally, it spits out the poison.
35) bālī teḫfīf eśśēr // men ezōyed we-ġśūtLord, lessen the evil between the people, stay its increase and overwhelming darkness.
36) nōwet eds ettənāyū // w-ṭerefs ber ǧṯūtRain clouds are yet darkening the sky, but they have begun to disperse at their edges.
37) we-ẓrōme we-krēm // be-ḥmīlī hel nwūtAnd now, O Generous One, [I go] with whatever my right arm can lift up and carry,
38) emred le-hel eġā // lad yśōnī beh shūtReturning to a brother, on whose part he sees no inadvertent errors.
39) yeḥlūl b-hefǧūǧ // we-mġawteḳ w-ġafṯūtThey live in the wadis of Hafǧūǧ, and its feeder ravines of Mġawteḳ and Ġafṯūt
40) yeḳhībek sēḥī ṭeṭ // we-ykūnem ēr śmūtThey come to you like a single stream, and are a single unified band.
41) we-ḥdīdī hōh ʿawaź // hēḫer bir enāfyūtMy uncle, ʿAwaź, an elder of ʿAnfān on his mother’s side,
42) ḏe-ġrebk teh ṭmaʿ // wel ybōrī heśḥəfūtI know that he is proud and does not absolve the smallest injury [to his tribe].
43) ʾār w-kessī b-ʾadīd // men eššebṭ meṭwūtHe has gotten himself new clothes, a clasped loincloth that is folded over,
44) we-ḥrōret hāydōn // be-śrēhem we-kmūtAnd new silks that he has purchased and dyed dark red.
45) bīt sād men ešrūb // essərethem źfūtBīt Sād of Sˇāreb, their ways and customs are generosity,
46) dḳā we-blē ḏ-hēm // hel eǧesm we-rhūtQuickness and a fighting spirit belong to them, when courage is called for or compromise,
47) we-ḥrō bir ʿamrēn // erkīzet ezzəbūtWith the leaders of Bīt ʿAmrayn, like columns that support one another,
48) yeślūl eneywōt // w-le ṯēḳel yekkənūtThey bear the burdens and never drop the load.
49) we-nhā twōba kel // sēr eśśefh hal rkūtWe all follow him, right behind his tracks wherever he steps.
 

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