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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.
A detailed thematic analysis of this poem can be found in Liebhaber, 2013.
Poem Translation 1) ʾōdī we-krēm krēm // śōbī ṭ̱eyr eǧižwəlūt I begin with the Noble and Generous: climbing to the top of a hill 2) ke-mǧawnī ḏe-ḥyōm // ġsīreyyen ettəhūt When the sun sets in the evening and its light fades, 3) we-hlats ṭamḥeyt // sebḥawt ekkerdəfūt Darkness spreads, swimming over the wādī’s edge, 4) we-mdīt men emṭəlā // emhawǧes enkəśūt Then the sea breeze from the South stirred up strong feelings 5) heǧs lād yġōwī šīs // wel ʾaynī haġfūt That do not subside when the wind dies, my eye cannot sleep. 6) efṭōn eǧeyyədīn // men ḥrō ḏ-āl hmūt I remember the fighting men, the very best of Āl Hmūd: 7) ṣebyīn šeḥḳabk sād // hēs swīyet beh ǧrūt O Young Men, I am grieving for Saʿd whose hour befell him! 8) emṯōr ḏ-ḫarbeyn // we-śśərāt mhelwūt The deed of his killers violated the truce between us. 9) bālī men thārūź sʿīd // we-ṭlat heydənūt O Lord who stands in the way of Sʿīd, he’s from this new generation; 10) ʾāymel haṭf w-maḥzēm // we-b-reḳm yeśtūt He got himself a rifle and a bandolier and in an embroidered thawb, he strutted around. 11) reyte heh w-lū leḳā // mōret šeh ḏ-šeḏrūt If only there had been a legitimate cause with him that would excuse it, 12) bnēdem men eśśawf // yeǧsūd w-yeḥḥənūt Then [his] people in their need could explain themselves and swear by it. 13) ḏ-er sʿid ḫrub eśśawr // w-ṭerḥeys mhemšūt But Sʿīd trampled advice and left everything confused. 14) weḏ lād efōker lā // hel effāmeh haġdūt Sometimes a person doesn’t think and forgets where [he puts] his foot 15) wet ṭwōren yaġdōl // ṯēkel ṭ̱eyreh yertəbūt And endures it, time and again, until the burdens are piled on top of him. 16) we-ġbawter has ġziw // ḥams bīhem w-ḥentūt When those heedless youth attacked, there was energy in them, and battle-lust 17) bīhem mfōser lā // wel hād yšebhūt There wasn’t a thoughtful one amongst them, not a single one who lets himself be persuaded. 18) yetwīwen l-maġtēk // le-mǧebbet ʾālūt They set out for Wadi Maġtēḳ, at the very end of the mountains before the sandy desert 19) tē wrūd hṭ̱eyr ḥmō // emehṣat mheġġerbūt Until they reached the water hole, a shallow pit that is well known. 20) bīt āmr ġafleyn // ke-ʾazzūbet we-šwūt The people of Bīt Āmr were unaware, alone with their flocks and their sheep 21) wudʾam be-bdīyet lā // we-swīyet eḏ-ǧərūt They didn’t know about the raid, that their time had come 22) tē hebṣeyr ewaġdeyn // w-šelwīġ ebhīrūt Until they saw them sneaking up on them and heard a voice crying for help. 23) we-ḥmēd bheź w-fir // we-ḥmīleh šeṣwəbūt Ḥmēd woke suddenly and jumped up, his right arm was struck by a bullet 24) we-dlūf hṭ̱er ʿaweź // lād ʿaynet efetlūt He leapt over ʿAwaź and didn’t even consider flight for a moment. 25) w-ḥebrē ḏ-bir kākeyn // hās elōbī hebtūt The son of Bir Kākeyn responded and cut them to pieces, 26) ṭerḥeyhem hīmrēt // we-ṣrūb tē ṣfūt Left their bodies piled up and “harvested” them until the end of the fight, 27) we-mġōren šewǧūś // wōlem berh we-ṯbūt Afterwards, he set out in the afternoon, readied himself once more and was steadfast. 28) tbeśśīren beh mābūr // we-mhawfī ḏ-mehrūt Wadi Mābūr rejoices in it, and so do the ends of Wadi Mahrūt. 29) w-bir āmer yeḥmōl // wet eśśōret lebdūt The 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 ḥǧūt Wadi Šūmīt and Wadi Haġza, whenever they and Wadi Fōrī are assembled, 32) bīsen emderrəkīn // we-kkəwesseb ḏe-ṣmūt In them are men who shoulder their responsibilities, victors in raids who stick together. 33) w-bir ǧawn emettəwī // le-flēk yšemtūt The camel bull, while recovering, prepares to set out and look for vengeance 34) ḏe-kmūt brek eǧawf // t-ʾāḫrān blūḳ ḥmūt Suppressing its anger inside until finally, it spits out the poison. 35) bālī teḫfīf eśśēr // men ezōyed we-ġśūt Lord, lessen the evil between the people, stay its increase and overwhelming darkness. 36) nōwet eds ettənāyū // w-ṭerefs ber ǧṯūt Rain clouds are yet darkening the sky, but they have begun to disperse at their edges. 37) we-ẓrōme we-krēm // be-ḥmīlī hel nwūt And now, O Generous One, [I go] with whatever my right arm can lift up and carry, 38) emred le-hel eġā // lad yśōnī beh shūt Returning to a brother, on whose part he sees no inadvertent errors. 39) yeḥlūl b-hefǧūǧ // we-mġawteḳ w-ġafṯūt They live in the wadis of Hafǧūǧ, and its feeder ravines of Mġawteḳ and Ġafṯūt 40) yeḳhībek sēḥī ṭeṭ // we-ykūnem ēr śmūt They come to you like a single stream, and are a single unified band. 41) we-ḥdīdī hōh ʿawaź // hēḫer bir enāfyūt My uncle, ʿAwaź, an elder of ʿAnfān on his mother’s side, 42) ḏe-ġrebk teh ṭmaʿ // wel ybōrī heśḥəfūt I know that he is proud and does not absolve the smallest injury [to his tribe]. 43) ʾār w-kessī b-ʾadīd // men eššebṭ meṭwūt He has gotten himself new clothes, a clasped loincloth that is folded over, 44) we-ḥrōret hāydōn // be-śrēhem we-kmūt And new silks that he has purchased and dyed dark red. 45) bīt sād men ešrūb // essərethem źfūt Bīt Sād of Sˇāreb, their ways and customs are generosity, 46) dḳā we-blē ḏ-hēm // hel eǧesm we-rhūt Quickness and a fighting spirit belong to them, when courage is called for or compromise, 47) we-ḥrō bir ʿamrēn // erkīzet ezzəbūt With the leaders of Bīt ʿAmrayn, like columns that support one another, 48) yeślūl eneywōt // w-le ṯēḳel yekkənūt They bear the burdens and never drop the load. 49) we-nhā twōba kel // sēr eśśefh hal rkūt We all follow him, right behind his tracks wherever he steps.
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