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Asking a Mother's Permission
Poems composed and recited by Sād Sheyl and recorded by Sam Liebhaber at one of Sād’s seasonal camp sites in the mountains (śḥēr) above Ḥawf, March 2004. Translated with the help of Muḥammad bir Nǧēma ʾĀmr Ǧīd al-Mahri in Ṣalālah, February 2012.
The following poems were exchanged between Sād Sheyl and Mnē (Ar. Muna), the mother of Mḫeyleh, whom Sād may have fancied. Given the discrepancy in age between Sād and Mḫeyleh, it is possible that Sād’s purpose isn’t entirely romantic. Rather, I suspect that he is using Mḫeyleh’s beauty as a pretense to seize an opportunity to exchange poems with a poet as formidable as Mnē (Mḫeyleh’s mother, about whom I have no further information). The exchange goes on much longer than the three poems I have transcribed and transliterated below; time constraints prevented me from completing my analysis of this exchange.
Sād Sheyl: Translation 1) ġlē ṣwāḳār // bāl ḳatf ǧroh Look at the falcon // possessor of a wing, it happened by 2) ḥōm šūk merḍāt // w-ḳāṭen ʿāleh I want to entrust a message with you // and then fly over the Ḳāten! 3) ʾefēḳ ṣʾābūb // ʾefēḳ w-ǧreh Cut across the mountain of Ṣʾābūb // cut across it and pass by it quickly 4) we-l-birt sʿīd // ǧreh l-zebdeh To the daughter of Saʿīd // pass by to Zebdeh 5) we-ǧwērhem sād // bālī yehǧēb leh And their neighbor Sād // may God protect him! 6) ġeyǧ heh meǧtəmīl // we-ǧmeylet ḏ-heh A [decent] guy, he is virtuous // and virtue is [an intrinsic part] of him. 7) we-l-birt ʾawźān // le-mḥeyleh ǧreh And to the daughter of ʾAwźān // to Mḫeyleh pass 8) we-ḫṭāf le-sheyl // w-kel ḏ-heh šeh Call out a greeting to Sheyl // and everyone who is with him 9) maṭlāt ḏe-ḥdīd // kel ḏ-heh beh Maṭlāt, [a mountain who knows] for certain // everyone who is there.
Response to the previous poem by Mnē, mother of Mḫeyleh (incomplete):
Mnē: Translation 1) ʾāḳbənōt // eǧezyeš ḫeyr Little bird // May God reward you 2) ʾār twīǧ ley sɛ̄t // nḥā b-seyr Have a quiet chat with me for a moment // and then take [the message] in safety 3) we-tḫeyṭef l-sād // ḏ-laḥna ġeyr Cut across the narrow canyon to Sād // the one who has “a different tune” 4) šeh mɛ̄ken ʾātūm // ḏ-leh enṭəweyr He’s got an abundance [of poetry] // which comes to him from every direction 5) hem-ḏe šeḫbūr // mḫeyleh b-ḫeyr If he asks the news // [say:] Mḫeyleh is doing well!
Response to the previous poem by Sād:
Sād Sheyl: Translation 1) aṣbaḥk ʾīmoh // haǧsī ġeyr I woke up today // my mood was strange 2) we-ġlē ṣwāḳār // bāl ḳaṭf yʿayr Look at the falcon // possessor of a wing, it flies straight up 3) aḥōm šūk merḍāt // we-ġrōy meťḥayr I want to entrust you with a message // and well-crafted speech 4) hēt hel metǧɛ̄t // w-ʿālī ḏ-ḥeyr When you are at Metǧɛ̄t // at the heights of the Ḥeyr 5) w-ġeyr ḥdīd // ʾād ḳāṣem ḳreyr (uncertain meaning) // [the weather?] is still always cold 6) l-birt ʾawźān // le-mḫeyleh tǧeyr To the daughter of ʾAwźān // to Mḫeyleh, pass by 7) hīs ʾārwāġāb // ḏ-ʿēś b-heyr Like a little, swaying branch // which sprouts on top of an inaccessible spot 8) ḫob ʾeyn ḏe-ḥsūd // men kel ḏīhṣeyr Avoid the eye of the envious // and from anyone who “hits the target.” 9) w-berk rīḥōm teh // sād yešḏeyr Amongst everything beautiful // Sād is discriminating (of it) 10) we-ḳlēb ley red // w-hoh mentəṭ̌eyr Turn back to me an answer // I’ll be waiting 11) hēm ṭ̌ār menśūt // ʾaw hēm wetḫeyr Are they getting ready to follow the rains // or will they remain in the same place?
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