When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

Fed up with Mahri

Short poem composed by an unknown Arabic monolingual living in al-Mahra, 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.

In this short poem, the author expresses his frustration with the Mahri language. He wants to leave al-Mahra and return to a place where he’ll be in the linguistic majority. Although this poem is essentially in Arabic, its topic and scattering of Mahri vocabulary earns it a place in this collection.

Fed Up with MahriTranslation
1) allāh yukhārijnā // min bilād nkā l-bohMay God get us out / of the land of nkā l-boh [“come here!”]
2) li-nārhum śīwōṭ // w-māʾhum ḥmōFor fire, [they say] śīwōṭ / and their water is ḥmō
3) ġanamhum ḥārawn // baqarhum lheytenTheir flocks are ḥārawn / and their cows are lheyten

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