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Homesick in Najrān
Dāndān composed by Muṣabbiḥ bir Ḥamtōt bir Ḳamṣayt, who took up residence in the province of Najrān in Saudi Arabia. This poem expresses Muṣabbiḥ’s longing for home after his sons, Nashūr and Muḥammad, returned to al-Mahra. The poem traces the route from Najrān to al-Ghaydha that he hopes to take back home. In the final lines of the poem, Muṣabbiḥ switches topics to address a recent crime: the kidnapping and murder of a member of Kalšāt by number of tribesmen from Maʾrib. Muṣabbiḥ hopes that Kalšāt will rally together to take their vengeance. When Yemeni unification occurred in 1990, there was an uptick in violence in al-Mahra as northern Yemeni tribesmen came to al-Mahra to steal and create trouble for the locals. A number of unsolved murders are attributed to bands of young men from Maʾrib and many of its tribes are still viewed with deep suspicion and hostility in al-Mahra.
This sound file was initially played for me as an MP3 file on a cell phone in the possession of a Mahri speaker from Shiḥn who was visiting al-Ghaydha (July 2008).
Poem Translation 1) nḥā b-neǧrān // bālīt ekṯīf We are in Najrān // she of the sands 2) seh meǧrī lā // w-ḳā mahzīf It is not on our path // and is a land of narrow mountain passes 3) w-mens yeǧhōm // ke-ḏ-bēr eźyīf He has departed from it // the one who has completed his duties as host 4) l-ād ār emdīt // hēkā w-zefzīf Only the cold, southwest wind remains // blowing back and forth 5) mezrūt b-ǧawf // w-źeyḳī erīf It blows into my chest // and makes the countryside constricting 6) men hād l-āmēr // men śī mhaksīf [Let not] one say // that [this feeling] comes from something actually constricting me 7) k-bīt eslōm // semrēt we-hdīf [Or that this feeling is due to] Bīt Slōm // staying up all night and chatting 8) śī ḳāṭer w-ṣawb // w-mēken ḫǧīf There is straight talk and correct talk // and a good amount of chit chat 9) ḏ-ār ḥeyb le-ḥbūn // ḳlūb yerhīf Indeed the father for his sons // his heart is forgiving 10) yeshōr we-yśeyḳ // hēm yeškīf [The father] stays up all night and tires himself // while [his sons] sleep. 11) lkēn ennəšūr // we-mḥammed wlīf But Nashūr // and Muḥammad, his friend 12) hēs śīnem awaḳt // mḥeyḳ we-kšīf When they saw that the time // had grown difficult and had left them exposed 13) ʾāzmōh le-nbīt // w-le-ḥtərīf They resolved to do the right thing // and apply themselves to work 14) lōb sād heḳrawr // men bād sǧīf O happy is he who leaves in the afternoon // after weakness and fatigue 15) lāḳā ke-ġyūǧ // le-sāf yeḫfīf He would then be with the men // who make things easy for the travelling companion 16) eśśawrəhem ṭāṭ // w-yōtlīf They are of one opinion // and are of one nature 17) w-ṭawr yerkīb // ḫīlēten ndīf Sometimes riding cars // that are empty and ready to go 18) we-krawser ydīn // men wēt ʾāfīf And a new Landcruiser // when it takes off 19) w-zimm ḫṭawṭ // fenwēn syīf Lifting the road as it goes // stirring up the dust in front of us 20) le-mśēr ʾārūź // w-beh leṭwīf Cutting across the expanse // and circling around it 21) we-ḳfōd b-ṣeyḳ // men śī men hyīf It descends to the wadi narrows // from the steep mountain passes 22) hēl bīt ǧsōs // ġnēf yerdīf To Bīt Ǧsōs where // groups of people keep coming, one after the other 23) ḏe-lḳawfem ekerr // w-yeškəfīf They guard the crossroads // and block it [if attacked] 24) we-śrā ṭwēl // wel heh meksīf Their law is long // and is not constrained 25) we-ḏ-šīhem ḥzey // ykūn be-tśərīf Whoever seeks their protection // is given the place of honor 26) ysenḥem leh // w-ǧōneh ḥǧīf They protect him // and a wind break encircles him 27) moh ḥell men ḥōl // w-lē meḫwīf Whether a place to stay [due to] a difficult situation // or from fear 28) we-štēba ṭḥawn // śīseh we-ǧśīf And continues travelling to Wadi Ṭḥawn // and its irrigated gardens and wadis 29) ḏā ṣalb ykūs // we-yśōlī ṭrīf There he meets his kin // who bear all sides [to the problem] 30) wēt śī ṯbūt lā // w-ǧeyš enwīf If there is anything unstable (an emergency) // and [a situation calling for] a big army 31) ykīn b-hāwēl // w-yūtfīf They are in the forefront // and form a single line 32) yeġtebyen lā // w-lū ketlīf They do not tarry // and they bear the burden 33) we-nṣā w-ṣeybēn // yeḥmīl ʾānīf Hail the brave warriors // who endure the violence! 34) dfē w-meknīn // men ǧawd we-ḫsīf They are a defense and a shelter // against the downpour and hail 35) we-ṣbēr mehyēb // wāt teh šeḫlīf The mighty mountainside // when the enemy attempts it 36) yaḥlūl be-mreyt // we-ykūn ḏ-weddīf They live in Mreyt // and they live right up next to each other 37) men beyn fźey // we-ǧwōrī dkīf Between the palm groves // and channels that meet each other 38) flōl yeślōl // w-bāź yeḫlīf Groups of people depart // and some stay behind 39) bēr ǧōrem wḳeyt // w-bīhem śwīf Times have passed // when they had nothing to give 40) w-bāl menśut // wāt teh šeḳfīf People of moveable homes [who are hospitable] // even to the one who wears out the welcome 41) yhaḳyem teh // men emhəǧrīf They give him water // from that which was freshly drawn 42) w-ǧēza feǧǧ // bhīt we-klīf The giant wadi of Ǧēza // broad and difficult [to those who cross it unbidden] 43) ḏhōbet śyīḫ // we-ykīn ḏ-herdīf [That of] great floods // they are those that follow one upon the other 44) w-meks ḳway // wāt hāl eġlīf Bothersome [words] are powerful // when one as had enough [of them] 45) w-ṭeyres mḳīm // w-mōtkīf And over it (Wadi Ǧēza) is [its] chief // who shoulders the burden 46) wāt śōret nwūt // men śī men nkīf When the rain storms arise // and anything in the way of the stationary clouds 47) eźhūr ḳeywōy // we-yšāzīf The backs [of the people] are strong // and are steadfast [against them] 48) w-ḥāmel ṯḳeyl // wīka meḥḥərīf The heavy burden // becomes something that was placed somewhere else 49) ḳdūm heh bāź // w-teh šeǧfīf Some others came to it [the weight] // and lifted it to their chests 50) ḏ-ār kād ḫdōm // ezey lekfīf All those who work // should protect his flock 51) men bād emwēǧ // w-ḳeźź we-ldīf After the waves // and [their] roaring and crashing 52) tlōbed śwōr // we-shīb yeḫfīf [Until] it becomes calm again // and the waves diminish.