When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

The Dog Days of Summer

Composed and recited by Raġbōn birt Saʿīd and recorded by Sam Liebhaber at Raġbōn’s home in Kzayt (near “the school house” in the mountains overlooking Jādheb and the sea), March 2004.

This poem receives close syntactic and thematic analysis in Liebhaber, 2011a: 25-28.
The Dog Days of SummerTranslation
1) śmīmet enṭərōr // teh bālī ksēWould that God might give us rain // in the canyon of Śmīmet Neṭrōr
2) yšeṭṭem ḥarḳ // we-ryīḥ we-lhēbIt has struggled against the drought, // the wind and fire for long enough.
3) w-ḫeyr yemyōl // law menh eysērLet goodness return, // certainly it’s much better.
4) wet nhā beh // tetrūb be-bhēlWhile we are there, // words turned to dust,
5) hrūm ketlūl // yḥōm śǧērThe tough last grasses [of the rainy season] have dwindled [to nothing] // and want trees
6) hel ḳāṭā hlā // tē beh leḫrēǧIn the spots of shade [they wait] // until [the dry season] has departed.
7) ʿār heh ḏ-hānōh // ʾamūd yezlēlIt is [the dry season] that bears down hard, // throwing itself onto the roof beams
8) ksōh mbārekt // l-ād hīs meḳḫeyrIt finds the cow Mbārakt // with no one there to hobble her.
9) reyt ḥamr el-ʿayn //  šedhūḳ nīǧērIf only there were a brave young man // to spot her from the wādī’s edge!
10) w-fām eḫḫərūǧ // neḳḏīs w-shērHe pulls her leg, // saves her and stayed up all night [with her]
11) we-mġōren klōṯ // we-wzōm ḫbērAfterwards he spoke to me // and gave the news.
12) līferḥen tēn // w-lezimh bśērHe makes us happy // and gives it as a gift,
13) seh źeywəlet lā // hel kel zhēdThis is not just idle talk either, // but like [the talk] of all those who are knowledgeable.
14) her tēlī hǧisk // ḥōm ḳalb yhēdAfterwards, I thought awhile // and wanted my heart to quiet down
15) eṣōdeḳ hnēf // w-ʿāṣer shērIt trusts itself // and stayed up all night
16) ḫā heh ḏ-ġeyṣāb // w-nefs ḳhērAs though someone had stolen something // and got away with it.
17) ḏōme heh ǧḥīd lā // maḫḫəṭeyṭ we-nzēlThere is nothing deplorable about it, it’s written and revealed by God
18) w-ber tǧēr lūk // we-tkūn ḏ-hābērIt has happened to you before // and you know how things happen
19) hīs wet eḳbēt // w-rēseh ydērIt is just one thing following the next, // and troubles keep on coming back
20) ḏīme ʿeds bsīt // l-sēhel ṣbērIt is such a simple thing, // so stay patient.
21) ewźōnek errab // źōfī w-ḏe-kṯērMay God reward you, // whether a tribal dependent or more!
22) we-yhanʾem lūk // be-ġyūǧ we-nśērMay God favor you, // your men and dispersed [herds].

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