When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

The Girls Have Abandoned Their Honor

Composed and recited by Raġbōn bir Saʿīd Ḥawr for a young lady, Ṭmaʿ birt Saʿīd bir Ǧand. Recorded by Sam Liebhaber at Raġbōn’s home in Kzayt (near “the school house” in the mountains overlooking Jādheb and the sea), March 2004.

1) ġǧūten ber trōk // feḫrēt w-l-ād ʾākōfThe girls have abandoned their pride // and no longer gather their hair in a bun
2) men hēs ʾāḳrōt ṭmaʾ // āḏ medḥes ber slōfSince Ṭmaʿ has grown up // her praise has already preceded [her]
3) ḏ-māken bīs erḥīm // l-ād ṭ̌eyres tē yšūṣōfShe has abundant beauty // no one exceeds her in description.
4) ḳnets birt ḥmēd // b-laṭf w-terhōfBirt Ḥmēd raised her // in gentleness and with grace
5) be-nhīr tḥawźef hīs // wel ʾāṣer tšūkōfDuring the day, she kept her in her lap // and at night stayed up for her
6) nḥatš hīs hrē // we-ṯbetš ḥerḳəfōt[Birt Ḥmēd] made her head round // and made sure her hips grew evenly and solid
7) w-fām el seh ġanṣayt // we-bdēn mheǧdəlōtHer legs are not at all crooked // and her body is kept well arranged
8) leǧrēd ṭmaʾ tekmēr // men hāl ḏ-āśōt neḥǧōtSo that Ṭmaʿ could be the winner // whenever she gets up to dance.
9) men mēt ḫaddūt ḫlēt // w-bōḳī hansəlōtAt that time the [dancing] ground is left empty // and as for the other girls, she leaves them standing off to the side
10) w-wudām bīs dwēl // w-kel ber šēhem ṣfōtEvery country knows of her // and of all the ways they have of describing her.
11) ʾār bir ʾārmān ḫlā // we-mletye ber brōkBut now the son of ʿArmān is unmarried // and turned [towards her] with hobbled camels [for a dowry]
12) haḳhōb ʿašrīn bkūr // w-men ṭḥōb ǧzōfHe brings 20 unbred female camels // that he has taken from his ample herds.
13) reyt terḥam hōrem šeh // we-mġō ktēb hemlōkWould that they keep the roads open for him // and that Fate give her to him!

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