Pour Us Wine
Rise and hold up the curved glass,
And pour us wine of the morning, of El Andar.
Pour wine for us, whose golden color
Is like a water stream kissing flowers of saffron.
Pour us wine to make us generous
And carelessly happy in the old way.
Pour us wine that gives the miser
A sumptuous generosity and disregard.
O Oum-Amr, you have prevented me from the cup
When it should have been moving to the right;
And yet the one of us three that you would not serve
Is not the least worthy.
How many cups have I not emptied at Baalbek,
And emptied at Damas and emptied at Cacerin!
More cups! More cups! For death will have his day;
His are we and he ours.
* * * *
By herself she is fearless
And gives her arms to the air,
The limbs of a long camel that has not borne.
She gives the air her breasts,
She gives the air her long self and her curved self,
And hips so round and heavy that they are tired.
All these noble abundances of girlhood
Make the doors divinely narrow and myself insane.
Columns of marble and ivory in the old way,
And anklets chinking in gold and musical bracelets.
Without her I am a she-camel that has lost,
And howls in the sand at night.
Without her I am as sad as an old mother
Hearing of the death of her many sons.
Ibn Kolthum, 6th C
Translated by E. Powys Mathers: An Anthology
of World Poetry ed. M. V. Doren, 1928; p.