Abu Al-Tayyeb al-Mutanabbi, A Great Arab Poet – Part Three _ أبو الطيب المتنبي/3
Arab American Encyclopedia – Poetry (Soon will be published in a book form)
Al-Mutanabbi was the master of the exuberant panegyric, as impossible to render into adequate English as the very different Pindar, but arousing the greatest enthusiasm in native speakers. The following verses are a sample taken from a long translated poem by Nancy Coffen-Princeton University.
A young soul in my ageing body plays,
Though time’s sharp blades my weary visage raze.
Hard biter in a toothless mouth is she,
The will may wane, but she a winner stays.
Spare me to win glory’s forbidden prize,
Glory in hardship, sloth in comfort lies.
Em’nence is not with cheap comfort bought,
Hear the honey gath’rers bee-stung cries
No indolent dreaming dawdler am I,
Nor am content, while riches I descry.
Life’s heaving tides of woe shall spare me not,
Unless I, its unblocked courses defy
Softly do town girls their faces adorn,
But Bedu are from garish colors shorn.
Nancy Coffen ending comment after this translation, she wrote: “Glory and honor were healed when you were healed, and your pain passed on to your enemies. Light, that had left the sun, as if it was sick in its body, came back to it. By race, the Arabs are supreme in the world, but a foreigner will take part with the Arabs of good heart.” (250 words) www.askdryahya.com/index.html
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– R.A. Nicolson’s Literary History of the Arabs (1914)