The Sun

In honor of Muharram, we present this work by one of Islam’s great medieval poets.

Arab Andalusian
965 – 1040

Look at the beautiful sun:
as it rises, it shows one golden eyebrow,
plays miser with the other one,

but we know that soon
it will spread out a radiant veil
over all.

A marvelous mirror that appears in the East
only to hide again at dusk.

The sky is saddened
when the sun leaves
and puts on mourning robes.

I believe that falling stars
are nothing more
than sky’s gem-hard tears.

On Moderation in Our Pleasures

06-25 Tabataba
Abu Alcassim Ebn Tabataba
? – 1027


How oft does passion’s grasp destroy
The pleasure that it strives to gain!
How soon the thoughtless course of joy
Is doomed to terminate in pain!

When Prudence would thy steps delay,
She but restrains to make thee blest;
Whate’er from joy she lops away
But heightens and secures the rest.

Wouldst thou a trembling flame expand
That hastens in the lamp to die?
With careful touch, with sparing hand,
The feeding stream of life supply.

But if thy flask profusely sheds
A rushing torrent o’er the blaze,
Swift round the sinking flame it spreads,
And kills the fire it fain would raise.

Listen to My Words

06-04 Buthaina
Buthaina bint al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad
Arab Andalusian
1070 – ?


Listen to my words, echoes of noble breeding.
You cannot deny I was snatched as a spoil of war,
I, the daughter of a Banu Abbad king, a great king
whose days were soured by time and chased away.
When Allah willed to break us hypocrisy fed us
grief and ripped us apart.
I escaped but was ambushed and sold as a slave
to a man who saved my innocence
so I could marry his kind and honourable son.
And now, father, would you tell me
if he should be my spouse,
and I hope royal Rumaika would bless our happiness.

The Land of Peace

We present this work in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Solomon Ibn Gabirol
Arab Andalusian
1021 – 1070


Whose works, O Lord, like Thine can be,
Who ‘neath Thy throne of grace,
For those pure souls from earth set free,
Hast made a dwelling-place?

There are the sinless spirits bound
Up in the bond of life,
The weary there new strength have found,
The weak have rest from strife.

Sweet peace and calm their spirits bless,
Who reach that heavenly home.
And never-ending pleasantness—
Such is the world to come.

There glorious visions manifold
Those happy ones delight,
And in God’s presence they behold
Themselves, and Him, aright.

In the King’s palace they abide,
And at His table eat,
With kingly dainties satisfied,
Spiritual food most sweet.

This is the rest for ever sure,
This is the heritage,
Whose goodness and whose bliss endure
Unchanged from age to age.

This is the land the spirit knows,
That everlastingly
With milk and honey overflows,
And such its fruit shall be.

I Fear for You

We present this work in honor of the 930th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi
Arab Andalusian
1001 – 1091


I fear for you, my beloved so much, that even my own sight
even the ground you tread
even the hours that pass threaten to snatch you away from me.
Even if I were able to conceal you within the pupils of my eyes
and hide you there until
the Day of Judgment my fear would still not be allayed.

The Wing of Separation

We present this work in honor of Dia de Andalucia.

Ibn Darraj Al-andalusi
Arab Andalusian
958 – 1030


The wing of separation
Bore me away;
The fluttering heart was dismayed
And bore away her senses.
Had she but seen me,
When my soul was intent on speeding the journey by night,
When my sounding steps
Held converse with the demons of the desert—
When I wandered through the waste
In the shadows of night,
While the roar of the lion was heard
From his lair among the reeds—
When the brilliant Pleiades circled,
Like dark-eyed maidens in the green woods;
And the stars were borne round
Like wine-cups,
Filled by a fair maid
And served by a watchful attendant—
When the Milky Way
Was as the gray hairs of age
Upon the head of gloomy night;
And the ardor of my resolution,
And the piercer of darkness
Were equally terrible;
When the eyelids of the stars
Were closed for weariness—
Ah, then she had known
That fate itself obeyed my will
And that I was worthy of the favor of Ibn Aâ mir.

The Embroidered Wrap

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn Ali ‘l-fath Ibn Khafaja
Arab Andalusian
1058 – 1138


Her glance, like a gazelle’s,
her throat, that of a white deer,
lips red as wine,
teeth white as sea foam.

Tipsiness made her languid.
The gold-embroidered figures
of her wrap swirled round her,
brilliant stars around the moon.

During the night love’s hands
wrapped us in a garment of embraces
ripped open
by the hands of dawn.