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.

On Love

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 1040th birthday.

Abu Ali, the Mathematician
Persian
980 – 1037

 

I never knew a sprightly fair
That was not dear to me;
And freely I my heart could share
With every one I see.

It is not this or that alone
On whom my choice would fall:
I do not more incline to one
Than I incline to all.

The circle’s bounding line are they;
Its centre is my heart;
My ready love, the equal ray
That flows to every part.

Graves

We present this work in honor of Tisha B’Av.

Moses ben Jacob ibn Ezra
Arab Andalusian
c. 1055 – c. 1138

 

And where are the graves, so many graves
Of all who have died on the earth since the beginning?
Grave tunnelling into grave,
Headstone and obelisk crumbled into one dust,
Bodies heaped upon bodies, in motionless orgy—
All sleeping together in deep holes,
Fragments of chalk,
Stained rubies.

I Look Up to the Sky

We present this work in honor of Shavout.

Samuel ibn Naghrillah
Arab Andalusian
993 – 1056

 

I look up to the sky and the stars,
And down to the earth and the things that creep there.
And I consider in my heart how their creation
Was planned with wisdom in every detail.
See the heavens above like a tent,
Constructed with loops and with hooks,
And the moon with its stars, like a shepherdess
Sending her sheep into the reeds;
The moon itself among the clouds,
Like a ship sailing under its banners;
The clouds like a girl in her garden
Moving, and watering the myrtle-trees;
The dew-mist—a woman shaking
Drops from her hair to the ground.
The inhabitants turn, like animals, to rest,
(Their palaces are their stables);
And all fleeing from the fear of death,
Like a dove pursued by the falcon.
And these are compared at the end to a plate
Which is smashed into innumerable shards.

The Incense Burner

Abus Salt
Arab Andalusian
1067 – 1134

 

Though its heart was all aflame.
Yet it never knew that same
Grief of parting, and that woe
Sundered lovers know.

When the lightning of the wine
Bathed the drinkers in its shine,
What a brave cloud billowed thence
Sweet with frankincense!
Never saw I, all my days,
Such a conflagration blaze
To persuade the revellers
Paradise was theirs.

My Heart

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 1,025th birthday.

Ibn Hazm
Arab Andalusian
994 – 1064

 

I would split open my heart
with a knife, place you
within and seal my would,
that you might dwell there
and never inhabit another
until the resurrection and
judgment day — thus you
would stay in my heart
while I lived, and at my death
you too would die in the
entrails of my core, in
the shadow of my tomb.