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.


Translation by Cola Franzen

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.


Translation by Alice Lucas

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.

Translation by J.B. Trend


Ibn Sharaf
Arab Andalusian
1233 – 1277

Every night I scan
the heavens with my eyes
seeking the star
that you are contemplating.

I question travelers
from the four corners of the earth
hoping to meet one
who has breathed your fragrance.

When the wind blows
I make sure it blows in my face:
the breeze might bring me
news of you.

I wander over roads
without aim, without purpose.
Perhaps a song
will sound your name.

Secretly I study
every face I see
hoping against hope
to glimpse a trace of your beauty.

Translation by Cola Franzen