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Canst thou make me immortal

Canst thou make me immortal, O thou that blamest me so

For haunting the battle and loving the pleasures that fly?

If thou hast not the power to ward me from Death, let me go

To meet him and scatter the wealth in my hand, ere I die.

Save only for three things in which noble youth take delight,

I care not how soon rises o’er me the coronach loud:

Wine that foams when the water is poured on it, ruddy, not bright,

Dark wine that I quaff stol’n away from the caviling crowd;

And then my fierce charge to the rescue on back of a mare

Wide-stepping as wolf I have startled where thirsty he cowers;

And third, the day-long with a lass in her tent of goat’s hair

To hear the wild rain and beguile of their slowness the hours.


A young gazelle there is in the tribe, dark-lipped, fruit-shaking,

flaunting a double necklace of pearls and topazes,

holding aloof, with the herd grazing in the lush thicket,

nibbling the tips of the arak-fruit, wrapped in her cloak.

Her dark lips part in a smile, teeth like a comomile

on a moist hillock shining amid the virgin sands,

whitened as it were by the sun's rays, all but her gums

that are smeared with colyrium — she gnaws not against them;

a face as though the sun had loosed his mantle upon it,

pure of hue, with not a wrinkle to mar it.

Ah, but when grief assails me, straightway I ride it off

mounted on my swift, lean-flanked camel, night and day racing,

sure-footed, like the planks of a litter; I urge her on

down the bright highway, that back of a striped mantle;

she vies with the noble, hot-paced she-camels, shank on shank

nimbly plying, over a path many feet have beaten.

Along the rough slopes with the milkless shes she has pastured

in Spring, cropping the rich meadows green in the gentle rains;

to the voice of the caller she returns, and stands on guard

with her bunchy tail, scared of some ruddy, tuft-haired stallion,

as though the wings of a white vulture enfolded the sides

of her tail, pierced even to the bone by a pricking awl;

anon she strikes with it behind the rear-rider, anon

lashes her dry udders, withered like an old water-skin.

Perfectly firm is the flesh of her two thighs—

they are the gates of a lofty, smooth-walled castle—

and tightly knit are her spine-bones, the ribs like bows, her

underneck stuck with the well-strung vertebrae,

fenced about by the twin dens of a wild lote-tree;

The Nasib

The ruins Khawla left

on the mottled flatlands of Thimhad

appear and fade, like the trace of a tattoo

on the back of a hand.

There my friends halted

tall camels over me,

saying: don't lose yourself

in grief, man: endure!

As if, yesterday,

the howdas of a Malikite

were a ship, free-floating,

in the wide wadi beds of Dadi,

The ship of an 'Adawliyyan

or the Yemenite,

the mate tacking at times

then bringing her around,

She cleaves the rippled waves,

bow breast submerged,

like the hand of a child at play,

scooping through the soft soil.

Among the tribe is a gazelle,

a wine-dark yearling,

shaking down the Arak berries and draped,

string on string, with chrysolite and pearl.

She lags. From a dune thicket

she watches the herd.

She pulls at the Arak branches

until they clothe her.

From a deep red mouth she smiles,

a camomile blossom


breaking through a crest of pure sand

As if the sun had loosed

its robe

upon her face, glowing,

washed in light, smooth.


When I snap the rough-fringed whip

she bursts forward,

vapours smouldering

over the kindled rock terrain.



You see two heaps of earth

with silent slabs

of hard, deaf stone

piled up upon them.

I see death choose

the generous and the noble,

while picking over the best part

of the hardened miser’s spoil


Behold, she has come back to me,

My fair gazelle whose ear-rings shine;

Had not the king be sitting here,

I would have pressed her lips to mine.