Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Duraid, Son of as-Simmah: The Death of ’Abdallâh

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Duraid, Son of as-Simmah: The Death of ’Abdallâh

By Arabic Literature

And What Manner of Man He Was

From the original poem of Duraid, son of as-Simmah, of Jusharn: Translation of Sir Charles James Lyall

I WARNED them both, ’Ârid, and the men who went ’Ârid’s way—

the house of the Black Mother: yea, ye are all my witnesses,

I said to them: “Think—even now, two thousand are on your track,

all laden with sword and spear, their captains in Persian mail!”

But when they would hearken not, I followed their road, though I

knew well they were fools, and that I walked not in Wisdom’s way.

For am not I but one of the Ghazîyah? and if they err

I err with my house; and if the Ghazîyah go right, so I.

I read them my rede, one day, at Mun’araj al-Liwa:

the morrow, at noon, they saw my counsel as I had seen.

A shout rose, and voices cried, “The horsemen have slain a knight!”

I said, “Is it ’Abdallâh, the man whom you say is slain?”

I sprang to his side: the spears had riddled his body through

as a weaver on outstretched web deftly plies the sharp-toothed comb.

I stood as a camel stands with fear in her heart, and seeks

the stuffed skin with eager mouth, and thinks—is her youngling slain?

I plied spear above him till the riders had left their prey,

and over myself black blood flowed in a dusky tide.

I fought as a man who gives his life for his brother’s life,

who knows that his time is short, that Death’s doom above him hangs.

But know ye, if ’Abdallâh be dead, and his place a void,

no weakling unsure of hand, and no holder-back was he!

Alert, keen, his loins well girt, his leg to the middle bare,

unblemished and clean of limb, a climber to all things high;

No wailer before ill-luck; one mindful in all he did

to think how his work to-day would live in to-morrow’s tale,

Content to bear hunger’s pain though meat lay beneath his hand—

to labor in ragged shirt that those whom he served might rest.

If Dearth laid her hand on him, and Famine devoured his store,

he gave but the gladlier what little to him they spared.

He dealt as a youth with Youth, until, when his head grew hoar,

and age gathered o’er his brow, to lightness he said, “Begone!”

Yea, somewhat it soothes my soul that never I said to him

“thou liest,” nor grudged him aught of mine that he sought of me!