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The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Labîd: A Lament for the Afflictions of his Tribe, the ’Âmir

By Arabic Literature

From the ‘Diwan’: Translation of Sir Charles James Lyall

YEA, the righteous shall keep the way of the righteous,

and to God turn the steps of all that abideth;

And to God ye return, too; with Him, only,

rest the issues of things—and all that they gather.

All that is in the Book of Knowledge is reckoned,

and before Him revealed lies all that is hidden:

Both the day when His gifts of goodness on those whom

He exalts are as palms full freighted with sweetness,

(Young, burdened with fruit, their heads bowed with clusters,

swelled to bursting, the tallest e’en as the lesser,)

And the day when avails the sin-spotted only

prayer for pardon and grace to lead him to mercy,

And the good deed he wrought to witness before him,

and the pity of Him who is Compassion:

Yea, a place in his shade, the best to abide in,

and a heart still and steadfast, right weening, honest.

Is there aught good in life? Yea, I have seen it,

even I, if the seeing bring aught of profit.

Long has Life been to me; and this is its burthen:

lone against time abide Ti’âr and Yaramram,

And Kulâf and Badî’ the mighty, and Dalfa’,

yea, and Timâr, that towers aloft over Kubbah;

And the Stars, marching all night in procession,

drooping westwards, as each hies forth to his setting:

Sure and steadfast their course: the underworld draws them

gently downwards, as maidens encircling the Pillar;

And we know not, whenas their lustre is vanished,

whether long be the ropes that bind them, or little.

Lone is ’Âmir, and naught is left of her goodness,

in the meadows of al-A’râf, but her dwellings—

Ruined shadows of tents and penfolds and shelters,

bough from bough rent, and spoiled by wind and by weather.

Gone is ’Âmir, her ancients gone, all the wisest:

none remain but a folk whose war-mares are fillies,

Yet they slay them in every breach in our rampart—

yea, and they that bestride them, true-hearted helpers.

They contemn not their kin when change comes upon them,

Nor do we scorn the ties of blood and of succor.

—Now on ’Âmir be peace, and praises, and blessing,

wherever be on earth her way—or her halting!