Sunday, May 27, 2007

Abu Zayd As-Suruji by Iraqi poet `Abdul-Wahab Al-Bayyati (my translation):
"He* sang
He was a shameless beggar
regurgitating what is contained
in the books of the dead
or stealing from the living
He sang in the brothels
and in the feasts of kings
enthusiastically, because
he was shameless
He sang
He was in my city doing
what he wished
seducing girls
and begging on the street
in the evening
His craft is kissing
people's hands and singing
and cursing them, because he
is a chameleon
who knows how shoulders
are eaten**, and breasts
He sang without a voice
He appeared in his
black clothes everywhere,
riding his leprous mule
followed by crows and diseases
He sang
when Holaco invaded Baghdad
and when Troj surrendered
and gallows were mounted
in the heart of Madrid,
and at its gates
because he was without timing
appearing at every time,
riding his leprous mule
followed by crows and diseases"

*This is the name of a character that appears in the famous classical Arabic literary work known as Assemblies (Maqamat) by Al-Hariri (1054-1122).
**The old classical Arabic expression "knowing how shoulders are eaten" refers to somebody who knows how to seize opportunity; somebody who is a wheeler and dealer, as you say here.