Three examples of the classical qasida
And many a bitter morn of wind and cold
When its reins were in the hand
of the north wind.
I defended the tribe, my battle gear borne
by a winning courser,
Her reins my sash when I went
forth at dawn.
Then I mounted a lookout post
on a narrow, wind-blown peak
Whose dust rose to the banners
of the foe
Until when daylight dipped its hand into
the all-concealing night,
And darkness veiled the crotches of
each mountain pass,
To the plain I descended and my mare
held erect her neck
Like the date palm's stripped trunk at which
the picker's courage fails.
I spurred her to a speed
fit for the ostrich chase,
Until when she was heated through
and her bones were nimble,
Her light leathern saddle slipped,
sweat flowed from her neck,
And her saddle girth
was soaked with froth.
She coursed, head held high and thrusting
in the bridle, racing headlong
Like a thirsting dove to water when
her flock beats urgent wings.
Memory inflamed the mote in my eye
in the still watch of the night,
then tears rolled down.
Then came the night,
enveloping us as if
it had no day.
All night I watched the Gemini
until the first of them
began to set,
And sent my glance on the trail of a tribe
that was drawn far off from land to land,
And weeping till the stars blazed forth
as if no vast expanses held them
back from me
For him who had he, living, heard the herald
of my death, would have led forth horsemen
veiled in dust.
Mufaddaliyah 119 of Alqamah
A heart turbulent with passion
has borne you off,
Long after youth has passed
and the time of old age come.
Thoughts of Layla trouble me
though her dwelling is now far,
Though there have come between us
hostile fates and grave events.
She lives in guarded luxury,
all talk with her forbidden;
At her door a guard wards off
When her husband is away
no secret is divulged;
Delightful is his homecoming
when he returns.
Then do not compare me
with an untried youth --
May laden rain clouds water you
when they let down their loads,
May low-lying Yemeni clouds water you,
and clouds spread out on the horizon
Borne on the southwind in the evening
when the sun inclines to set.
What good is it to remember her
when she is of Rabiah's clan
And a well is being dug for her
If you ask me about womankind,
I am indeed
Discerning in their ailments,
Should a man's head hoary
or his wealth decrease,
He will find no share
in their affections;
They seek abundant wealth
wherever they know it is found,
In youth's first bloom alone
they take delight.