Abu Tammam – searchable text
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There is no harm in stopping for an hour
to discharge our debt to the effaced abodes of spring.
Perchance your eye will give help with its water;
some tears don’t soothe but some do comfort bring.
There’s no succour for the stricken lover in those
low on passion, with breath stone cold and tear ducts dry.
Parting has descended on the dwelling places
and left their every layer emptied of gazelles,
Of slender maidens, swaying all,
like willow branches, and endowed with smiles:
[Here] a full moon, ardently yielding to the prompting
of withdrawal, [there] a sun flaming with recalcitrance,
[Another] a virgin in whose glinting laughter you see
Camomile flowers blooming in sandy soil,
When she walks, the jingle of her jewels is doubled
In the whispering temptations she arouses in your heart.
Saqi and drinker are blended in separation’s cup.
When the heat of that moment came, she said:
‘Don’t ever forget these engagements! Note, your name
is ‘human’ (insān) because you forget’ (nāsī)!
The One who created all creatures nourishes them
with nutriments to counter the vagaries of Time,
Likewise the earth is a gift of the sky’s bounty,
and the needy are granted the sons of Abbas (Bānū ʿAbbāsī),
The folk who are God’s shadow, and in whom He made
His religion dwell, for they are the sturdy crag of kings.
Every gemstone glows with radiance,
and they are the radiance of the people of this realm.
My high endeavour rests on hope in Aḥmad,
my tradition and my allegories circulate around him,
the one chosen, selected and primed for praise,
adorned by it and in it draped.
Praise is a robe of beauty, proudly worn
by luminous deeds, not a robe of cloth.
A scion has sprouted from Hāshim’s soil,
of seedlings the most commensurate in merit.
Its flowerbed is never forsaken by the rains,
The hard earth never shows hard-heartedness towards it,
As if a fostering relationship obtained between them
Out of shared devotion, or they drank from the same cup.
Bright yellow ox-eye are his blossoms and his scent
lavender’s fragrance in myrtle’s evergreen.
Therein you have granted glory its utmost limit,
With the best of mettle and the noblest of traits:
the daring of ʿAmr in the generosity of Ḥātim
in the forbearance of Aḥnaf in the intelligence of Iyās.
Don’t reject my choosing those beneath him
as wayward image for his munificence and courage,
For God chose an image of yet lower kind –
the niche and lamp! – for his own light.
O Caliph’s son, o son of al-ꜤAbbās, if you possess
glory’s hallmark already in the prime of youth, no wonder,
Many a shining nightly blaze has been ignited
from the firebrands [of your kin],
Many a hapless rider of misfortune you have made
Into a horseman steady on the toughest steed.
In penury – and penury is disease! – you supplied him
with generosity – and generosity is the healing physician.
You made him befriend Time itself
Till he thought it like a marriage feast.
Joy has prevailed over my cares because
of your righteousness and bounty towards me.
Hoariness had descended upon youth, not
From old age but from despair,
For needfulness affects the very heart; the years
Leave their mark merely on the head.
Now is the time for me to plant my hopes
in bounty’s soil and build on true foundations.