Page:The L-poem of the Arabs.djvu/33

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67 (44–44).

(Symbol missingArabic characters)

Well! If the mother of Qastel is (now) in despair through Shanfarà, verily, the advantage over Shanfarà for which she was envied, was of longer duration!

68 (56–46).

(Symbol missingArabic characters)

She sleeps whenever he sleeps; but her eyes (her spies are) awake as she dozes, exercising her utmost (thoughts) in what may wreak misery on him.


Perhaps a few notes may be not quite without use as to some of the idiomatic or poetical expressions that occur in the poem.

V. 1. (Symbol missingArabic characters)is the reverse of (Symbol missingArabic characters) in the matter of the watering of camels. The latter word denotes their arriving at a watering-place; the former, their leaving it after drinking.

In natural water-courses, cattle always enter the water to drink, and come out again when they have drunk. Our word (Symbol missingArabic characters) really means a coming or going out, an issuing; and is strictly appropriate to a case where the cattle enter the water to drink. It is used, however, to signify their leaving a watering-place, whether they enter the water or not.

It is peculiar that the word (Symbol missingArabic characters), which is the lexical converse of (Symbol missingArabic characters), is not used in the sense of coming to, or arriving at a watering-place, though it may be used to say, explicitly, that the cattle entered the water, to drink, to swim, ford, or what not.

The verb (Symbol missingArabic characters), they came to a watering-place to drink, has for its idiomatic converse (Symbol missingArabic characters), they left their watering-place after drinking, whether the water be entered by them or not. In v. 53, the poet uses the verb (Symbol missingArabic characters) to speak of cares coming and besetting him, as camels come to a wateringplace. He uses the fourth form verb, (Symbol missingArabic characters), to express the idea that he drives them away; literally, I make them quit their watering-place; just as though they were camels.

V. 3. Literally, three wild beasts are named. It might be imagined that Shanfara, from disgust with man, had made those beasts his familiars—poetically, if not actually. But the two following distichs, 4 and 5, somewhat lift the veil from the tropical expression, while verses 6 and 7 complete the elucidation.

Beasts do not "stretch forth hands towards provisions," neither do they provide and carry food for their journeys.

The three beasts are, then, evidently, three confederates of the poet, of whom he considers himself the moral superior. Just such friends and confederates as Ta'abbata-Sharran and 'Umar son of Barraq may be supposed to have been.

The "chased beasts" of v. 5 probably alludes to herds of camels which the confederates are to "lift," and which are guarded by their owners, or by the camel-herds.

V. 14 perhaps hints at a failing known to exist frequently among camel-herds, often mere slaves, of driving away the colts, and of themselves milking the mothers for their own use and delectation, when their dugs are left free, (Symbol missingArabic characters), for their colts to suck.

At times, all four dugs of a she-camel are covered over, by the owner, with a kind of apron of leather or hide, to prevent the colts from sucking at all. At other times, one, two, three, or all four dugs are left free for the colts to suck; and each of these arrangements has its special name, its special verb.

The "mock-bird," (Symbol missingArabic characters), mentioned in v. 16, is said to take a mischievous delight in deceiving shepherds and the like, by imitating human cries. I am sorry that I cannot state the technical name of this naughty bird.

The effeminate fellow of v. 18, "who carries no weapon" is of rare occurrence in a land where, as a rule, every man's hand is against his neighbour.