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Arabic Poetry | Violent Sorrow

by Sohail Hanif

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM.

How similar is the lover's pain to that of a mother mourning her lost son.

Arabs of ancient Arabia were violent in their sorrow.
If a man died, an announcement would be made in the markets and places of gathering. His female relatives and their associates would wail over him. Those gathered would mention the heroics he performed when alive; which enemies he had vanquished; which battles he had won. The mourners would wail, and then grip the tops of their garments and rip them to the bottom. They would violently slap their cheeks in remorse.
It was loud and sad.
It was painful and yet they were oblivious to their own self-inflicted pain.
Al-Mutanabbi reflects on his tearful, love-struck eyes. Their lids seldom close, kept awake through love-caused insomnia. And how can they close with a constant stream of tears pouring through them?
He says,
كَأَنَّ الجُفونَ عَلى مُقلَتي
ثِيابٌ شُقِقنَ عَلى ثاكِلِ

It is as if the lids over my eyes,
Are ripped garments on a mother in mourning

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