Ahmad Shawqi

((1868–1932))

King Solomon and The Peacock Poem by Ahmad Shawqi


I heard that once upon a time a peacock came to King Solomon,
Heading a delegation of feathery folks.
Ostensibly displaying its plumes, showing off its flashy garments.
Alternately, revealing and concealing its bright feathers.
He said to the King: I have a case I wish to present before you:
I think it is time, your majesty, you looked into it.
That's why, my Lord, I came here at your doorsteps.
Am I not the meadows incarnate; with all their blossoms and sparkling lights?
Haven't I gathered in my person every form of beauty, every shade and hue of color?
Here I am, the Master of all birds at your door!
Must I be left without what I most eagerly desire,
When I am of noble lineage and decent descent?
Alas, here I am, deprived of a melodious voice!
I have never been able to enchant the hearts with my sweet tuneful strains,
Nor entertain the ears with my songs.
Behold, the littlest of birds is capable of inflaming the passions of lovers,
Yea, even kings sway when a singing bird warbles, swaying on its branch.
King Solomon answered, saying: Thus has it been ordained!
Great is God's wisdom, wonderful are His handiwork.
Indeed, you are self-conceited!
Nor are you content with what God has created.
You call yourself the king of birds, yet are lacking in wisdom and understanding.
Well, dear peacock, had you a beautiful voice,
You would be even haughtier,
Moreover, you would not deign to talk to anyone

Submitted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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