Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi


My Heart Is Aflame - Poem by Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi

My heart is aflame, burning with love for you
While your heart is frigid-cold toward me
You think so lightly of me, treating me with such indifference
My soul is sickened, my body debilitated
Why should I conceal a love that has consumed my body
When pretenders fake the love of Saif-Al-Dawlah
If what brings us together is our common love for you
I wish we would meritoriously share your bounties
Each according to the love he harbors for you
I have been in your presence while rapiers sheathed
And gazed at you when swords blood-stained
And found you to be the handsomest of God's creation
Superb in manners, incomparable in character
When you charge an enemy and he escapes
You are the winner just the same
Albeit disappointing, such escape is yet a blessing
You have stricken great fear in the enemy's heart
A fear representing you, even in your absence
You have made your presence awe-inspiring
Far more than the combined power and prowess
Of your valorous knights
You make it a point to run after your enemies in hot pursuit
Depriving them of shelter; they run, but cannot hide
Whenever you target an army, before you it flees
You make after it with relentless chase
It is incumbent upon you to defeat the opponents in every battle
Nor should you feel ashamed if they run away
Rendering you incapable of subduing them
Victory is made sweet to you
Only when claymores and heads join in greeting
You are the fairest of all people, except in my case
You are the controversy, the opponent, and the judge combined
Your intuitive perception is accurate, you correctly read
So differentiate well between well-built bodies and those swelling with dropsy
If a seeing person cannot tell the difference
Between light and darkness
What use is his eyesight
Let all present in this assembly know
That I am the greatest, treading the face of this earth
Even the blind man was able to see my verses
Even the deaf man was able to hear my words
I enjoy my sweet repose, not concerning myself with poetry
Whereas others burn the midnight oil, in endless literary disputes
Behold an ignorant man, deceived by my jovial manner
Unaware of my intentions
Until I unexpectedly pounce, hand and word, incapacitating him
When you see a lion bearing his canines
Never fancy him to be smiling
When a knight contrives to snuff out my life
I take away his own instead
Mounting a noble steed, its back inviolable
He runs with a rapid ambling gait
His hind legs moving as one leg, so do his front legs
He works in harmony with his rider's wishes
In a manner best suited for hand and foot
How often I strutted between two mighty armies
Smiting with a thin blade claymore
While the billows of death surged in full brawling roar
Swift steeds, dreary nights, and the desolate wasteland, all know me full well
As do the sword, the spear, the writing paper and the pen
I kept lonely company with beasts of the wilderness
Amazing thereby mounts and mounds
Parting company with you is excruciatingly heartrending
My heart, soul, and all are nothing without you
O how I wish you have given me
The same affection and honor I accord you
Surely, I would have received that from you
Had I a place in your heart
If what my envious opponents said about me pleases you
With fortitude I will carry my pain
What matters a wound if you are pleased
There is a long-standing friendship between us
Wish you gave it what it deserves
Abiding loyalty is a sacred trust
For those who honor a pledge
How often you try to find fault with me, yet to no avail
Your attempts are unbecoming
In the eyes of both God and the noble-hearted
My character is far removed from blemishes and imperfections
Untouched by them
As the Pleiades is ever by old age untouched
I wish the storms breaking over my head change into benign clouds
I wish all barriers to your bountiful showers
Be permanently removed
My separation from you causes me to ceaselessly travel
Exhausting the most energetic camels, the swiftest steeds
Should I leave the Dhumair Mountain, to the right, and press on
You would surely regret my departure, once I am gone
Should you be forced to walk away from those
Capable of dissuading you from leaving them
They are the departed ones, not you
The worst of regions is where no true friends are found
The worst of gain is that which besmears one's honor
And the worst of birds my hand could ever catch
Is one not dissimilar from either falcon or vulture
How can ignorant and ignoble ones recite poetry in your presence
When they possess no articulate eloquence of the Arabs
This is my gentle rebuke to you, yet prompted by love,
Full of precious gems
In the form of soulful words conveyed


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Poem Edited: Wednesday, October 23, 2013


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