Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi


Strong Resolves Come - Poem by Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi

Strong resolves come in proportion to men of determination,
and noble deeds come in proportion to magnanimous men.
Little things are deemed great by little minds,
while grave calamities pale into insignificance in the eyes of the great.
Saif ad-Dawla's prowess makes a whole army heavy with anxiety;
an anxiety that even mighty legions are inadequate to bear.
And he expects of others (the same fearlessness)
that he expects from himself; a thing that even lions do not demand.
The oldest of birds, young and ancient vultures of open spaces,
would gladly surrender (their talons) for his weapons.
No harm then shall befall them being born without talons,
for his swords and hilts have been made to protect and safeguard.
Does the Red Hadath Castle know its own color,
and does it know which of the clouds will supply a downpour?
The rain-bearing clouds showered it first before he dismounted;
and when he drew near it, the skulls sprinkled it (with a red splash).
He built it high amidst the clash of spears,
while the billows of death violently surged
round it and roared.
First it seemed as if possessed by madness,
then its walls became filled with corpses,
as if they were charms adorning the walls.
It was like a wild game animal chased by Fate;
but with your mighty spear you brought it back
to true Faith, despite Fate
You force the nights (the enemies) to forfeit
everything you take (from them),
while you impose on them a fine for anything they take from you.
Once you decide upon something,
it gets accomplished right then and there—
without any hesitation or the slightest delay.
And how may the Romans (Byzantines)
and the Russians ever hope to destroy it (the castle),
when your forceful thrusts are
its very foundation and pillars of support?!
They have brought it to justice, and the Fates
were the deciders of its fate;
No tyrannized one died, nor a tyrant survived.
They sought you out at night, dragging their steel,
on horses (that seemed) without legs
(due to being covered with heavy armor.)
If they flashed in the light, their swords could not be
discerned from their garments and headdresses
(as they were covered with steal from head to toe.)
Their mighty army came advancing from
the east and from the west; its thunder-like rumble
reaching high into the heavens (into Gemini's ear.)
It combined every tongue and nation,
so that only interpreters could understand when the speakers conversed.
O what a time that was! when the fire melted away all dross;
leaving only sharp swords or fighters brave.
Every sword that could not cut armor or
break spears was smashed into pieces,
and every man who couldn't stand his
ground and fight fled the scene.
You stood firm, unmoved, when death
seemed certain for anyone standing;
as if you were in the eyelid of death and death
was sound asleep.
Heroes pass you by in flight, covered with wounds,
while your face beams and your mouth
is wreathed with smiles.
You have transcended the measure of courage
and intelligence, to the point that some declared
you a knower of the unseen
With a mighty squeeze you pressed their two wings
on the heart, thus causing the death
of the under feathers and pinions alike.
You proceeded striking heads the while victory was away
, and when victory arrived you tackled the throats.
You scorned the firm spears and flung them away from you,
as if the swords were despising the spears.
Whoever seeks a glorious victory must know
that its keys are the swift, flashing, and slicing swords.
You dispersed them over the entire Uhaidab hill;
like dirhams being scattered on a bride.
Your horses trample upon the (eagle's) nests
high on mountain peaks; with an abundance
of mangled flesh round the nests.
The falcon chicks fancied you visiting them
with their mothers, yet (what they saw near
their nests) were your noble and hardy steeds.
When (those steeds) skidded you prodded
them on to advance on their bellies, in a manner
resembling the slithering of snakes in the desert sand.
Every time your adversary the Domestique moves on you,
his back blames his face for pressing onward.
Must he deny the scent of the lion until he tastes it,
while wild beasts (readily) discern the lions' scent?
Your attacks, O Emir, have inflicted suffering
upon him and filled him with grief, for the loss of his son,
the son of his brother in law, and his brother in law as well.
He left the battleground thanking his friends
for saving him from the sharp strikes of swords and lances;
as such strikes landed on their heads and
wrists (thus providing a shield for him.)
He well understands the voice of the swords
(while mowing them down), although the voices
of swords are foreign and indistinct.
He delighted in what he gave you, not due to ignorance
on his part, but because a looser who escapes
your punishment deems himself victorious indeed!
You are not a king defeating his peer;
rather you are Monotheism defeating Polytheism.
Not (your tribe )Rabiaa alone is honored
(by such a noble Prince as you are),
but Adnan (the sire of all the Arabs) is honored too.
Nor your fame and glory are limited to nearby towns and cities,
but the whole world is also proud of you
You are to be thanked for the gems of praise
that come out of my mouth; for you gave them
to me and I thus arranged.
Your gifts swiftly carry me to the battlefield;
hence neither am I blameworthy nor are you contrite
Mounting every swift steed that rushes to the battleground
on its hooves, whenever war cries fall on its ears.
O unsheathed Sword! no one is in doubt about you,
nor anyone has the power to grant immunity against your strikes.
Let there be rejoicing in the striking of heads,
and let there be basking in glory and eminence;
Islam and those who put their trust in you are rejoicing
that you are safe and sound.
And why the Most Merciful should not protect your two edges,
when He is ever using you to cleave and crack the heads of foes


Comments about Strong Resolves Come by Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi

  • Emad Dughaither (1/23/2016 6:19:00 PM)

    Terrible translation of a fantastic poem! (Report)Reply

    hamzah(9/2/2018 8:18:00 PM)

    you are right but a bad translation is better than no translation

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Emad Dughaither (1/23/2016 6:19:00 PM)

    Terrible translation! (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 3 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?



Poem Submitted: Monday, April 14, 2014

Poem Edited: Monday, April 14, 2014


[Report Error]