Mountain Poem of Ibm Khafaja
By your life, do you know if it is the frenzy of southerly gales dashing my saddle, or the backs of the noble camels?
For hardly had I risen as a wandering star in the farthest regions of dawn before I had westered out through the final zone of sunset, alone, while the deserts delivered me amongst themselves until I discerned the faces of the fates under the veil of utmost gloom,
with no neighbor save the headstrong blade, and no habitation save in the riders' saddle-frame,
and no human company without amusing, for a while, the mouthes of hopes in faces of desires,
on a night which, when I said "It has passed and ended," revealed a promise which belied supposition,
in which I trailed the black tresses of the dark so that I might embrace white-breasted hope.
I went and tore the shirt of night off of the figure of a grey (wolf) which rose with shining teeth and a scowling brow.
In it I saw a dusky fragment of the sunrise which peered with an ignited, penetrating star
and I saw, too, the peak of a high-forlocked, lofty (mountain) which rivaled with the upper reaches of the sky with its withers,
halting the blowing of the wind from each direction, and crowding out the trailing stars with its shoulders,
stately on the desert's back, as if it were a thinker pondering consequence through the nights.
The clouds wrapped black turbans atop it with red tresses from the flashing of lightening,
I listened to it though it was dumb and silent, and so during the night's journey it spoke to me of wonders
and said: "How often have I been the refuge of the assassin, and the home of the sighing penitent who has set his heart on God?
How many sojourners, both homebound and outward bound, have passed my way? How many riders and mounts have claimed their siesta in my shade?
How often have contrary winds dashed my flanks and green seas crowded at my sides?
And this was all so that the hand of perdition could enfold them, and the wind of distance and catastrophe blow away with them.
Thus, the palpitation of my verdure is but the shuddering of a ribcage, and the moaning of my doves is but the keening of a mourner.
No solace alleviated my tears. Rather, I have wept them out in separation from friends.
Until when shall I remain while a friend journeys ahead, bidding farewell to him as a traveler who does not return?
And how long will I shepherd the stars whose lot it is to rise and set to the end of nights?
So have mercy, O my Lord, on the entreaty of a humble supplicant who extends the hand of a yearner toward your blessing!
Thus it had me hear, in its exhortation, every instructive example which the tongue of ordeals interpreted for it.
Thus it consoled by wringing tears, and lifted the spirit by vexing the heart, and all through that nightly sojourn it was the greatest of friends.
So I said as I swerved away from it toward my destination: Farewell, for some of us remain and some journey on,