Wednesday, June 23, 2010

from Majnun and Layla

إذا نظـرت نحوي تكلم طرفهـا وجاوبـها طرفي ونحن سكـوت
فواحـدة منهـا تبشـر باللقـا وأخـرى لها نفسي تكاد تـموت
إذا مت خوف الياس احياني الرجا فكـم مرة قد مت ثـم حييـت
ولو أحدقوا بي الإنس والجن كلهم لكي يـمنعوني أن أجيك لجيـت

قيس بن الملوح
من ديوان مجنون و ليلى

When she turned an eye towards me, it spoke;
& with a look, I answered mutely back:

one glance from her is the chance
of an encounter, another’s almost dying:

when despair terrified me to death, this little ghost
revived me (how many times I've died only to live).

So if the men & jinn begird me
to defer my journey, I'll still come.

Qays ibn al-Mulawwah, from "Majnun and Layla"

(“The fainting of Laylah and Majnun,” a Persian illustration of
a scene from Nizami's
adaptation of the poem. Source: Library of Congress)

The majnun (or madman) of "Layla and Majnun" is actually the poet himself -- the work is an outpouring of poetry dedicated to Layla -- unlike the Persian adaptation of the work by Nizami, Qay's work really doesn't contain a solid narrative structure -- bearing more resemblance to Petrarch's Canzoniere (though Qays was around nearly 9 centuries before Petrarch!).