November 15, 2012

Madmen who were poets 2

['Abd al-Rahmān Muhammad ibn 'Ubayd Allāh] al-'Utbī said: "Abū Wā'il said to my father: 'Despite my dementia, if you ask me about poetry you'll find that I know a thing or two about it.' My father said: 'Do you compose any poetry yourself?' Abū Wā'il said: 'Yes - much better than yours. Here's one of mine:

   If, after my ribs lie buried, their weeping forgotten,
      Jawmal would only speak to me,
   I bet my bones would answer her.
      I bet my old carcass would spring back to life.'

My father said to him: 'Not bad, except that the woman's name is ill-chosen.' Abū Wā'il said: "In reality her name is Juml ["Stout rope"], but I improved it.' My father said to him: 'God save us from the dementia that makes you think so.'
      "My father also told me that Abū Wā'il recited to him:

   When it hurts this much to part from a stranger,
      how much more when from a lover's side [min habībi]?
   My heart is stupefied with longing
      when I remember he is dead [yamūtu].

'That doesn't even rhyme!' my father told him. 'One verse ends with bā' (ب), the other tā' (ت).' 'And you cannot supply the missing point?' said Abū Wā'il. 'Furthermore,' my father said, 'the voweling is off. One verse has a genitive case ending where the other ends in an indicative verbal suffix.' 'I say,' replied Abū Wā'il, 'when faced with difficulty you supply no point.' "
      When the mother of Sulaymān ibn Wahb al-Kātib passed away, a lunatic scribe named Sālih ibn Shīrzādh regaled him with an elegy, reciting:

   By what happened to Umm Sulaymān we are laid low
      as if at a blow from the amputator's sword.
   You were the reins of the house, Umm Sālim; now,
      the house's reins have wound up in the grave.

Ibn Wahb said: "When was one of God's creatures so mistreated? To lose one's mother and hear her mourned with such a [crappy] poem, in which my name is changed from Sulaymān to Sālim!"
      Another verse of Sālih ibn Shīrzādh's goes like this:

   Do not liken the silent fart to a curative;
      the audible fart is the true Ādharītūs [Adrestos?]

Continued from Ibn 'Abd Rabbih's Necklace Without Peer