September 22, 2012

Madmen who were poets

These include Abū Yāsīn the book-keeper, Ju'ayfirān, Jaranfash, Abū Hayya al-Numayrī, Decimus (sc. Zosimus of Panopolis), and Sālih ibn Shīrzādh the scribe. 
        Abū Hayya was the maddest of his people, and also their greatest poet. His verses include:

    Ho, ruins! Your imprints have started to fade,
        and your mantle of nights is long tattered.
    When day and night team up to try a man,
        it is a trial without adjourning.


    May my poem be whirled with the wind
        that carries from here to al-Qa'qā',
    and land by the waters as something still new
        to delight the ears of al-Qa'qā''s people.

He also said:

    Hand and wrist -the most beautiful fetters - she hides,
        and never unveils to him her sun.

        The poet Ju'ayfirān al-Muwaswas was one of the madmen of Kufa. Met by a man who gave him a dirham, saying: "Rhyme for me a poem," Ju'ayfirān said:

    Heal me, Lord! May all my worry
        be cured and turned into relief.
    My cup of worries away be hurried,
        I'd like my cup of wine now, please.

And he said:

     Ja'far's nothing to his father,
        and is unlike any other,
     sacrificial goat of a crowd of men
        who all lay claim to him.
     "My son!" one calls him, while another
        takes his case before a judge.
     And his mother laughs at all of them,
        knowing his true parentage.

        Abu 'l-Hasan ['Alī ibn al-'Abbās ibn Abī Talha?]  said: "Ju'ayfirān paid a call upon a certain king, and was admitted to his dinner table. On the following day, he paid another call, and was made to eat behind a screen. On the third day he asked again, and was denied altogether. So he called out at the top of his lungs:

   'Admission is yours to grant. Having dined,
        we will not return, since our return gives offense.
    Some feast that was! That its heat gave you
        heart-burn warms us our fast.' "

From "The Second Pearl" of Ibn 'Abd Rabbih's Necklace Without Peer