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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

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NOV 2020 Issue
Poetry

Muwashshaḥa Qalandariyya


        I’m bound to shave my head and take
        Qalandar fashion for my public dress.
     My linens I will trade
        for a smock of lambswool
           or a coat of felt, or I will go naked


        I’ll hit the beggars’ circuit
        along with every baldhead type.
     Innocent of wine, all they know
        is herb and bhang, five grams of which
           is like two thousand jars of wine


        A grain of their stuff is like seventy cups
        and they keep it in sackfuls.
     But before I get stoned,
        I must see to my meal, so
           off to the market with my beggar’s bowl


        The sheep’s head dealer will hear from me,
        and the beangrocer, and the harisa vendor.
     Dear sir, I’ll say
        in Persian rhyme,
           all dervishes are wand’ring gypsies


        At dawn’s early light we pray for you,
        we company of righteous souls!
     We dervishes discern
        the man of capital and say,
           Master, for the mosque, please, a donation!


        A pint of oil to light the lamps
        among the seated congregants!
     Naked as I am
        I persuade like Satan
           and by him I am persuaded mightily


        The Devil whispers in my ear.
        The Devil’s counsel fills my chest.
     But don’t call me an invert
        or a melon, and do not say
           al-Maghribī’s posterity is ill-omened


        In fact he left no issue
        but a fierce young lion, all-trampling
     and scorched by lust
        after an urchin who rejects me
           and is the hidden pearl of my delirium


        For one like me, what is the harm in
        burning for his strutting form?
     Radiant as the moon
        slim as a myrtle, and as green—
           for him, my wayward passions are forgiven


        A Croesus with that myrtle to kiss
        would not miss the loss of his other riches!
     So leave me to enjoy my life
        with the group that gets my meaning.
           There is nobody smarter than the one who sings:


     Up with cups and down with chatter,
        and never linger over things that people say.
           Those things don’t matter

Contributor

Taqi al-Din ‘Ali ibn al-Maghribi

Taqi al-Din ‘Ali ibn al-Maghribi was a poet of Baghdad known for his sophisticated obscenity and absurd wit. A collection of his poems was made, and his prose treatise on love (entitled The Epistle of the Two Luminaries) is remembered, but they exist in fragments now, mostly in biographical dictionaries. Ibn al-Maghribi died in 1285.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

All Issues