Imru' al-Qais

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Imru' al-Qais Junduh bin Hujr al-Kindi (501 – 544) was an Arabic poet in the 6th century AD, and also the son of one of the last Kindite kings. He is sometimes considered the father of Arabic poetry. His qaṣīda, or long poem, "Let us stop and weep" (Arabic: قفا نبك qifā nabki) is one of the seven Mu'allaqat, poems prized as the best examples of pre-Islamic Arabian verse. Imru' al-Qais was born in the Al Qassim region of northern Arabia sometime in the early 6th century AD.



The Poem of Imru' al-Qais

  • Stop, oh my friends, let us pause to weep over the remembrance of my beloved.
    Here was her abode on the edge of the sandy desert between Dakhool and Howmal.
    The traces of her encampment are not wholly obliterated even now;
    For when the South wind blows the sand over them the North wind sweeps it away.
    The courtyards and enclosures of the old home have become desolate;
    The dung of the wild deer lies there thick as the seeds of pepper.
    On the morning of our separation it was as if I stood in the gardens of our tribe,
    Amid the acacia-shrubs where my eyes were blinded with tears by the smart from the bursting pods of colocynth.
    As I lament thus in the place made desolate, my friends stop their camels;
    They cry to me "Do not die of grief; bear this sorrow patiently."
    Nay, the cure of my sorrow must come from gushing tears.
    Yet, is there any hope that this desolation can bring me solace?
  • Weep for me, my eyes! Spill your tears
    And mourn for me the vanished kings
    Hujr ibn 'Amru's princely sons
    Led away to slaughter at eventide;
    If only they had died in combat
    Not in the lands of Banu Marina!
    No water was there to wash their fallen heads,
    And their skulls lie spattered with blood
    Pecked over by birds
    Who tear out first the eyebrows, then the eyes.
    • Diwan of Imru' al-Qays, Poem 2, quoted in Dictionary of Literary Biography, p. 213


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