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ugly swarthy man, whilst she herself possessed great beauty : “0, how ugly!” she exclamed, “how horrid !” and to this Zû 'r-Rumma replied by the following
On Maiya's face is a varnish of beauty, but be assured her dress conceals her ugliness. Knowest thou not that the taste of water is bad, and yet its colour is clear and pure? How completely thrown away was that poetry so long continued and which ended in Maiya's praise! but then I could not control my heart.
Amongst the verses of his which bave become quite popular, are the following on Maiya :
The breezes, blowing from the quarter of Maiya's people, agitate my heart with a passion which draws tears from my eyes; but every soul loves the spot where its mistress dwells.
Zû 'r-Rumma celebrated also the charms of Kharka, a member of the tribe of Bakkâ (6) Ibn Aamir Ibn Sâsâa. The cause of his praising her beauty was, that, being on a journey, he passed near some Bedwin Arabs, and lo! Kharkâ came forth from a tent. And he looked at her, and she left an impression on his heart. He therefore tore his water-skins and, approaching her that he might taste of her discourse, he said : “I am a man (mounted) on the back of travel, and my “ water-skins have been torn; so mend them for me.”-“By Allah!” she exclaimed, “a very pretty occupation for me who am the kharků.”—The kharka is a female who is allowed to do no work on account of the fondness which her family bear her. - From that time Zû 'r-Rumma extolled her beauty and called her Kharkâ, and it is she whom he means in the following verses, which are extremely emphatic :
Kharka's two water-skins, worn and weak in the seams, which the water-carrier wishes to pour out, but finds not therein a single drop (7), are even more retentive of their contents than thy eyes are of their tears, as often as thou thinkest of a vernal cottage or of a station where a tribe sojourns.
Al-Mufaddal ad-Dubbi (8) related as follows : “ As I was going on the pilgri
mage I stopped with a desert Arab, and he said to me one day : Wouldst “ “ thou like me to show thee Kharkâ, the beloved of Zû 'r-Rumma?'_If thou "«doest that,' said I, • thou wilt cure me (of all my pains).' We then proceeded
together to find her, and he made me turn off the road for about a mile, till we came to some tents covered with hair-cloth. He then asked at a tent to open “ for him and, on its opening, there came out to us a female, tall, hussâna and “ in the force of age.”-A hussåna woman is one greater in beauty than the (simple) hasnd, or handsome.-“ I then saluted, and sat down, and we conversed “ for a time, when she said to me : * Didst thou ever make the pilgrimage?' “ — More than once;' said I. —“And what then has hindered thee from visiting «« « me? dost thou not know that I am one of the objects to be visited during the “ “ pilgrimage?'— And how is that? — Hast thou never heard what thy uncle "Zù 'r-Rumma said :
* To complete the pilgrimage, the caravan should stop at Kharka's (abode) whilst she is laying aside her veil.'”
Zů 'r-Rumma composed numerous eulogiums on Bilâl Ibn Abi Burda (see page 2 of this volume), and it is of him he speaks in the following line addressed to bis camel Saidah :
When thou reachest Bilål the son of Abû Mûsa, the butcher may wield his axe to 565 disjoint thy limbs.
This idea was taken by him from a verse of a poem addressed by as-Shammåkh (9) to Aràba tal-Aůsi (10), and in which he says to his camel :
When thou hast borne me and my baggage to Araba, be thou choked with thy heart's blood!
After him came Abû Nuwas, who in his poem on al-Amin Muhammad, the son of Harûn ar-Rashid, revealed the real nature of the thought and set it forth clearly, saying :
When the camels bear us to Muhammad, let their backs be for ever interdicted to riders !
A learned man, whose name I do not at present recollect, expressed himself thus, on reading the verse of Abû Nuwâs : “ By Allah! this is the very thought “ about which the Arabs were always turning, but could not hit it : as-Shammâkh “ expressed it thus, and Zû 'r-Rumma thus”—here he quoted the lines abovementioned—“ but none of them set it forth in its true light except Abû Nuwâs,
" and he there attained the height of beauty. The origin of this idea is to be “ found in the words addressed by the Ansàrian female who had been imprisoned " at Mekka and succeeded in making her escape on a camel and joining the “ Prophet. When she reached him, she said : “O messenger of God! I vowed “ that, if I escaped on this camel I would sacrifice it.' And the Prophet replied: " It is a bad recompense thou makest it.' The thought of which we are “ speaking is equivalent to the following : ‘I have no need of travelling to any “ other than thee, for thou hast satisfied my wants and made me rich.' But " as-Shammâkh promised to his camel that she should be sacrificed, and Zů ’r“ Rumma makes a similar vow; but Abû Nuwas declares that the back of his “ shall never be profaned by a rider, and he grants rest to the animal after the
fatigues of its travels; this is the best expression of the sentiment, for he does
good to the camel in return for the service which it rendered by bearing him 66 to the
person whose qualities he means to laud.”—“ Zû 'r-Rumma had three “ brothers, Hishâm, Aủfa, and Masûd; Aůfa died first, and Zû 'r-Rumma “ followed, and Masůd lamented their death in the following lines.”—Such are the words of Ibn Kutaiba, but the author of the Hamása gives a different account of the verses in the elegiac section of his work (11):
The loss of Ghailån suspended my grief for Aůfa’s death, although my eyes were already filled with tears. My later afflictions did not make me forget Aúfa, but a wound on a part already wounded is the most painful of any.
These verses are merely an extract from Masûd's piece. It is to the same Masûd that Abû Tammâm alludes in a poem where he says :
Did even Masûd water their ruined dwellings with torrents from his eyes, I should not be one of Masůd's (men).
Speaking of this verse Abů ’l-Kasim al-Aamidi (12) says in his Muwdzina : “Masûd was brother to Zû 'r-Rumma, and he used to blame him for his com
posing) lamentations on ruined dwellings in the desert); this led Zû 'r-Rumma to speak of him in these terms :
On the evening when the tear-drop trickled down my cheek and Masûd said : Is it over a deserted) dwelling that thou weepest when the pains of love excite thy tears? ..and yet thou art a man whom our people consider as a sage.'
“ Abû Tammâm means to say (in the verse before these), that if Masûd aban“ doned his opinion and became a weeper over ruins, he would not be (one of) “ his. Now as Masûd really held the opinion (that lamenting over ruins was “ absurd ), Abû Tammâm's threat of renouncing him is expressed with the utmost
energy; indeed it is analogous to the following : If Hâtim were avaricious or “ as-Samal faithless, I should not be one of theirs (13), and this is certainly much
more energic than to say : If the miser were avaricious, and if the traitor were “ faithless, I should not be one of theirs.” Such is the meaning of al-Admidi's 566 observations, but he expresses them in other terms. — The anecdotes told of Zů 'r-Rumma are very numerous but we prefer being brief. He died A. H. 117 (A. D. 735–6). On the approach of death he said : “ I have attained the half " of old age; I have reached my fortieth year.” He then recited this verse :
O thou who art to take away my soul when it must appear for judgment! O pardoner of sins! keep me far from the fires of hell.
He was called Zû 'r-Rumma for having said of a tent-peg : “A stake fastened 'to a piece of an old rope (rumma) which had been used as a halter (14).” Rumma means a worn-out rope, and the same word, but pronounced rimma, signifies a mouldering bone. Abû Amr Ibn al-Alå said (v.II. p.399): “Poetry finished with Zu “ 'r-Rumma and rajaz (15) with Rûba Ibn al-Ajjāj.” It was here observed to him that Rûba was still living, on which he answered: “It is true, but his talent “ for poetry is worn out like his clothes and gone like his faculty for tasting, and for enjoying sexual pleasure.” They then said to him : “ And these, our later poets (what thinkest thou of them)?” To which he replied : “ They are patchers “ and botchers, and a burden to all but themselves.”—He said again : “ Poetry
began with Amr al-Kais and ended with Zû 'r-Rumma." It was related by Abû Amr Ibn al-Alà that Jarir (vol. I. page 294) said : “ Had Zù 'r-Rumma kept “ silent from the time he recited his kasida which begins thus : 'Why flow those " • tears from thy eyes?' he would have been the greatest poet among men.” Abû Amr relates also that he heard Zû 'r-Rumma say : “When a traveller stops “ at our tent, we ask him which he prefers, new milk or buttermilk? and if he “ answers : “ Buttermilk;' we say : “Whose slave art thou?' but if he answers " New milk ;' We say : Who art thou?'— Zû 'r-Rumma's verses,” said Abů Amr, “ are like the sugar-plums scattered at a marriage feast; they disappear
“ quickly; or they are are like the dung of gazelles ; at first, it has an odour but " it soon becomes mere dung.” We shall now close our observations by the summary remark that he was one of the most illustrious among the poets of
and one of the most able versifiers of his time.-Muhammad Ibn Jaafar Ibn Sahl al-Kharâiti (16) states, in bis Itilal al-Kulüb (distractions for the heart that Muhammad Ibn Salama ad-Dubbi (17) related as follows : “I made the
pilgrimage, and, on my return, I went towards a certain watering-place; and I
saw a house at a distance from the road. I then halted in the court of it and “ said : 6 May I get down?' And the lady of the house answered : 'Get down.' “ – “May I go in ?' said I ; and she replied : “Come in.' And lo! there was a “ maiden fairer than the sun, and I sat down to converse with her, and (words “ like) pearls were scattered from her lips. Whilst we were thus engaged, an “old woman, with a coarse cloak wrapped round her loins and another thrown " over her shoulder, came in from another apartment) and said : 0 Abd Allah " " (servant of God)!' why sittest thou here with this gazelle of Najd (18), from " whose toils thou canst not escape, and whose possession thou canst not hope "6for?' On this the maiden said to her : ‘Dear grandmother, let him beguile “ his feelings to the degree which Zù 'r-Rumma describes, where he says :
“ And though thou beguilest my hopes, and that but for a short hour, yet that short “ hour will suffice me!”
“I passed my day thus, and when I retired, my heart was inflamed with
« love (19).”
.بیش The autograph has (1)
(2) Al-Farazdak's observation will be perfectly comprehensible to any person who has read the opening lines of an Arabic kasida composed in the first ages of that literature. See the Introduction to vol. I. p. xxxiv.
(3) The people of the hair-tents, the Bedwin Arabs. (4) Read dilers. See vol. I. p. 319.
(5) It is chronologically impossible that this conversation could have taken place between Abu Dirar and Ibn Kutaiba. The latter must be supposed to speak here, not in his own name, but in that of the person who related to him the anecdote.
(6) Bakkå was the surname of Rabia Ibn Aâmir. I have since discovered the origin of this surname in al-Maidani, and it is really, as Ibn Khallikân states (vol. I. page 546), too improper to be mentioned. See Freytag's Meidani, vol. I. p. 404, No. 176.
(7) Literally: Which the water-carrier pours out, but is not wetted.