Friday Finds: An Elegy for Her Father by Pre-Islamic Poet Dakhtanus bint Laqit

Over at Sultan’s Seal, writer-translator Yasmine Seale has translated a poem by Dakhtanus bint Laqit:

Alabaster head of a man. South Arabian, c. 1st century B.C.

Seale, who lives in Istanbul, is a writer and a translator from Arabic and French, and her first translated book, Aladdin, is coming out from W. W. Norton in November 2018.

Dakhtanus bint Laqit lived and wrote in the late sixth century, before the hijra.

This poem opens:

He came early with the news:

the best of Khindif, full-grown

and young combined, is dead.

No one brought their enemies

more fear, nor saved so many

held captive. Their pearl. Excellent

in war, undaunted, always the one

to meet kings: it did them proud

when he spoke. His bloodline

was perfect: you could trace it

back, a column reaching all the way

to the tribe’s origin. As a bright star

spikes the dark, a greater hero

fell upon him, determining

the hour of his death.

Keep reading on Sultan’s Seal.

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Categories: poetry

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