Eight Translations of Two Lines by Mutanabbi

It began with poet, novelist, and sometimes-translator Youssef Rakha:

He translated two lines by Mutanabbi, and then asked translators Yasmine Seale and Robin Moger — who have made a habit of co-translating Ibn Arabi — to try their hand at “Mutanabbi’s miraculous line”.


Seven more translations ensued.

There were four from Yasmine Seale:

(2) I visit them, black night

my advocate

& go

before the morning light

can ruin it


(3) I go to them, knowing the night

Will work for me

And take off before morning

White, my enemy


(4) I turn up, safe in black

night’s favour, turning

when darkly at my back

whispers the white morning


(5) Night has my back. I stay.

My exit cue: the white

Betrayer, day.


Two were by Robin Moger:

(6) I show my face as night

Dark makes my case, the light

Exposing me,

I flee


(7) In company, night black’s my suit.

In morning white I wear my welcome out.


One was by Samuel Wilder:

(8) I visit them

in night my black emissary;

I fall away

in white morning

pulling me.