Nozhet El Nofous: Selected Lyrics by Nancy Mounir

At the end of 2022, NPR named Nancy Mounir’s Nozhet El Nofous one of the “11 best experimental albums of 2022.”

Reviewer Lars Gotrich writes that the album “is a conversation with the past. The Cairo-based composer and instrumentalist weaves aching arrangements around crackling recordings of 1920s Egyptian singers. In translations provided, we grasp how Mounir’s own violin, bass and piano dance seamlessly with beautiful Arabic poetry of love, torment and darkness — characters who express longing and sorrow with the same nostalgic verve of what Brazilians call saudade. The ghostly effect, however, isn’t haunting, but an empathetic hand across time.”

Here, the lyrics of four of the songs, shared by Simsara Records and award-winning translator Katharine Halls:

Taala Ya Shater ft. Naima El Masreya
Come on, bright spark, let’s take a trip
down the river
Be sweet and indulge me,
and don’t disappoint
Pass me that bottle and keep me
The mezze are fresh and I’m having a
fine time
Charm and delight me, keep my glass
When I’m with you, precious, I could sing
the night away
تعالى يا شاطر

تعالى يا شاطر .. نروح القناطر
هاودني ودينك ما تكسر لي خاطر
هات الإزازة واقعد لاعبني
دي المَزة طازة والحال عاجبني
هنيني بخفتك .. و اسقيني بذمتك
في قربك ياغالي أغني الليالي
Khafif Khafif feat. Saleh Abdel Hay
Softly softly, an arrogant man
Has made my nights darker than carob
Neither quarrel nor compromise will
bring him around
But I put up with him no matter how
badly he treats me
He has a place in my heart
One look from him is enough for me
But there’s always some new
trouble brewing
Strange how he quarrels with me
without reason
I ask him to explain, to love, to care
He says “Leave me alone”
“Have some respect”
But I was destined to love him
خفيف خفيف
خفيف خفيف ووراني المضروب
ليالي لون قرن الخروب .. ياما وراني
لا يجي بمسايسة ولا بخناقة
نهايته أنا مقايسة مهما اتشاقى
دا جوة قلبي مربع ونظرة منه تشبع
وكل ساعة و له ملعوب .. ياما وراني
خفيف خفيف ووراني المضروب
ليالي لون قرن الخروب .. ياما وراني
عجيبة يخاصمني من غير داعي
وأقول له فهمني حب وراعي
يقول لي مالك بيا خلاص مافيش مراعية
غرامه وعد وكان مكتوبياما وراني
Wallah Testahel Ya Albi ft. Hayat Sabry
Serves you right, heart of mine
Why grow fond, when you were empty?
You’re the cause of all my sorrows
You’re the cause of what’s befallen me
When all my luck has forsaken me…
Who can I tell of my pitiful state?
If I complain of my heart and my senses
They’ll join forces against me
If I cry that love is cruel
My eyes will surely protest
What am I to do when we’re strangers to
each other?
Strangers like us are like orphans
No-one to comfort them in their sadness
So much they endure, so much
May lovers who are far apart
Never be deprived of each other
But be safely reunited again
والله تستاهل يا قلبي
والله تستاهل يا قلبي .. ليه تميل ما كنت خالي
انت أسباب كل كربي
وانت أسباب ما جرى لي
إذا كان حظي ناسيني .. مين أروح له وأشكي له حالي
إن شكيت قلبي وحواسي
يعملوا مؤامرة عليا
وان بكيت الحب قاسي
تشتكي مني عينيا
أعمل ايه واحنا في غربة
والأغراب دول زي اليتامى
مين يواسيهم فى كربة
ياما بيقاسوا وياما
يارب كل من له حبيب
وطال بعاده ولا قريب
ما تحرموش منه .. وهاته له بالسلامة
Ana Bas Saktalak ft. Fatma Serry
I’m keeping quiet for now
But a day will come, so just you wait
When my mind will clear
A day will come when you will beg me
Let’s see you forget me then
And I’ll play hard to get, just you wait
I’m keeping quiet for now
But a day will come, so just you wait
Soon your heart will be in agony
I’ll torment you and happily get on with
my life
You’ll beg for us to reunite but I’ll refuse
I’ll play hard to get, just you wait
أنا بس ساكتة لك
أنا بس ساكتة لك .. حيجيلك يوم طوّل بالك
لما يروق عقلي وبالي
حيجيلك يوم تترجاني
وأشوف أنا إزاي تنساني
وأتقل عليك .. طوّل بالك
أنا بس ساكتة لك .. حيبجيلك يوم طوّل بالك
بكرا فؤادك يتلوع
وأكيدك قوي أنا وأتدلع
وتطلب الوصل أتمنع
وأتقل عليك .. طوّل بالك


Nancy Mounir is a versatile multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and composer, a key member of Egypt’s independent music scene. Mounir plays a range of instruments—including violin, piano, bass, theremin, and the traditional Egyptian bamboo flute called the kawala.

Katharine Halls is an Arabic-to-English translator and a 2021 recipient of a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for her translation of Haytham El-Wardany’s Things That Can’t Be Fixed. She was awarded the 2017 Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation for her translation, with Adam Talib, of The Dove’s Necklace by Saudi author Raja Alem. The novel was also shortlisted for the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.