If only al-Barrāq had an eye to see

the agony and distress I endure

My brothers, Kulayb, ˁUqayl

Junayd, help me weep

Woe upon you, your sister has been tortured

by disavowal morning and night

They fettered me, shackled me, and beat

my chaste [sensitive area] with a stick

5     The Persian deceives whenever he approaches me

and I’m on my last breaths of life

Fetter me, shackle me, do

whatever agony you [all] will to me

For I abhor your infringement

and the certainty of death is something to desire

O men of stature, Banū Kahlān,

            do you lead us to the beast?

O Iyādīs, your hands are tied

            blindness confounds Burd’s[i] view

10   O Banū al-Aˁyāṣ, are you not cutting

the cords of hope for the Banū ˁAdnān?

            Be patient, stand good stead

every victory is hoped for after hardship

            Laylā’s palms have become shackled

like the shackling of great kings

            Collared and fettered in the open

asked to do base things

Say to the ˁAdnān, ‘You’ve been shown the way, tuck up

for retribution from the detested clan

15   Tie banners in their lands,

unsheathe your swords, and press on in the forenoon’

            O Banū Taghlib, press on until victory

leave off the inertia and slumber

            Beware: shame is at your heels, upon you

as long as you linger in lowliness


[i] Burd is the half-Arab half-Persian ‘middleman’ who oversees Laylā’s abduction and holds her prisoner until he can sell her on to the Persian king, called ‘Shahrmayh’ in the manuscript sources. Translation from Marlé Hammond, "‘If only al-Barrāq could see...’: Violence and voyeurism in an early modern reformulation of the pre-Islamic call to arms," in Hugh Kennedy (ed.), Warfare and Poetry in the Middle East (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 215-40.

A song based on the poem from a television serial