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The Fox Came Out One Day

Ahmed Shawqi (1868 – 1932) was an Egyptian writer crowned as ‘The Prince of Poets’ (Amir al-Sho’araa’) by his contemporaries. Among his plays, prose, and poetry, which include ‘The Way of the Mantle’ (Nahj al-Burda), a tribute to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), are a number of short poems about the lives of animals. The following selection comes courtesy of Joe Bradford, who has skillfully rendered it into English from Arabic.

 

“The Fox Came Out One Day”

1- The fox appeared in priestly garb,

with stride in step and hefty word

he cursed the shifty and began to pray.

2- Praise be to God, Goodwill to Man

O faithful atone your sins at hand,

And disavow avian desires lest ye stray.

3- Tell the Rooster to mount his perch,

And call for prayer to all who lurch,

Might we be blessed with penance on this day.

3- Unto the cock a herald harked,

The foxes orders did he bark,

To provide for him an indulgence if he may.

4- “Oh please good sir” replied the Cock,

“Our intellect you surely mock!

My message back to your master, do relay.”

5- “As our grandfathers to us have quoted,

those in the know who’ve rightly noted,

“To think a fox as faithful, makes one prey.”

برز الثعلب يوماً في ثياب الواعظينا
فمشى في الأرض يهذي ويسبّ الماكرينا
ويقول : الحمدلله إله العالمينا
ياعباد الله توبوا فهو كهف التائبينا
وازهدوا في الطير إن العيش عيش الزاهدينا
واطلبوا الديك يؤذن لصلاة الصبح فينا
فأتى الديك رسول من إمام الناسكينا
عرض الأمر عليه وهو يرجو أن يلينا
فأجاب الديك : عذراً يا أضلّ المهتدينا
بلّغ الثعلب عني عن جدودي الصالحينا
أنهم قالوا وخير القول قول العارفينا
مخطئٌ من ظنّ يوماً أنّ للثعلب دينا

This poem originally appeared on Joe Bradford’s website, www.joebradford.net

 

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