Arts & Culture

The Animals and the Ark

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 Animals and the Ark

1- When Noah’s Ark was done, water ensued to swell,

Divine assistance came to move its hefty hull.

2- And then inside a sight than no one thought to see,

The waves had not splashed out upon the open sea

3- Until you saw the Lion stroll as donkey’s pal.

A cat he frolicked, mice caressing on his tail

4- And elephants they listened so, they could not bore,

to foul sounds of comfort that came from the Boar.

5- The feline race, it raced up to the Canine’s side.

The wolf’s fang now for sheep to love & kiss in pride.

6- Gazelles they leaped to reach up to the vultures height,

While ants they met with aardvarks almost every night.

7- Small chicks they groomed the foxes coat so ever soft.

The rabbit’s love then tamed the weasel’s wily craft.

8- So old disputes were squashed and thought as never so,

and jubilation spread within the Ark below.

9- Until the day that great ship onto Judi lay.

And all in it ‘came certain of another day.

10- Returned they did to former tendencies and ways,

And took upon themselves the mode of long-gone days.

11- So correlate to this the likeness of mankind,

When danger strikes and hazard fills the heart and mind

12- But yet you only see from them such struggle, strife

for most of them they live a sort of normal life…

الحيوانات والسَفينَة
للشاعر أحمد شوقي

لَمّا أَتَمَّ نوحٌ السَفينَةْ -*- وَحَرَّكَتها القُدرَةُ المُعينَةْ
جَرى بِها ما لا جَرى بِبالِ -*- فَـما تَعَالى المَوجُ كَالجِبالِ
حَتّى مَشى اللَيثُ مَعَ الحِمارِ -*- وَأَخَذَ القِطُّ بِأَيدي الفارِ
وَاِستَمَعَ الفيلُ إِلى الخِنزيرِ -*- مُوتَنِساً بِصَوتِهِ النَكيرِ
وَجَلَسَ الهِرُّ بِجَنبِ الكَلبِ -*- وَقَبَّلَ الخَروفُ نابَ الذِئبِ
وَعَطَفَ البازُ عَلى الغَزالِ -*- وَاِجتَمَعَ النَملُ عَلى الأَكّالِ
وَفَلَتِ الفَرخَةُ صوفَ الثَعلَبِ -*- وَتَيَّمَ اِبنَ عِرسَ حُبُّ الأَرنَبِ
فَذَهَبَتْ سَوابِقُ الأَحقادِ -*- وَظَهَرَ الأَحْبابُ في الأَعادي
حَتّى إِذا حَطّوا بِسَفحِ الجودي -*- وَأَيقَنوا بِعَودَةِ الوُجودِ
عادوا إِلى ما تَقتَضيهِ الشيمَةْ -*- وَرَجَعوا لِلحالَةِ القَديمَةْ
فَقِس عَلى ذَلِكَ أَحوالَ البَشَر -*- إِن شَمِلَ المَحذورُ أَو عَمَّ الخَطَر
بَينا تَرى العالَمَ في جِهادِ -*- إِذ كُلُّهُم عَلى الزَمانِ العادي

This poem originally appeared on Joe Bradford’s website,



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