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The Khalif Omar Ben Abdulaziz And The Poets
by [?]

Would God upon that bitterest day, when my death calls for me, What’s ‘twixt thine excrement and blood[50] I still may smell of thee!

Yea, so but Selma in the dust my bedfellow may prove, Fair fall it thee! In heaven or hell I reck not if it be.

[Footnote 49] Said to have been the best poet ever produced by the tribe of Cureish. His introduction here is an anachronism, as he died A.D. 712, five years before Omar’s accession.

[Footnote 50] i.e. odorem pudendorum amicæ?

“Except,” continued the Khalif, “he were the enemy of God, he had wished for her in this world, so he might after [repent and] return to righteous dealing. By Allah, he shall not come in to me! Who is at the door other than he?” Quoth Adi, “Jemil ben Mamer el Udhri[51] is at the door;” and Omar said, “It is he who says in one of his odes” … [And he recited the following:]

Would we may live together and when we come to die, God grant the death-sleep bring me within her tomb to lie!

For if “Her grave above her is levelled” it be said, Of life and its continuance no jot indeed reck I.

[Footnote 51] A famous poet of the tribe of the Benou Udhreh, renowned for their passionate sincerity in love-matters. He is celebrated as the lover of Butheineh, as Petrarch of Laura, and died A.D. 701, sixteen years before Omar’s accession.

“Away with him from me! Who is at the door?” “Kutheiyir Azzeh,”[52] replied Adi, and Omar said, “It is he who says in one of his odes … ” [And he repeated the following verses:]

Some with religion themselves concern and make it their business all; Sitting,[53] they weep for the pains of hell and still for mercy bawl!

If they could hearken to Azzeh’s speech, as I, I hearken to it, They straight would humble themselves to her and prone before her fall.

[Footnote 52] A friend of Jemil and a poet of equal renown. He is celebrated as the lover of Azzeh, whose name is commonly added to his, and kept a grocer’s shop at Medina.

[Footnote 53] i.e. in the attitude of prayer.

“Leave the mention of him. Who is at the door?” Quoth Adi, “El Akhwes el Ansari.”[54] “God the Most High put him away and estrange him from His mercy!” cried Omar. “Is it not he who said, berhyming on a man of Medina his slave-girl, so she might outlive her master … ?” [And he repeated the following line:]

God [judge] betwixt me and her lord! Away With her he flees me and I follow aye.

[Footnote 54] A famous satirical poet of the time, afterwards banished by Omar for the virulence of his lampoons. His name is wrongly given by the text; it should be El Ahwes. He was a descendant of the Ansar or (Medinan) helpers of Mohammed.

“He shall not come in to me. Who is at the door, other than he?” “Heman ben Ghalib el Ferezdec,”[55] answered Adi; and Omar said, “It is he who saith, glorying in adultery …” [And he repeated the following verses:]

The two girls let me down from fourscore fathoms’ height, As swoops a hawk, with wings all open in full flight;

And when my feet trod earth, “Art slain, that we should fear,” Quoth they, “or live, that we may hope again thy sight?”

[Footnote 55] A famous poet of the tribe of the Benou Temim and a rival of Jerir, to whom he was by some preferred. He was a notorious debauchee and Jerir, in one of the satires that were perpetually exchanged between himself and El Ferezdec, accuses his rival of having “never been a guest in any house, but he departed with ignominy and left behind him disgrace.”