Nass El Ghiwane: The Sheepskin (1st stanza)
Translated by Mohammed Najmi and Doug Davis

Servants of the idol money, stone-hearted[1]
Thoughtless hearts full of treachery[2]
You chained up the graves … here’s truth … and here’s falsehood[3]
The moss on the rock complained of being troubled by the ocean[4]
And the strong wind deserted the lightning and thunder[5]
Between the mute stone and the blazing fire …[6]
The hot wind grew calm[7]
This one is goaded on …  this one is unmoved[8]
There’s no cure for this[9]
I added 10, and 10, I knew how much it equals[10]
This is the 20th century[11]
We’re living the life of the fly in the sheepskin[12]
There’s the huge difference between apples and pomegranate[13]
What’s the difference between you …  and you …  and me?[14]


[1] 3bid Snk l-m3bud ya glub l5jar
Omar Sayyid footnotes “Snk, i.e. l-mal.” Snk is the tax paid on a transaction at the suq, so the sense might be “slaves who worship profit, as in.“the all-mighty dollar.”

[2] glub Taysha maliana bil-ghdar

[3] Silsiltu l-9bbur … ha l7aq wa ha lmnkur

[4] I5j ls5r mn hm lb7r shka

[5] wa lriya7l3aSfa hzrat lbr9 wa lr3d

[6] ma bin S5rat jamda wa 3wafi zanda

[7] l-Shd lri7 hamda

[8] hada b-mhmaz ynghz … hada ma-yrd 3alia

[9] la dwa ydawi

[10] 7sbt 3shra wa 3shra 3rftha sh7al tsawi

[11] l9rn l3shrin hada
Najmi suggests that the allusion here is 21 of the quatrains of Majdoub, about the 14th century in the Muslim calendar.

[12]3aishin 3isha ldbana fi lbTana
lebTana” is the fresh a sheepskin, as if after 3id lkbir, which is left to the flies.

[13] rah lfr9 3thim bin ltfa7 wa rmana

[14] wash min fr9 bin nta … wnta … wana?