Love and its Discontents

We wandered through Arabic poetry and prose to talk about many different forms of literary love: regretful love, unreciprocated love, bad love, vengeful love, liberating love, married love. 

We read this poem by Núra al-Hawshán: 
“O eyes, pour me the clearest, freshest tears
And when the fresh part’s over, pour me the dregs.
O eyes, gaze at his harvest and guard it.
Keep watch upon his water-camels, look at his well.
If he passes me on the road
I can’t speak to him.
O God, such affliction
And utter calamity!
Whoever desires us
We scorn to desire,
And whom we desire
Feeble fate does not deliver.”

The Núra al-Hawshán poem, translated by Moneera al-Ghadeer, has a modern musical adaptation on YouTube produced by Majed Al Esa.

Yasmine Seale’s translation of Ulayya Bint El Mahdi. This poem and others were set to music on the album “Medieval Femme.”

Do’a al-Karawan (“The Nightingale’s Prayer”) by Taha Hussein

I Do Not Sleep, Ihsan Abdel Kouddous, trans. Jonathan Smolin

The Cairo Trilogy, Naguib Mahfouz (1956-57)

Al-Bab al-Maftouh (The Open Door) Latifa al-Zayyat, trans. Marilyn Booth (1960) 

All That I Want to Forget, by Bothayna Al-Essa, translated by Michele Henjum.

Rita and the Rifle, Mahmoud Darwish, made into a song by Marcel Khalife

Ode to My Husband, Who Brings the Music by Zeina Hashem Beck

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