Sa’id bin Ahmad translated from the Arabic by Nicholas Roberts
Oh, you, whose passion gives me breath. You humiliate me.
You leave me mystified, craving, enraptured.
You pledged your passion was no breeze.
But a soft wind swept away your pledge.
Time passed, but you did not become mine.
You consumed me; you stole my breath.
When you clutched the reins of my heart
So I will plant myself in the road and harp of wronging
I will appeal to the Sultan of passion to torture you
And, in the dark of night, I will cry for a curse to ruin you
What is the way to you? Show me.
I shepherd the stars so you may sleep in bliss.
You swore, my love, you would not bend.
Where did the time go? And where is your promise?
You were cold, distant; you wasted me.
After you had me, you abandoned me.
And learned of my lust, you betrayed me.
Because you wronged me.
Because you tortured me.
Because you ruined me.
Nicholas Roberts is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Notre Dame, USA. He is writing his dissertation on Omani and East African history, focusing on Sa‘id bin Sultan, the nephew of this poem’s author, and his role in fomenting global capitalism in the Indian Ocean in the nineteenth century. Before Notre Dame, he earned his M.A. in History from Georgetown University. Nicholas is also at work on a compilation of Omani poetry, to be published with translations and historical context, tentatively titled Breathing Long in Oman: Love Poems of the Sultanate.