And say to those who claim they’re wise:
You’ve learned a thing or two by heart
But the things that count you’ll never know.
Tom Abi Samra’s Twitter account got hacked by an angsty teenager, who did the translation this week:
this thing’s a pharmakon:
stop scolding me for it (even though it’s kinda hot!),
for i think it’s also a remedy! Fix me up—
With the fix I’m craving…
Run and tell those faker philosophers:
Even a broken clock
Is right twice a day. I’ll have free will if it makes me ill – you can stick your unfree won’t. GIFs are especially crucial to punctuating online communication, like Ibn Hazm ceaselessly inserting his own poetry to drive home the point in The Dove’s Neckring. Before diving in, a quick announcement that next week, Dr. If knowledge was a chicken, you’d only have the wing. You won’t want to miss it! cuz your medication in truth is not a cure!
However, many participants also caught Abu Nuwas’s earthy, lowbrow feel. Rachel Schine (@RachelSchine) at CU Boulder, the emcee of Lyric Poetry, will guest host the challenge. Maks me want t’ dee it mair
Mend me wi my hert-hankin …
An he fa thinks he kens? Or as Haroon Shirwani put it, “I think Abu Nuwas and the Dubliners would have got on really well!” Here is Denis McAuley with some rhyme and iambic heptameter (or else alternating tetrameter and trimeter), and you’ve got a drinking song:
Give me good cheer, a pint of beer, the ladies and the craic. Some things. Et dis à ceux qui se prennent pour des savants:
Du vrai savoir vous avez manqué l’important
A nice Italian rendering by @marco_frances:
Che biasimi, se il biasimo mi scalda,
Curami tosto col male che m’inverse,
E di’ al filosofo che vanta:
“Di tante cose apprese,
Tante più ne hai perse”
Ryan Baumann gave us Greek:
μὴ μέμψαι με
ἐπεὶ μέμψις ἐπαγωγὴν
ἀλλὰ σωφρονίζε με
[may mempsai mei
epei mempsis epagogayn
alla sophronizde mei
Don’t blame me
Since blame [is an] enticement
But recall me to my senses
By the cause
Of the sickness
And @PressTaras translated to Latin, with some elegant shades of the Vulgate (noli me tangere, “touch me not”; et ne nos inducas in tentationem, “and lead us not into temptation”; cura te ipsum, “heal thyself!”) as well as Martin Luther (Esto peccator et pecca fortiter, sed fortius fide et gaude in Christo, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but more boldly believe and rejoice in Christ”)—a nice mix of the sacred and profane that befits Abu Nuwas:
Noli me obiurgare!
@Jaahil2 could barely get his translation submitted before dropping the mic:
Ya wanna hang me by the rope I made,
But not to save me from my fall?
And with one eye on The Bard, Hamid Ouyachi gave it a Shakespearean go:
Ply me with drink and do not upbraid me!
Moving in a different direction, Enas Eltorky made Abu Nuwas speak couplets that rhyme one after another instead of every other line, with some nice slant rhyme in the second couplet:
Cease with your blame, for it only adds more allure
Truth be told, my ailment is my cure
Tell he who claims the throne of wisdom,
You may have the crown, but you have lost the kingdom! Now to the responses, which grappled with two of classical Arabic poetry’s most famous lines:
دَعْ عَنْكَ لَوْمي فَإِنَّ اللَّوْمَ إغْراءُ وَداوِني بِالَّتِي كَــــــانَتْ هِــــــــيَ الــدَّاءُ
فَقُلْ لِمَنْ يَدَّعِي في العِلْمِ فَلْسَفَة ً حَفِظْتَ شَيئًا وغابَتْ عَنْكَ أَشْيَاءُ
Again, there were many rhymed and metered renditions, each striking in its own way.
Matthew Keegan gave us “a fast and loose slangy version trying to get at the da’/dawa’ echo”:
Don’t come at me. With that in mind, here are just a few of this week’s visually captivating submissions:
(Abdullah Pocius remarked, “‘When the fix for the sick is the pill that I pop’ reminded me of the Oompa Loompa lyrics rhythmically”)
And to cap it off, Emily Selove at Uni Exeter put up this poem a few weeks ago as part of her Instagram comic strip series Popeye and Curly, based (loosely) on al-Jahiz (Popeye) and Abu Nuwas (Curly) in Medieval Baghdad! Longtime Egyptian novelist and political commentator Ahdaf Soueif rhymed at the end of each line, accompanied by natural, unforced meter:
Forget reproaching me,
reproaches tempt me so.
Finally, not just languages but also media were brought to bear on the bacchic bard.
Meanwhile, @zajedemha seems to signal The Emerald Isle with a single four-letter word:
cease blaming me, for blame drive me to drink more
so fock off! And if you tell me to knock it off, I’ll only knock it back. Sed una didcisti, ab te omnia fugit. Next week’s challenge coming May 26. [Don’t blame me! It was another banner week—several dozen responses in multiple languages and media. You can follow the adventures of Popeye and Curly on Instagram. Sure. Just treat me with that which brought me low. Ya still ignant. Khaled Osman gave us an elegant set of rhyming French couplets:
Crois-tu sincèrement que tes reproches m’aident? As for those censors philosophical:
You grasped a little thing or two—
But a million more escaped your sight! But, Word! tell those who think they know Philosophy
that they don’t know jack shit! Bowed down in repentance
His sweet pardon I taste.
Without affirming cultural stereotypes, more than one person picked up a Hibernian vibe from these lines. Telt! I’m ill? Here is Aarij Anwer with an aptly avian allegory:
I’m wrong? Sers-moi plutôt le mal en guise de remède! There are more mysteries to creation
than fit in your philosophy. Hingin an awfa wee gansey
Aff o a gey shoogly peg. The format, timeline, and ways to submit will be the same. Not surprisingly, then, many versions came in colloquial English or even slang. Heal me with disease. Some things you know, my learned friend, and some things, well, you don’t. ‘Heal Me with Disease’
ArabLit hosted its second edition of the Arabic Translation Challenge starting May 19, 2020:
By Kevin Blankinship
“I’m an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard.” Novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler’s quip could just as easily apply to Abu Nuwas, or at least, to how he’s been remembered: as premodern Arabic’s great wine poet, and author of this week’s translation challenge. Blame paves the tavern’s path. From one man you may learn all
But you have learned one thing, and everything [else] has escaped you. Ya know how to think on things?
Deirdre Ritchie kept a similar rhyme scheme, but shortened the lines for a more pressing, declarative feel:
Your verdict against me
Merely strengthens my case. You judge by your reason,
Ignorant of His Grace. Thanks to everyone who joined! Just give me my sin
in a bottle of gin*
and ask: of us, whose life is lousy?”
And in what is undoubtedly a first, not only for the #ArabicTranslationChallenge but indeed any translation of Abu Nuwas, @soorsie gave us this interpretation into Scots (which is different, as was helpfully pointed out to me, from Scottish English or Gaelic):
Hud yer wheesht! Please. It gets me jonesing.
Eva Kahan wrote that “Abu Nuwas had the spirit of limerick in these lines.” She translates accordingly:
Twas once said the poet “Don’t douse me
in shame – for your blame will arouse me. Nam me inducas in tentationem
peccare fortiter …
Mutazile ‘cura te ipsum!’
Ab uno disce omnes! You think you know everything?
Since Scots is technically a different language from English, this seems like a convenient segue into foreign language entries, of which there were several yet again. *
And Ted Gorton contributed one of many examples of drinking slang this week:
Your scolding only whets my thirst;
Pour me a hair of the dog instead! For you lead me into temptation
To ‘sin more boldly’…
Mu’tazilite, ‘heal thyself’!