‘Their Beauty is Absolute’

’Tis God’s good vines
our world entwines
o’erlapping sunned &
ashen lines
[yet all be wines.]
In the latter, last line is optional – I was more excited to use a wine-descriptor (velvety? User Taras Press brought to mind similarities between Imru’ ul-Qays’ steed and that other rockstar of floating and stinging, Muhammad Ali, proving that all that is old is new again with his pithy and eloquent submission:
eyes squinting
feet floating
legs burning
face soot. To which I simply say, Prof. Others still gave us stone and mineral metaphors, one of which pushed the very limits of where the borderline lies between melanin-brown-black and dark, cobalty blue. Midnight skin radiant like sweet liquorice. A submission from Jāhil:
1 Eyes that encompass the horizon. I have said that black has it all. smoky? I tried a few) in the ghrabiiib replacement. full-bodied? Matthew Keegan went on a hunt for the Imru’ ul-Qays line’s true author and turned up many riwāyāt (versions) that he brought together:
Imru’ al-Qays said… no, Ibrahim ibn Imran said… (Didn’t Salama ibn Jandal say that?) No, no, no… it was Imran ibn Ibrahim who said…
The eye gazing (no, sparking — or maybe hollow)
The hand-hoof floating (no, the leg thrusting)
The ears inclining as if to listen (no, the leg goes here, and it’s racing)
The face (no, the color, no the back) jet-black (no, sleek)
Some, in order to convey the luscious blackness of ghirbīb, went the gustatory route. Graceful palms without blemish. White too. And one from Joe Bradford:
‘Abdallāh al-Ghāmidī’:
Amazing vines from God’s trellis
Sweet, Cotton-candy & black licorice
Imru’ ul-Qays:
piercing eyes with hoof in flow
legs a’ striking, face black of coal
Several folks used the now rare construction of a’ + present participle to convey the movement and action of Imru’ ul-Qays’ verse. Her legs touch not the lowly earth. Ash, soot, and now some charring, brought to you by Matthew Chovanec:
an eye scanning / a hoof plunging / a leg searing / a face charred
And, last but not least (and apologies to anyone who didn’t make it in—please do submit again! Their beauty is absolute.” Authors throughout history have played with the cosmic dichotomy of black and white in various ways—some, like ours, to capture nature’s multidimensional beauty. Both of our lines instead toyed admiringly with the elements of this dyad—with blazing haunches complementing black faces, or with light and dark grapes marrying on a vine and, later, in the goblets of an offstage symposium. And a second version of the latter by her:
To God’s marvels we give our due –
Pressed grapes, rich beige and black in hue,
Inducing Eden-déjà vu! From Mariam Aboelezz:
Eyes ravenous and fronts a-waving
Hinds raven black, the earth a-shaving
Such God fashions all hues to impress
The light and the dark of vines to press
Mariam’s submission also answers an ancillary question of how to merge these lines which, though they occur together in several exegetical texts due to a shared lexicon, are of different meters and by different authors. Theresa Reaper, meanwhile, bracketed the two lines off from each other with quotations, as if to put them in dialogue. Alexander Key answered this in yet another way, establishing continuity through psalm- or ode-like titling and a ringed structure in which one line ends with an evocation of grapes, where the next begins, all culminating in a unifying reference to “delicate black:”
To a Horse
Eyes up
hands glide
legs burn
face – black grape. From God’s hand,
this draping vine;
Into the vintner’s:
both, grapes melanated, and fair. By Bint Abī Mansūr:
by Imru’ al-Qays:
Eyes a’ turning,
Hoofs ascending,
Feet abrading,
Face a’ storming! Lastly, I was wondering if anyone has theories on/ submitted thoughts about غربيب etymology? But how to capture this color palette in a novel way—one that does justice to the unique vocabulary used? One person preserved these ambiguities in the translation. I’m really interested in weird/etymologically unique Quranic usage, and also captivated by the potential layman’s theories    – is it really Western/Weird (غربّ – غربيب؟) or somehow related to غيهب/غياهب? 2 Amazing are God’s touches. From Hamid Ouyachi:
Eyes, horizon hungry,
forelegs folding the air
Her hooves, flinting;
Face, bitumen blue
A wonder! For some of our submitters, this raised more questions than answers. Though space is constrained, our appreciation for you is not!), Eva Kahan left us with an array of words with which to signal darkness, as well as parting food for thought:
Her gaze is distant – though she’s near
her foot in water’d be amphibian
her limbs, if striking flint, would sear
her face is craft of deep obsidian. ‘Their Beauty is Absolute’

ArabLit hosted its third edition of the Arabic Translation Challenge starting May 26, 2020:
By Rachel Schine
In the words of the eternally iconic Coco Chanel, we “think of all colors except the absence of color. Her research interests include   storytelling practices, kinship structures,   gender/sexuality, and race/racialization   in pre-modern works of   poetry and prose. van Putten, we await your results:

Rachel Schine is a scholar of   pre-modern Arabic literature and a postdoctoral associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also beautifully renders the color terms in al-Ghāmidī’s line as evoking not hue but depth of flavor:
“Eyes distant,
Hoof reached,
Leg arced,
Face darkened.”
“Among wonders
God created,
a wild vine,
and press from them,
the light and
the rich”
Others played with black and white beyond the realm of taste, playing with other aspects of the material world. Her dissertation,   “On Blackness in Arabic Popular Literature: The Black Heroes of the   Siyar Sha‘biyya, their Conception, Contests, and Contexts,”   examines the   literary, socio-historical, and ethical functions of black heroes in the popular   sīrahs, a body of medieval chivalric   literature   that features a diverse range of protagonists.  
by ‘Abdullāh al-Ghāmidī:
O the wonders of God’s
He wrote in vines of chalk
and ink to repose in! Others, more disturbingly, to pit the one against the other in a polarity that the towering scholar Frantz Fanon calls “Manichaean” for its moral simplicity—it is a dangerous thing to view the world and its people as a conflicting play of light and darkness. To the Glory of God’s Creation
Vines crawl low across the earth
Juice crushed out from plump white grapes and
delicate black. The earth in a verdant jacket,
adorned with white and black beads
yearning for the eager palate.