by: Maisuna

      HE russet suit of camel's hair,
      With spirits light and eye serene,
      Is dearer to my bosom far
      Than all the trappings of a queen.
      The humble tent and murmuring breeze
      That whistles thro' its fluttering walls,
      My unaspiring fancy please
      Better than towers and splendid halls.
      Th' attendant colts that bounding fly
      And frolic by the litter's side,
      Are dearer in MAISUNA'S eye
      Than gorgeous mules in all their pride.
      The watch dog's voice that bays whene'er
      A stranger seeks his master's cot,
      Sounds sweeter in MAISUNA'S ear
      Than yonder trumpet's long-drawn note.
      The rustic youth unspoil'd by art,
      Son of my kindred, poor but free,
      Will ever to MAISUNA'S heart
      Be dearer, pamper'd fool, than thee.

"The Song of Maisuna" is reprinted from Specimens of Arabian Poetry, From the Earliest Time to the Extinction of the Khaliphat. Trans. J.D. Carlyle. Cambridge: John Burges, 1796.


MAISUNA was a daughter of the tribe of Calab; a tribe, according to Abulfeda, remarkable both for the purity of dialect spoken in it, and for the number of poets it had produced. She was married, whilst very young, to the Khaliph Mowiah. But this exalted situation by no means suited the disposition of Maisuna, and amidst all the pomp and splendor of Damascus, she languished for the simple peasures of her native desert.

These feelings gave birth to the previous simple stanzas, which she took the greatest delight in singing, whenever she could find an opportunity to indulge her melancholy in private. She was unfortunately overheard one day by Mowiah, who was of course not a little offended with such a discovery of his wife's sentiments; and as a punishment for her fault, he ordered her to retire from court. Maisuna immediately obeyed, and taking her infant son Yezid with her, returned to Yeman: nor did she revisit Damascus till after the death of Mowiah, when Yezid ascended the throne.



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