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102 102 102 102 Verse A scandal, quite without a match: He whom it strikes, strikes a bad patch! At others’ houses to be drinking Is better, in my way of thinking. Well, then. Repentance of one’s vices Is always best when there’s a crisis. V. “Didactic” Verse: From a Poem on How to Behave in Society, by Ibn Makānis ِ‫ف‬ ��‫ي‬ �‫ط‬ �� � ‫ل‬� � ٍ ‫ر‬ ‫�ش‬��‫ع�ا‬ � ُ ‫م‬� ِ‫ف‬ �� ‫ي‬ ��‫ر‬ ‫�ظ‬ �� � ‫ى‬ � ‫ت‬ � ‫ف‬� � � ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ل‬�‫�ه‬� ‫ي‬ � � ‫ل‬��‫آ‬ �� ‫ل‬�‫ل‬�� ‫ا‬ ‫ص‬� � ‫خ‬ � �‫ر‬ ُ ‫ي‬ � ‫�ا‬‫م‬� ‫ي‬ � � ‫ل‬�� ‫�ق�ا‬�َ ‫م‬� ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ع‬ �‫م‬ �‫س‬��‫ي‬ � hal min fatan ẓarīfī muʿāshirin laṭīfī yasmaʿu min maqālī mā yurkhiṣu l-laʾālī310 Meter: rajaz (XXSL XXSL, with variations SLL and LLL in last foot); paired rhyme. The poem is in fact a versified adab al-nadīm, “rules of conduct of the drinking companion,” and the poet describes the “good manners” not without some irony and satire, and at times with plain nonsense, in true doggerel style. It is obvious that “didactic” should be taken with a pinch of salt, hence the inverted commas. The Egyptian Fakhr al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAbd al-Razzāq Ibn Makānīs (745/1345–794/1392) was famous as a poet and a prose writer; he served as vizier of Damascus under the Mamluk Sultan Barqūq. On his way to take up the post of vizier of Egypt he died in 794/1392, poisoned, it is said. Is there a man full of esprit, Adept at keeping company, Who’ll listen to my sound advice? Higher than pearls should be its price! To him my counsel I’ll confide: By night it travels far and wide; 80 103 103 103 103 Ibn Makānis In darknesses it shines and gleams Just as a lamp that casts its beams. Great joy it brings and spreads around; With noble news it does resound. It’s wanton, even impudent, But natural311 and eloquent. Its words are elegant and smart: With ease one learns them all by heart. By my great innate talent driven, This friendly counsel’s hereby given: Advice to your best interest; I’m serious and yet in jest. With people I shed gravity, Behaving with depravity,312 Bringing Abū Nuwās’s time To life again, that golden prime! If you want honor and respect, And suffer no bad side effect, Always to people show good breeding, And you’ll see marvels all-exceeding. Soften your words to them: ’t will save you If you are on your best behavior, And what you’re seeking you will find By thus bewitching every mind. Put on the dress of non-restraint, Take off patched rags of Sufi saint! Don’t brag of wealth and property, Don’t boast of ancient ancestry. Life’s but a day: one lives in it With the best ornament: one’s wit. Managing people much less tough is For people holding a high office. You’ll find a hoped-for patron high: Don’t ever use the pronoun “I.” If you are wanted, don’t say “Nay,” If you are trusted, don’t betray. 5 10 15 20 104 104 104 104 Verse Be strong and be reliable; And smart: be shrewd and pliable. The middle course: the door to blessing; Folly is fatal and distressing. Your close companion, do not hurt him, Your closest friend, do not desert him. Do not befriend inferiors; Don’t anger your superiors. And do not always blame your friend, Lest he detests you in the end, For an abundance of reproof Makes one be shunned and kept aloof. When you receive an invitation From leading persons in the nation, Everyone’s favor you must crave, And act as everybody’s slave. With kind and civil words you’ll flatter; Beware of odious, foolish chatter. Don’t lie, whatever things you say. Take note of those with whom you play; For with one’s buddies, of necessity , one plays backgammon, chess. Whenever you ask, concision seek, And brevity whenever you speak. Don’t quarrel, do not misbehave, Don’t be a loathsome, odious knave. When joined with comrades in a session, Display to them no bold aggression. Their cups and glasses do not take: You’ll spoil the fun, a grave mistake. Snub not the waiters when you dine; Do not monopolize313 the wine. Don’t pilfer wine, or snacks, or food: At parties that is very rude, And not condoned by any gent Who isn’t poor or indigent. 25 30 35 40 105 105 105 105 Ibn Makānis Speak only words that...


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