Thursday, 8 February 2018

How frail are riches and their joys - Hatim al-Tai

How frail are riches and their joys?
Morn builds the heap which eve destroys;
Yet can they leave one sure delight—
The thought that we've employ'd them right.

What bliss can wealth afford to me
When life's last solemn hour I see,
When MAVIA's fympathising fighs*
Will but augment my agonies?

Can hoarded gold dispel the gloom
That death must shed around the tomb?
Or cheer the ghost which hovers there,
And fills with shrieks the desert air?

What boots it, MAVIA, in the grave,
Whether I lov'd to waste or save?
The hand that millions now can grasp,
In death no more than mine shall clasp.

Were I ambitious to behold
Increasing stores of treasur'd gold,
Each tribe that roves the desert knows
I might be wealthy if I chose:

But other joys can gold impart,
Far other wishes warm my heart—
Ne'er shall I strive to swell the heap,
Till want and woe have ceas'd to weep.

With brow unalter'd I can see
The hour of wealth or poverty:
I've drunk from both the cups of fate,
Nor this could sink, nor that elate.

With fortune blest, I ne'er was found
To look with scorn on those around;
Nor for the loss of paultry ore,
Shall HATEM seem to HATEM poor.

Hatim al-Tai (also Hatem Tai) (died 578) Saudi Arabia
Translated by Joseph Dacre Carlyle
Source: Specimens of Arabian poetry, from the earliest time to the extinction of the Khaliphat, with some account of the authors by Joseph Dacre Carlyle, Cambridge: Lunn, 1796
* Note: original translation's spelling retained

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