Baghdad Song

By Ibn Al-`Arabi Ibn Al-`Arabi

Translated By Michael Sells Read the translator's notes

Oh, for corniced palace of Baghdad! not
the palatial cornices of Sindád al-Híra—

It crowns the gardens cascading below,   
a virgin unveiled in a perfumed chamber.

Wind plays in the branches. They bend.
Lovers at last coming together.

Her neck necklaced by the river Tigris,
her lord our master our Imám al-Hádi,

Násir, Mansúr, best of caliphs,
who never set out on horseback to war.

God bless him long   
as a dove on a swaying bough's cooing,

Long as smiles flash lightning
(and eyes stream like clouds in answer)

From a bride like the sun when the mist parts,
revealing herself luminous in splendor.

Source: Poetry (April 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2008


Ibn Al-`Arabi was known as the “The Greatest Master” (al-shaykh al-akbar) of Islamic mystical thought. He died in Damascus in 1240.

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Poems by Ibn Al-`Arabi

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SUBJECT Relationships, Social Commentaries, History & Politics


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