Last Simile

By Abid B Al-Abras

Translated from the Arabic by Ange Mlinko Read the translator's notes

It’s as if she were an earn,
                                                                   gebidende prey for her eyrie.

Perched alertly,
                                                                   a hægtesse on their innards.

In bitter morgenceald,
                                                                   her hoar-glittered feathers.

Suddenly she sees
                                                                   a fox on the westene.

At that she rouses,
                                                                   heaved up on high,

and heads straight at him,
                                                                   in harrowing hæste.

Hearing her, he freezes
                                                                   his tail. He’s terrified.

Sees, bestelð,
                                                                   with ēagan flashing,

talons overtake him,
                                                                   dash him down in torment,

overtake him again,
                                                                   swengeð him on the eorðan.

One yelp as she pincers his liver.
                                                                   Wyrd—pierces aorta.

Source: Poetry (June 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2011
  • Poem
    by Lucie Thésée
  • Music
    by Juhan Liiv
  • Doric
    by Angelos Sikelianos


Abid B. al-Abras * (ca. 500–554 ad) is considered the oldest of the Jahiliyya (pre-islamic), classical poets of the Arabian peninsula. His “Aqfara min ahlihi Malhubu,” the final passage of which is translated here, is one of the celebrated odes of the Mu’allaqāt.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Simile

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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