Al-Fāriʿah bint Shaddād

Al-Fāriʿah bint Shaddād al-Murriyah was a pre-Islamic Arabic-speaking poet, noteworthy both for being one of a relatively small number of known Medieval Arabic female poets, and for the famous short marthiyah she composed for her brother Mas‘ūd ibn Shaddād:[1]

O my eye, be generous to Masʿūd son of Shaddād
with every teary gland
whose grief is manifest.
O whoever sees a lightning-flashing cloud
that I have gazed for through the night
pouring profuse rain upon the riverbed‘s
black basalt track.
With it would I water the grave of him I intend,
him whose grave is dear to me
though he were unredeemed.
Attester at councils, erector of edifices,
bracer of banners, burner of dams,
Slitter of camel throats, slayer of tyrants,
alighter on hilltops, breaker of bonds,
Orator of the eloquent, revolter of the ratified,
obstructor of water holes, dispeller of doubt,
Alighter at pasturelands, endurer of hardships,
dispeller of horrors, scaler of heights,
Gatherer of all virtues--as all who knew him knew--
his comrades’ ornament, the tyrant‘s scourge.
O Abū Zurārah, do not be distant!
For every youth will one day be hostage
to stone slab and wooden bier.
O Banū Jarm. did you give your prisoner no drink?
May my soul be your ransom, O Masʿūd,
from a burning thirst!
The thruster of the wide-gashing thrust
that is followed by a profuse gush
after a boiling froth.
Who leaves his opponent with fingertips jaundiced.
and his clothes as if
The buyer of wineskins for guests
that alight in his courtyard.
to the destitute,
abundant morning rain.[2]


  1. Samer M. Ali, 'Medieval Court Poetry', in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women, ed. by Natana J. Delong-Bas, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), I 651-54 (at p. 653).
  2. Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 176-77.

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