Cairo poems: Happiest Times


(From “The autobiography of Sidi al-Shaarani”) 

Merchants gifted me silver and gold.
I spread the coins on a platter; they were taken away
by hands that had just shown humility in prayer.
I wore rags. Gave up fine foods.
I ate only at the tables of honest men. Shunned
the feasts of merchants who cheated, unjust judges,
anyone who earned his living by shadowy means.
People resented me, the earth narrowed.
I lived in abandoned mosques.
Those were the happiest times.
I would starve for three days in a row,
then break the fast with a loaf of bread, no more.
My body grew feeble, my spirit soared.
I climbed in a flash the high minaret
of the Ghomari mosque, and watched over
from the tower the incomplete sleep of the city.
The descent was slow. My feet felt heavy,
my spirit longed to ascend to its Creator,  
nimble, unfettered by lust.

Gamal al-Ghaytani, Muntaha al-talab ila turath al-Arab: dirasat fi al-turath. Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1997, p.32

This is the last of three poems by Sharif S. Elmusa that Mada Masr has published this Ramadan.

Sharif S Elmusa 

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